CENSORSHIP AND MEMBER BANNING

Submitted: Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:30
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This document is a little verbose but please take time to read it as it has an important message for all concerned.

The following was previously sent by me as a global email to managers and assistant managers. I have added some extras to this document and have re-sent it in the hope I can get some sort of response from the managers on this very important issue. This is not a frivolous issue. As far as I know the managers have chosen to ignore my concerns about this as I have not received any communication from them. I would expect responsible management would seek to address all matters arising from members. It goes with the job. I do not deny the right of managers to manage but they must act in the interest of the majority of members and not to corporate or any other interests(including BTi) and be transparent in their actions.
I have been told privately by more than one person they do not participate in forum discussions because the majority of it seems to be of a frivolous nature and of not much value. Here was a thread with plenty of "meat" and it was censored if you get my point. I am sure it would have attracted a lot of interest and been great for the forum. No nonsense postings like Turists trip down the Darling is also one of good value to members and this is the sort of thing people are looking for. Prospective owners say they get good value from it but once got the forum can cease to be of value to them. They move on.
Most people are consumers and not producers. Producers are a rare breed, Anthony included. The number of producers on the forum can be counted on one hand. I used to be a producer until I suffered under the censorship knife when accused of posting something which was unsafe. The accusation was nonsense but the deed was done. The accusation was that advocating travelling with partly filled water tanks is dangerous which is of course nonsense. You cannot unscramble the egg. Managers at the time failed to address this issue and my intention in pursuing this matter is an effort to ensure this sort of thing does not happen again. It is not nice thing to happen to anyone. Ask anyone who has been banned from the forum and I'm sure they would agree. Managers need to realize the consequences of their actions not just for those directly involved but all stakeholders. The decision to censor or ban a person should bear heavily on those contemplating it and not treat it as a frivolous or unimportant act.

If the managers choose to rule by the sword and there is ample evidence for this then so be it. Some members may be happy with this arrangement but I do not. I can only draw members attention while running the risk of being banned myself. I have no other issue with management other than this censorship one and congratulate them for their voluntary time and effort as I am sure all members do also.

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I disagree most strongly with this decision to censor the thread on a Bushtracker caravan with broken axles. There were very valuable lessons to be had from this discussion especially for people who are inexperienced in matters towing. Anthony for example mentioned regular bearing inspection and maintenance as important. I would not have thought this could be construed as "speculation and spurious commentary". So it seems his effort has been wasted. A management explanation at to the possible cause of this event happening would have been sufficient to hose down any adverse effects this posting may have had. This decision gives no credit to the members ability in being able to analyze this and reach a decision as to what actually(or might have) happened. I am sure everyone who saw this posting would have said to themselves "how would I have handled this situation?".

Having suffered the indignity of having a posting deliberately deleted when all I was trying to do was respond to a member requiring information, I am sensitive about this issue. The criteria for censoring a posting needs to be clearly qualified and strictly adhered to by those responsible and not do so on a whim at the time. It seems to me that the managers opinion was contrary to members opinion on this issue. This is indeed a "courageous" path to follow. There needs to be clear guidelines so that members will know that a posting that does not meet those guidelines may be removed. Until this is done I will remain a "silent member" but I will(and have) respond to people who contact me personally. That way at least it will at least reach the target and not get intercepted along the way.

I am bemused by the criteria of "speculation and spurious commentary". The forum is full of this and it is the nature of the beast. If this is to be used as reason for censorship, the managers are going to be busy little beavers in the future.

Censorship in all it's forms should only be used as a last resort in all cases(apart from the obvious obscene etc.). This is a hallmark of a civilized and democratic society and should always be defended. I could go on and on with quote after quote about free speech etc but will conclude with this. In the heat of the moment when faced with a similar please consider what I have stated. With the risk of stating the bleedin bloody obvious, this problem is only going to expand when and if a corporate sponsored website is commissioned. Even a malicious posting can have some value and who are we to judge preemptively.

If I were a fellow traveler who happened to witness this event and posted some pictures on the forum and said "Look at this. I came across this incident just west of Woop Woop. These are pictures on a Bustracker off road Caravan with both rear axles broken". True as true as true and no bones about it and no maliciousness intended. This would indeed invite "speculation and spurious commentary" and rightly so and all with the best if intentions. Yes it did happen and yes it was branded Bushtracker. These things do happen with things mechanical for a myriad of reasons. Would these have been censored by the forum managers?. Some time ago there was a posting on another forum which stated they had seen a Bustracker with a broken A frame and invited further information. If this was posted on the BOG forum would this have been censored because it contained adverse Bushtracker content? The content of this hypothetical thread would have been exactly the same as the one that was censored. I for one want to know all about my Bustracker both good and not so good. BTi seem to me to quite capable of rightly defending their product without help from anyone.

