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Re: BerkeleyLUG-list: Should "New member posts are moderated" be completely changed to the opposite?
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- Subject: Re: BerkeleyLUG-list: Should "New member posts are moderated" be completely changed to the opposite?
- From: Rick Moen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2019 23:56:52 -0700
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Quoting goossbears (firstname.lastname@example.org):
> Before elaborating upon this further, I would hazard a guess that all
> those reading this post would tend to agree that should the
> BerkeleyLUG mailing-list admin(s) completely unmoderate new member
> posts, there is a minimal to negligible likelihood that the
> mailing-list would essentially be a veritable free-for-all and
> subsequently become besieged/flooded with a host of illegitimate posts
> or those of dubious origin or purpose.
> The mailing-list quite simply just isn't that big of a juicy target.
There's a useful if somewhat misleading term: 'retromoderated'. (That
is simply a descriptive term. I am not speaking either in advocacy or
denigration; I'm just telling you the usual term for the concept you are
meandering towards, which I'll describe next:)
This means that (at least in the general case) subscriptions do not bear
the 'moderated' flag, but, if you as a subscriber do something
sufficiently vexing, it is likely that a listadmin will at least
admonish you if not carry out some sanctioning move or other to
spank the user and/or make continuing misbehaviour
As it turns out, the great majority of mailing lists on the Internet in
2019 are 'retromoderated'.
> At the same time, a worrisome case in point of questionable Content
> for a mailing-list that was originally only minimally moderated was
> that of a post to the Artix Linux mailing-list/forum.
I am quite familiar with the incident. (As you may have noticed, my
friend Ruben Safir was among the participants who escalated the problem
to forum admins. But I wish to note:
1. The triggering incident (a pretty severe one; see below) did not
occur on a mailing list, but rather on Artix Linux's Web forum, one run
on a piece of PHP (ugh!) called ElkArte Forum.
The problems of Web forums are quite different from those of mailing
lists, and the remedies to the admins likewise differ. (I'll freely
confess: I basically don't care for Web forums much at all, for
numerous reasons mostly out of scope to this topic.)
2. When the Artix Web forum admin finally reacted to the wildly
inappropriate, out-of-control and quite probably insane postings, his
actions were both extremely belated _and_ consisted of removing posts
that should NOT have been removed while leaving much of the highly
objectionable contents still present. Like, wow, what a train-wreck.
The blowup on the mailing list was _discussed_ on the artix-general
mailing list, including my friend Ruben:
Separately and in addition to the original (Web forum) mishandling, the
response by the Artix _mailing list_ administrators was very profoundly
inadequate and (IMO) utterly inappropriate, including a completely
unsupported and unhelpful claim by admin Alexander Jenisch that critic
'Fungi4All' had supposedly 'doxxed' him -- which was not the case. I
stepped in to calmly debunk Mr. Jenisch's claim:
Separately, I posted in a friendly fashion in support of Ruben's main point:
(My desire to speak constructively got me thanks from one of the main
Artix people when the mailing list admins gagged everyone from further
discussion, so at least there's that:
So, in sum, IMO, Artix saw an excellent example of how _not_ to address
controversy erupting on a Web forum (see my views in the immediately
above thread), followed by extremely inept and counterproductive
handling of the resulting controversy about the incompetent forum
administration that spilled over onto the artix-general mailing list.
> While there are no doubt qualifiers for how serious the issue really
> was, the worrisome case-in-point, IIRC, was a post on this
> minimally-moderated Artix Linux forum that was perceived as
> "Antisemetic"(sic) by forum member Ruben S of Brklyn, NY
> over the last several years or so. Could not easily find the
> questionable thread the last time I visited the Artix Linux forum,
> but I suspect that the listadmins greatly upped their
> moderation-level by deleting or burying the objectionable post and
> its thread.
I saw the forum eruption in real time before forum admin SGOrava's
totally inept and counterproductive response. Yes, the posting was
certainly antisemitic (unlike Ruben, I'm not dyslexic ;-> ), but frankly if
was buried in a larger context of attention-getting bull-goose-looney
material. Here's the way I summarised this fundamental nature to Ruben
in e-mail at the time:
Wow, When I read through that Web-forum thread, it became super-obvious
that it went totally off the rails the moment Schpankme entered the
conversation and hijacked the thread completely. But it's at least a
little interesting that it took him five tries (five individual posts)
to do so. Point is: I think this is a mentally ill person acting out
and trying to grab attention.
