First Rule Of The New British Computer Society Is You Don't Question The BCS... Or It Threatens You With Libel

from the a-healthy-exchange-of-opinions dept

Well, this is nice. Apparently, the British Computer Society (BCS) is undergoing a £5 million effort to rebrand the group and make it appear more like a professional society (such as various doctors' groups) rather than "a club for enthusiasts." However, many members aren't happy with this whole process and how the money is being spent, so they asked for an Extraordinary General Meeting to cast a vote of "no confidence" in the board of trustees for spending so much money on something they don't believe in. Fair enough. Except... as Glyn Moody alerts us, one BCS trustee is so upset with the calls for an EGM he has threatened to sue those who called for it with libel charges.
But now one of the trustees, Ken Olisa, has sought the immediate retraction of what he regards as libellous remarks made in calling for an EGM.

In an email to one of the critics, Olisa demanded "that you and the other 5 signatories withdraw the unwarranted slur on my good name, apologise forthwith (copying the recipients of your message) and undertake in the same correspondence not to repeat the libel".

The email added: "I take my reputation very seriously and will have no hesitation in pursuing you and your co-signatories in the Courts unless I receive an unequivocal apology."
Nice to see the folks in charge of the BCS are embracing open discussion, huh?

As for the general discussion, the members of BCS who are worried about this have every reason to be. The move to make BCS more like a professional society are almost certainly not in the best interests of the profession. Historically, such professional groups tend to move strongly towards protectionist policies that hinder such groups and keep them out of step with the times and the market.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    H, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:23pm

    I think those members should create a new society based on enthusiasts and leave behind the rotten one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    cc (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 1:02am

    I can't begin to tell you how irrelevant the BCS is these days. The world has moved on to wikis and open source, but these guys still think knowledge needs to be behind a paywall...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    zenith (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 3:08am

    Mrs Streisand, meet Glyn Moody!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 4:35am

    Dueling pistols at ten paces

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Greg, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 4:50am

    Over the last twenty years the BCS has moved from a position of relative insignificance to complete and utter irrelevance.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:35am

    Re:

    General murmurings of agreement around here....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Calvin (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:38am

    Re:

    I spent about 30 years working in the IT industry, mostly as an independent consultant, I never considered membership of the BCS necessary to enhance my professional appeal or helping to progress my technical skills.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:38am

    This is what I think of the BCS....

    Who the hell are they and what have they done for me lately? (If this insults you personally I am sorry but I really don't care and if you want to sue me feel free, just plan on the insults getting worse after you are laughed out of court.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Richard Corsale, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:46am

    ohhh then their like the IEEE is here in the states.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Richard Corsale, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:47am

    Re:

    I meant that as a question, please don't sue me for liable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Michael Lockyear (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:51am

    Sadly it would appear that certain trustees of the BCS have not heard of the Streisand Effect...maybe some form of reorganization would be justified after all!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 5:51am

    "Historically, such professional groups tend to move strongly towards protectionist policies that hinder such groups and keep them out of step with the times and the market."
    By "such professional groups", it would seem fair to think that you're referring to our beloved ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). Outside of a self-consciously anachronistic name, seems to me that our professional society is fairly progressive... we've got a SIG for every emerging trend and technology, and mainstream IT is routinely outraged by some of the ACM's positions and conclusions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Lindylou, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:06am

    The BCS is better off without most of the cynics who have commented here. The IT industry is almost as notorious for its cowboys and lack of professionalism as the UK building trade. One of the BCS initiatives I see is trying to address this - all strength to them I say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:15am

    A successful libel suit requires that the person spreading the deception be aware of its inaccuracy. Even if it were false, you have to prove or somehow demonstrate an actual intent to deceive. Proving that these particular members somehow actually know that the members *do* approve of what they BCS is doing (when they claim they do not approve of it, and they themselves are members) would be equivalent to the BCS somehow being able to prove in a court of law that they can read minds and tell when people are lying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Vic, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 10:17am

    "... the unwarranted slur ..."?

    Doesn't it deserve a libel counter suit?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Ben (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re:

    It's 15 years for me, and about 12 years ago I *did* consider membership of the BCS... for about 15 minutes, until I realised just how pointless it was... I've seen no need to change my opinion since then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    noBCS, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 10:41am

    BCS no longer necessary

    I agree the BCS does not allow a fair shake and is a tool used by the monopolistic NCAA.... wait we are talking about the stupid bowl championship series right?
    No, anyways, both are stupid then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Alex Simpson, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    BCS

    How sad that most contributors to this discussion are not able to view what the BCS is doing as a genuine attempt to professionaise and gain respect for an industry that desperately needs it. The libel thing is a completely red herring.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 8:58pm

    Re: BCS

    Yes, the best way to professionalise and gain respect is certainly to show everyone your absurdly thin skin with an absurd libel suit against your critics.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Ken Olisa, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 3:04am

    Reputations

    I read your blog and subsequent discussion thread with interest. As I was the subject matter of your piece, I thought I would comment on my demand to some BCS EGM supporters that they correct the record and withdraw their untrue assertions about my behaviour as a BCS Trustees.

    It is obvious from this discussion that there are two very different definitions of reputation. I prefer the dictionary definition - "the opinion that people in general have about someone or something, or how much respect or admiration someone or something receives, based on past behaviour or character"

    My reputation is very valuable to me - in fact my livelihood depends on it - and, as with all of my other assets, I am prepared to fight to maintain it.

    Libel is, by definition, an untrue statement made about another person. A libel, if left unchallenged is likely adversely to affect the subject's reputation.

    As with reputation, your readers may well have two diffrent perspectives on the importance of truth - but in my value set, truth is sacrosanct and I believe in correcting untruths wherever they occur in my sphere of interest.

    In the case of the great BCS EGM debate, my probity was called into question and I was further accused of having suppressed information.

    As I pride myself on my honesty and I have never sought to suppress anything, I strongly objected to those claims which were presumably made to influence members to vote against me in the forthcoming democratic EGM vote.

    To have left the claims unchallenged would have left the impression that my silence meant that I accepted that the serious accusations were true. It would also have potentially led BCS members to cast their votes based on false information.

    Establishing the truth was therefore of paramount importance to me and to the future of the BCS.

    I was most certainly NOT seeking to supress open debate and for those interested in open discussion I would refer you to the BCS website where my views on the EGM call and the importance of IT becoming a genuine profession are to be found at http://yourfuture.bcs.org/server.php?show=ConNewsItem.34881

    I would close by asking your readers to think about what they would do if they were libelled, if they saw a fundamentally false claim being made,or if they learned that a democratic election was being subverted?

    Best wishes

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    sam, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re:

    hi calvin
    i would like to ask u a question if ur so experience in that field if u dont mind !
    i like to start in the it field am 30 years old !and am looking for a diploma to do but am afraid to take the wrong decision.
    is there s any diploma that i can finish in 2 years and then i would be system ,network adminstartor ?
    i searched a lot fo something in london but i couldnt find except this foundation degrees in it ,and i dont know what i would have after this degreee
    can u help me out please with short explination ?
    kind regards
    sam
    thx for ur reply

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    sam, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re:

    hi calvin
    i would like to ask u a question if ur so experience in that field if u dont mind !
    i like to start in the it field am 30 years old !and am looking for a diploma to do but am afraid to take the wrong decision.
    is there s any diploma that i can finish in 2 years and then i would be system ,network adminstartor ?
    i searched a lot fo something in london but i couldnt find except this foundation degrees in it ,and i dont know what i would have after this degreee
    can u help me out please with short explination ?
    kind regards
    sam
    thx for ur reply

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This