[Smaug] Re: [SlugLUG] Ok, let's put it to a vote

Karsten Wade phig at phig.org
Tue, 23 Apr 2002 00:32:13 -0700 (PDT)

Weee!  This is fun.  Now I really get to stick my leg in since I already
put in my foot.  Guess I might as well break out some more opinions this
time.  Watch out, folks, because here comes mr. verbose. :P

On Mon, 22 Apr 2002, David Correa wrote:

> No one in the directive tried to be more helpful than you, so I will
> start by saying that you had nothing to do with me leaving SMAUG.

Thank you.

I think the word "directive" is extremely strong in the case of Smaug.
The group is more like an egalatarian collective.  Some of you may think a
*UG can't be egalatarian, and you may be correct, but we are trying this
out.  Because of that style, decisions and actions are sometimes loosely
based on what seems like the right thing to do at the time.  Roles are
filled by those willing to step in to fill them.  I personally started to
take some responsibility for helping to direct the meetings while they
occur, and to take notes and post them afterwards, not because I have a
need to be in charge, but because I come to the meetings to accomplish
something, and I want to see that it gets done and I get home in time for
bed. :)

> But to the best of my understanding you are not a king there that
> can decide any type issues unilaterally. We all know that
> there was more people behind and in front of the door that I needed to
> pass for me to help SMAUG.

I wholeheartedly disagree.  No one is standing the way of anyone in Smaug.
The only person in anyone's way is that person's self.  I think you
presumed a power structure and smoky-room dealings which never did exist.

As has been pointed out, any one of the sf.net project admins can add
someone to be at the same level as him/herself.  What was done could be
undone, and vice-versa.  I did what I did, and told the other project
admins.  Any of them could have reinstated your priveleges to manage the
site.  However, at that time the point was moot because you had already

Prior to that there was no organized effort to bar you from doing what you
were trying to do.  There were some technical hurdles that never got
resolved, but it was not for a lack of trying, at least on my part.

> In terms of emotions, well as i said before, the experience was hurtful
> for me. I have tried to let it go, but the attitude that created the
> confrontations keeps showing it face on this list, where I am trying as
> much as possible to keep it focused on technical aspects as opposed to
> personal. The challenge is great, some here might agree. The SMAUG
> issue was posted here as an example to all of the effects of flame wars.
> I think that we all lost on this one.

My point on all this is that we can choose to try to get along and accept
the foibles of the individuals present, or we can gang up on each other
and go to war.  You all can decide how you want to do it.  As for myself,
I got along fine with everyone on the side of the current flamewar, and
will continue to do so going forward.  I recommend that everyone try
taking a little less offense at things, and keep the common goal in mind
at all times.  And, naturally, think before you post.  And then, having
done that, think again.

> > In general, I did not agree with the arguments that you made regarding the
> > GPG keysigning protocol.  There was no situation of my bowing under tp the
> > authority of Rick Moen in this or any other matter.  I believe that the
> > public archives speak for themselves.  In terms of the way the flamewar
> > went, I did not take place in the beratement that occured.  However, I
> > think that generally one needs to be able to take some heat when posting
> > on the Internet, and only have sympathy for newbies who don't know any
> > better. David, I don't consider you to be a newbie, so I did not rush to
> > your defense against Rick.
> It seems that I was too naive and thought that someone (either list
> managers or directors; it was all the same at that moment) would try to
> balance the discussion, i was clearly wrong. Maybe the noice was to
> great for most to intervene, but I do remember another member of
> the volunteer web team that tried, and was blasted, by we know who,
> and no one (except me privately; we decided to leave it there; we
> were both had hope to see more intervention from the people that invited
> us to be part of the web team) came out to help him either. That was a
> shame, in my view.

Smaug is not currently run as a pyramidical power structure, but rather as
an egalatarian circle.  This is based on a loosely held vote in the
January meeting, IIRC.  At the time of the keysigning party flamewar,
there was no one nominally in charge to intervene. I think the group as a
community failed to intervene before things got out of hand.  IMO, the 
window to intervene was extremely small, over the course of a few hours,
and as I recall, I was busy that day and missed my personal chance.

> > 1. In a Smaug meeting, David volunteered to sit on the Website management
> > committee (http://lists.svlug.org/archives/smaug/2002q1/000317.html).
> SMAUG said that it needed help, so I offered mine, more than once.
> What a mistake that was!
> > 2. As a follow-up to that, David asked that he be added as a project admin
> > at http://sf.net/projects/smaug-web
> > (http://lists.svlug.org/archives/smaug/2002q1/000324.html). Since I was
> > recently made a project admin for that project, I smacked my head for not
> > thinking of this and diligently gave David's uid every permission that my
> > uid had (http://lists.svlug.org/archives/smaug/2002q1/000329.html).
> How else was I going to able to do a CVS "commit" there? I hope
> that most here understand what I mean. That "commit", even do it was
> for a test page, was crucial in proving that I had actually been
> granted the access to work there.

