Saturday 1 June 2013

Censorship on Adobe ColdFusion forums - Open letter to the management of the Adobe ColdFusion forums

Open letter to the management of the Adobe ColdFusion forums
(I do not know how to contact you, but I will try to find out and send this to you directly as well, as a courtesy).

I am a veteran user of your ColdFusion support forums. Over the last decade or so I have been visiting the site daily (indeed several times a day: I get notified when any post is made on any of your ColdFusion-centric forums), and answering as many of people's questions as I can. For the last few years it's been via the web UI so you can go check my participation, but prior to that I was using the forums via NNTP, and my participation during that period is less easy to quantify, but it's to the tune of a few thousand posts / answers to people's questions. I consider myself an asset to the forums, and the ColdFusion community. I mean this just as "for the record", rather than any attempt to inflate any sense of my worth.

However as of today - unless you take remedial action as I will go on to detail - I will be surrendering my membership of your forums, and ceasing all attempts to assist people there.

Why am I considering doing this? Well firstly I will reproduce a thread from your forums, then I will discuss it. Where possibly the quoted material below is as it was initially posted, and if it's not exactly as originally presented, this is an accident on my part. I have highlighted some points I wish to discuss with you, simply for ease of cross-reference.

I have confirmed with Jason Dean (12Robots) that is happy for me to quote him here. I did not attempt to contact the other participant: "grazan".

Below is a chronological reproduction of the thread (in its original form, anyhow):

cold fusion 9 500 Internal server error.
created by grazan

all of a sudden none of our cfm web pages work on a windows 8 server running iis 7 .... the
server shows no errors in the event viewer .... occasionally functionality comes back w/o doing
anything ...... cold fusion did have all the hotfixes updated a few months ago but i cant get to
the admin page to give what the version is

created by 12Robots
First, ColdFusion is one word.

Second, what is a WIndows 8 server?

Third, and most important, you have provided ZERO detail. We can't help you if you don't provide something other than "none of our cfm web pages work".  ColdFusion has logs (<coldfusionDir>/logs) JRun has logs (<coldfusionDir>/runtime/logs). Even if the Windows event viewer shows nothing, there should be info in those log files about what is going on.

Good luck,

created by grazan




created by 12Robots



created by Adam Cameron
Hahahahaha. Nice.


created by Adam Cameron

Well if you got over your misplaced indignation for a moment, let's see:
ColdFusion is what people will google for, so in the spirit of helping others who might have the same question as you later on, spelling it right will help the community.

Jason's observation that you give us absolutely nothing to go on so it's basically impossible to help you is a fairly poignant observation, right? You do want help? Right, so here's some suggestions:

Articulate your issue clearly, with sufficient detail that we can help you. Read this:

Secondly... being rude to someone like Jason who really is one of the most helpful people on
these forums is a pretty stupid idea. And just serves to make you look a bit of a dick. Esp. with the caps lock on.

But anyway, let's call that a false start
. Give us the details of your issue, and we'll try to help.



At this point, the moderator started redacting earlier messages, as detailed below:

Redacted version of earlier message:
created by 12Robots

First, [Jason, please see forum guidelines]

[rest of message as above]

Redacted version of earlier message:

created by grazan[please see forum guidelines]

Redacted version of earlier message:

created by Adam Cameron

Entire message redacted

Redacted version of earlier message:

created by Adam Cameron

[unnecessary comments removed - Adam please see forum guidelines]

Give us the details of your issue, and we'll try to help.



And now back to the live thread:
created by 12Robots

Forum admin,

You censored the comment "ColdFusion is one word"?  Seriously?

I didn't realize that suggesting that someone spell the name of the product correctly was against the forum guidelines.  I guess I could go look it up, but I will just unsubscribe and help out at Stack Overflow instead.

Good luck,


created by Adam Cameron

Please see how much I used to help out on these forums.

I'm outa here, but not before I complain about your dictatorial behaviour.

Censorial nazi idiot.

[The entire message above has now been redacted].

That's the end of the relevant part of the thread.

Clearly I wish to speak to you about this censorship your moderator is choosing to undertake.
Firstly, let me say that I understand the perception that forums require moderation. Personally I think this position is of dubious merit, but so be it: it's a common practice. And I generally understand when I see things that have been moderated, or when a moderator step in and advises that they consider someone's wording contravenes forum guideline. I understand all this.


