[PLUG] Mailing list issues

Arun Khan knura9 at gmail.com
Wed Jan 2 05:56:57 PST 2013

Dear Sudhanwa,

Thanks for discussing this issue.
I have been a PLUG mail list (ML) member since 2005 IIRC.

Till about 2009/2010, I have faced no issues vis-a-vis posting to the PLUG ML.

My further comments are inline below.

On Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 11:08 PM, Sudhanwa Jogalekar  wrote:

> Some Pluggies are having some issues with the mailing list and are
> raising those issues on the list.

Personally, I have been facing moderation due "Suspicious Headers"
since 18-24 months IIRC.
I have raised the flag with several senior PLUG members in private
mails but have not experienced any significant change from the list

And I don't have any fancy MUA that sticks in it's own headers.
Whatever headers that are there comes from GMail.
I use GMail "Classic Look" for reading / posting to many mailing lists
hosted by mailman, Yahoo! Groups, or Google Groups.

.........  snip .........

> As more newbies got added, it became pain to see all their violations
> like top postings and  irrelevant queries. So, moderation bit was
> added by default for every new list member. In any case, new members
> were supposed to be on the list for some time, understand what is
> happening and then start posting to the list. The typical time frame
> for this was about a month or so. After that, the new member was
> supposed to send mail to admins to remove the moderation for them.
> Well, as usual, very few people really understood this and became
> unhappy about it. Unfortunately, the unhappy trend still continues.

I will humbly remind that we *all* were / are / and will be newbies at
any given time.
Today some of us may be conversant with mailing list etiquette but
most of us were guilty of the same mistakes (of today's newbies) when
we started our online presence.

In one of the ILUG ML, there was a question about a specific SCSI card
that had remained unanswered for a while.  I had personal experience
with the card having deployed quite a few of those.   My response did
not follow the "strict" formatting guideline of the moderator and it
was rejected.   He *failed* to weigh the content of my message (a
solution to the OP's question) and had his head stuck in the
formatting semantics.

Nobody benefited.  It was the list owner's loss (a) the OP's question
went unanswered, and (b) perhaps the OP also left the mailing list (I
unsubscribed).   The mailing list became a self congratulatory banter
among the "buddies" in that list and it eventually died.

Let not the PLUG ML become like that.

Summer of 2011, I taught Linux workshop to the Sys Admin stream
students @ SICSR and encouraged them to join the PLUG ML.  Some of
them who claimed to be members, responded "We are but it is so
difficult to post"

It is the list owner's prerogative to put forth rules but s/he must
also be *flexible* and give the newbies a chance to learn the rules.

> There is a lot of discussion happening about moderation. People do see
> moderation in their own perspectives. On the PLUG mailing list, it is
> a practice that the mail will either reach to the list as_it_is (that
> means without any moderation/editing) or else, if it gets stuck due to
> filters, it will be seen by moderators and will be passed through or
> rejected/discarded depending on the context of the mail content) Some
> people feel that the mail getting stuck because of filters itself
> means moderation. We lost our dear friend (Late) Keneth Gonsalves
> because of this from the list as he believed in complete openness of
> the list. So, it is your choice to say the list is moderated or not
> moderated. For sure, whatever the poster says will go untouched to the
> list (if it passes through filters/rules set up)

+1 with Late KG on the practice of moderation for FOSS mailing lists.

> There are cases when people are subscribed to the list using one
> particular id and post to the list using some other id.

Not applicable in my case.  I am consistent in using one particular
email id (the one in this email) for my ML, Web BB, identity.  Yet, I
have had posts going to Moderator Q (Suspicious Headers).

> Obviously, the
> mail will get stuck up as it is sent from a non-member. It then gets
> rejected and the person feels "insulted" and sends mail back to me
> and/or mods/admins demanding some explanation. Sorry to say that very
> few people do read the message sent by the mailman when their mail is
> stuck up and also when they are sent a response during rejection.

Perhaps they do, shake their heads and move on.  In my case, I have
taken the pains to raise the flag with private messages to PLUG
members. I did not get any reaction from any.

