The boards and the law

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Auks Ran Ova
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The boards and the law

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

As the current NHBB contretemps continues to unfold, I'd like to provide a (somewhat overdue) clarification regarding a segment of our board rules. Specifically:
It is absolutely prohibited to threaten, or in any way imply that you are threatening, legal action or the exacting of a monetary fine from any other person for something they posted on the board. If you do this, you will be banned, with no warning or second chance. If you genuinely believe that something libelous has been posted, please contact the board staff immediately and we will address the situation. What is absolutely banned is threatening lawsuits or fines for things posted on the board.
As much as we understand it, this rule was initially designed to prevent spurious lawsuit threats based on things like internet folk understandings of the nature of libel. The admins have discussed its applicability to the recent situation and have determined a few things:

1. It can't mean that the boards are a law-free zone. People have the right to enforce the terms that they've contractually bargained for, if those rights are infringed on the boards.
2. The correct way to initiate any potential legal issues is to bring the board staff into the discussion before threatening lawsuits.
3. It's never okay to threaten people with frivolous lawsuits, which is why it's important to involve the board staff before a mistake about what is and isn't actionable turns into a huge ordeal.

That said, we absolutely do condemn the way Dave Madden has gone about dealing with this situation, and dealing with his business in general. Pressuring inexperienced young people into signing contracts containing overly broad, questionably enforceable language designed to quash future criticism of his actions is just another step in a long pattern of behavior that reveals himself to be unworthy of the quizbowl community's trust or respect. Since he has apparently voluntarily withdrawn from posting here, banning his account at this time would be something of a meaningless gesture; additionally, it would prevent the (unlikely) occurrence of Madden returning to personally apologize for any of his actions. At this time, the board staff is still discussing what else to do regarding the relationship between NHBB and the forums.

Finally, I'd like to personally apologize to Bunnie Hadsall for not providing a more decisive, timely response to this situation on behalf of the board staff.

EDIT: As this thread isn't open for comment by non-staff members, you can email or PM me if you have questions or concerns.
Rob Carson
University of Minnesota '11, MCTC '??
Member, ACF
Member, PACE
Writer and Editor, NAQT

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