[Foundation-l] "Wikidrama" and autonomy of Wikimedia projects

Cary Bass cary at wikimedia.org
Mon Aug 11 19:57:29 UTC 2008

Hash: SHA1

Hi all,

I'm sending this email to foundation-l because there are a couple of
situations evolving in our projects that I'm having a rough time dealing
with, notably because the issues raised involve matters touching on
privacy and the autonomy of the Wikimedia projects.

People know my interest lies with the well being of the volunteers of
our projects and our projects in general.  It's because of that interest
that when I am sent issues about a dispute involving members of the
community I have to look to the well-being of the projects themselves
and see how this is being impacted.  Sometimes the issue involves the
interests of one project over another.  Often, the issues are only
resolved by bringing the light of day to the matter and allow the
broader community at large to discuss the issues.

Scenario 1:
An active user with an unusual username on the English Wikipedia has,
for whatever reason, never taken advantage of SUL.  An account opens up
on a much project which is, given the name, implausibly anything other
than an impostor of the English Wikipedia account.  It does, however,
have apparently useful contributions (no difficult matter on this wiki
if one is familiar with it); and the local community, while believing
that the account is an impostor account seems to be unwilling to resolve
the situation without demanding that the user come to the smaller
project and ask for usurpation.   Obviously, we wouldn't want to force
the issue with an autonomous project.

How should this be addressed?

Does the user have any other option than editing the smaller wiki and
adding the Username Change request, which basically subjects the user to
his/her IP information being revealed to additional individuals, not of
his/her own wiki?

Scenario 2:
A user has been banned on enwiki.  The user has "outed" psuedonymous
individuals via his blog and threads Wikipedia Review by compiling
information put together elsewhere on the net.  He has taken to another
wiki and under the auspices of the local wiki's policy, has put back
links to pages which have links to pages (sometimes several pages deep)
which "outs" the individuals.

Is this a violation of our privacy policy as it exists?  If not, how can
we best address the needs of the local projects?  We have to assume the
user is sincere about his project, because AGF is a core principle.  If
he is sincere, can he not contribute in a fashion that doesn't create so
much hardship on other contributors?

Of course, we cannot gauge the sincerity, but if he is not, what then?
Does allowing an enwiki user to game another of our projects create long
term trouble for the wiki in the future (exportation of wikidrama from
enwiki to another project).  Does the foundation or the community at
large have an obligation to ensuring this doesn't happen?

- ----
These are but two issues which may or may not deserve the light of the
community at large.  I'd like to know the range of opinions and help in
determining where the foundation's responsibility ends, my
responsibility as VolCo, and the meta community (given that this
involves cross-wiki issues) at large.

- --
Cary Bass
Volunteer Coordinator

Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running! Support the Wikimedia
Foundation today: http://donate.wikimedia.org
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Phone: 415.839.6885 x 601
Fax: 415.882.0495

E-Mail: cary at wikimedia.org
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