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[ga] Re: Proposal for list rules/actions
Harald, and everyone:
As a follow-up to my previous post I'd like to identify and offer my own
opinions/recommendations regarding major points of
objection/discussion/suggested amendments to certain aspects of your
proposal so that subsequent action may be taken as appropriate. I believe
that some such actions are vital in reflecting a structure and ruleset
that creates a more equitable and representative set of checks and
balances, serve to improve upon the original safeguards proposed to limit
the ability of the disruptive to cause damage and consume resources, and
most importantly is agreeable to the widest number of participants in
The current situation where the Chair has made a unilateral decision
to adopt Harald's proposal in total, based on the results of what we were
told was merely an "opinion poll", a poll where there is ample evidence
of fraud, is inappropriate to say the least.
The following is in no way intended to be a comprehensive list, including
only those items I can recollect/have an opinion on, and I would like to
invite further items/revisions/comments/etc.:
1) Language regarding whether or not the GA mailing list is a
decision-making body or not.
My personal opinion is that any such language should be stricken
as the proposal was and is not the proper place to determine
or make statements regarding this.
2) In deciding to have a filtered list and an unfiltered list, which list
is the "official" GA mailing list?
I believe that if two seperate lists are maintained both lists
constitute an "official" record, and as such identical, web-based
access should be provided to both lists.
Providing identical access provides an easy and effective way
for *external* parties to evaluate for themselves claims of
bias or "censorship," and if they are interested to decide *for
themselves* which list is appropriate for them.
Offering web-access also allows everyone a simple, convienent place
to point those unfamilar with particular individuals behaviour and
or identity to so that they can judge for themselves whether or
not an individual is who they say they are and warrant speaking to.
Given the continuing and unfortunately numerous successful incidences
of certains individual fraudulently misrepresenting themselves,
in some cases doing such a thorough job that they receive quotations in
the press, I believe this to be a very important resource to provide
for the community at large.
As Ellen Rony has so aptly stated previously: "on the Internet no one
knows you're a dog." One of the only ways available to someone to make
this determination is by having simple, ready access to a record of
Making this data only available via FTP as has been suggested by
someone is insufficient as it renders search and retrevial much more
difficult especially to those not technically inclined and as such much
less likely to be reviewed. This may actually have been the intent
of the individual who suggested that, however, while I understand the
intent is to not provide a few misbehaving individuals an equal
platform, I do not believe that obsuring the entire record is the
most sensible course of action. I feel even more strongly that this is
the case if there are two completely distinct lists where individuals
have voluntarily chosen the "unfiltered" list and are participating
in good faith. The same level of display and access to this
record doesn't serve as a platform for the disruptive, as they have
no meaningful platform. Rather it serves as an easily available,
ongoing substantiation of the need for rules and filters in the first
place, and as a warning to those that might be duped into taking
one of these individuals seriously.
In reality, I don't believe it isn't necessary to have two
entirely seperate lists at all, which may provide a solution
that will make most everyone happy, as I will explain in the next item.
3) The nature of and relationship between the filtered and unfiltered
I believe I mentioned this before in some form. After giving it
some thought, I'd like to offer a much more clarified view
The suggestion changes the character and relationships of the
lists and may initially appear a bit confusing, however I
believe it to be a good idea if it is thought through, or at least one
that I hope you all will consider.
Somewhat differently from the proposal and perhaps the common view
of distinct filtered and unfiltered lists, I see the purpose of the
unfiltered version of the list as two-fold:
o As a place where those individuals for whom "list ettiquete"
rules are unecessary as they behave civilly but for whom
filtering results in sufficient moral or other objections to
o As a place where those censured for their misbehaviour on
the filtered list are restricted for the term of the censure.
It would seem reasonable and appropriate to me that the first group
have the ability to post to the filtered list subject of course
to the corresponding ruleset. Their subscription to the unfiltered
list due to objections regarding filtering should not
automatically preclude those individuals from being heard by everyone.
It would likewise seem reasonable when the ability of an individual to
post to the filtered list has been removed for violation of "filtered"
list policies, that a notice of their pending readmission be posted to
the filtered list by the SAA(s), and their behaviour on the
"unfiltered" list be reviewed upon request or objection with
specific references to actions/statements believed to be in
violation of filtered list rules before reinstatement of posting rights
to that list.
Only the actions of the individual will result in the removal of
posting rights to the filtered version of the list, a removal that
would not (hopefully) be enacted lightly. Given the gravity of any
action/statements warranting suspension, I do not believe that it is in
anyones best interest to reinstate any individuals posting rights to
the filtered list if they continue in, or engage in any new/different
pattern of behaviour that would have resulted in their removal from the
By only reviewing behaviour upon request/objection with specific
references to posts made on the unfiltered GA list, the burden
of "montioring" an individuals entire history of behaviour that an SAA
might otherwise have to perform is removed, only necessitating review
of a single or very few posts.
"Anything may go" on the unfiltered version of the list, however I see
no problem or conflict in considering the behaviour on the unfiltered
version of the list of any individual seeking readmittance to the
filtered version of the list if it is made clear that a determination
may be based on such criteria.
If you can see any sense in such a "probationary" approach, then I
believe it becomes clear that there isn't any actual need to have two
seperate and distinct "filtered" and "unfiltered" lists at all from an
administration standpoint. Consider this:
o Everyone receives posts to the "filtered" version of the list.
o Everyone who is not marked as being "filtered"(from posting) may
post to the list.
o Everyone who *is* marked as being filtered(from posting) is
limited to a certain number of posts per day and has
their posts shunted off to only the subset of list subscribers
that have chosen the "unfiltered" option where the mail-from/reply
to address is set to that of the sender rather than the list.
