Getting back to the proposed rules, the list moderators have always had
flexibility to use judgement. Creating extra bureaucracy is unlikely to be
a healthy 'fix', I would much rather first see the mods take whatever
action they feel is necessary to run a welcoming email list, and only start
agreeing new rules if their actions are then thought contentious by the

The proposals on banned users seem draconian to my eyes, however if this
goes ahead I propose we start a more flexible "alt-wikimedia-l" where there
are fewer limitations, readership would be much smaller, and the blocked or
naysayers can still have a voice, so long as they are not using it for
personal attacks. Such an alternative channel would also help users to
draft any critical thoughts before posting to the main list, something that
would definitely help potential whistle-blowers ensure they have text that
is sufficiently fair and robustly written.

A point worth noting is that anyone writing on behalf of a WMF blocked user
risks being blocked by the WMF, based on my own experience.


On 23 Aug 2017 5:03 a.m., "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
> wikimedia-l-post-limits
> 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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