Talk:DMOZ/Editor removal

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Debate about ODP editor removal moved from Talk:Open Directory Project/Temp.


OK, ladies and/or gentlemen, back to your corners! Since I logged off yesterday, this page has ballooned from 30 to 50k; obviously this is a touchy subject. Here's what I propose. I'll go through the debate and pull out the main points. Once you all agree that I've covered the important points, I'll deleted the tangle of threads below and we'll take it from there. Sound good?

Also, it should be noted that I was one of the participants in the discussion at http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?OpenDirectoryProjectWikiCategory. I was the person who noticed that Adam and Florian's ODP accounts were inactive, and I speculated that they were removed for their involvement in MeatballWiki's project. I also suggested someone contact them before we came to any conclusions. -- Stephen Gilbert 17:52 24 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Uncontested facts[edit]

Of course, if you do contest one of these, just say so, and why.

  • When editing priviledges are withdrawn from someone, for whatever reason, that account becomes inactive. It is not deleted, and remains in the editor count.
  • ODP's Metas have a policy of not discussing editor removal.
  • A significant number of ex-editors claim they were removed for reasons other than the official ones, and/or were not warned before their removal.
    "Significant" does not mean "large", "most", or even "many". It simply means that enough claims have been made to make it an issue. I used that word because the ODP has issued an official response to the controversy. However, a significant number of people (in this case, one) object to the wording, so we can't use it in the "Uncontested Facts" section. ;-) -- Stephen Gilbert

ODP supporters' claims[edit]

  • The vast majority of editor removals are for the reasons outlined in the published ODP policies and guidelines.
  • Of the few that are wrongfully removed, if they state their cases to the metas, the metas will investigate and then restore their editing privileges.
  • Most of the ex-ODP editors who complain are either dishonest or ignorant.

ODP critics' claims[edit]

  • Editor removal is quite arbitrary, or...
  • Editor removal is largely political, i.e. for questioning the intentions of the ODP higher-ups or certain policies, "territory fights" over certain categories, etc.
  • There is a lack of transparency in these matters, as the main editor forums are closed to outsiders, and certain important forums are closed to all but the metas and ODP staff.

It is impossible to determine the number of editors (if any) who were wrongfully removed. Supporters say few, critics say many. As Netesq has pointed out, even if there are thousands of ex-editors who did nothing wrong but who were removed, most of them probably wouldn't feel the need to tell their stories. Thus, we are unable to establish even approximate numbers. So, the article should note that over 40,000 accounts are inactive, but there is disagreement over the number of timed-out, justly removed and unjustly removed editors. -- Stephen Gilbert



This debate has been edited for brievity; the mediator has attempted to preserve the important points.


It became apparent that ODP staff was unceremoniously removing editor privileges without warning or notice. NetEsq

That only happens where "bad faith" is suspected and I think even those are given notice nowdays. // Liftarn

Especially interesting is "No way I am a professional SEO" and "I accept that I am a professional SEO" after external resources with his name on are pointed out to him. -- The "Invisible Friend" 19:04 23 Jul 2003 (UTC)

[Netesq]

Some bad editors get kicked out without notice, some ignore the notice and some claim to not haven got any notice even if they did. [Liftarn]

My position is that ODP editors are rarely given any notice that their editing privileges are at risk, and (until very recently) most former editors had no idea why they could not log in to perform their editing work. Many ODP editors who lose their editing privileges are not actually "bad editors" but are often removed for political reasons. [NetEsq]

Both mentioned editors have timed out. [1] It doesn't seem like you have contacted them. -- The "Invisible Friend"

Why would I contact them? I do not spend my days and nights ferreting out the stories of former ODP editors with an axe to grind. About 9 out of 10 former ODP editors who join the XODP Yahoo eGroup stay for about a month, send me a *private* e-mail narrating the story of their ouster, and then quietly move on.
I was wrong about Adam Brate and Florian Konnertz, but it was a reasonable assumption based upon the evidence that was available to me. [NetEsq]
It is unfair to complain about something that did not happen while you had the chance to verify it.
Simply because many people claim something doesn't make it true. Also, it is not Wikipedia's duty to decide which version is true, but to simply provide statements from both sides. ["Invisible Friend"]

[Netesq claims, via an analogy, that tens of thousands of editors have been improperly removed]


