Thoughtful, practical, good. Thank you.

On Aug 22, 2017 9:03 PM, "John Mark Vandenberg" <> wrote:

Hi list members,

The list admins (hereafter 'we', being Austin, Asaf, Shani and I, your
humble narrator) regularly receive complaints about the frequent
posters on this list, as well as about the unpleasant atmosphere some
posters (some of them frequent) create.

It is natural that frequent posters will say specific things that more
frequently annoy other list members, but often the complaints are due
to the volume of messages rather than the content of the messages.

We are floating some suggestions aimed specifically at reducing the
volume, hopefully motivating frequent posters to self-moderate more,
but these proposed limits are actually intending to increasing the
quality of the discourse without heavy subjective moderation.

The first proposal impacts all posters to this list, and the last
three proposals are aimed at providing a more clear framework within
which criticism and whistle-blowing are permitted, but that critics
are prevented from drowning out other discussions. The bandwidth that
will be given to critics should be established in advance, reducing
need to use subjective moderation of the content when a limit to the
volume will often achieve the same result.

Proposal #1: Monthly 'soft quota' reduced from 30 to 15

The existing soft quota of 30 posts per person has practically never
been exceeded in the past year, and yet many list subscribers still
clearly feel that a few individuals overwhelm the list. This suggests
the current quota is too high.

A review of the stats at show very few
people go over 15 in a month, and quite often the reason for people
exceeding 15 per month is because they are replying to other list
members who have already exceeded 15 per month, and sometimes they are
repeatedly directly or indirectly asking the person to stop repeating
themselves to allow some space for other list members also have their
opinion heard.

Proposal #2: Posts by globally banned people not permitted

As WMF-banned people are already banned from mailing lists, this
proposal is to apply the same ‘global’ approach to any people who have
been globally banned by the community according to the policy.

This proposal does not prevent proxying, or canvassing, or “meat
puppetry” as defined by English Wikipedia policy.  The list admins
would prefer that globally banned people communicate their grievances
via established members of our community who can guide them, rather
than the list admins initially guiding these globally banned people on
how to revise their posts so they are suitable for this audience, and
then required to block them when they do not follow advice.  The role
of list moderators is clearer and simpler if we are only patrolling
the boundaries and not repeatedly personally engaged with helping
globally banned users.

Proposal #3: Identity of an account locked / blocked / banned by two
Wikimedia communities limited to five (5) posts per month

This proposal is intended to strike a balance between openness and
quality of discourse.

Banned people occasionally use the wikimedia-l mailing list as a
substitute of the meta Request for comment system, and banned people
also occasionally provide constructive criticisms and thought
provoking views.  This proposal hopes to allow that to continue.

However people who have been banned on a few projects also use this
list as their “last stand”, having already exhausted the community
patience on the wikis.  Sometimes the last stand is brief, but
occasionally a banned person is able to maintain sufficient decorum
that they are not moderated or banned from the list, and mailing list
readers need to suffer month after month of the banned person
dominating the mailing lists with time that they would previously have
spent editing on the wikis.

Proposal #4: Undisclosed alternative identities limited to five (5)
posts per month

Posting using fake identities allows people to shield their real life
*and* their Wikimedia editing 'account' from the repercussions of
their actions. This provision to allow fake identities on wikimedia-l
is necessary for whistle-blowing, and this mailing list has been used
for that purpose at important junctures in the history of the
Wikimedia movement.

However it is more frequently abused, especially by some ‘critics’ who
have used incessant hyperbole and snark and baiting to generally cause
stress to many readers. Sometimes this is also accompanied with many
list posts on various unrelated threads as the ‘critic’ believes their
criticism is so important that all other discussions about Wikimedia
should be diverted until their problem has been resolved to their
satisfaction, which is unlikely anyway.

Note this explicitly does not include anyone posting using their real
world identity, whether or not they have a Wikimedia account.

Where a poster does not clearly link to either Wikimedia account, or
does not appear to be using a real identity, and only after it is
exceeding the five post limit, the list admins will privately ask the
poster to either verify their identity or stop posting until the end
of the month.  Very frequently a whistle-blower is able and even
prefers to be documenting the problem on meta, but needs the high
profile of this list to spark the discussion and draw attention to
their meta page.


The five post allowance for proposals 3 and 4 are to ensure that
anyone who has not been globally banned can post criticisms without
repercussions, which is vital for whistleblowing and  transparency
generally, but they need to use their five posts per month wisely.
Once they have used their five posts, community members can reply with
less concern about being drawn into a direct argument with the poster.
It aims to force the poster to listen to others in the community once
their limit of five posts has been reached.

If there is support for these proposals, the list admins would not
immediately add moderation or bans, but would implement them as
needed, when we notice someone has exceeded one of these limits, and
we would make a note on a meta page where the community can review
these actions without allowing moderation meta-discussion to dominate
the discourse on the mailing list. Refinements to the list moderation
limits can then occur organically as we see how these rules plays out
in practise.

The RFC is at

However please also feel welcome to reply on-list if you wish to
express explicit support or opposition to any of the four proposals
above (please identify them by number, to ease counting).  We will
count votes (here and on the meta RFC) after two weeks, and post a
more refined final version back to this mailing list.

The list administrators will default to *enacting* all four proposals,
but will refrain from enacting any proposal receiving more opposition
than support.

John Vandenberg

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