I will state it once again. This censorship is clearly a wrong decision when looking at it objectively and not subjectively as it appears to be the case.

I was tempted to post this on the forum but desisted and decided to leave it out of the public domain and in the managers court and to await an appropriate response.


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Reply By: Luvntravln - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:33

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:33
Ernie - very well thought out and presented! Management - a very ripe topic for discussion under the marquee at Copeton. The 50 or so that will be attending will clearly represent a valid cross-section of membership views. "Membership views" - a guide to appropriate posting and censorship; a guide to member banning. For the record, given the circumstances of the presentation of the post I still support its deletion. If it had been presented in a newsworthy fashion - look what I say the other day - I believe it would not have been deleted. Finally, given the fact that BTi is now going to be a major sponsor of our future website, when a posting such as "my wheels fell off" occurs in the future, Tracy who reads most of the postings or Steve who might now take a peek on a rare occassion can set the record straight. tgintl/jay
AnswerID: 562200

Reply By: Turist - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:34

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:34
Let me say this Ernie,
The van has a history
The owners have a problem

They are unfairly using this forum as a "Get Square" and an attempt to inflict harm apon a manufacturer for a percieved problem, a problem brought about by factors that have nothing to do with the original manufacture.

As mentioned by myself and others, if the full and complete story was presented then the posting would still be there.

The owners of this van are welcome to re-post but only on the understanding that the full story is divulged, including such titbits as the owner modifications, the broken and replaced springs and the reason for their breakage, the true weight of the van when the problems occured, the "special construction" requirements that were incorporated at manufacture and any other relevant information.

Given the above circumstances I strongly support the deletion of that particular post.
We are not a forum to be used for personal vendettas.

Regards
Turist
"Do It While You Can"
Nobody is getting any younger.

Member
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AnswerID: 562201

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:35

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:35
Having been a proponent against the possible premature removal of the John&Sandra thread I think perhaps I should also make a contribution to this thread. Firstly, as the John&Sandra thread unfolded and critical facts came to light, I believe it was reasonable to assume the posting had not been made in good faith, on the contrary it appeared to have been posted with the intent to portray the facts of the situation entirely in a blatantly dishonest way. For that reason, and that reason alone I support the decision taken by the managers to delete the thread especially given that the photographs were posted without any comment or explanation followed by absolutely no participation by John&Sandra in the discussion that resulted or defense of the response posted by BTI. As a matter of record, John&Sandra had made a number of earlier postings which in effect appeared to reflect blatant abuse of the van (2 postings on 04/20/03 under different threads and a further posting on 05/26/03). I have absolutely no interest or intent to embarrass anyone but the right to freely express whatever you wish on a public forum also requires you to be responsible, honest and reasonable in what you post. The photographs that were posted without explanation directly effects every owner and potential owner of a BT in that it was damaging to the good reputation of the product and to some degree could impact on the excellent resale value a BT currently has in the marketplace. Very early in the thread, a member had advocated in effect that everyone should “shut up” as insurance companies have ears. After a few additional postings by various members, a stronger request was made by the same member to “please would everyone discontinue responding to the thread” or words to that effect which I believe many would have interpreted as having something to do with the possibility that an insurance company might get to learn something that would be damning to the insured. Then when comments were posted on behalf of BTI which appeared to go a long way towards explaining the mystery that many, and especially those from an engineering discipline, otherwise must have found very puzzling it was advocated that the thread should be deleted. My objection to the possible deletion of the thread at that time was firstly this forum is a public forum and this requires everyone to post their comment and opinions in an honest and reasonable manner. Regardless of whether one elects to post material or comment which is honest or dishonest then surely others have the right to make their views known about this. In regard to insurance companies and perhaps the universal unfavourable reputation the public may have of how they conduct themselves it nevertheless does not justify the view that others should refrain from commenting on any issue another sees fit to post with the view this would assist the insured or deny something to the insurance company. If the information posted constitutes evidence of a damning nature and it is posted by any of the parties that could be a party to a claim then this is something they alone will have to account for as it would be of material value - comment and points of view made by anyone else is completely immaterial. Compassionate behavior for someone’s misfortune is honourable and one thing and there undoubtedly will be times when it would be reasonable for members to refrain or moderate their comment accordingly, however, I see no basis for restraint when comments and information are to the contrary and already in the public domain having been placed their by any of the parties concerned.
Ernie, whilst the above does not relate directly to your post I sincerely hope you will continue to add your valuable comment and opinions to the forum. Regards John
AnswerID: 562202

