RFC4633: Experiment in Long-Term Suspensions From Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Mailing Lists

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Network Working Group                                         S. Hartman
Request for Comments: 4633                                           MIT
Category: Experimental                                       August 2006

               Experiment in Long-Term Suspensions From
          Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Mailing Lists

Status of This Memo

   This memo defines an Experimental Protocol for the Internet
   community.  It does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.
   Discussion and suggestions for improvement are requested.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2006).


   Discussion in the community has begun to question whether RFC 3683
   and RFC 3934 provide the appropriate flexibility for managing
   Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) mailing lists.  This document
   is an RFC 3933 experiment designed to allow the community to
   experiment with a broader set of tools for mailing list management
   while trying to determine what the long-term guidelines should be.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ....................................................1
   2. Requirements notation ...........................................3
   3. Definition of IETF Mailing List .................................3
   4. The Experiment ..................................................4
   5. How the Experiment May Be Used (Informative) ....................4
   6. Security Considerations .........................................5
   7. Acknowledgements ................................................5
   8. References ......................................................5
      8.1. Normative References .......................................5
      8.2. Informative References .....................................5

1.  Introduction

   As discussed in RFC 3683, the IETF needs to have rules of conduct to
   limit disruptive or abusive behavior while permitting a fair and open
   forum for the discussion of Internet standardization.  The IETF has a
   long and complicated history of rules for managing conduct on its
   mailing lists.

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   RFC 2418 [RFC2418] permitted individuals to be blocked from posting
   to a mailing list: "As a last resort and after explicit warnings, the
   Area Director, with the approval of the IESG, may request that the
   mailing list maintainer block the ability of the offending individual
   to post to the mailing list."  RFC 2418 also allowed other forms of
   mailing list control to be applied with the approval of the area
   director and Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  However,
   RFC 2418 applied only to working group mailing lists.

   The IETF discussion list charter [RFC3005] provides guidelines for
   ietf@ietf.org.  These guidelines provide more flexibility than RFC
   2418.  "The IETF Chair, the IETF Executive Director, or a sergeant-
   at-arms appointed by the Chair is empowered to restrict posting by a
   person, or of a thread, when the content is inappropriate and
   represents a pattern of abuse.  They are encouraged to take into
   account the overall nature of the postings by an individual and
   whether particular postings are an aberration or typical.  Complaints
   regarding their decisions should be referred to the IAB."  In
   particular it appears that these decisions do not follow the normal
   appeals path outlined in RFC 2026 [RFC2026].

   RFC 3683 [RFC3683] provides a procedure for banning named individuals
   from posting to an IETF mailing list for at least one year.  However
   once such a ban is put in place for one mailing list, the individuals
   responsible for other IETF mailing lists can unilaterally remove the
   posting rights of that individual.

   RFC 3934 [RFC3934] amends RFC 2418 and grants the working group chair
   the ability to suspend a member's posting rights for 30 days.
   However, it appears to remove the ability of the AD and IESG to
   approve longer suspensions or alternative procedures: "Other methods
   of mailing list control, including longer suspensions, must be
   carried out in accordance with other IETF-approved procedures."  An
   argument could be made that the amendment was not intended to remove
   the already-approved procedures in RFC 2418, although a perhaps
   stronger argument can be made that the actual textual changes have
   the effect of removing these procedures.

   The IESG has issued a statement on mailing list management [IESGLIST]
   that allows working group mailing lists to be moderated.  Under this
   procedure, specific off-topic postings could be discarded.  However,
   this procedure does not allow the posting rights of an individual to
   be suspended; it simply allows the list as a whole to be moderated.

   The IESG issued a statement on disruptive postings [IESGDISRUPT] .
   This statement applies procedures similar to RFC 3934 and to the
   statement on moderated lists to non-working group lists.

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   The result of these guidelines is that there is a large gap between
   the levels of sanction that can be applied.  An individual can be
   suspended from a working group list easily for 30 days.  However, the
   only option available to the IESG that permits a longer suspension
   for any list besides ietf@ietf.org is the ability to suspend an
   individual for an indefinite time period from one list.  This
   suspension can expand to any IETF list without community or IESG
   involvement.  This memo is an RFC 3933 [RFC3933] experiment to
   provide the IESG with the ability to create additional mechanisms to
   manage IETF mailing lists while the community decides what mailing
   list guidelines are appropriate.  In particular, this experiment
   allows the IESG to create a level of sanction between RFC 3934 and
   RFC 3683 for working group lists and to create sanctions other than
   RFC 3683 for non-working group lists.  The goal of this experiment is
   to improve the functioning of IETF mailing lists while keeping the
   process open and fair.  This experiment is successful if it gives the
   community useful input on how to design a mailing list management
   process.  It is not expected that this experiment will be adopted in
   its current form as a permanent Best Current Practice (BCP).

