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Secret Mailing List Rocks Wikipedia

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the transparent-in-limited-frequency-bands dept.

Social Networks 531

privatemusings writes "Wikipedians are up in arms at the revelations that respected administrators have been discussing blocking and banning editors on a secret mailing list. The tensions have spilled over throughout the 'encyclopedia anyone can edit' and news agencies are sniffing around. The Register has this fantastic writeup — read it here first." The article says that some Wikipedians believe Jimbo Wales has lost face by supporting the in-crowd of administrators and rebuking the whistle blower who leaked the existence of the secret mailing list.

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531 comments

Yeah, that's about what I thought (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569363)

some Wikipedians believe Jimbo Wales has lost face by supporting the in-crowd of administrators and rebuking the whistle blower who leaked the existence of the secret mailing list.

Oh, I'm sorry, were we talking about 8th grade?

If I were still in the eighth grade... (5, Informative)

sethawoolley (1005201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569661)

I'd do a mass sign-up of the secret list:

http://lists.wikia.com/mailman/listinfo/wpcyberstalking [wikia.com]

(as posted in another post, but up here, it'll get more coverage... here goes my karma, watch it slide!)

Re:If I were still in the eighth grade... (5, Interesting)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569805)

It's not "secret" at all. Durova is infamous on wikipedia- everyone hates her and anyone that openly opposes her is getting landslide votes in the ongoing arbcom elections. Everyone knows what happened with !! and the "secret" mailing list is no secret- the arbitration committee does meet in private and they're allowed to have communication independent of the rest of wikipedia. Not only that, but this mailing list specifically is known to me and I'm not even a sysop, just some guy who's been hanging around freenode #wikipedia lately. If people would log onto IRC for 5 seconds, this wouldn't be such big news.

Re:Yeah, that's about what I thought (5, Insightful)

cloricus (691063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569679)

And who cares what 8th graders do? Seriously, this is just a bunch of useless trolls (who exist in every community) trying to present themselves as big, important, and note worthy to the world. Wikipedia works for me, I correct mistakes I see, and I add content if I see it missing and I know what goes there, beyond that there is no need for the normal person to interact further with the 'community'.

In my opinion Wikipedia should be run like the internet; by a bunch of useless people who are so tied up in their own mess they don't ruin my day and some how out of it all we end up with a magically great resource.

Re:Yeah, that's about what I thought (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569791)

And your changes are nullified by those same 8'th graders.

Re:Yeah, that's about what I thought (3, Funny)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569835)

Seriously, this is just a bunch of useless trolls (who exist in every community) trying to present themselves as big, important, and note worthy to the world

You got a citation for this?

Re:Yeah, that's about what I thought (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569837)

Exactly, this story is ridiculously sensational. It's "coming apart at the seams" "rocked"... what now??!

These mailing lists are not new (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569375)

I've been on Wikipedia for a while, and noticed the admin only email [snipurl.com] functions. It does go against the grain of WP I feel. ~~~~

I wrote this essay over a year ago... (3, Interesting)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569393)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:CorbinSimpson/TINC [wikipedia.org]

Amazing how it still holds today, eh?

Re:I wrote this essay over a year ago... (1, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569909)

awesome. My favorite bit is:

[..] in order to be a good article, all opinions, criticisms, views, truths, and untruths, if they are held by a notable number of people, should be included in the article. [..] A Good Article should be "broad," and a Featured Article should be "comprehensive." Not narrow-minded, not closed, not dual-party, not one or the other, not one single truth, not God's word. Broad and comprehensive.
And that's the ultimate problem with Wikipedia. There's very few people who get this. There's plenty of people, especially here on Slashdot, who will talk about "truth" and "accuracy" and will advocate that only "experts" should be able to contribute to an encyclopedia.

In many ways, this is an ancient division. The liberal view that all opinions are equally valid is threatened by the authoritarian arrogance of certain truth. Its a shame that science is often the tool of the authoritarians. This should be a lesson learned from history, but alas. The search for truth via the scientific method was never the search for certain truth - it isn't about shutting out new theories - or silencing different views. This is why I cringe every time I hear the words "scientifically proven". The truth is powerful and begets arrogance.

In related news: (4, Funny)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569399)

A user on community.livejournal.com/ultimate_fashion is complaining that livejournal users mindyminx16 and sassykitty91 totally control the entire community over secret aim chats.

Re:In related news: (2, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569889)

The difference being that I don't really care about the integrity and future of Livejournal. I do care about wikipedia however, because I use it.

wiki == worthless (3, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569417)

I've got serveral area's of expertise and i could make a great contribution to wiki - but crap like this is exactly why i avoid it.

I've encountered asshat's like this before, they never learn and never go away until you hit THEM with the ban hammer

Good to plagiarize from (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569453)

I will frequently plagiarize from Wiki to get a 2 sentence to 1 paragraph definition of a common technical term.

Re:wiki == worthless (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569491)

Basic English skills are evidently not one of your "area's of expertise".

Re:wiki == worthless (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569529)

I fix typos and bad grammar anonymously. In my area of expertise, I fix definitions and proofs. Also anonymously. When they stop allowing anonymous edits, I quit.

