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Subject: Interesting gmane developments
Date: Mon, 06 Jan 2020 19:00:02 -0500
Message-ID: <87mub0rv99.fsf@dick> (raw)

dick> Something I came across on HN (
dick> Apologies if this is already posted on gmane.general or some such newsgroup
dick> that I don't know about.  I only subscribe to gmane.emacs.gnus.general.

Whatever Happened To
By Mr. Ingrebrigtsen

I fucked up.

Short version: If you’re reading mailing lists with an NNTP news reader via, you should update your news reader to point to

Over the past few years, people have asked me what happened to Gmane, and I’ve
mostly clasped my hands over my ears and gone “la la la can’t hear you”,
because there’s nothing about the story I’m now finally going to tell that I
don’t find highly embarrassing. I had hoped I could just continue that way
until I die, but perhaps it would be more constructive to actually tell people
what’s going on instead of doing an ostrich impression.

So here’s the long, boring and stupid story.

But first, just some background, because there’s no reason you should know
what I’m blathering on about: In 2002 I started a mailing list archive called
Gmane. It was fun for many years: I got to write a whole bunch of software for
the web site, and it was a useful and satisfying hobby (with some quirks, like
not daring to visit India). After a decade or so I started getting burned out,
and that’s when my problems started.

At that point I should have looked for somebody to take over Gmane in an
orderly fashion, but there were (at least) two reasons I didn’t: I felt a
childish attachment to the entire project (I think the feeling can best
expressed summed up as “NO! MINE!”), and while I could easily see that
somebody would want to take over the web part, the NNTP part (which was the
one I used personally) seemed too obscure for anybody to be interested in.

So things limped along, me not having any fun at all at this point, and
whenever anybody approached me with feelers towards taking over, I would
mostly not reply, because when formulating a reason to say no, I didn’t really
have a good reason.

And then the DDoS happened, taking out both Gmane and my kind employer, and I
lost my shit. I can’t properly express how little I want to be typing these
paragraphs, because I’m so embarrassed by my inadequate handling of the
situation. But at least here was an opportunity to hand over Gmane to somebody
who could continue running it responsibly.

I got a whole bunch of nice offers from people, among them from somebody
working at C, a company with a good reputation and huge reach.

I thought it over, and I said yes to the offer from Y. Because I was thinking
“those C. people are nice…”  Somehow it had gotten into my mind that Y was
C. I have no explanation or excuse: I looked at two totally different company
names, and I thought in my head that I was saying yes to one while sending
email to the other.

My proposal was that I would still own the domain, but Y said they
had to own it, so I just signed it over, sent them an SSD with the spool, and
continued running the NNTP news server (now hosted in a slightly different

By that time I had realised that I’m in touch not with the company I was
intending to give Gmane to, but at that point I thought it would be churlish
to yank Gmane away from them, saying “oops! wrong company!”

Yes, everything here is embarrassing. 

It took Y half a year to get the web site up again, and finally all those dead
links stopped screaming.  However, the site went down frequently (I didn’t get
much communication from Y, but apparently there were more DDoS attacks), and
it’s been down completely for at least the last year, I think?

Which brings us to last year, when the company I’d been a co-founder of back
in 1997 and worked for since, entered into a sales process. (The other
co-founder and majority owner got cancer and suddenly died some time earlier.)
The new owner would probably not let me host the server in the
server room, so I got in touch with my contact M at Y to arrange a DNS change
for the server.

And I heard nothing back.

So I Cc’d everybody I’d ever known at Y, including the corporate counsel S,
and then I got a response from M, CC’d to S, that started with:

 I already responded to this on 22nd January.

So apparently M’s email can’t reach me unless he’s Cc’in S? I guess they must
have extremely high security email at Y or something, because I can’t think of
any other reason for M’s emails not reaching me. (I grepped the exim logs for
the previous year: No contact from Y’s MTAs.)

But I thought, well, now I have contact at least, so I can get the DNS updated! Then S responded:

 You have contact with M, please follow through with him directly.

 I don’t need copying on any of this.

And then… crickets: I didn’t get any further communication with Y, and no DNS
update for the NNTP server.

So at this point, I definitely should have done… something… but instead the
sale of my employer was progressing, and then it was done, and then I took a
long holiday, and then…

I’m an expert at procrastinating, especially when whatever I have to do
involves some degree of confrontation.

Time passes, until… two weeks ago, when I got a message that I really have to
have my server removed within a couple of weeks, so I sent off new emails to
the Y people, even Cc-ing the guy I wasn’t supposed to Cc, and I heard nothing
back, at all. So I have to assume the domain can’t be updated any
more and I have to do something.

I have set up a new server, and I have mirrored all the data to it, but the
problem is the domain, of course. The name of the server is one thing: Update
your .gnus files to point to now; the old name will stop working
in a couple of weeks (I got an extension, apparently).

The bigger problem is all the mailing lists: When the server goes away, 15K
mailing lists will start to bounce.

So the question is: What should I do about that? There’s several options:

1) Let them bounce: It’s not a major disaster, but I can imagine list admins
at places like vger being annoyed (Gmane subscribes to hundreds of vger

2) Unsubscribe them all and let die a final death: The
unsubscription has to happen before the server goes away, because the
unsubscription emails have to come from the IP address mentioned in the SPF
record for

3) Unsubscribe and resubscribe under a different domain: I have registered a
new domain and done some experimentation. Of twenty lists
un/resubscribed (I’ve scripted this bit so it’s not a lot of work to do a few
hundred lists in a batch), two were successfully resubscribed. It seems the
reason for this is that sourceforge lists can no longer be subscribed without
creating a sourceforge account? And many of the other lists just bounced,
despite being active, so it means that they’ve moved without the gmane.conf
being updated, but the Gmane address is still subscribed.  Fixing this will
take manual intervention. But do I want to do this? Asking mailing lists
admins to trust me again, with a new domain after the previous debacle, is a
bit too much, isn’t it?

4) Somebody at Y could wake up and do the fucking DNS update: Make point to (that’s all you have to do) and we
can at least have time to do whatever transition we’re doing in an orderly

I don’t know what’s going to happen, but list admins: If addresses
start to bounce, and you want to fix things manually, just replace “”
with “” in all the email addresses.  This works already.

OK, this blog post turned out to be even more meandering and unstructured than
I had anticipated, but that’s probably because I don’t even know what I want
to do here, or what people want to have happen.

* Should I just let die? Is it even useful for anybody any more? 
* Should I resubscribe all the lists as to continue having a
“full” archive, and then try to make somebody more responsible and responsive take over it all again? I mean, there could be a new web interface with similar links as the old one? 
* Is the above point even relevant any more in these days of GDPR? What’s the upside for anybody running such a service? 

In many ways, I do want Gmane to go away and not have to think about it any
more, because it’s all tied up in feelings of inadequacy. I hope I’m not
fishing for sympathy here; this has been really awkward to write, and the only
conclusion anybody can draw from reading this is that I’m a fuck-up, and I
fucked this up.

But I guess I’m asking for some feedback as to what should happen next. I
think I have about a week until the old server goes away now, so whatever
happens has to happen fast.

             reply	other threads:[~2020-01-07  0:00 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 4+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2020-01-07  0:00 dick.r.chiang [this message]
2020-01-07  6:11 ` Sivaram Neelakantan
2020-01-07 17:03 ` 황병희
2020-01-07 17:08 ` Eric Abrahamsen

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