Re: Sergeant at arms: please deal with

joel jaeggli <> Wed, 23 October 2013 00:39 UTC

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Subject: Re: Sergeant at arms: please deal with
From: joel jaeggli <>
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Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2013 17:39:27 -0700
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To: John C Klensin <>
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On Oct 22, 2013, at 2:48 PM, John C Klensin <> wrote:

> --On Tuesday, October 22, 2013 21:21 +0000 Ted Lemon
> <> wrote:
>> On Oct 22, 2013, at 4:55 PM, Randy Bush <> wrote:
>>> i am a bit taken aback by the vigilantism.  
>>> it was just an email message, and a factual one at that.  the
>>> usual example is _falsely_ shouting "fire" specifically
>>> because it can cause *actual* *physical* *harm*.  get a
>>> delete key.  get procmail.  get a grip.
>> Right, that's not the policy.   If that were the policy, a
>> number of notorious abusers of the mailing list would still
>> have posting privileges.
>> If the first message had been the beginning of a conversation,
>> I would have taken it a lot differently, but the way it was
>> dropped on the list with no discussion, it just looked like an
>> attempt to start a massive flame war.   That's exactly the
>> sort of thing that the sergeant-at-arms is supposed to deal
>> with.
> Ted, that is, IMO, an entirely reasonable comment about
> inappropriate content, but, even then, our normal practice is
> for the sergeant-at-arms or some other appropriate parties to
> discuss and warn (usually and preferably in private first), not
> take preemptive action.  "Discuss and warn first" may be a
> first-order approximation to Randy's observation about due
> process, or at least part of it.

Weirdly on last weeks' iesg informal, the issue of do we need to revisit the seargent at arms approach/methodology came up. RFC 3005 is a while ago and it not something that has had a lot of attention in the interim. 

I'm not personally interested in being highly proscriptive and in the end these things are going to come down to judgement calls with the potential for an appeals process. The infrequency with which they are applied I think says that in the general case they're not the first order tools for managing list discourse, but it also means when they are applied either the ducks really have to be in a row, or questions about the application will ensue.

> The other thing that may make this situation special is that
> several people are convinced that, despite the new address, the
> person who made the posting is a serial (or, in your terms,
> "notorious") abuser who has been banned from IETF lists before.
> If that is actually the case, then preemptive action to prevent
> further postings is appropriate, possibly including initiating
> the RFC 3683 procedure and being done with this.
> But none of that has anything to do with anonymity.  
> I think it is reasonable to expect that, if the sergeant-at-arms
> concludes that public action is necessary, that action and the
> reasoning for it be carefully and precisely explained and even
> adjusted for the record after the fact if the explanation wasn't
> quite right.  If nothing else, getting the right documentation
> in place is very important should anyone ever decide to
> initiation a 3683-style global posting rights action.
> I do not intend to criticize Jordi in any of this.  We
> (fortunately) rarely have the provocation and need to do this.
> We need to rely on good judgment rather than collections of
> specific-seeming rules that would, themselves, be likely sources
> of controversy and his judgment has generally been good.  We
> should, however, all try to learn from experience, including
> this one.
> And, fwiw, I think we should try to see what can be learned that
> might apply to harassment complaints.  By their nature, IMO,
> those complaints are much more likely to be subjective and
> difficult than whether someone has abused or improperly used a
> mailing list.
>   best,
>   john