Re:wiki == worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569609)

Second that. I think that the best quality edits are done anonymously,
since the ego issue does not get in the way.

Re:wiki == worthless (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569649)

Sorry? Because you don't want to edit Wikipedia its useless? Seriously? Is every other resource you don't edit useless?

Wikipedia has many problems, but its still an enormously useful resource.

Re:wiki == worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569731)

I've got serveral area's of expertise and i


Written English not among them, evidently. Of course,
that never kept anybody from contributing.

Re:wiki == worthless (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569737)

Uhhh good. Cause, as has been said a hundred times before, wikipedia doesn't need know-it-all "experts". The point is to summarize the basic research that anyone can do.

If you're such a freakin' expert, go contribute out on the coal face - debate the controversies with the other experts - none of the stuff that is wanted or needed in an encyclopedia.

Re:wiki == worthless (0)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569767)

If a person has no qualifications, then they cannot know what is the basic reputable research and what is not. Encyclopedias, like all sources of knowledge, should be supervised and approved only by those with qualifications, who are willing to submit their work to review by others with qualifications.

Re:wiki == worthless (0, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569781)

Yeah, cause only "experts" can do good research.. they're never biased and discard work unfairly that they disagree with. Summarizing all the opinions on an issue is not exactly the forte of the expert, and yet it is exactly what an encyclopedia is supposed to be about - knowledge without bias.

Re:wiki == worthless (-1, Troll)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569821)

Yeah, cause only "experts" can do good research.. they're never biased and discard work unfairly that they disagree with. Summarizing all the opinions on an issue is not exactly the forte of the expert, and yet it is exactly what an encyclopedia is supposed to be about - knowledge without bias.

Again, you have no right to comment on the issue if you possess no academic qualifications. Those who can't make it in the exploration of knowledge are always ready to claim there's some problem with the academic process, when the real problem is their lack of qualifications.

Re:wiki == worthless (3, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569873)

Again, you have no right to comment on the issue if you possess no academic qualifications. Those who can't make it in the exploration of knowledge are always ready to claim there's some problem with the academic process, when the real problem is their lack of qualifications.

I think I should respond to this. let me se, reasoned, well thought out, adult...

Your talking utter utter shite. No really, you are.

Lets look at an example, amatour astronomy. the overwhelming majority of the worlds astronomers are amatours, almost none of whome have academic qualifications. In spite of this they are the acknowledged backbone of astronomy, responsible for a huge volume of discoveries and research. The field would be a wasteland without them.

That's just one field, there are others, but I don't want to produce a huge list. This 'right to comment' you describe is rubbish. Anyone can comment on anything, and have the right to be heard. How seriously they are taken depends on how useful or informed their contribution is. That's the hard part, and this usefulness can be acheived either through academic work, or independant work as an amatour. Both are valid, although I have to say the latter is often the one with greater passion.

I'm an academic, and I bow to the superior domain knowledge of a number of my 'unqualified' freinds when it comes to things they understand well and I do not.

Re:wiki == worthless (-1, Troll)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569895)

I'm an academic...

And yet you cannot spell "amateur", nor can you tell the difference between "your" and "you're". Ridiculous.

Re:wiki == worthless (1)

mark_wilkins (687537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569939)

"the overwhelming majority of the worlds astronomers are amatours, almost none of whome have academic qualifications. In spite of this they are the acknowledged backbone of astronomy, responsible for a huge volume of discoveries and research. The field would be a wasteland without them."

There have been some notable discoveries by amateurs, but in general what you say about astronomy is simply not the case.

Re:wiki == worthless (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569945)

If a person has no qualifications, then they cannot know what is the basic reputable research and what is not.

What a load of garbage.

I know many people who I'd consider experts in their field yet have no formal qualifications. With fast progressing areas, in particular, qualifications fall by the wayside very rapidly.

In addition, most people gain significant experience and knowledge outside their own fields through interests and hobbies. They'd easily be competent to contribute.

Re:wiki == worthless (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569783)

I think when the other poster says 'expert' or 'expertise' he really means anyone with a basic knowledge of a subject and who isn't totally ignorant. Like a physics expert would be anyone with a university degree in physics. Articles on Wikipedia do need to be maintained by such 'experts' because someone who hasn't studied physics (or Chinese - or masonry - or ballet) wouldn't be able to add useful information or correct mistakes.

Re:wiki == worthless (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569865)

Uhhh good. Cause, as has been said a hundred times before, wikipedia doesn't need know-it-all "experts". The point is to summarize the basic research that anyone can do.

If you're such a freakin' expert, go contribute out on the coal face - debate the controversies with the other experts - none of the stuff that is wanted or needed in an encyclopedia.

And thus spoke our encyclopedian overlord, without any space for a different opinion left, a gem of iconic language, a miracle of precision.

