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From Rob Weir <>
Subject Re: An invitation to committers to the OOo Community Forums
Date Thu, 01 Sep 2011 20:26:03 GMT
On Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 4:00 PM, drew <> wrote:
> On Thu, 2011-09-01 at 19:56 +0100, Terry Ellison wrote:
>> OK, Rob, I now understand your point.  I will do as you request.
>> However, it seems to me that by making this request you are creating an
>> interesting catch-22:  I far as I can see there are two facets to this
>> invitation.
>>     * *Sufficiency*.  These forums are closed because this gives the
>>       attendees freedom to discuss matters (such as individual poster
>>       behaviour) that shouldn't be discussed on a public forum.  We only
>>       invite "trusted" forum members to join these lists.  (That's is
>>       that they've demonstrated that they are responsible and have built
>>       up a body of "karma" with their forum contributions.)  I would
>>       have thought that being elected a committer could reasonably be
>>       deemed to be sufficient to show such trust.
>>     * *Necessity*.  You seem to want to discuss policy on the governance
>>       of the forums from within this DL or ooo-private.  I also recall
>>       some of your previous comments which indicate that these people
>>       (who have committed hundreds if not thousands of hours to
>>       supporting this service) do not merit committer status unless they
>>       have a wider engagement in the project, and they are therefore
>>       excluded from any ooo-private discussions.  Yet, it seems to me
>>       that it is entirely reasonable that anyone contributing to this
>>       discussion should at least have a working knowledge of how the
>>       forums operate in practice and currently govern themselves.  So I
>>       do think it necessary as well.
>> Hence in my view, this invitation makes eminent sense.  Is your counter
>> proposal that only committers who are entirely ignorant of how the
>> forums work should decided on their future governance and existence?  I
>> feel that most Europeans would regard this as a typical American
>> attitude to the rest of the world ;)
> Could of done with out the last line there Terry, IMO, even if Rob comes
> on a bit strong at times.
> Anyway - given that the status of the forums is in reality changing,
> finally, it makes sense that it is also open of review by the PPMC.
> First what I think are the easy cases.
> There are three closed boards per language level forum that I submit
> need to remain closed.
> The first is named forum-admin, but this can be a bit of misnomer. It's
> purpose is quite simple, emails sent to the admin mailing address are
> handled by a semi-automated process.
> 1) An email auto responder emails back a canned message, crafted over
> time that explains simple problem solving steps the user can take on
> their own. This tends to clear a very large majority of issues without
> further intervention.
> 2) The full email is posted to the forum-admin board along with the
> users email address. This is the only board on the site where the email
> address is given in clear text.
> Every moderator can see that board and is asked to take a part in
> reviewing these requests - if the problem is clearly handled by the
> canned reply email no action is required. On the other hand if it is one
> of the outliers and does require human intervention they can grab it, do
> what they think needs dong and add a comment to the email showing what
> they did.
> This has worked out quite well over time.
> The next closed board that needs to stay that way is the Quarantine
> board. This board serves a dual purpose.
> When any post is deleted on a public board, either by the posting user
> or a moderator the post is moved to quarantine, rather then being
> immediately removed from the database.
> As this point all moderators can view these deleted posts and a clock
> starts. After three days if no action is taken the post is permanently
> removed from the database. During this time however a post can be
> restored. This happens from time to time with users accidentally
> deleting a post, they just need to ask a moderator to un-delete it for
> them.
> In the case of obvious spam no one does anything and it just slides into
> oblivion.
> Now normally, if a moderator wants to remove a post for some cause they
> would bring it up on the moderator list, but even if they didn't and
> they just deleted a post the quarantine list then acts as a peer review
> mechanism. Terry mentioned rules, this is a big one, a moderator can't
> do something lie this without informing the group as a whole as to what
> they did and why. (this includes removing 'obvious' spam...they still
> must report the action) Again from time to time it is the judgment of
> the larger group to reverse the individuals decision, in which case the
> post is restored.
> Rounding out this group of boards is the actual moderator board and that
> is where these peer reviews and discussion on specific posts by named
> users takes place. Although anyone can bring up whatever topic they want
> on that board.

I could see an operational need for the first two.  They are not used
as discussion forums per-se, but are using forums as storage
mechanisms or as part of the work flow for moderation.  But they are
not used for ad hoc discussions.

But what is the justification for this board to be private?  "peer
reviews and discussion on specific posts by named users takes place"?

A few concerns here:

1) Are we being too heavy handed with moderation in general?  If
something is spam it should take 10 seconds to figure that out and
trash it.  It doesn't take peer review, a discussion thread and
multiple private forums to manage this.  Maybe we can hook in Spam
Assassin to handle this automatically.

2) Obviously there are other kinds of problems, abusive language,
off-topic posts, etc.  We get that on ooo-dev as well.  But we don't
need an army of moderators to manage this.  Why is that so?  What are
we missing on ooo-dev?  What benefit are all of the other Apache user
lists lack that the OOo support forum moderators are able to add with
their private discussions about posts?

3) In the general the Apache Way encourages project participants who
are given responsibilities to act responsibly and to be trusted to do
so.    It is usually Commit Then Review.  We try to avoid unnecessary
discussion.  If we have moderators doing peer reviews and discussions
of forum posts, this to me sounds like we have some obsessive control
issues with moderation.  Why isn't it sufficient to allow the forum
moderators to simply act responsibly?  Why don't we trust them

Think of it this way:  Every project committer has complete access to
the entire source tree of the AOOo code and website.  This would have
been unheard of under Sun/Oracle's hosting of the project.  But when a
moderator wants to moderate a post, it is put on hold for three days
and reviewed and discussed by other moderators?  Really?  I'd
recommend the liberating experience of trusting your people.  You will
find it does miracles.

4) What can we do to ensure that the moderators are able to add the
greatest value to the support experience?  I'd posit that having
moderators debate the merits of a particular post is a very low value
activity.  But helping redirect questions, or connect users with
answers, etc., is high value.

5) If, hypothetically, you did not have the ability to do "peer
reviews and discussion on specific posts by named users", what would
happen then?  Is there any particular reason why you could not have a
public discussion about a post that you are considering deleting?
Maybe in a forum that only moderators can post to, of course.  But is
there any reason you could not be transparent about how moderation
works?  This might actually help enforce what your usage expectations


> To the others on the list here that are admins and moderators at the
> forums I would say, I agree with Rob - everything else should really be
> open to all.
> Anyway - hope that helps.
> Finally - I would second Terry's invitation - if you want to actually
> see this section of the forums, create an account and drop me a line,
> I'll add you to the volunteers group.
> Best wishes,
> //drew

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