Reply By: Luvntravln - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:36

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:36
John A suggestion only as it applies to me - never hesitate to mention my name when you are referring to something I said or did. I am Jay - true I am also "a member". Until the facts regarding the history came to light, I advocated and would still advocate under the same circumstances that speculation could only hurt a fellow member in many ways including dealing with their insurance company. tgintl/jay PS: Look forward to meeting you at Copeton or somewhere down the road.
AnswerID: 562203

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:37

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:37
Lighten up folks! It's only a bloody caravan for God's sake. Nothing more, nothing less, far from the worst and arguably one of the best. As a prospective long term vanner I visit this site often, probably more than I should. I'm trying to piece together what is required for putting together a van that will meet our requirements and find some of the info gleaned from this site invaluable and I thank the BOG for that. At the same time some of the posts are nothing more than peurile banter and a waste of space and download time. Learn to laugh at yourselves a little. And quit running down the other manufacturers product. Finally, when we do aquire our "big trip/s" van, whatever the pedigree, we won't be flocking together with 40 or 50 others of the same type. I could think of nothing more scary. When I see a BT or one of the other quality makes on the road I imagine it camped in some solitary place, not roosting like chooks in a row!
AnswerID: 562204

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:38

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:38
CosmicGirl, Puerile banter and a waste of space and download time ..... The posts are many and varied in BOG and it is not set up to your requirements. What seems childish, irrational and trivial to you might be a good laugh to others. Such a waste of download time ...why bother !!! Oh ok !! So some of it is to your liking and you derive value from it !!! As for flocking together .... we do once a year and we do it for the social gathering. Some of us are actually friends ...go figure huh !!! Fancy wanting to camp with a few mates once a year sharing a common thread. You obviously love the lonely life but we make time for others every now and then. One post in 5000 plus has a go at Phoenix and you say we have to stop running down other manufacturers. Geez ! Their sales must have plummeted to the depths of despair. I'm glad they are that concerned about our feedback and tuned in every day ! Puerile banter and a waste of space .... Yeah Right Cosmic Girl !! You'll just have to wade though it .....or grab a bigger hard drive !! Yours in space !! Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
AnswerID: 562205

Reply By: Luvntravln - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:39

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:39
Kate One person's "It's only a bloody caravan for God's sake" is another person's rolling castle. One person's "nothing more scary" is another person's party hearty. 40-50 BTs all in a row 365 days a year - no way jose! 40-50 BTs all in a row for 7-10 days - absolutely! When I was in the cruising community (lived on a boat for 13 years), six months of the year we would be in the islands either alone or in small groups of yachts at out of the way anchorages; six months of the year we would be in a slip at the Mooloolaba Yacht Club. Six months in Mooloolaba meeting new cruisers, partying, exchanging ideas for making our vesssels more liveable and more seaworthy was just as exciting as the six months in the islands. The people we met at the docks we looked forward to seeing as our paths crossed in the islands. The same applies to the Rally. Thus far I have only met a dozen or so BT owners and I look forward to seeing them and meet more BT owners. I have not yet taken delivery of my BT and yet I can tell you there is a sense of community amongst the BT owners. During our first trip to BTi to sign contracts, Griff insisted that we travel from Brisbane to Sydney before returning to Melbourne just so we could have the experience and pleasure of spending a few nights in The Beast. We have done that twice now. Each time I have gone to BTi, Anthony has bent over backwards to be helpful. When I had my hiccup with BTi, Anthony and Brian went out of their way to assist me with the possible purchase of a 2nd hand BT (I am sure you will remember because you posted a couple of comments at the time). Before I went to BTi, the Swifts invited us to their home to see their BT. Kate, it is not just a bloody caravan to the owners of a BT. There is a sense of pride that I do not believe extends to owners of the various other makes of caravans available for purchase. For the same reasons I looked forward to the off-season when I was a yachtie, I am looking forward to the Rally as a means of meeting other BT owners that we might visit as we travel around Australia, as a means of seeing what other owners have done to make their BTs more efficient, and to learn Lets face it - how often do you get the opportunity to party with a group of people that have spent $150,000-200,000+ on a "toy" and their towing vehicle and are very proud of their purchase? Don't be scared Kate; join us at Copeton! I promise you a week of puerile banter - all good fun and very light hearted - and after a few glasses of red we will definitely laugh at ourselves and each other too. tgintl/jay
AnswerID: 562206

