CAcert's Open Help Forum

We operate an open help forum currently at cacert-support mailing list.


It is staffed by an open group of Assurers who deal with the "help" issues where explanation is needed but no special access. Any Assurer can join the emailing list and help out. People should be encouraged to do that, for a while, just to pick up on the issues that circulate amongst the members.

These are the things that you will need:

They are guidelines as to what helps, rather than fixed and real requirements.


Support Team will forward emails directly to this list. This is their working practices for helping you to solve CAcert problems, while helping you to protect your privacy. These guidelines search for the balance between protecting your privacy and delivering you tools to help you protect your own privacy. They aren't cast in stone; feel free to suggest and debate alternatives on the help forum.

  1. If you send an easy help question to support@ then it will likely be forwarded immediately to the help forum (currently cacert-support list shown above).
    1. Because information is needed to be able to deliver a reply to you, your Name and email address will not be changed (sanitised). They will be posted in full, as written in the headers (From:).
  2. If there is obvious reason for the contents to be sensitive, such as the mention of private details, then it will be sent by Triage to the Support Engineer to deal with.

    1. The appearance of a Name and an email address in the headers is not sufficient to trigger the "sensitivity" flag in 2. above.
  3. The Member has to take care of her own privacy. CAcert does not provide a blanket promise for your privacy, rather it is a Community of like-minded people working helping itself to deliver the tools needed. As people are volunteers, there are limits to what is reasonable to expect and impose.
  4. How to signal sensitivity of information in a request for help:
    1. The current documented and best way is to use the website contact form at Use the bottom box to signal sensitivity, not the top box. This arrives at Support Team in an secure fashion, and with a good signal.

    2. Another way to signal is to put a words into an email to support@co. Best at the top of the text email, like: PRIVATE. Don't rely only on the Subject, this is often skimmed once and never seen again. Note that this method is unencrypted.
    3. Triage people (1st line of people) read every mail, even junk. So they look and decide. But they work fast, and mistakes are inevitable. Their job is to make the system efficient, so that help is delivered to you. Your job is to help them by being clear :)

  5. The Privacy Policy is out of date (and will remain Out-Of-Date until the board completes a particular work item). In particular it was written before maillists were added to CAcert set of tools, and does not include or cover them and similar Community-operated tools.

    • Hence, the current help forum for CAcert, the maillist cacert-support, is set up in a publicly readable (including google) fashion, as are other forums like policy and board.
  6. In a future life, it would be good to explore alternatives such as closed help forums, nyms, sanitising and so forth. But none of these are perfect.
  7. A recent arbitration ruled on this, and in effect established a principle: where there is a clear context for privacy, messages should not be published (forwarded). However, that context needs to be clear, it needs to be established in some sense or other. Unfortunately, the ruling didn't give much guidance on situations outside the direct circumstances, so some future experimentation will be needed.

The above takes into account many influences: the recent dispute against mail list owners, the design of the online system, the evolution of the mailing lists, the privacy policy, the history of CAcert as a privacy organisation, the current needs of the Support Team, the views of privacy regulators, the trend in laws and the recent long but inconclusive debate on cacert-support.

Which is to say that in the history of messy subjects, this is an outstandingly messy subject. A real witches' brew. Come and taste! Comments Welcome (please signal them clearly).

Support/OpenHelpForum (last edited 2016-06-21 15:16:24 by AlesKastner)