Mailing list moderation and community openness

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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

Rich Freeman
On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 12:12 PM, Martin Vaeth <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 3:34 AM, Martin Vaeth <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>>
>>> It is about openness vs. isolation.
>>
>> I'm pretty sure most developers, myself included, want to welcome
>> contributions.
>
> Closing of the mailing list does not sound like that.
>

Sure, but it is actually part of the motivation.

Consider this scenario.

Fred is a community member.  Fred consistently harasses and trolls new
contributors in private.  New contributors end up leaving because of
Fred.

Fred gets booted out as a result.  No mention is made of why Fred as
booted out, because everything happened in private.

Now a bunch of community members get upset about Fred being booted out
without reason.  Fred claims it is because he disagrees with the
leadership on something.  People start arguing endlessly about
openness.

Ultimately the leaders just want Fred gone so that new contributors
aren't getting driven away.  They can't explain that because then they
create potential civil liability for the project.  The problem is that
the debate goes on for over a year despite intervening elections and
now this becomes the issue that is driving new contributors away.

What solution would you propose for this problem?  It isn't
hypothetical at all - I can think of one case in Gentoo's past where
this happened that I'm aware of, and I'd be shocked if it were the
only one.

> And anyway, you can be sure that the problem will appear again,
> no matter how closed the list will be.

Sure, but we can at least force the negative advertising of Gentoo to
go elsewhere, rather than basically paying to run a negative PR
campaign against ourselves.

>> A lot of this comes down to considering that most people in these
>> debates probably are well-intended.
>
> Taking away freedom is never justified by good intention.

You might want to choose a BSD-based distro then.  :)

And what about the freedom to endlessly troll and harass you and
others?  Is this truly a freedom we want to stand for?  How about the
freedom to harass members of legally-protected classes (something that
also has happened historically in the community)?

Surely Gentoo's mission isn't to run completely unrestricated forums
for discussion of anything and everything.  Our main purpose here is
to maintain a Linux distro, not provide a platform for anybody who has
an opinion on anything.  Free expression has to be balanced against
the interests of people who want to actually contribute to the distro
without being endlessly trolled and harassed.

--
Rich

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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

M. J. Everitt
On 27/03/18 17:39, Rich Freeman wrote:

> On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 12:12 PM, Martin Vaeth <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>> On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 3:34 AM, Martin Vaeth <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>>> It is about openness vs. isolation.
>>> I'm pretty sure most developers, myself included, want to welcome
>>> contributions.
>> Closing of the mailing list does not sound like that.
>>
> Sure, but it is actually part of the motivation.
>
> Consider this scenario.
>
> Fred is a community member.  Fred consistently harasses and trolls new
> contributors in private.  New contributors end up leaving because of
> Fred.
>
> Fred gets booted out as a result.  No mention is made of why Fred as
> booted out, because everything happened in private.
>
> Now a bunch of community members get upset about Fred being booted out
> without reason.  Fred claims it is because he disagrees with the
> leadership on something.  People start arguing endlessly about
> openness.
>
> Ultimately the leaders just want Fred gone so that new contributors
> aren't getting driven away.  They can't explain that because then they
> create potential civil liability for the project.  The problem is that
> the debate goes on for over a year despite intervening elections and
> now this becomes the issue that is driving new contributors away.
>
> What solution would you propose for this problem?  It isn't
> hypothetical at all - I can think of one case in Gentoo's past where
> this happened that I'm aware of, and I'd be shocked if it were the
> only one.
>
>> And anyway, you can be sure that the problem will appear again,
>> no matter how closed the list will be.
> Sure, but we can at least force the negative advertising of Gentoo to
> go elsewhere, rather than basically paying to run a negative PR
> campaign against ourselves.
>
>>> A lot of this comes down to considering that most people in these
>>> debates probably are well-intended.
>> Taking away freedom is never justified by good intention.
> You might want to choose a BSD-based distro then.  :)
>
> And what about the freedom to endlessly troll and harass you and
> others?  Is this truly a freedom we want to stand for?  How about the
> freedom to harass members of legally-protected classes (something that
> also has happened historically in the community)?
>
> Surely Gentoo's mission isn't to run completely unrestricated forums
> for discussion of anything and everything.  Our main purpose here is
> to maintain a Linux distro, not provide a platform for anybody who has
> an opinion on anything.  Free expression has to be balanced against
> the interests of people who want to actually contribute to the distro
> without being endlessly trolled and harassed.
>
It sounds a lot to me like you're replacing one set of problems with
another .. solving not a lot. Whether you take action on "Fred" or not,
you're going to lose out, so what do you do... Where is the greater
damage, with one/two people, 10/20 people or 100/200 people .. its a
huge value judgement - certainly not one I'd like to make!

