2nd RFD: Charter/moderation policy change, news.groups.proposals

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Usenet Big-8 Management Board

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Jun 13, 2022, 9:37:07 AMJun 13
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REQUEST FOR DISCUSSION (RFD)
moderated group news.groups.proposals

This is a formal Request For Discussion (RFD) to suspend the charter and
moderation policy of the Usenet newsgroup news.groups.proposals.


BACKGROUND

The unmoderated news.groups newsgroup (formerly known as net.news.group)
historically served as the main venue for discussion of potential new
newsgroups. These discussions were sometimes difficult to follow due to
noise, flames, sporgeries, poorly tagged or structured proposals, etc.
As a result of these issues, the moderated group news.groups.proposals
was created in November 2006. According to its creation RFD, the group
was intended to serve as a "healthy environment where ideas can be
raised, discussed, and developed" without the disruption of "personal
attacks, flames, and other inappropriate content".

news.groups.proposals now serves as the sole "official" venue for all
discussions pertaining to existing or potential proposals to create,
remove, or modify newsgroups in the Big-8 hierarchies (comp, humanities,
misc, news, rec, sci, soc, and talk). What this means in practice is
that while anyone is free to discuss RFDs elsewhere on Usenet, there is
no guarantee that the Big-8 Management Board will monitor those discussions.


PROPOSAL

The Big-8 Management Board proposes to redesignate the unmoderated
news.groups newsgroup as the sole "official" venue for all public
discussions pertaining to existing or potential proposals to create,
remove, or modify newsgroups in the Big-8 hierarchies. (Again, by
"official" we mean only that the Board is guaranteed to monitor
discussions there; users are of course free to hold discussions
elsewhere.) The Board would update its public documentation relating to
Big-8 workflows and policies accordingly, and the charter and moderation
policy for news.groups.proposals would be indefinitely suspended.
Thenceforth all submissions to news.groups.proposals would be
automatically rejected with an explanatory note referring to the outcome
of this RFD and with a suggestion to resubmit to news.groups.

Provided news.groups remains a viable venue, the Board may eventually
issue a subsequent RFD to remove news.groups.proposals. Otherwise, the
Board may issue a subsequent RFD to restore the status quo ante.


RATIONALE

Since 2006, the Big-8 hierarchies have undergone an overall reduction in
their active user base and article traffic. The news.groups newsgroup
has followed this general trend; the past few years have seen some
measure of spam and other off-topic messages, but little of the
acrimonious content that was the main impetus behind the creation of
news.groups.proposals. There is therefore reason to believe that
news.groups could once again function as "a healthy environment" for the
discussion of RFDs.

By contrast, in the past few years news.groups.proposals has had
problems of its own, mostly stemming from its convoluted and antiquated
moderation system. Many submissions have gone missing or unnoticed by
the moderators due to breakdowns in the submission pipeline. While the
current Board members have been working to streamline and modernize the
moderation system they inherited, and to put better fault detection and
prevention measures in place, there is always the risk of further
unexpected technical issues. Technical issues aside, the Board sees no
need to act as gatekeepers for discussions that are, by and large, civil
and constructive.

Although it would be technically possible to designate both news.groups
and news.groups.proposals as "co-official" venues for the discussion of
RFDs, there are obvious benefits to keeping discussions centralized.


DISCUSSION SO FAR

D Finnigan argues that aside from occasional technical difficulties,
news.groups.proposals is working fine, in contrast with news.groups,
which is cluttered with off-topic posts. They recommend that the Board
continue its work on improving the moderation system.

Paul Schleck suspects that the off-topic spam posts to news.groups may
be putting off people from posting there. He also wonders whether
returning configging discussion to news.groups would provide people with
an unrestricted forum to advance fallacious arguments about moderated
newsgroups. Furthermore, he argues that the problems that led to the
creation of news.groups.proposals could emerge again even in a smaller
Usenet, and that the purely technical issues with moderation software
are solvable.

Computer Nerd Kev says that as long as there's still spam on
news.groups, then keeping discussions moderated is worthwhile. They
also draw attention to disruptive troll posting on alt.config.

meff expresses concern about what would happen if the moderators became
unavailable. Given the current posting levels and the ability of current
users to filter messages, they tend to agree with the proposal in the RFD.


PROCEDURE

Those who wish to influence the development of this RFD and its final
resolution should subscribe to news.groups.proposals and participate in
the relevant threads there. To this end, the followup header of this
RFD has been set to news.groups.proposals.

Alternatively, comments may be sent to the Board privately by e-mail at
bo...@big-8.org. The Board may summarize such comments in subsequent
iterations of this RFD but will not disclose the identities of the
commenters without their express permission.


FURTHER INFORMATION

Home page for news.groups.proposals:
<https://www.big-8.org/wiki/News.groups.proposals>

Charter for news.groups.proposals:
<https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Charter_for_news.groups.proposals>

FAQ for news.groups.proposals:
<https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Frequently_Asked_Questions_for_news.groups.proposals>

Moderation policy for news.groups.proposals:
<https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Moderation_policy_for_news.groups.proposals>

RFD for creation of news.groups.proposals:
<https://ftp.isc.org/usenet/news.announce.newgroups/news/news.groups.proposals>

General information on news.groups: <https://www.big-8.org/wiki/News.groups>

History of news.groups:
<https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Big-8_Usenet_hierarchies#History_of_news.groups>


DISTRIBUTION

This document has been posted to the following newsgroups:

news.announce.newgroups
news.groups.proposals
news.groups
news.admin.hierarchies


PROPONENT

Usenet Big-8 Management Board <bo...@big-8.org>


CHANGE HISTORY

2022-05-20 1st RFD
2022-06-13 2nd RFD

--
Usenet Big-8 Management Board
https://www.big-8.org/
bo...@big-8.org

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