No Subject

David Stodolsky david at
Tue Sep 7 12:49:18 PDT 1999

According to rules recently adopted, Judges-L FAQ ver. 2.1, 
one must register before being subscribed to the List. The 
Registration Form is at the end of the Judges-L FAQ below. 
Please read the Cancel Messages FAQ first, if you have not 
already done so. It has been posted to news.admin.policy.

Judges-L Registrar,


Welcome to Judges-L

The following Frequently Asked Questions with answers are 
designed to assist you in interacting with other subscribers 
to the Judges' List and thereby assist users of the NetNews 
system in dealing with certain types of abusive messages. 
Please do not post to the List until you have been a 
subscriber for a couple of weeks, so you can avoid the most 
common mistakes made by new subscribers. Alternatively you 
can review the activities of the List by retrieving archives 
of recent discussions. You can retrieve the list of archives 
by sending "INDEX  Judge-L" (not including quotation marks)  
You can then  order these files with a "GET Judge-L  
LOGxxxx". For example, to get the first month's archive, send 
the command "GET JUDGES-L  LOG9409" to retrieve the archive 
for September of 1994. 

You can unsubscribe by sending the command "UNSUB JUDGES-L" 
in the body of a message to LISTSERV at UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU (or 

Please retain this message for future reference.

Judges-L: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) ver. 2.1

What is the Judges-L?

The Judges' List (Judges-L at or JUDGES-
L at UBVM.BITNET) is a LISTSERV mail distribution list. Messages 
for distribution must be sent to one of these addresses. 
Subscription and other LISTSERV commands must be sent to 

How does the Judges' List work?

The List distributes messages to a panel of Judges who cancel 
multiple posts to NetNews immediately. The List is used to 
help Judges organize themselves, finalize policy, and set 
procedures to enforce rules. It is primarily directed to 
those who issue cancels. Secondarily, to those who survey 
cancels issued, in order to ensure that the cancel facility 
is not being abused.

It is not the intention of the Judges to regulate the content 
of articles posted. The protection of the NetNews system from 
overload by posts to multiple newsgroups is the focus of the 
activity. Widespread posting of off-topic material and 
overloads of individual newsgroups is a secondary focus of 

Mechanisms for the control of automatic posting software or 
automatic cancellation software is within the scope of 
discussion. Security mechanisms to facilitate the 
cancellation of abusive posts is also within the scope of the 

Certain activities, such as voting, are restricted to 
registered Judges. A Judge registers by supplying verifiable 
identity information to the Registrar. This information must 
be traceable to a primary identification document, such as a 
birth certificate. Supplied information is used only for the 
registration of a Judge. A digital signature, signed by a 
recognized certification authority can satisfy this 
requirement. The Registrar will acknowledge that registration 
has succeeded. Another option is transmission of a verifiable 
name, address, and telephone number (including best times to 
telephone). Any finger, X.500 directory, or Network 
Information Center entries, should also be supplied, in order 
to reduce the need for telephonic contact (use the form at 
the end of this post). Random checks may be undertaken from 
time to time to confirm the integrity of registration 
information. The List Registrar is currently David S. 
Stodolsky at address:
david at

How are decisions made?

There are two types of messages distributed via the List. The 
first type is an informational message. The second type is an 
action message, which notifies readers that an official 
response is requested or pending. A response to a previous 
message must begin with the characters "Re: " (note the 
trailing space). A message that starts a new discussion must 
not start with these characters. 

Action messages must be indicated by a message subject that 
starts with all capital letters.  Current message subject 
precursors are:

:"COMPLAINT: " - a complaint about a message that someone 
wants cancelled

:"CANCEL: " - a complaint about an inappropriate cancel 

:"DRAFT: " - a request for preliminary input on a proposed 

:"OPINION: " - a proposed action not directly related to a 

:"ACCEPTED: " - an accepted action

Decisions are preferably reached by consensus. The consensus 
is indicated by at least one week passing after an action 
message, or the last comment on an action message, has been 
distributed. Thus, if an OPINION message is posted and no 
comments are made in response to it for a week, it is 
considered to have achieved a consensus. The message will 
then be redistributed in exactly the same form, but with the 
ACCEPTED message precursor. If no objections are registered 
within a week, then this opinion becomes valid. (Objections 
at this stage can only be procedural, such as failure to 
incorporate corrections or not allowing adequate time for 
comments.) If comments are received, they must be answered or 
incorporated into the accepted message. In the case of 
extensive revision, the message should be distributed again 
with an OPINION message precursor. Accepted messages are 
transferred to the file area for permanent storage. Accepted 
opinions are also posted to USENET with "Judges" as their 

In the case that a consensus is not reached within three 
weeks after the final posting of an action message, the 
author of the message can call for a vote. After the call, 
the List Registrar will post the email addresses of 
registered voters. A voter is registered if s/he supplied 
registration information to the Registrar prior to the first 
presentation of the action item. Votes are directed to the 
author, or other designated vote counter, and may include a 
statement. After a week, all votes and comments are posted. 
If a complaint achieves majority support, it can be reposted 
as ACCEPTED. Contributed statements must be included. 
Opinions require two-thirds support to achieve acceptance.

