Early last week, Harvey Mudd College received a phone call from Charles Gragg, who was complaining about certain content on my site - namely, this page. I found out about this only this morning (29/03/04). Apparently I'm in danger of litigation from Charles. And, having reviewed this page, it's not exactly the kind of thing I'd want on my site were I in court. Moreover, it's not really the kind of thing that I want to have on my website in general. Please note that I've no fear of litigation. However, I do feel myself that what I had up on this page before qualified as libel, while what I've changed it to no longer does. With any luck, the new content accomplishes the same thing the old content did.
Why did I change this page? Because it consisted nearly entirely of hearsay - that is, I was reporting what other people have said about Charles. Regardless of whether or not what they say is true, these are their statements, not mine, and I'm not the correct forum for them to get their own voices heard. I knew when I was writing this page that I was not performing good journalism; I did no research to check the validity of what I wrote. This is not a good idea. Writing damaging, false statements on my website qualifies as libel. The trick is that I don't know if what I wrote was true or not. I personally trust the statements of people like Lady Lockeout, SHH, Guinevere, and so on. But that trust might conceivably be misplaced, and I've no real way of checking the validity of their statements. So, in the interests of good journalism, I've taken them down.
The original page here was designed to get you, the reader, to think twice about dealing with Charles Gragg. My methods were blunt and unsophisticated. In lieu of such clumsy writing, I would rather ask you some difficult questions. In turn, you should decide for yourself whether or not Charles is deserving of your time and money.
1. Why does Charles have so many enemies? Were he only what he seemed to be online, it would hardly seem possible that so many people would write long and hard about the crimes he had supposedly committed against them.
2. Of these enemies that Charles has, do you know any of them? Why would they harbour such opinions?
3. What has Charles done, physically, that proves his value to the community? The obvious answer here is that he supports his maille forum, paying for bandwidth fees. However, a check of the whois on that site reveals that it is in fact owned by John Dubielak (a.k.a. Dubie, the until-recently technician of the board), and thus he is the one who would presumably be paying the bills. Moreover, what does Charles gain from supporting the board? Might he not get a significant increase in orders thanks to a forum he owns?
4. What has Charles said he has done, physically, that would prove his value to the community? It must be admitted that Charles does a lot of talking - he has over 4000 posts on his forum. How many of those posts are spent defending himself and stating what great works he has done from the goodness of his heart? What can you personally verify about what he has said he has done?
5. Why would Charles sell the board to WAL-Mart? Would this really be aiding the community? Again, also, if Dubie owns the boards, then how can Charles sell the board to WAL-Mart?
6. Why would WAL-Mart buy the board from Charles? If they want to make an online community of their own, why would they want to deal with the many difficult legal questions on copyright surrounding the lifting of a community wholesale from one place and planting it in another? WAL-Mart is not a stupid corporation; neither are their lawyers.
7. Charles posted a letter to his board which he claimed had been written by one Peter Pflittner, in WAL-Mart's "Web Affiliate Program". If you do a search for Mr. Pflittner in connection with WAL-Mart, you'll find no mention of him. The only sites that have the Pflittner name are all in German. There's likewise no mention of a Web Affiliate Program in relation to WAL-Mart. Does this seem unlikely to you?
The bottom line is this: why does Charles deserve your loyalty? What has he actually done that shows that he is worthy of your attention and business? The problem with the Internet is that you can never be certain that someone isn't just talking. Have you tried yourself to see if Charles' words are backed by action?
All items on this site are copyright 2004 Chris Weisiger (a.k.a. Derakon). That's right - I made everything on this site. Reproduction of any of my work in whole or in part requires my express consent.