CC.

yet another reason to avoid wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569435)

aside from:
1) the former policy of intentionally leaving parts of write-ups false to encourage new people to participate (at least I think they changed the official policy away from this)

2) few truly knowledgeable sources writing in a manner which is easily understood by a beginner
(I know there are several good examples to my contrary, but those are the exception. also, the layouts tend to correlate with the communication abilities of said writers

Social Psychology ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569439)

... what a nice real life experiment along the lines "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Zimbardo [zimbardo.com] should be pleased.

CC.

Why am I unsurprised by this? (4, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569443)

Most of us have some idea that there is a class of people who, to a varying degree, want to be part of an "in group". To create an in group you also have to create an out group. Then you differentiate the in group and the out group, ascribe exaggerated virtue to the in group and look for scapegoats in the out group. You do this because in this way you focus power into the in group. It's essential to have secret, restricted means of communication between in group members.

These people will of course seek to infiltrate and take over any organization perceived as having any kind of power, whether it is over ideas, money or people. That's because, after all, this is what they are after.

It makes no difference whether it is religion, politics or an Internet encyclopedia, offer an entry for the people with psychopathic tendencies and they will come. The rant quoted in the Register article is simply typical of the breed.

To get people to do moderation work unpaid, you have to offer them something. That something is described above -a small amount of power and the feeling of being in an in-group and privy to secret knowledge. Depressingly, what I conclude from this is that the only real answer is to pay people and have competition. Payment offers rewards to people who do not care about power or exclusivity. Competition means that disgruntled customers and competitors go elsewhere, i.e. they can escape from an abusive in group. What Wikipedia needs is a commercial model and competition. That way, the psychopaths and compulsive neurotics are unlikely to take over the shop (and the ones on the staff can waste their energy litigating, which seems to be the main way we keep psychopaths out of trouble in the English speaking world.)

Re:Why am I unsurprised by this? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569483)

So in a nutshell, wikipedia is no longer worth a pinch of shit.

Re:Why am I unsurprised by this? (4, Insightful)

mpe (36238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569581)

To get people to do moderation work unpaid, you have to offer them something. That something is described above -a small amount of power and the feeling of being in an in-group and privy to secret knowledge.

It's more the case that people who specifically seek power are also those best kept away from it.

Depressingly, what I conclude from this is that the only real answer is to pay people and have competition. Payment offers rewards to people who do not care about power or exclusivity.

Except that it dosn't, people being paid can still care a great deal about power and exclusivity.

Contribution and alternatives to payment (4, Interesting)

Geof (153857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569631)

I agree with most of what you say, but I believe you are mistaken about payment, and I think FOSS provides a good illustration of why.

what I conclude from this is that the only real answer is to pay people and have competition. Payment offers rewards to people who do not care about power or exclusivity. Competition means that disgruntled customers and competitors go elsewhere, i.e. they can escape from an abusive in group.

Once necessities have been taken care of, social status is probably the greatest motivation for people to make money. Paying contributors doesn't really change that. You are right that not all people crave power or exclusivity. But power is not the only social reward - there are other alternatives besides money. (Exclusivity is itself not a reword, only a way to achieve status.) Reputation does not have to be exclusive. Indeed it requires inclusion - you can't have a reputation all by your lonesome. And it doesn't have to involve negative power dynamics.

Many well-regarded FOSS developers achieved their reputations without power tripping. In this they are constrained, as you suggest, by the choices of participants (the competition you cite is a particular way of achieving this) - in the case of FOSS, forking or the threat of forking constrains projects from degenerating too much. Many projects aren't exclusive either: the whole point of the exercise is to draw in participants. Linus's reputation is largely built on the number of participants in Linux, and on his ability to manage based on consent (which I believe contributes to his reputation).

There are two kinds of gift-giving [wikipedia.org] in cultures in which it is important. In both cases, people try to incur debts by giving gifts. One kind of giving is agonistic (competitive): the objective is to give gifts to people unable to return them, thereby demonstrating dominance over them. The second kind of giving also incurs debts, but it involves exchange. Even though a return gift is given, the slate is not wiped clean - both parties remain somewhat in debt. Social bonds are formed, giving rise to community. I believe most successful FOSS involves the second kind of giving.

Re:Why am I unsurprised by this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569659)

-- Payment offers rewards to people who do not care about power or exclusivity.... ....What Wikipedia needs is a commercial model and competition. That way, the psychopaths and compulsive neurotics are unlikely to take over the shop .

Unless the psychopaths and compulsive neurotics also have money.

Re:Why am I unsurprised by this? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569763)

On one hand, I'm not sure what the big deal is. Are people not supposed to discuss wiki-related things anywhere but in a wiki "discussions" page or something? As long as the reasons for the final decision are documented publicly as is fair for every other person, then what is the big deal?

On the other hand, I remember a popular sub-culture oriented usenet group about a decade ago that had what one might term a "secret cabal". They discussed the goings-on of the channel in a separate secret mailing list that only "the cool kids" were in on. While this might seem innocent enough, it became a problem in that it allowed the formation of lynch-mobs against individual users that were often unjustified, but against which one could rarely ever reasonably defend themselves. It created a separate class of participants above and beyond everyone else, fostered a constant atmosphere of distrust and eventually lead to a number of people both in and out of the "cabaal" leaving everything altogether out of disgust.