Post #1: A weird, meandering post that appears to blame 'Vatican
Jesuits' for imposing a series of 'theories' (heliocentrism, mapping of
the moon, atomic energy, evolution, the Big Bang) on congregants. The
through-line appeared to be that faith is natural, and 'theory' a hoax.
Post #2: Doubles down on the notion of all of science being some sort
of bizarre conspiracy.
Post #3: Restates the foregoing.
Post #4: Equates the Vatican with 'NAtional ZIonists', and throws in
a meme graphic arranging a bunch of religious and hermetic symbols in a
circle. This was the first outright 'Hey, look at me!' post.
Post #5: The one that goes public with huge Jewish conspiracies and a
lot of unintelligible drivel.
(Apparently, one late posting from someone got 'removed', but I have no
idea what or from whom or why. Also, 'half of the comments deleted',
whatever that means. And then, forum moderator SGOrava locked the
Forum management should have retromoderated by deleting the entire
thread from Schpankme's post #1 onwards, or at minimum #4 onwards, and
locked it. But I'm not surprised, just disappointed, to hear that Artoo
and others took a half-measure and then refused to do more, because
that's typical. If they went back and did more, they'd be implicitly
conceding that they screwed up the initial response, and that almost
One of the reasons I dislike and distrust Web forums is the tendency
towards halfassed top-down action followed by suppression of dissent.
SGOrava nuked a bunch of people's writings but not Schpankme's
mental-illness productions (at least not the ones still there), hid the
evidence of what he/she did, and prevented group discussion of what
happened. This is the way passive-aggressive control freaks like to run
online communities: They do a terrible job, and then act so that their
actions cannot be discussed or questioned by the group they serve.
By contrast, if a mailing list administrator acts badly he/she cannot
prevent group discussion of the administrative actions, because
participants have each other's off-forum e-mail addresses. So, there is
automatic accountability and recourse.
A decade ago, when I inherited administration of Silicon Valley Linux
User Group's infamously unruly and troll-ridden mailing list, I found a
creative way to deal with it:
1. I applied almost ostentatiously only the documented rules, applying
them impartially against everyone including personal friends and myself.
2. If I chided or sanctioned a participant, I always clarified that I
was speaking as the listadmin, not as just another subscriber.
3. If a poster had to be sanctioned for a posting, or especially if I
retroactively removed it from the Mailman archive, I always posted a
copy to the low-membership but publicly archived Volunteers mailing
list, CC to the offender, stating why I was taking action. Thus, the
offence and my action in response were fully on the public record.
Nothing was ever hidden from view, and no listadmin action carried out
behind closed doors.
4. If sanctioning a poster, I made a point of using minimal force and
limited-term actions, e.g., telling a poster (CCing 'Volunteers') that
his subscription would have the 'moderated' flag for two weeks and that
I'd mail him again (CCing Volunteers) when the flag was removed.
These practices quickly ended the trolling and unruliness, because the
bad boys figured out they couldn't provoke me to anger or overreaction,
nor could they credibly claim oppression, because all listadmin action
and what prompted it were publicly documented.
> Furthermore, the following banner message now
> continually scrolls on top of its forum pages:
> *Due to a series of spam posts, all new forum *
> *registrations will require administrator approval. *
> *Spam accounts and their posts have been deleted. *
> (from https://forum.artixlinux.org/index.php/ )
Typical Web-forum heavy-handedness after massive screwup.
> Don't have any statistics available on how much more (or less)
> "inviting" the Artix Linux forum/mailing-list became for attracting
> new members and their posts following the above issue
You don't have the facts right, Aaron.
Also, 'my mailing list isn't significant enough to draw spammers' is
utterly clueless about how spammers work. I don't care to get into this
right now, but you are simply incorrect.
> An emphasized point of this, IMHO, is that keeping around the
> ability to quickly increase moderation even for the BerkeleyLUG
> mailing-list can and should be readily kept on the table [...]
Um, isn't it?
I don't administer Google Groups. For one thing, I prefer open source,
and I am not very keen on outsourcing one's Internet infrastructure to
the second-nosiest corporation in the world. However, I'd be astonished
if it didn't offer listadmins pretty much exactly the capabilities that
GNU Mailman (or Sympa) does to listadmins.
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