Is that thread helpful or not? January 22, 2003 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Someone claiming to be a close friend of the guy that died on IRC asked me to remove the thread about it, so I obliged before reading what was said. After reading it all however, it seems like it's full of a lot of useful information. So what to do? Bring it back or keep it away?

(also keep in mind that although I don't think it would happen in this case, but I have been threatened with a lawsuit for not removing requested material before)
posted by mathowie (staff) to Etiquette/Policy at 8:58 AM (75 comments total)

Count me as one vote for bringing it back. I don't think we respect the dead especially much by being silent about them.
posted by beth at 9:03 AM on January 22, 2003

I brought it back. It's something worth discussing still.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:06 AM on January 22, 2003

Keep it mathowie -- this is a great lesson to all of us. What that lesson is, I honestly don't know, but this depressing example of the suburban-youth drug culture is important to discuss. (I also don't think you have to worry about the law in this case either.)
posted by moses at 9:07 AM on January 22, 2003

I was wondering if the thread had disappeared because the story had proven to be a hoax. Interesting to see that wasn't the case.

I think I vote for brining it back, as well. I think.
posted by arielmeadow at 9:07 AM on January 22, 2003

I think it should return. The discussion was good (if a little controversial in spots). It's good to talk about this kind of thing: why it happpens and why it's important to respond to it (and try to prevent it in my opinion).
On the other hand, a case can be made that (despite the web component) this is a private incident, and we should be respectful of that.
So basically, I dunno.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:08 AM on January 22, 2003

Keep it.
posted by Outlawyr at 9:08 AM on January 22, 2003

Why did he ask you to remove it? Did he give reasons?

I don't know. It's mindblowing and it makes you stop and think. The post might make someone stop and think in the future, which would obviously be a good thing.
posted by Shane at 9:18 AM on January 22, 2003

Keep it: the kid killed himself on IRC (in other words, he didn't seem to want privacy), the story about it is on the Internet anyway (did this friend ask that the site linked here be removed, too?), and I think the discussion was important. (I love that you asked us about it)
posted by biscotti at 9:19 AM on January 22, 2003

Tough decision. Would starting a new thread with a reference to this case and perhaps other topic related links be an option?
posted by ginz at 9:24 AM on January 22, 2003

biscotti: this isn't for Ripper, he's dead. It's for the people who were close to him. If it was my brother, I might have asked the same. Talking about it in general, with this as a reference, could be less offensive.
posted by ginz at 9:28 AM on January 22, 2003

I'm still torn between respecting a family's possible embarrasement, and a good discussion of peer pressure, the dynamics of suicide, and drug culture. We're all reading about the guy with some distance, and I think it's a worthwhile discussion.

That said, here are the emails I've gotten about it:


Hi, I am a close friend of the family and sadly this IRC log is being shown without the permission of the family. Only the brothers have read it and they refuse to let anyone else in their family see it because it is so terribly painful for them to read it.

I hope you can honor the family's wishes and remove that IRC log and respect their privacy on this tragic death of Brandon.

This has been a very difficult week for his family and us friends; I hope you can respect how painful it is to see his last moments for the entire world to see. I assume you know fatal 9-11 calls are never aired unless the family allows it and I think this is a very similar case of that.

Please get back to me and let me know your decision.


Hi, forgot one thing, the obituary link is something I would beg you to take down asap. The family reads that and I know there is a risk of strangers posting inappropriate things there that the family will not appreciate.

I would really appreciate your quick action.


My name is **** and I was a close friend of brandon and his family. I have notice that on your website that you have a topic about Brandons death. I am emailing you today to see if you would please take down that page. The reason for this is out of respect for brandon. The way he died was very tragic and shouldnt have happened but, with it being posted all over the net it just brings more disrepect to his name, which I can assure you shouldnt be there. Brandon was a bright young man. I assume that if the roles were reversed that you would be in the same position I am today. So I hope we can get this matter resolved in a timely order. Have a great day.

posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:38 AM on January 22, 2003

The chance of the mother seeing the IRC is heartbreaking... A relative or friend--especially a parent--never fully recovers from something like this. It is a permanent emotional scar.
posted by Shane at 9:45 AM on January 22, 2003

Okay... If it were me I'd take it down. The mother is in shock and everyone around her is working to minimize the damage and horror. I've seen things like this. I'm a softy. I don't envy you having to make this decision, Matt.