And, of course, those within who remained within smarmily regarded the whole issue with "there is no secret cabaal, so shut the fuck up!" style comments kind of like Big Brother standing in the corner of your bedroom, ominously, while telling you "I'm not here" the whole time.

And that is why it is just a generally good idea to do things out in the open. You might discuss in private or via a side-channel what leads up to an official push or request for action, discussion or consideration but you must use care to avoid the impression of unfair wrangling tactics. Otherwise, you're just ganging up on someone without giving them the advantage of knowing it's coming and being able to fairly engage in this discussion.

Fools.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569451)

Not only is Jimbo Wales a destructive, beastiality circle-jerking pansy.. but the Illuminati's presence on the Internet is of greater, undaunting supremacy.. lasting a far longer than these "creators" we call DARPA.. pfft..

Old news, I'm going to digg..

Oh by the way, any good 'pornlinksites', with legit daily updates? I need new meat..

Admins have to go (4, Interesting)

femto (459605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569455)

To have hierarchy breaks the Wiki model, as it breeds suspicion. Even in groups with the best of intentions eventually the suspicion will be warranted if one has power over another. Unlike the real world, transgressions in wikis can be undone. In such a case it is better to rely on the sensible majority policing a malicious minority on an equal footing by weight of numbers rather giving special powers that can be abused.

Re:Admins have to go (1)

Gloy (1151691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569817)

So you would prefer a system whereby anyone can delete any article, or block any user, and page protection does nothing? "Wiki model" or not, that simply isn't feasible on a project of that size.

Re:Admins have to go (0, Troll)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569861)

> rely on the sensible majority policing a malicious minority on an equal footing by weight of numbers

Yeah. Hitler did have some pretty good ideas for dealing with those pesky jews and homosexuals, didn't he ?

The problem with that aproach is that it intrinsically creates another hierarchy: the self-declared 'moral majority' (now where have we heard that one before) versus the 'socially unadapted'.

At which point does a minority view switch from 'abnormal and wrong' to 'unsual, but valid' ? Ten people ? A hundred ? A thousand ?

wikipedia opposes openness and transparency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569503)

One of their prominent editors, Raul654 aka Mark Pellegrini, has threatened to ban anyone who logs discussions in #wikipedia [slashdot.org]. Mark has refused to comment on this blatantly hypocritical policy or address repeated questions directed towards him on this issue.

In protect of this egregious behavior, I have opened up a #wikipedia logger page [raul654sucks.ath.cx] in open defiance of this policy. I have dared him to ban me but he has yet to identify the client logging.

protect!=protest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569755)

Doh

Here's the secret evidence, for the curious: (5, Informative)

ToiletDuck (57205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569505)

This is the evidence that Durova, self-proclaimed "complex investigations specialist" used to justify banning one of Wikipedia's finest contributors. http://www.wikitruth.info/index.php?title=Durova's_Sekret_Evidence [wikitruth.info]

Here she is on Slashdot. In what appears to be an amazing coincidence, the person she is defending here is the same person who happens to run the mailing list in question.
http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=256781&cid=20020479 [slashdot.org]

Re:Here's the secret evidence, for the curious: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569789)

Durova comes across as paranoid. She really should see a doctor. Her closing comment

Foremost, please keep mum! Many of these mistakes can be corrected and these people are very patient. They will change tactics and get even more careful if they realize how we spot them.
could have come out of a Robert Ludlum novel.

You can't control this. (1)

Sludge (1234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569513)

People feel entitled to more control or power when they contribute more than their peers. With decentralized groups of people operating on the Internet, this is magnified even further. Teams of people like OSS

Great. (2, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569515)

This is one of the reasons I created the Administrators' noticeboard [wikipedia.org]: to allow people to coordinate administration in an open and transparent manner. I always expressed concerns about the Wikipedia admins IRC channel, though it turns out this has been pretty benign. I still frown on closed list: it really goes against the spirit of Wikipedia.

P.S. (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569585)

When this list started, it was a "CyberStalking" mailing list. It was not an admin list. I got myself unsubscribed for various reasons. If it has turned into an admin list, this is very bad business.

I should also note that there are many non-admins on that list. There are many very negative individuals, and I saw a lot of attacking of Jimbo, who was trying to sort out the cyber-stalking issues, which I should note are real and pretty serious.

Re:Great. (1)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569635)

There's only one admin I know well enough to trust, and that's Mopper. You seem like that kind of guy, too. Why don't you guys do more to try and clean out the cabal? There are many, many, many people like me, who stopped editing because there were horrible things being done by admins, and would gladly come back if we knew there was no risk of being banned for doing things like assuming good faith and being nice to people that certain other people don't like.

Gah! (3, Interesting)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569689)

You misunderstand - I saw adminship as a responsibility, not a privilege. I was on Wikipedia to write articles, not engage in petty Wikipolitics. I don't have the time, nor the inclination to try to reform Wikipedia. Firstly, it's not really possible. Secondly, unless you have tried dealing with the numerous trolls, nasty editors or those who are trying to convert Wikipedia into Wikicruft then you can't possibly know how hard it is to be an admin who tries to stick to core principles.