You may or may not have heard the expression "throwing out the baby with
the bathwater" .. alas I feel this measure is a good example of this. To
try to rid the mailing list of one or two bad apples, you've cut the
whole tree down so it can't bear fruit. I think this is a foolish step,
but only time will tell that for sure ... The next "logical" step would
simply be to delete the whole mailing list - I suppose that's the next
"measure" when the trolling from white-listed members resurfaces.... And
don't go telling me it doesn't exist .. set a bad example, others will
surely follow ...

Ooops, another $2 spent on a lost cause .. >,<


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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

R0b0t1
In reply to this post by Rich Freeman
I really do hate discussing this. I will pray for Gentoo, friends, as
I hope the distribution continues to receive useful contributions.


On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 11:39 AM, Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Now a bunch of community members get upset about Fred being booted out
> without reason.  Fred claims it is because he disagrees with the
> leadership on something.  People start arguing endlessly about
> openness.
>

Explain why the user was removed.

> Ultimately the leaders just want Fred gone so that new contributors
> aren't getting driven away.  They can't explain that because then they
> create potential civil liability for the project.  The problem is that
> the debate goes on for over a year despite intervening elections and
> now this becomes the issue that is driving new contributors away.
>

This is insane. If they sue produce the emails. At least in the US,
the suit will be thrown out, as truth is a defense to defamation.

If I am not a lawyer and as such can not understand the law and my
opinion should not be trusted, then, as I assume you are not a lawyer,
your opinion should not be trusted either. Even if you have consulted
with a lawyer you are not a lawyer and there is no reason to believe
you could have understood what the lawyer told you.

I do not present this as sophistry: for any progress to be made in the
discussion of your hypothetical situation I sincerely think you need
to consider the above. At what point is one's knowledge of the law
enough to act within society?

> What solution would you propose for this problem?  It isn't
> hypothetical at all - I can think of one case in Gentoo's past where
> this happened that I'm aware of, and I'd be shocked if it were the
> only one.
>

Stop using the law as a boogeyman.

Be transparent in why decisions were made. There are no legal concerns
save fair use (the copyright of any published emails) and the
publication of private facts.[1] For a tort involving the disclosure
of public facts, you would need to have no reason to publish those
facts save for the damage they could cause. You may also need to
publish them in a manner far more public than a Linux distribution
mailing list.


To continue the example I doubt anyone would care if it was just a
single Fred, though they may be slightly put off. Multiple Fred (or
related) incidents later it would seem rather strange.

As I have tried to explain my issue with the closure of the mailing
list is not the removal of a user, but the lack of openness with which
decisions are made. Points are brought up in good faith and then
ignored. Requests for clarification may not be greeted amicably.
Overall, this makes it seem like the closure of the development list
is to keep decisions from being questioned. If there were hecklers
asking stupid questions that would be one thing, but that is not what
it looks like to me.


I will note most developers go quietly about maintaining their charges
and make reasonable decisions.