Just my $.02.
posted by Shane at 9:56 AM on January 22, 2003

Any way to remove identifying info? Probably not...
posted by gottabefunky at 9:59 AM on January 22, 2003

I'm still torn between respecting a family's possible embarrasement, and a good discussion of peer pressure, the dynamics of suicide, and drug culture. We're all reading about the guy with some distance, and I think it's a worthwhile discussion.

I agree, it's a very worthwhile discussion. Personally I felt sick to the stomach after reading it, I can't imagine what close friends or relatives would feel.

So, could we compromise? Anyone any other ideas than the one I posted above?
posted by ginz at 10:01 AM on January 22, 2003

I'd say take it down, or, maybe, excise his name and the obituary link (leave just the irc logs, which are relatively anon).
posted by malphigian at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2003

the e.mails put a different slant to it, really. at first i was for keeping the thread, but the e.mails do make it a little more human and more understandable as the parents are obviously grieving (as is their right).

i wouldn't want my family to find out that the last moments of my dead brother were being discussed on an open forum, despite the best wishes. grief is personal.
posted by triv at 10:03 AM on January 22, 2003

Not to sound like I have zero compassion... but shouldn't the complaints be directed at to take down the transcripts [or entire site] and the newspaper to take down the obit and not at mefi? Or are the friends of the discussion trying to stop all discussion of the matter (directly or indirectly related to Brandon)?

What's mefi's policy on editing existing topics? Would it be possible to edit out/censor the direct link to the irc logs yet keep the link to the main page on the memorial site and the link to the obituary? Would that satisfy either side?
posted by 10sball at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2003

i guess i'd compromise - take it off the front page and leave it on lofi with an explanation why in the usual place for explanations. something like "this thread is being kept not out of disrespect for brandon, but because i feel it contains a lot of useful information that might help others".

i don't think people realise just how "real" and permanent the internet can be - that info is out there and i bet there'll be copies on a dozen sites already.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2003

I vote for keeping the thread but axing the obit. What are the chances that the grieving relatives are going to be spending their time reading MeFi? I wouldn't want this thread to come up on a Google name search, but the IRC logs and MeFi discussion are fascinating (and very revealing about people's attitudes).
posted by languagehat at 10:08 AM on January 22, 2003

Kill the links and keep the thread? I know that would violate the no linkless threads rule; maybe you could link to this discussion by way of explanation.
posted by timeistight at 10:08 AM on January 22, 2003

Delete the thread.


Because it's a nice thing to do.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:11 AM on January 22, 2003

actually, having now read the thread, it doesn't seem to contain much useful info...
posted by andrew cooke at 10:11 AM on January 22, 2003

I felt it should be kept up, because it's worth discussing and may be of some value -- until Matt posted those emails...somehow I think it will have the same discussion value next month, perhaps, when the wound isn't so fresh.

By no stretch am I sure about this.

On preview, andrew cooke makes a great point -- this is going to get a lot of media coverage and it's already being blogged to death; as a source of discomfort to the family, mefi will be one of the lesser offenders.

Verdict, take it down for a decent interval. Let's have the discussion in June if we need to have it.
posted by luser at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2003

As I read it, they're asking Matt to take down the IRC log, whereas the post just links to it -- it's up to whoever's hosting that to take care of that. As for comments on the MeFi post -- a family cannot have control over what third parties say about the deceased: you cannot slander the dead, and, victims-rights ideology notwithstanding, the family's interest does not trump other interests (such as the public's) in every case.

(Example: IIRC, there was some discussion in the media a few years back about the fact that Leslie Mahaffy, who was killed by Paul Bernardo, was locked out of her home for violating curfew the night she was abducted. Should an editor have spiked the columnist's piece for fear of upsetting the family?)

This is, essentially, news; and what they're asking for is to forcibly restrain people from commenting on something that is more or less in public view.

