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Re: Should mailing list bans be published?

Camaleón <noelamac+gmane@gmail.com> writes:

> The mailing list managers/admins have the right to ban whoever they
> decide, but in the aim of "fair play", the user should also have the
> right to defend him/herself from the accusations, expose his/her
> reasoning and be able to restore him/her reputation or recognize the
> error, say sorry and come back to the list again.

I don't agree with this part of your message.  Debian is under no
obligation to play fair.  We are not a legal system and have no obligation
to give people any sort of due process.  Debian's mailing lists are
instruments of the project, and the project can decide how they are used.

This sort of quasi-judicial process eats up *vast* quantities of time and
effort, and if we go down this path, the listmasters will end up spending
all their time responding to people who milk every possible process step
out of the judicial process just to be irritating.  I've seen this happen
repeatedly in the IETF, which has this sort of judicial process for
mailing list bans, and it's a disaster.  It also strongly discourages ever
banning anyone, since the process is such a nightmare.

It's not like we're depriving people of life and limb, or even property.
They just can't send mail to one of our mailing lists for a while.  If
there's an occasional mistake, oh well, life goes on.  If I get banned for
a month or two from a mailing list for something I said that was
ill-advised, I'm not going to argue about it; I'm going to realize that,
whatever I thought about what I said, other people were quite upset about
it, and I should take that into account in the future.  It gives me some
time to think about it.

Review of the decisions *by other project members* is fine, but generally
the messages themselves are self-explanatory and I neither care nor want
to know what justifications the person banned is going to dig up.  If
they're sorry and won't do it again, great!  After the ban expires, they
can demonstrate that.  But let's keep this process simple.

If some decision seems egregiously wrong, other developers who are worried
about it can always approach the banned person in private and ask for
their side of the story, but we don't need to make anything formal.

> So I have to agree with Alexander's POV that these things need to be
> done in the background to preserve the privacy right of the user,
> despite if he/she is using a real name or a nickname.

> In brief: IMO there's no need to make a public list and Debian Project
> has nothing to demonstrate nobody because being effectively banned is
> the only "proof of action" worth doing.

> Here in Spain we have a saying ("hacer leña del árbol caído") which can
> resemble into "kick a man when he's down" and that's IMO what we should
> avoid here.

I'm still somewhat inclined to agree with this, though, and prefer
debian-private as the venue for advertising these, although the arguments
about making it publicly clear that we're doing something about bad
behavior on our lists are fairly compelling.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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