Basically, the bottom line is: nowadays on Wikipedia you are either an admin or an editor. I tried to be both, and it sucked up all my time. It shouldn't be like that, but it is. There are systemic issues on Wikipedia, I don't know how they should be fixed, nor do I much care anymore. Unless something is done, we're going to see a lot more of this silliness. Which is sad, very sad.

Re:Great. (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569711)

I've been editor since 2002 and admin since 2003. My activities at wp dropped off considerably after my son was born, because I just didn't have enough time... (Still had time for /. though.)

I too experienced the souring of the administrators. This is also partially why I now rarely edit or engage in non-reading activities.

Hi Ant!

Re:Great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569721)

It's a quandary. I've been editing Wikipedia since 2001. If I went decided to become an admin I would probably easily do so. The reason I have not tried to become an admin is because I am staunchly opposed to wikipedia having an administrator class. To stand would be against my principles. Yet, if I am to ever help get rid of admins from Wikipedia it would be by rising though the ranks to a position of power. What to do? Perhaps Wikipedia needs an editior's revolution whereby a way is found to gain independence from those who control the centralised servers?

Re:Great. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569879)

I figure if you have a group of people working on some project, inevitably a subset of that group will be asshats and run around in little cliques looking out for eachother rather than the project itself. Of course the only way to avoid that is to install more oversight to look out for and bust this sort of nonsense, which also goes against the spirit of the project (albeit in a comparatively benign way).

Not a surprise (5, Insightful)

Apotsy (84148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569517)

As everyone saw from the Essjay scandal [google.com], it's more important to be part of the in crowd than to be right.

And as we've seen, the in crowd are not the ones who really contribute in the first place [aaronsw.com].

So what are these people good for, again?

Re:Not a surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569559)

Who will be the next Keith Packard?

Project fork in 5...4...3...

Is THIS what you chumps paid for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569519)

Every collection drive (which seems to be every two months) Wikipedia nets tens -if not hundreds- of thousands of dollars from geek who believe that they are helping to sponsor an open, collaborative encyclopedia.

What was it Johnny Rotten said? "Do you ever feel like you're being cheated?"

now if only... (1)

thebigbadme (194140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569531)

someone would combine wikipedia style information hording with a /. style moderating and meta-moderating system...

Re:now if only... (1)

Gloy (1151691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569825)

...anyone who tried to edit a controversial article would be modded -1, Troll, and anyone who vandalized articles by posting tired old memes would be modded +5, Funny?

The cycles of change (4, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569537)

The problem in this case is two-fold, but the cause is the same: wikipedia reaching worldwide popularity.

First of all, wikipedia by it's nature is not supposed to have higher-ups, but an administrator group is a technical necessity. These administrators are motivated by the growing popularity of wikipedia in two ways: they gained more power ("Cmon! I'm an administrator on the english wikipedia! Wow!") or in other words, the social status of their administrator title got more important. This is bound to make the admins feel a lot more different, even if unconsciously or unwittingly. They try to protect wikipedia and overreact, get overly paranoid and lose focus of their true goal.

The second reason they can behave wrongly is simply that the social infrastructure didn't adapt to the popularity yet. What I mean is that administrators are not distinct, named, accountable people. They edit using their administrator account (officially, even if some of them use alternative accounts in reality), they are not named people. To fix these problems there has to be a clear separation of priviledges, and clear identifiability and accountability for administrators.

Admins should be compelled to do their actions with their real names attached to it, not behind nicknames. No non-administrator wikipedia contribution should take place on their admin accounts. They should be editing using a non-priviledged account. The regular account of admin personnel should not necessarily be revealed, but admins should be verifying each other's work.

"Secret"? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569547)

It seems an odd emphasis to call it a "secret" mailing list. It wasn't public, but does that make it sinister? Surely administrators are allowed to communicate with each other without making their emails public?

Some Register journalists seem to have a grudge against Wikipedia and take every opportunity to run it down -- and if you think I'm a Wikipedian acolyte, I just casually, anonymously, edit articles as I come across errors. I've had a few busybodies revert my edits, declaring them "vandalism", so I'm aware that there are "injustices" done, but on the whole I think it works.

Re:"Secret"? (1)

nigham (792777) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569815)

Ideally, the entirety of the process that leads to any decision relating to Wikipedia should be visible to the users.

A few private e-mails I do not have a problem with. What could be a problem is if this happens on a large scale equivalent to this alleged "secret mailing list". An obvious problem is that a policy of an organized group is misrepresented as the multiple, independent actions of multiple individuals.

Lets say a user was banned (or his edits rejected, whatever) a hundred times by different people. If these hundred people are truly independent, I could say that this user is probably incompetent. If these hundred people represent a concerted effort, however, I wouldn't be quite as sure and I'd have to balance my beliefs with the possibility that this "secret" organization has something against the user - especially if this organization doesn't even reveal its existence.

