"Thus, to avoid future problems, Wales plans to bar anonymous users from
creating new articles; only registered members will be able to do so.
That change will go into effect Monday, he said, adding that anonymous
users will still be able to edit existing entries."
Why were Wikipedians the last to know about this? I only saw some
discussion on the mailing list about this, but nothing final. Why do we
have to learn of this from the media instead of straight from Jimbo?
This is really disturbing.
>From time to time, I come across complaints about the "admin subculture" at
Wikipedia, and there are times when I've been struck by the fact that while
som/most admins make a sincere effort at applying policy, guidelines and
their judgment consistently, others seem to have absolutely no difficulty
abandoning any semblance of fairness if other considerations are more
People who raise the issue in this forum are typically frustrated - they are
told that either being an admin is "no big deal," or that "the system works
pretty well," or "stop being a malcontent," all in so many words.
At the same time, there is an ongoing debate about the various trends
(userboxes, lawsuits, editors with inferior intellects) that threaten the
existence of Wikipedia.
I have my own opinion about what threatens Wikipedia most (a decay of
intellectual integrity for the sake of conventional wisdom, SPOV, and
appeals to authority that in turn breed slovenly thinking), but I really do
want to weigh in on an appeal that the admin community - whether it is a
subculture or not - give some serious thought to how the reinforce
accountability around the WP core standards.
Being an admin is a big deal whether we want it to or not, because admins
have it in their power to do really really annoying things to editors. Aside
from 24-hour blocks, locking articles in various ways, closing discussions
on AFDs, CFDs, etc., they also seem to enjoy a certain level of immunity
against complaints. There is, as far as I can tell, a presumption that
anyone who complains about an admin is a bit of a narcissist or
troublemaker. There are also constant allegations that some admins are
softer on people whose POV align with theirs, etc.
I think that the open source philosophy should be preserved, so I'm
reluctant to add more rules and processes than absolutely necessary.
However, I do think that some principles should apply, whether they are
instituted formally or not:
* Admins should be able to defend their actions in light of Wikipedia
policy, guidelines, or accepted practice. In other words, if an editor
protests a decision made by an admin, it should be incumbent upon (and easy
for) the admin to point to a clear precedence for his/her decision. And
these precedents should be developed by some level of consensus that at
least meets the standard applied for everything else.
* Admins should strive to be role models in their roles as editors. There
will be people who are better suited as admins than editors, and we all have
content issues we're passionate about; but I believe there is plenty of room
within policy and guidelines to expresss passion without being uncivil,
dishonest, flip, or offensive.
* Admins should strive for transparency in their workings. Backchannel
communications should be an exception limited to very specific problems.
I could think of more, but this is plenty for now.
David's original point is a valid one and is an excellent example of the
fact that failing internal processes do affect the success of Wikipedia.
AFD, RFA, the AC election, and the AC itself are examples of processes
that are not scaling well, and they are also examples of the way that a
changing editor and administrator base is affecting the quality of
processes throughout Wikipedia. There's no one minding the store
anymore: Jimbo, Angela, and Anthere have minimal engagement with the
community itself, having instead chosen to look outward and emphasize
publicity and financial matters. Recent policy initiatives, such as
the deletion of unsourced images and the restrictions on anonymous
creation of articles, have been driven by legal, financial, and public
relations concerns rather than anything that any contributors to the
project have said.
One thing that is clear is that the community can't make any
nonincremental changes to policy itself without solid leadership, and
there are any number of contributors with social insight who have quit
even discussing meaningful change (as well as those who have quit the
project entirely) because of the impossibility of accomplishing it.
The reasons for this have to do with the size of the contributor base,
the fact of the developers not being accountable to the community, and
the presence of many contributors who are perhaps excellent writers and
editors but who lack skills and experience in group decisionmaking.
The Uninvited Co., Inc.
(a Delaware corporation)
It is natural that as we grow our values take more certain form, and our
understanding of them, and the reasons for them, develop.
I believe that Verifiability and No original research are two policies
essential to the future of the project, which is to produce a high-quality
encyclopedia. If other encyclopedias are not rigorous on these matters, it
is because their articles are generally written by PhD.s or graduate
students, and are peer-reviewed. I do not want our articles to have to be
written by PhD.s or go through mandated and rigorous
peer-review. Therefore, I think these two policies are necessary. And
hand-in-hand with them, our Cite sources guideline is just as important.
If I have been following this discussion adequately (and I admit I often
miss things) many people have concerns about how realistic it is to expect
every editor, especially newbies, to comply with these standards. And I
appreciate these concerns. However, I do not think the issue is compliance
with these standards as such. I think there is a different issue.
