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Recently, Was Lt. Col. Vindman a registered Democrat? was asked. I did some research and can come up with a sourced answer, but it involves exposing more information about the Lt. Col. than just his political affiliation. I don't want to "dox" anyone and it seems irresponsible to be revealing information about the Lt. Col. However, this information was discovered after only a couple quick google searches and is (theoretically) available to anyone who knows where/how to look.

What should the policy be?

Edit: would an answer that provided screenshots of the proof, purged of personal information, but without a method to duplicate the results, be proper? I know it would usually not be up to standards due to not being verifiable but I believe that a user with a high enough reputation should be allowed to have the benefit of the doubt w/r/t not wanting private information leaked.

Edit 2: w/r/t the source of the information being legal/illegal, I am specifically dealing with two sources

  1. Voter registration records for the State of NY - a form to get voter registration information is available through the State of NY, but requires you to know five pieces of information about the Lt. Col., two of which are not readily available on the internet. I was able to learn that information via a source of questionable legality.
  2. Voter registration records for the District of Columbia. Apparently, D.C. used to publish their voter registration records in CSV form but have since been taken down. What I found was an archive of that data on another page entirely.

Both the State of New York and the District of Columbia consider voter registration records public information, but do not publish them online for obvious reasons.

  • It would help if you gave us an idea what other kind of info (not specifics) you found that you think it's doxxing. His address for example? – Fizz Nov 21 '19 at 16:51
  • @Fizz exactly this. I'm wondering if there's some way to PM a moderator proof and have the moderator back up my data without me having to expose it. – DenisS Nov 21 '19 at 16:55
  • You can flag this question for moderator attention. – Fizz Nov 21 '19 at 16:58
  • @Fizz done, we'll see what the mods say because I have a valid answer but don't want to do something improper/illegal. Not to mention the fact that with all the tension surrounding the impeachment hearings the last thing I want to do is provide some nutjob with the Lt. Col.'s address – DenisS Nov 21 '19 at 17:00
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    Is that source legally available? Or is it something that Lt. Col. Vindman would probably take legal action against if he were aware that this document is available online? A legal source could readily be cited (but I would still blacken personal information beforehand, and possibly alter the image enough so a reverse image search wouldn't reveal the actual source -- I am privacy-sensitive that way). An illegal source should be taken to the authorities. – DevSolar Nov 21 '19 at 19:26
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    By the way, this answer naming the whistleblower was allowed, despite the same info being banned from Facebook. – Fizz Nov 21 '19 at 20:52
  • @Fizz: "Not yet deleted" is not the same as "being allowed". Who did the "allowing"? – DevSolar Nov 21 '19 at 21:06
  • @DevSolar: mods did, I flagged the answer for their attention (with a link to a similar story on the FB ban). – Fizz Nov 21 '19 at 21:14
  • @DevSolar updating answer with more information, won't fit in a comment – DenisS Nov 21 '19 at 21:35
  • Given the updated information, I personally would say "questionable legality", and "if in doubt, don't". But that is just my take. – DevSolar Nov 22 '19 at 0:26
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This is a bit of a non-answer, sorry. I would like an answer. I don't have one. I am kind of hoping that the community will give us one. Maybe this will provoke one?

One of the challenges is that it seems very difficult to get consensus on where the boundary on doxxing is or even that doxxing is inherently a bad thing to do. Someone proposing a new policy on the matter should give that some thought, rather than leaving "doxxing" undefined.

I don't think it is appropriate for the mods to become the arbiters of truth. I think the users have trust that we will delete spam and enforce civility rules, but having an authority decide if evidence is sufficient to be a fact seems to go against the ethos of scientific skepticism. Does it cross that line to have mods act as a witness that the evidence does exist? I am wary and would rather not tread that ground, but again, I am open to others opinions.

Please don't use the whistleblower answer as a precedent. I am unhappy it was allowed to stand, but wasn't convinced by the arguments that the existing processes and CoC allowed me to delete it. If someone wants to come up with a modification to our FAQ that would reasonably exclude it, without a lot of collateral damage, I would be happy.

We have taken action against people who have tried to doxx Skeptics.SE users (very, very rarely - it doesn't come up much) but that's different to this situation.

  • (1/2) I agree with you that Skeptics.SE super-users and mods should not be the arbiters of truth, but our statuses as super-users and mods shows that the community as a whole has a certain level of trust in us. You don't get to be 10K+ users because you're untrustworthy. My original thought wrt this issue was to PM either yourself/Jamiec/other high-rep users, show the process of which the evidence was acquired, and then to the general public provide censored screenshots of the affair. – DenisS Nov 27 '19 at 17:31
  • (2/2) I would be strongly against any kind of answer, by any user, that consists of "the answer is yes, can't reveal the details of why, trust me on this, i have 16K+ rep" because we can screw up. But if a group of high-rep users examined the evidence in private, agreed that the evidence backs up the answer, and agreed on the screenshots, then that would be much more acceptable as opposed to leaving the question open. I will not be answering the question in OP with the personal details available for obvious reasons, but there is a value in the question being answered. – DenisS Nov 27 '19 at 17:34
  • @DenisS: This would merely shift the point of "blind trust" from you (the answerer) to the mod (the reviewer), and still bears the possibility of personal information being leaked... I don't think that answering any question on StackExchange should run the risk of doing damage to a person. – DevSolar Dec 4 '19 at 12:05

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