Cheers,
     R0b0t1


[1]: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/publication-private-facts

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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

Stephen Christie
Hello,

I joined this mailing list a week ago, and the first email I received apparently restarted these long arguments for and against censorship here. There are lots of reasons for and against both sides, and lots of people on either side apparently. These are now the majority of the emails I've now received. The first reply was essentially "We've already talked about this, can we just move on?". The fact that discussion has continued so long is in some ways ironic. At what point is this discussion both disruptive of development as well as reflecting badly on the community, and so should be moved off-channel?

--UnderSampled
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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

Dawid Węgliński
In reply to this post by Rich Freeman
2018-03-27 18:39 GMT+02:00 Rich Freeman <[hidden email]>:
On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 12:12 PM, Martin Vaeth <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 3:34 AM, Martin Vaeth <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>>
>>> It is about openness vs. isolation.
>>
>> I'm pretty sure most developers, myself included, want to welcome
>> contributions.
>
> Closing of the mailing list does not sound like that.
>

Sure, but it is actually part of the motivation.

Consider this scenario.

Fred is a community member.  Fred consistently harasses and trolls new
contributors in private.  New contributors end up leaving because of
Fred.

Fred gets booted out as a result.  No mention is made of why Fred as
booted out, because everything happened in private.

And how this work on forums?  Do moderators have the ability to ban Fred
for his harrasments on private channels?
   

Now a bunch of community members get upset about Fred being booted out
without reason.  Fred claims it is because he disagrees with the
leadership on something.  People start arguing endlessly about
openness.

Very same efect you will get when Fred is whitelisted by a developer, and
kicked out when he starts acting inappriopriate. Please kindly show me the difference.
 

Ultimately the leaders just want Fred gone so that new contributors
aren't getting driven away.  They can't explain that because then they
create potential civil liability for the project.  The problem is that
the debate goes on for over a year despite intervening elections and
now this becomes the issue that is driving new contributors away.

Please explain. I can imagine a troll on some #gentoo-${ISO3166-1_alpha-2} who
is banned by channel operator. Does this create potential civil liability for the project?
 

What solution would you propose for this problem?  It isn't
hypothetical at all - I can think of one case in Gentoo's past where
this happened that I'm aware of, and I'd be shocked if it were the
only one.

Saying as an ex-dev and community member by last 12 years - banning trolls
and explaining reasons to others is always better solution. 
 

> And anyway, you can be sure that the problem will appear again,
> no matter how closed the list will be.

Sure, but we can at least force the negative advertising of Gentoo to
go elsewhere, rather than basically paying to run a negative PR
campaign against ourselves.

>> A lot of this comes down to considering that most people in these
>> debates probably are well-intended.
>
> Taking away freedom is never justified by good intention.

You might want to choose a BSD-based distro then.  :)

And what about the freedom to endlessly troll and harass you and
others?  Is this truly a freedom we want to stand for?  How about the
freedom to harass members of legally-protected classes (something that
also has happened historically in the community)?

Trolls are trolls, and when banned/blacklisted by default THEN, they will start
their trolling on private channels.
 

Surely Gentoo's mission isn't to run completely unrestricated forums
for discussion of anything and everything.  Our main purpose here is
to maintain a Linux distro, not provide a platform for anybody who has
an opinion on anything.  Free expression has to be balanced against
the interests of people who want to actually contribute to the distro
without being endlessly trolled and harassed.

--
Rich




--
Pozdrawiam
Dawid Węgliński
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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

Martin Vaeth-2
In reply to this post by Rich Freeman
Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Fred is a community member.  Fred consistently harasses and trolls new
> contributors in private.

Sure, it's a problem. But not a problem which can be solved by
closing the mailing list, in no step of the issue.

First of all, this happens in private, so you cannot prevent it
by closing a mailing list.

> No mention is made of why Fred as booted out, because everything
> happened in private.

That's the mistake which is made in this example. Be open in the
decisions. If you cannot be open in order to protect other people's
privacy, be open at least by saying exactly this.

