[Mailman-Users] GMane?

John A. Martin jam at jamux.com
Fri Feb 17 07:35:29 CET 2006

>>>>> "Brad" == Brad Knowles
>>>>> "Re: [Mailman-Users] GMane?"
>>>>>  Thu, 16 Feb 2006 12:21:13 +0100

    Brad> 	I'm of two minds when it comes to Gmane.

    Brad> 	On the one hand, they take our content, store a copy
    Brad> locally, index that local content, and then make that
    Brad> available to their user base.  Clearly, there is a benefit
    Brad> here to the Gmane users, potentially even a commercial
    Brad> benefit.  But what do they contribute back to the larger
    Brad> Mailman community?  I don't see anything -- they take and
    Brad> take and take, and they give to their own private community,
    Brad> but I don't see them giving anything back to us.

Gmane offers a public service, available to anyone, not just to some
"private community".  I think one would be hard put to it to find
evidence of commercial interests other than good will (in the economic
sense) at Gmane.  It is also perhaps a fair bet that Gmane is unlikely
to assist a tyrannical regime in policing who uses Gmane or for what

The fact that folks subscribe lists and use Gmane suggests that folks
find it to be a service there that they prefer enough to take the
trouble to use it.  You may not prefer to read mail as if it were news
but there are those that do.  Beyond that some folks like the web
interfaces that offer frames and threads and a blog-like flat
interface while others like the four kinds of RSS feeds besides the
NNTP interface.  Users also have access to a couple of small handy
features like what amounts to a pseudo-anonymous (obfuscated) mail
forwarding service (using Gmane's archive address encryption scheme)
and having an 'Archived-At:' field in each article header (at least on
the NNTP side).

List owners may appreciate that Gmane makes their list more attractive
but it also provides redundancy and diversity making the list archives
mare robust.  Gmane gathers statistics and makes charts that can be
displayed on a list's web pages.

It would seem undeniable that Gmane provides a service that by some
measure enhances the mailing lists that it carries.

What are you looking for Gmane to do for "the larger Mailman
community"?  Provide some benefit to lists than do not use Gmane?
What does Gmane "take and take and take" from lists that do not use
Gmane?  And what, precisely, does Gmane "take and take and take" from
subscribed lists that is not given freely to any list subscriber?

While we are at it, what does Mailman do for the larger community that
does not use its software?  Do we consider different standards for a
service that is offered freely to the public than for software so

BTW all the Gmane software and all of the web pages are freely
available, see <http://gmane.org/dist.php>.

    Brad> Gmane has a news gateway solution.  But the problem is that
    Brad> it is out of our control, and I have personal experience in
    Brad> the kind of spewage that can occur when these sorts of
    Brad> things go haywire. 

Can you be mare specific?  Haven't you lost control as soon as you
send a mail to any address you do not control?  What kind of spewage?
What sorts of things go haywire.  How many boogiemen are hiding in one

    Brad> I still don't know enough about their internal operations to
    Brad> help guarantee that these sorts of things don't happen to
    Brad> us.

You have perused the www.gmane.org, presumably?  Have you asked
questions on gmane.discuss?  What sorts of things?  Guarantees against
unspecified hazards are unimpressive, IMHO.

    Brad> 	Given our past history with Gmane and the fact that
    Brad> take our content without our permission

I fail to understand how Gmane can have taken your content without
your permission.  Gmane must have complied with whatever you required
for subscription to your lists, and their subscription would seem to
entitle them to "take" exactly the same content that you send, or make
available, to them or any other subscriber.  You speak as if you view
what you give any other subscriber as theft when you give it to Gmane.

    Brad> and that they've supposedly fixed this procedural problem
    Brad> and yet they did it again, I believe that we have good
    Brad> reason to distrust them.

According to Lars, <http://article.gmane.org/gmane.discuss/9291>, he
must have made a mistake.  Where did he say he had fixed a procedural

    Brad> 	Personally, all code I write gets published under a
    Brad> BSD-style license.  And all the slides I create for all the
    Brad> invited talks I do at various conferences, gets published
    Brad> under a Creative Commons 2.0 Non-commercial/share-alike
    Brad> license.  So, I don't mind too much if someone takes my own
    Brad> personal content and makes that available somewhere else --
    Brad> but they had better not be making a profit on doing so.

Have you been as uneasy that Altavista and Google and everyone
between might turn a profit in part because they facilitate access to
your "not-for profit" material?

    Brad> 	However, I am extremely uncomfortable with taking the
    Brad> content created by an entire community and then leeching off
    Brad> that.  Taking the content of a single person is one thing,
    Brad> taking the content of an entire community is quite something
    Brad> else.

What is Gmane taking that is not freely given to others?  How can a
service that enhances the access to material and that is freely
available to the public be characterized as "leaching".  That makes
about as much sense to me as saying that a mailing list operator is
"leaching" off the list members.  Granted, IIRC that has been true in
the past with respect to certain "free" services offered by entities
that claimed ownership over the content.  (I haven't kept up, are they
still claiming ownership?  Alas I even forget who it was.)

    Brad> 	Yet, I find myself holding back.  I want to like
    Brad> Gmane.  I get their concept, and I understand the benefit to
    Brad> their members.  I would like to be able to allow them to
    Brad> continue gatewaying these lists.

    Brad> 	If they were to actually operate by the rules they
    Brad> espouse, and they were to provide some sort of benefit back
    Brad> to the communities whose content they are taking, I would
    Brad> support their gateway service.

    Brad> 	But we know they're not operating by those rules, and
    Brad> I don't see their benefit back to the larger Mailman
    Brad> community.

    Brad> 	Unless I'm missing something pretty big, I don't see a
    Brad> way out of this situation with a positive outcome for Gmane.

Perhaps you know too much, like: "they're not operating by those
rules".  For one thing, "they" are not a faceless monolith, "they", to
all intent and purposes, are Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen who has been
around a while.  If you really want to like Gmane maybe you would like
to follow gmane.discuss for a while then ask questions there.  If you
don't care to read news,  just point a browser at
<http://dir.gmane.org/gmane.discuss> to get started.


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