[linux-elitists] email address hiding, was re: Spam filters

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Mar 26 15:21:36 PDT 2009

Quoting Don Marti (dmarti at zgp.org):

> But there might be good arguments against disclosing the presence of a
> subscriber on a certain list.  Would you post to a public web site the
> list of magazines you subscribe to?  The comic book titles you have a
> standing order for at the comic book store?

In present context, there are very key differences.  First of all, 
this is is a collective discussion forum, not a broadcast entertainment
service:  I don't have any natural, ordinary, innocent functional reason
to be able to look up the names, let alone addresses, of who else
subscribes to _The Economist_ magazine, or has a library card at the San
Mateo County Library, or who also special-orders Iain M. Banks novels at
Kepler's Books and Magazines.  Indeed, that _would_ be a gross violation
of everyone's expectations of privacy.

In this case, the general expectation on discussion-oriented mailing
lists, and the default of commonly used software (GNU Mailman,
majordomo) is exactly the opposite.  Concealing the roster is thus
itself a departure from general expectation (and is generally used
mostly for -announce mailing lists, which lack interactive/social
reasons why people have a defensible reason to know who's on the

Second of all, the current proposal differs greatly from "posting to a
public Web site".  The roster would be accessible to subscribers upon 
furnishing their subscription passwords.  Naturally, that makes access
by arbitrary parties physically _possible_ to see (non-hidden)
addresses, but in practice this isn't a problem -- and hiding is
in any event trivially available to anyone who's nonetheless concerned.

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