Nor is Matt responsible, because there is a link to an obituary in the Arizona Republic, for the comments in the obituary's guestbook -- don't link to it because someone might post something the parents might see? The implications are positively chilling.

Keep it.
posted by mcwetboy at 10:26 AM on January 22, 2003

Re-reading the emails I've gotten, I'm starting to think they might have confused me with the person that runs, which is who they should be asking to remove logs. MetaFilter is a place to discuss interesting things found online, of which the IRC logs are. We discuss things on metafilter all the time that involve odd, embarrasing, and/or tragic things, sometimes including death. There is even a site all about deaths in a community, and from that standpoint, I think there is something worthy of discussion, despite the tragedy.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:26 AM on January 22, 2003

I like malphigian's idea. Take out the identifying info. Still, if it's here, it's probably posted many other places, so it may be too late already.

btw, people handle grief differently. The e-mails above are from friends of the family, and although they obviously have good intentions, they don't really speak *for* the family. Some grievers want to know every single detail about what happened, all the facts, all the follow up, in order to help them work through their feelings. This may not hold true for his family, but at least they will have some idea the impact his death had on others.

And as a mom, I appreciate the cautionary info. I am already on the fence about whether my kids should have their own computers in their rooms, for example, and this kind of info helps me make those decisions.
posted by whatnot at 10:27 AM on January 22, 2003

Well, since you were threatened with a lawsuit, I say: you were absolutely right to bring it back. It's out there already and hoax or not it serves as a warning.
posted by 111 at 10:34 AM on January 22, 2003

are public signups on or off? imagine what would happen if a close relation comes blazing in.

111 - the lawsuit isn't connected with this thread (or have i missed something?).
posted by andrew cooke at 10:41 AM on January 22, 2003

I don't understand the original question. If you won't (or originally wouldn't) restore a deleted thread, then we're not being asked for an opinion on when to restore deleted threads, right? Originally, your criterion (lawsuit) seemed pretty clear. Wouldn't that apply in all cases, not just in this one?

If someone is asking MetaFilter to stop discussing something because it's painful to them, then you should take that into consideration. I guess you have decided that there's nothing in the thread that could hurt anyone. I agree. I don't really see how an IRC log makes someone's death worse. Grief is grief, it's not something you can have more or less of.

Whatever criterion you end up using, there doesn't seem to be a clear question besides that. If no one complains about something specific, and in the future someone wants to discuss a death or some tragedy, then I would hope that people would treat that subject as they would all their other public acts. To discuss or not is not the real question. Rather we should ask this about all discussions: are we nice enough?
posted by rschram at 10:41 AM on January 22, 2003

i am a close friend of the guy who jumped off the empire state building and i am writing to ask that you remove the building immediately...
posted by quonsar at 10:45 AM on January 22, 2003

I think you're right matt, they had confused you with the owner of This story has already taken on a life of it's own, so the genie is out of the bottle.

I don't think any of us have anything to learn from what happened to that kid - at best it's a cautionary story for parents. Reading the IRC logs seems an online equivalent of gawking at the scene of a deadly car accident. I read the logs from the #mefi link last night but I didn't really think about that until this meta thread.

If keeping it up makes you uncomfortable matt, I would remove it. Given that metafilter is a privately owned board, noone can claim censorship issues.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:48 AM on January 22, 2003

Agreeing with mathowie. They emailed the wrong party. If they seriously want us to not discuss this out of respect for Brandon I'd say they need a reality check.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:53 AM on January 22, 2003

this isn't for Ripper, he's dead. It's for the people who were close to him. If it was my brother, I might have asked the same. Talking about it in general, with this as a reference, could be less offensive

You're right of course, but none of this changes the fact that Matt has no control over what other people put up on other websites. I think if it's on a public site, looking at it and linking to it is fair. They're misdirecting their requests: they should ask the owner of the site hosting those IRC records to take them down, and they should ask that the obituary be taken down as well (why would they post an online obituary on a public site if they weren't prepared to have strangers view it?). I think Matt should politely redirect them to the appropriate places. I think the discussion is important, but if Matt is uncomfortable with it being there, then he should remove it (I just don't think there's any clear-cut right or wrong here on our end anyway, and I don't see how our discussing it is unreasonable).
posted by biscotti at 10:58 AM on January 22, 2003

People connected to untimely deaths will almost always seek to keep the names out of the press, in my experience. But the test should be whether coverage of the death is in the public interest -- whether publicity and the resulting discussions would serve to educate the public about a broader social issue. "Gawking at the scene of a deadly car accident" shouldn't be enabled by the press; pointing out that a certain stretch of the interstate is unsafe, resulting in another fatality, should.

