Big-8 Management Board finances

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Tristan Miller

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May 12, 2021, 9:41:55 PMMay 12
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This is an official communication from the Usenet Big-8 Management
Board. Please note that followups are set to news.groups.

In March 2021, the Board joined Open Collective Europe
<https://opencollective.com/europe> in order to make all of its
financial activities transparent. Members of the public will now be able
to see a complete record of the Board's income and expenditures.
Historically, the Board's activities have been financed entirely through
donations by its members, though we have decided to allow for donations
from members of the public via Open Collective Europe.

We use donations primarily to pay our web/news hosting bills, and
secondarily to cover expenses associated with the Board's outreach
activities (e.g., attendance at technical conferences where we speak
about the Board's work) and to help fund maintenance and development of
STUMP and WebSTUMP, the GNU packages for newsgroup robomoderation.

For further information, please see the "Finances" page on the Board's
website at <https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Finances> and the Board's Open
Collective page at <https://opencollective.com/usenetbig8>.

--
Jason Evans, Rayner Lucas, Tristan Miller
Usenet Big-8 Management Board
https://www.big-8.org/
bo...@big-8.org

Adam H. Kerman

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May 12, 2021, 11:05:49 PMMay 12
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Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:

>This is an official communication from the Usenet Big-8 Management
>Board. Please note that followups are set to news.groups.

>In March 2021, the Board joined Open Collective Europe
><https://opencollective.com/europe> in order to make all of its
>financial activities transparent.

You spend, what, a few hundred bucks a year on Web hosting and related
stuff? Of all the issues with respect to the Bambies, the possibility of
embezzlement at no point entered my mind.

In today's newspaper came news of a man who ran a fundraising chapter of
a charity that raised monies for rehabilitation of children with
disabilities. Their sports medicine rehab is well regarded. When he was
there, they raised $11 million but discovered that he had embezzled or
misspent $831,000, which he pleaded guilty to in federal court. No one
could be bothered to perform a basic review till after he resigned, at
which point the irregularities were discovered.

I'll assume that the monies aren't being embezzled 'cuz there's just
nothing much to steal.

>Members of the public will now be able
>to see a complete record of the Board's income and expenditures.
>Historically, the Board's activities have been financed entirely through
>donations by its members, though we have decided to allow for donations
>from members of the public via Open Collective Europe.

>We use donations primarily to pay our web/news hosting bills, and
>secondarily to cover expenses associated with the Board's outreach
>activities (e.g., attendance at technical conferences where we speak
>about the Board's work) and to help fund maintenance and development of
>STUMP and WebSTUMP, the GNU packages for newsgroup robomoderation.

Conference travel?

Jason Evans

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May 13, 2021, 3:05:07 AMMay 13
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On Thu, 13 May 2021 03:05:48 -0000 (UTC), Adam H. Kerman wrote:

>
> Conference travel?
>

Last year I presented talks at two conferences:
OpenSUSE Conference and Hackers Congress Paralelni Polis on the history
of Usenet and what the B8MB is doing and to raise awareness that Usenet
is still alive and well. We also did a short Q&A on IRC in #usenet on
Freenode and we're planning a Reddit AMA in the near future (no date
yet).

We would like to continue to do outreach at conferences and other venues
to raise awareness primarily about Usenet and the Big-8 hierarchies, but
sometimes that costs money for travel, expenses, etc. At least, it will
when we can travel again.

We want to do things like present at conferences but also be held firmly
accountable. We joined OpenCollective Europe to be able to accept
donations without worrying about issues like taxes, setting up a non-
profit organization, etc.

https://events.opensuse.org/conferences/oSLO
https://digital-totality.hcpp.cz/
My presentation + Notes:
https://www.big-8.org/w/images/f/ff/B8MB-hcpp-notes.pdf

Paul W. Schleck

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May 13, 2021, 1:45:07 PMMay 13
to
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Hash: SHA1

In <s7i52c$7lq$2...@dont-email.me> "Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> writes:

>Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:

>>This is an official communication from the Usenet Big-8 Management
>>Board. Please note that followups are set to news.groups.

>>In March 2021, the Board joined Open Collective Europe
>><https://opencollective.com/europe> in order to make all of its
>>financial activities transparent.

>You spend, what, a few hundred bucks a year on Web hosting and related
>stuff? Of all the issues with respect to the Bambies, the possibility of
>embezzlement at no point entered my mind.


