Before: Arbitrator EvaStöwe (A), Respondent: Dominik G (R), Claimant: Reinhard M (C2), Case: a20140518.1

History Log

Other persons: ME = member

Private Part

EOT Private Part

original Dispute

complaint about
DOMINIK G[...], member of Cacert Inc.
Violating the rules of Cacert Association


In a blog post on several mailinglists and additional to a few individualists he resigned from all positions of Cacert and told the public „en passant“ that Cacert is dead. (See attachment 1)

In a follow-up post DOMINIK offended a member of our association in a not acceptable way writing „to correct your wrotten memory“. (see attachment 2)

my Intention:
From my point of view the above noted facts accord to §12.1
(b)     has persistently and willfully acted in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the association.

No individual member of the association may ever claim the death of our association CAcert.
Such a statement verifies that the speaker resigns all agreements ever made between the inidvidual and CAcert, especially CCA which includes by reference the „Principles of the CAcert Community“ and herein
•       We keep our disputes in-house. We strive to train our users, and where things go wrong, we address before a forum of peers. FAIR means: File a dispute, Arbitration is our forum, Independent, Resolution.
•       You, and each user, are our ambassadors, and should act accordingly.  Present us fairly. Stress that we are open to new users.

It is on the board to act in accordance with DRP.

Parts in [] anonymised

Administrative notes of changes of disputes and claimnats and dates

The original dispute was considered to be unfair by A and CM as it would include the affected members from this case and they would have little impact on the result of the case handled by board, later.

C (board) was addressed with the notice that the case probably would have to be rejected based on this, if the dispute would not be adjusted.

C (board) decided, that they want to have the case completely handled by arbitration and handed over the original request as a new dispute.

Based on this at 2014-06-26:

Further relevant dates from the case history:


the mails in question

actions C2 asked to be ruled against R

The actions C2 asked during the course of this case are:

  1. remove R as a member from CAcert Inc.
  2. reduce the assurance points of R to 50 for 5 years
  3. finding, that a statement like "CAcert is dead" may not be accepted by CAcert Inc. and needs actions
  4. finding that a CAcert Inc. member has to be excluded from CAcert Inc. for such statements

It was hinted (but never asked for) by C2 that he also wants to:

  1. a permanent (or 5 years?) removal of Rs assurer flag

All but the first one were added AFTER C2 was informed that the case would probably be dismissed, if he did not answer with an explanation of the dispute, which never was given.

At the same time C2 was informed that the first one was not possible any more, because R was removed from CAcert Inc. automatically at the change of the business year of CAcert Inc. Nonetheless C2 repeated that request.

evaluation of first mail

CAcert has to live with critic. If CAcert cannot deal with internal or external critic, the phrase "CAcert is dead" is probably correct. Our principles state that we do not decieve. So if a member comes to the conculsion that CAcert is dead, it has to be possible to state this. A member also has to state things about CAcert that are not "nice". But there should be reasons for doing so and it should be based on facts, if this should be considered as a valid statement.

As the memberbase of CAcert is growing (2014 was the year with the most new members ever) and CAcert is continuing to issue certificates and other services (like Arbitration) the Arbitrator does not agree that CAcert is dead even one year later. CAcert was not "dead" before the first mail of R, but it also seems to be quite unaffectd by it and continues to be "alive" regardless of the mail.R: thanks Arbitrator

But the Arbitrator agrees that there is room for improvement within CAcert. But she also states, that there are people putting a lot of effort to improve them, even if the presentation of those activities also could be improved.

The mail was send (and percieved) in a context where Debian just had decided to remove the CAcert certificate together with some others. This decission maybe felt like a kind of killing blow for some people. History shows that this was not the case. So probably the mail of R has to be seen in such a context and relativated accordingly.

In any case CAcert has to accept that members simply state their view about CAcert. The same is true for CAcert Inc. There is freedom of opinion.

evaluation of second mail

The second mail contained an insult against another member (ME). It was an answer to a comparable insult by ME against R.