> Now a bunch of community members get upset about Fred being booted out
> without reason.  Fred claims it is because he disagrees with the
> leadership on something.  People start arguing endlessly about
> openness.

Yes, this might happen due to the non-openness. This might happen even
if you are open. And nothing will prevent it. Closing a mailing list
will not close such a debate; it will then just happen elsewhere.
Anyway, such a debate does not belong to dev-ml. The correct solution
is to continue to point people to have this debate on the appropriate place,
not on the mainly technically oriented dev-ml. Making the posters silent
by blacklisting even more is contra-productive and will give the
impression that they are actually right. As it is a commonplace:
You cannot solve social problems by technical measurements.

> Ultimately the leaders just want Fred gone so that new contributors
> aren't getting driven away.  They can't explain that because then they
> create potential civil liability for the project.

Why not? Is it against a law to exclude somebody who is hurting a
project? If it is (or if there is a danger that it is), then the
problem is not that they cannot explain it but that they must not
do it in the first place.
In any case, this is a different problem and cannot be solved by
closing a mailing list.

> The problem is that
> the debate goes on for over a year despite intervening elections and
> now this becomes the issue that is driving new contributors away.
> What solution would you propose for this problem?

How would closing the mailing list solve the problem? It will give
the impression that you want to close the debate by taking away the
medium where people can argue. And the impression is correct, because
this actually *is* the intention if you are honest.
Of course, it will not close said debate. The debate will just happen
on another channel. (Which in this example might be appropriate, but
pointing to the proper channel is what should have happened and not
closing a mailing list and thus excluding random people from posting
things about clompletely different topics which *are* on-topic on dev-ml).

> Sure, but we can at least force the negative advertising of Gentoo to
> go elsewhere, rather than basically paying to run a negative PR
> campaign against ourselves.

Closing dev-ml will not help here. If people have a strong
disagreement with a decision, this will happen on gentoo channels.
If you want to prevent it technically, you have to close all channels.

> And what about the freedom to endlessly troll and harass you and
> others? [...]

Closing a mailing list will not prevent this.
Somebody who behaves this way (or feels being treated wrong) will not
stop this only because one channel is closed for him.
What is really happening by closing the mailing list is that you stop
innocent contributors.

In any case, that's the discussion blacklisting vs. whitelisting:
To stop one specific single poster, blacklisting is enough,
at least for the beginning. Sure, technically it can be circumvented,
but you will not stop this social problem anyway by technical means.

> Surely Gentoo's mission isn't to run completely unrestricated forums
> for discussion of anything and everything.  Our main purpose here is
> to maintain a Linux distro, not provide a platform for anybody who has
> an opinion on anything.

Sure, pointing to the right channel is appropriate. This is something
completely else than to prevent posting *by default*.

> without being endlessly trolled and harassed.

This is unrelated about closing the mailing list. Especially if this
happened in private, anyway.

BTW, I do not think that contributors are that blue-eyed that they
will stop contributing only because one person does not know how to
behave. Especially if it is made clear somewhere that this happens
in disagreement with gentoo as a whole. *This* might be a way how
one might react to such a problem. Anyway, this discussion now is
getting off-topic: All these problems have nothing to do with
closing a ml and cannot be solved by this.


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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

Rich Freeman
In reply to this post by R0b0t1
On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 10:55 PM, R0b0t1 <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 11:39 AM, Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Ultimately the leaders just want Fred gone so that new contributors
>> aren't getting driven away.  They can't explain that because then they
>> create potential civil liability for the project.  The problem is that
>> the debate goes on for over a year despite intervening elections and
>> now this becomes the issue that is driving new contributors away.
>>
>
> This is insane. If they sue produce the emails. At least in the US,
> the suit will be thrown out, as truth is a defense to defamation.

There are several problems with this:

First, as soon as a suit reaches a courtroom you're spending thousands
of dollars on attorney fees, which you typically will not get back if
you win in the US.  If the case isn't dismissed almost immediately
you're spending tens of thousands of dollars.