Please show were these tens of thousands are. The only thing you showed are your 160 XODP members, but even if we expect that 9 out of 10 have resigned this are still far too few. Some of your members are current editors (ciaran and sabre23t for example) which further decreases the likelyhood to "tens of thousands". ["Invisible Friend"]

Wikipedia is obliged to report all noteworthy viewpoints along with any evidence that can be brought to bear when facts are in dispute. [The vast majority of ex-editors claim to have been removed without warning]. [Netesq]

You claim that the vast majority claims that they were removed without warning. The vast majority doesn't claim that. ["Invisible Friend"]

+ 57,238 editors

< 9,000 active editor logins

= 48,238 inactive editor logins [Netesq]

< 2,000 who claim to have been kicked without warning or reason
= 46,238 who not have claimed that
["Invisible Friend"]

I never claimed to have access to all of the people behind the 48,238 inactive ODP editor logins. Rather, I have repeatedly pointed out that most of these 48,238 inactive editor logins represent editors who have timed out and/or editors who have multiple identies.

Suffice it to say that the number of editors who have made public claims of having been expelled from ODP without notice is a significant number, and ODP has a standing policy of not discussing individual cases of editor removal. [Netesq]


But you have repeatedly claimed that the majority of them were kicked unjustified and without warning. Also, you include in your "significant number" any ex-editor instead of only those who you have talked with. ["Invisible Friend"]

Condensed debate ends here, as Stephen Gilbert, the mediator, has to wash some dishes and go to bed.


In reviewing the heated debate regarding the controversy of editor removal, it seems clear that it was one of my comments that started the ball rolling. To wit, "The name change to Newhoo calmed the initial storm of controversy, and the release of ODP content under an open content license silenced ODP's critics until it became apparent that ODP staff was unceremoniously removing editor privileges without warning or notice." The subsequent point/counterpoint exchange accomplished nothing, but I am willing to try again.

To be clear, there *WAS* a time when ODP editor removal was a very mysterious process that no one other than ODP staff understood. Over time, the removal process became a little less mysterious by virtue of the fact that current ODP editors could check to see whether other editors who couldn't log in had lost their editing priveleges, a fact which usually, but not always reflected in an editors category request logs. (For example, check my category request logs, and you'll see that there is no evidence one way or the other as to what happened to my editing privileges; it looks like I just timed out.) As time marched on, ODP staff beefed up the day-to-day management role played by ODP's meta editors, created a private meta editor forum, and delegated much of the process of editor removal to ODP's meta editors.

As for how to evaluate the evidence in re the "fairness" of ODP's editor removal procedures and/or how many ODP editors have actually been "removed" versus how many have timed out, resigned, and/or reapplied under an assumed name, we can start by assuming that the total number of editors claimed by ODP is an accurate reflection of the total number of editor logins ever created, then subtract the current number of active editor logins found in the ODP RDF dump. (I.e., 57,328 - 9,000 = 48,328)

Of the 9,000 active editor logins, there is ample evidence that some of these logins represent people who have snuck into ODP under an assumed identity. How many people have actually done this is impossible to say. As for the 48,238 inactive editor logins: Some have resigned; some have timed out; some have timed out and reapplied under a new login; some have even resigned and re-applied under another login. How many of these people have done any of these things is also impossible to say, and ODP offers no official estimates to the general public. Similarly, how many of these 48,238 inactive editor logins represent bona fide human beings that have had their ODP editing privileges removed is also impossible to say, and ODP offers no official estimates to the general public.

Also worthy of note is that there is no public record of ODP's editor removal proceedings, and that ODP has an official policy of not discussing the reasons why any specific editor was removed, leaving former editors -- and everyone else -- to wonder why editors are actually removed. The only people who know for sure are ODP's paid staff and/or ODP's meta editors, who operate ODP's star chamber tribunal; the mere existence of a star chamber tribunal is prima facie evidence that removed ODP editors are not afforded anything resembling due process.

Notwithstanding ODP's official policy of not discussing specific editor removal, there is a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence that editors are removed for reasons that an objective observer would conclude are unfair. This brings us to the question of whether circumstantial evidence qualifies as being "worthy of note." Contrary to popular belief, circumstantial evidence is often the most damning form of evidence, and is the evidence that most frequently results in the imposition of the death penalty.