Re:"Secret"? (3, Insightful)

nugneant (553683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569891)

It seems an odd emphasis to call it a "secret" mailing list. It wasn't public, but does that make it sinister? Surely administrators are allowed to communicate with each other without making their emails public?


Jimbo Wales Slashdot sockpuppet found :)

One has to wonder just what is so vastly important and controversial that an administrator cannot communicate it on site for fear of the dreaded Vandals and Sockpuppets (they're everywhere oh god!!) - gasp - reading it.

Some Register journalists seem to have a grudge against Wikipedia and take every opportunity to run it down -- and if you think I'm a Wikipedian acolyte, I just casually, anonymously, edit articles as I come across errors. I've had a few busybodies revert my edits, declaring them "vandalism", so I'm aware that there are "injustices" done, but on the whole I think it works.


Maybe they see it for what it is? A vast collection of Pokemon trivia and amateur writing that is too self-conscious and self-important for its own good?

But, hey, go on sharing your conspiracy bullshit. I'm sure life would be so much better if those goddamned reporters would just mind their own business. Just remember, no original research, k?

This is really sad to hear (4, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569577)

They're hurting Wikipedia more than the petty vandals they're trying to stop, even bad guys with admin rights. :-(

It's one thing to contribute and have someone occasionally wreck thing up -- that can be repaired easily. It's a whole other thing to feel like you're contributing to admins with this mindset. Regaining confidence in the leadership isn't done in a similar fashion by a click of a button.

Alright, now I'm waiting to hear what Jimbo Wales will do to stop this behavior. Surely that can is a reasonable expectation?

Stanford Encyclopedia Experiment (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569623)

Has anyone considered that Wikipedia is really a giant social experiment rather than an encyclopedia?

Re:Stanford Encyclopedia Experiment (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569773)

Have you ever considered that we might be living in some kind of artificial reality and we are actually nothing but a source of sustenance for The Machines?

Whoa...

Re:Stanford Encyclopedia Experiment (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569907)

What is the difference? Just call it a Social Encyclopedia. Don't get mistaken what should be in a Encyclopedia to start with. I bet that there are quite a lot of respectable(wiki namespace respectable) editors who never read a old-school encyclopedia.

Why is this controversial? (3, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569645)

I'm sorry, but with so many whack-jobs in the world, it doesn't surprise me in the least that some people are banned from wikipedia. It's been one of the enduring complaints about wikipedia that anyone can edit it - editing existing content, removing real information, and adding their dumb ideas to the encyclopedia. I'm sure some people are ridiculously tenacious about adding bad information to the pages, and think that the rest of the world is wrong about Autism/ Bigfoot/ the Kennedy Assassination/ psychics/ global warming/ whatever. Not to mention all the publicity that occurred when the IPs tracing back to politician's offices or large corporations were caught changing pages to make their opponents look bad / make themselves look good. It doesn't surprise me that some wikipedia higher-ups feel like some particular users are like bulls in their china shop, and rather than running behind them trying to clean up the mess, think it's simply easier and better to ban certain people.

You can't simultaneously complain that wikipedia is vulnerable to edits by ignorant/malicious/troll/pro-spin users, and complain that wikipedia takes action against those users by identifying them and banning them.

In this case, one of the higher-ups banned a user who seems to be a productive contributor - which is essentially an abuse of power. But, I fail to see how the "secret mailing list" is controversial.

Re:Why is this controversial? (2, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569941)

I'm sorry, but with so many whack-jobs in the world, it doesn't surprise me in the least that some people are banned from wikipedia


That's irrelevant. The problem isn't that they're banning people. The problem is that they've set themselves up as an elite group, outside the normal wikipedia democratic processes.

Not exactly new (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569667)

Since the first group sites came into existence, part of the process has involved a 'good old boys' secret list that runs in the background.

I don't care if you want to use as examples the Apple Support Forums, /., or Better Homes & Gardens, there is A L W A Y S a group of buddies who deem themselves special and above the unwashed masses. They spend their days hanging out on their own 'invisible' list, laughing at newbies, scorning the newest know-it-alls and patting each other on the back as they surreptitiously bring in new friends and make life hard for anyone they feel should move on. They will deny it until they wear the writing off their keycaps, but that's just part of thrill. After all, they do it for your own good, and if they didn't, the sky would darken, the ground would shake and life as we know it would cease in a heartbeat.

So consider this a lesson if it comes at all as a surprise. And if it brings back memories of playground days when your biggest fear was being out with the in crowd, yep...this is a basic as human nature gets - digital or not.

Just remember - the more a group of admins insists there is no 'good old boys' background list on your favorite forum, etc., the more interesting it would be to find out just what kind of dirt they're dishing :)

Durova (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569699)

Durova.

Ugly, pointless women in charge.

Getting rid of her will cut out a lot of the cancer there.

Say what? (4, Insightful)

Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569713)

The Register has this fantastic writeup
That's a laugh.

The Register hates Wikipedia and at every opportunity seeks to spin the tiniest thing into major news that is negative about Wikipedia.

I don't know why they do this, penis envy?

