Disclaimer Page for Scouting Stuff

This information is provided by volunteers. (Currently it is just me, but I expect more soon). There is no guarantee for accuracy and no promise of updating.

It is not easy to provide information to the right audience. We might want tell some good crafts to the children. We might talk about educational value to parents. We might disclose organizational structure to fellow leaders. The general public probably prefers an introduction what Scouting is all about.

In a book store the solution is simple: There are lots of books and people buy the book with the right view point. However, here on the internet it is more complex: Cross referencing is the name of the game, but to label all pointers correctly makes the text about as readable as a law book. We also are a small number of volunteers, we can not provide information from all angles.

All this information is secondary. We run our unit for the children who are there physically. The internet is not the primary media for scouting. The internet is a nice supplement, but only a supplement. We hope that if children read our information that they like it. We also hope that some fellow leaders get something out of it. Since this really is secondary, we can not guarantee real time or completeness. I hope you like it anyway.

To be more blunt: We do not propose to give unsupervised access to the internet to children. But if they come anyway, they are welcome.

No private home addresses.
No private home phone numbers.
No full names of people whose name wouldn't also appear in a council newsletter. First name with first letter of last name however is ok for all positions including boys.

We would trust most of our readers. However, this is a completely open medium, so we have to be careful. After some e-mail exchange I could give you my phone number. But that would mean to give it out to one person at a time, and is very different from broadcasting it. I also do this because I'm a webmaster; I would advice strongly against this for boys.

On the other side, I believe that business addresses, e-mail addresses, and council office phone numbers do not need protection. I also think photographs and voice samples would be ok if the child can not be identified.

Snake Oil An example of benign misuse
Some people might wonder how misuse of the internet really is... I'm not an expert but I guess dangerous misuse might be rare. However, I get messages like this some times

Subject: Your Web Page
To: webmaster@pacsky.org
From: xxxyyy@zzzz.com
Date: Sat, 15 May 1997

Nice web page! Scouting has sure come a long way since I was involved many, many years ago. Back then the web wasn't even a dream yet, and the tandy TRS-80 hadn't been invented.
Anyhow I've got an interesting fund raising opportunity for your council, and I'd like to speak with someone about it. If you would, please forward this note to the individual who would be responsible for fund raisers in your council. I can be reached at the return E-mail address. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Thank you
John Doe

This might even be a genuine inquiry, but it fits the pattern of many messages:

First a nice compliment
Then some small talk which makes you feel comfortable
Finally some request which is not really related to the compliment or the small talk

It is hard to resist doing whatever favor is asked after the well placed compliment. That is at least one reason why it is necessary to supervise youths on the web. 

Further thinking about this message raised these two questions in my mind:
Why is he sending me a message now, if his scouting experience is many, many years back.
Why isn't he sending a letter to the council office if he really wants to speak to somebody responsible for xyz in the council? (xyz not related to the web page). 

Snake Oil... My reply
This would be my reply to that message.

Subject: Re: Your Web Page
To: xxxyyy@zzzz.com
From: jacobi
Date: Mon, 17 May 1997

Why don't you send a letter about your interesting fund raising opportunity to the council office? They will find out who is responsible and forward your letter.


Of course I would tell the kids not to answer. Or better: ask a trusted grownup before answering.
Accuracy In addition to the standard disclaimers, the following holds:
Most web pages have probably not even been read by the officials in charge.
Just in case some person officially in charge would read a page and approve of something, that still would not make it official.

Please assume that all the standard disclaimers are valid here too. I don't speak for my employer, I don't speak for the owner of the site, I don't speak for BSA, I don't even speak for my Cub Scout pack. Even when I say something, I keep the right to change my opinion anytime. I even keep the right to change this disclaimer. :-)