In sum, a critic of ODP's editor removal procedures need not account for each and every one of the 48,238 inactive editor logins to make a compelling case that thousands -- or even tens of thousands -- of former editors have been given a raw deal. Moreover, noting one or two instances where ODP's critics have made a good faith mistake, and then beating these dead horses in lieu of dismounting, does not disprove what is an eminently logical and rational conclusion. -- NetEsq 23:31 24 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Firstly, the number of editors actually removed (as opposed to timed out) is probably utterly small. Secondly, I don't think there are more than a handfull of cases where an editor have been removed on shaky grounds. That editor removal requires meta consensus ensures that it is done fairly and correctly. In most cases it's very obvious why the editor was removed. // Liftarn
This clearly was not a "good faith mistake". I expect you know what someone is who makes generalizations about a group of people because he knows cases (even if they are the majority) which fall within this generalizations?
Also, perhaps you are so ignorant but you are widely known for your anti-ODP position and are likely to attract the attention of the majority of removed editors and likely had contact with them. Even if one would expect that only 10% had contact with you this is still too few to qualify as the "vast majority" -- The "Invisible Friend" 13:00 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

<< [T]he number of editors actually removed (as opposed to timed out) is probably utterly small >>

I disagree, and in the absence of official estimates, it is necessary to state something along the lines of:

"No official estimates exist as to how many ODP editor logins are actually deactivated (as opposed to timing out), and critics of ODP assert that in the absence of actual, authoritative proof as to how many editor logins have timed out, the number of removed editors could be as large as thousands or tens of thousands, greatly exceeding the number of current editor logins."

-- NetEsq

That line of reasoning sounds strange. "We don't know how many, so it must be a large number". // Liftarn
I said "could be" and you said "must be." Big difference. -- NetEsq 14:59 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)
<< I don"t think there are more than a handfull of cases where an editor have been removed on shaky grounds. >>

I disagree, and in the absence of transparent disciplinary proceedings, it is necessary to state something along the lines of:

"How many editors are removed from ODP for good cause cannot be verified, as there are no public records of editor removal proceedings and ODP has a standing policy which prohibits any current editor for commenting on the reasons why any particular editor is removed. Critics of ODP assert that the secrecy associated with editor removal proceedings is _prima facie_ evidence of ODP's failure to observe traditional norms of fairness and due process."

<< That editor removal requires meta consensus ensures that it is done fairly and correctly. >>

Actually, the fact that editor removal is left in the hands of a ruling elite with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo is the antithesis of fairness. And in an age when the inherent inequities found in the application of the death penalty are front page news, it seems rather obvious that a group of volunteers who have no formal training or other qualifications cannot conduct a competent and fair investigation, a fortiori under the auspices of a star chamber proceeding.

<< In most cases it's very obvious why the editor was removed. >>

Quite the contrary: As there are no formal charges brought against editors who stand accused of whatever said editors may stand accused of, and no public record of editor removal proceedings, everyone other than ODP's staff and meta editors are usually left totally in the dark as to why certain editors have been removed. We can guess as to why, but -- like guessing at the total number of editors who have been removed -- we can be totally wrong. -- NetEsq 12:57 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Even if there aren't any reasons stated because they want to protect the editor it isn't that hard to figure out. Most cases are either self promotion or inability to work with others (especially noticable in the case of ODPSS). // Liftarn
I wholeheartedly disagree. I think that most cases of editor removal involve a lower-level editor who gets caught in the middle of a controversy he or she doesn't understand and/or a meta editor and/or staff crossfire. In any event, no one can say for sure, and a fallacious appeal to ignorance is not a reasonable rebuttal to a clear and palpable failure to observe traditional notions of due process.
As for ODPSS, this is a classic example of a situation which could be properly addressed by restricting an ODP editor to his or her bookmarks and/or restricting his or her forum privileges until such time as said editor demonstrates good faith and accepts reasonable terms of probation. This solution could have been successfully imposed on virtually all "problem" editors, up to and including the notoriousOdenIVusa. -- NetEsq 14:59 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Me:

<< [N]oting one or two instances where ODP's critics have made a good faith mistake, and then beating these dead horses in lieu of dismounting, does not disprove what is an eminently logical and rational conclusion. >>

Invisible Friend:

<< This clearly was not a "good faith mistake" >>

Yes, it was, and I was not the first one to make it, nor the last. Based upon ODP's standing policies of reputation for removing editors without warning or notice, it stands to reason that people who are attempting to inject "Soft Security" measures into ODP would be "disappeared," much the way "The Cunctator" was disappeared when he objected to ODP's copyright policies on Slashdot.