The claimant C2 explained that the insult written by ME is just a normal mail which has to be expected in a context where computer affin people are working.

The Arbitrator cannot see any relevant difference between the nature of both insults, neither does the CM. The claimant C2 stated that there is a big differe between both but refuses to explain this.

The victim of the insult does not want to have this procecuted.

Nobody should write insulting mails or be encouraged to write them. And everybody within CAcert should aim to keep CAcert free of them.

But sometimes people get angry and tend to write mails that cannot be considered to be politically correct which can also contain insults (or parts that are felt to be insulting by the recipient). While this is not good, it is natural in an environment where people spend a lot of time and effort to create something great.

Such mails should not be encouraged, and maybe could lead to moderational activities by the list administrators. Especially if they violate mailing list rules.

But the claim that they are violating our principles and by this the CCA and should lead to extreme and harsh actions like the claimant C2 requests, is going too far. At least if they are of a nature of other mails that are considered to be acceptable and natural even by the claimant.

Even if there could be a slight violation of the principles and by this the CCA (the Arbitrator refuses to decide on this, as it is not relevant at the end), it would be so minor compared to other violations against the CCA which do not lead to any action, that any action against the respondent based on only one such insult in one mail would go too far. At least if the insulted member has no interest to get this prosecuted.

Warning: This does explicitly not say that any insult in any context within CAcert has to be considered to be acceptable. Especially not if they are accumulating. The claimant C2 is right insofar that in theory insults can lead to actions against a member. But this insult from R is not such a case.

About value of volunteer time and frivolous cases

Volunteer time is a valuable resource for CAcert. Arbitration is one way how it can be spend. For years there are more cases to attend than CAcert has volunteer time within the Arbitration team. So if a case is consuming Arbitration time, others will have to wait longer.

current status of free of charge disputes

Even as volunteer time is a valuable and scarce resource, it is currently "given" for free.

Even as DRP 1.2 introduces the idea that this may be different and that there may be a fee attached to a case.

This is done to enable every member to file a dispute and by this get issues, questions or problems solved via Arbitration. This is a quite important and valuable concept. To enable all members to do this, is one of the core ideas of the Arbitration system.

Any fee could change this, because people may fear the costs of a case (or some people even may not be able to pay the costs). This is why currently no fee is applied.

consequences of unnecessary work in cases based on statements of one party that this is necessary / frivolous cases

If waiting time is long for a case being handled by Arbitration, while another case is consuming Arbitration time in an unnecessary manner, this may provide the feeling, that CAcert does not care about that first issue. Beside of other reasons this is one reason why the Arbitration team should aim for cases being able to be handled and closed, soon. Which regrettably we do not always manage for a lot of reasons (the backside of the fact that Arbitration is done by volunteers in their free time).

Some cases take long or need a lot of attention and time from an Arbitrator because of their nature and this is fine.

But if a case is unnecessarily picked up or continued, because one party implies that there may be more to the case than the Arbitrator can see, while refusing to provide that information so that the Arbitrator either has to do unnecessary work to get that information or will have to keep the case open unnecessarily, waiting for that input and at the and has to rule without that information, this is not a sensible way to use Arbitration time. It is also showing disrespect for the involved team and any other claimant and respondent of any other case by the party who is asking for the case to be continued.

Such a behaviour is harmful for

It also leads to frustration on the side of the volunteering Arbitrator who is doing unnecessary work without payment because of prior disputes/statements of one party. This frustration is also harmful for the Arbitration team and by this CAcert in general.

answer of the policies to those cases

Our policies realise this. Both the DRP and the CCA include the obligation of the parties (and every other member or entity under CCA or DRP) to help Arbitration with any reasonable request and to answer Arbitration. Also the Arbitrator of a case my seek any help. [see CCA 2.3 4., DRP 2.2, 2.6] Also other policies like Security Policy (SP) and Assurance Policy (AP) emphasise the requirement to answer and assist Arbitration.

A party who is responsible for such a harmful behaviour, is violating our core polices and by this can be made liable with a monetary fee.

