Feedback Comments

We welcome your feedback and here is a selection of feedback comments that we have received:

1.  “I cannot understand why you included a short film of visitors to Issyk Kul with a foul mouthed American using the ‘f’ word vociferously? Stay clean please.

Reply:

It so happens that I do have some sympathy with this comment but, more than that, I found that it raised several very interesting and important issues:

Although I agree that it’s unfortunate that this particular link was there, and I am sorry if it offended anyone, I have to be frank and acknowledge that there are, in fact, some that are worse than this particular one!

There are almost 1000 sites featured, and over 3000 individual links, on the www.links.kg.  When we were originally establishing the site, we had a lot of discussion in the office about what should be included and what should be omitted. We decided, for example, not to include any link to a page that is actually selling anything, (so no tour companies  – apart from ourselves, that is – but not in the main section, only in the “About Us” section where I think, (and hope), it is legitimate – after all, it is our site); book reviews are OK, but no “Amazon” and so on.  We also decided against blogs by couples in the process of adoption and Missionaries, as they were really about other things and not about visiting Kyrgyzstan and life in Kyrgyzstan.  Also, no news items or analysis … again they are not about visiting Kyrgyzstan.

Some of our staff said that we shouldn’t include anything “negative”, (and I presume that would include the use of swear words such as the “f-word”), but I have to say that overruled them.  Why?, well, although some people love the place – others have had less positive experiences, and their comments about those experiences, their impressions and feelings are valid and are, also, already in the public domain.

(On the whole, however, I am pleased to say, the balance between positive and negative comments appears to me to be on the positive side.)

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There is another important point, however, raised by this feedback comment: is the use of profane language, a legitimate, appropriate and acceptable form of expression.

Swear words, such as the “f-word”, do not form part of my everyday vocabulary, as they seem to for some people.  I do not know why it is that so many people appear to find it so necessary, (or so easy), to use swear words “at the drop of a hat” in everyday conversation.  I admit that I often find myself feeling uncomfortable when someone does utter such words and phrases.  On at least two occasions, it has even resulted in my deciding to “take my business elsewhere”.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not a “prude” and I have been known to swear, myself.  It usually as a sign of frustration and extreme emotional stress.  Now, it may well be that the authors of some of webpages that link to where these words are used, are also seeking to express their frustration and extreme emotional stress … but does it constitute a legitimate, appropriate and acceptable form of expression.

When I do use such vocabulary, for example, I tend to be expressing something said to to myself, (“under my breath”, as it were), and not for public consumption.  When someone publishes a comment on a blog or social media outlet such as Twitter or Facebook, however, they are basically publishing it to the world – “to all and sundry”.  I have seen several things posted on Facebook, for example, that have caused me to wonder if the author’s might not find that embarrassing at some point in the future.  There are stories, for example, about people who have had applied for a job and almost had it “in the bag”, only to lose out when someone on the interview panel decided to check their Facebook page.  (Although, to be honest, these stories well be apocryphal, for all I know.  However, they do make a valid point.)

So, the question is: does the use of such language constitute “fair comment” – even if it is expressed in a way that make some of us feel uncomfortable or find objectionable.

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Now, we are not responsible for what other people choose to post on the internet but I suppose that we do carry some responsibility for publishing the link, which could easily be seen as being tantamount to a recommendation, or an endorsement, despite the fact that we have a disclaimer which appears on every page:

“CMTC is not responsible for any content posted by members of the public on any of our websites or for the availability or content of any third party sites that are accessible on links from it.  Any link to third party websites from any of our resources does not amount to an endorsement of that site and any use of that site by you is at your own risk.   Neither is it meant to imply that they endorse us.  All content, including the information, names, images, pictures, logos and icons, is provided on an “AS IS” and “AS AVAILABLE” basis”

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So, the question is: Ehat should we include?  To what extent should we bowdlerize the site and remove links which might cause offence?  To what extent should we recognize that individuals have the right to express themselves even though we might disagree with them both in terms of content and the way they choose to express themselves?

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