Having a practical and reputable fundraising vehicle is more than just
about transparency, and transparency is more than just protection
against embezzlement. More money can enable the Board to do more
practical, useful things to support Usenet. Transparency can give
useful feedback to the Usenet community how the money is being spent,
and encourage volunteers to contribute their time and labor to pursue
projects that can be accomplished with more money.

I'm not currently a Board member, nor do I have insight into current
Board activities beyond what's posted to the newsgroups and in the
meeting minutes at big-8.org. Conference travel was one thing mentioned
in this thread, but I recall other ideas being kicked around by previous
iterations of the Board with the caveat of "if only" (if only we had the
volunteers, if only we had the money.) Things like:

- Switching moderation bot accounts from retail individual accounts at
Panix to a Board-managed and configured "colocation" or "co-lo"
server in a data center.

- Not only maintaining and improving the last practical, plug-and-play
Usenet moderation software package, Secure Team-Based Usenet
Moderation Program (STUMP) as an open-source project, but possibly
providing a replacement for the "ReadySTUMP" turnkey moderation
hosting site, either free or reduced cost (ReadySTUMP was $360/year)
for other newsgroups' moderation teams.

- Running at least a read-only "reference" news server for the
text-only, Big-8 newsgroups, with long retention, and applying both
PGPMoose and BI cancellation. Google Groups could go away some day,
and software changes on that site over the years have made it more
difficult to do deep searches and long-term historical traffic
analysis. It's no longer possible to see full original Usenet
article headers at Google Groups, for example. Two previous Board
chairs ran their own news servers like this, but these servers were
their individual projects, and were not accessible to the Board after
their departure.

- There might still be value to incorporate to limit liability for
Board members. A corporation could also carry, and afford the
premiums for, liability insurance (it is unlikely that the Board
would be held criminally liable for the acts of others on Usenet, but
civil liability from libel/defamation suits was mentioned).

- Running a robust and trained newsgroup mentoring program. One with
experts that could shepherd proponents through all phases of the
newsgroup creation process, as well as assist with the challenges of
running a newsgroup. Too many proponents got discouraged and quit
due to challenges with having to write a properly-formatted RFD and
respond to vexatious criticism during the proposal process. Once
created, many newsgroups failed due to challenges like having to
budget expenses like moderation site hosting, having the volunteer
labor to run a newsgroup day-to-day, and building an audience with
posting activity containing useful threads of discussion. All of
this while getting little to no useful feedback, even from the Board.

- It would be easier to recruit membership for a Board if it was a
working Board, and doing useful, practical things for the betterment
of Usenet. The last iteration of the Board just gradually stopped
carrying out its duties more and more until it finally died.
Recruited Board members quickly got bored, saw their only role as a
target of criticism, and left. Some remaining Board members got into
distractive arguments and talking past each other, advocating
impractical blue-sky proposals unlikely to be implemented, while
leaving the actual practical, day-to-day work of processing the RFD
and MVI queues unattended.

I welcome the enthusiasm, foresight, and work-ethic of the new Board to
help solve some of these problems, and implement some of these
worthwhile proposals.

- --
Paul W. Schleck
psch...@panix.com

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Adam H. Kerman

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May 13, 2021, 4:58:32 PMMay 13
to
Paul W. Schleck <psch...@panix.com> wrote:
>"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> writes:
>>Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:

>>>This is an official communication from the Usenet Big-8 Management
>>>Board. Please note that followups are set to news.groups.

>>>In March 2021, the Board joined Open Collective Europe
>>><https://opencollective.com/europe> in order to make all of its
>>>financial activities transparent.

>>You spend, what, a few hundred bucks a year on Web hosting and related
>>stuff? Of all the issues with respect to the Bambies, the possibility of
>>embezzlement at no point entered my mind.

>Having a practical and reputable fundraising vehicle is more than just
>about transparency, and transparency is more than just protection
>against embezzlement.

Sure. Waste and abuse, too. I wasn't concerned given the amount of money
involved. It can't hurt, though.

>More money can enable the Board to do more practical, useful things
>to support Usenet.

The role of hierarchy administration is extremely limited in supporting
Usenet, and the Big 8 isn't Usenet anyway.

>Transparency can give useful feedback to the Usenet community how the
>money is being spent, and encourage volunteers to contribute their time
>and labor to pursue projects that can be accomplished with more money.

This doesn't make a lot of sense. If someone wishes to propose a
project, then he should propose it. If people it's worthwhile, they
might contribute monies to it. They can report back to donors how the
monies were spent but that's hardly the key factor in having the ability
to raise dozens of dollars.