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:40

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:40
Jay, <o:p> </o:p> Regarding the John&Sandra thread, I meant no offence or negative connotation with my reference to your posts but I do agree, not only would it have been much better, it would have been proper to have mentioned you by name. On reflection, that is what I would have wished if someone was commenting on some point of view or comment that I might have made consequently I sincerely apologise for that. <o:p> </o:p> The only reason I had mentioned your posts was to explain the point of view that I held on the matter. Actually I was surprised others hadn’t apparently remembered the various posts John&Sandra had made much earlier on more than one thread and it was only after I dug down and found them that I was of the opinion the thread should run at least to the point where everything was more or less on the table otherwise we were all looking at a one sided coin. <o:p> </o:p> I look forward to meeting you and some of the other members of the forum - regrettably I cannot make it to Copeton but there will be other opportunities I’m sure. <o:p> </o:p> Regards John
AnswerID: 562207

Reply By: Luvntravln - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:41

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:41
John, accepted . Sorry you can't make Copeton - just looked up where you live in case we might be "driving by" and noted your address in the Philippines! My land yacht will not float . What are you doing in the Philippines? Cheers, tgintl/jay
AnswerID: 562208

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:42

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:42
Jay,

"six months of the year we would be in a slip at the Mooloolaba Yacht Club"?

Sounds like a pretty interesting club, LOL..

Re. the wheels falling off. I read the replies before it was axed and have to agree that there was no problem. Debated openly, it was quite clear that whatever motivated the originator was quickly debunked. I was left with the clear impression that an under-engineered special had succumbed to abuse. Where's the problem?


AnswerID: 562209

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:43

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:43
First of all I would like to thank those who responded to my posting. It is obvious others are also interested in making the forum more enjoyable and useful. One posting was as they say in the journalistic world, “Great Copy”. “Chooks all lined up in a row”, it takes a special kind of mind to think of stuff like that.

Nothing has since transpired to convince me that the validity of my concern about this issue is wrong. A few members have said to me “why bother”. I must admit that concept has crossed my mind. It is a fact of life management in all its forms rarely admit to an error of judgement so and I just fervently hope my ravings will in somehow sink into the brains of those who wield the knife the next time this issue arrises.

I will conclude this posting with the following qualitative argument to support my case that censorship is wrong in this instance. The posting under discussion smelled of a vendetta which was plain for all to see but, if so, it was of a mechanical device and not a personal one. I am not saying this post was a vendetta but it is possible. BTi are quite capable of dealing with this sort of thing and don’t need our help to do it.

On the face of it, yes, it would appear censorship of a vindictive post is reasonable but please consider the following.

Vendettas like death and taxes are a fact of life and have to be dealt with. Disappearing them in the dust bin is not the way to do it. They may and usually do go elsewhere to continue their mischief and this is most definitely not in our interest. The BOG forum had a perfect opportunity to deal with this one if indeed it was a vendetta. As this thread progressed a pattern was emerging where clearly this was happening and now that opportunity has been lost. The BOG forum is not the only caravanners forum out there so put bluntly the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater.

It is not unreasonable to expect someone who has been unfairly treated by this forum perceived or otherwise to invent another BOG forum in opposition to this one. All things are possible.

The following refers to vendettas other than personal. For the sake of this argument I will theorise that the posting under scrutiny was a vendetta.

Argument for no censorship.
• Invite comment of an engineering/technical nature as to the possible cause of the failure. All sorts of useful and interesting stuff will emerge to enlighten members.

• Inform and warn members of operating mechanical devices beyond their design specifications and like all mechanical devices need to be maintained. Just getting on your back and gazing underneath your van once in a while is part of that.

• Interesting and juicy topic to keep members interest. Didn’t we all take a deep breath when the post was made early in the piece where a member said his new BT fell to bits. That issue was eventually sussed out without any loss of reputation to BTi. It is not unreasonable to expect a member to logon just to see how this thread was going rather than to bother doing it for general chatter(read “puerile banter”)

Argument for censorship
• BTi may not like it.

