Proposal_talk: Suspending the private mailing list
Looks good to me. There are arguments both ways on whether we need a private mailing list, and this is a reasonable process for resolving it. --Chris Watkins 16:13, 1 December 2012 (EST)
- Will you second this proposal, by putting your name in the template at the top? John Vandenberg 16:37, 1 December 2012 (EST)
Thanks John for proposing this. I feel very strongly that the behaviour of some people on the private mailing list during the recent election process was disgraceful and embarrassing for the chapter. I think that having a “private” mailing list, which allows people to hide their poor behaviour behind a cloak of ‘privacy’ is not productive to the movement in the long term, and flies in the face of the values of transparency and accountability that the chapter should be fostering. The present situation is unsatisfactory, and it must change.
There have been a few comments made on the private mailing list which I’d like to address here:
- There are some legitimate comments that should remain private, as they may be taken out of context. This has a core of truth to it, but the existing “private” mailing list isn’t really that private to begin with. Anyone with twenty quid (or a concession card and a tenner) can become a member, get subscribed, and then do what they want with the messages on the list. Any expectation of actual privacy on a mailing list with more than ten people, or where you do not personally know each and every subscriber, is rather fanciful in my experience. We shouldn’t be providing a forum that people think is “private” where it’s actually not private and can’t be made private.
- Some of the comments in recent weeks are not the sort of thing we want made in public. Again, I agree with this. I’d anticipate that moving discussion to a venue where the comments are visible to the public and eternally preserved for posterity would make people think twice before sending heated or careless comments through.
- Having a members-only mailing list provides an incentive for people to join the chapter. In my experience, this is not the place. I don’t imagine anyone (except for leakers) has signed up for the purpose of getting access to our internal squabbling. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here =)
- Removing a private mailing list will just mean that the squabbling goes underground to other private venues. Perhaps this will happen, but I can’t imagine how this would be worse than the current situation where a few hotheads can air dirty laundry in front of the whole membership.
- The loss of privacy will mean people won’t feel comfortable making frank and honest feedback about the committee or the chapter’s partners. In my experience, our members have never been shy about being frank and honest, whatever the circumstances =).
One of the proposals being made has been to shift discussion onto the public chapter wiki. This has some merit; everything is done out and in the open, and with good organisation it’s easy to follow just the discussions you’re interested in and ignore those you aren’t. Personally, I find that while wikis are excellent tools for collaboratively developing content, they’re badly suited to hosting discussion and debate. Insisting everything take place on-wiki might create a barrier to those who are more comfortable engaging in discussion via an email mailing list.
The other alternative that has been proposed is to move discussion to the public wikimediaau-l mailing list. This list is already public, and anyone may subscribe or view its archives. However, this list is maintained by the WMF, not by the chapter. The chapter would not have any ability to sanction misconduct or take action to remove problematic content from the archive. My understanding is that the WMF intends it to be a list for people in Australia interested in Wikimedia, not a chapter list per se, and the existing community there might be a bit put out if a whole load of chapter business suddenly appears there.
Hope this provides everyone with some food for thought. Lankiveil 17:58, 1 December 2012 (EST).
WMF hosted email list
Following on from one of Craig's points, the UK chapter exclusively uses the public WMF hosted list for their chapter email communication.(and also uses a WMF hosted wiki for their main website as well) This did cause problems, when one gent objected strongly to an email which he considered libellous. The response was that the archives of the UK list (hosted by WMF) were set to be 'private', which means only list members can access them. After many months their list was restored to be a public list. I dont know what happened with the problematic emails in the archive.
The Australian public wikimedia list does include quite a few non-members, but they dont often send emails to the list, and many active members are not on the public list. John Vandenberg 18:39, 1 December 2012 (EST)
As I understand it, once (if) this does get a seconder, only a majority of the current committee has to agree with this proposal and it will happen, so I want to voice my objection now.
