Enabling Logging By Default (Was: Re: Pidgin usability look on the web)
elb at pidgin.im
Sun Nov 9 13:25:44 EST 2008
Richard Laager spake unto us the following wisdom:
> The following discussion occurred after mpt's usability comparison
> between Empathy and Pidgin. Ubuntu turned on logging by default in
> Intrepid. Nobody seems to be screaming about it that I've heard of.
Ignorance is bliss.
> I've enabled logging by default (for chats and IMs, not the "system"
> log) for our next minor release. I've also changed the default logging
> type to HTML so that the logs include formatting and thus look
> identical* to when they were originally sent.
> When I say "by default", I mean that I've changed the default value of
> the preference. Thus, this only affects new users.
I reiterate my position that this is an unfortunate continuation of
the philosophy shown by virtually all applications today, of
defaulting to collecting and storing large amounts of personal
information in the name of "improving usability". You and I, and
probably most developers, understand the quantity of information
squirreled away by web browsers, email programs, and IM programs, and
probably take proactive measures to limit and contain this -- on my
laptop, for example, I routinely purge my entire browser history,
temporary downloads, and etc. I likewise keeps sensitive information
which is located on my laptop in encrypted loopback disks.
Most end users, however, are not even aware this information is being
collected, much less that it may persist for weeks, months, or even
years, and that it is trivially available to those with even a
mediocum of technical prowess.
IM logs aren't the end of the world, so I'm not going to go
disapproving this revision or anything (though that seems to have
become popular, lately), but I don't like the trend. My objection is
based not on usability, but on privacy concerns. Perhaps we should at
least provide a 'purge logs' or 'purge private information' function,
as web browsers do, if we choose to start storing this sort of
information without user acceptance. (Not that that is a complete
solution, of course.)
The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws [that have no remedy
for evils]. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor
determined to commit crimes.
-- Cesare Beccaria, "On Crimes and Punishments", 1764
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