If you reply to a message, but change the subject or address 
a side issue, change the subject line of the post using the 
"was" construction [i. e., New subject (was: Old subject)]. 
This is particularly important with action items, which can 
be delayed otherwise.

Do I have to wait a week before acting on a complaint?

No. Any Judge can act on a complaint at any time. The List 
and the person who submitted the complaint must be notified 
immediately. If a complaint receives no response, it is 
assumed to be invalid. A week after the final comment on a 
complaint, it may be reposted, including all comments, with 
an "ACCEPTED: " subject precursor. This is normally done by 
the Judge who initially responded to the complaint. Unless 
there are objections, it is transferred to the file area one 
week later. A Judge must not be the first respondent to a 
complaint submitted on her/his behalf.

A Judge should only respond to a complaint if confident that 
the response is appropriate. New Judges can develop their 
reputations by closely monitoring the List. This permits 
routine abuse to handled promptly by new Judges. More 
experienced Judges can then concentrate on handling 
complicated complaints or on incorrect responses made by 

What is the correct style for a message?

Messages to the List must follow USENET guidelines. See 
"Guidelines for posting on Usenet" and "Hints on writing 
style for Usenet" in the newsgroup "news.announce.newusers". 
Specifically, spell check your message and review it for 
accuracy. If you are irritated or upset, put it aside for a 
day, and then read both the message you are replying to and 
your response again. All messages to the List are archived 
and permanently available to subscribers.

What should I do about inappropriate messages?

Faulty or inappropriate messages should be ignored. You may 
notify the sender directly by email that there is a problem 
with such a message.

Since action items cannot be ignored, inappropriate messages 
of this type may result in censure of the sender. When in 
doubt as to the type of a message you are sending, do not use 
an action precursor. If it definitely is an action message, 
post it using the "DRAFT: " message precursor first, and 
allow at least a week for feedback. Draft messages should be 
used in all cases except where time is of the essence. 
Posting of a draft message immediately fixes the registered 
voters on the item, but reduces the risk of repeated updates 
while in the "OPINION: " phase. Since opinion messages 
require responses within a week, it is more likely that the 
feedback to them will be negative and will be less complete 
than feedback to a draft.

Can a message that has appeared on the Judges-L be reposted?

Only your own words can be reposted and only by you. Authors 
retain a non-exclusive non-transferable copyright on their 
own writing sent to the List. "Fair use" is limited to single 

The non-exclusive transfer of copyright to the List Registrar 
ensures that the author can continue to use the words they 
have sent to the List, while at the same time those words can 
be used in a well controlled manner, for example, in an 
opinion issued by Judges-L. This is essential to the function 
of the List, since a participant in a dispute might try to 
block publication of an opinion by asserting copyright over 
crucial writing, if not pleased with the decision.

The non-transferability of the copyright retained by the 
author makes it impossible for List policy to be circumvented 
by a (legal) person who collects copyrights from various 
authors. It also ensures that only persons bound by the List 
policy can use material sent to the List in other contexts. 
This could also be crucial in stopping misuse of writing sent 
to the List.

"Fair use" is limited to single words. Copying of more than a 
single word violates fair use, since repeatedly copying pairs 
of words would permit the transfer of collective works from 
the List. That is, if pairs of words from a message were 
transferred repeatedly under "fair use", the original message 
could easily be assembled from the machine readable 
"Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or 
substitute for anthologies, compilations, or collective 
{From the guidelines developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on 
Copyright Revision, the Author-Publisher Group, and the 
Association of American Publishers. COPYRIGHT LAW AND 
document assembled by the Academic Computing Technologies 
Group, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS 
66210 (in Mich Kabay <75300.3232 at>. [27 
December 1994]. RISKS of guessing at Fair Use. RISKS DIGEST 
16.68. [URL:]}

Any subscriber posting messages to the Judges-L is bound by 
this copyright policy. Material posted by others falls under 
a Judge-L compilation copyright. Writing by persons not 
posting to the List themselves is covered by a compilation 
copyright held by the sender and the List, and subject to the 
same restrictions, where ever applicable, as original 
writing. The terms "writing" and "words" are construed to 
include all forms of expression subject copyright, such as 
drawings, recorded sounds, and so on.

