July 10th, 2014


Should Querki Spaces default to public or private?

This is related to a topic I tossed out in the Querki Dev Journal yesterday. The more I think about it, the more important it seems to be -- it's a subtle detail, but likely to affect the contours of Querki's overall social structure.  So I'll ask the larger crowd here.

The issue is privacy settings. To summarize the above article, Querki allows users a lot of fine-grained control over security, but to make it usable we're going to need to sum that up into a few easy-to-use options: you pick one of these, and then tweak the details if you care.  I expect relatively few people to do much tweaking.

The question at hand is what the *default* option is when you're creating a Space, Public or Private. For reasons I describe in this comment, I don't think we can entirely duck this decision -- at the least, we're going to wind up subtly influencing user choice, so I'd rather do that deliberately instead of by accident.

So the main question is, when you create a Space, which of these options is the default (or at least, on top of the list):

  • Public: The Space is (mostly) publicly-readable and commentable, a la a typical LiveJournal.

  • Private: The Space is (mostly) not readable by non-Members, a la a typical private Facebook group.

(There will also be "Hidden" -- you can't even tell this Space *exists* unless you are invited in -- but I do not believe that should be the default.)

Closely related and still important: should we be explicit about this default, or should we require that the user creating the Space make a decision? (That is, should one of the radio buttons be checked initially or not?)

Opinions solicited, at least in this quick poll. I'm very much on the fence here -- it's a less easy issue than it looks at first glance.  Comments and thoughts also welcomed...

Should Querki Spaces favor Public or Private?


Should users be forced to choose explicitly, or should there be a default?

Require explicit choice
Have a default

What happens when rigorous engineering thought runs head-on into Law?

In a lovely new twist, Aereo has decided to make lemonade out of their lemons -- having had the Supreme Court declare that their operation is illegal because it is, effectively, a cable service that isn't paying licensing fees, they've said that, fine, in that case they would like to actually be treated *as* a cable service, paying the statutory royalties.

I think they've caught the broadcasters flat-footed, and I'll be very curious to see how it plays out. It's probably a desperation move, and I *suspect* that they will fail, but more because of the incoherence of the legal precedents than due to any logic. Rationally speaking, I think they've made a clever argument, but it's very much an engineer's point of view: saying essentially that one medium of transmission is much like another, and since the law is already a bit vague on the topic, there is no sensible reason why the Internet shouldn't be considered to be equivalent to the others.

I hope they win it, and even more, I hope they force the question back to the Supreme Court and get some precedents that make sense. IMO, the Supremes' decision to rule Aereo as a cable system *does* make sense -- but only if you're willing to follow the logic all the way through...