Time to Ban "Dicky Moe"-type emails

Hello folks,

I’m calling for support to start banning anonymous emails (like the ones posted by “Dicky Moe” in the last couple of years). I have two good reasons for this:

  1. The majority of gripes are obviously local/regional in nature-- thus irrelevant for the majority of people in mailing lists. The personal attacks are also not productive. And they are becoming quite boring and repetitive.
  2. In the previous emails, it’s not creating any meaningful action, primarily because there are not clear actionable steps, not to mention evidence. Saying this certain person is not good based on the complainer’s perception is clearly one way to make sure no action is going to happen.

I’m not saying those complaints do not have any basis, but subjecting the rest of the community to tirades and anonymous rants is just irresponsible and a gut-punch to what Mozilla community participation is all about.

I suggest having some sort of community space where people can just post their anonymous rants (of course privacy should be considered). That way, people who want to read them should be able to read them.


Is this a qualifier to the idea of banning anonymous emails, or merely an example? That is, are you proposing the banning of long ranting emails posted under a pseudonym, or all emails posted under a pseudonym?

Would long ranting emails which were not anonymous also be banned?

I would be uncomfortable with any sort of restriction of one’s ability to post in a forum, or have one’s discussion limited to a particular forum, on the basis that one is using a pseudonym, and I’m pretty sure it’d be counted as an “exclusionary practice” under the Participation Guidelines. (Emphasis mine:)

Technically, how do you propose this is achieved? Are all emails to all mailing lists now going to have to be pre-moderated?

From what I can tell, your largest issue with these style of emails (and mine too), is the personal attacks. Since those already fall foul of the Participation Guidelines, is there a need for a new policy? (Emphasis mine:)


I was actually thinking about this myself. Since the thread about disputed locations, actually, I have been thinking about ways we could make the governance list more effective. It seems to mostly be philosophical debates with not much action when it comes to topics like these - as opposed to module ownership changes etc.

@leo - I think you’re misinterpreting that line of the participation guidelines. It doesn’t necessarily protect the ability to refrain from identifying one’s self, but that would be an interesting question to pose to Mitchell. Also, that is a very general statement about participating in Mozilla in general. There is no promise that you can touch any piece of the project that you feel like. I don’t think it would be violating that guideline to require posts on something high level like Governance to not be anonymous.

I have acted as “champion” before, posting in Governance for a friend who didn’t want to post themself. I think this would be an acceptable way to allow people to post anonymously, but still show that this isn’t some trolly rant - that someone believes in the message enough to put their name to it, and is willing to facilitate a real conversation between the concerned parties and Mozilla leadership.

My other suggestion was going to be to take a page out of Reps policy and restrict governance to actual proposals. We have a Mozillians list and Discourse group where people could feel much more welcome to get into philosophical debates. Those could be anonymous if people wished. But governance would be much more effective if it were dealing only in actual governance issues, so proposals, like module ownership changes, that have a clear action or decision attached to them.

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This is a good argument-- I remember in the last Summit where there was an anonymous contributor for the longest time who never wanted to be identified.

The counterpoint would be if we take away anonymity, would participation, in general, suffer?

I don’t have the answer.

But I think it all goes down to feasibility. Would be moderation be too much for non-vetted email addresses?

My (not new) opinion has been to stop using mailing lists altogether. You can be anonymous on Discourse forums. People can choose to ‘not watch your posts’, or a topic altogether.

People on our lists are losing out - and we are losing people. Take Webmaker for example. They have thousands of subscribers - who want to learn more about opportunity to participate in, collaborate with and connect to opportunities to teach the web. Instead they get these ranting emails, which make them question the quality of the community and the list itself. So webmaker loses subscribers - why because it’s so easy to spam lists!

Forums can notify you of cross-posting, and hold for moderation (if that behavior happens), and it’s just more work to get your message across to the people you want. I know there are other things at play, but on the method of communication, this is my opinion. ‘Down with Lists’.


I agree that I might be stretching it a bit (or a lot…), but isn’t refraining from identifying oneself, by (temporarily) adopting a different identify in the form of a pseudonym, a form of identifying oneself (which, according to the guidelines, doesn’t matter)? (These are the Philosophical discussions which work better here than on Governance! :stuck_out_tongue:)

I agree that restrictions on what can/should be posted to Governance don’t necessarily violate the Participation Guidelines, but I think that if the discriminating factor against a post is the poster being anonymous rather than the post just not being appropriate, then I think it does (although that possibly relies upon the above interpretation). And I don’t think enough of a case has been made for the idea that anonymous posts are inherently unhelpful to support banning them outright.

