[Foundation-l] [WikiEN-l] English Wikipedia ethnocentric policy affects other communities

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Sun Dec 24 20:51:56 UTC 2006

Birgitte SB wrote:

>en.WP's username policy is incompatible with SUL. 
>This is a problem.  We have heard from brion that the
>implementation of SUL is not negotiable.  We have
>heard from several en.WP editors that they are not
>willing to give up the non-Latin username blocks
>without further development work to mitigate the
>issue.  Considering that the brion (the developer) is
>not negotiating, I find the arguments about exactly
>which technical developments en.WP would demand in
>order for a policy change strange.  
I don't find it strange.  What it does is push the extremists to modify 
their position.

>This appears to be heading to a showdown.  I think
>*that* is the worse than blocking ru.WP admins and
>non-latin vandals going to town at en.WP together.  I
>would like to hear from anyone who does not strongly
>disagree with one of the two polar positions that have
>restated many times.
Are you sure that that's what you mean, and that a conjunction of 
negatives has not resulted in a misstated position? :-)
A strict reading suggests that you only want to hear from those with 
strong views on this. :-)

>Are there any en.WP editors who believe blocking users
>on sight based on their font is not a useful enough
>process to be worth breaking SUL for other editors?
>Is there anyone outside of en.WP who believes that SUL
>is not a useful enough process to be worth creating
>bad blood between wikis?
As important as vandal-fighting may be, and as dedicated as some may be 
to that task, it is also useful to avoid a police mentality where the 
innocent are victimized for the sake of catching the miscreants.  One 
needs to accept that some streakers will run around the football field a 
little longer than others. 

The strict blocking policy catches too many innocents.  The Earls of 
Efficiency who engage in such tactics look for technical solutions that 
allow them to enforce rules while neglecting mitigating circumstances.  
They make no effort to find out why something happened, and are no 
different from traffic cops who ignore assumptions of good faith to meet 
their quota of tickets.

The block on sight policy needs to stop immediately.  One needs to 
remember that the unintelligible user names are far less of a problem 
than intentionally misleading alternative characters.  I have supported 
SUL ever since the idea was floated at least three years ago, before the 
conversion problems had a chance to multiply.  It does require some 
adjustments of which I am technically ignorant, but I suspect that 
anglo-naval-gazing is more of a problem than what the techies need to do.


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