Parker Peters wrote:
I'm quitting wikipedia because I don't like
what I've seen too many admins
become. Self-righteous, arrogant, self-centered, conceited... jerks.
I've known a few of those.
I've seen admins block accounts with the reason of
"name..", and then block
another account for the reason that it was a "suspected sockpuppet" - of the
offensive username block.
Perhaps we need to clarify the difference between "sockpuppet" and
I've seen more accusations thrown around of someone
being a "sockpuppet" of
another user. Time and again, I looked through the edits, and I didn't see
it. Instead, what I saw were users who were systematically hounded until
they finally broke down and broke the civility rules, and then as an
afterthought someone came up and said "oh, it doesn't matter, they were a
sockpuppet of X anyways", thereby removing all culpability on the part of
the abusive users who had spent time hounding and abusing the newbie to the
point of cussing or vandalizing.
Incivility is clearly a more serious offence than sockpuppetry.
I saw a thread earlier today which I thought was
monstrous - a user whose
talk page was locked for "unblock template abuse", whose only crime or
"abuse" of the template was removing the template after the blocking admin
consistently and maliciously removed it.
Where was it removed from? It's obvious that if it was on his own talk
page there's absolutely nothing wrong with removing it.
This thread was stopped by the
assertion of David Gerard that the person who started the thread was
"Enviroknot." I don't give a damn who started the thread, if the question
valid, the question is valid. I looked at the user in question, and I see
plenty of problems with the way it was handled, and at least two admins who
deserve at the least a stern censure and at the most, de-adminning for
abusive behavior. We NEED users to bring these problems up. We NEED to cull
the herd of abusive administrators.
I've only vaguely heard the name Enviroknot, and I don't think I want to
know anything more about him. In most conversations on this list David
tends to be relatively moderate. Personalizing your points in this way
detracts from the otherwise valid points that you make.
We are too arrogant. I've seen Jimbo use the excuse
of "well troll X doesn't
like it so they are doing right" or "well you must be correct because the
wikipediareview crowd doesn't like you" as a way to justify bad behavior in
the wikimedia IRC room and even on this list. I've seen countless times
where good users are attacked for speaking up and saying this same thing:
We, the overwhelming number of admins on the project, are too arrogant. Too
It's a very real and very serious problem.
We spend too much time "defending" wikipedia
and not enough time bringing
new users into the fold, being polite, being nice. Teaching them about
policies, about the manual of style. Editing alongside them. Admins are
supposed to be "just another editor with a few extra buttons", but too many
admins today get drunk on that power.
Yes. Mentorships would be a good idea. That relationship should also
include guidelines for Ignoring All Rules or Being Bold since these too
are an important part of Wiki life. They also need to be taught that
what often passes as rules are nothing more than guidelines, and that
what is in the Manual of Style can easily be ignored in certain
And you know what? I'm tired of it. Our articles
are suffering because even
the good edits of supposed "sockpuppets" are being reverted by
overly-zealous admins who believe that they have to hunt for every edit made
by someone they think is banned - even if it's just a typo fix - and revert
it. Yes, I have watched this in action. I have watched admins put obvious
page-tagging edits like an insertion of "joe is a fag" back because the user
who reverted the vandalism was someone deemed a "sockpuppet" by our
completely erroneous and pointless system.
That's ad hominem editing. You have to admit that it is a convenient
excuse to avoid applying common sense. The constructive people will
take the time to look at the edits. Nobody "owns" the edits, not even a
sockpuppet. Thus if an otherwise completely vile sockpuppet does
nothing more to an article than fix an obvious typo he does not acquire
ownership of the article. The edit should stand or fall on its own
merit. If through this process a person restores vandalism, that too is
an act of vandalism.
The Wiki is broken. It's not the vandals who broke
it. Those we could
handle. It's not the edit warriors who broke it. Those we can handle.
Easily. At a national level this pandering to paranoia is sometimes
called Homeland Security.
WE, the admins of wikipedia, broke it. We broke it by
being stuck-up jerks.
We broke it by thinking we are better than normal editors, by getting full
This is not unusual in the history of organizations. One of my favorite
Nietzsche quotes has always been, "There are no Christians alive today;
the last one died on the cross." If one were to draw parallels with
Christian history those in immediate contact with Jesus had the inside
track on what Jesus was trying to say, but those who followed, notably
Paul, immediately set about corrupting the message. Similar things
happened in other religions and we end up with Sunni vs. Shia or
Mahayana vs. Hinayana. In the hands of the rulemakers the initial
message of liberation becomes an opiate.
And every one of the admins on wikipedia, myself
included, has been guilty
of it at one point. Some are more guilty than others. Some are jerks 100% of
the time. Some have become so obsessed with their pet sockpuppet, be it
Enviroknot, Freestylefrappe, Willy on Wheels, Entmoots, Pigsonthewing,
JarlaxleArtemis, Karmafist, Lir, PoolGuy, or whatever else their pet
sockpuppet of the week is that they are no longer useful.
Fair enough. The key to changing that is to recognize when you're doing
it, and to go through a rational self-examination and reflection on the
circumstances. Some of these "pet sockpuppets" are genuine problems (a
few I never even heard of before), but when obsession overwhelms
rationality it becomes more difficult to even deal with the genuine
Some never should have passed RFA to start with. Some
deliberately gamed the
system and pulled support from a specific interest group to get passed, then
turned around and started immediately abusing their power to help the
interest group and haven't stopped since. Some are likely sockpuppets of
serial edit warriors.
Some are just insane.
Yet Pinky is more likely to get things done.
Too many things are not open for discussion. Too many
of the verboten topics
center around people who are on power trips, or were at the time they took
some action. Too many times admins seeking to consolidate their power bases
or trading favors with other admins have stood up for improper, abusive
That sounds awfully lot like a dose of Realpolitik.
Jimbo, this might as well be an open letter to you too.
None of the rest of
these spineless yes-men will ever say these things to your face. Hell, I
couldn't at the last meetup, because I was so afraid that you or Danny or
one of the other high-ups would note down my username and ban me. That's the
atmosphere you've cultivated.
That's an interesting observation. How many others are so intimidated?
I don't remember meeting you in Boston, though I certainly remember
meeting Jimbo and Danny. I actually found Danny easier to talk with,
but that's just a personal observation. Danny does not have Jimbo's
theological aura. A lot of this is a reflection on myself. As I sit
here and make these comments I can pause and think as long as I want
between sentences or words; I can even take time for a bite to eat.
That doesn't work in a face to face conversation, when it comes down to
say what you want to say or be ignored. That's not a matter of fault,
but of practicality.
I am not uncritical of Jimbo, and most of my criticism is rooted in the
notion that a person who develops an idea at the big picture level may
not be the best person to apply his underlying principles at a level of
broad participation. That dissociation between the ideas and the public
is just the opportunity that the micromanagers want. A big picture
person tends to make half-baked policy pronouncements. He can see a
proposed solution to a problem, and in his ideal world those solutions
will work. The big picture makes so much sense that it's unimaginable
that anyone could see things differently.
The premise of an ideal world is shaky. It's too easy to imagine a
world where nothing goes wrong. For the true disciple anything
inconsistent with his narrow interpretation of the vision, must
necessarily be wrong. He believes in a rigid vision, and that is
antithetical to vision. A prophet deludes himself when he believes that
success of his vision among the masses implies that the message has been
Your overall analysis was an important one, though I think that
introducing your personal squabble with David damaged its tone.