Talk:Mailing lists/Guidelines

Active discussions

Comments, questionsEdit

I changed "language barriers" to "cultural and language differences", combining two separate comments you made (one initially tied to 'outbursts'). SJ talk   18:55, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Is the "DO NOT USE ALL CAPS" note really necessary? Is this a problem on any of our lists? SJ talk  

I think this draft is great! Thanks for the work Theo.--Ryan Lane (WMF) (talk) 19:08, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

You are welcome Ryan. Thanks for helping out. Sj I do note some individuals using All caps in posts, it is better to establish that now than not have anything to point to later. It's a generally agreed principle in my opinion, but explicitly mentioning it might help. Theo10011 (talk) 19:21, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Can we add something about no moderation is necessary regardless of the subject matter, as long as it is relevant to Wiki(p|m)edia? -wʃʃʍ- 01:36, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

Also, I was put on moderation when I came back to the wikimedia-l list for some reason. I didn't violate any of these guidelines. How do we guarantee that moderation is not abused by the moderators? I don't mean to start drama here; this is a very valid question. Exactly what are the consequences for moderators who overstep? -wʃʃʍ- 01:36, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

Addition to 'understanding'Edit

A suggestion to clarify "people are not communities":

  • Community representatives - Even on lists where a few people from each community participate, remember that they are individuals, and treat them as such.


Suggested additionEdit

Some current lists implement combinations of membership-restriction, public membership but default-moderation (most subscribers cannot pust), and active moderation. You might add points on the subject to the last section:

  • Active moderation - If someone is unable to be civil, being very angry or frustrated, they may be put on active moderation for a time while they cool off. While moderated, a person's posts are reviewed by the list moderators before being published.
  • List membership - some lists are already private, or have public archives but few members who are not on permanent moderation. They may add or remove members according to their own list procedures.

SJ talk   18:55, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Agreed about active moderation. I think it should extend to threads as well. If a thread is obviously getting out of control, the entire thread should be moderated. This helps in a couple ways:
  1. It makes posts come in slower, which generally gives people more time to calm down, and tends to make a heated argument less heated
  2. It allows moderators to stop personal attacks and other obviously inflammatory posts from reaching the list
--Ryan Lane (WMF) (talk) 19:07, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
I had an entire section about moderation in there, I think it might have been removed by someone. Theo10011 (talk) 19:23, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
I guess while these guidelines are rather general, moderation measures and preferences on implementation are list specific. It would be a good idea to identify that clearly. Effeietsanders (talk) 19:25, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
Is it technically possible to moderate a single thread? SJ talk   19:51, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
Probably not, you likely need to put an entire list on moderation for that. If it comes to that, it would take a lot of moderator effort, and should likely be done for short periods of time only.--Ryan Lane (WMF) (talk) 22:36, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
Heh, Sometimes moderators claim to have closed a thread but I've never understood it works. Usually it works, probably because people are afraid to be moderated. --Nemo 14:26, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

I added those two bullets above, but Rupert removed my additions. I've asked him to discuss it here with us; while active moderation should be a last resort I think both should be mentioned as options, since some lists currently use each. SJ talk   06:20, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

Removed sectionEdit

removed by ThurnerRupert


  • In cases where moderation might be required-
    • 1) Moderation should be treated as a last resort to preserve list decorum and civility. It should not be wielded as a hammer to silence out voices. Moderation reflects the failure of the list and the community to regulate itself. It is something that the entire community is responsible for.
    • 2) Moderation should be automatic only in cases of personal information, threats and aggressive personal attacks.
    • 3) Moderation for list discussion should always be requested by a list member. If more than 3 request or agree, it should be instant.
    • 4) Moderation should be for comments, not larger behavior or past offenses.
    • 5) Moderation requested by list members should be carried out by a moderator with support from the community. It should be communicated to the list instantly.
    • 6) Individuals placed on moderation should have a chance to apologize or explain their reasoning. If other community members who requested the moderation accept, the matter should be closed.
    • 7) There should be some process on a related wiki, preferably Meta or Internal for private cases, where individuals who are moderated can explain their reasoning and petition an action, so it doesn't give the constant appearance of one-sided-ness.

Repeat offendersEdit

Individuals who have been placed on moderation once and are warned again are considered repeat offenders.

The exact mechanism for dealing with them should be left to the community. They can follow either a 3 strike or 5 strike rule. If an individual is moderated, and continues the same behavior, permanent action can be taken by moderators.