David, I will state emphatically -- I gave you every permission that I
had, I confirmed those permissions, and I had no issues getting commit
access.  So, our choices of what was going wrong were these:

1. A technical issue with sf.net affecting just your uid
2. A flub on my part where I _thought_ I had done it right but never did
3. A vast conspiracy on the part of a secret Smaug elite to disenfranchise
you from doing what you volunteered to do

Those are all I can think of.

The language that you use, whether intentionally or not, sounds as if you
believe that number 3 is the closest to the mark.  My belief is that
number 3 is the farthest from the mark.  That is why I posted a timeline
which shows that the CVS commit issues predated any negative
conflagrations happening on the public list.

> > 3. Meanwhile, I started a thread asking if we wanted to have a GPG
> > keysigning party at an upcoming Smaug meeting
> > (http://lists.svlug.org/archives/smaug/2002q1/000320.html)
> >
> > 4. A semi-ridiculous flamewar started which involved some of the
> > players you may recognize.  You can start at the link above and "Next
> > message" your way through, it is a pretty quick read.  Draw your own
> > conclusions, as I did mine.
> The offensive issue on this tread (in my view) was the refusal to send me
> an encrypted email with an user name and password because my gpg key was not
> signed.

I'm confused here - what username and password combo were you expecting to
receive?  There was no master uid/pwd that would unlock any door.  You had
a uid on the system and the permissions.  I don't know what else could
have been provided.

IMO, the central issue of the flamewar was whether or not to follow the
keysigning party protocol.

> I did took that as a personal offense, But not from the one
> that refused, but from the one that keep insinuating that I was not
> trust-able.

I'm sorry that you felt it was a personal issue.  The point was that the
keysigning protocol is extremeley unpersonal.  The reason to follow it is
because everyone else on the web of trust expects that you will follow it.
We do it because we are expected to, not because it is the best or only
way to "prove trust".

> > Most of us know that it is possible to send an encrypted email
> to someone with out signing the receiver's key. As I saw it,
> this was only an excuse not to send the passwd because there
> was only a minimal possibility that someone could be
> impersonating me.
> I think the part that created the most controversy was my statements
> that having an open key signing party where people identify themselves
> with a CA license, could have some clear security flaws, even do
> the key signing protocol do recommend just that. I posted the idea
> that it made more sense to me, to sign a key based on real trust,
> rather than presenting and CA drivers license, that no one
> can inside SMAUG (as far as i know) can make sure that is valid.
> I also mentioned that key signing parties were not the only way
> to "validate keys", this was all conveniently ignored.
> Since, we know who, felt that only his view (masked as "we need
> to follow the key signing protocol") was valid i never
> got the username/passwd.

Can we stop saying "you know who"?  This is Rick Moen, not Voldemort.

I really would like to do a breakdown of all of the actual thread and
events, but it would bore the heck out of everyone here who is still
awake.  Let me simply say that there were more than one misunderstanding,
and there were multiple conversations happening at the same time which
appeared to be a single conversation.

Everyone's insistance on focusing on his own conversation while ignoring
the fact that the other person was talking about something one or two
steps removed, added more fuel to this fire.

As a community, it is our duty to step in and clarify.  In the case of the
current discussion on SlugLUG, it sounds as if there was no real
disagreement from the beginning, or, rather, the degrees of disagreement
were very small.  Rather, it was an issue of style - how I say something,
how you respond, how I react to that, and so forth.

> > 5. While this was occurring, David was trying to update the Smaug
> > Website hosted on sf.net.  He ran into permission problems and he and I
> > attempted to troubleshoot the issue.  Despite my best attempts, I was not
> > able to make his account work properly.  This troubleshooting was all done
> > between us directly in private email.  I put out a general appeal to the
> > list asking for help from someone to get his account working
> > (http://lists.svlug.org/archives/smaug/2002q1/000338.html).
> Totally true, as i said, you did try to help, but we both know that
> it did not work. And I think the emails that I sent to you proved
> that the technical problem was not on my side.

I was never able to validate the situation.  And, since you seemed to be
waiting for a username and password that never came, I wonder if there
might have been more of a disconnect in terms of how things were supposed
to work.  I don't know, and I never will, I suppose.

> > On the other hand, we know who, claimed that he had no time to
help > with this, but it was clear that had plenty of time to shoot emails
> to the list.
> Therefore, I stand by my statement that RM was the main person
> that blocked me from helping SMAUG.

While Rick can be a disruptive force on a mailing list (to good and ill),
I think that no one was able to block anyone from doing anything.  Barring
a non-existent conspiracy, there was no way that Rick _could_ have done
anything to stop you from doing your job.  Anything else is just postings
to a mailing list.  Not the end of the world kind of stuff.

> > 6. While we were trying to resolve this issue, the flamewar continued to
> > the point where David decided that he no longer wanted to be involved with
> > the group (http://lists.svlug.org/archives/smaug/2002q1/000363.html).
> Yes, meanwhile I keep trying to find a way to help, but that
> goal was being continuously blocked.