>I'm not currently a Board member, nor do I have insight into current
>Board activities beyond what's posted to the newsgroups and in the
>meeting minutes at big-8.org. Conference travel was one thing mentioned
>in this thread, but I recall other ideas being kicked around by previous
>iterations of the Board with the caveat of "if only" (if only we had the
>volunteers, if only we had the money.) Things like:

> - Switching moderation bot accounts from retail individual accounts at
> Panix to a Board-managed and configured "colocation" or "co-lo"
> server in a data center.

I think you're talking about a virtual server on a server farm somewhere
that might cost hundreds of dollars in fees a year.

"Co-lo" is telephony terminology for a telephone switch physically
housing termination equipment of a CLEC. I don't see how we're talking
about any significant amount of special connectivity needed to receive
proto articles to be gated upon approval to Usenet.

Besides, panix is hardly the only option for a moderation account which
some moderators provide their own equipment for anyway.

> - There might still be value to incorporate to limit liability for
> Board members. A corporation could also carry, and afford the
> premiums for, liability insurance (it is unlikely that the Board
> would be held criminally liable for the acts of others on Usenet, but
> civil liability from libel/defamation suits was mentioned).

You had Bob Rudd as a Bambie. If that didn't trigger liability issues,
nothing would.

I'm trying to see how you could possibly raise funds to buy E&O
insurance. I predict no one at all would donate monies for this.

> - Running a robust and trained newsgroup mentoring program.

You're hysterical, Paul. You aren't serious, and if you were, it
wouldn't cost money.

>One with
> experts that could shepherd proponents through all phases of the
> newsgroup creation process, as well as assist with the challenges of
> running a newsgroup. Too many proponents got discouraged and quit
> due to challenges with having to write a properly-formatted RFD and
> respond to vexatious criticism during the proposal process.

The Bambie-required format is stupid. alt.* proposals have no
boilerplate at all. It works just great.

Too many proponents have zero interest in promoting the proposed
newsgroup. There's just no fix for that. In fact, it's a mistake to
encourage a proponent in any way who has zero interest in promoting the
proposed newsgroup. I think I've said this a few hundred times to you,
but you're not listening.

> Once
> created, many newsgroups failed due to challenges like having to
> budget expenses like moderation site hosting,

No one has proposed a group for which moderation would have solved an
actual problem in years.

> having the volunteer labor to run a newsgroup day-to-day,

Not the proponent's job.

> and building an audience with posting activity containing useful
> threads of discussion.

That's the first thing you've said that's the proponent's job. No third
party can do the proponent's job for him. If he's too lazy and too
disinterested in promoting the newsgroup, then Bambie blundered in
newgrouping it, didn't it.

> All of
> this while getting little to no useful feedback, even from the Board.

If you had asked me, that's what I'd have told you, but I'm sure I'm not
being "useful".

> - It would be easier to recruit membership for a Board if it was a
> working Board, and doing useful, practical things for the betterment
> of Usenet.

I would prefer that Usenet be left to its own devices and the Big-8
Board stick to nothing but hierarchy administration.

> The last iteration of the Board just gradually stopped
> carrying out its duties more and more until it finally died.

It kind of doesn't matter. With newsgroups already created for every
conceivable topic, there was nothing to newgroup.

I suppose you failed to notice that someone sent three newgroup messages
for alt.* groups to take over from the non-Usenet News site that mozilla
took down. Those three groups are alive and the proponent did actual
work promoting them, but that was a special circumstance.

I have no idea how you think you, an unmotivated third party, could have
done it better than a motivated proponent on a deadline. I sure as hell
don't know how you think monies need to be raised for this.

> Recruited Board members quickly got bored, saw their only role as a
> target of criticism, and left. Some remaining Board members got into
> distractive arguments and talking past each other, advocating
> impractical blue-sky proposals unlikely to be implemented, while
> leaving the actual practical, day-to-day work of processing the RFD
> and MVI queues unattended.

The MVI process was abused. That needs to be never used again, ever. For
gawd's sake: Skirv declared an MVI for a group for which he was
moderator, instead of just transferring duties to someone else.

You've always ignored what I've said over the years that there needs to
be a moderator succession plan per newsgroup from the start, that gets
updated from time to time as the moderator team changes. Then there's
no reason for the MVI process as the first step.

RFD queue? I think a proponent would have mentioned it in news.groups if
he was being ignored.

>I welcome the enthusiasm, foresight, and work-ethic of the new Board to
>help solve some of these problems, and implement some of these
>worthwhile proposals.

