Charters

From Big-8.org

See Internet Systems Consortium for links to the charter repository, such as it is, for each of the Big-8 hierarchies.

In the current system (and for many years) it has been the convention to include a charter as part of a Request for Discussion for new newsgroups. In the period before The Great Renaming, many groups were created without a charter beyond the newsgroup description line.

ru igarashi

Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2009 12:19:36 CST
From: Ru Igarashi <ru.igarashi@usask.ca>
Message-ID: <h421se$mtc$1@webmail.usask.ca>

In news.groups.proposals Helge Nareid <hn.ng@hnareid.me.uk> wrote:
[...]

> Personally, I think that charter changes should be allowed,
> particularly if there is a compelling case for it - rec.games.bolo
> would be a good candidate IMHO. However, at this point in time I
> appear to be in a minority in the B8MB.

I don't think it was a question of being allowed or even of
tradition, rather it was - and still is - a pointless action.
The Big-8 never had a repository and machinery to administer
charters effectively.  I think David and Russ were both agreeable
to the idea of a charter administration scheme.  As always, the
big hurdle was manpower, finding someone to start the ball rolling
and then keep it working (I'm pretty sure Russ pointed this out).

One might ask why we can't simply use the machinery for
administering newsgroups.  I think it came back to the
repository.  The current archive is for control messages.
Never mind whether control messages get issued for charter
updates (why bother?).  Having the charter updates mixed in
with control messages (in the archive) would inevitably lead
to confusion over which charter holds, in the worst case,
and to complaints about how difficult it is to find the most
recent update in the best case.

A proper charter management system has to be just that, a
system, and it should be separate from the group administration
system.  It should unambiguously present charters, while
providing a means for submitting and approving updates.
It's just a question of finding the people to set it up and
run it.  If I thought I could guarantee the required amount
of my resources in the long term, I'd do it.  But I can't
make that kind of assurance even in the short term, which
sucks, because setting up the archive looks kind of fun to
try.

The alternative, which I pushed while I was active here,
is to use FAQs to maintain charters.  Charters in group
creation control messages are not meant to be the
STANDING charter, merely the STARTING point for the group.  
How the group gets used afterward has always been considered
the business of the group's users.  As such, FAQs can
be an acceptable means for establishing the standing
charter.  Control of FAQs is an issue, but when the
FAQ is aligned with the users, it can be quite effective.
Much of that machinery exists.  It's just a matter of
the users of a particular group agreeing to a mechanism
for making updates within their group (e.g. voting
scheme) and to make the FAQ version of the Charter the
standing charter.

ru

Steve Bonine

Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2009 12:54:16 CST
From: Steve Bonine <spb@pobox.com>
Message-ID: <7cjkvef28245gu1@mid.individual.net>

Ru Igarashi wrote:

[...]

> I don't think it was a question of being allowed or even of
> tradition, rather it was - and still is - a pointless action.
> The Big-8 never had a repository and machinery to administer
> charters effectively.  

[...]

I agree that it's a pointless action, but for rather different reasons 
than you enumerated in your article.

For an unmoderated newsgroup, what's the point?  It's peer pressure that 
"enforces" the charter for an unmoderated group, whether there's a 
formal charter-management system or not.  Why put a system in place to 
keep up with charters when they really don't mean anything?  The people 
who tend to flaunt charters are not the folks who will carefully check 
the text of a charter that's maintained in a repository.  Changing the 
charter, even if such a change were carefully recorded in a publicly 
available system, would have no effect on the actual operation of the 
newsgroup.  In fact, it might fuel the netcop activity in the group.

For moderated newsgroups, the moderator(s) set the effective charter of 
the group.  If submissions are out of line, the moderator(s) can inform 
the submitter.  There's no real point in having an "official" "current" 
charter available for public inspection.

Newsgroups change over time based on participants' needs evolving.  The 
charter is important for the first few weeks of a newsgroup's life; 
after that the group is going to go where the group goes.  A public 
repository of charters won't change this at all.
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