Unveiling Quack!

Time and again people need to be told about Quack!. About what it is. What it’s about. What it can mean to the average student at TIP. Time and again I’ve talked about it. Posted articles, gone to freshmen classes to introduce the forum even talked to the faculty about what the ideology behind the student news paper is.

I’ve got all sorts of responses, from all sorts of people. Ranging from “hmm,” to “haha,” to “yeah right,” to “Yeh quack shuak chor do. Apnay grades pay dehan do.” Of course it’s not always been negative. Some people have really been encouraging. Some people have wholeheartedly participated, while others with difficulty or after constant nagging. Some are yet to write their first article. Either way, Quack! has been around for a while now.

The concept of a student newsletter has been around since Weekender, by Mansoor Qureshi (class of ’99) and company. Over the next few years student newsletters existed under various names, overheard and Whoopee! To name a few, until Rabya Shah coined the term Quack!. Eventually Quack! went off the notice boards for a year and was revived in August 2003 as an online forum. You can read more about this in the about section on the Quack! website.

Anyhow, coming back to the point, the editorial board of Quack! has had to talk about the news letter, time and again reminding its audience of its existence and potential. And at this moment I once again find myself doing the same. Except, that this time I’ve decided to take a much more comprehensive approach.

First things first, I feel that it’s important to clarify that Quack! is not about a negative approach. It’s not a tool to bash the management or faculty but rather serves as a medium to provide a forum where ideas can be exchanged to head towards improvement. There has been appreciation as well as criticism on Quack! There have been some really positive comments regarding some faculty members, Shameem Noorani and Saifuddin Kamran to name the most recent few, while there have also been some articles where students have vented their frustration out regarding faculty associated issues.

Sadly it’s not just us students who whine about the negative rather than appreciate the positive and build on it.

It’s understandable that a forum which has the capacity to bring to light any and everything that anyone has been up to, will disturb certain people no matter what end of the rope they stand on. The Quack! editorial team understands that and also understands the fact that being an online forum the website is TIP’s gateway to the outside world. As students at TIP, our attachment and dependency on the development of TIP is much more than anyone else’s. Knowing this, we understand all too well, what we should and should not write about.

Therefore, even though Quack! offers freedom of speech, there are certain checks imposed on the content on the website. The authors on Quack! are given their login ID’s after their first article has been checked and approved by the editorial board. From then on the authors are free to post their articles but the editorial board can still edit any published material. The commenting system is such that every comment has to be approved, either by the editorial board or the post author before it can be viewed on the website.

I have noted that it’s generally comments that have been posted by anonymous authors which use foul language or have content which needs to be removed from the website. Neither does the matter in comments from anonymous authors carry the same amount of substance that comments with identities do. In light of this I don’t generally encourage anonymous comments or posts.

An exception to this rule of mine is made when an author feels that posted content might lead to subconscious targeting of the author because of the matter in an article. “Chicken authors,” as we call them are strongly discouraged and their article is only put up as an anonymous post after it has been scrutinized by the editorial board.

Time and again some authors have written articles under pseudonyms. Z-square, Zash and the more recent Khala Kulsoom. In the first two cases the articles were put up by the editors and the pen authors were not given individual accounts. Also in the case of Z-square, the name was a pen name and the author’s identity was not supposed to be a guarded secret. Zash was one of our chicken authors.

Khala Kulsoom is the only author who has been given an account to write under a pseudonym. I feel that such a column should not be made a regular feature of Quack! because it will lead to an increase in the exact sort of comments and posts which lack the credibility to be welcome on Quack!. Already, I had to edit Khala Kulsoom’s first article to remove one name mentioned there while the article speaks of at least 5 other people without mentioning their names. From my perspective, it’s unethical to go on mentioning people’s names while keeping one’s own identity secret. And it’s even worse to present an opinionated article under the given circumstances.

As part of the editorial board of Quack! I am bound to not disclose Khala Kulsoom’s identity which I will guard. But I strongly feel that writing as chicken authors is not coherent with the concept of Quack! and should be discouraged.

Of course this is a two way deal. Writers will only be comfortable with expressing their opinion freely if it is not used to target them. On the grandeur scale, everyone can benefit from an opinion which will contribute towards a positive change for everyone. Except for those who are already neck deep in trouble yet go on screaming. My advice to them would be that they really should take it easy. After all, guest lectures and easy grades are not the solution to ease student restlessness or correct past mishaps.

The gist of it being that Quack! isn’t something that anyone needs to be afraid of, but rather something we being a part of TIP can use to our advantage.