IMHO: Keep the thread, names and all.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:01 AM on January 22, 2003

I don't understand the original question.

I was wondering if I should keep the thread up or not. On the one hand friends and family don't want to see anything about it discussed online, while on the other hand, there is something worth discussing for the people here. What to do?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:02 AM on January 22, 2003

What to do?

I'd take it down just because I can imagine how I'd feel if I were one of them.
posted by timeistight at 11:05 AM on January 22, 2003

On the one hand friends and family don't want to see anything about it discussed online
Is that true? I thought they just wanted the links removed.

That's why I suggested this: Tough decision. Would starting a new thread with a reference to this case and perhaps other topic related links be an option?

As a compromise.
(me Dutch = polder model)
posted by ginz at 11:15 AM on January 22, 2003

I'm going to leave it up, as-is. I was just clarifying my original question for rschram
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:19 AM on January 22, 2003

I would suggest removing identifiable information. Just leave a note saying that the information was removed to respect the family's wishes. Leave the link to the logs till the site that hosts it removes them, once they do MeFi will point to files that do not exist.
posted by riffola at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2003

I understand the need to protect the principle of free expression, but who wants to live in a world where principles come before people?

I don't see MeFi losing any credibility by holding back here, as a newspaper would. In fact, I don't get what the downside would be, if Matt yanked it. "We have the right" doesn't strike me as particularly noble, and I don't see the implications as "chilling" as some others do. Certainly the educational value is minimal, although the voyeuristic value is off the charts.

And speaking as a parent of three young kids, I learn zero from this. I'd hate to be the well-behaved, studious kid who doesn't get a computer in his room because of this.

OK, on preview I see the decision is made. On to the next constitutional crisis...
posted by luser at 11:22 AM on January 22, 2003

What to do?

OK, so you want input on whether to remove what people ask you in the future.

If they have a legitimate (and actionable) reason, then I guess you should consider taking it down. If not, I would not remove material out of "respect."

Having no discussion is respectful, but so is respectful discussion. Removing things out of respect is a little extreme. As I said before, people should be as respectful as necessary in public, not for MeFi's sake, but for their own. This is a very public forum. That should apply to everything, not just a certain class of discussions.

I would even go so far as to say that the person e-mailing you doesn't even really want people to stop discussion; They just want people to be more sensitive. They wouldn't have anything to complain about if they could trust in the fact that people are accountable.
posted by rschram at 11:23 AM on January 22, 2003

"I'd take it down just because I can imagine how I'd feel if I were one of them."

For good or bad Metafilter is here to discuss stuff like this on the web. Trying to sanitize the content to spare the feelings of half a dozen people seems like the wrong direction to go in. Having people discuss the issue will be better than trying to make it go away. That might hurt those who are trying to deal with this loss, but it's something they'll have to deal with, with or without the thread.

Maybe family shouldn't be reading the thread. Maybe reading it will help them come to grips with things. Maybe they can find some meaning by hearing what others have experienced.

But I don't see any point in sanitizing Metafilter to spare their feelings. Will we discuss it once the family thinks they are able to deal with the topic? Or will we just never be able to discuss it. What do we do for other people who die?