Unfortunately my reasons are mostly those listed by Lankiveil in My thoughts above; I just decide that most of these reasons are enough to keep a private form of communication just to members. Mark Hurd 12:23, 2 December 2012 (EST)
- In agreement. In practice when such a forum is not available, people will tend to create their own - this results in fragmented, unofficial and unmonitored communication between groups (cliques, if you will) of individuals which can have consequences for the organisation. Have seen this exact thing happen in another organisation I'm involved in. However I'm in favour of the balance shifting towards announcements being made on the au-l list so that non-members know and can see what the chapter is doing. Historically (prior to the 2010-11 term of the committee) the private list was barely used at all, except around elections and such, and au-l was the main forum for communication. Andrew Owens 02:59, 3 December 2012 (EST)
don't appear to be (back) on the list
Like any good wiki-citizen, at the first sniff of intrigue, I reach for the akashic records to review / sticky beak - fwiw, I vastly prefer using a public list, and would porbably support a suspension of the private list, but I also would quite like to be back on the list - I think after my blazing return to financial status and activity, I failed to get popped back... hopefully someone suitable informed will be able to check :-) thanks! Privatemusings 11:49, 3 December 2012 (EST)
- Sorry I forgot to add you again. I will do this once I have access to the server, which should be Real Soon Now. John Vandenberg 12:01, 3 December 2012 (EST)
Agree (it's not private anyway)
I agree with Lankiveil's point above about it not really being a 'private' list at all. Anyone can become a member. Let's make everything explicitly public, because it is anyway. Sam Wilson 12:26, 3 December 2012 (EST)
Disagree - let's deal with core issue here
Firstly, can I get some clarification as to the terminology here?
By private list do we mean email@example.com By public list do we mean firstname.lastname@example.org
I agree with the concern about the nature of the emails we have seen sent on the private list of late, but note some of them have also been sent to the public list and other public forums, suggesting that the private/public nature of the forum is not the primary issue here.
I think we need to establish a code of conduct on the private list and that people who violate that code of conduct get a warning the first time and then get suspended from the list for (say) a month the next time. Lets deal with the problem directly, rather than redirect it to somewhere else (public list or wiki).
I believe the private list should remain as a forum where *members* discuss the business of WMAU. If we use the public list, then this is a list of the WMF not the WMAU. We have no control over who is subscribed or whether or not they are members or, unlike the private list, no way of prescribing or enforcing acceptable conduct. As a committee member, I have a responsibility to listen to and consider the views of the membership in making committee decisions; I don't have the same responsibility to listen to the views of any random person who chooses to sign up to the public list; indeed, I have no obligation to be subscribed to the public list itself (although I am in practice).
I think the private list should remain as there are matters that are solely the private business of WMAU. We are a legal entity with consequent legal obligations. We have a number of partner organisations. Unless the partner is willing to have their dealings with us discussed in public, I don't believe we can discuss our dealings with them on a public list. Maybe it's just the nature of my day job, but I have to shred most of the paperwork in my office before disposal because it relates to activities carried out under collaborative arrangements that are routinely subject to non-disclosure or commercial-in-confidence. And I suggest that should we ever have the misfortune of finding ourselves as a party to a legal action or an adversial/competitive relationship with another organisation, then a public forum is not appropriate. Competitive relationships are quite normal, every buy-sell transaction is competitive(the buyer wants it cheaper, the seller wants it more expensive). If we discuss our views on financial arrangements with a supplier or partner in public, we disclose our position which loses all negotiating power. Saying in public "We're willing to pay $10K but we'd like to get it for $8K" ensures you will end up paying $10K!
I don't see on-wiki as a viable alternative. Personally I find wikis good for some things (collaborative editing) but not for a conversation (which is a series of individual comments, not requiring collaborative editing). Secondly it's not private (see my comments on the need for privacy above).
If we have a problem with conduct on the private list, then lets establish a code of conduct. Kerry Raymond 08:14, 8 December 2012 (EST)