Specifically, it is our articles that must comply with these
standards. This I think is important for one simple reason that gets at
the heart of our project: it is a collaborative work in process.
If Wikipedia is as I believe it is and ought to be a collaborative work in
process, then our policies are ideals to which we expect our articles to
aspire, but no one editor can bear the full responsibility of achieving this.
This, at least, has always been my understanding of our prized NPOV
policy. For example, I just added considerable material on the role of
"love" in Judaism in the "Judaism and Christianity" article. I have no
doubt that I have failed to express the full range of Jewish
views. Moreover, I am not qualified to explain the Christian views. Does
this mean I have violated NPOV? I do not think so, because I have
identified which point of view I have represented (and here, citing sources
is practically a requirement). And I have left notices on a variety of
talk pages, of both articles and users, inviting them to add more Jewish
views and Christian views. This is what I mean by a collaborative
effort. It may not be this week or this month but I have no doubt that in
a year this section of the article will represent a variety of views fairly.
In other words, I wrote my contribution so as not to break our NPOV policy,
and so as to leave room for others to contribute.
I just think we should take the same approach to Verifiability. No one
should deliberately add unverifiable information in an article, and if they
do, it should be deleted. Moreover, no one should bear the bull
responsibility of providing all sources. In the Capitalism article someone
has made claims about communism. I did not immediately demand that they
provide a source. I first when to my books by Marx, Engels, Lenin,
Trotsky, and Mao. I could not find confirmation in any of the books for
some of those claims added by another editor. Had I, I would have added
the sources myself -- this is what I mean by collaboration.
In one case I could not find a source and said so, and another contributor
provided the source -- this is what I mean by collaboration.
I would demand that the specific editor adding specific information provide
the source only if I could not find the source myself and suspected that
the information were unverifiable. If the contributor in question, as well
as other contributors, cannot find a verifiable source, I do believe that
warrants deletion. But my point is this: I believe verifiability should
and will be achieved through a collaborative process.
That said, I also insist on the corollary: our collaborative process should
be dedicated to producing articles based on verifiable sources. A
collective process requires a collective commitment.
Steven L. Rubenstein
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Athens, Ohio 45701
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Apparantly people who think that consensus on AfD means "70-75% with at
least 10 clear non-sock/meatpuppet votes, with votes without clear
reason being disregarded" aren't suitable to be admins.
AfD is evil. Long may it and the people who play there burn in wikihell.
Alphax | /"\
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OpenPGP key ID: 0xF874C613 | X Against HTML email & vCards
http://tinyurl.com/cc9up | / \
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> Can you give us a little more context? I can see that there is a
>proposal to create a separate meta wiki just for the english
>wikipedia, presumably because many things currently on meta.wikipedia
>are not really applicable to other wikipedias?
This isn't a proposal for an English meta at all. It was an attempt to
make Meta actually useful as a cross-project work wiki, rather than a
disorganised collection of historical documents with a few working
pages camped out in the archaeological rubble.
Linuxbeak started the latest attempt ( [[m:WM:OM]] ); Jimbo gave his
blessing, but warned that many had tried and failed before. The reason
appears to be that there are enough people who like it as it is that
they don't care it's all but unusable and frequently actively
misleading, and that those of us who would like a cross-project work
wiki are regarded as a bunch of dicks for trying.
Anthere has also said, when asked directly, that there is an active
meta community but they don't actually do their work on meta, rather
on mailing lists and IRC. Which doesn't sound to me like a work wiki,
but evidently does to her and others. So I proposed a "meta2", which
can actually be used as a work wiki. The current meta incumbents have
decided this is in fact a proposal for an en: wikipedia Meta, when it
wasn't actually anything of the sort, but anyway.
Meta is evidently not a cross-project work wiki or service wiki for
other projects, but a separate community unto itself, somewhat like
Commons. (Recall en:'s problems with vandalism of images stored on
Commons, and how we eventually had to resort to storing featured
images directly on en: owing to the recalcitrance of Commons admins
who insisted they were an independent project, never mind Commons was
*invented* as a service wiki.) I'm not entirely sure what the point
is, but I'm sure someone will follow up with what makes a wiki where
the community do their actual work in IRC and mailing lists into a
work wiki whose use is clear to those not in the inner circle.
I just came across this excellent analysis of the problems with RfA at
the moment, written by Tyrenius, who had his application rejected on
the basis of insufficient edits (he had 1331 at time of application,
and apparently works offline a great deal, making that figure
misleading), age (not sure, older than 3 months) and supposedly not
doing enough "project work".
