[Noisebridge-discuss] discussion list censorship....

Andy Isaacson adi at hexapodia.org
Thu Jan 27 02:39:22 UTC 2011

On Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 12:55:18PM -0800, Outside_the_Box LLC wrote:
> > as some others have noted their mail is not going up on the
> > discussion list(s) will any others who are having the same problem
> > please respond to this *ON THE LIST* there seems to be an increasing
> > number of topics not posted which indicates censorship thanks for
> > helping sort this out so the community will stay OPEN and freely
> > communicating on our end @ least 2 if not more events we put up that
> > were happening didn't go up on the list
> <thanks>

As far as I know we don't censor our lists (and I would know if it were
happening, I am on the moderator aliases for most of our lists.)  If you
have a specific example you'd like me to look into I'd be happy to do
so.  In the interest of transparency, here's some technical detail about
how our lists work.

The noisebridge-discuss and noisebridge-announce lists have different
moderation policies and different-but-overlapping moderation teams.

We use GNU Mailman for our mailing lists, with Postfix as our MTA,
running on a Debian VM at the Cernio tech co-op facility at 200 Paul
in SF.

If a message is very clearly spam (according to Spamassassin with fairly
conservative settings, IIRC) it'll be discarded immediately.  We get a
few of these, most days.  I haven't seen a false positive (real post
marked as spam) in the 3 years we've been running noisebridge.net.

If a -discuss message has a From address that's not subscribed to the
list, it will get held for moderation.  That's what happened to your
first posting of the above message at 12:55 today.  You should have
gotten an automated message from Mailman telling you this happened.
Most of the time, a moderator will see this and manually approve such
messages within a few hours.  Most of our moderators also tick the box
that says "allow this email address to post to the list in the future
without being moderated", but it's a second manual action so sometimes
it gets missed.

This happens several times a week, and AFAIK all messages that were
actually meant to go to -discuss have been approved.  I'm pretty sure we
have messed this up occasionally in the past, but not frequently nor
recently (in the last month, say).

If a -discuss message is over a certain reasonable size, our moderators
may decline to post it, and bounce it back to the poster with a request
to reduce the size.  (We have over 500 subscribers to -discuss, so a 1MB
message attachment results in about a half-GB of data traffic in the
best case.)  This is up to the discretion of the moderators, I've
approved a few 150 KB messages and declined a few 100 KB messages.
Currently the hold-for-moderator setting is 80 KB.

If a -discuss message has more than (iirc) 20 recipients, it'll be held
by Mailman.  Sometimes this is spam, sometimes widely posted
Hackerspaces mail.  We use our best judgement and try to err on the side
of leniency.  Haven't seen any of these in months.

For -announce, the rules are different.  I try to make sure that anyone
with even a passing interest in Noisebridge can subscribe to -announce
without ever thinking to themselves "man this is a load of crap,
*unsubscribe*".  So I try to make sure that

1. we never post more than 2 items a day and 7 items a week
2. the posts are informative, timely, and interesting
3. the posts are announcements of things happening at Noisebridge or
   immediately related to Noisebridge in a way that's obvious to a

I do exercise editorial control over -announce posts, and have decided
not to post things that, IMO, are not representative of Noisebridge
and/or are likely to result in readers saying "WTF *unsubscribe*".

I realize that that standard is individualized and reasonable people can
disagree in good faith on what should pass that test.

As a recent example, I didn't post the Lovetech announcement to
-announce, because its connection to Noisebridge is not evident to the
average reader of -announce.  (The connection is there -- Rich and
several of the Lovetech folks are Noisebridgers, and have done circuit
bending at Noisebridge, and Lovetech helped throw a nonprofit benefit
for Noisebridge in 2009 -- but it's not evident to a reader and
therefore I don't feel the announcement belongs on our -announce list.)


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