"Off the Record", "On Background" and ACASignups.net
OK, this hasn't become an issue yet, and perhaps I'm deluded about my importance by thinking that it might, but I figured it would be a good idea to post it "on the record" just in case it ever does.
I am a not a professional journalist. I don't work for the AP, Reuters or any other media organization. I wasn't even a "freelance journalist" prior to this project, unless you count my rants over at dKos as journalism (in a few cases they might have approached it). I'm a web developer and a blogger. Yes, I've received some donations (thank you again to everyone who has helped out!), but that's a voluntary, unofficial sort of thing. This is where the whole "blogger/journalist" fuzziness comes into play.
I am also not a lawyer, so I have no idea what, if any, legal obligations I'm under when it comes to "disclosing sources" or "keeping confidences". I haven't signed any nondisclosure agreements with anyone, nor do I plan to. I found this primer on the issue from Slate, way back in 1999, and it doesn't help me much.
So, here's the thing: If you send me data, information, a link or whatever and don't specifically ask me not to post it or not to reveal the source, assume that I probably will post it and reveal the source. That doesn't mean that I will, it just means that I might.
For that matter, even if you say that something is "off the record" or "on background" or whatever, as far as I know I'm not under any legal obligation to agree to that. The odds are that I'll do so (assuming you're not admitting to murder or something), but perhaps I won't, and I'm pretty sure that's my right as well.
If I have this wrong, I'm sure some legal types will chime in on the comments section to correct me.
On top of everything else, one of the reasons I suspect my site has gained as much attention/praise as it has is that I'm as transparent as possible, with the data, the sources, citations and so forth. That doesn't mean that I blab about every single bit of info that comes my way, but it does mean that I'm as clear and upfront with my data sources as I can be.
So, the bottom line is this: If you have information that you want me to have, operate on the assumption that it may be posted on this site, along with the source. If you're not comfortable with that, don't send it to me.