From Usenet Big-8 Management Board
From: (The Big-8 Management Board)
Subject: Re: Big Eight hierarchy management transition
Newsgroups: news.admin.announce, news.announce.newgroups, news.groups
Followup-To: news.groups
Date: Wed, 04 Oct 2006 16:19:00 -0700

Russ Allbery <> writes:
> As most of the reading audience is probably aware, as of tomorrow, Todd
> and I are stepping down as moderators of news.announce.newgroups and
> ending our involvement in Big Eight newsgroup creation.  Since May of
> 2006, newsgroup creation in the Big Eight hierarchies has been done
> under the aegis of a new Big-8 Management Board as a preliminary trial
> period that Todd and I would evaluate before deciding how to handle our
> resignations.  This is my final report on that evaluation.

        Two introductory points:

        First, the Board would like to encourage anybody that has not read
the above-referenced article (<>) to do so.

        Second, and more importantly, the Board would like to thank
the outgoing NAN Team for all of the hard work that they have put into
managing Usenet, and the Big-8 hierarchies in particular.  Yes, individual
Board members have already done so before, both publicly and privately,
but once more seems appropriate.  Russ and Todd - you will be missed, both
in your official "maintainer" roles, and in your role as voices of reason
and compromise.  You have left us with a strong legacy, and we hope that
we are up to the challenge of maintaining it.

        With those two points out of the way, we would like to address a
few of the points in Russ' document, and explain what our plans are for
the immediate future.

"Draft" Policies Are Now Official

As of 08 Oct 2006, the "draft" policy documents regarding newsgroup
creation, as listed, are official policy.  These
policies have served us well through nearly 50 proposals; they are still
subject to change as necessary, but in practice, we believe that they are

The documentation will be updated over the next several days.  We would
encourage volunteers to begin working to convert the documentation into 
formalized FAQs and similar documentation; please contact the Board
( if you would like to help with this.

Board Membership

Now that we have been officially appointed and our policies have moved
from "draft" to "official", the Board is ready to consider adding
additional members to the Board, both to help spread the workload around
and to introduce new, fresh blood into the system.  If you are
interested in joining the Board, we would like to hear from you (at


As noted by Russ in his transition document, "[t]he biggest risk facing
the Big Eight newsgroup creation system going forward is the lack of a
congenial and constructive place for discussion of changes to the group
list."  We are very aware of the problems of news.groups, and we believe
strongly that something must be done.  However, it has been very difficult
to figure out what, exactly, that "something" is, especially in the
absence of a viable location to discuss it publicly.

One suggested idea is to create a moderated counterpart to news.groups, in
which to discuss proposals in a healthier environment.  Such a group would
be hand-moderated to filter out personal attacks and flames, but otherwise
dissenting opinions would be encouraged.  The Board is considering this,
and a full RFD is forthcoming.

To be clear, any such moderated newsgroup would be in addition to the
unmoderated news.groups, which would continue to exist in its current

Public Voting

Many people have raised objections regarding the lack of public voting
in our current policies.  The Board's stance is that, while we would
consider the introduction of a secure, meaningful public voting system
for the Big-8, we consider that the probability of such a system being
developed is negligible.  Thus, we have not determined exactly how we
would use such a system, and we are unlikely to do so until we are
convinced that such a system was truly viable.

On the other hand, we do have a strong interest in developing and
supporting a viable polling system, to support reorganizations, help
choose newsgroup names, and overall offer a standard and well-used
channel for regular users to offer their input to the creation system.
Unfortunately, our resources are limited, and nothing is going to happen
without additional volunteers.  Anyone who supports a more formal
form of outside input should step up and contribute to the development
of a system through which such input can be measured.  We have begun by
creating the Usenet Volunteer Pollsters, but this has group not gone very
far, largely due to a lack of volunteers.  If you would care to help -
even if you have nothing to offer except moral support! - please subscribe
to the UVP mailing list at .

News Administrator Involvement

The Board acknowledges the potential problems resulting from the lack
of news administrator involvement in the Big-8 creation system.  This
ongoing problem was an issue under the old system as well, and no
reasonable solutions have been discovered.  We would love to have more
news administrator involvement with and support for the Big-8 Management
system, and we will take all the help we can get.

How To Help

We don't believe that we can improve upon what Russ wrote in his transition
post that prompted this response, so we will just quote his words:

> If you want to make this new newsgroup creation system a success,
> again, I encourage you to contact the Board and volunteer.  There is
> always more work than there are people, and there is work for a wide
> variety of different skill sets.  If you are a news administrator, I
> am quite certain that any input you can provide on what sort of
> newsgroup creation system is the most helpful to you would be greatly
> appreciated.

> Finally, everyone can help ameliorate the greatest risk for any Big
> Eight newsgroup creation system by being patient and constructive in
> news.groups.  Try to extend a presumption of good will.  Try to make
> any reply less of a flame than the message to which you were
> responding.  Try to understand the other person's perspective, or
> failing that, at least accept it.  If it doesn't feel right to support
> someone in public (sometimes it escalates matters), send private
> e-mail to people who say things well, or who do a good job at the
> above, and let them know that it was noticed, at least to those people
> who welcome private mail.

> It's difficult but not impossible.  And if enough people are working
> at this, it creates a positive reinforcement cycle and starts to build
> a community.  The reconstruction of such a community would be a
> wonderful step for Usenet as a whole.

		              - Tim Skirvin (
                                Speaking for the Big-8 Management Board
--                             Big-8 Management Board  Usenet Volunteer Pollsters Usenet Volunteer Moderators     Group Mentors       Deadwood Removal