[WikiEN-l] Quitting Wikipedia and wanted you to know why.
onmywayoutster at gmail.com
Fri Oct 6 02:31:31 UTC 2006
to those I've known at Wikipedia and worked well with, thanks for the good
times. I used to believe in Wikipedia. It was worth a lot to me, it was fun,
it was good to work on articles.
But I'm quitting. It's sad to say, I know, and even sadder that due to my
reasons for quitting, I can't trust leaving a goodbye message on my user
page or mailing from my normal account. But for the things I am about to
say, I know that several admins and possibly those higher up in the project
would ban me just for saying it. I know this message may never reach this
list either, but I'm at least going to try. I'm doing it this way because
someday, I might want to come back, and I'd like to be able to come back
under the same username I left.
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 seen too many admins who believe that our civility policies only apply
to the normal editors. Too many admins whose first course is to insult a new
user in order to see if they get a "reaction" so that they can spank the new
user for talking back to an admin.
I've seen too many admins block accounts for infinite duration on flimsy
evidence or mere whim.
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.
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.
I've seen the way accusations of "sockpuppet" have become a way of life in
content disputes, and I've see how the admins on wikipedia do absolutely
nothing about it. Too many despicable pov warriors spend their time accusing
anyone they disagree with on one article or another of being a "sockpuppet",
and never does a CheckUser come back innocent. The one time I ever saw CU
come back inconclusive, the admin blocked them for being a sockpuppet
anyways, claiming they had "proof" in the form of edit summaries, which is
to say that the user was editing on the same article where the admin's
friends had previously harassed someone.
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. 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 is
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.
But there's no way in hell I can say that with my normal username, because
David's terms are clear: the usage of the term "sockpuppet" stops all
rational discussion, and anyone disagreeing with David gets banned.
Anyone who says that there are abusive administrators out there, or speaks
out against a specific one they've had a run-in with? The cry of "Rouge
Admin lololol lets see how can I pwn this noob today, take that and stop
annoying the admins" is the cry that goes out, not "that sounds serious,
I'll take a look."
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
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. They insist that normal editors are
"beneath" them, that they should be able to own articles and give their
friends a hand up when content disputes arise. If you're friends with an
admin, rest assured that your buddies will call someone a name, get one
called back, and then ask you to punish the other guy for "incivility." And
you'll do it, too, without a moment's hesitation, simply because you have
the power to do it.
I've sat in the IRC channel watching a user come in to ask for help only to
be rebuffed, attacked, insulted, and finally booted because "no new user
could ever find the IRC chat room, they are obviously a sockpuppet of some
disruptive user." I sat by silently because I knew if I spoke out, they'd
just boot me too for being "disruptive."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
And some of us just are human, and fail to appreciate that, and fall victim
to power tripping behavior. I think that the admin behavior which made this
list moderation-default falls under that. But that's another of those things
that is "not up for discussion."
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
So, I'm out. As long as the cult of adminship reigns here, wikipedia's not
going to improve. New articles may come and edits might be made eventually,
but the state of wikipedia, our accuracy, our reliability, WILL fail as long
as admins are allowed to champion abusive users or be abusive themselves and
simply get away with it time and again, rubber stamped by secret evidence
and higher-ups who are more interested in their own power than making a
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.
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