Any claimant who loses interest in a case can be bothered to declare that they want to withdraw it.

conceptual description of this issue

If a case is performed (or continued) purely for the benefit or pleasure of one party, there is no reason why this should be done for free with the community/CAcert/volunteers bearing the costs.

An Arbitrator can make that party liable to pay a fee to CAcert. This would not be a fee (even not a nominary) but would be a result of the liability of the CCA and our policies for harming CAcert as described.

Two elements have to be present for a case being as harmful as described. 1. The case is handled or continued because of a statement of the party 2. The party is not responding the Arbitrator or refusing to provide any other reasonable assistance, requested by the Arbitrator

(Note: in general "party" means a party of that case, but the same could be true for another member who is assisting in that case, in some situations.)

Some examples when this may be the case:


Cases which are required by the SP or other policies always are necessary. However as there is a requirement to have those cases for a good reason, there is an even higher requirement to answer Arbitration to get the issue solved. Even such required cases may come to a state that matches the above description, if the core question is solved.

reference to current case

In this case

That the C2 was not the one who handed this caes to Arbitration has to be considered. But at the point latest where he added relieves on his own - especially such that are independent from CAcert Inc. internals - this becomes irrelevant.


Intermediate Ruling

The name of the respondent should not be de-anonymised in the public part of the case file.

There are three reasons, all are general considerations.

So at least as long as no good reasons for the request is given why this should be different in this special case, which also counters the above reasons, I will not allow a de-anonymisation.

-- Hamburg, 2014-10-07

Final Ruling

The dispute is dismissed.

No arguments were provided by the claimants why the mails have to be considered to be harmful for CAcert or CAcert Inc, or at least more harmful than other mails that the claimant Reinhard argued to be fully acceptable.

The first mail ("CAcert is dead") is unkind but has to be accepted.

The Arbitrator considers the second mail to be ugly and would be glad if there never would be such mails in the context of CAcert. But seen in the context of the original mail-exchange and especially as long as the insulted person does not want actions against it or its author, it cannot singularly be found to be so harmful to CAcert that it has to be answered with especially harsh actions against the author.

This ruling does not state that any insult in any context of CAcert or CAcert Inc. is acceptable. Especially not if they are accumulating. The claimant is right insofar that insults can lead to actions against a member.

Dominik should be warned about this. It would be good if he would try to show more respect for other persons and their volunteer work in the future, than he has shown in that mail. As should be everybody.

Reinhard should be warned that:

  1. It is a direct CCA and DRP violation to not answer the Arbitrator in an arbitration case, or to even refuse to provide the requested information, if asked a reasonable request by the Arbitrator.
  2. It is the responsibility of the claimant to base a dispute on facts or arguments, especially if the claim is labelled "obvious", at least if asked to do so by the Arbitrator. To file a dispute or to ask it to be continued without being ready to provide according evidence is an abuse of Arbitration.

Reinhard has violated both points during the course of this case.

Such a behaviour is harmful to CAcert and its members. It also shows disrespect against the forum of Arbitration, the team handling the case and all other members of CAcert involved in Arbitration. It can lead to a fee awarded against that party, or other actions including a termination of membership with that party.

As Reinhard did not originally intend to have this dispute handled by Arbitration (and the original claim correctly was filed with CAcert Inc. board) the Arbitrator abstains to order something like this in the current case. Even as by requesting further community related relieves Reinhard has chosen the course of Arbitration, himself.

For further details refer to the discovery of this case.

Both parties should be reminded that they have accepted a liability of up to 1000 Euro for violating the CCA or our policies.

While warnings are given, no actions should be taken against any party in this case.

However, the team lead of the RA-audit team should be informed about the continued precariousness the claimant has shown about the dispute and appeal process within this case and related events.

-- Cologne, 2015-09-22


Similiar Cases


Abuse of position


Arbitration against the removal of Dominik G from all mailing lists

Arbitrations/a20140518.1 (last edited 2016-05-02 18:19:19 by EvaStöwe)