I wish you didn't feel this way.  At the time it was evident that you felt
maneuvers were being made against you in the dark, and this is as far from
the truth as it could be.  However, since I never made any secret tapes
like Dick Nixon, I can't prove any of that.  You will have to take my word
for it.

> > 7. There were some private discussions between the list admins and David,
> > which were generally positive.  However, I believe that is where one of
> > the group founders who is not an active member wrote some remarks to David
> > that were non-positive which he referred to in his above paragraph.  At
> > the end of that, David stayed the course he had set and decided to
> > sign-off the list.
> It is my opinion, that the effort of the other "list admins" which
> I called "directors" in my earlier post, was too little too late. The
> first message said something like "dude, you need to stop sending
> posts to this list". So I said ok, you will never see another post
> of mine there.
> The founder got upset because I quoted him on one
> of my posting, he claimed that his was a private email. That
> email did not mention anything that I considered to be a secret that
> could harm him. We know what the email said. Nevertheless, his reaction
> was a hate email that did not contribute at all in helping ease the
> situation. His reaction was my main motivator to leave SMAUG.

I think both of those reactions showed pretty thin skin on your part.  And
I think that Rick was showing extremely thick skin on his part, perhaps a
little too thick.  _No_one_ would stop posting to the damn thread long
enough to catch their breath, and it was going all over the place quickly.

When someone asks you to cool off, the best reaction is to say, "Yeah,
yeah," and go cool off.  Saying, "That's it, I'm taking my ball and going
home," does not exemplify playing nice together.  You and Rick both
reacted so strongly and quickly that there was no time for anyone else to
really do much.  It's like when two dogs meet for the first time, it's all
the people in the room can do to just get out of the way.

> > 8. Respecting his decision, I did what I thought then and think now was
> > a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and that was to remove his project
> > admin status at the http://sf.net/projects/smaug-web pages.  While this is
> > not a "mission critical" Webpage, it still seemed prudent to remove
> > control from someone who was upset at recent events and who had
> > _quit_the_group_.
> This is also true, and you did the correct thing.

Thank you.  However, above you stated that you thought my action was
inappropriate because I am not the king of Smaug.  I ask you to review
that opinion you had previously, and consider changing it.

> > Please let none of this convince you of my opinion on the actions of
> > anyone.  My opinions are carefully left out of this discussion, as they
> > are mine.  The only opinion I have is that I think everyone should always
> > be nicer to each other.
> Your view is entirely respected by me.
> > I think we all have something good to contribute, and if you don't like
> > the way that someone is writing to you or treating you, you are better off
> > sidestepping the spear tip they are offering you.  If you choose not to,
> > you are engaging in the combat and are now as much to blame as the other
> > person.  Often times, offense is detected where none lies.  However, once
> > you respond as if offended, then you have actively participated in
> > engaging in the combat.  In war, there are no innocents.
> Again, it was a mistake from my part to try to reason with RM. No
> one to blame except myself.
> > In most cases, it is impossible to tell who threw the first blow, just as
> > it is hard to tell who threw the last.
> I think that I tried hard, not to let the tread get into a flame war.
> It is sometimes hard to find where to stop. I had the hope that somehow
> by expressing my ideas we could find a common ground, i was
> wrong.
> > 'Nuff said.  Thanks for your time and interest.  I will gladly answer any
> > questions anyone has in this public forum, unless you wish to keep our
> > conversations private, which I will fully respect.
> >
> > - k'
> Thanks for you time, i knew that you would eventually respond
> to my rant. But I also know that you are not a one man band,
> and it was clear to me, that you do not make the final decisions
> because on the issue of the web site, you did give me a "clear" to
> go, but somehow it was "mysteriously" blocked.

*shrug*  IMO, this was asked and answered.  You are supposing a
"conspiracy against David" that predated the flamewar.  To the best of my
recollection, you and Rick exchanged only cordial email on the list or
between the two of you when we were running into those technical issues.
The saboteur would have had to form a dislike to you based on something
else entirely.  As you recall, Rick never met you in a meeting, so if
it were he cast in the role of Phantom Hacker, he would have had to
hatch his plot before ever having a single reason to dislike you.

> To make a long story short, i had it with me trying to help
> SMAUG. So it is almost certain that you will never see me
> in any SMAUG activity.
> Also, you know that I am not subscribed to the SMAUG list, I did not post
> my rant there, so why did you sent your email there, when you know I can
> not, and will not post there?

I apologize for not receving permission for posting this thread there.  I
felt that the issue that I am trying to lay to rest (a conspiracy to keep
David from helping with Smaug) was aired enough times on that list that
the members deserved to hear my first words on the subject.

I'm going to disobey your wishes again and cross-post this message.  Many
of the people on that list are on this list, anyway.  I feel that the
members of the Smaug list, and particularly those who are keeping active
in the group, deserve to hear what they are being accused of in public.

- k'

 Karsten  Wade           "As sharp as the leading
 karsten@phig.org        edge of a ball bearing."
 http://phig.org/gpg/              - Dallas Dobro