2.  Requirements notation

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

3.  Definition of IETF Mailing List

   This experiment applies to all IETF mailing lists, including those
   not associated with a working group.  The definition of a working
   group list is clear, but the definition of an IETF mailing list
   comprehensive enough to include all IETF mailing lists is not
   obvious.  For the purpose of this experiment, an IETF mailing list is
   defined as follows.

   An "IETF mailing list" is defined as the IETF list itself, any
   mailing list operated to further the work of a current IETF Working
   Group (WG), any mailing list created for WG use but retained for
   ongoing discussion after that WG was shut down, any mailing list
   created in support of an IETF-specified procedure (including mailing
   lists whose purpose is the discussion of registration actions), and
   any mailing list hosted on any site or system operated by the IASA or
   otherwise on behalf of the IETF.  Mailing lists listed at
   https://datatracker.ietf.org/public/nwg_list.cgi are explicitly
   included in this definition.

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4.  The Experiment

   This experiment runs for a period of 18 months.  During the
   experiment period, the IESG MAY approve other methods of mailing list
   control besides those outlined in RFC 3683 and RFC 3934 to be used on
   a specified set of IETF mailing lists.  Such methods include but are
   not limited to suspending the posting rights of an individual beyond
   30 days on those lists.  Under such procedures the IESG may delegate
   the authority to perform longer-term suspensions of specific
   individuals on specific mailing lists.

   The procedures of this memo MUST NOT be used to suspend the posting
   rights of an individual beyond the period of the experiment.  The
   procedures of this memo MUST NOT be used to limit an individual's
   ability to read the contents of a mailing list.

   The IESG MUST inform the community in a public statement of any
   procedures for mailing list management approved under this
   experiment.  Such a statement should include the description of the
   procedure and the description of mailing lists to which it applies or
   an indication that it applies to all IETF mailing lists.  The IESG
   MUST make a public announcement of a new procedure at least 14 days
   prior to the procedure taking effect.  Although the community is
   encouraged to comment on any IESG action, community consensus is not
   required to approve such a procedure.  All currently active
   procedures under this experiment MUST be made public in an
   appropriate, easy-to-find location.

   Sanctions made under this memo may be appealed using the procedures
   outlined in [RFC2026].

5.  How the Experiment May Be Used (Informative)

   The IESG could approve a procedure allowing it to suspend an
   individual from one or more mailing lists for a fixed period of time
   greater than 30 days.

   Also, the IESG could delegate this power.  Two types of delegation
   are envisioned.  In the first, the IESG has a procedure that allows
   it to suspend a named individual from a list and to grant the
   managers of that list the delegated authority to continue to apply
   longer suspensions if disruptive behavior continues.  In the second,
   the IESG approves a procedure that specifies a set of lists and
   allows managers of those lists to take action unilaterally after an
   initial suspension in a manner similar to RFC 3683.

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6.  Security Considerations

   This document describes a modification to the IETF process for
   managing mailing list discussions.  It has no security

7.  Acknowledgements

   I would like to thank Brian Carpenter and John Klensin for valuable
   input in drafting this experiment.

8.  References

8.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2026]      Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process --
                  Revision 3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [RFC2119]      Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
                  Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC3933]      Klensin, J. and S. Dawkins, "A Model for IETF Process
                  Experiments", BCP 93, RFC 3933, November 2004.

8.2.  Informative References

   [IESGDISRUPT]  "IESG Statement on Disruptive Posting", URL
                  disruptive-posting.txt, February 2006.

   [IESGLIST]     "IESG guidance on the moderation of IETF Working Group
                  Mailing Lists", URL
                  lists.txt, August 2000.

   [RFC2418]      Bradner, S., "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
                  Procedures", BCP 25, RFC 2418, September 1998.

   [RFC3005]      Harris, S., "IETF Discussion List Charter", BCP 45,
                  RFC 3005, November 2000.

   [RFC3683]      Rose, M., "A Practice for Revoking Posting Rights to
                  IETF Mailing Lists", BCP 83, RFC 3683, March 2004.

   [RFC3934]      Wasserman, M., "Updates to RFC 2418 Regarding the
                  Management of IETF Mailing Lists", BCP 94, RFC 3934,
                  October 2004.

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Author's Address

   Sam Hartman
   Massachusetts Institute of Technology

   EMail: hartmans-ietf@mit.edu

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Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2006).

   This document is subject to the rights, licenses and restrictions
   contained in BCP 78, and except as set forth therein, the authors
   retain all their rights.

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