• Insurance issues

• Adverse BT resale value. I would say that this really is a non issue at the moment. What happens in the future is anybodies guess. Someone might decide to build a van as good as or better than a BT……… Takers anyone?

In conclusion I would argue that the cons for censorship far outweigh the pros. Censorship should only be contemplated when all the cards are displayed and objectively and not subjectively analysed. Usually it requires more than one brain to do it properly. When contemplating censorship the issue should be firstly approached by listing all the reasons why it should not be censored and not the other way around.

There are a few paradigms in life which are sacred and free speech is one of them. Many famous quotes have been enshrined around this subject. Some countries to their credit regard it with such reverence they include it in their constitution.

Sadly ours isn’t one if them.

Ernie
ps For all those attending the rally at Copeton Kay and I hope you all have a rewarding and happy time. The inaugural rally last year at Cania will be a hard act to follow, believe me. We will not be one of the chooks all lined up in a row so I hope someone will emulate my act at Cania where I collated all digital pictures from members and produced a two CD set which was sent to interested members. This serves as a permanent photographic record of the event. Included in this was a document which summarised the events leading up to its happening and interesting things that occurred during. Brian made a list of those attending and this was part of this document. Any volunteers???????????..............don’t rush now.
AnswerID: 562210

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:44

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:44
Hello all, John & Sandra here, the initiators of this discussion. We own the BT that had the problem with the broken axles. There was never any intent to cause problems for Bushtracker or amongst the members of this forum. I do suggest that all members retreat to their respective corners. This matter is not worth causing disharmony in the forum. We only use the forum infrequently as we are travelling constantly and are frequently away from internet access. We unfortunately appear to have missed a lot of discussion on this thread. The facts are 1 On separate occassions both rear axles did break. 2 The van was not overloaded - gross 2400 kg. 3 It is a 14 ' BT - tare 1760 kg on the plate. 4 We had the suspension completely replaced in Melbourne by Simplicity Suspensions. Simplicity stated that the original suspension was too light for the van. The original was a "Slimline". We now have the suspension similar to that used on the 18 - 20 ' vans. Only the springs are slightly lighter. We have found this forum to be extremely helpful and interesting on many subjects - voltage drop to the refrigerator, batteries, chargers, tyres etc. If reports of mishaps and breakdowns to our BTs can be used to improve the reliability and enjoyment derived from their use, then so be it. We are on our way to Pt Augusta, will check in then. Peace to all and enjoy yourselves. John and Sandra
AnswerID: 562211

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:45

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:45
I would like to add a bit to this thread for the a first time entry and someone who is about to hit the road with a van (hopefully a BT) will know tomorrow. It looks from a neutral corner that the rose coloured glases are being worn. BTI must accept that issues will arise and address them, I agree we do not want false hoods but there are issues and it is in all our interests that they are addressed. Before linning up my BT I have monitored many van sites and taken notes etc to research for my final decision. I spent a lot of time talking to van owners, On monitoring the BOG site I have learn't alot and picked up on some of the issues. I have spoken to BTI ref the issues and they will know me when I say I thought they "went on a bit". Anyway as a neutral for another 24 hours had to get that of my chest .. Question to the many veterans out there when I decide to go for my 'second hand BT' how can I be sure that it is free from any finance, what checks can I do on a van. I could check with BTI but that only says they have been payed not that there may still be finance owing. Any other boggers in WA????????? Thanks guys and keep up the excellent work.
AnswerID: 562212

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:46

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:46
We're in WA - tho' i've only seen two Bushtrackers in WA - both touring from ES. Didn't know any other WA's OWNED one. Long way from you tho', in the SW
AnswerID: 562213

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:47

Friday, May 14, 2004 at 19:47
John and Sandra, G'day, It was never what you stated had happened it was how you stated it. Scant information about the circumstances but high on inference that everyone should watch out for wheels falling off . The above is a reasonable conclusion given the amount of information or more precisely .. lack of it. I had people via e-mail/phone calling asking about bearings and/or axle strength. It would have been much better to sort it out as to what happened .... why it happened ... what was the eventual fix and "then" post to the forum for all of us to gain from it. This has happened somewhat .... going by your recent post. What was needed was the whole story initially. Understandably your limited access to the net makes it difficult. Stay safe ... enjoy your travels, I envy anyone out there full time. Regards Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
AnswerID: 562214

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