Every time I think that I have dealt finally with the story of how I lied to get onto various home education Internet lists and then abused their trust by publishing newspaper articles containing information taken from these lists, I find that after a month or two somebody tries to start it up again. Yesterday, somebody who comments here regularly said;
'if my memory serves me correctly, you were barred from HE-UK because you put material from the site in the public domain without the permission of the poster or the list owner.'
This is of course absolute nonsense. I joined the HE-UK list in 2007. I joined using my real name and personal email address, although it would have saved me a lot of trouble had I done what everybody else there seems to do and used a false name. At the end of July 2009 I had a couple of articles published in the Independent and the Times Educational Supplement about home education. here is the one from the Independent;
There is nothing at all in this article apart from what is freely available to any member of the public on open websites. I was keenly aware that I should not use anything which I had learned from the lists and so restricted what I wrote to information from the public domain. I quoted from an account of autonomous education found on the Education Otherwise site. It is here;
Soon after this was published Mike Fortune-Wood, the owner of the HE-UK site, posted a comment on the online version of the article in which he claimed that I had lied to gain admission to his list. This was not true of course and he was too ashamed to sign his own name to this comment, preferring to use the pseudonym Maesk123. He also included a post which I had made on the list. Up until that point, I had assumed that all comments which people posted on this list were private and meant only to be read by those on the list. Other members of this list then began to publish my comments from the list in various places, including writing to the editors of national newspapers with quotes from them. Later on, things which I had posted on this list began to appear on blogs and websites across the world! On October 7th 2009 Wendy Crickard posted a message on the HE-UK list asking for details of previous posts of mine made to the list. She explained that she wished to show these to Linda Waltho MP, who was sitting on the select committee.
One might have thought that if anybody on this list was really concerned about the privacy of messages which were posted there, then at least one person would have raised an objection to this. In fact Janet Ford, another of those who seems to be ashamed of her own name, posting as Mehetabel, started a new thread called, '[HE-UK] Simon Webbs previous posts for Wendy :-' She then listed every post of mine that she could find, so that others could pass them on to MPs and anywhere else.
It was at this point that I realised that the posts which people made on the HE-UK list were not really regarded as being private at all. It was clear from the fact that nobody objected on the list to all this, that all the members found this it quite acceptable to use posts in this way and to publish them anywhere. From that time on I have not bothered at all about the privacy of this list.
I hope that it is now plain that I did not put anything in my two articles from any of the home education lists to which I belonged when I wrote them. I hope it is also clear that when one finds that all those on a private list, from the list owner downwards, are perfectly content to publish private messages across the Internet, in national newspapers and even submit them as evidence to a select committee, then the idea of a 'private' list is no longer really possible. It is clear that private messages on such a list are really regarded as public property. I have behaved accordingly ever since this happened. I do hope that this will be the last I have to write about this topic.