> My own mails get stuck up many times (especially the forwarded ones.
> Latest example was of forwarded mail from ilugD about Raj Mathur).
> However, I do not take this personally and move on to my other work.
> Let the moderator take its own time to clear the mail or reject it. If
> at all, there is something real urgent and the mail needs to be sent

I disagree with this approach.   It is unfair to the members who ask
for help and then get frustrated with messages waiting in the Q.   If
this job is too much for one moderator to handle then the s/he should
seek help and welcome it when people offer their help.

When messages get stuck in moderator Q, time is lost.

In many instances, I have had "almost" real time conversation with
members in the MLs to get my problem resolved and I have done likewise
to help others.

IMO, any technical ML's basic charter should be to help it's members
communicate in a timely manner.

> NOW, I do use my privilege of having the moderator rights and clear it
> from the filter queue. But it is really a rare case.

Why (even for the rare case)?  The rule should be applicable to all
including the moderator himself/herself.  OR s/he should change the
filter rules so that it is more flexible and allows every member to
post with equal freedom.

> I don't  understand why the posters are so touchy about their mails being stuck
> up and waiting for release.

But what about the instances when the posts never see the light of the day?

When a post is *sitting* in the Q,  it is *not* possible to have quick
turn around of exchange of ideas.

> I don think there is any mailing list that is without any filters
> setup. If you are on some other lists and do not see any invite
> message from any social networking sites or some spam from some
> Russian or Chinese email ids, be assured that there are filters on the
> list.

Absolutely, when tools (e.g. Spamassasin) can do it for you :)

> (You may call it moderated or un-moderated, it is your choice)
> This is true even after having proper spam filters that filter out
> most of the spam mails like selling drugs, winning lotteries and so
> on.

I am sorry to sound like a broken record but ...

when a  response to someone's else post, in the PLUG ML (following
rules - top posting, trimming quotes) goes into the moderator Q
because of "Suspicious Headers" then it is *moderated*.

This has been the case for me in the past; sometimes those messages
got approved and at times the messages never saw the light of the day.
 On a couple of occasions, I got frustrated with the approval delay
and canceled the message using the link given in the bounced message!

As other members have pointed out, it is probably a bug in the custom
regex filter that is *constricting* postings to the ML.

Perhaps, you can post the filters and get a consensus to a min. set.

> Apart from a very few people on the list who are raising questions
> about the mailing list, I have not come across anyone who is raising
> the issue.

Perhaps they have moved on (like the members of the Linux class that I
taught) rather than raise them :(

Anyway with who will they interact with?   Posting to the ML is
moderated (a) for newbies and (b) un-moderated member's postings may
come under the "Suspicious Header" axe :(  Private mail to the list
owner and senior PLUG members remain unanswered.

Initially, I thought I was in the minority.  Lately, I have heard
similar frustrated voices from experienced/senior members, in private
email conversation.  These individuals are well aware of ML posting
etiquette etc. so why do their posts also get blocked with "Suspicious

> Well, it is upto the mailing list members to decide how the list
> should work. If majority feels that it should be more open, let it be.

Yes, please, please, please ....

> If all the filters and moderation bits are removed and the list
> becomes completely open, I will be the happiest person as I will not
> have to take any blames/bashing from anyone for things that I never
> did, and/or was nowhere related to the activities.

I am not advocating that every filter be removed.  Every mailman admin
has some sort of checks to filter out spam etc.;  spamassasin and
filters like invites from social networking sites would be reasonable

I have requested a friend who manages another LUG ML (mailman backend)
to share his settings.  I will post them in a separate message once I
receive them.

> I have been facing
> that blaming/bashing for more than 10 years now so as to keep the
> integrity, confidentiality of the things.

It is much appreciated - admin jobs are thankless :)  On the flip
side, notice that the traffic on this ML dwindling.

> Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year.

Thanks and wish you the same and all other PLUG members.

Best wishes and regards,
-- Arun Khan

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