[Balug-admin] Immediate response needed (Re LinuxWorld Expo)

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Wed Jul 11 13:32:04 PDT 2007

Re-sending because this seems to have gotten lost, the first time.

Quoting jim stockford (jim@well.com):

> ...of course! CABAL is a good common point.
> Seems a need for an active point of communication
> to coordinate LUGs for such things as LinuxWorld,
> LinuxPicnic, maybe sharing speaker info....

Just for context, CABAL's own activities at present (aside from
availability of its name to borrow as an umbrella ;-> ) is a medium
traffic LUG mailing list called "conspire"
(http://linuxmafia.com/mailman/listinfo/conspire) and twice-monthly 
meeting / installfest / barbecues in Menlo Park, 2nd and 4th Saturday 
evenings.  (Next one is this Saturday, 4pm to midnight.)

Communication to coordinate LUGs:

If there is demand, I'd be willing to set up a mailing list for
inter-LUG matters in the Bay Area.  That's been tried before on other
people's mail servers at least twice; both times, it didn't really work
very well.

Dumb politics is a severe risk on inter-group discussion fora, and
unfortunately there are people in Bay Area LUGs who don't like or trust
each other.  Here is how I would run such a mailing list, and how
in fact I run CABAL's and SVLUG's:

o  No mailing-list manager software munging of the Reply-To header.
o  Back-postings Web archive completely public; membership roster 
   accessible to any subscriber.
o  No moderation or banning of any non-spammer, non-spewer subscriber, 
   except in extraordinary circumstances that would be immediately 
   disclosed to the membership (that I cannot anticipate, but might
   be, e.g., activity that would implicate the subscribership base in
   criminal activity).
o  "Spam" is defined as only what pretty much everyone agrees is such.
o  "Spew" is defined as persistent barraging of the mailing list with
   nonsense text or other massive text postings that pretty much 
   everyone can agree is a mere text DoS attack, and not in any 
   way legitimate postings.  This would be like the "poetry bots"
   that in the past have auto-posted to some Usenet newsgroups in 
   an effort to destroy them (e.g., alt.s*i*ntology).
o  All listadmin pronouncements (if any) will be clearly disclosed
   as speaking in that capacity.  I.e., there will be no ambiguity
   about what role "hat" the listadmin is speaking in.  Any in-force
   rules will be publicly disclosed on the Mailman listadmin page
   (what, e.g., http://linuxmafia.com/mailman/listinfo/conspire is
   for "conspire").
o  No sanctioning of posters merely because other posters/subscribers
   express dislike of what the poster is saying.  (No dumb primate 
   politics carried out via the listadmin.)  The listadmin's likely
   reaction to complaints about someone else's non-spam, non-spew
   postings will be to offer to teach the complainer how to use 
   his/her killfile software, to avoid seeing what bothers him/her.

My preferred listadmin style, in short, is minimal central control,
minimal involvement of the listadmin in what people are permitted to do,
and high transparency / avoidance of backroom dealings.  Many people
actually dislike that:  They _want_ a listadmin who carefully controls
the tone and content of the mailing list, who intensively manages people
via off-list private-mail discussions about permitted behaviour, and who
enforces a large number of unwritten rules, out of public sight.  They
_want_ a listadmin who breaks up arguments, declares threads "dead" if
he judges them likely to offend or to have gone on too long, enforces
civility with threats, and otherwise acts like the parent of misbehaving

Those people, and their preferred sort of listadmin, tend towards
introvert/passive-aggressiveness and a severely high-context style of
communication.  The listadmin in such groups is often called the
"listmom".  I _could_ name two Bay Area technical groups that currently
have such (long-established, but undisclosed) styles of management for
their mailing lists, and two that used to but don't anymore -- but

(The passive-aggressives who run, and used to run, respectively, those
four groups specifically dislike _me_, among other people, because I'm
far too in-your-face for their liking.  I don't return their dislike in
kind, which probably bugs them, too.  ;->  )

LinuxWorld Conference and Expo:

>     Rick will probably have ideas and opinions.

Coloured flyers for the LinuxWorld table, about the various groups, are
a very good idea.  Here's what I wrote on conspire in response to Jim's 
kind offer to have some CABAL literature at the table (quoted in case
the suggestions are useful to others):


 From rick Tue Jul 10 19:24:39 2007
 Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 19:24:39 -0700
 To: conspire@linuxmafia.com
 Subject: Re: [conspire] anyone interested in helping represent Conspire at LinuxWorld Expo?

Quoting jim stockford (jim@well.com):

> If you'd like to put in a little time at the community
> table (for LUGs) and/or have other ideas as to
> how to promote the conspire mailing list or the
> CABAL activities or anything else related, please
> let me know ASAP--the IDG coordinator is finalizing
> the table arrangements today or tomorrow.

What would really be good, ye CABAL regulars, would be for one of you to
prototype a brief informational flyer about CABAL, suitable for printing
out and stacking at the LWCE community table for LUGs that Jim is
speaking of.

In my experience, the best physical format for a LUG flyer is
quarter-sheet.  That is, you design your flyer to have the same text in
each of the four quarters of an 8.5 x 11" sheet, with matching backside
text in the same configuration.  You print, photocopy, and cut into

Why?  Because people tend to lose full letter-sized sheets, having
picked up a million of them and inevitably losing them into ever-growing
piles of same.  By contrast, quarter-sheet flyers are kinda cute, and
stand out.