It's worth discussing. And certainly more important/productive than most of the topics here.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:23 AM on January 22, 2003

this death occurred 10 days ago, if i remember right. if things proceeded normally then by now there has been a memorial of some sort with the deceased on display, a funeral, newspaper articles, tv news mentions and everybody the family ever knew expressing sorrow and i've got to think that there has been some sort of acceptance of reality on the part of the family by now. i don't beleive the family is making this request, i believe it is coming from well-meaning teenaged acquaintances, some of whom may only have known him from IRC, waving the flag of family that isn't theirs to wave. i also note a bit of hysteria in our own ranks - no lawsuit has been threatened, go back and read what matt wrote. without diminishing the sadness of what occured, i have to say that this is a tempest in a teapot and i doubt the actual family knows or cares a damn about the metafilter discussion.
posted by quonsar at 11:24 AM on January 22, 2003

For anyone who wants to discuss this with the person who is hosting the logs, he is in #mefi right now.
posted by riffola at 11:25 AM on January 22, 2003

I'd take it down just because I can imagine how I'd feel if I were one of them.

I'd leave it up just because I can imagine how I'd feel if I were one of them. I wouldn't want anyone else to die this way, and I'd want the people who egged him on to be publicly shamed.

and on preview, what quonsar said.
posted by whatnot at 11:26 AM on January 22, 2003

Cooke you're right: no lawsuit for this horribly sad post, but I stand by my 1st opinion: Matt is right in keeping it up, painful as it is.
posted by 111 at 11:27 AM on January 22, 2003

Some points - and please bear in mind I feel the greatest sympathy towards Brandon's family right now: -

1. Permission to show the IRC is not their's to give because they don't own it.

2. Publishing the log is not like releasing a recording of a 911 call because 911 calls are confidential in the first instance and IRC rooms are public.

3. The log provides immense food for thought, and perhaps part of the reason for wanting these materials taken down is because Brandon died in less than heroic circumstances. If he'd died rescuing a child from god-knows what horrific situation would they still want the materials taken down? I hate to ask that question, by the way.

4. As stated by Matt, dovee are responsible for the publishing of the transcripts. As for the obituary, you can't publish something on the web and then hope people don't link to it. The internet is not an appropriate medium if you want to maintain that sort of privacy.

5. I have a suspicion Brandon would maintain the post - I don't know why I think that and it isn't based on anything at all.
posted by nthdegx at 11:29 AM on January 22, 2003

Earlier, mcwetboy mentioned the Bernardo case (for you Americans, this was a young couple who kidnapped, raped and evetually murdered two teenage girls); what if someone posted Bernardo's video of the Mahaffy rapes? Should a MetaFilter link to that stay up?
posted by timeistight at 11:35 AM on January 22, 2003

what if someone posted Bernardo's video of the Mahaffy rapes? Should a MetaFilter link to that stay up?

If you're asking where the line should be drawn between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" it seems like the link to that would be better dropped.

But keep in mind I left up links to the guy frying up a kitten and eating it, and video of Daniel Pearle getting killed. Sometimes the challenging is worth discussing.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:40 AM on January 22, 2003

time: I don't think you should be comparing these two cases with eachother.
posted by ginz at 11:41 AM on January 22, 2003

I vote Keep it up.

It's tragic, it's painful, but it's real, discussion-worthy, and illuminating. I haven't seen so much casual drugname-dropping in a conversation since I was running with a bad crowd in jr. high. It's easy to forget that that world didn't go away, or get any less dangerous - I just moved on and got older and the kids & drugs got more sophisticated.
posted by kokogiak at 11:45 AM on January 22, 2003

"Sometimes the challenging is worth discussing."

That probably said it all right there, leave it up.

Wherever the line should be drawn between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" this falls on the acceptable side.
posted by Blake at 11:50 AM on January 22, 2003

good call, Matt
a difficult decision, but I think you did the right thing for the site and the community
posted by matteo at 11:53 AM on January 22, 2003

One of the things that occurs to me in thinking about the "take it down" side (because initially I thought I might have at least agreed with the notion of pulling the link to the obit) is that if Brandon had OD'd without a webcam or in the pre-Internet world entirely, there would still be people discussing it (some kindly, some less so) -- maybe just in his hometown instead of at this level, but the talk would still happen. Of course this (the death itself and the accompanying cyber-chatter) must be pretty dreadful for his friends and family, but as someone else said, the genie's out of the bottle: he died while chatting online and in front of a camera. It's this "mediation" (for lack of a better word) of Brandon's death itself that ensured that it became, in part, a public matter.

