Moderation [was RE: [uf-discuss] Andy Mabbet's moderation]

Joe Andrieu joe at
Thu Feb 1 12:53:09 PST 2007

Benjamin West wrote:
> > Moderation is a form of punishment, whether it is seen that 
> way by the 
> > cabal or not. It ostracizes the moderated and prevents them from 
> > participating in the community like everyone else. In this case, it 
> > has made Andy a second-class uF citizen whose posts are 
> censored in an 
> > ill-defined, unchecked process run by unnamed moderators.  I say 
> > unnamed because although we know some of the moderators, unnamed 
> > others have apparently joined the effort as a means of 
> spreading the 
> > governance beyond the founding cabal. That's progress, but 
> these new 
> > volunteers have remained anonymous.  Kind of like the 
> secret police, 
> > really.
> Joe, I'm having trouble gauging how serious you are, because 
> this interpretation of events is so different from how I, and 
> I believe others, percieve the same events.  The -admin list 
> discussed what to do and the proposed actions were disclosed 
> to the public.  The fact that he was moderated instead of 
> banned was due to community input. All actions taken were 
> clearly taken by Tantek, who has always been an influential 
> leader in this community.  What part of this is secret? The 
> community did have a say in what happened, and Tantek 
> executed exactly that plan.

Respectfully, the difference in perspective is from what is done in
secret and what is done publicly.  I wouldn't quite agree that "proposed
actions" were disclosed to the public. Rather, one proposed action was
disclosed as imminent with a brief window of appeal. When I, and others,
disagreed with that action, a different action--which had not been
disclosed or discussed in public--was summarily imposed.

What is secret is the conversation on the -admin list. I didn't even
know it existed.  And to say that the community had a say in Tantek's
action is about as valid as saying the American public had a say in
George Bush's recent troop increase.  

If instead, a transcript of the discussion leading to the action had
been shared with the public, it would've gone a long way to assuaging my
frustrations at the lack of openness in the uF governance process.

> > Since this censorship judgment was issued by dictatorial fiat at a 
> > point when Andy was agitating over governance issues, I found it 
> > particularly disingenuous.
> Again, this is an interesting interpretation.  The actions 
> were discussed on the -admin list by a worldwide group of 
> volunteers.  The results were disclosed on the -discuss list. 
>  The community gave feedback on the results.  This didn't 
> happen because Andy disagrees, it happened because of his 
> behaviour while disagreeing.

Yes, the "worldwide group of volunteers," the ever expanding cabal of
secret police. ;)  

Seriously, Ben, I would appreciate disclosure of who these volunteers
are and what was said for and against Andy in making the decision.  I do
believe that you are all acting in what you feel is in the best interest
of the group.  However, that's not sufficient.  Tyrants and dictators
always feel they are acting in the group's best interest and usually
have very compelling justifications for their actions.  What's necessary
is transparency about who is making the decisions and why.  I may agree
with those decisions, but when they are hidden, it only rouses
suspicions.  If I could see how the leaders of this group actually make
decisions, I could come to some informed conclusions about how I can
best contribute and even if contributing to the effort is still in my
interest.  So far, I'm hopeful that these are simply growing pains from
a community that is young and not so experienced in scaling beyond the
inner clique.

> That it has continued as long as it has only buttresses my
> > concerns about governance.  Obviously, the cabal has the 
> power to do 
> > this thing.  However, I remain unconvinced that this 
> instance is not 
> > simply an abuse of that power.
> >
> > I would appreciate it if someone could forward me the "bad" 
> posts that 
> > have justified Andy's continued moderation. In the face of the good 
> > posts, there needs to be some non-zero level of bad posts 
> to justify 
> > continued moderation.  Perhaps there is merit to the 
> moderation.  If 
> > so, I think it is appropriate for evidence to be shared 
> with those in 
> > the community who care to review it.
> >
> > Or, if taking Andy off moderation has simply been overlooked, ok. 
> > Mistakes happen. In which case he should be allowed to post 
> normally 
> > and we should remember as a community that we don't have the 
> > wherewithal to manage fine-tuned corrective procedures.
> >
> Again, Andy has been extremely helpful during his moderation, 
> and the posts that cause negative influences in the 
> community, personal attacks, and list membership to drop have 
> ceased entirely.  There was a limit set on the ban, but no 
> such limit was proposed for the moderation.  All evidence 
> suggests that moderation is working.

So, you are happy that the moderation was imposed summarily and without
deadline. That's harsh.  The clear implication from the conversation was
that the moderation would be for one week, and I believe Tantek said as
much on IRC at the time[1].  However, if we have devolved into debating
minor technicalities, we are missing the point.

If it worked, great. Then we should lift the probation.  Andy's already
forwarded one email to me that didn't seem worth moderating, and it is
clear the bundle of recent posts would have been much more useful if
they had also been timely.

> PS.  There hasn't been many formal announcements regarding 
> "governance issues" for several reasons.  One reason is that 
> the group is fairly conservative about making changes and 
> being an "official" voice. Another reason is that we are 
> simply more interested in doing actual work and making 
> progress than dealing with meta-discussions about governance. 
>  While I expect this is an area we might improve in, if you 
> are interested in finding the list of admins, you can deduce 
> this list by looking at the admins in the IRC channel. 

I understand the experiential and cultural biases.  However, the youth
of the organization and the desire for current leadership to avoid
systematizing the mechanisms of governance is not sufficient basis for
maintaining the status quo.  Suggesting that who's who on the IRC
channel is sufficient disclosure misses the bigger picture that uF is
bigger than the cabal that hangs out on IRC and deserves a commons and
processes that can begin to address these issues more openly.




Joe Andrieu
joe at
+1 (805) 705-8651

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