It's worth a read - he has every right to be annoyed at not being
granted adminship, when he has followed the letter of the law, and was
rejected by an RfA culture which does not reflect that policy.
----paste (hope he doesn't mind...)--------
An examination of policies and guidelines for RfA
I have been somewhat taken aback and disappointed by the 4 oppose and
1 neutral votes to date, not because they are "rejections" but because
of the arbitrary imposition of personal preference over not only Wiki
guidelines, but also over Wiki policy (I expand on this below). The
only way a community project can succeed is if there are communal
rules and understandings, which are respected and fulfilled. I do not
consider the "oppositions" meet those standards. I am used to dealing
with contention in my non-Wiki life, so that doesn't worry me. What
does worry me is the undermining of objective standards. I should
point out that I am not suggesting that there is any malevolent
intent, more that standards have slipped. I hope that, whatever the
outcome of this RfA, it may at least stimulate a debate about the
process and lead to some self-examination.
I believe the first 4 oppose votes and the first neutral should be
discounted on the basis that Wiki guidelines and policy have not been
followed in making them.
In order to provide a proper context, I refer to Wikipedia:Policies
and guidelines, which states:
This page is an official policy on the English Wikipedia. It has
wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all
users should follow.
Thus the nature of a policy is clearly spelt out, namely:
a standard that all users should follow.
The page then expands on this:
A policy is similar to a guideline, only more official and less
likely to have exceptions. As with guidelines, amendments should
generally be discussed on their talk pages, but are sometimes forked
out if large in scope. One should not generally edit policy without
seeking consensus first.
A guideline is defined on the same page as follows:
A guideline is something that is: (1) actionable and (2)
authorized by consensus. Guidelines are not set in stone and should be
treated with common sense and the occasional exception. Amendments to
a guideline should be discussed on its talk page, not on a new page -
although it's generally acceptable to edit a guideline to improve it.
In addition to the generally accepted policies listed above, a
very large number of guidelines have been proposed and adopted by
Wikipedians. These are used to provide guidance in various situations
that arise on Wikipedia. They cover everything from naming conventions
and sensitive terms that should be avoided to how to get along, and
why not to bite the newcomers.
Even guidelines, therefore, being "authorised by concensus" should
normally be followed with only "the occasional exception". I suggest
that in the RfA process the exception has become the rule. This may
necessitate the rule being changed through the proper process, but in
the meantime it is an an example of bad practice, which needs to be
However, a policy is an even stricter requirement, and "a standard
that all users should follow" and "even less likely to have
exceptions." There must be extreme conditions for it to be ignored,
yet the current practice on granting admin rights allows voters to
blatantly ignore policy as a matter of course. Again, if this policy
needs to be changed, then it should be done so through a proper
consensual process and established as such, but meanwhile its abuse is
a deterioration of standards for Wiki. Such deterioration would not be
tolerated in articles with POV and there is no more reason that it
should be tolerated in RfA.
Administrators are Wikipedians who have access to a few technical
features that help with maintenance ("SysOp rights"). Wikipedia policy
is to grant this access to anyone who has been an active Wikipedia
contributor for a while and is generally a known and trusted member of
the community. [my underlining]
I cannot stress strongly enough that this is stated as "Wikipedia
policy". According to Wiki policy, there are therefore only two points
to be considered:
* if the nominee has been "an active Wikipedia contributor for a while"
* if the nominee is "generally a known and trusted member of the community".
If the nominee fulfills these criteria, then it is Wiki policy that
that person should be granted administrator access. In regard to these
* I have been "an active Wikipedia contributor for a while".
Please note that this policy does not specify any requirement for
the amount of activity, only that the nominee has been "active".
However, even Wikipedia:Guide to requests for adminship, gives a
guideline of probably at least 1,000 edits, which I have exceeded, and
Wikipedia:Miniguide to requests for adminship gives an "informal,
minimalistic guide" of "at least 3 months", which again I have
* I "generally a known and trusted member of the community." I am
sufficiently well known and trusted to have been awarded two barnstars
for my contributions. I cannot see that there is anything in my
history at Wiki not to show me as trustworthy. I have not been
involved in edit wars; I have not made 3 reverts in 24 hours; I have
not vandalised any pages; I have not been abusive or uncivil; my
articles have not been disputed for accuracy. On the contrary, I have
reverted vandalism and left the appropriate "test" templates; I have
notified an admin about some consistent abuse and been thanked for my
vigilance; I have intervened to help settle disputes; I have left
welcome messages on new contributors' talk pages; I have held
dialogues with other editors where necessary to consult about points I
was unsure of or to inform them as to why I was removing material that
they had contributed.
