Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 9 Num. 10

("Quid coniuratio est?")


From xxxxxxx@xxx.xxxTue Sep 10 15:11:11 1996
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 1996 14:26:32 -0500
From: Prairienet System Administrators <>
To: Brian Redman <>
Cc: BigRed <>
Subject: Re: sending unsolicited mail

Mr. Redman,

You will find my responses to your points below. But before I do that, for the record let me state that my name is Martin Wolske, and I am the system's administrator for Prairienet.

I have several helpers who also help in handling the high volume of sysadmin mail we get. In order to avoid confusion as to whom to respond when replying to mail from sysadmin, we typically sign the email with "-- The Prairienet Systems Staff", sometimes including the initials of the sender. Prior to signing in this manner, a considerable number of replies came to the personal email rather than the sysadmin email account.

In message <>you wri te:

>On Sun, 8 Sep 1996, Prairienet System Administrators wrote:
>> Just a reminder that sending unsolicited mass e-mail is explicitly in
>> violation of Prairienet's Acceptable Use Policy. Any further complaints
>> against this account may result in its suspension.
>> -- The Prairienet Systems Staff
>For starters, I vociferously protest the fact that you have
>apparently judged me as guilty without allowing me to present
>my side.

Prairienet is a member-supported service provided to its userbase. When you VOLUNTARILY become part of its userbase, you agree to abide by Prairienet's Acceptable Use Policy. This is standard practice for an organization. For instance, if you walk into McDonalds with no shirt and no shoes, you will be asked to leave. You aren't taken to a judge, you aren't even asked for an explaination.

At Prairienet, we have our own Acceptable Use Policy, and we have our own steps that are followed when a user does not abide by these policies. These steps are consistently followed regardless of who the person is that is not following the policies. I personally have followed these steps for active volunteers of Prairienet when needed.

Our standard procedure is as follows: If we recieve a minor complaint about a user not abiding by the Acceptable Use Policy, we send a warning such as the one you recieved above. If the complaint is more major, and there is significant supporting evidence, we immediately suspend the account. Regardless, though, we are open to hearing all sides of the given issue and do occasionally find that the initial complaint was unjustified. If there are continued complaints concerning the user, and if the user does not respond to repeated warnings by the Systems Staff, we then remove the user from our system. However users are never permanently removed from the system without giving all sides the chance to give their side of the story. Further, while some of my volunteers do have authority to send warnings, and two very trusted helpers have the authority to suspend an account, I am the only one that deletes a problem user from the system.

>Secondly, I demand to specifically know BY WHOM I have been
>judged and found guilty. The only indication is "The Prairienet
>Staff." I demand to know who specifically is behind the decision.

The name of the person is irrelevent to this discussion. As mentioned above, there are a few helpers other than myself who might have processed the complaint. But they are only following my procedures.

>Thirdly, I demand to know how the decision to find me guilty
>without a hearing was arrived at. Was this a decision made by
>one, by several? Was it at a meeting? Are you following some

As an organization, we are not bound to "due process" in the sense that the United States of America is bound by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights to follow certain steps which we call due process. However, we are committed to enabling free speech (see 'go policy' for our own Bill of Rights). This does not mean, though, that we have an "anything goes" attitude. As stated in the Acceptable Use Policy, "To insure a beneficial and quality experience to all Prairienet members, Prairienet members are required to adhere to the following criteria for Acceptable Use." When we recieve a complaint that a user is not abiding by this Policy, we follow the steps stated above.

>Fourthly, I am forwarding a copy of your message to my attorney,
>a strong civil libertarian.

And we have continually relied on the advice of the head of the Champaign ACLU to make sure that we are acting in an acceptable manner, and have sought their advice again in this case.

>Fifthly, for the record, I am emphatically NOT GUILTY of
>the "charge" of "spamming" -- whatever that is.

The above having been said, I believe you are correct. Unfortunately, neither Mr. Keane, nor the Systems Staff member noticed that the unsolicited mail to Mr. Keane was "Resent-From: Aardvark <>", meaning that while you were the original poster of the information to the newsgroup, it only arrived in Mr. Keane's mailbox when Aardvark sent it to him. Each of my Systems volunteers take their jobs very seriously. This does not mean that we do not make mistakes, and we are the first ones to apologize when we make mistakes. I apologize now on behalf of my staff for having wrongly sent you the warning. I will also send a note to Mr. Keane explaining the error.

>Last, I demand an apology for this latest insult of denying
>me due process. You receive state and/or federal funds, as
>I recall.

However, I stand by the steps stated above for handling complaints. It is the best we can do with the limited staff that we have. Where our funding comes from is irrelevent, BTW.

>Brian Redman

-- Martin Wolske for the Prairienet Systems Staff

PS, Concerning your post to Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 9 Num. 09, we have recieved no pressure to limit the speech of your group or any other group for whatever reason, funding or otherwise. Further, such restrictions are strictly against Prairienet's "Bill of Rights", and more generally against the American Library Association's "Library Bill of Rights", by which we abide. Moreover, any attempt at accomplishing such restrictions would result in an immediate response by the head of the Champaign ACLU, who is a very active Prairienet Volunteer. WE ARE STRONGLY COMMITTED TO ENABLING FREE SPEECH!!

Secondly, no warning was given to "cancel" your account, but only to "suspend" it. As stated above, accounts are not canceled without giving opportunity for all parties concerned to give their side of the story.

Thirdly, the public archives at the "Citizens Committee to Clean Up the Courts" site would not have been touched regardless of anything done to your account.

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