[Volunteers] Undisclosed banned discussion topics (was: yum extender)

William R Ward bill at svlug.org
Wed Jul 13 11:55:04 PDT 2005

Heather Stern writes:
>On Tue, Jul 12, 2005 at 12:25:30AM -0700, William R Ward wrote:
>> Please note that Paul is the President of SVLUG and the final word on
>> policy.  I may be a "hearbeat away" but I try not to set policy.  Paul
>> has given me some discretion in the area of mailing list administration
>> but that is all.
>In the past years listmaster was given final say on list policy, with not
>always nice results, because in cases of variance, his preference was to
>ban people from the list.  At some point enough people left that it was
>fundamentally a different list. 
>I count among those who left.  I got tired of having the announce list
>policy jacked around on me too, and felt that I could serve SVLUG better 
>behind the scenes.

That's interesting.  I thought you just didn't post much.  The
moderator you are referring to is no longer running the list.  Would
you mind describing this in more detail - specifically, what change in
circumstances would make you consider re-joining the list?

>In the finer past, all elected officers and appointed officers had two
>things - a voice on officers@ and the listadmin password to a few lists so
>that in theory we could all help scrape spam out of them.

This is the exact opposite of what Paul has stated as his policy.
However, I think the volunteers@ list is meant to serve in the
capacity you are referring to.

The newer version of Mailman we are now using has a separate ability
for moderator and administrator passwords.  The moderator can
approve/reject posts, but not affect list settings.  Perhaps we should
use that feature to grant that privilege to at least some of the
volunteers outside of just Paul and me?

>> Assuming "no" (which is I believe Paul's position on the matter), is
>> the volunteers@ list enough or should there be another tier between
>> officers@ and volunteers@?
>Well, there used to be a list of that, on a page that described how to
>volunteer.   In the era when that page was kept up to date,  I had been
>one of an appointed triumvirate - the Web Content Coordinator, one of the
>other gals (Amy Abascal) being the Design Coordinator, and Lisa Corsetti
>(aka flygirl) being the CGI Coordinator.  [...]
>Other volunteer Corrdinators had different teams -
>or carried the load that should be a team themselves.  I can only speak of

I think we should reinstate that list.  Perhaps we can start with
people describing what they'd like to be called, as Chris did in his
latest message to this list.

>> >> My goal is to not scare people off the svlug lists with unwanted
>> >> traffic about topics that have nothing to do with why they joined the
>> >> list.  That's less likely to happen on the volunteers list.
>> >
>> >fine, but taking public swipes at people (e.g., highly questionable
>> >and derogatory claims about what such people have recently posted) 
>> >_at the same time_ as you prohibt them from replying is a habit that's
>> >going to seriously tick people off -- and I don't mean just me.
>If this is normal on our public list I'm embarrassed.

Whether that is what happened or not is a matter of opinion.  I
disagree with Rick's characterization of what I did (obviously).

>> I appreciate that feedback and I will try to handle it more tactfully
>> in the future.
>> >> Thank you.  Most mail software would have automatically done that; I
>> >> guess yours doesn't.
>> >
>> >Bill, that's actually _not_ how Reply-To works.  I believe I can
>> >explain (and I'm honestly not trying to be critical of you or anyone
>> >else personally in saying this, but rather just trying to explain the
>> >technology).  Let's say you send:
>> [...]
>I can bring up the Reply-To-Considered-Harmful thread from another group's 
>adolescence.  If, and *only* if, someone insists.

I know, I know... I would never configure a mail server to do that on
all posts, but I find it helpful to occasionally use Reply-To on
certain messages.  I wish there was a "Followup-To" that worked on
mailing lists.  In the absense of that, the best we can do is

>> >Suggestion 2:  job-policy.shtml is probably just about right, but we 
>> >might consider deleting everything from "But I heard... and now... Why
>> >has the policy changed?" on down (because it's been long enough that 
>> >the circa-2001 policy change is no longer news).
>> I agree.
>We could have a timeline of when it was or wasn't a certain way...

Good idea.

