I feel that an important issue that has been raised here, and by recent events, is what it means to make a contribution to the Inventables community. The context for my comments hereafter are that Robert Canning is angry because he felt some in the forums were abusing him and now he has left and wants to take every contribution he ever made with him. How Inventables decides to address Robert’s particular case is their call because the forums belong to Inventables and because Robert posted freely and of his own will to the forums with no claim of copyright or any expectation of return for his contributions. But Robert’s case raises a general concern that really ought to be addressed in whatever plan is developed to revitalize the forums for future use by the community. That concern is, of course, how, in the future, to prevent forum users from walking away and taking all their contributions with them.
To the best of my knowledge, NO forum or discussion group anywhere has ever allowed users/members to take all their “cookies”; all of their posts or whatever; with them when they leave. The reason for that, given the volatility of most online forums, is precisely because of the damage and loss to their communities that would occur regularly if they allowed it. If information of value to a community is continually allowed to be drained away as members come and go, then how can that community ever come to be considered as a reliable source of information?
If users don’t have confidence that information which was available to them yesterday will be available to them tomorrow, then they are simply going to look elsewhere for more consistently reliable sources of information. And as more and more of them do that, the community dies.
All of that said, what I think Inventables needs to do is establish a policy - based on the “Creative Commons” model - that makes it clear to forum users, up-front, that they are granting a perpetual, non-exclusive copyright license to Inventables for any information they share in the forums.
This is precisely how things work when I write an article for a newspaper, magazine, etc. As the creator of the article, I still own it and the copyright to it. But for publishing my work (usually, but not always, in exchange for payment) the newspaper gets a nonexclusive right to use it and reproduce it in the future.
That would work for Inventables I think.