On 2/21/07, Rob <gamaliel8(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On 2/20/07, Parker Peters <parkerpeters1002(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On 2/20/07, Rob <gamaliel8(a)gmail.com>
Shouldn't unblock-en-l serve that function now?
If it were actually properly monitored and served a real enforcement
function? Perhaps. Instead, it's just something ignored, yet another
stamp with no real meaning.
So what's the solution then? You have a tiresome amount of things to
say here about imagined malfeasance,
It wouldn't need to be said if the malfeasance weren't both all too real,
and all too common.
so what do you propose we do
about this supposed problem? It would be preferable
to come up with a
solution that doesn't expose our volunteers to daily abuse and attacks
and make this list a troll free-for-all.
Ideally? I'd like for administrators not to do the things that cause
problems. But that's not likely.
So here's a few thoughts/steps:
#1 - Recognize that adminship, as it exists now, is a big deal.
If Adminship were not a big deal, then losing adminship would not be a big
deal. However, the bar for losing adminship is nearly impossibly high.
If Adminship were not a big deal, the ever-growing requirements for it would
not be ever-growing. But they are.
Adminship is a big deal. It is a big deal because of the damage an
administrator can do to the project. But it is also a big deal because of
the control it gives an administrator: they have the ability to not only
damage the project, but to cause major damage just to individual
contributors at the drop of a hat, anyone with whom they have a
disagreement... save for other administrators.
It is this very power that the most abusive of administrators wield, but
it's this same power that the rest of the administrator pool spends their
time protecting. I don't think that most of the administrators actually want
more administrators on the project, because they behave to the contrary:
they behave as if more administrators would dilute their own power, and
For the same reason, SERIOUS inquiry into serious misdeeds by administrators
is stonewalled constantly. Why? Because if one administrator can lose their
powers, then other administrators are also "vulnerable", and they don't
that to happen. Rather than clean up their acts and not break the rules,
they protect other administrators who break the rules freely.
The very power given to administrators is also a cause of the great
corruption. Remember the parable of the hammer:
when the only tool you give someone is a hammer, they are apt to see
everything as a nail.
We have too many admins today who run around whacking with their hammers,
not caring who they hit or what, being egged on by other administrators who
do the same thing.
#2 - Make it perfectly clear: administrators are NOT above the rules.
here is the biggest problem with wikipedia today. Administrators are free to
do whatever they want. Any administrator can claim something is "trolling",
and the rest of the administrators will pop their heads up to say "sure is"
without really looking; again, if one administrator can claim something is
"trolling" and wield their power, it makes it easier for the next one to as
Administrators today are free to be incivil as they want, and complaints of
incivility are greeted with yawns and ignored by the other administrators
claiming administrators have a "tough job." Well, "Administrators are just
regular editors with extra buttons" - remember that? That ought to mean that
administrators are subject to the same rules.
Yet that's not the case. An administrator today who insults a user, then
turns around and blocks for "incivility" when insulted back, is lauded.
That's not only wrong, it is part of the reason so many admins are so stuck
up: they believe their adminship gives them a free pass to be as mean, as
incivil, as abusive as they want.
And all too often, they're right about that.
#3 - Set clear-cut rules against the ongoing abuses of the system. ENFORCE
Here's a few abuses of the system that have become commonplace recently by
(A) "Scarlet Letter" abuse. Users clearing/archiving warnings that they've
already seen, or clearing off bad-faith tagging such as "suspected
sockpuppet" tags or "warning" templates placed by abusive users trying to
harass another user (usually claiming that a difference of opinion on a
content matter is "vandalism), are routinely targeted by administrators. The
goal of both abusive users and administrators is to rile the editor up. This
is deliberate provocation, completely incivil, and all too common - yet it
is regularly given a free pass by the administrator community.
Were a regular user to start putting a "suspected sockpuppet" template on an
admin's user page, or leaving them warnings about breaking the rules and
reverting the warning if the admin removed it, the admin wouldn't think
twice about blocking them for "harassment" or "trolling" or something
Yet administrators get away with this freely.
That's a problem.
(B) Talk-page abuse/Unblock abuse
One of the second most common behaviors by administrators, and somewhat
related to "scarlet letter" harassment, is abusing a user's talk page while
they are blocked. It has been established by the wikipedia community that it
is helpful to allow a user to still edit on their own talk page when
blocked: at least then, they have SOME on-wiki way of communicating,
responding, or voicing complaints.
Abusive administrators all the time take this as a means of attack, however;
they block a user, usually leaving an insulting verbage as their "you're
blocked for X" notice, and then sit back. When the user files an unblock
request, the user or one of their cronies either denies it with another
incivil note, or reverts it and then locks the talk page. More egregious,
sometimes the reverter isn't even an administrator themselves.