Re:Say what? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569897)

More specifically Andrew Orlowski (Register editor) hates wikipedia. Actually he hates anything that becomes popular on the internet but that is besides the point. This article is not by the troll king himself so might be a good read.

On a side note have you noticed that Orlowski articles on El Reg never have commenting enabled. I'm sure the man himself would say it is to prevent the site being overwhelmed with flames by people who don't like him or his views. I think it is just because it would look bad for his spurious opinion pieces to be torn apart on the site for all to see.

Re:Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569925)

I don't know why they do this, penis envy?


Yes, because the Register is a competing encyclopedia.

What the fuck?

polit bureau (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569719)

Wikipedia has created its own polit bureau like the east block in its haydays. How democratic!

Durova in Russian (1)

shitzu (931108) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569727)

Lets not forget what Durova means in slavonic languages. From Russian "Durak", Durova means "daughter of stupid".

From TFA: (4, Insightful)

nugneant (553683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569735)

"I've never seen the Wikipedia community as angry as they are with this one," says Charles Ainsworth, a Japan-based editor who's contributed more feature articles to the site than all but six other writers.


Editor falsifying his entire life to give more weight to his editorial views? "Eh well he was protecting himself from stalkers".

Mods discussing mod stuff off-site (granted, completely counter to the notion of transparency that Wikis serve to enable)? "HOLY SHIT YOU HAVE UNLEASHED THE FUCKING FURY YOU ASSHOLES".

Strange group, this Wikipedia. I go there for information on my favorite Pokemon, but for anything serious, I'd much rather google <seriousthing> -wikipedia

so what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569745)

Why shouldn't certain administrators band together to fight insidious vandalism? It's their prerogative. And the insidious vandals can band together if they want to too.

That said, the "profiling" methods used are unnecessary and wrong. If editors are being abusive, ban them. If they're trolling, ban them. It's a lot of work, but people volunteer to be administrators in order to do the dirty work, right? Right?

So here is the "Evidence" put forward. (1)

scrantaj (1165731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569795)

Now to me this reads just like some of the more out there conspiracy theory sites. You know the ones, the world is being controlled by alien lizards, the UN is plotting to overthrough the US govt. that sort of stuff. See what you think.

Nobody's put their finger on this yet in a systematic way. Maybe it's for lack of time; maybe people's brains are wired differently. I need to show you not just what Wikipedia Review is doing to us, but how they're doing it.

And I'm setting this forth as a brief seminar so you can do more than recognize when it's presented to you; you can find these signs yourselves.

The one thing I have to ask is that you all be very tight lipped about this.

First, the good news:

1. They're working from the same playbook. 2. They don't know this list exists. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Incidents&diff=167325580&oldid=167325471 [wikipedia.org]

Now, the case study:

Here's a troublemaker whose username is two exclamation points with no letters. !!

It's what I would call "ripened sock" - a padded history of redirects, minor edits, and some DYK work. Some of the folks at WR do this to game the community's good faith. I can tell immediately that it's not the user's first account. Soon you'll see the telltale signs as quickly as I do.

A. In their efforts to deceive us, they forget that new users haven't learned edit summaries and wikimarkup.

Edit summary on the first edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jack_Kerr&diff=prev&oldid=141874955 [wikipedia.org]

Correct use of page links on the second edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ben_Brocklehurst&diff=prev&oldid=141877151 [wikipedia.org]

Knows how to create line references on the third edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Claude_Pompidou&diff=prev&oldid=142914869 [wikipedia.org]

Creates an appropriately formatted stub on the fourth edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Colin_Rimer&diff=prev&oldid=142927003 [wikipedia.org]

B. They do wikignome work far too early in the account history to be genuine wikignomes. The purpose is to pad the account history with a track record of positive contributions that will insulate them against the banhammer later on.

Redirects a page on the seventh edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=%C3%8Ele-St-Louis&diff=prev&oldid=144015208 [wikipedia.org]

This user favors redirects and stub creations. Others do RC patrol or copyediting. They continue for days, weeks, or perhaps a few months playing "useful editor."

C. Many of them tip their hands occasionally during the preparation phase.

Obscene trolling; knows German: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Academic_Challenger&diff=prev&oldid=156788817 [wikipedia.org]

This user slips for the joy of trolling. Others let down their guard momentarily for WR-related incidents. Look for behavior that seems out of character such as a sudden cluster of talk page posts or odd edit summaries.

D. They are team players.

Here's the sock moving all of Giano's talk archives. No stranger is this much of a good Samaritan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_II&diff=prev&oldid=162747326 [wikipedia.org]

Now the moves.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_archive_5_(2006)&diff=prev&oldid=163062162 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_II/archive_5&diff=prev&oldid=163062161 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_archive_6_(2007)&diff=prev&oldid=163062164 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_II/archive_6&diff=prev&oldid=163062163 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_archive_7_(2007)&diff=prev&oldid=163062167 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_II/archive_7&diff=prev&oldid=163062166 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Giano_II/archive_4&diff=prev&oldid=163062248 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_II/archive_4&diff=prev&oldid=163062247 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Giano_II/archive_3&diff=prev&oldid=163062253 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_II/archive_3&diff=prev&oldid=163062252 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Giano_II/archive_2&diff=prev&oldid=163062257 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_II/archive_2&diff=prev&oldid=163062256 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Giano_II/archive_1&diff=prev&oldid=163062262 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Giano_II/archive_1&diff=prev&oldid=163062263 [wikipedia.org] E. They grow bold when they believe the account has ripened into the appearance of a legitimate editor.

