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Re: Should mailing list bans be published?



On Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 12:17 PM, Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> wrote:
> 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.

I don't know the answer but perhaps, we can try experimenting with a system
where the first action is a polite public warning by listmaster,
pointing to code of
conduct. (Assuming that the code of conduct is updated to cover this.)

This has a few advantages:

1) We point out bad behavior as examples of what not to do as they happen,
    where they happen
2) We potentially change the behavior before it gets out of hand.
  (I suspect that in many cases an official warning would be enough.)
3) For the majority of incidents where people forget to treat each other with
  respect, we give them a chance to correct the behavior, and apologize,
  without some sort of "this is going on your permanent record".

In the end though I do feel that having our listmasters officially and publicly
call out bad behavior could be an improvement over the status quo.

I guess that leaves open:
1) what do when people don't heed the warnings? In this case, I'd say a public
    notification is ok as well, since a warning was given.
2) Action was too far our of line to warrant a simple warning. In this
case I also
    think a public notice is appropriate, as any action that is so bad
we can't give
    a warning, needs to be addressed publicly.

As far as tracking on a wiki, I don't have a strong feeling either way, as to me
the most important place to make this public is on the list where the
action took
place.

In any case, whatever we decide, I do think we should document our policy in
the code of conduct and make sure it is well advertised. We needn't make the
policy too complex, and could have a simple cardinal rule: "Treat other people
with respect. Failure to do so could result in a public banning from Debian
mailing lists."

Thanks,
Brian

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