The next problem is that there is a matter of proof.  Suppose the
harassment happened in private IRC conversations.  The only logs
you'll have are those provided by random contributors.  They might not
even be admissible in a court unless the random contributors want to
appear publicly to testify to them.  Also, this all requires sharing
this stuff with the person who was harassing them.

If all we do is quietly kick somebody out with no indication as to
why, they don't really have any grounds to sue in the first place, and
since nothing negative was said about them there are no statements to
defend.

This is why most organizations/business/etc don't disclose why they
terminate employees.  They don't have to, and doing so just exposes
them to liability.

> As I have tried to explain my issue with the closure of the mailing
> list is not the removal of a user, but the lack of openness with which
> decisions are made.

Sure.  Everybody wants to see the info so that they can judge for
themselves and not have to trust somebody else's judgment.  It is only
natural.  This is why courts operate openly for the most part.

However, unlike courts we don't have budgets to pay professionals to
spend extensive time on process, and we also don't have the power to
issue subpoenas and wiretap communications.

So, ultimately we're probably just going to have to live with not
knowing the truth behind why people get booted once or twice per
decade, which seems to be the current rate.

--
Rich

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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

Rich Freeman
In reply to this post by Martin Vaeth-2
On Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 2:33 AM, Martin Vaeth <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> Fred is a community member.  Fred consistently harasses and trolls new
>> contributors in private.
>
> Sure, it's a problem. But not a problem which can be solved by
> closing the mailing list, in no step of the issue.
>
> First of all, this happens in private, so you cannot prevent it
> by closing a mailing list.

Certainly.  Closing lists won't stop the private abuse, nor is it intended to.

What it would stop is this particular thread talking endlessly about it.

>
>> No mention is made of why Fred as booted out, because everything
>> happened in private.
>
> That's the mistake which is made in this example. Be open in the
> decisions. If you cannot be open in order to protect other people's
> privacy, be open at least by saying exactly this.

In the example I can think of this was done, and yet people still
endlessly argued about it, because simply stating that you can't be
open about something won't satisfy people who want there to be
openness.

> Closing a mailing list
> will not close such a debate; it will then just happen elsewhere.

And that is the goal.

> Anyway, such a debate does not belong to dev-ml. The correct solution
> is to continue to point people to have this debate on the appropriate place,
> not on the mainly technically oriented dev-ml.

Could you take this debate to the appropriate place then?


> Making the posters silent
> by blacklisting even more is contra-productive and will give the
> impression that they are actually right.

If the goal is to make them silent on the closed list it is completely
productive.

Nothing can prevent people from getting the impression that there is
some kind of cover-up.  Certainly the last time this sort of thing
happened having hundreds of emails posted on the topic on the lists
didn't do anything to convince the few posters that the right thing
was done.

Now, I do like something that Debian did in this situation which was
to give the person who was booted the option to have the reasoning
disclosed or not.  If they refuse and people question why they were
booted, you can simply state that all people who are booted are given
the option to have the reasons disclosed, and the person leaving made
the choice not to have this done.  IMO something like this would tend
to reduce the legal liabilities.

>
>> Ultimately the leaders just want Fred gone so that new contributors
>> aren't getting driven away.  They can't explain that because then they
>> create potential civil liability for the project.
>
> Why not? Is it against a law to exclude somebody who is hurting a
> project?

Not at all.  Booting somebody from an organization like Gentoo creates
no liability, unless it was based on discrimination/etc.

The liability comes from saying negative things about somebody.

Kicking out Fred is fine.  Stating publicly that Fred was kicked out
for sexual harassment would allow Fred to sue, and then you have to
pay to prove that he was sexually harassing somebody.

>
>> The problem is that
>> the debate goes on for over a year despite intervening elections and
>> now this becomes the issue that is driving new contributors away.
>> What solution would you propose for this problem?
>
> How would closing the mailing list solve the problem? It will give
> the impression that you want to close the debate by taking away the
> medium where people can argue. And the impression is correct, because
> this actually *is* the intention if you are honest.

