[Volunteers] "As an anti-spam measure"?

William R Ward bill at svlug.org
Fri Jul 15 23:06:22 PDT 2005

Rick Moen writes:
>Note:  SVLUG's two elected officers[1] decided, when they set up this
>organisational mailing list and nuked a bunch of others without
>consulting or informing anyone else, that this mailing list would have its
>archive viewable only by its subscribers, and its membership roster
>viewable only by themselves.  A perfectly sufficient reason for both of
>those things is "Because we wanted to."  That matter is therefore -not-
>the subject of this message.
>Something from the other day gave me a double-take, so I thought I'd
>best revisit it:
>Bill Ward wrote:
>> Volunteers list archives are visible to list subscribers only, as an
>> antispam measure.
>I'm pretty sure I know a lot about Mailman and exim, and a lot about
>spam.  But that sentence of yours makes _no_ sense.  
>The only _conceivable_ and extremely weak sense in which some people
>_might_ classify nonpublic archives as an "antispam measure" is that it 
>makes it necessary for spammers to briefly join the mailing list (e.g.,
>via their scripts for that purpose) before they can harvest
>Mailman-munged e-mail addresses from the Web archives -- a tiny hurdle
>for.  But then, if that's the reason why volunteers@'s archive is
>nonpublic, _why isn't svlug@'s_ nonpublic, too?

Yes, that's the reasoning - the theory being their scripts aren't
typically smart enough to go to the trouble.

Personally I always set the archive policy that way on lists I
administer for that reason.  It removes low-hanging fruit.  I didn't
do it to the svlug@ list because it has always been the way it is,
while volunteers@ was a new list.

>Logic therefore suggests that the cited reason is completely bogus, and
>that you guys defined the archive as nonpublic -- quite simply -- in
>order to keep it out of view of the general public.  Obviously.
>(You'll have to decide for yourself, but personally, I'd think giving 
>bright technical people blatantly phony technical justifications 
>is... unwise.)

Whether it's phony or not is a matter of opinion, and I wish you would
express it as such when making statements like this.

However, if the subscribers to volunteers@ do not object to making the
archives public, neither do I.

>That aside:  You asked (earlier) for suggestions of "policy changes"
>(presumably concerning mailing lists).  Summarising my existing four 
>Suggestion 1:  Move all list policy to list-policy.shtml & job-policy.shtml .
>Suggestion 2:  Truncate job-policy.shtml, starting at "But I heard..."
>Suggestion 3:  Snip non-list-policy material from list-policy.shtml .
>Suggestion 4:  Start a collaborative FAQ for svlug at lists.svlug.org.

I agree with all these suggestions.

>Note:  I'd assumed the connection between suggestions 3 & 4 was obvious,
>but given that you've so far rejected #3, maybe I should be more explicit:
>The FAQ is where one could park whatever of that material deserves keeping.

Once a SVLUG Wiki has been set up, and a FAQ page in it established,
then the not-so-policy-related items can be moved there.  Until such a
FAQ exists, they need to be *somewhere.*

>I'll now add:
>Suggestion 5:  Make svlug@ & volunteers@ rosters visible to their subscribers.

I don't like this idea, because I think lurkers who want to read a
mailing list should be able to do so without introducing *any* risk of
their email addresses being harvested by spammers.  Of course, if they
are visible to the world it's trivial to harvest the addresses.  But
as you mentioned above, it's possible (though I think unlikely) that
the spammers could join just to get the subscriber list.  I don't want
members getting upset because they're suddenly getting spammed at
addresses they use only for reading SVLUG mail.

>[1] Judging by Bill Ward's recent post, he's decided that, in a marked
>break from SVLUG's entire prior history, he and Paul alone are "officers";
>the rest of us are "volunteers".  Again that is not a complaint; it's 
>their judgement call, which obvious is being presented to us as a fait
>accompli:  I just wanted to render explicit what we're being told
>implicitly.  Again, I see this as part of the trend of centralisation
>that's marked their administration.

**I** decided??!?!?!  Where did you get that idea?  That wasn't my
decision.  I'm just going along with what my President has stated as

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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