External archives of Judges-L messages and opinions can only 
be maintained if explicit written permission is given. 
Subscribers may, however, maintain archives of messages they 
have received while subscribed to the List, but only for 
their own private use and only as long as they remain 

Can I disclose information received from the List to third 
parties (persons not on the List)?

No. Privacy of messages sent to the List is crucial for the 
List to be able to perform its conflict resolution functions. 
Privacy makes uninhibited expression more likely, thus aiding 
in fact finding and resolution of disputes. It also protects 
authors from having their words used out of context. Finally, 
it inhibits persons not satisfied with a List decision from 
taking their complaints to another forum. The ability to 
achieve a final resolution of conflict is one of the major 
advantages of a judicial ruling.

What if I do not follow these guidelines?

Any person who provides false registration information will 
be prohibited from any use of the List for a period of five 
years and their postmaster, employer, or service provider 
will be notified thereof. At the end of that period a new 
registration form may be submitted. The document must be 
signed under penalty of perjury and notarized.

Any person misusing information from the List is subject to 
immediate unsubscription for a period of one year. A censure 
opinion must be submitted to the List immediately thereafter 
and copied to the person affected. All messages concerning 
the case must be copied to the concerned person, who may 
reply directly to the List. If the List has been set to 
automatically reject messages from the person as a result of 
abuse of the List, the person may select a representative to 
forward their replies. If the censure fails, the person will 
immediately be resubscribed.

In any case of involuntary unsubscription or of censure that 
casts doubt upon the honesty of a Judge, resubmission of 
registration information signed under penalty of perjury and 
notarized is required.
If you abuse the List by sending messages, you may be asked 
to stop sending for a period of six months, by issuance of an 
opinion. If you fail to honor this request, then your 
messages will be automatically rejected for a period of one 
year. An abuser may reapply after that time by sending a 
request to Dimitri Vulis (dlv at In extreme cases, 
abusers will be unsubscribed from the List for a one-year 
period. Further problems will result in an abuser's 
postmaster being notified, or if the abuser is a postmaster, 
the notification will go to an employer or service provider. 
The Judges reserve the right to counter any continuing abuse 
of the List without further notice. 

Severe abuse can result in immediate action by a List Owner 
or Site Administrator. The Judges' List must be notified when 
any such action is taken.

How do I request censure of a Judge?

A Judge can submit an OPINION message to the List requesting 
that an abusive Judge cease, for example, sending to the 
List. Alternatively, the message can be directed to the 
Registrar, who will post it to the List, confirming that the 
message was submitted by a Judge, who wishes to remain 
anonymous. Other comments on the case may be directed to the 
Registrar, if authors wish to remain anonymous. In the case 
that a vote becomes necessary, the Registrar will randomly 
select nine Judges, if that many are available. They will be 
privately requested to deliver their votes to a designated 
Vote Counter. If three-fourths of the votes support the 
request, it will be posted as an ACCEPTED opinion by the Vote 
Counter. Dimitri Vulis (dlv at receives such votes. 

How is conflict of interest avoided in censure cases?

Any selected Judge directly involved in the dispute must 
notify the Registrar that they are not available to vote. In 
the case this withdrawal could affect the vote outcome, a new 
Judge will be randomly selected. The accused may advise the 
Registrar that certain Judges are directly involved and 
should not be selected. No more than one-third of Judges may 
be designated as unsuitable. Neither the Registrar nor the 
Vote Counter may serve as voters in censure cases.

Why should I use this List instead of a newsgroup?

Discussions of abusive practices also occur in the 
newsgroups, for example, news.admin.policy. That newsgroup 
has over 50,000  readers and over 50% of articles are 
crossposted. Each post, therefore, uses a minimum of 20 man-
hours of readers' time, even if each reader spends only a 
second reading the subject line of an article. Examination of 
the post itself can lead to ten times that amount of time 
being used, or even more.  It is suggested, therefore, that 
posts to newsgroups be limited to novel incidents, with the 
potential for generating a new policy consensus. Routine 
abuse can be handled in a much more economical manner, if it 
is referred to this List.

