Discussing discussions

In response to Dr. Wahl`s latest commentary, I would like to clarify some issues. The Internet Dental Forum started in 1994 as a volunteer effort, initially utilizing my own private financial resources. After personally financing the IDF, I received various donations from the participants and eventually received a grant from 3M to cover some of the costs involved. After the grant ended, I charged a modest subscription fee in lieu of using commercial mechanisms to finance the costs involved. The

David Dodell, DMD

Full-time practicing dentist and administrator, Internet Dental Forum

Scottsdale, Ariz.

In response to Dr. Wahl`s latest commentary, I would like to clarify some issues. The Internet Dental Forum started in 1994 as a volunteer effort, initially utilizing my own private financial resources. After personally financing the IDF, I received various donations from the participants and eventually received a grant from 3M to cover some of the costs involved. After the grant ended, I charged a modest subscription fee in lieu of using commercial mechanisms to finance the costs involved. The subscription was generated to fund the operating costs of the IDF, and to allow it to run as a private forum without advertising or other commercial mechanisms. There is no subscription for any of the sublists; they are supported by the subscribers to the main list. All funds generated from the members are used solely for the IDF. I have no financial motivation for bringing the Internet Dental Forum to my colleagues and solely did so to allow dentists to have a place to share information without the interruption of advertisements.

In 1994, the only dental discussion group that existed was Sci.med.dentistry on Usenet. However, it allowed for public participation and I felt there should be a private place for dentists to discuss their profession. My motivation was simply that. There were no financial or commercial interests involved in bringing the Internet Dental Forum to the dental profession.

Further, the discussion on the Internet Dental Forum is not censored; however, I do ask the members to refrain from derogatory comments which would otherwise harm or defame an individual or corporation. I also ask that members of the IDF limit their discussion to topics of dentistry and that any nondental discussion takes place on one of my sub-lists designated for areas of discussion outside of dentistry.

In response to Dr. Wahl`s amusing comments that "I gave in to a bully," it had nothing to do with any lawsuits or threat of a lawsuit. Although Dr. Mike Maroon professes to operate his list with a free speech motive, he does have a generous legal disclaimer regarding any conversation that takes place on his forum. I agree that free speech should be allowed on all of the forums, but I also believe that any derogatory discussion does not assist in promoting conversation about dentistry.

Since Dr. Maroon does not use a private Internet access to operate his list (as the IDF does), there are no administrative costs. E-groups do not charge genR8Tnext any administrative costs so, in essence, Dr. Wahl and Dr. Maroon are able to profit by the advertisements on their list. That is purely their right to do so. The difference between their lists and the IDF involves this component. I have strived to keep the IDF list private solely because I have no personal financial motivation to make it anything other than what it already is. I prefer to offer my subscribers the ability to participate without advertisement.

I am not trying to criticize Dr. Wahl, Dr. Maroon, or any other list. The intent of my initial letter was written to clarify that Dr. Kimball`s original article (which appeared in the August issue of Dental Economics) contained comments that were quoted by IDF users. I also was merely trying to state that Dr. Kimball failed to mention the Internet Dental Forum and that his article severely misquoted Dr. Bill Domb, whose comments about the IDF were attributed to genR8Tnext.

I was trying to suggest that many other online dental forums exist - not for commercial purposes - but for the mere love of dentistry.

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