Certainly this is the intention, at least for my part.  There is no
benefit in arguing about this for more than a year, especially if
those who made the decisions get re-elected to their posts.

> Of course, it will not close said debate. The debate will just happen
> on another channel. (Which in this example might be appropriate, but
> pointing to the proper channel is what should have happened and not
> closing a mailing list and thus excluding random people from posting
> things about clompletely different topics which *are* on-topic on dev-ml).

People have repeatedly pointed out the correct places for such
debates, though honestly if it were my call I'd not allow this debate
to go on further anywhere that Gentoo operates.

People post this stuff on the -dev list for the same reason that
protesters block public streets.  They want to make it hard to ignore
them.

>
>> Sure, but we can at least force the negative advertising of Gentoo to
>> go elsewhere, rather than basically paying to run a negative PR
>> campaign against ourselves.
>
> Closing dev-ml will not help here. If people have a strong
> disagreement with a decision, this will happen on gentoo channels.
> If you want to prevent it technically, you have to close all channels.

Agree.  But, I don't make the decisions.  If it were up to me this
topic would be closed everywhere.

> BTW, I do not think that contributors are that blue-eyed that they
> will stop contributing only because one person does not know how to
> behave.

The problem comes when the person is booted out and a half dozen
people keep arguing that they were innocent, that Gentoo is run by a
cabal in an ivory tower, and that decisions like this should be made
more openly.  IMO this is the sort of thing that is more likely to
drive contributors away, because it has a veneer of legitimacy.  The
arguments in favor of that position are simple, and the arguments
against it are nuanced and often rely on access to non-public
information.

You can ignore their posts but then people assume they're right.  So
either we get endless argument (more than a year), or we need to
exercise prior restraint.  Neither is desirable, but I've yet to see
another option presented.

--
Rich

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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

Michael Orlitzky
In reply to this post by Stephen Christie
On 03/28/2018 12:41 AM, Stephen Christie wrote:
>
> These are now the majority of the emails I've now received. The first
> reply was essentially "We've already talked about this, can we just
> move on?".

In our enthusiasm to defeat wltjr, we have let ourselves become wltjr.

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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

Martin Vaeth-2
In reply to this post by Rich Freeman
Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Certainly.  Closing lists won't stop the private abuse, nor is it intended to.
>
> What it would stop is this particular thread talking endlessly about it.
>
>> Closing a mailing list
>> will not close such a debate; it will then just happen elsewhere.
>
> And that is the goal.

So now we finally get to the point:
The whole story has actually *nothing* to with Fred.

It is about what I said in the very first posting:
It is an attempt to suppress opinions, by taking away people an
important channel to raise their voice.

The whole Fred example was only a rhetorical trick: An attempt to find
at least *one* example where you believe that the developers' opinion is
undoubtfully the right one, an attempt to justify the ivory tower.

This one example - it plays no role whether it is justified or whether
there is another one - is completely suppressing the fact that in
almost all cases on dev-ml (trivial "ACK" things aside)
*are* clearly discussable (concerning technical topics)
and *should* be discussed.
In fact, all these *other* discussions are the actual purpose of dev-ml.

Closing the channel simply excludes non-developers from these
discussions dev-ml is made for.

Concering Gentoo's reputation, you can be sure that this step will be
only contraproductive:

- In Fred's case anyway, because people with the opinion that something
  strange is going on with this case will see their opinion just confirmed;
  outsiders anyway.

- For people not involved or not interested in Fred's case it is
  clearly even worse. From the outsider viewpoint as well.

This closing harms Gentoo a lot:

I am driven away from Gentoo by such an undemocratic step.
Certainly I am not the only one: Others also already formulated
similar opinions on this and the project mailing list, at least
if you are able to read between the lines.

> Could you take this debate to the appropriate place then?