After expiration of all available strikes (3 or 5), any list member can open a page on a related wiki asking for RfR - Request for removal. The community can comment and vote, and whatever consensus is achieved after a week can be enacted. This is the same process for requesting access as for removing it. If the individual is a member of staff or chapter board member, it should be communicated to their organization.

the removal of "moderation" probably needs an explanation on the talk page as well: on internal there was a huge thread about moderation. while some people were for it (maybe 5 persons), many others voiced concerns, some even voiced strong opposition in case a list would be moderated. important as well, list admins voiced concerns. imo we should not start off "be nice" guidelines by putting a very controversial topic in it. we had the page standing there without moderation in it most of the time, and without controversy on the talk page and mailing list for days now. i'd take silence as agreement / good faith in that case. --ThurnerRupert (talk) 05:20, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
I saw this much later after you removed. I have no idea what propels you to so easily remove large chunks of these guidelines, twice, I might add, when Sj added something similar. You have no prior discussions, no sound reasoning, no consensus - you just state some vague discussion on a private list where some people were for it, some were against. I really had no interest in engaging on this topic again. But, you should never take silence as agreement or good faith - it just probably means others moved on, didn't notice, or felt like engaging. Not providing an answer in a timely fashion does not substitute as agreement. These guidelines were supposed to be for a wider audience than just Internal-l (this is a public wiki), some vague discussion on internal about moderation some years ago, has absolutely no relevance. Please stop taking liberties with other people's work and omitting large sections on irrelevant discussions. Theo10011 (talk) 17:23, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
Theo10011, if you feel the current text is not representative of a consensus feel free to re-add the draft template which was recently removed without a specific discussion I can remember of.[1] --Nemo 10:13, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
I removed the draft template on 3 May as there had been no changes since October 2013 .... I guess I made a mistake??? Ariconte (talk) 02:02, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Nemo. I strongly disagree with Rupert's removal, he removed mine and SJ's addition without any prior discussion or much of an explanation. Since, these guidelines are aimed at more than Internal-l - where this was first proposed, I believe a re-consideration might be beneficial. I don't want to bring more attention here and re-start the discussion because I think the guidelines do work to some extent. But I also want it noted that the removal here were the action of only one person and do not represent a consensus at all. Thanks. Theo10011 (talk) 14:51, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

"help kit"Edit

sj asked to add this to the talk page...

we might consider to add some helpful hints how to better accomplish the guidelines. a random collection of ideas which deliberately hit different angles:

  • how to avoid writing many mails (clarify in advance, look for links to proof the point, save in draft and cancel, ...)
  • calculating like "there is 1000 people on the list, and if everybody writes only one mail a day, we have 1000 mails a day"
  • goal orientation, or "why to write an email". if the email has no special purpose, consider it writing only to yourself.
  • point out what happens if you write too many mails, too many controversial mails: people ignore you. which then points to "its better to only write to yourself, you have your full attention".
  • introduce some notion of "billable contents", i.e. contents where the movement gets money from, and not. mails and meta edits do not trigger donations, while edits on pages like wikipedia do trigger donations. make sure if you contribute, that you contribute billable contents.
  • how to "crowd moderate" your colleague, and how to behave if somebody tries to crowd moderate you. like: do it rarely. make sure to involve friends of the person to make it effective. keep it private to avoid putting (public) shame on the person, apply the same guidelines for mails then you should apply elsewhere (no one liners which might be interpreted as offense).

--ThurnerRupert (talk) 15:51, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Second attempt at Moderation guideline (July 2014)Edit

Suggested text to be inserted in the article is between the horizontal lines:

Moderation will be at the moderator's discretion with the below guidelines in mind. Moderated individuals are to be informed. Moderation will generally be for a short time and will be removed on receipt of a reasonable explanation of a mistake.

