[WikiEN-l] We need to recognize that advocating is a basic right

Fastfission fastfission at gmail.com
Thu May 4 17:04:24 UTC 2006

There's a fine line between "asking other interested people to
participate" and "attempting to stack a vote".

The first practice is just fine, I think. The second is not.

How to tell the different between them? I don't know of a good
criteria that would ever work in all cases. But usually the difference
is fairly obvious: when the people "coming to the discussion" do no
discussing (they just throw a vote in, or write some pithy comment
about how the other people are crazy/wrong/stupid/whatever), it looks
a lot like vote stacking to me. Additionally when the solicitation for
other eyes is along the lines of "Come vote on this, these guys are
trying to delete our favorite article!" it is usually quite telling.
And when people who have never edited on Wikipedia are drawn into it,
it is obviously vote stacking.

Consulting others is not a problem. Writing to people and saying, "I'd
like it if you'd weigh in on this," is great practice. Especially when
the people consulted are thoughtful and will even on occasion disagree
with the person who had solicited them! All the better.

Calling in pals who will just add a vote and show no real engagement
with the reasoning or discussion going on, people who have no
investment in Wikipedia as a whole and no experience with the project?
Not good, not helpful, not the right way to do things.

Drawing the line is hard primarily in theory. It is not usually that
hard in practice to spot the difference, though, because instances of
"meatpuppetry" are usually pretty transparent, in my experience.


On 5/4/06, John Tex <johntexster at gmail.com> wrote:
> We need to recognize that each user has a right to try to influence policy
> in ways that they believe are beneficial to the project.  Two basic tenets
> of this are discussing the ideas and building up groups of people who agree
> with you and who will help you bring about the beneficial change.
> This is "advocacy".  Contacting people to recruit them to support you or to
> act according to beliefs you think they may already have should rightly be
> called "campaigning". This is a Good Thing.
>  Let's stop insulting people by calling them "meat puppets" or "vote
> stackers".  Let's stop confusing the issue by calling it "spamming".  It is
> not spamming.  Spamming is indiscriminately notifying people that are
> probably not interested in the hopes that a few people will be.  This is
> practically the opposite.
> Attempting to stifle advocacy is harmful to the consensus building process
> and it is harmful to the project.  If we try to prohibit it, it will just be
> taken off-wiki, which would be a huge shame.
> Johntex
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