Administrators need to understand: BLOCKING SOMEONE IS GOING TO GET THEM
MAD. It is an action that is agressive and adversarial. No matter what the
temperament of the user, they will feel angry over this. They are likely to
leave a message that lashes out in anger at whoever did it, PARTICULARLY if
it is not justified within the rules or they already feel picked-upon by the
admin or his/her cronies.
What is the harm of leaving the talk page alone? Nothing. User space is not
indexed, it does not affect the article space in any way. Yet administrators
routinely abuse the talk page of a user, trying to provoke them into further
"incivility" in order to extend blocks or come up with an excuse to be even
What's worse is that this sort of behavior goes directly against the
blocking policy: blocks are never supposed to be punitive. Yet when you're
locking a user's talk page for reacting after provocation, you are doing
exactly that: punishing them for being angry at something that's been done
(C) Admins with conflicts of interest
This is one of the most insidious, but it's been routinely abused by many
administrators: rather than leave well enough alone, they take it upon
themselves to wield every possible method of administrator power against a
user all at once. Administrators don't just block a user and leave a
message, politely stating why: they leave an insulting block message, to
harass the user, revert the unblock notice, extend the block (many times to
indefinite), and lock the user's page and talkpage down so that the user
cannot possibly respond.
The declining admin on an unblock request rarely just leaves a decline, they
also lock down the user page. The phrasing on the unblock template that it
"continues to be visible" doesn't help either when it clearly doesn't:
unblock-declined templates are REMOVED from the page list of users
requesting an unblock, so the only person likely to see it is the
administrator and his friends coming by to have a laugh over what they've
done to someone.
#4 - STOP Abusive usage of CheckUser
One of our worst items today is the CheckUser code: I wrote an email after
seeing the output in one case, earlier.
CheckUser itself isn't a bad tool. Correctly used, it can distinguish with
some relative certainty, though not absolute certainty, whether someone is
sockpuppeting. This is useful.
What is not useful today is the fact that the system has grown from being
Positive, Negative, or No-Conclusion to having umpteen different
gradiations, each of which is no help at all except for the end two.
CheckUser is abused in this manner, with administrators who have access to
it using it not to say for certain or saying "this is not conclusive
enough", to using it as a deliberate way to take unrelated users and claim
they're sockpuppets. Fishing expeditions have gotten worse as this has gone
on: it used to be that abusive attacks claiming someone was a "sockpuppet"
over content disputes were relatively easily solved, but now the only
question is which side can get their abusive admin to do a checkuser on the
other side and claim it's positive first, regardless of the actual result.
The worst problem with CheckUser, unfortunately, is that it is "secret
evidence." It's the equivalent of a paid informer in a box, saying that
someone broke the law: how can you defend against such a thing even if it's
not true? You can't, and the worst CU performers know it, and exploit that -
especially since CU policy explicitly denies anyone the right to see the
results or even demand a re-check, not that it would matter since most of
the CU readers are also part of the admin clique (see part #1).
My solution would be: SEPARATION OF POWERS.
It's quite simple. The less power someone has, the less likely they are to
be corrupt. The problem we have today is a bunch of people running around
who are Judge, Jury, Executioner, Court Reporter, Appeals Court, King,
Bishop, Whatever all thrown together in one neat little package. They have
way too much power in one set of hands.
Someone who is a Bureaucrat should not be an Administrator.
Someone who does CheckUser should not be an Administrator.
Someone who is on ArbCom should not be an Administrator.
Preferably, they should Never Have Been administrators.
It doesn't completely eliminate the ongoing problems of cronyism - see what
George W Bush has done to the US even through separation of powers - but it
would at least be a start, to lessen them somewhat.
One other point to make:
"It would be preferable to come up with a
solution that doesn't expose our volunteers to daily abuse and attacks..."
I agree fully. I don't think "daily abuse and attacks" help anything.
The reality, however, is that there are legitimate problems - obvious
vandals - that administrators should deal with daily. I really have no
problem with this: once you block them, they can edit their own talkpage...
so what if they do something there? It's not in the article space, it
shouldn't be an issue. You're free not to revisit the page, and let other
administrators take care of it from there.
And then there are the illegitimate problems, and THIS is where
administration is breaking down: far too many administrators think that they
have the right to abuse their power in content disputes, to block only one
side of an argument for "incivility" when they're friends with another
to deliberately protect a POV clique that they are friends with. This is not
only where most of the abuses I outlined above occur, this is what gives
Wikipedia such a poor reputation.
It's not the obvious vandalism that's a problem, it's the number of people,
growing every day, who see an article, try to fix it, and get whacked by an
over-eager, over-egoed, over-caffeine-dosed admin who's lost the ability to
distinguish from a real vandal and someone trying to [[Be Bold]] and fix a
problem. These people, abused and mistreated by wikipedia's administrators,
don't just "leave", they become obvious vandals or worse yet, enemies of
wikipedia. When they see wikipedia having a donation drive, they laugh it
off as a joke and announce they hope it fails.
The animosity of those people is on your heads, for allowing this problem to
get so big.