>The very reason that the svlug netiquette page exists was because it was
>becoming the offtopic post of the week, in the days when I was still
>actually on the svlug main list.  I wasn't the webteam member who put it 
>together.  I did edit it later.
>Explicitly so that people could point to it (making it a shared knowledge of
>SVLUG) rather than have to repeat it (privately especially making it feel
>most personal to someone who's new but desperately needed to be told).  We
>had flamages to the officers, complaining about people who tried to gently
>take people aside that way. 

There should probably be a stronger distinction made between
netiquette and policy.  For example you won't get kicked off the list
for top-posting or sending an attachment, but you would for ad-hominem

>> I feel that netiquette violations should be pointed out by a list
>> administrator or moderator, not by J. Random Subscriber.  Perhaps that
>> should be one of the "appointed officers"?
>If you want to open yourself to the attitude of a $PROBLEM we have at
>another list, that such action is taken as not just personal but malicious
>if it doesn't suit $PROBLEM's tastes, go right ahead.  Which is why we
>spread it to the generic nature of the webspace in the first place.
>Rick knows exactly which $PROBLEM I mean and if you're lucky, the svlug
>main list does not.

I think most people on this list have no idea what you mean by
$PROBLEM.  I know I have no clue.  So it's not a very helpful example.
Care to give a more specific one?  Feel free to change irrelevant
details such as names, to protect the guilty or whatever.

>> >Here's 100% of the mailing list policy for CABAL's mailing list.  Ready?
>My Star Trek/24th century LUG list policies can be found at 
>	http://trek.starshine.org/cmd/list/
>If you think it's vague, there's a reason for that.  We don't think it's 
>right to micro manage people's personal mail.  We have had our flamewars,
>pride shattered, and troubles.  We've also dealt with it.  I think we're a
>more fractious group at about 30 people total than SVLUG had at its heyday
>of the many hundreds.  Even the fellow who stomped off for a while remains
>friendly.  We cannot have done half bad.

Again, I think SVLUG is a much higher-profile group and so is more
likely to attract trouble.

>> >ILUG has easily five or more times as much traffic as svlug@, routinely, 
>> >and they have none of SVLUG's control-freak list intervention -- or any
>> >need or desire for it.
>> That's interesting.  Perhaps their members have more tolerance for
>> this kind of thing.
>> Let me try to explain my concern.  I am very concerned about scaring
>> off newbies.  If someone is just starting out with Linux there's a
>> much greater chance they won't know our netiquette rules, and might be
>> expecting things like reply-to munging, etc.
>If you are a newbie and you enter a silent room where the regulars will say
>nothing because the barman glares at them if they start an interesting
>conversation, what you have is censorship, not a friendly place to hang out.
>Purely my opinion.

Nobody's proposing silence.  I'm just saying that the bar shouldn't be
dominated by discussions about how to remodel it, what the furniture
should look like, what the dress code should be, and under what
circumstances the bouncer should be forced to kick people out.  People
go there to hang out and talk, not to organize the bar.  There's a
little office upstairs with "volunteers" on the door where they can do
that kind of stuff.

>> I disagree.  The mailing list archives should be sufficient
>> documentation of that.
>The same list archives that vary on the policy of whether they can be seen
>or not?   Um, no.  Either they are labelled as to when they came from, or
>they are labelled as to who they came from, or they are explicitly
>unlabelled.  None of this business of letting a $PROBLEM tell us why we can
>or cannot have what policy.

Volunteers list archives are visible to list subscribers only, as an
antispam measure.  Since anyone can subscribe, that's not a big
obstacle.  I think the svlug archives are public, but I'm not sure.

>I don't actually think that Marc's let's ban them attitude was reasonable.
>People should get warnings.  If that warning should be delivered by an
>officer, fine.  


>> I say some repetition is OK.  Newbies may ask the same questions all
>> the time, but they don't like hearing "go read the FAQ."
>The best of ways is to give part of the answer, enough that a not-so-newbie
>would know the rest of it, and then mention the wiki/lg article/tldp or
>whatever page as a resource, possibly one among several.

Good idea.

>I think netiquette suggestions would be helpful if they give good examples,
>not just bad ones.

Netiquette suggestions tend to lead to netiquette threads, which tend
to make the list not as interesting for most people.

William R. Ward - Vice President, Silicon Valley Linux Users Group
bill at svlug.org - http://www.svlug.org - (650) 279-9904

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