[WikiEN-l] Samiharris looks like a sock, and everyone suspected

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Wed Feb 13 10:20:30 UTC 2008

re banning people for suggesting Mantan's identity -

We ban people for disruption and seeking to out the identity of
pseudonymous WP accounts regardless of who is or is suspected of being
on the other side of them.

Mantan and Sammi have both denied publically and privately that they
are the same person(s) or that either of them is Gary Weiss.

In looking at this situation, I've considered at times that perhaps
they were lying to us, that one or both accounts might be Gary, or
that they're someone else but the same someone else.  One would have
to be an overly trusting idiot to never have the thought cross their
mind, if they're paying attention to it.

It's always come down to "They have different voices in talk /
discussions" and "Even if one of them is Gary Weiss, are either of
them doing anything which would be really bad if it is Weiss?".

So, from time to time, I took a look at that.  And always came back
with "Well, it's a COI notification violation if one or both are him,
but they seem to edit within policy otherwise, so it wouldn't be a big
deal if it were".

If we're going to go after people on the mere presumption that they're
probably someone we have suspicions about... The list of accounts I've
considered for the Duck Test for Bagley's group (basically, anyone
editing his POV into [[Overstock.com]] or the related articles) and
which pass a first level sniff test is immense.  All of them are as
credibly associated with that group as Mantan or Sammi are with Weiss.

We can bring down the imperial might of bannination and be rid of both
lots equally, sure.  We could perma-freeze overstock.com and related
articles, denying half of WRs users their levers to remain engaged
with WP in the first place.

Consensus has been "Leave them alone".

I still disagree with the consensus that's developing that Sammi and
Mantan are necessarily the same person.  I've never seen an actual
sock IDed that had that range of overlap and yet was consistently able
to keep other edit patterns outside the overlap range separate.  The
timing analysis indicates that they're probably in the same time zone
and edit in similar patterns during the day, but a wider analysis of
NYC editors would probably turn up more, unrelated editors with
similar patterns.

Could it be?  Yeah, sure.  But we all knew that months ago.  We didn't
have proof then.  We still don't have proof.

Even if you assume the worst case, that they're the same person and
that person is Weiss, the consequences in terms of sockpuppet policy
violations are fairly minor.  Those of you looking at that have come
up with some edit patterns across months and months of edits that
would be violations, including a couple of double votes I believe.
That would fall into the "block the sock indef and short block and
warn the main account" category.  I and others would be dissapointed
in Gary if it turns out that he's Mantan and/or Sammi, given that
they've both assured people they aren't, but dissapointment is not
actionable.  We'd not trust them the same in the future, but they're
not in positions of trust on the project anyways.

People seem to have fallen for Bagley's "Big Lie" here, which is that
if Mantan == Weiss, then this is a Big Deal, and the evil suppression
of Overstock.com on Wikipedia all these years has been due to some
sort of malign conspiracy.

Even if Mantan is Weiss, that simply ain't so.  Overstock.com's users
are not welcome here because of truly gross and disgusting behavior,
stalking and harrassment.  Despite that we have a NPOV article on the
company, the founder, etc.

This was not an edit war in which sides were taken.  Trying to
simplify it to that is an insult to all the good Wikipedians who have
been slandered and stalked and attacked over this.

Bagley throws a good conspiracy theory story, but there isn't any beef.


On Feb 13, 2008 1:34 AM, Cool Hand Luke
<failure.to.communicate at gmail.com> wrote:
> Twenty-six editors have agreed with pretty compelling evidence that
> Samiharris is a sock of Mantanmoreland.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment/Mantanmoreland#Outside_view_by_Cool_Hand_Luke
> Meanwhile, it appears that several prominent users have suspected the
> real-world identity of Mantanmoreland since September. We've banned accounts
> for suggesting it.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators%27_noticeboard#Stop_stalling_already.21
> I've expressed by disappointment elsewhere.
> http://www.wikback.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2762#Post2762
> I hope not to say anything intemperate, but I'm seething and tired at the
> moment.
> My only hope is that something good comes of this.  Perhaps we should
> seriously rethink the concept of pseudonymous editing.  At minimum it might
> be wise if all admins could view IP addresses themselves--this whole
> allowing-open-proxies-until-we-discover-them policy is an invitation to
> abuse.
> Cool Hand Luke
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-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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