I doubt Bishonen knew what this account really was. By now it looks legit to most editors. The nasty side shows itself, though: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Bishonen&diff=prev&oldid=162335262 [wikipedia.org]

F. When the sock is fully ripened it heads over to disputes and takes extremist positions for no apparent reason.

This rocket-to-the-sky pattern among ripened socks contrasts against sincere but troubled editors, who follow an arc with some visible cause and effect.

For contrast:

A regular problem editor will decide Wikipedia has problems after breaking 3RR and getting turned down for an unblock request.

A ripened sock heads doesn't need to be coaxed to the dark side; it just heads over to a discussion and screams foul while its own reputation is clean as a whistle.

So by the time Jimbo does something controversial, most Wikipedians don't get more than a sense of vague unease about this account's behavior. The sock is fully ripened, the account well established, and the troll has teammates to create or obstruct consensus if anyone intervenes. I have a hunch the skilled trolls wait for events that they know will cause a lot of flurried attention onsite so the sudden launching of full implementation is less likely to be noticed in the crowd.

Here's the sock helping the team, along with some free range sarcasm and troublemaking:

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration&diff=prev&oldid=168176874 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Incidents/My_desysop_of_Zscout370&diff=prev&oldid=168213973 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia_talk:Wikipedia_Signpost&diff=prev&oldid=168209114 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia_talk:Requests_for_comment/Jimbo_Wales&diff=prev&oldid=168487235 [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Penwhale&diff=prev&oldid=168631084 [wikipedia.org] G. Many trolls can't resist the temptation to gloat.

Still doubt me? http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Llywrch&diff=prev&oldid=168171012 [wikipedia.org]

Looking ahead:

Foremost, please keep mum! Many of these mistakes can be corrected and these people are very patient. They will change tactics and get even more careful if they realize how we spot them. [/i]

Clique (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569833)

I guarantee that wherever there is an on-line community, you will find sub-groups within that community who want to discuss things away from the masses. Just like real-life, then?

The Register loves to troll Wikipedia (3, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569893)

I have no idea what but the Reg has a hardon for sensationalist stories about Wikipedia. It's hard to understand the obsession but obsess they do with one story after another predicting its doom, or exposing "corruption", or inaccuracies etc. In particular a month doesn't seem to pass without Andrew Orlowski bitching about the service in some way or another.

Personally I think they do it because it's a cheap way to fill column inches and to push a few buttons on readers who recognize it for the invaluable service it is.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569923)

It's funny and tragic. And by far not limited to Wikipedia. Try your average club and you'll see exactly the same development. Hell, try anything where some people who have nothing in common but the goal at hand aggregate.

First, you'll see people form groups. Then you'll see (some) groups trying to gain power. No matter how petty (and in Wikipedia's case it's anything but petty. People have replaced Google with Wikipedia as a source for good links).

Generally, you'll have two kinds of groups in every assembly of human beings. Those that want to push the cause along and those that want to control it. The latter will most certainly claim they belong to the first group (often even to themselves), but in general they would do anything to aggregate more power, no matter whether the group moves anywhere anymore.

With power and the lust for it comes paranoia. Because the knave thinks the way he is, they start seeing usurpators who want to control the group anywhere. So they become secretive and paranoid. Anyone who is "good" (as in, is actually pushing the cause ahead and keeps things moving) will be seen as a threat, because he will invariably be liked by those who're also in for the cause. Someone who is liked has peer backing, and that could threaten the power base of this group. So he will be mobbed until he leaves.

What's finally left is a dead hulk. Everyone who wanted to move the cause along will have left, what's left is the power hungry group and some tagalongs and posers who present no danger to said group, but who are also not getting the cause anywhere. They're just in for the "experience" and the fame of being "there" and being part of it. Because if they would actually start pushing ahead, they would be seen as a threat to the power group and removed.

Sad, really. But if you can't get rid of such power whores, you'll end up with a dead project.

I'm absolutely not surprised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21569931)

Why should I be? The left-wing extremist that admin polish part of wiki make any, I repeat ANY, other input to wiki senseless. They take it as attack on whatever-you-can-imagine minority, and that results in ban, no mather how many 'edits' you have.

The sad thing is, that well known pl-wiki admin Lcamtuf, a nice and inteligent guy, let himself being engaged into games like described above. And another sad thing is that, he isn't alone...

my favorite quote: "new users are morons" (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21569953)

quote:

In their efforts to deceive us, they forget that new users are morons and haven't learned edit summaries and wikimarkup.

end_quote:

- rather telling about how some Wikipedia administrators feel about contributors and users, eh?

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