You'll never get around the ambiguities of language.
That does not mean that we should stop trying of course
I pretty much try to say what I think, hopefully like most people here in the forum. If something is bad then I will not to say otherwise despite my better knowledge. Perhaps it is a question of moral and common practice which is somewhat different among various cultures, but I think to put personal reputation or a professional career over honesty is opportunistic and possibly corrupt. In this context, I do not need to protect Oracle or any of its products and thereby hope for positive recognition.
Of course criticism must be in a civilized manner and according to the forum etiquette. It can be a challenging task to find the right phrases or expressions to outline an opinion, and at the same time neutralize emotions and try to be less disparaging when criticizing others. I can confirm that it is even more challenging when speaking in a foreign language, such as English, and English in particular.
Here is what I found on the Internet regarding “disparaging”: The term “disparagement” is subject to many interpretations. The dictionary defines the term “disparage” as “to depreciate or belittle”. Of course one man’s “belittlement” is another’s constructive criticism. I usually replace the word “disparage” with the word “defame” since defamation has a legal definition which includes the determination that a statement is not true. Thus, if you criticize your practice but you can show that the criticism was accurate, you will not be considered to have defamed the practice.
Well, I was simply wondering what “disparaging” in the context as outlined in Oracle’s Rules of Conduct means. When I read it first, I thought Oracle does no longer want to see anything negative or criticism about it’s product or employees. I did not anticipate it would end up in such a debate or extend this thread.
I still think Oracle is missing an opportunity here by using the world “disparaging” in their Rules of Conduct as it will drive away people and true opinions for no good reason. Instead I think it would be more beneficial for the community if Oracle welcomes criticism and instead of making questionable rules, rather addresses such behavior or the causes in an appropriate fashion.
Of course, belittling is partly in the eye of the beholder. Some people won't participate on the forums because they are sensitive about it. An organization ought to have a very thick skin and realize that even purely disparaging remarks are an indicator of a problem that needs to be fixed, and it's a PR problem, and that is what social media is all about. But that does seem to be too much to ask, and it's tough to maintain the balance between what the lawyers say is needed for protection (and they aren't doing their job if they aren't anticipating all legal consequences) and what users perceive should they actually read the TOS. Haters are gonna hate, too.
In some places truth is not a defense against defamation, and even where it is, that defense can be very expensive.