Instant moderationEdit

I am unsure where lists of moderated members should be kept. As far as I can see Mailman does not make listing who is on moderation easy. Regards, Ariconte (talk) 06:18, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

I think it would be useful for those mailing lists that do need to maintain a list, do so on meta. If the list has any additional special "norms", such as a maximum number of expected posts per month from any individual, that these are also summarized on meta, effectively as additional notes to these guidelines.
As well as a basic notification of moderation, it would be useful if moderators were expected to reply to requests for an explanation of why in more detail, explaining clearly what the person under moderation ought to do to get un-moderated. It may also be useful to establish an appeals process as there is no system currently used that would be independent of the moderators (considering these may be unelected roles that last indefinitely without review, some independent governance seems entirely justifiable). -- (talk) 08:43, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
I think some sort of (probably python) script that keeps track of who is currently moderated and posts that on meta would be an asset. I see a manual log on meta as more work for the moderators..... When I do a moderation I write to the affected person and copy the other moderators - In the two cases listed above I got a reply from one of them wanting to know why he could not use wikimedia-l as his publicity vehicle (which I ignored).
In more complex recent cases the moderated individual has tended to accept the moderation - especially since their messages get 'approved' quite quickly if they meet the constraints of the list.....
Appeals - I am not willing to accept some kind of 'kangaroo court' to hear appeals as I am afraid it will just endless A vs B talk fest. Those that want to can appeal to the foundation. The foundation can fire me if they want....
Please add other items for discussion above between the horizontal rules. Regards, Ariconte (talk) 00:47, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
We cannot advise anyone to "appeal to the Foundation". However I do think it is a reasonable duty of list moderators to read and respond to appeal, and to offer an appeals process of some (reasonable) sort, preferably one that can be public. There would be no harm in limiting appeals to those moderated for more than 30 days (as an example) and limiting the number of appeals that would be accepted (probably one for each 'infraction' and one every six months otherwise). -- (talk) 04:56, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
  • It should be important to note exactly which lists this applies to: many of the lists hosted by Wikimedia are either private or controlled subscription. There are a lot of highly specific lists as well that may have public archiving or easy subscription, as well, which would have additional moderating features that kick in because of a history of distracting behaviours, such as repeated off-topic posts. Risker (talk) 01:13, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
    • Yes, this general guideline should be kept general, I was envisaging separate pages where additional guidance for contributors would be helpful. Lists such as Wikimedia-L are unusually active and are far more likely to be picked up and quoted elsewhere, so attract more problematic posts than others. I doubt that closed lists would either need anything beyond the general guidelines, though some already have their own rules defined, or are related to specific wikis where they can add guidelines (such as the closed and non-public chapters-wiki and the closed and non-public otrs-wiki). -- (talk) 04:56, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure that it's a good idea to keep a public list of those on moderation, except with the consent of the person who is being moderated. Obviously, the case of someone being listed on a page of "bad" people due to a brain snap or other out-of-character infraction, and having that seen by a potential employer then arises. I'm guessing the purpose of having a list of moderated members is to prevent any abuse by list administrators so they can't 'silently' moderate someone. Obviously, if the person consents to being listed in this way the list moderators could be obliged to list the person, or if the person is not banned on Meta, they could list themselves. Craig Franklin (talk) 02:45, 20 July 2014 (UTC).
It's a good point, particularly where list users have publicly identified their username with their legal name. As well as publicly listing when there is consent (which might encourage positive feedback and acting as a simple appeals process), we might consider expiring listings. For example removing a person's listing once moderation is lifted, or just deleting a listing after 12 months. -- (talk) 10:13, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

The purpose of moderation is to keep a list usable and not toxic. I suggest not constructing a complicated set of playground equipment to this end.

I note also cases such as a moderated poster on one Wikimedia list I moderate, who stopped posting in a toxic manner to said list when put on moderation (and every message since has been approved) - but continues to post in a toxic manner to other lists. This strongly suggests that moderation is the only reason they are behaving, and that indefinite moderation (until the toxic behaviour ceases elsewhere as well) has its place. The point is to keep the list not toxic - David Gerard (talk) 19:36, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