That this public nature of his death butts up against the family's private grief is a strange and uncomfortable consequence of the techno-age we live in, but what are we gonna do -- unplug the internet? (Of course, there have been countless public deaths before -- from suicide to assassination to someone dropping dead from a heart attack on a train. Lots of deaths have had lots of witnesses; Jackie Kennedy's private grief didn't override the need to make the Zapruder film public. This just happened in a different type of public arena, one that didn't exist a decade ago.)

On preview: timeistight, I don't think the two are analogous. For one thing, showing the Bernardo videos wouldn't serve any public interest except to whip up horror and revulsion -- there's no genuine discussion to be had about the acts depicted. (I'm separating this from showing the videos to a jury, of course.) Everyone (other than other sadistic rapist-murderers) is going to come down pretty clearly on the side of being against sadistic rape and murder. This case, by contrast, has sparked absolutely legitimate discussions about drug use, the function of internet communication, etc.
posted by scody at 12:02 PM on January 22, 2003

I think I might have trouble with links to images from the webcam, though, if they existed. I'm not saying there's no line, and I'm not arguing for an absolute position. It's just a question of where that line ought to be -- where does discussion end and gawking begin? I mean, we're talking about a request not to link to a newspaper obituary (among other things) -- surely we're well back from that line.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:04 PM on January 22, 2003

Yeah, the obituary request was bizarre, but reading the irc logs felt voyeuristic to me.

Maybe as a parent (and grandparent) I'm reacting too emotionally to this.
posted by timeistight at 12:12 PM on January 22, 2003

I think keeping the link is okay. It's clear before you get to the content what the links refer to. If you don't want to read about it, don't click. If you're voyeuristically curious, well then you get sort of what you were looking for. It's a sad story, but at least a true one. And as much as things would be easier if we all dealt with death and grieving the same way, we don't.

When I went to college, we had an analgous pre-Internet [1985] event that was similar where the younger brother of a student killed himself by drinking cyanide live on the cable access channel. No one called 911 because they thought it was an arty postmodern prank. Videos of this event became gruesome underground classics and the bereaved parents sued -- I believe unsucessfully -- to have their distribution stopped.
posted by jessamyn at 1:16 PM on January 22, 2003

When I read Matt's original query, I thought "keep it up for sure". When I read the emails he got, I changed my mind. The emails seemed very rational in that they didn't want this to become some internet meme (wether they know what a meme is or not) and would appreciate it if Metafilter would do its part in not hyping the death.

It's too late now, I assume that this story will spring up elsewhere. It seems reasonable though, that if someone asked nicely not to direct traffic to such a tragic, personal story, a considerate thing to do would be to take the link down. It certainly doesn't make the other sites go away, but I'm sure the family is dealing with those as well.
posted by jonah at 1:24 PM on January 22, 2003

Well, the IRC logs appear to be down now.
posted by dogmatic at 1:41 PM on January 22, 2003

Leave it up.

Yes, this could upset family and friends, but they can CHOOSE not to read this- or at some point they may need to read about it later as part of their grieving process.

I have learned in the past to avoid upsetting subjects because in my case they can be triggers. Just because stuff upsets me doesn't mean others should not be free to read about said topic.

I am a mother myself-and as horrible and as tragic as this was, it needs to be used as a wake up call to parents and young people alike-perhaps in that way this tragedy wouldn't be totally pointless.

That said, my condolences to the family.
posted by konolia at 1:42 PM on January 22, 2003

It seems reasonable though, that if someone asked nicely not to direct traffic to such a tragic, personal story, a considerate thing to do would be to take the link down.

Usually I comply without question, and have in the past many, many times. This one was unique though, in that it was very interesting to read how his peers reacted, how the community online egged him on but didn't feel obligated to help right away, and I also thought the discussion served to bring up a lot of good points about how to deal with death, suicide, and peer pressure.