There is, according to Wiki policy no reason not to grant my request
for admin rights.
I am particularly concerned that potentially good administrators are
being either put off altogether from applying due a process that can
be perceived as a "kangaroo court", where the law is not administered
fairly—and are unwilling to submit themselves to its arbitrariness—or
are applying and being rejected because of subjective opinions, which
violate policy. It is one thing to have a request denied because it
does not meet the requirements of guidelines and policy, but a highly
different one if the nominee has studied the guidelines and policy,
fulfilled them and is still turned down. That is something that will
obviously cause bad feeling and lack of faith in the system and other
It is a poor example when voters assessing someone's fitness to uphold
Wiki's policies, guidelines and procedures, are themselves in breach
of those same rules, and seemingly unaware of their existence. This
situation needs to be addressed.
The means to do this is also stated in Wikipedia:Policies and
You are a Wikipedia editor. Since Wikipedia has no editor-in-chief
or top-down article approval mechanism, active participants make
copyedits and corrections to the format and content problems they see.
So the participants are both writers and editors.
Individual users thus enforce most policies and guidelines by
editing pages, and discussing matters with each other. Some policies,
such as Vandalism are enforced by Administrators by blocking users. In
extreme cases the Arbitration Committee has the power to deal with
highly disruptive situations, as part of the general dispute
I trust that the obvious concern of the voters so far for the
betterment of Wiki will cause them to "self-police", in order to
redress matters at the first stage, now that this situation has been
Guide to requests for adminship
In respect of my own request, I address points on the page
Wikipedia:Guide to requests for adminship, with the text from the page
in italics and my comments in normal type:
What RfA contributors look for
RfA contributors want to see a record of involvement and evidence
that you can apply Wikipedia policies calmly, maturely and
impartially. What are often looked for are:
Strong edit history with plenty of material contributions to
I have detailed the nature of my editing already.
Varied experience. RfAs where an editor has mainly contributed on
one subject have tended to be more controversial than those where the
user's contributions have been wider.
I concentrate on art, but have edited a much wider range of articles
to a lesser extent, including military, naval and geographical
User interaction. Evidence of you talking to other users, on
article talk or user talk pages. These interactions need to be helpful
I have fulfilled these criteria.
Trustworthiness General reliability as evidence that you would use
administrator rights carefully to avoid irreversible damage,
especially in the stressful situations that can arise more frequently
I have already given a relevant statement on this.
Helping with chores. Evidence that you are already engaging in
administrator-like work and debates such as RC Patrol and articles for
Again, I have already made the point that I am zealous as regarding
vandalism, which I regularly look out for.
High quality of articles – a good way to demonstrate this is
getting articles featured.
My work has been commended by Solipsist.
Observing policy A track record of working within policy, showing
an understanding of policy.
I trust the previous observations show my understanding of, and
attention to, the correct application of policy.
Edit summaries. Constructive and frequent use of edit summaries is
a quality some RfA contributors want to see. See Wikipedia:Edit
I always try to make use of edit summaries, and have 99% on major
edits. I am surprised it's as low as 49% on minor edits and don't
understand how this happened, but it will make me more vigilant in
Tyrenius 11:11, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
On Mon, Mar 27, 2006 at 10:59:56AM +0200, Steve Bennett wrote:
> I have to say, I find some of these objections a bit spurious.
Thanks for your response. I think some of my points may have not been
as clear as I hoped, since some of your responses are responding to
things I didn't actually say. Please allow me to clarify:
> On 3/27/06, Karl A. Krueger <kkrueger(a)whoi.edu> wrote:
> > NPOV.1 -- Rating schemes are designed to reflect the opinions of those
> > who object to sexual content (and a few other categories).
> > They fail to represent the views of those who are tolerant of
> > that content, but object to different content.
> Well, no one's proposing censorship of religious views.
Right! That means your censorship proposal fails to represent the
views of people who _do_ want religious censorship. That means it's
non-neutral: it represents only one POV about what should be censored
(the anti-sex view) and not another (the anti-blasphemy view).
> > NPOV.2 -- Grading any particular content on a rating scale is itself a
> > matter of opinion. It involves making a judgment call on how
> > "bad" or "explicit" an image or a paragraph is.
> I think that's a problem that has been well and truly solved by many
> censorship bodies world wide. Whether nipples are exposed or not is
> not particular subjective.
Right! Each of those censorship bodies expresses particular views
about what is "bad" or "explicit". Those groups are not bound by an
NPOV policy; indeed, they are frequently commercial firms hired for the
purpose of enforcing particular religious and moral points of view.
