the persistence of email archives

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Wed May 21 20:43:11 MDT 2003


Someone on the list asked me if it was possible to delete from the
archives some, or all, of their posts. Let me explain what would be
involved and why i would lean against such a move, with one important
caveat -- see below.

It should be common knowledge (is it stated explicitly on Lou's
page??) how email lists operate; especially archived ones such as
this. every time you post to the list, a copy is sent to both
(currently) mail-archive.com and to Han's Eberhar's marxmail
archive. As such, what you say is in the public record.

Yes, it is possible in principle to remove posts from Hans'
server. But consider what that means: i have to search each of the
archived posts for your name in the From: header, and delete. Then, if
you want posts containing comments of your posts also removed, well,
how do i do that?  i would have to write a smart script to search thru
EVERYONE's text messages, and somehow intelligently decide if YOU have
been quoted or not. and then i have to decide HOW to delete quoted
material of yours from THAT post.

IN terms of the mail-archive, i do not know if i even have write
permission on their servers, i'll check.

I, like everyone else here, have limited time for email lists. i try
to read as many of the submitted messages as i can. i help lou run the
technical aspects of his list. and i have two projects pending with
him which he has been patiently waiting for me to handle for several
months, while my work work was at fever pitch.

THUS, it is very hard for me to get motivated to do any kind of
archive cleaning, UNLESS its somehow clear that leaving this stuff
online puts a comrade in any kind of jeapordy with state apparatus.

in THAT regard, consider this: once google, for example, does it's
periodic run thru either Han's or mail-archive's sites, your post is
very likely cached at google. for example:

    http://www.mail-archive.com/marxism@lists.panix.com/msg26534.html

    http://216.239.39.100/search?q=cache:D7TWqvUnDYkJ:www.mail-archive.com/marxism%40lists.panix.com/msg26534.html+marxmail&hl=en&ie=UTF-8


which are the original archived, and google-cached versions of the
same message. There is NO KNOWN SCHEME for cleaning up google
caching.

THEREFORE, it should be understood that what you post here becomes
part of the public archive in some form or another. Requests to clean
up posts based on dissatisfaction with the running of the list is not
itself sufficient cause to motivate me working on the cleanup problem.

If you believe you are at risk posting here, write Lou or I offlist
and we'll discuss options for getting your posts submitted
anonymously.

les schaffer





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