[conspire] CABAL list policy, and occasional deliberate lack of policy

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Mar 19 17:16:44 PDT 2007

I'm not going to discuss here Paul's policy (below) regarding SVLUG
(which as president he's of course entitled to set).  However, I'm going
to detail the parallel case for CABAL.  If you think I'm making a
comment on Paul's policy, you probably have an active imagination.  Or


As listadmin, I occasionally take action at a technical level to prevent
this mailing list being overwhelmed by either spam or spew.  Spam is a
much-debated concept some of whose definition people agree on and others
not, so probably we can have wide agreement on _some_ of the nature of 
the offending material:  It's material that is by its nature offtopic
for a LUG discussion forum, most often posted by people who join the
list for no other reason than to post it.  Spew is nonsense or
bulk-imported text, such as the mass-mailed text used to untrain
Bayesian filters.

Hypothetically if some list-member were to start going on at immense
length about beekeeping or quoting chapters from _The Fall of the House
of Usher_, such that the offtopic traffic threatened to overwhelm the
mailing list, I would explicitly don my listadmin hat and intervene
minimally to say "Knock it off", and if necessary to enforce that.  I
would do so in the full sight of the list membership; on the very rare
occasions when I take action, you deserve to know what's going on. 
(Administration is deliberately minimal, relaxed, and carried out in
public view.)

You are perfectly welcome to be unhappy with some other member's
postings, and to express that displeasure.  As listadmin, I really won't
(and don't) give a damn.  Be upset with each other; work it out, as your
sense of decorum allows.  I would probably don my explicit "just a
fellow member" hat and offer to send you a procmail filter to avoid
seeing what offends you, and suggest, explicitly in my role as just a 
fellow member and not as listadmin, that you Shut The Fuck Up if you're
unwilling to create a filter like any sensible person.

As listadmin, I expect you to solve your own problems.  It's OK if you 
claim to "represent CABAL" -- though you run the serious risk that I'll 
speak as listamin to laugh and point.  You're welcome to contradict list
management all you want:  If there's spam or spew, list management will
take action, if not, list management won't, and what you say doesn't
make a whole lot of difference.

If you "add confusion", that's entirely your problem.  Again, be aware
that list administration may laugh and point.  (Mockery will ensue.)

Sending the mailing list copies of offlist correspondence is often tacky
and may get you killfiled -- but, again, is not in itself of interest to
the listadmin.  (The listadmin assumes you're adults and will sort
things out, if necessary using your own killfiles -- which he will
hand-craft for you if you're seeming a little slow and/or emotionally
labile.  His concern is over technical operation of the software, and
with making sure spam and spew don't take hold.  The listadmin is not
your dorm counselor.  The listadmin is a Right Bastard Operator from
Hell and solves only _real_ problems -- efficiently and with ruthless
disregard for your tender sensibilities.)

Most important -- and I can't stress this enough -- you are cheerily
encouraged to do your part in maintaining a healthy online culture.  
Standards of civilised online behaviour simply don't maintain
themselves:  If _you_ don't occasionally remind people that they're
behaving like doofuses and likely to piss people off, how are they going
to know?  And, more important, if you're limited to just playing
whack-a-mole in private mail, how is the _world_ going to know about
those standards?  So, we thrash out our consensus, and our culture, in

Online culture works the way David Clark of MIT described as the IETF 
method:  "We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough
consensus and running code."

So, by all means _do_ assert standards publicly.  Please.  It's the only
way that ever has worked, and is A Very Good Thing.  (If people think
you're wrong, they may tell you you're an idiot.  They may killfile you.
You'll all muddle through; it's part of growing up.)


We don't bother putting that on the listinfo page
(http://linuxmafia.com/mailman/listinfo/conspire) because it's pretty
easy for people to figure out from context.  However, we do put there a
couple of items (three, by my count) that are deemed most likely to be
useful and perhaps non-obvious.

----- Forwarded message from Paul Reiber <reiber at gmail.com> -----

Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 13:56:43 -0700
From: Paul Reiber <reiber at gmail.com>
To: SVLUG <svlug at lists.svlug.org>
Reply-To: reiber at gmail.com
Subject: [svlug] SVLUG list spam police policy

Greetings, SVLUG!

Yesterday a few messages hit the list that really shouldn't have.  One of
them was from me, and I apologize for that - it probably should have been
sent off-list.

SVLUG's mailing list has a very high signal-to-noise ratio, and I'd like to
ensure it stays high.  With that in mind, please refrain from chastising or
reprimanding posters on-list.  These sorts of emails, and replies to them,
can quickly become worse than the original (imagined or real) offense.

If you feel you absolutely must chastize or reprimand someone for what
they have posted to the SVLUG list, please...

- reconsider, knowing SVLUGs volunteer staff will handle any real problems

- be sure to mention that you do NOT represent SVLUG

- be aware that your words might contradict an SVLUG volunteer or officer

- be aware you may simply be adding confusion to an otherwise managed situation

- most important - please do not share your message to the "offender"
with the entire SVLUG list.  Send the message off-list if you must
send it at all.

I can't stress this last point enough - the SVLUG mailinglists aren't
a place for
public chastisement or reprimands.  I apologize for doing that myself (though
it was sort of recursive - chastizing about chastizing.)

If you'd like to discuss this policy with me, please email me
privately.  This is _not_ the beginning of a discussion thread, so
please don't reply to the list regarding it.

-Paul Reiber
President, SVLUG

svlug mailing list
svlug at lists.svlug.org

----- End forwarded message -----

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