Posters to these newsgroups may be aware that Steve Young has been
promoting a scheme called Public Usenet White that he claims will
eliminate most abuses of Usenet. For the benefit of anyone who wants
to know what it will do or whether it will work, here is a short
summary following very lengthy discussions in other groups.
1. Very Brief Summary
1.1 Bob McClenon originally wrote:
I would summarize the main distinctive features of the concept of
Public Usenet White as:
a. A central registry for Usenet handles.
b. A procedure for authentication for new Usenet handles
(permitting existing handles to be grandfathered).
c. A tribunal for hearing complaints of violations of netiquette,
with the authority to cancel Usenet handles in extreme cases.
1.2 Steve Young responds:
1.3 Bob McClenon added (previously):
Then we have complete agreement on what the distinctive features are.
1.4 Bob McClenon adds (newly):
Questions about how the central registry would be funded have not been
answered. Questions about how the handles would be authenticated have
not been answered. There was further discussion of the nature of the
tribunal and what the offenses would be for which it could cancel
2. Discussion of the Offenses
2.1 Bob McClenon originally wrote:
What offenses would be within the jurisdiction of the Public
Usenet White tribunal?
Steve has identified three offenses that he calls 'hangin' crimes that
would result in cancellation of handles. These appear to be:
a. Actions that are considered illegal in some or all
b. Actions that are considered libelous in some or all
c. Posting personal information without consent of the person.
2.2 Bob McClenon had also asked:
[In summary, I complained that his list of offenses did not include
abuse OF the network, such as spam.]
2.3 Steve Young answered:
That's correct, these were my beginning suggestions. Add to
d. activity which would be termed abuse OF the net.
And also another area,
e. newsgroup rules, as you and I have been discussing in a thread
2.4 Bob McClenon adds (newly):
I had asked how the tribunal would be constituted.
3. Procedures for the Tribunal
3.1 Bob McClenon originally wrote:
What would the procedures for the tribunal be?
This is where Steve and I appear to be in complete disagreement. He
has proposed that complaints about the behavior of other users should
be aired by public discourse. Perhaps I have misunderstood, but I
have thought that he said that public discourse about misuse of the
Usenet would minimize such misuse.
3.2 Steve Young answered:
The complaints well from a public action, why shouldn't the resolution
publicly tried? Ever thought about giving NAN-AU the off switch?
has been a failure because it has had no stick. Give it decorum and
ta git it with, then watch what would happen.
3.3 Bob McClenon commented:
Are you actually proposing to give the trolls in NANAU the off switch?
The problem with NANAU is not that it has no stick or off switch. It
was never meant to have a stick or an off switch. It was meant to be
a discussion forum, like NANAE. It has been a failure because it has
kooks who post cross-posted flames to it. Do you really want to give
the posters to NANAU the ability to nuke people?
3.4 Bob McClenon adds (newly):
Steve has not answered my questions about the tribunal, but most of
his answers appear to indicate that it would consist of the posters of
a group, and thus be more or less self-appointed, rather than
consisting of abuse officers. I am not sure that I understand, but it
appears that he would allow majorities to suppress minorities. (See
also his reference above to groups rules.)
4.1 Bob McClenon originally wrote:
I assume that by posting personal information, Steve is referring to
the idiotic practice that some particular troll engages in of posting
the White Pages names and addresses of certain Usenet posters. It is
not entirely clear why Steve thinks that this causes collateral
damage. It is clearly meant to annoy. This is Usenet. So? Does
Steve think that this is actually one of the more serious offenses on
4.2 Steve Young answered:
No one on Usenet should have to live under a threat of being 'outed'.
they chose to post under a handle, not easily identified to them, they
probably did it because they wished some anonymity. Usenet would
personal relationships outside of Usenet, if personal information was
sacred. I firmly believe no personal information of another should be
by a third party.
4.3 In another exchange:
4.3.1 Steve Young had written:
Two comments on your above [in response to an earlier question not
quoted here]; I think PUW should begin with grandfathered handles and
that froggeries be allowed with ID authentication. Authentication
allows multiple handles. It's the collateral damage we're aiming at.
4.3.2 Sean Monaghan had asked:
So, you will permit froggeries - as long as the e-mail address is
different by at least one character?
4.3.3 Steve Young had answered:
I think so, they can be lots of fun. I'd hope it be used judiciously
4.4 Bob McClenon explains:
The term "froggery" may be unfamiliar. It is commonly agreed that
using the exact handle and mailing address of another Usenet poster is
forgery, and is a serious abuse of the net, that should result in
immediate cancellation of an account. If there is not an exact match
between the handle and mailing address used in the offending post, and
the handle and mailing address of a known poster, then opinions
disagree as to whether that is an abuse and how serious it is. This
has resulted in the term "froggery" being used to distinguish it from
Steve Young has proposed that "froggeries", posts that are designed to
mislead the unwary user as to who posted them, but will be recognized
by a more experienced user who can read headers, should be permitted.
He has also proposed that anonymous or untraceable posting should be
permitted, and has further stated that attempting to identify the
human behind the anonymous post should be treated as abuse and result
in immediate account cancellation.
It has been my opinion that most of the disruptive behavior in
rec.woodworking and many other newsgroups has consisted of anonymous
postings and postings by sock-puppets. He has claimed that Public
Usenet White would control these offenses. It is not that difficult
to see that it would guarantee that they would continue.
Public Usenet White is actually not a scheme to reform or clean up
Usenet, but a plan that has the hidden feature that, if implemented,
would make it impossible to take action against anonymous or
misattributed postings or abuses by sock-puppets.
- - Bob McClenon