[conspire] PenLUG this week - Gumstix - Thursday Feb 22

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Feb 23 09:45:49 PST 2007

It was late; I made a few careless errors that probably made my
narrative confusing, at points:

> Users 1, 2, and 3 are on mailing list A.  Users 3, 4, and 5 are on
> mailing list B.  User 3 makes an informational cross-post.  He/she 
> innocently and honestly expects nobody to reply, since the posting is
> just informational.  Unfortunately, user 5 doesn't happen to see it that
> way, and does Reply-to-All, maybe drifting the topic because he/she
> spotted something amusing and wanted to post a comment about it: 
>   To: A, B, 3
> Mailing list B processes 3's post, preserving the To: header during
                           ^ 5's
> retransmission.  Mailing list A does either of two things, depending on
> how it's configured:
> o  If it allows non-subscriber posting, it broadcasts 3's reply post to
                                                        ^ 5's
>    mailing list A, with To: header intact.  You now have the beginnings of
>    a noisy two-list discussion.
> o  If, as is more common, it blocks non-subscriber posting, 3's post is
>    held for list A's listadmins' scrutiny.  Those poor-bastard
>    listadmins will likewise be bothered to vet _every_ single subsequent
>    followup post from users 4 or 5.  (The same slow petty torture will, 
>    symmetrically, be visited upon B's listadmins every time users 1 and
>    2 respond.
> To worsen this situation, imagine that the lists have slightly different
> focusses:  instant culture clash.  To worsen it further, imagine that 
> each of the lists has 50 or 100 posters, instead of three.
> Imagine that one or two of those 50 or 100 are having a bad day, and
> start responding crankily to a sudden big burst of traffic, mostly
> involving people they don't know.  Who are these people, and why are
> they suddenly clogging my mailbox and barging into my community
> mailing list?  So, the cranky people reply... crankily, and suddenly you
> have a crossposted flamewar across a suddenly and unexpectedly huge
> composite group of 100-200 people who've in effect been shotgun-married
> into that composite against their intention.
> And believe it or not, some flamewars get started just from the traffic
> levels:  People will often respond angrily when they start getting
> mailing list traffic from mailing lists they aren't part of:  (If they'd
> wanted that other list's mail, they'd have subscribed to that list,
> dammit.)
> Improbable?  I've seen it happen, over and over.  The demise of
> non-subscriber posting makes it happen less, these days -- but now,
> instead of pissing off people on another mailing list, each responder
> pisses off the other list's _listadmins_.  And that's not really
> healthy, either.
> (Because of the way repeated Reply-To-All responses accumulates
> addresses of individuals as well as of lists, individuals on A may start
> getting direct-reply copies of responses from B people even where
> neither mailing list itself passes through non-subscribed posts.)
> This is why, based on my long experience as a listadmin, I politely
> suggest that people multipost across newsgroups rather than crosspost,
                                       ^^^^^^^^^^ mailing lists
> as the latter tends to cause problems.  (As a reminder, I'm _not_
> speaking with my conspire listadmin "hat", here.)

More information about the conspire mailing list