I think you're exaggerating the nature of the problem.

Tristan Miller

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May 18, 2021, 10:42:06 AMMay 18
to
Greetings.

On 13/05/2021 22.58, Adam H. Kerman wrote:
> Paul W. Schleck <psch...@panix.com> wrote:
>> "Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> writes:
>>> Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:
>>>> In March 2021, the Board joined Open Collective Europe
>>>> <https://opencollective.com/europe> in order to make all of its
>>>> financial activities transparent.
>
>>> You spend, what, a few hundred bucks a year on Web hosting and related
>>> stuff? Of all the issues with respect to the Bambies, the possibility of
>>> embezzlement at no point entered my mind.
>
>> Having a practical and reputable fundraising vehicle is more than just
>> about transparency, and transparency is more than just protection
>> against embezzlement.
>
> Sure. Waste and abuse, too. I wasn't concerned given the amount of money
> involved. It can't hurt, though.
>
>> More money can enable the Board to do more practical, useful things
>> to support Usenet.
>
> The role of hierarchy administration is extremely limited in supporting
> Usenet, and the Big 8 isn't Usenet anyway.


It's true that the Board's remit, officially speaking, is limited to
basic hierarchy administration in the Big 8. However, the Board has
historically engaged in ancillary technical and community support
activities that benefit Usenet at large, including (for example) support
and development of moderation software. The present members are happy
to continue this ancillary work as and when resources permit, since
what's good for Usenet in general is also good for the Big 8.

Regards,
Tristan

--

Peter J Ross

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May 27, 2021, 3:37:52 PMMay 27
to
On 2021-05-13, Adam H. Kerman <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
> Paul W. Schleck <psch...@panix.com> wrote:
>>"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> writes:
>>>Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:
>
>>>>This is an official communication from the Usenet Big-8 Management
>>>>Board. Please note that followups are set to news.groups.
>
>>>>In March 2021, the Board joined Open Collective Europe
>>>><https://opencollective.com/europe> in order to make all of its
>>>>financial activities transparent.
>
>>>You spend, what, a few hundred bucks a year on Web hosting and related
>>>stuff? Of all the issues with respect to the Bambies, the possibility of
>>>embezzlement at no point entered my mind.
>
>>Having a practical and reputable fundraising vehicle is more than just
>>about transparency, and transparency is more than just protection
>>against embezzlement.
>
> Sure. Waste and abuse, too. I wasn't concerned given the amount of money
> involved. It can't hurt, though.

But there seems to be a plan to raise and spend large amounts of
money. What's the point of that?

Among the potential advantages of Usenet compared with the modern
Internet are that Usenet doesn't require much bandwidth or much
storage space or fast computers. In short, Usenet doesn't require much
money.

As I used to say fifteen years ago, the future of Usenet is in the
Third World, because Usenet works with rubbish hardware and rubbish
networking.

>>More money can enable the Board to do more practical, useful things
>>to support Usenet.
>
> The role of hierarchy administration is extremely limited in supporting
> Usenet, and the Big 8 isn't Usenet anyway.

Aratzio used to summarise the B8MBies' attitude as:

Something must be done.
THIS is something.
Ergo, we must do THIS.

I hope the new B8MBies don't have the same foolish love of change for
change's sake.

<...>

> I would prefer that Usenet be left to its own devices and the Big-8
> Board stick to nothing but hierarchy administration.

Seconded.

As for one of the arguments to which you're replying, that Usenet
needs money to pay for moderating expenses, it depends on the false
assumption that there's a need for moderated groups. If people want
censored discussions, let them use Web forums.


--
PJR :-)

Tristan Miller

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May 28, 2021, 9:39:13 AMMay 28
to
Greetings.

On 27/05/2021 21.37, Peter J Ross wrote:
> On 2021-05-13, Adam H. Kerman <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
>> Paul W. Schleck <psch...@panix.com> wrote:
>>> "Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> writes:
>>>> Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:
>>
>>>>> This is an official communication from the Usenet Big-8 Management
>>>>> Board. Please note that followups are set to news.groups.
>>
>>>>> In March 2021, the Board joined Open Collective Europe
>>>>> <https://opencollective.com/europe> in order to make all of its
>>>>> financial activities transparent.
>
> But there seems to be a plan to raise and spend large amounts of
> money. What's the point of that?


No, there are no firm plans to raise and spend large amounts of money.
Per our financial statement at <https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Finances>,
the Board's yearly operating expenses are about $200, and this is all we
are specifically aiming to cover. At the moment we're meeting these
expenses out of our own pockets, though anyone else is welcome to chip in.

