1997-02-11 - Moderation experiment almost over; “put up or shut up”

Header Data

From: John Gilmore <gnu@toad.com>
To: gnu@toad.com
Message Hash: fe40234c0e3e606b9277f0d0259a364212214085932fbd488352c78187070810
Message ID: <199702111340.FAA18603@toad.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1997-02-11 13:40:51 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 05:40:51 -0800 (PST)

Raw message

From: John Gilmore <gnu@toad.com>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 05:40:51 -0800 (PST)
To: gnu@toad.com
Subject: Moderation experiment almost over; "put up or shut up"
Message-ID: <199702111340.FAA18603@toad.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Sandy hit a pothole in the moderation experiment when Mr. Nemesis
submitted a posting containing nothing but libelous statements about
Sandy's employer.  He never anticipated that he wouldn't be able to
follow his announced "post it to one list or the other" policy because
to do so would make him legally liable (in his opinion; he's a lawyer,
I'm not).  His gears jammed, and the whole machine came to a halt for
a few days.

Sandy has agreed to continue moderation through the end of the
original 1-month experiment (through Feb 19).  And it's a good thing,
too, because the "cypherpunks community" had better get off its
whining butt in the next ten days, or it will no longer exist.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm not willing to host the
cypherpunks list any more.  It's not the true assholes that brought me
to this decision; it's the reaction from the bulk of people on the
list: suspicion, flamage, and criticism with every attempt to improve
things.  I noticed few people volunteering some of their own time,
money, or machines to help out.  Almost all the suggestions were
advice for *other* people to implement:

                One would have thought that had Sandy and John really
    been interested in hearing the views of list members, this approach would
    have eventually won out.

    a supposedly libertarian and anarchistic group of people has decided
    that censorship is the right solution to their problems.

							I'd prefer
    for the cypherpunks _name_ not be associated with a moderated/censored
    list. (I mean no insult to either Sandy or John in this, BTW... I
    simply think that they've gone about this the wrong way.

    If one is going to advocate free speech, I strongly suggest one
    learns to deal with one's own greed and one's own need for power

    For those who want it, let someone moderate the list for as long as
    they care to do it. Approved messages get a "X-sandy-approved"

    ... the vast majority are still shipped out as 'Sender:
    owner-cypherpunks@toad.com' (and the 'Received' chain as I pointed
    out in my original post). to me that is piss poor list management.

        however you slice it, censorship on a freedom of speech list
    just does not make it and we make fools of ourselves if we think

Now each of these posters will get their chance to do it "right" --
on their own time and with their own resources.

A large fraction of the list seems to think that "freedom of speech"
means that everyone is required to listen to everyone else at all
times.  That there can't be focused, topical conversations in a
society that has freedom of speech.  I would say the opposite; part of
freedom of speech is the freedom to choose to whom we speak and to
whom we listen.  This is part of what cryptography does: lets us
control who can receive our speech, and lets recievers determine who
the speaker is.

There also seems to be a misunderstanding that freedom of speech
requires that people who want to speak already have a place, set up
and maintained by someone else, for them to speak in.  If someone
who's set up a speech-place decides it isn't being used for its
intended purpose, then they are a censor, stopping all possibility of
conversations.  Did you forget that there are millions of other places
to speak in cyberspace, millions more in realspace, and that you can
personally create more if you don't like any of the ones you know about?
To paraphrase Zappa, you wouldn't know censorship if it bit you on the
ass.  You think you're being censored when you're just being excluded
from a forum because what you're saying isn't interesting to that forum.

So anyway, I'm tired of it all.  I'd much rather focus on getting my
crypto work done than babysitting majordomo, tracking down attempts to
subscribe the entire US Congress to the list, and debating the seventy
or eighty "obvious right ways" to handle the list.

This is a "put up or shut up" to the cypherpunks community.

Either you list denizens will, among yourselves, put in the energy to
build a new home for the list (and run it in whatever way your
volunteers want) by Feb 20, or the list will cease to exist on Feb 20.

The next ten days of moderated discussion, through the end of the
original experiment, will give the community a chance to discuss
whether and where it plans to host the list after the experiment is
over.  My feeling is that the stalkers who have been trying to shut it
down (Dimitri, etc) will be out in full force, trying to disrupt the
process of finding a new home.  It would be very hard to make progress
along that line in an unmoderated list.  Cypherpunks-unedited readers
are welcome to try.

Sandy reports that he's changing his criteria for moderation for the
remainder of the experiment.  It was his idea, and I approve.  The
criteria now are:

	*  The topics of the list are:
		setting up replacements for cypherpunks@toad.com
	*  On-topic, legal, posts will go to the list.
	*  Postings with any hint of legal liability (in Sandy's opinion)
	   will be silently ignored.
	*  Legal but off-topic posts will go to cypherpunks-flames.

Sandy will apply these criteria retroactively to the backlog (of about
140 messages), which means that most recent criticisms of the
moderation (which don't invove someone volunteering to do things for
the list) will go straight to the flames list.  If you don't like it,
I recommend that you start your own list.  Soon.

For me it's a sad thing that the community's willingness to pull
together has degenerated to the point where I feel better off
separating from the list.  I hope that others in the community will
create one or several alternatives that work better.

	John Gilmore