Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Royal Dutch Shell suspends its “Tell Shell” discussion forum indefinitely in response to censorship attack: Sunday 6 November 2005: 04.30am EDT

By Alfred Donovan

On 26th October 2005, Mondaq published my article entitled: “The Slow Death of the ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC "Tell Shell" Internet Discussion Forum”. It focused on the barrage of criticism about Shell management made by “Tell Shell” contributors and on Shell’s underhand censorship policies used in operating the forum, which were directly at odds with its recent claimed support for freedom of speech on the Internet.

I also posted a copy of the same article on “Tell Shell”, which has been active via Shell’s portal website since 1997.

As of Saturday 5 November 2005, visitors to the forum are confronted with the following message: -  

“Thank you for visiting our site. We're currently redesigning our forum and plan to be back on-line with regular, business focused discussions in the future. We'd like to thank you for all the comments, views and opinions you have shared with us over the years and look forward to being back again shortly. All of the previous debates have been archived and are available to view from this page.”

It is notable that it says, the “future”, not the “near future”. Nor is there any mention that the “plan” for a redesigned forum will be based on an open discussion format. Commonsense suggests that if this was not a panic move prompted by my withering article about the "Tell Shell Forum", Shell would have had the new version ready to roll out, instead of interrupting the forum for an undisclosed period of time.

All of the recent highly derogatory postings about Shell management are now buried in the “Tell Shell” archives: the postings and the active discussion forums vanished overnight.

Shell had not responded to any postings since June 2005 and self-evidently no longer wanted to hear the feedback coming from “Tell Shell”.

It is ironical that my article discussing the death of the forum was the last critical posting to appear on the active “General Discussion” forum. I had not anticipated that it would hasten the end of the forum in its former guise. 


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