However, Wikipedia is supposed to be neutral. It isn't up to us to say
that nipples are "explicit" and elbows are not.
> > Second, they are in violation of our policy against self-censorship, and
> > the underlying _reason_ we don't want self-censorship: it would produce
> > a worse encyclopedia.
> Our policy against self censorship is not a core policy. There's
> therefore no reason not to change it if we had the means.
Our policy against self-censorship is still a consensus policy, though.
Censorship proposals (such as [[WP:TOBY]]) have been consistently and
> > CENS.1 -- The only real proposed purpose of these rating systems is to
> > enable censorship of Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia has a policy
> > against self-censorship (see [[WP:NOT]]), adding material to
> > Wikipedia articles for the purpose of getting those articles
> > censored is against the rules.
> You're saying that if we could rate articles to say they have certain
> offensive material, then people would deliberately add offensive
> material to more articles to avoid people seeing them? Assume good
> faith, n'est-ce pas?
(I wasn't sure if this point was too subtle. I guess it was.)
The "material" I was referring to was censorship tags. Adding those
tags to Wikipedia articles, for the purpose of getting those articles
censored, is against the policy that Wikipedia doesn't do censorship.
> > CENS.2 -- Writers want their work to be read. Any censorship system
> > will tend to discourage people from writing on the censored
> > topics. If sex is censored, our coverage on sexual topics
> > will become relatively worse. (And I don't mean porn; I mean
> > anatomy and sexual behavior.)
> Writers will be discouraged from writing on topics which people don't
> want to read?
No. Writers will be discouraged from writing on topics which won't be
seen because of censorship measures.
> The coverage of [[pornography]] will be worse because now children
> won't be reading it? (or writing it???) I don't understand this
No. The coverage of [[sex]] and [[breast cancer]] and [[testicle]] and
[[abortion]] and [[mastectomy]] and [[Playboy magazine]] and [[nude]]
will be worse because people will be less interested in writing if they
think the audience is smaller.
Or, to pick another popular censorship topic -- violence -- the coverage
of [[war]] and [[murder]] and [[AK-47]] and [[crushing by elephant]] and
[[electrocution]] and [[Quake III Arena]] and [[terrorism]] will be
worse, because people will be less interested in writing if they think
the audience is smaller.
People write to be read. The effect of censorship measures is to reduce
the size of the audience. (If a "censorship" measure does not prevent
anyone from reading the "censored" material, then it is _ineffective_.)
If the audience size is reduced, then the incentive to write is reduced.
People will also be less interested in writing if they are made to feel
_unwelcome_ by measures that label their work as suitable for censoring.
But that leads into the next objection ...
> > PERS.1 -- Giving something a high rating on a censorship system comes
> > across as saying that it is unworthy (or less worthy) of being
> > read. Usually, this means it is wicked or harmful or the
> > like. Claims that a work should be censored are almost always
> > linked to claims that the writer is immoral. If your work is
> > smut, then you are a smutmonger; if your work is blasphemy,
> > you are a blasphemer. These are personal attacks; we must not
> > make them.
> Ok, labelling [[penis]] "graphic images and description of sexual
> anatomy" amounts to a personal attack on the contributors of that
> article? You've totally lost me.
No. Labelling it as "unsuitable for reading" amounts to a personal
attack on the contributors. Any time you enable censorship of
particular material, you are making a claim that it is unfit to be read.
In order to be effective, a censorship measure must actually accomplish
censorship -- that is, it must stop someone from reading the material
If you were to label my work in such a way that enables censorship
measures, then you would be making an implicit value judgment that my
work _should_ be censored; that the world is better off if my work is
censored than if it is not. You would be saying that people need to be
protected from my work; that it will harm them or corrupt them; in
effect, that I have done something dangerous (or at least negligent) by
writing it in the first place ... or indeed, that I _am_ something
dangerous for _wanting_ to write about it. These statements would be
attacks upon my character, and as such in violation of [[WP:NPA]].
To put it another way: Why do we have a rule against personal attacks?
Because personal attacks make people feel less welcome and less willing
to collaborate. Calling someone's work smutty or harmful to minors will
have that very same effect.
> > PERS.2 == "Marking my work for censorship is picking a fight."
> How bizzarre.
Not really. How would you like it if someone went around to _your_
contributions and marked them up in ways you found insulting and
derogatory? That would be a bad thing, and nobody should do it. It
would be disrespectful of you as a contributor, and it would also be a
violation of Wikipedia policy.