Any surplus donations would go to outreach or to development of
(Web)STUMP. The point of these is to help maintain (or maybe even
regrow) the user base and technical apparatus of the Big-8 so that it --
and by extension the rest of discussion-oriented Usenet -- can continue
to operate on a social, technical, and administrative level. We've
already been engaging in these outreach and development activities,
including talks at tech conferences and maintenance/refactoring of the
STUMP codebase and documentation. None of this activity has incurred
expenses so far, but in the event that we find ourselves with surplus
funds, we could arrange (for example) to contract a student developer to
help us improve STUMP.

> As for one of the arguments to which you're replying, that Usenet
> needs money to pay for moderating expenses, it depends on the false
> assumption that there's a need for moderated groups. If people want
> censored discussions, let them use Web forums.


Even a moderated newsgroup has many advantages over web forums
(including all the advantages you mentioned in your post).

Regards,
Tristan

--

Peter J Ross

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May 29, 2021, 1:36:33 PMMay 29
to
On 2021-05-28, Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:
> Greetings.
>
> On 27/05/2021 21.37, Peter J Ross wrote:
>> On 2021-05-13, Adam H. Kerman <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
>>> Paul W. Schleck <psch...@panix.com> wrote:
>>>> "Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> writes:
>>>>> Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:
>>>
>>>>>> This is an official communication from the Usenet Big-8 Management
>>>>>> Board. Please note that followups are set to news.groups.
>>>
>>>>>> In March 2021, the Board joined Open Collective Europe
>>>>>> <https://opencollective.com/europe> in order to make all of its
>>>>>> financial activities transparent.
>>
>> But there seems to be a plan to raise and spend large amounts of
>> money. What's the point of that?
>
> No, there are no firm plans to raise and spend large amounts of money.
> Per our financial statement at <https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Finances>,
> the Board's yearly operating expenses are about $200, and this is all we
> are specifically aiming to cover. At the moment we're meeting these
> expenses out of our own pockets, though anyone else is welcome to chip in.

This is a matter of pennies. Why is an impressive financial statement
needed?

> Any surplus donations would go to outreach or to development of
> (Web)STUMP.

In other words, you want to support moderated newsgroups, which have
been obsoleted in many ways by the Web, instead of supporting
unmoderated newsgroups, which are Usenet's distinctive difference from
the Web.

> The point of these is to help maintain (or maybe even
> regrow) the user base and technical apparatus of the Big-8 so that it --
> and by extension the rest of discussion-oriented Usenet -- can continue
> to operate on a social, technical, and administrative level.

All that's needed from a hierarchy administrator is to post a monthly
list of newsgroups, and to keep an eye open in case somebody proposes
a potentially useful new newsgroup (which isn't going to happen in our
lifetimes). I could do that with news.individual.net, for a lot less
than $200 per annum.

When I was a moderator of soc.men.moderated (and Adam can share with
you all the well-deserved jokes at my expense), I offered to donate
some money to the man (whose name now escapes me) who ran the Robomod
site, but he told me that it didn't cost him enough to run the site
for a donation to be necessary.

Even if moderated newsgroups are the FUTURE OF USENET, why do you need
to raise money?

> We've
> already been engaging in these outreach and development activities,
> including talks at tech conferences and maintenance/refactoring of the
> STUMP codebase and documentation. None of this activity has incurred
> expenses so far, but in the event that we find ourselves with surplus
> funds, we could arrange (for example) to contract a student developer to
> help us improve STUMP.

You could improve STUMP by treating it the way the rest of us treat
HipCrime bots.

Let Usenet be Usenet, not a parody of a Web forum.

Let the moderated newsgroups die. When they're dead, rmgroup them.

>> As for one of the arguments to which you're replying, that Usenet
>> needs money to pay for moderating expenses, it depends on the false
>> assumption that there's a need for moderated groups. If people want
>> censored discussions, let them use Web forums.
>
> Even a moderated newsgroup has many advantages over web forums
> (including all the advantages you mentioned in your post).

No. Moderated newsgroups (with a very few exceptions, such as
*.announce, and even that's arguable) are a waste of bandwidth. They
should be tolerated, if and only if 100+ Usenet participants vote for
their existence in accordance with ye ancient Usenet rules.

> Regards,
> Tristan

Kathy Morgan tells me in private that you're not usurpers, but that
doesn't stop you being clowns. I'm sure you're very nice people. All
the Jehovah's Witnesses I've ever known have been very nice people.

