In case things aren't clear enough from the title of this post, let me repeat: Writers should never post an editor's rejection letter on the internet!
Over on the Asimov's forum, people are discussing an incident where a writer named Luke Jackson posted a rejection letter he received from William Sanders at Helix. The letter was originally posted on the blog of William Preston, who is defending the posting. Luke, however, has now apologized for the posting and Sanders has evidently accepted the apology.
I'm glad Luke Jackson has worked things out with William Sanders, but to everyone else saying editorial rejections are fair game for posting online, I'd like to add a few words: Are you crazy? Do you actually want to see your stories in print one day?
I have worked as an editor for a number of years, both at a commercial publishing house and at the online journal storySouth. The only reason I ever took the time to write a detailed rejection letter like the one Sanders wrote was if I thought the author had talent and I wanted to encourage that talent. If anyone had ever posted one of my rejection letters and then refused to apologize or remove the posting, I would have never considered any other submissions from that author. Period. And while I wouldn't have passed the word about the incident to other editors, if the letter attracted a lot of attention online you can bet other editors would have noticed and taken this into consideration come their own submission time.
It appears Luke Jackson made an honest mistake and has worked things out with his editor. But for all those crying defiance over this issue, pledging to post their own rejection letters for the world to critique, don't say you haven't been warned.
UPDATE: Someone e-mailed asking about my thoughts on the content of William Sanders' rejection letter. Just FYI, I focused this musing on the issue of posting an editor's rejection letter on the internet because I wasn't initially aware of what was in the letter. Once I read his letter, all I can say is that Tobias Buckell sums up my feelings very well on the matter. I've also posted more of my thoughts on all this here.