[Mailman-Developers] On allowing any list member to be an email moderator
Stephen J. Turnbull
stephen at xemacs.org
Tue Jan 3 03:45:59 CET 2006
>>>>> "R" == R Bernstein <rocky at panix.com> writes:
R> Where I think something inside GNU Mailman could be a little
R> better than a second list is that the integration could enforce
R> that the email associated with person logging in to the webpage
R> or sending moderation by email is also *currently* subscribed
R> to the list***. The theory here is that spammers don't want to
R> receive the spam they spew.
This is little help. The spammer simply uses a throwaway address that
they have no intention of reading. That's part of the spammers'
manual by now. Total cost per week: $0.23.
R> But it sounds like the GNU mailman lists have very dedicated
They do. It's not an accident. Part of the reason is that Mailman is
Python culture. Python's development community is very business-
oriented; they have a healthy respect for good administration. It's
not just a question of of eating your own dogfood; it's question of
making the big dogs who eat your food feel welcome to come in and help
with the process, and paying them due respect even though they can't
even cook up spam (the Monty Pythonic kind). This is resoundingly
successful for Mailman because developing list software is its
business, but as Brad occasionally mentions he also works on the
general Python lists, too. I don't think that's an accident. And, of
course, the Python and Mailman communities are large.
The typical GNU project (or Sourceforge, for that matter) _can't_ work
this way. Usually the mailing list owner and moderator is also the
project lead. Mailing list management (including the parts that AI is
not yet I enough for, like spam management) is not what they imagine
themselves doing. I don't blame them, but I also have no ideas for
reducing the burden to the levels they imagine.
R> Again at the risk of beating this horse dead, what we're
R> looking for is a way for mailing lists to distribute the burden
R> of moderation such as by having the mailing list be more self
R> moderating as it appears that the wiki works. (I could be wrong
R> here about the wiki.)
You're wrong about comparing the mailing list to the wiki. :-) Wikis
have a substantially lower burden on both ends. First, spamming wikis
is both more expensive (wiki input has no equivalent to RFC 2821) and
less productive for spammers. Email (and netnews) spamming is push;
the readers get it whether they ask for it (that particular post, of
course they asked for the list or newsgroup) or not. Wikis are pull;
the readers are in an unreceptive mood: they're looking for something
else _specifically_ when they follow a link.
Not only that, but they have the power to do something about *that
particular spam*. This means that the half-life of spam on a wiki is
short; in mail, it lives until somebody (or a smart-enough
spam-filter) reads that copy. In other words, the "casual moderator"
gets the satisfaction of nuking the spammer that bit her on the wiki,
whereas with a mailing list it's "paying forward" to the other users
for _future_ spams ... those user have already received this one. Not
R> The observation is that right now, a number of mailing lists at
R> least GNU mailing lists are just getting neglected, and this
R> suggests something is wrong. Maybe it's just a global
R> misunderstanding of how to set up a general help list (e.g. a
R> documentation change), but I have a feeling it's not just that.
It is "just that". You need dedicated staff to handle spam on an open
That's all there is to it. Spammers are a hostile entity, always
looking for ways to break down your security, banging on your door
every day. Unlike GNU volunteer moderators, they get paid in hard
cash for what they do. And it's a lot more fun to screw the
moderators than to be one (for the perverts who enjoy breaking into
things, anyway). So there's only so much a machine can do to combat
All of the above, though stated as fact for emphasis, is of course IMO
R> So if this discussion should be moved to the user list, please
R> let me know.
I think you'll get much more fruitful discussion there. The Mailman
Developers list is primarily about how to implement the specification.
"Stop Spam" is not a specification, it's a requirement that will
interact with others to constrain the specification. Although many of
us on Mailman Developers are active in list administration and
moderation, you'll get a much broader and more casual audience on
Mailman Users ... and your whole point is to find ways to get the
casual moderator to be more active. That's also a requirement, not a
School of Systems and Information Engineering http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
ask what your business can "do for" free software.
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