But your version of the Gospel according to the Bambies is no more
convincing than previous versions.





--
PJR :-)

Adam H. Kerman

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May 29, 2021, 9:52:47 PMMay 29
to
Peter J Ross <p...@example.invalid> wrote:

>. . .

>When I was a moderator of soc.men.moderated (and Adam can share with
>you all the well-deserved jokes at my expense), I offered to donate
>some money to the man (whose name now escapes me) who ran the Robomod
>site, but he told me that it didn't cost him enough to run the site
>for a donation to be necessary.

I made a lot of jokes at your expense but they were all unapproved. They
were really funny too.

>. . .

Tristan Miller

unread,
May 31, 2021, 6:09:50 AMMay 31
to
Greetings.

On 29/05/2021 19.36, Peter J Ross wrote:
>> No, there are no firm plans to raise and spend large amounts of money.
>> Per our financial statement at <https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Finances>,
>> the Board's yearly operating expenses are about $200, and this is all we
>> are specifically aiming to cover. At the moment we're meeting these
>> expenses out of our own pockets, though anyone else is welcome to chip in.
>
> This is a matter of pennies. Why is an impressive financial statement
> needed?


The statement in its entirety consists of three sentences listing our
income and expenses, plus two further sentences telling readers where to
find the transaction logs and donation interface. Interesting that you
consider this to be "impressive" rather than minimalistic.

>> Any surplus donations would go to outreach or to development of
>> (Web)STUMP.
>
> In other words, you want to support moderated newsgroups, which have
> been obsoleted in many ways by the Web, instead of supporting
> unmoderated newsgroups, which are Usenet's distinctive difference from
> the Web.


That's a false dichotomy. We're supporting the Big 8 as-is, which
includes both moderated and unmoderated groups.

>> The point of these is to help maintain (or maybe even
>> regrow) the user base and technical apparatus of the Big-8 so that it --
>> and by extension the rest of discussion-oriented Usenet -- can continue
>> to operate on a social, technical, and administrative level.
>
> All that's needed from a hierarchy administrator is to post a monthly
> list of newsgroups, and to keep an eye open in case somebody proposes
> a potentially useful new newsgroup (which isn't going to happen in our
> lifetimes). I could do that with news.individual.net, for a lot less
> than $200 per annum.
>
> When I was a moderator of soc.men.moderated (and Adam can share with
> you all the well-deserved jokes at my expense), I offered to donate
> some money to the man (whose name now escapes me) who ran the Robomod
> site, but he told me that it didn't cost him enough to run the site
> for a donation to be necessary.
>
> Even if moderated newsgroups are the FUTURE OF USENET, why do you need
> to raise money?


I'm not sure what else to tell you other than what's on our "impressive"
financial statement. The money is first and foremost for hosting
expenses relating to the core duties of the Board. Maintaining a web
presence helps people to discover and read the policies and procedures
concerning hierarchy administration, and we need to host the
robomoderation software for the groups we moderate somewhere. Possibly
we could save some money by switching providers, though doing this would
require a nontrivial amount of time and effort to migrate or
functionally replace the complicated setup that we inherited. No doubt
this is something we'll look at once we've finished patching all the holes.

> Let the moderated newsgroups die. When they're dead, rmgroup them.


You might not consider that "change for change's sake" (as you put it
elsethread), though I'm sure some others would.

Tristan Miller

unread,
May 31, 2021, 6:38:23 AMMay 31
to
Dear Paul,

On 13/05/2021 19.45, Paul W. Schleck wrote:
> Having a practical and reputable fundraising vehicle is more than just
> about transparency, and transparency is more than just protection
> against embezzlement. More money can enable the Board to do more
> practical, useful things to support Usenet. Transparency can give
> useful feedback to the Usenet community how the money is being spent,
> and encourage volunteers to contribute their time and labor to pursue
> projects that can be accomplished with more money.
>
> I'm not currently a Board member, nor do I have insight into current
> Board activities beyond what's posted to the newsgroups and in the
> meeting minutes at big-8.org. Conference travel was one thing mentioned
> in this thread, but I recall other ideas being kicked around by previous
> iterations of the Board with the caveat of "if only" (if only we had the
> volunteers, if only we had the money.)


Thanks for your insightful post and suggestions. A few of the things
you've brought up (in particular, changing to a self-managed host for
robo-moderation, replacing ReadySTUMP, and establishing the Board as
some sort of legal entity) are things that we'd either considered in the
past or had noted for possible future consideration -- I believe all the
relevant discussions have been covered in our minutes.

