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Re: Should mailing list bans be published?

On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 10:46:41AM -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
> Hi folks,
> Was discussing with one of the listmasters (Alexander Wirt) on IRC today
> about mailing list bans, because it turns out that someone I was just about
> to ask the listmasters to ban from debian-devel had just been blocked in
> response to a request from someone else.
> This led to a philosophical debate about whether bans should be made public.
> Alexander expressed concern that having them published could be harmful to a
> person's reputation, since employers will google your name and see that
> you've been banned from a large project such as Debian.
> I think we should publish them, for several reasons:
>  - Debian is not responsible for the reputation of someone who has gotten
>    themselves banned for their behavior; their reputation is already in the
>    mud if employers read their actual posts to the Debian lists.
>  - It brings closure to the rest of our community to know that action has
>    been taken against an abuser, showing that we've stood up for the
>    principle of civil discourse and that the problem hasn't just gone away
>    on its own because a troll got bored.
>  - It gives Debian contributors confidence that bad behavior doesn't have to
>    be silently endured as a cost of participating in Debian lists.
>  - It improves *Debian's* reputation to the rest of the world, by showing
>    that our mailing lists are not "anything goes".
>  - It provides a reference point for newcomers to the Debian community to
>    judge their actions by, to understand what kinds of things will get them
>    banned from participation (although I expect few of the people who need
>    such guidance will actually take advantage of it...)
>  - It casts sunlight on the kinds of decisions that the listmasters are
>    making WRT bans, so that we collectively have oversight of these
>    decisions and can ensure our principles are being applied fairly and
>    consistently.
> So I don't think bans need to be posted anywhere prominent like
> debian-devel-announce, but I do think basic facts like who is banned, for
> how long, and the rationale (with links to specific mailing list posts as
> reference) should be made public.
> What do the rest of you think?

The counterargument would be that disclosing our reasons for a ban might show
us as capricious ... which is yet another reason to publish the bans so that we
are also held to account for our decisions.

If the above is unclear: I'm in favour of publishing our decisions to ban.

Luca Filipozzi

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