Recent events require me to intervene this morning with a few reminders pursuant to our Terms of Service and the principles that have guided this site since it was founded 8 years, 1 week, and 2 days ago.
First and foremost, open discussions regarding all things credit-related are welcomed and benefit everyone.
Certainly the predominant world view expressed by Creditnet members can be described as an aggressive exercise of ones rights as prescribed by Federal law, specifically the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) among others. Within this world view, the consumer is held as the protagonist, while creditors are seen as antagonists -- a dichotomy that is unfortunately borne of our collective real life experience. It is an established fact that these two Federal statutes in particular are designed to protect consumers, with the FCRA placing limits upon how information about consumers can be reported and with the FDCPA placing limits upon how collection agencies can conduct their business. Both statutes were legislated as a response to serious consumer abuses in both areas. Although Federal law has vastly improved the landscape for consumers, abuses still occur, and we justifiably hear those discussed within Creditnet.
While this aggressive consumer orientation reflects the prevailing view, it is important for all of us to realize that ours is not the only point of view. Unfortunately some of our members apparently believe that opposing views somehow violate the Creditnet Terms of Service. Specifically:
-- There is a correct point of view, and it is ours.
-- Opposing point of views are disruptive.
-- Challenging the prevailing view is disruptive.
-- On the other hand, the Terms of Service regarding name-calling and harassment don't apply if the poster doesn't share our point of view, even if that other individual is polite about it.
Needless to say, I do not agree that we are so weak that we cannot withstand civilized discussion. The aggressive, pro-consumer orientation which prevails here is based upon law and is far stronger than anyone who would randomly moralize. Let the discussion reveal the truth. More than one CA has visited Creditnet and left far wiser. Perhaps the most prominent example of that was WestCap, a collection agency owner and esteemed Creditnet member who exchanged more than a few insights with others here -- and a few disagreements as well.
Second, the Creditnet Terms of Service will be upheld.
Opposing views do not constitute a violation of the Terms of Service, even if they are expressed by a couple of individuals who are visiting from another site whose prevailing world view is very different. Neither would I expect Creditnet members to be accused of malfeasance should they visit those other sites. I would, however, expect vigorous debate, and that is exactly what we see.
What does constitute a Terms of Service violation? Name-calling, outright threats, harassment, spamming -- basically what you would expect. So, to offer concrete examples, when Mycroft was called an "idiot troll," that violated our Terms of Service. When PsycDoc then termed the member who harassed Mycroft a "baby," that similarly violated our Terms of Service. On the other hand, when Too Much said "Live within your means," that does NOT violate our Terms, unless marched across the board spam-style, inserting that single thought within multiple and vaguely-related threads in an obvious disruptive attack. If someone decided to spam with the opposite message -- "Validate everything" perhaps -- that would similarly constitute a Terms violation. It is the behavior, not the debt philosophy, that marks a Terms violation.
Finally, does every Terms of Service violation result in an account ban? Absolutely not. However a protracted pattern of such abuse -- again, name-calling, outright threats, harassment, spamming, REAL patterned disruption, and the like -- can result in such action.
Voltaire set the stage for America's overriding philosophy when he wrote, "I may take issue with what you have to say, but I will defend your right to say it." I would encourage everyone to reach for tolerance and civilized discussion. As we've demonstrated for more than eight years, I know we are capable of such a goal. Finally, as someone who agrees with our prevailing pro-consumer stance, I myself am often challenged and flummoxed by those who disagree with us. Regardless, it is my duty to defend all Creditnet members, even those with whom I personally disagree. Please do the same.