Some of us have also set up our own NNTP servers, though more as a way
of gaining practical technical experience than as a prelude to setting
up a public server of the sort you envisage. (I gather that Usenet
servers, gateways, or archives operated by big names, such as Google and
The Internet Archive, get a lot of legal requests to take down content,
and I don't think this is something the Board would have the time or
inclination to deal with, even if we miraculously got a big inflow of cash.)

Regarding your proposed newsgroup mentoring program, a past iteration of
the Board seems to have done something like this (see
<https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Group_Mentors>). We've already heard back
from some former Group Mentors who have expressed a willingness to
resume their roles, though as has been discussed elsewhere, newgroup
requests are rare enough these days that this may not be necessary, and
the fact that mentorship was seen as necessary in the first place may
indicate that streamlining the group creation process may be a better
first step. If you've been following our minutes, you'll have seen that
we did get one expression of interest in creating a new group lately
which made it as far as a draft proposal, but it seemed to fizzle out at
that stage. We had hoped that the process could have come to completion
so that we would have gotten a better idea of how the entirety of it
could be improved.

> - It would be easier to recruit membership for a Board if it was a
> working Board, and doing useful, practical things for the betterment
> of Usenet.


Thanks; we think so too and this is exactly why we've been taking pains
to make the Board's activity more visible (i.e., by redesigning and
refactoring our website, posting detailed minutes of our weekly
meetings, and speaking about Usenet and our work at events outside Usenet).

Regards,
Tristan

--

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
May 31, 2021, 10:04:15 AMMay 31
to
Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:

>Regarding your proposed newsgroup mentoring program, a past iteration of
>the Board seems to have done something like this (see
><https://www.big-8.org/wiki/Group_Mentors>). We've already heard back
>from some former Group Mentors who have expressed a willingness to
>resume their roles, though as has been discussed elsewhere, newgroup
>requests are rare enough these days that this may not be necessary, and
>the fact that mentorship was seen as necessary in the first place may
>indicate that streamlining the group creation process may be a better
>first step.

Forget mentoring. That just attracted socmen, the biggest trolling of
Bambie ever seen in the Big 8.

Step one has got to be change your attitude with regard to group
creation. Usenet is distributed. A newsgroup isn't created until a News
administrator decides to create and offer it to his users. All the
hierarchy administrator does is recognize a canonical list of newsgroup
names in order to facilitate article exchange.

Group proposal does not equal group creation. Stop calling it a group
creation process. It is a proposal discussion process. Once the
hierarchy administrator sends the newgroup message, the newsgroup is
STILL proposed till created locally, for hierarchy administrators do not
create newsgroups.

This enormous clue has got to penetrate. You have to change your attitude
AND especially the way proponents are addressed. Ignoring reality
deliberately is the biggest reason why Usenet is so full of failed
newsgroups, especially in the Big 8.

Step two has got to be adjusting the proponent's attitude so he
understands that his job is to promote discussion of the topic and to
promote creation and use of the newsgroup. Is the proponent even well
known for discussing the topic?

Step three has got to be alt-style justification. Where can the topic
be discussed right now? Who is discussing the topic? Are there existing
groups in other hierarchies that should be revived rather than duplicated
with a Big 8 proposal?

Step four has got to be eliminate all the boilerplate language required
in proposals Bambie is so in love with.

This is all you need in a proposal:

Newsgroups file line
Charter
Justification
Reason for newsgroup (optional, but make it mandatory if something
special is being proposed like a moderated newsgroup)

>If you've been following our minutes, you'll have seen that
>we did get one expression of interest in creating a new group lately
>which made it as far as a draft proposal, but it seemed to fizzle out at
>that stage. We had hoped that the process could have come to completion
>so that we would have gotten a better idea of how the entirety of it
>could be improved.

Too bad there's no newsgroup on Usenet in which drafts can be discussed
and that proposal-making can be done in a sooper-sekrit process only.

>> - It would be easier to recruit membership for a Board if it was a
>> working Board, and doing useful, practical things for the betterment
>> of Usenet.

>Thanks; we think so too and this is exactly why we've been taking pains
>to make the Board's activity more visible (i.e., by redesigning and
>refactoring our website, posting detailed minutes of our weekly
>meetings, and speaking about Usenet and our work at events outside Usenet).

There couldn't possibly be enough hierarchy administration duties for
weekly meetings.