Another advantage of using the List for cancel notifications 
is the almost immediate delivery of email. Newsgroup 
propagation is significantly slower, meaning that duplicate 
cancels may be issued. This can create problems and certainly 
means unnecessary work for administrators.

Consensus rarely occurs in newsgroups, if there is even the 
slightest disagreement on an issue. In order to create an 
alternative to arbitrary cancellation, cancellation wars 
between posters and administrators, and so on, it is 
important to reach a consensus through a process that is open 
and fair. A list makes it more likely that every person sees 
the same material, which cannot be assured with people 
browsing newsgroups. Also, lists are less "public", so there 
is less incentive for people to defend positions, merely 
because they have taken them. This is a well know problem in 
international negotiations. These factors, when combined with 
the procedures suggested here, make reaching a consensus on 
the List much more likely than in a newsgroup.

Another advantage of List operation is the privacy of the 
List archives. This makes it less likely that disputants 
seize upon details of statements made by Judges as indicating 
support for their position. The transfer of completed 
decisions to the  publicly assessable file area, on the other 
hand, make them more likely to be used as guidance in dispute 
resolution. These completed decisions can also be used as a 
database of known offenders, in order to facilitate dealing 
with repeated abuse. This effect is even stronger in the case 
of accepted opinions, which are posted to USENET.

Finally, there are some people who cannot understand that it 
is not OK to do anything that is not explicitly against some 
"law." These people need some "legal" decisions to abide by, 
because they will not stop abusive activities otherwise. They 
may also view cancellation of their articles as abridging 
their "free speech" or "restraining their trade" and take 
their complaint to a court. The Judges-L can be the court of 
first instance, thereby reducing the risk of interference by 
governmental authorities with activities on the Net.


            Judges-L Registration Form

This form serves as a copyright agreement, non-disclosure 
agreement, and oath:

I have read and understood the Cancel Messages Frequently 
Asked Questions (FAQ) list and the Judges-L FAQ. I understand 
why archive privacy is required and the role confidentiality 
plays in dispute resolution.

I agree to:

a) respect the Judge-L copyright and report any violations 

b) avoid disclosing information received from the List to 
third parties (persons not on the List) and report any 
violations of this policy.

c) store messages received from the List in a manner that 
prevents disclosure to third parties (at minimum, password 
protection on a publicly accessible system, or residential 
level physical security for unprotected files or messages 
that have been printed ).

d) destroy all copies of messages from the List within 14 
days of unsubscribing (this does not apply to setting an 
address to "no mail", which stops transmission of messages).

e) follow the procedures accepted by the Judges (subscribers 
to Judges-L).

f) tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the 
truth, in messages sent to the List or directly to persons 
subscribed to the List. That is, I agree that deception is to 
be avoided, either through incorrect statements or omission 
of relevant facts. If statements made in good faith are later 
found to be incorrect, the correct information will be 
supplied without delay. Not withstanding the above, if 
another subscriber is mislead by my statement and makes an 
incorrect statement on the List as a result, I will correct 
that person in a message to the List.

g) base any decision I make as a Judge only on messages to 
the List. If I receive communications concerning a matter 
under deliberation on Judges-L by other means (i. e., private 
mail, news, etc.), I will send a notice to the List. If I do 
not disclose the information, I will state why. Further, I 
will state whether I feel receipt of the information 
disqualifies me from further participation in the 
deliberation and why.

h) attempt to influence a Judges-L decisions only through 
messages posted to the List under my registered name.

I understand that if I violate this agreement I may be 
subject to censure and that an accepted censure opinion may 
be posted to the Judges-L public file area and published in 
appropriate USENET newsgroups. I agree to accept any such 
ruling as final.

Replace underlines "____" completely (in relevant items) with 
your information and return to:
david at

Last name                         __________________________
Other names, initials, titles, etc. ________________________
Address                           __________________________
City, State, Country, ZIP, etc.   __________________________
Telephone number (include country code) ____________________
Best times to Phone   From _____ to _____ and _____ to _____

Work or other address             __________________________
City, State, Country, ZIP, etc.   __________________________
Telephone number (include country code) ____________________
Best times to Phone   From _____ to _____ and _____ to _____

Finger entry                       _________________________
X.500 directory listing            _________________________
Network information center entries _________________________
Other directory entries            _________________________



David S. Stodolsky, PhD  * Social *   Internet: david at
Tornskadestien 2, st. th.   * Research *    Tel.: + 45 38 33 03 30
DK-2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark  * Methods *  Fax: + 45 38 33 88 80

More information about the cypherpunks-legacy mailing list