There aren't many instances where I've gone against the wishes of an interested party, but this seemed worthy of it. I'm not happy about doing it, and have reservations, which is why I made the post here asking for opinions. It's definitely been a difficult morning.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:02 PM on January 22, 2003

dovee said she is taking the logs down before she left #mefi
posted by riffola at 2:12 PM on January 22, 2003

Sometimes the challenging is worth discussing.

- a fried kitten ? eh ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:19 PM on January 22, 2003

Don't ask.
posted by timeistight at 2:33 PM on January 22, 2003

You made the right call, mathowie, for what it is worth. As has been said ad nauseum already, the Internet is a public area and anyone who publishes information there is doing it so that people will read it, otherwise there would be no point. If you want a private diary or just want to write to express your feelings, then do it on your hard drive. If you publish it, expect it to spread.

You should not shrink from leaving a link in place just because it is disturbing, or all we will be left with is pancakes, bunnies and SUVs. Don't forget that we daily link and discuss the death of hundreds or thousands of people and there is a much greater chance that a relative or friend of one of those people has or will read MeFi. Often, the challenging must be discussed.
posted by dg at 2:42 PM on January 22, 2003

I didn't even think of coming to MeTa to talk about this thread, so I'm sorry I'm so late to this part of the discussion.

Because of dovee's note, I've received emails in the last couple of hours from a couple of news outlets looking to do a story about this.

Right now, without verification on any front, there's not much of a story. But autopsies and further developments might change that.

The chat logs are down (or soon will be). dovee, like an awful lot of people both close and not so close to this guy, is trying to deal with all this. I would say to leave the thread up, for exactly that reason. Once it falls off the front page of Mefi, only those who actively want to talk about it will read it.
posted by chicobangs at 2:44 PM on January 22, 2003

Discussion of Metafilter's treatment of the situation (and those of us who have used trackback to discuss the issue) over at the Shroomery board.
posted by arielmeadow at 3:23 PM on January 22, 2003

aye , and these people that enabled the guy are having the cheek to have a go at us !
when was it we were telling people how to screw themselves up on various drugs ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2003

I am just reeling. IRC is a gnarly place to hang out, tis true, and I feel I've seen the worst aspects of humanity in reading that thread. Not only did that poor deluded guy die, but the people there egged him on to his death, as people sometimes do, such as yelling, "Jump!" at a suicide-bent person standing on the ledge of a high building. I chose to read the thread, and the additional links, however, and I suppose I'm glad I had the chance to do so. Thanks, mathowie, for allowing it to remain accessible - a cautionary tale if I've ever seen one.
posted by Lynsey at 4:03 PM on January 22, 2003

We live our lives in public, largely, and we make our names as a consequence of our choices.

If anything, the advent of the Web has helped make this clearer. Nothing is ever truly forgotten, nothing fully goes away. While of course, compassion should always inform our actions, compassion is not the same thing as sentimentality.

I grieve for Brandon, that he had such "friends." I grieve for his family, who, whatever their faults, do not deserve this. I grieve for all of us who live in a place and time that could allow this to happen, because we've most of us been complicit in similar though smaller tragedies.

But Brandon died stupidly, at his own hand, as a consequence of his own actions. I think the truest compassion we could find in ourselves is to look long and hard at those transcripts, blithering spambot and all, and never, ever flinch from what is in them.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:42 AM on January 23, 2003

riffola: "dovee said she is taking the logs down before she left #mefi"

the links were removed from the page, the logs are still up.
posted by DBAPaul at 7:47 AM on January 23, 2003

The family only wants the IRC chat log removed. If you excise the portion of the thread referring to it you should be able to comply with their wishes without having to remove the post entirely. Also, maybe you could explain in your email that you believe the conversation itself could be helpful to others.
posted by xammerboy at 1:11 PM on January 23, 2003

Well said, adam.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:22 PM on January 23, 2003

I would just like to add this here because people are still reading these threads and visiting #mefi for more info. / and the channel #mefi is not where the incident took place. We do not know anymore than what is already mentioned in these threads. Please do not come in asking for further details, webcam images, etc. We were not directly involved, and we do not know as to where you could obtain further information.
posted by riffola at 1:59 AM on January 31, 2003

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