The purpose of this to decrease the number of posts sent to the
list from the "unfiltered in good standing" in response to those
Similarly, posts from the filtered would be flagged as such,
making it is a simple matter to have whatever web-based
viewing/search software display the "filtered" or
"unfiltered" view of the archive with little additional overhead.
I believe that implementation of such a system would result in:
o A much more cohesive and comprehensive ongoing dialogue among
*everyone* that isn't disruptive interested in the issues of the GA
regardless of their views on filtering
o Lessening of overhead in maintaining,archiving, and displaying
the contents of two entirely seperate lists.
o Afford those who are capable of learning how to behave themselves
to opportunity to do so, while preventing those that can't or
aren't willing to from regular, guaranteed reinstatement of posting
privleges to the filtered list, which further limits the
potential frequency of disruptions.
o Further reduce the noise, disruption and overhead associated
with disruptive individuals who are being filtered by both directly
limiting the volume of their posts, and indirectly reducing the
number of messages needed to be delivered/archived by setting the
mail-from/reply header to them rather than to the list.
It is my opinion that the ability to post to the "filtered" list should be
seen as a right, and as such everyone should(and does) automatically have
that ability. However, rights come with responsiblities as we are
discussing implementing; the right to post is in no way absolute, and is
appropriately removed from those unwilling to accept basic responsibility.
I do not believe that it is necessary to create a completely seperate
playground(mailing list) in deference to the disruptive.
I do not believe it is necessary for the GA as a whole to lose the
meaningful participation of those who simply object to filtering.
I also do not believe it is the responsibility of any organization to
provide those who have shown themselves to be so lacking in common decency
and honesty as to necessitate taking such unfortunate actions the
opportunity to interact with the same freedom, and ease in consuming
unlimited resources afforded to those who use such resources
The results of the current course of action based on the apparently common
view of the nature and relationship of the mailing lists, in which each
mailing list is completely seperate, and specific aspects or lack thereof
within your proposal are clear:
a) Two completely seperate lists, with a potentially completely
different subscriber base will result in potentially completely
unrelated discussions or parallel conversations in which the
benefits of the thoughts/ideas/opinions of those civil
participants who choose the "unfiltered" list on principle will
be lost to the GA as a whole.
b) Individuals will be forced to subscribe to both lists and
submit all their posts/responses to both lists, greatly
increasing the amount of resouces required to handle this.
c) Filtered list members would be subjected to the same abusive,
disruptive behaviour of those committed to such acts on a
periodic, ongoing basis as they are re-admitted subject to
the lapse in a suspension period lasting the length of one of a
few fixed durations, arbitrarily arrived at by a single SAA,
and irrespective of any relevant conduct during the time of the
d) By creating a distinct list with no rules and where "anything
goes," the disruptive are able to consume a nearly equal,
equal, or even greater amount of resources than everyone else.
4) The SAA(s)
The proposal provides for only one Sergeant at Arms, selected by
Roberto. I believe this to be both inadequate and inappropriate.
I'd propose(again) that there are three Sergeant at Arms(to avoid ties,
elected by the mailing list membership, and not *selected* by Roberto.
Again, I am not questioning Roberto, however this issue transcends
individual personalities, and as such I believe that the power
to remove someones ability to speak should not be carried by a single
individual, and that those individuals should be chosen by those that
will be affected by such decisions rather than by a potentially
5) The determination and length of suspension.
Barring activities such as Denial-of-Service attacks(which should
result in immediate removal and contacting the proper authorities)
the length of suspension should be applied according to agreed
upon formula(1st, 2nd, 3rd offense, length relative to denial of
readmission to filtered list etc.) and *never* should
be determined in an arbitrary fashion by the SAA(s). The role
of the SAA(s) should be to determine if a violation warranting
suspension has occured. They should not be in the business of
deciding the length of the "punishment," except as defined
by standardized, concrete guidelines, as any system where they
decide length is subject solely to their own value system. The
arbitrary and potentially unfair nature of such a system is amplified
by the presence of only a single SAA selected by the Chair.
Any suspensions should be conducted in a completely consistent,
equitable and unbiased fashion. Allowing the SAA(s) to choose
length of suspension does not create such an enviroment and increases
the potential for abuse.
6) The Appeals process.
An appeal, just as action to censure, should not be decided by a single
individual. Anyone wishing to appeal the decision of the SAA(s) should
be required to garner a sufficient vote of support among list
members(say 10( or a percentage of list members?)) for such an appeal
for it to be considered. Pending demonstration of sufficient support,
the issue should be put before the list membership, and *not* to the
Chair. Beyond the stated rules and judgement of the SAA(s), it should
be the list members that decide what is and is not appropriate
behaviour on THEIR list.
An appeals process as described above avoids potentially arbitrary,
biased decisions by a single individual, creates checks and
balances against a potentially "captured" group of SAA's and/or Chair,
and also makes it very difficult for an individual to consume a
large quantity of resources by filing a frivolous and/or baseless appeal.
I'd like to reiterate that any structure of this nature must transcend
individual personalities making an equitable, effective system of checks
and balances vital in whatever plan is implemented.
I would welcome everyone's thoughts on any or all of this.
I'd like to also ask the Chair that pending discussion/further revisions
of any proposal(s) to amend aspects of Harald's proposal be put to the
list members to decide, rather than adopted or rejected by fiat.
Finally, if positions are going to be collected, and action is taken
based on the expression of those positions, let's call them what they
are: VOTES and not "opinion polls."
Earth is a single point of failure.
Earth is a single point of failure.