Do not worry, this is presumably my last post on the topic
(soon I would not be able to post, anyway).

I am aware that the undemocratic decision has already been made
(BTW unsurprisingly in a not very democratic way),
so it makes no sense to discuss about it further.

My post was just a final attempt at least to mitigate the damage done
by this decision by speaking for the only thing which can still be
done purely technically: Blacklisting instead of whitelisting.

With whitelisting you will only attract that type of non-developers
who are willing to beg a gang to be a member of them.
Of course, if a secondary aim should be to get only uncritical followers
(or pretenders) and to drive away everybody else, whitelisting
is the correct choice.


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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

Tom Wijsman-2
In reply to this post by Michael Palimaka
Hey!!!


I'm not going to open that bug, read all these related mailing list
discussions or waste time on whatever!

Instead, I think it's important some of you read this message:

I hope that you choose to stand still for some time, or even sit or lie
down for once.
Take a deep breath and count to ten, then think about what the goal of
Gentoo is and what your goal in this context is.

Don't let these goals confuse others into random directions, but make it
clear to yourself and everyone what they are.
And with those thoughts, as well as second guesses; decide what you
really want to do with it, for yourself and for others...

Live your life; live it together <3


P.S: Not responding to you in particular, I'm spending my last time to
collectively answer multiple threads from now and history

On 3/20/2018 1:17 PM, Michael Palimaka wrote:
> I see that in bug #650964[1] Council is pushing forward again with
> implementing user whitelisting on this mailing list (ie. anyone that is
> not "approved" will have their mail rejected).
>
> Could someone please explain how this doesn't directly contradict the
> core tenets of an open and inclusive community?
>
> 1: https://bugs.gentoo.org/650964
>


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Re: Mailing list moderation and community openness

R0b0t1
In reply to this post by Rich Freeman
On Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 6:21 AM, Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 2:33 AM, Martin Vaeth <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Rich Freeman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>>
>>> Fred is a community member.  Fred consistently harasses and trolls new
>>> contributors in private.
>>
>> Sure, it's a problem. But not a problem which can be solved by
>> closing the mailing list, in no step of the issue.
>>
>> First of all, this happens in private, so you cannot prevent it
>> by closing a mailing list.
>
> Certainly.  Closing lists won't stop the private abuse, nor is it intended to.
>
> What it would stop is this particular thread talking endlessly about it.
>
>>
>>> No mention is made of why Fred as booted out, because everything
>>> happened in private.
>>
>> That's the mistake which is made in this example. Be open in the
>> decisions. If you cannot be open in order to protect other people's
>> privacy, be open at least by saying exactly this.
>
> In the example I can think of this was done, and yet people still
> endlessly argued about it, because simply stating that you can't be
> open about something won't satisfy people who want there to be
> openness.
>

As I have tried to explain, the reasons you have given are not
consistent and even if they were there is no reason to believe they
are based on a sound interpretation of the law. You simply ignored
those comments, which tells everyone else you do not care whether you
are making valid decisions. That is why these discussions have
continued.

>> Closing a mailing list
>> will not close such a debate; it will then just happen elsewhere.
>
> And that is the goal.
>
>> Anyway, such a debate does not belong to dev-ml. The correct solution
>> is to continue to point people to have this debate on the appropriate place,
>> not on the mainly technically oriented dev-ml.
>
> Could you take this debate to the appropriate place then?
>
>
>> Making the posters silent
>> by blacklisting even more is contra-productive and will give the
>> impression that they are actually right.
>
> If the goal is to make them silent on the closed list it is completely
> productive.
>
> Nothing can prevent people from getting the impression that there is
> some kind of cover-up.  Certainly the last time this sort of thing
> happened having hundreds of emails posted on the topic on the lists
> didn't do anything to convince the few posters that the right thing
> was done.
>
> Now, I do like something that Debian did in this situation which was
> to give the person who was booted the option to have the reasoning
> disclosed or not.  If they refuse and people question why they were
> booted, you can simply state that all people who are booted are given
> the option to have the reasons disclosed, and the person leaving made
> the choice not to have this done.  IMO something like this would tend
> to reduce the legal liabilities.
>
>>
>>> Ultimately the leaders just want Fred gone so that new contributors
>>> aren't getting driven away.  They can't explain that because then they
>>> create potential civil liability for the project.
>>
>> Why not? Is it against a law to exclude somebody who is hurting a
>> project?
>
> Not at all.  Booting somebody from an organization like Gentoo creates
> no liability, unless it was based on discrimination/etc.
>
> The liability comes from saying negative things about somebody.
>
> Kicking out Fred is fine.  Stating publicly that Fred was kicked out
> for sexual harassment would allow Fred to sue, and then you have to
> pay to prove that he was sexually harassing somebody.
>