David, you are obviously talking about me. It would be helpful if you could avoid taking this discussion on meta on a tangent.
The issue here is to provide a better system of governance for Wikimedia email lists, so that moderators, such as you and me, have some basic accountability for the actions they take to implement policy. All our lists should have a reasonable system of appeal against bans or moderation, you may wish to think of suggesting one if the ideas above are unacceptable to you, based on your experience of being one of the most prolific users of our email lists. Thanks -- (talk) 21:30, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
I was speaking in general terms because it's a general problem. But it does appear that you are attempting to get a general escape hatch put into place specifically so you can be tendentious on wikimediauk-l again without moderation (even though none of your messages have been blocked, but the tone of them is noticeably better). I also note that I have no objections if another moderator wishes to unmoderate you ... but that they concurred with my analysis that being on moderation appeared, looking at your unmoderated behaviour elsewhere, to be the only thing keeping you posting acceptably - David Gerard (talk) 16:15, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
Get off my back please David. Attacking my character in multiple channels is unhelpful for everyone, and is starting to look like a personal campaign. If you want to raise a case against me for being "tendentious" against some policy you made up, then please do so somewhere where this does not waste everyone else's time. Thanks -- (talk) 17:06, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm loathe to post on this, but for what it's worth, here's my thoughts: I am in favour of firming up more specific rules about what sort of posting is appropriate. I am not necessarily for the sort of appeal process you're discussing, Fae, as I believe that it is a transparent attempt from yourself to be able to be unpleasant on Wikimediauk-l again - something which the list members in general are dead against. Indeed, when moderation was switched on for yourself, I received ten comments from ten list members (none of them staff or other moderators) in favour of you being moderated. Only a few spoke publicly about it; the majority are not happy with being openly critical of you. Now, to the guidelines; I have a few suggestions for a way forward:
  • Perhaps a public announcement that a user has been moderated would be a good idea. Then again, it could easily turn into "public shaming" which would not be helpful for anyone.
  • Perhaps a general rule against rudeness, passive-aggressiveness, or similar - particularly after warnings have been given - would be a good idea. I am happy to see that this has been included in the guidelines.
  • Perhaps clear guidelines for those who have been moderated/banned, for what would be expected of them if they wanted 'readmission' - much like we do with blocks on Wikipedia. Sometimes it's not that clear. For example, a user would have to undertake not to be passive-aggressive, rude, aggressive, and not to spread half-truths or lies on the list. If they made such an undertaking, and subsequently broke it, they'd be re-moderated, and the moderators would be very unlikely to unmoderate in future. That's quite sensible.
As a list moderator I think my role is really to keep the list a friendly and pleasant place, and the guidelines should support that. I already follow the proposed guidelines as they stand at - so I'd be broadly happy with them. I would be against another layer of thankless work for volunteers - an "ombudsman commission for every mailing list" that you describe as "independent of the moderators". The moderators are already independent... and this is a mailing list we're talking about, not a court. Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry (talk) 17:03, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

I suggest splitting off all the comments about me into their own thread. As a common courtesy, accusations should be supported by links to solid evidence. Thanks -- (talk) 17:13, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

It seems from my brief reading here that everyone is loathed to take up this topic, and don't want to pursue a protracted debate on this - I mirror that sentiment. I do however want to point a couple of things out in comments from David and TheCavalry. Both of their concerns seem too Wikimediauk specific. David's "toxic" argument specially, is difficult to support. Toxicity is matter of perspective, I recall times when David's comment have been labelled toxic, unhelpful or just trollish. Unpopular comments, criticisms, disagreements - are all things that can be called toxic. So, before you admonish someone for being toxic, it might be helpful to form consensus on what "toxic" is. Bear in mind, that any future criticism you level against WMF, any staff or any other user could be called toxic all the same. You perspective as a moderator or list owner gives you more discretion for now. Thecavalry, I'd like to point out you agree with most of the points raised, the current guidelines do little in terms of defining the rules, and just echo basic emailing etiquette and positivism. There is nothing WMF list specific in the current guideline. Since, we are moderating people more and more, it would be pertinent to have a set of defined rules, so everyone can agree to play by them, instead of making it up as we go. The whole thing about "thankless volunteer moderator" is the same argument any user can make, most of the people you moderate are also thankless volunteers - the only difference is you have the power to silence them. As a list mod, I'm not remotely suggesting an ombudsmen position, but general guidelines about moderation written down somewhere, so at least they can be pointed to when someone breaks these imaginary rules, we've supposedly all agreed to. Please try and keep other lists in mind and your own histories on those lists, instead of Wikimediauk. Both of you have have leveled criticisms and unpopular opinions at some point, so you should have a more open mind. Thanks. Theo10011 (talk) 12:26, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Discard vs rejectEdit

It should probably be mentioned that the "discard" action should never be used for posts written by humans – "reject" should be used instead. Discard should only be used for spam, to prevent backscatter. -- Tim Starling (talk) 11:02, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

A nice clarification. As well as adding something on this to the guidelines, this could usefully be added to the moderation queue page, perhaps as a hover pop-up, where you are given these choices. -- (talk) 11:05, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
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