This is a suggestion I like.

I’m not sure that’s the only thing to take into consideration, though. For example: we could create a policy that citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia were no longer allowed to participate. I doubt participation would suffer at all (the FSM Mozilla community can feel free to correct me on that), but it still wouldn’t be acceptable.

While I see you point, but this is bringing the argument in a wrong direction. First of all, comparing taking away anonymity to shutting out a whole community is, in my point of view, not a fair one.

I’m taking a populist approach here: I’d like to hear the arguments of the anonymous posters defend their position because there has been one anonymous poster that has been posting defamatory content and I doubt she/he would post that using an identifiable account.

Such messages already violate the Reps mailing list policy, so there’s no need for debate about what to do. While the policy does provide for “suggestions for improving the program”, Dicky Moe does not engage in constructive suggestion-making, so I would still consider it in violation.

I was under the impression that the reps-general list had been restricted only to Reps, so that confidential topics (requiring NDA) could be discussed. Am I mistaken or out of date about that? If so, how is Dicky Moe able to post?

To Emma’s point about mailing lists: It’s possible run a mailing list where this doesn’t happen. For the Mozilla mailing lists that I moderate, subscribers’ postings are held for moderation by default, until they make one constructive post. Then I manually turn their moderation bit off. It’s a teensy bit more work for me as a moderator, and a slight delay for someone’s first post. But rants (anonymous or pseudonymous) and subscribe-to-spam are not allowed through. (There are plenty of arguments against mailing lists, most of which I agree with, but not this one.)

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It is, you can’t read if you are not subscribed and just active Reps and some employees are. MoCo/MoFo emails are able to post even if they are not subscribed. I’ve to check with IT about how DM emails are getting through.

And Discourse allows “Community moderation”:

As users regularly participate by reading and posting, they gain trust –
and powerful abilities to help maintain the community and push out
trolls and spammers.

Which means that people can flag inappropriate posts and they will be hidden, if the user keeps behaving this way it can be blocked.

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Personally I don’t have problems with people that don’t want to use their real name, what we should ban are behaviors against our Participation Guidelines, anonymous or not.

Fair enough, if the blanket ban is deemed to draconian, then we should remind the community about the stand on these types of emails.

We should start by banning Dicky Moe from the Reps lists.

Is his mail actually going through the Reps list, or has he just cc’ed so many other lists that Reps are on at least one other?

Though, does what was said about Vineel or Deb count as a personal attack? I think they were very specifically accusations about how they are treating other contributors that, if true, should absolutely be addressed.

It shouldn’t, if you try to send an email from a non-subscribed email it bounces.

If they are true, then they should be dealt with. It’s like handling anonymous tips by the police.

But if they are not, damage to their reputations has been done.

@rabimba’s suggestion of having a complaint box type space would be a better approach, you can proceed with discretely investigating whether complaints are true or not.

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Looking at the email again, the message went through the Governance mailing list (at least for me).

It went through my community’s mailing list. I think it only appeared on the Reps general once subscribed Reps replied back with the replied to all option.

Do we have enough man/community power to do that(discretely investigate)? Because once we open that pandora’s box there would probably be enough acquisitions to keep everyone occupied.

Also we have to decide if we want to go that path or not. Since I have not seen that being done in this DM case (or are they being done? I don’t know)

I posted this specifically to discuss whether or not the message counted as
a personal attack in reference to the Participation Guidelines.

All the email headers suggest that the message came through reps-general@lists.mozilla.org

Since we’ve been auto subscribed to the list the e-mail must be known to someone from the reps community? However the email address can be changed through the maillmain interface… does mailman keep logs about this?

Though I’m pretty sure I dislike checking people’s identities and suppressing someone’s speech.

EDIT: feel free to ignore this post, I’m just a noob here.

I think banning these mails would be a really bad idea. Removing/bloquing critique is the worst you can do. It’s like regressing, pretending everything is all right while the shit hits the fan. Besides of this, it would simply pop up through other means, like a blog.

Moreover, there are many such mails that are also very objective and constructed.
Lastly, if thereis a rant, it should probably be adressed. Why? Because it’s not from a nobody. It’s from someone who has invested his soul and heart into it and feels he or the community is unfairly or badly handled. That should be addressed too! So why not openly?