I think the behaviour of your moderator in this situation is unacceptable. Let me elaborate.

Firstly, The highlighted comment of Jason's was removed. This comment stated - correctly - that the correct spelling of ColdFusion is as one word, as per his guidance. This comment was censored/redacted by your moderator. For the life of me, applying my most "socially modest" mindset, I cannot see what was wrong with Jason's comment, and why it needed any follow-up on any description. It was accurate advice.

The original poster's response to Jason was indeed a bit gratuitous, but - really - so what? No-one is taking offence here, and there's nothing anyone reasonable could take offence at. The person is just being a bit childish in their response. And, I hasten to add, at their own expense, I think. I see not reason to have redacted what they said.

We now come to my responses. One entire response I made was redacted (I've only just noticed this, whilst proofreading this letter).  A number of tracts was redacted from my own initial post on the thread. Here I was simply explaining why Jason said what he did, and why it's good advice. And it was good advice. Your moderator here has removed both good advice, and an explanation as to why it was good advice. Again, I cannot fathom why your moderator has done this.

Following on from this I back-up Jason's assertion that the original post was inadequate on detail for us to help. This too is accurate. I reiterated this to try to make the origial poster see that Jason wasn't simply being unhelpful - to the contrary - pointing out we need more information before we can help is very good initial advice here. Advice that has now been deleted.

Next is some slightly contentious wording on my part, I suppose... at least if one doesn't actually read what I say, instead simply zooming in on one word and assessing it out of context. I pointed out that being abusive and writing in all-caps is unnecessary, and makes the person look like a dick. Note I didn't say the person was a dick (that would be abuse... very mild though), I was saying that given the behaviour the person was engaging in, they could be perceived that way. Which is... accurate. And saying someone is a dick and suggesting they could be perceived as a dick are two different things. One is ad hominem attack (bad), one is simply an observation / guidance (not bad).

At this point Jason drew my attention to this censorship going on. And this is another thing that I think is inappropriate on the part of the moderator. I have little problem with them thinking that content on this thread needs censorship (whilst they are wrong, they are entitled to their opinion), to silently and anonymously redact people's posts is an inappropriate - and to be frank cowardly - handling of this situation. If the moderator has an issue with something written on the forums, the courteous and professional thing to do would be to advise the participants that they have overstepped. This would give us a chance to remediate the situation, or to simply disagree. Simply excising someone's work - because this is volunteer work we are engaging in here - is unacceptable.

If anything ought to have been censored from the thread it was my last comment. Whilst it was accurate, I did use harsh sentiment, I accept this. However in the given situation, I don't think I have been the most out-of-line participant in proceedings.

I would like you to remediate this situation, and here is how I would like you to do it.

  • Restore Jason's original post. There was no reason to censor it.
  • Restore grazan's all-caps post. It was doing no harm.
  • Restore my second post (not the one laughing at Jason's joke, the longer one I discuss above). Again, useful and accurate information was removed from this post, and there was simply no reason to have had done so.
  • You can leave my last comment redacted. Fair enough. Whilst I stand by what I said, it is unhelpful in the context of the thread.
  • I also want the moderator to be censured, and I would like them to apologise for their behaviour, by posting on that thread explaining that they understand their behaviour was inappropriate and unacceptable.
  • If they are a community volunteer, they should be dismissed from their position. They are clearly not capable of fulfilling this role in a professional, well-balanced manner.
  • If they are an Adobe staff person, then the censure will have to be sufficient, although I think they should be relieved from their duties as a forum moderator, as they are not up to the task at hand.
  • Talk to your other moderators and advise them they need to act with a sense of balance and professionalism when moderating the forums.

In return, I will continue my participation on the forums, and continue to help the ColdFusion community members where I can, in the spirit of goodwill and co-operation. I will also try to convince Jason to do the same.

If you cannot see right to resolve this situation appropriate, I will surrender my membership of the forums and cease helping your community.

You can reply to me either via a comment against this post, or via email ( That said, see the caveats in my communications policy: I reserve the right to publish any communications on this topic as I see fit (within the bounds of common sense).

Thanks for your time.

Adam Cameron