Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins

Bron Gondwana <> Tue, 04 October 2022 01:08 UTC

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Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2022 12:07:32 +1100
From: Bron Gondwana <>
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Subject: Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins
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*With my personal hat on:*

I'm cautiously in favour of this PR action.  Sorry Dan.

I don't believe that Dan is a troll or deliberately trying to cause damage, however his communication style is very much not being "conservative in what you send" for the protocol which is "internationally comprehensible English language", which is what the IETF is trying to operate on.  Because of this, his contributions in the GEN area in particular are causing problems for the IETF's work, and can be likened to packets on the wire which aren't correctly parseable, and are damaging interoperability.

He has had this interoperability issue pointed out, he's by far in the rough in terms of deployed "running code" implementations of understandable international English in the wild, and has not altered his communication style to get his points across in a way that doesn't cause protocol damage.

Having said that, I would recommend we review this decision in a year.  I'm not a giant fan of "forever" being the default, particularly where it's a long term contributor being sanctioned.


*With my list moderator hat for the last-call list on:**

This issue is of wide interest within the IETF, and of course there's a lot of response to it.  A couple of posts have skated the line very closely, most egregiously this one:

Which made a pretty damning accusation (with no evidence) that Dan is acting in bad faith or that he's more under the influence of propaganda and brainwashing than anybody else (including me for that matter - we're all the sum of the inputs we receive plus our internal processing of them).

I have conferred with my co-moderator and we don't believe that this thread has strayed beyond the very broad scope that the initial post below created for the discussion.  There's nobody spamming the list - or repeating themselves massively, though certainly many of the more frequent posters could do with consolidating their thoughts into a single statement rather than reflexively reacting to each post.


*With my policy lawyer hat on:**

Finally regarding the question of "was it on topic to post here rather than the general list" - I have no strong opinion.  I'd love if it wasn't posted here because then it wouldn't be my problem, but the chartering process for this list carved it off to take a subset of the general traffic - and my opinion is that it was correctly directed, having just read BCP 83 with a "liberal in what you accept" parser in my brain, that was looking at the intent.  I firmly believe that if you polled the community you would get a very strong consensus that it was correctly posted.

In particular:

Is skating perilously close to an unjustified personal attack.  I'll be replying to that one separately.




On Fri, Sep 30, 2022, at 02:15, IETF Chair wrote:
> Following community feedback after various incidents, as documented below, the
> IESG has initiated a posting rights (PR) action that would restrict the posting
> rights of Dan Harkins, as per the procedures found in BCP 83 (RFC 3683).
> Specifically, his posting privileges to these lists would be suspended:
> * admin-discuss
> * gendispatch
> * ietf
> * terminology
> In the IESG's opinion, this individual has a history of sending emails that are
> inconsistent with the IETF Guidelines for Conduct (RFC 7154) and thereby
> "disrupt the consensus-driven process" (RFC 3683). Among these are contributions
> that:
> * Express racism in the form of denying, belittling, and ridiculing anti-racist
>   sentiment and efforts
> * Are rude and abusive, and often amount to insulting ridicule
> (Links to examples of such emails sent to the lists above during the last two
> years are provided at the end of this email.)
> Multiple attempts have been made to enter into a private discussion with this
> individual, both by IESG and community members, to communicate disquiet with his
> conduct on the lists. These attempts to restore respectful and courteous conduct
> on the lists have been rebuffed with communication that can be considered both
> antagonistic and hostile, and the pattern of behavior observed has continued.
> The IESG also notes that the following actions have already been taken in
> response to the individual's actions:
> * Two I-Ds were removed from the public archive due to their offensive nature:
>   (following these links displays the tombstone notice explaining their removal)
> * His posting rights were restricted on the admin-discuss mailing list:
> * A final public warning was issued on the gendispatch mailing list:
> None of the attempts to discuss his participation style or warn the individual
> have led to any improvements. The IESG therefore believes that a PR action is
> the correct response to his continued problematic behavior across a number of
> different lists.
> The IESG plans to make a decision in the next few weeks, and solicits final
> comments on this action. Please send substantive comments to the
> mailing lists by 27 October 2022. Exceptionally, comments may
> be sent to instead. If sending private feedback to the IESG,
> please indicate if you would be open to having your comments anonymized and
> shared in a summary.
> Please note: Comments should be limited to the criteria described in BCP 83,
> notably on whether the individual in question has engaged in postings that are
> "unprofessional commentary, regardless of the general subject" in a manner
> disruptive enough to warrant this action.
> Lars Eggert
> IETF Chair, on behalf of the IESG
> –-
> Examples of problematic emails during the last two years include:
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> *
> -- 
> last-call mailing list

  Bron Gondwana, CEO, Fastmail Pty Ltd