Fred can sue even if you've done nothing. You would still be well
advised to hire representation in that case to prevent Fred from
winning by default. Agitating people by withholding comments on
problematic behavior doesn't remove that possibility.

As long as the statements were true only a token effort (if even that)
needs to be made to dismiss the suit. In very rare cases, mostly where
something close to malicious intent behind the release of the
information can be shown, damages will be awarded. But seeing as there
is a valid reason (effective project governance) for releasing that
information I see no way that would be upheld.

>>
>>> The problem is that
>>> the debate goes on for over a year despite intervening elections and
>>> now this becomes the issue that is driving new contributors away.
>>> What solution would you propose for this problem?
>>
>> How would closing the mailing list solve the problem? It will give
>> the impression that you want to close the debate by taking away the
>> medium where people can argue. And the impression is correct, because
>> this actually *is* the intention if you are honest.
>
> Certainly this is the intention, at least for my part.  There is no
> benefit in arguing about this for more than a year, especially if
> those who made the decisions get re-elected to their posts.
>
>> Of course, it will not close said debate. The debate will just happen
>> on another channel. (Which in this example might be appropriate, but
>> pointing to the proper channel is what should have happened and not
>> closing a mailing list and thus excluding random people from posting
>> things about clompletely different topics which *are* on-topic on dev-ml).
>
> People have repeatedly pointed out the correct places for such
> debates, though honestly if it were my call I'd not allow this debate
> to go on further anywhere that Gentoo operates.
>
> People post this stuff on the -dev list for the same reason that
> protesters block public streets.  They want to make it hard to ignore
> them.
>
>>
>>> Sure, but we can at least force the negative advertising of Gentoo to
>>> go elsewhere, rather than basically paying to run a negative PR
>>> campaign against ourselves.
>>
>> Closing dev-ml will not help here. If people have a strong
>> disagreement with a decision, this will happen on gentoo channels.
>> If you want to prevent it technically, you have to close all channels.
>
> Agree.  But, I don't make the decisions.  If it were up to me this
> topic would be closed everywhere.
>
>> BTW, I do not think that contributors are that blue-eyed that they
>> will stop contributing only because one person does not know how to
>> behave.
>
> The problem comes when the person is booted out and a half dozen
> people keep arguing that they were innocent, that Gentoo is run by a
> cabal in an ivory tower, and that decisions like this should be made
> more openly.  IMO this is the sort of thing that is more likely to
> drive contributors away, because it has a veneer of legitimacy.  The
> arguments in favor of that position are simple, and the arguments
> against it are nuanced and often rely on access to non-public
> information.
>

It has a veneer of legitimacy? Perhaps the complaints are legitimate?

Imagine the outcry if a court made decisions in private and did not
release names of the accusers and the accused.

> You can ignore their posts but then people assume they're right.  So
> either we get endless argument (more than a year), or we need to
> exercise prior restraint.  Neither is desirable, but I've yet to see
> another option presented.
>

Don't present a false dichotomy - you could begin releasing
information. Every argument as to whether or not that is a valid
decision has been ignored.

Cheers,
     R0b0t1

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