Tristan Miller

unread,
May 31, 2021, 10:46:29 AMMay 31
to
Greetings.

On 31/05/2021 16.04, Adam H. Kerman wrote:
> Step one has got to be change your attitude with regard to group
> creation. [...]
>
> Step two has got to be adjusting the proponent's attitude so he
> understands that his job is to promote discussion of the topic and to
> promote creation and use of the newsgroup. [...]
>
> Step three has got to be alt-style justification. [...]
>
> Step four has got to be eliminate all the boilerplate language required
> in proposals Bambie is so in love with.


Thanks for the recommendations. Personally speaking, they all seem
sensible to me. (But it's not really fair to say that any of us are
enamoured with the boilerplate language; it predates the tenure of all
current Board members. We kept it in place on assuming our positions
but if we come to believe that it's an unreasonable obstacle to the
proposal process -- as the recent incident described below might
indicate -- then we may simplify or eliminate it.)

>> If you've been following our minutes, you'll have seen that
>> we did get one expression of interest in creating a new group lately
>> which made it as far as a draft proposal, but it seemed to fizzle out at
>> that stage. We had hoped that the process could have come to completion
>> so that we would have gotten a better idea of how the entirety of it
>> could be improved.
>
> Too bad there's no newsgroup on Usenet in which drafts can be discussed
> and that proposal-making can be done in a sooper-sekrit process only.


The proposer had gotten in touch with us directly and we were guiding
him through the existing process, which as you know does indeed involve
public discussion on news.groups.proposals. IIRC he sent us a draft RFD
to check over and we made some formal corrections, but we lost contact
with the with proposer right at the point where the RFD should have been
posted to news.announce.newgroups.

>>> - It would be easier to recruit membership for a Board if it was a
>>> working Board, and doing useful, practical things for the betterment
>>> of Usenet.
>
>> Thanks; we think so too and this is exactly why we've been taking pains
>> to make the Board's activity more visible (i.e., by redesigning and
>> refactoring our website, posting detailed minutes of our weekly
>> meetings, and speaking about Usenet and our work at events outside Usenet).
>
> There couldn't possibly be enough hierarchy administration duties for
> weekly meetings.


Yes, this is true. But as I have mentioned before, we have also been
fixing our internal infrastructure and engaging in ancillary activities
such as maintaining STUMP and WebSTUMP. As I recall, you even
personally thanked us for this work.

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
May 31, 2021, 2:23:42 PMMay 31
to
Tristan Miller <tmi...@big-8.org> wrote:
>On 31/05/2021 16.04, Adam H. Kerman wrote:

>>Step one has got to be change your attitude with regard to group
>>creation. [...]

>>Step two has got to be adjusting the proponent's attitude so he
>>understands that his job is to promote discussion of the topic and to
>>promote creation and use of the newsgroup. [...]

>>Step three has got to be alt-style justification. [...]

>>Step four has got to be eliminate all the boilerplate language required
>>in proposals Bambie is so in love with.

>Thanks for the recommendations. Personally speaking, they all seem
>sensible to me. (But it's not really fair to say that any of us are
>enamoured with the boilerplate language; it predates the tenure of all
>current Board members. We kept it in place on assuming our positions
>but if we come to believe that it's an unreasonable obstacle to the
>proposal process -- as the recent incident described below might
>indicate -- then we may simplify or eliminate it.)

The boilerplate isn't an obstacle. It's just a pointless thing to force
the proponent to copy. Use the alt.* format instead which exists for an
actual reason and hits all the highlights of a proposal.

>>>If you've been following our minutes, you'll have seen that
>>>we did get one expression of interest in creating a new group lately
>>>which made it as far as a draft proposal, but it seemed to fizzle out at
>>>that stage. We had hoped that the process could have come to completion
>>>so that we would have gotten a better idea of how the entirety of it
>>>could be improved.

>>Too bad there's no newsgroup on Usenet in which drafts can be discussed
>>and that proposal-making can be done in a sooper-sekrit process only.

>The proposer had gotten in touch with us directly and we were guiding
>him through the existing process, which as you know does indeed involve
>public discussion on news.groups.proposals. IIRC he sent us a draft RFD
>to check over and we made some formal corrections, but we lost contact
>with the with proposer right at the point where the RFD should have been
>posted to news.announce.newgroups.

Get rid of news.groups.proposals and revert to news.groups. Proposal
discussion in news.groups got blamed for Bambie getting trolled during
the socmen and pondscum era. No other hierarchy has ever had moderated
proposal discussion.

>>>>. . .
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