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For 2021 - online Python 3 training - see ((here)).

Our plans were to retire in summer 2020 and see the world, but Coronavirus has lead us into a lot of lockdown programming in Python 3 and PHP 7.
We can now offer tailored online training - small groups, real tutors - works really well for groups of 4 to 14 delegates. Anywhere in the world; course language English.

Please ask about private 'maintenance' training for Python 2, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, etc.
Forum membership - a privilege not a right

How fortunate it is that the vast majority of online contributors respect the guidelines laid down, especially when they agree to terms applied to contributions that they make to forums. But there is a tiny minority who will feel the the guidelines don't apply to them, or try to hide activities outside the Acceptable User Policy. I have just been looking at such a case and it lead to some interesting thoughts and discussions, which I will share in general terms.

I can recall, from before the days that I was administering any online forums (but only moderating one) some of the problems that were caused by a tiny proportion of members who signed up with multiple accounts. There rarely seemed to be a legitimate reason for multiple accounts - there were the people who set up two accounts so they could post their real views (under one persona) and authoritative information under another, those who set up two accounts as "honey traps" in which they argued with themselves and entangled other members as friends of one of their accounts in order to con them, and those who had acted in such flagrant breach of the acceptable user policy (AUP) that they had been banned, but who tried to sneak back in under a new name. In fact, I consider multiple accounts without good reason (and without the facts being fully published and open) to themselves be a flagrant breach of the AUP on boards that I help look after - the people who set them up are tricksters and unwelcome - but what can the admin / board owner do?

There are three possible different levels of proof to consider before taking action against an account. There is the legal (criminal) "beyond reasonable doubt", there is the legal (civil) "balance of probability" and there is the access I allow to my own space which is a privilege and I will describe as a "significant possibility" level of proof.

Which of these apply to a privately run forum, where any signed up member can post their own contribution? It's the 'significant possibility' level that's all that's required. It sounds a bit harsh, as decisions taken on this basis are likely to net some completely valid accounts. But when you think about it, it has to be. Having been alerted to a significant possibility of abuse, and become convinced that the significant possibility exists, I'm not only able but required to act. To protect my members, to protect myself, to protect others (for example, the privacy of other people and their copyright in the case of posting abuse. Failure to protect members and others in this way would be, morally, a breach of my care to the majority.

There is a huge gap between "beyond reasonable doubt" and "significant possiblity". They are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and I would much prefer the luxury of "beyond reasonable doubt" before I take action on an account. For if I think I have a conner - it might actually not be. Could you (hypothetical example) tell two of the Nolan sisters apart from their posting habits, assuming the posts had such close harmony as their singing? One of the last things I want to do is close a valid account on suspicion alone. Closing accounts always looks bad. Doing so when to someone who (it turns out) was a valid user looks doubly bad. Setting up an innocent party with a potential grudge against you is trembly bad.

But at the end of the day, you have to protect yourself as the forum operator. You need to protect your members. You don't have to accept just anyone into your home, nor business orders from just anyone who wants to buy from you. And there are plenty of other places online where people you choose not to accept into your group can post ... heck, they could set up their own website ... and then post whatever they like, subject only to the laws that regulate it.
(written 2009-06-22)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G903 - Well House Consultants - Running and moderating forums and social media sites
  [22] Falling out over the silliest things - (2004-08-21)
  [29] Silence is Golden - (2004-08-26)
  [115] Expiration dates or times on web pages - (2004-11-12)
  [130] Spelling and grammar - (2004-11-25)
  [204] The confidence to allow public comments - (2005-02-06)
  [231] Feedback as lifeblood - (2005-02-28)
  [248] Use me, but use me effectively - (2005-03-16)
  [424] How not to run a forum - (2005-08-24)
  [516] Open source questions? Anyone can ask. - (2005-12-03)
  [651] Please Register with Opentalk - but just once! - (2006-03-19)
  [806] Check your user is human. Have him retype a word in a graphic - (2006-07-17)
  [828] Freedom of speech and freedom to post - (2006-08-10)
  [841] Forum help - a push in the right direction - (2006-08-21)
  [919] Freedom for X is denial of privacy for Y - (2006-11-09)
  [923] Why shouldn't I spam? - (2006-11-13)
  [948] Running an on line campaign - (2006-11-27)
  [1088] Why use BBC code not HTML? - (2007-02-21)
  [1190] Save the Forum - A regular clean sweep - (2007-05-17)
  [1362] No Thank You - (2007-09-23)
  [1472] The Horse goes on and on - (2007-12-15)
  [1485] Copyright and theft of images, bandwidth and members. - (2007-12-26)
  [1523] Ive just received an email from myself. Should I be worried? - (2008-01-29)
  [1532] Comment spam blocked. Please comment via Forums - (2008-02-05)
  [1539] A forum is not always the best vehicle - (2008-02-14)
  [1563] Guidlines for posting on a forum - (2008-03-04)
  [1569] I dont care - goodbye - (2008-03-09)
  [1578] Please don't shout at me! - (2008-03-16)
  [1595] First Great Western Weekend - (2008-03-30)
  [1678] Software - changes and delays. But courses must run on time! - (2008-06-15)
  [1759] While the world sleeps ... - (2008-08-19)
  [1923] Making it all worthwhile - (2008-12-04)
  [1972] Pettifog and forum boards away from public view - (2009-01-03)
  [2103] Ask the Tutor - Open Source forum - (2009-03-25)
  [2116] Why do we delay new forum members through authorisation? - (2009-04-03)
  [2156] Stopping forum spam - control of the signup process - (2009-05-04)
  [2162] Admins thoughts on banning a member from a forum - (2009-05-09)
  [2177] Preventing forum spam - checks at sign up - (2009-05-12)
  [2386] Computing under the influence of alcohol - (2009-08-29)
  [2526] A reluctance to move from old shoes to new - (2009-12-05)
  [2527] Flying tonight - (2009-12-05)
  [2569] How to run a successful online poll / petition / survey / consultation - (2010-01-10)
  [2781] The 500 pound question to get you started - (2010-05-26)
  [2820] Netiquette for forum newcomers - (2010-06-20)
  [3479] Practical Extraction and Reporting - using Python and Extreme Programming - (2011-10-14)
  [3910] Identifying your real customers and keeping them well informed fast - (2012-11-02)
  [4017] Acceptable User Policy / vexatious interacter - (2013-02-24)
  [4025] Backups, Codebase, Strategy and more - dealing with forum incidents - (2013-03-03)
  [4065] Handling requests to a forum - the background process - (2013-04-17)
  [4234] Change to Libel and Defamation laws from 1st January 2014 - (2013-12-31)
  [4239] Facebook marketing - early experiences - (2014-01-19)
  [4283] Can a legitimate forum post become illegal a year later? - (2014-07-11)
  [4307] Identifying and clearing denial of service attacks on your Apache server - (2014-09-27)
  [4315] Welcoming genuine forum posters quickly - but turning away off topic advertisers - (2014-11-16)
  [4403] The unbalanced relationship between customer and provider - (2015-01-21)
  [4492] Almost so wrong, but perhaps it's right for some? - (2015-05-11)

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Past PHP delegates / others - coding help needed for next 3 months
Some other Articles
Questions I have been asked on answering the phone
Ramblings on church and state linkage in Melksham
Is it Python past cheetah already?
Past PHP delegates / others - coding help needed for next 3 months
Forum membership - a privilege not a right
Walks in and around Melksham, Wiltshire
Leaping dog, Leaping horse, copyright of old masters
Over a third of numbers start with the digit 1
Bluegrass comes to Melksham
Public Transport from London to Melksham, Wiltshire
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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