Trifold flyers are almost as good.

If someone could (please) prototype a CABAL flyer and provide electronic
copy, I'll make sure it gets to LWCE.

(I'm really busy with work, and can't spare the time to design flyers
right now.)


Sharing speaker info:  

If you want, join the SVLUG "volunteers" mailing list, where speaker
possibilities are discussed
(http://lists.svlug.org/lists/listinfo/volunteers).  SVLUG's cumulative
memory for possible future speakers/topics is supposed to be the TBA
page, http://www.svlug.org/tba.php .  That is, when someone comes up
with an idea for a future meeting, it's supposed to go there.  Other
SVLUG volunteers are _supposed_ to help maintain that page; they've
mostly not helped, but I manage to keep the list pretty complete,

(My point:  Please _do_ "poach" SVLUG's possible-speakers list.  This
isn't a zero-sum game, they're not SVLUG property, and having the same
speaker give a talk at multiple groups around the Bay Area is a _good_
thing, not a bad one.  Disclaimer:  I do not properly speak for SVLUG,
and you should consult President Paul Reiber and VP Mark Weisler if you
need official policy.)

Additionally, _many_ good ideas for speakers can be found on SVLUG's
"previous meetings" page, which is complete back to July 1997:

SVLUG has in the past had a "Speaker's Bureau" that specifically tried
to share information with other groups.  That isn't present per se at
the moment, but less-formal coordination through lurking on the
low-traffic volunteers list would probably suffice, just as well.

(the ghost of) LinuxPicnic:

The Linux Picnic was founded by a group of individuals in the Sunnyvale
area as an event that was to be run _collectively_ by participating
LUGs (plus one ham-radio group called South Bay Community Network, 
sbay.org, or Sbay), with none of them in sole charge of the event, and a
picnic coordinator and treasurer managing the event and funds on behalf
of all the groups, chosen annually by all the groups.  Its Internet
presence was at domain "linux10.org" for the first year (10th
anniversary of Linux), and then one other (IIRC, linux11.org), and
then eventually Drew Bertola registered linuxpicnic.org.

In 2006, Henry House, J. Paul Reed, and I noticed that South Bay
Community Network seemed to be acting as if the event had suddenly
become solely theirs to administer, and other groups were merely to
provide volunteer labour for their event.  (Drew Bertola had
unfortunately handed over the linuxpicnic.org domain to South Bay
Community Network's then-president, who holds it to this day.)

SVLUG (per SVLUG president J. Paul Reed) and CABAL (per me) agreed to
participate in the 2006 picnic on the condition that the picnic would
continue to be run jointly by all of the participating groups equally,
that therefore the funds collected from sponsors would be those of the
picnic and not grabbed by any one group, etc.  Having secured SVLUG and
CABAL's help with event staffing and publicity, South Bay Community
Network then violated that condition:  They ran the event as internal
to sbay.org, established a "SIG Charter" for it without consulting any 
of the groups, established high-content-control rules for the picnic
discussion mailing list[1] (again) without consulting any of the groups
and with themselves in sole charge of list administration, and rolled
the leftover funds into their own treasury.

New South Bay Community Network president Heather Stern in 2007 asked
for SVLUG's (and other groups') help with the 2007 picnic:  I pointed
out the ongoing bad faith and unilateral removal of the other groups
from event planning / administration.  Heather denied that anything had
changed.  I challenged her to make good on that:

  If you assert that I'm wrong, prove it: Solicit offers from the 
  Bay Area Linux groups for a treasurer (Henry House of LUGOD or 
  anyone else) to manage and spend the picnic's incoming funds on 
  behalf of _all_ the constituent groups, and not just on behalf of 
  Sbay.  Then make clear that the picnic coordinator and treasurer 
  are answerable to the numerous participating groups -- as was the 
  case traditionally -- and not uniquely to Sbay.

Heather made no reply whatsoever.  We of the Bay Area Linux groups are
valued only as a source of free labour and publicity.  

Thread starts here:

In short, I'd love to put together a Bay Area Linux Picnic again, and
think 2008 should be what we shoot for.  (We'll need a new Internet
domian.)  Meanwhile, I'm certainly intending to attend the 2007 Sbay
Picnic, and think it's really nice of a ham-radio group to furnish a
barbecue picnic for Bay Area Linux users.

What I'm not going to do is help staff or publicise that ham group's 
event, especially given their history of bad faith and their destruction
of the community's participation.  CABAL will not participate in Sbay's
event, ditto.  I hope that SVLUG won't, given the bad faith on the other

[1] Among those:  Any citation of postings there to elsewhere, impliedly
even one's own, is considered an "actionable offense" meriting banning,
etc.  Also, the membership roster is available only to the listadmin,
and the back-postings archive is hidden from public view.  The listadmin
has a history of silencing critics by gagging their on-list posting 
ability or ejecting them, and then not informing the list membership,
allegedly sponsoring groups, or other responsible parties.  This is of
course a perfect example of the passive-aggressive "listmom" style of
mailing list administration that I abhor.

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