Note: ODP has no "standing policies of removing editors without warning or notice". Actually the policy is to warn the editors first. The exception is when an editor can be assumed to knowingly violate the guidlines. // Liftarn
Fair enough. Mea culpa. -- NetEsq 15:31 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Invisible Friend:

<< I expect you know what someone is who makes generalizations about a group of people because he knows cases (even if they are the majority) which fall within this generalizations? >>

I'm not sure what you mean by this awkwardly phrased assertion, but if you are attempting to impeach my logic, you have failed. Inductive logic is based on probability, and it is both reasonable and logical to use prior bad acts as a predictor of future behavior. In this case, the bad actor is ODP's oligarchical collective, which has a reputation for eliminating editors who challenge the status quo. Just ask XODP Meta Editor gruban. -- NetEsq

Actually ODP has no "reputation for eliminating editors who challenge the status quo" so you're building a castle on thin air. // Liftarn
The ODP most certainly does have a reputation for eliminating editors who challenge the status quo. Indeed, that is the essence of much of the controversy and criticism that has been leveled against ODP. -- NetEsq 17:46 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)
As far as I know that rumour is only being circulated in a small and very specific group of persons. // Liftarn

Check out the various heated debates regarding ODP atWebmasterWorld. The ongoing controversy ranges over a variety of subjects, but you will find significant support for the assertion that ODP does indeed have a reputation for eliminating editors who challenge the status quo. Even XODP Meta Editor laisha, once known as one of ODP's power elite, has joined the critics of ODP in supporting this assertion. To wit:

"If you think ODP is apolitical, you are wrong. Not only have people been removed for speaking/acting/editing counter to ODP politics, but many have been removed for their stance on "real world" politics. And yes, I have documentation."

DMOZ ex-editors list


Invisible Friend:

<< Also, perhaps you are so ignorant but you are widely known for your anti-ODP position and are likely to attract the attention of the majority of removed editors and likely had contact with them. Even if one would expect that only 10% had contact with you this is still too few to qualify as the "vast majority" >>

Now who's making hasty generalizations? Perhaps I am widely known for my "anti-ODP position" among the circles you travel in, but most former ODP editors who join XODP only become aware that such a group exists *AFTER* they have been kicked out of ODP. Until that time, most people are blissfully unaware of the fact that ODP even has any critics. -- NetEsq 13:59 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

What's the point of this paragraph? I cleared stated that I talked about ex-editors and according to your words you accept that most become aware of your group "*AFTER* they have been kicked". Note that I may have misunderstood you, but it seemed to me you wanted to say this without "who join XODP" (otherwise this makes no sense for me).
Now please stop with this. You can't prove that it happens and we can't prove that it doesn't. Fact is that editors are supposed the receive warnings, which is neither implying that ODP intend to send them and nor that they do not, and fact is that it is claimed by ex-editors that this is not the case. As for how many claim that I think we should use Liftarns suggestion from above and remove any implication of numbers here also. -- The "Invisible Friend" 16:01 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)
I'm all for ending this point/counterpoint discussion. Perhaps Alpdpedia could suggest a rewrite for this section of the article that would end our ongoing debate. -- NetEsq 17:46 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Moved from ODPSS, which has been redirected to this talk page:

ODPSS is an acronym for Open Directory Project Suicide Syndrome and is a term applied to editors at Open Directory Project who are abusive, rude, and/or insulting in forum threads, something which eventually leads to them either resigning or being removed.


Do we really need a separate article for this obscure piece of ODP trivia? -- NetEsq 20:39, 31 Jul 2003 (UTC)

No, we don't. Wikpedia is not a dictionary; adding definition pages for the slang of every group and subculture on the planet is highly discouraged. -- Stephen Gilbert 20:02, 1 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Work on this section seems to have stalled; let's get things moving again. Does anyone have any further objections to the uncontested facts and the claims of ODP supports and critics? Are there any important points missing? If so, please say so. If not, we need someone to start rewriting this section using the characterization of the disput as a base. -- Stephen Gilbert

controversial?[edit]

Editor Removal Procedures are very controversial" According to who?

According to the various editors who have told their stories at the XODP Yahoo! eGroup, the ODP Editor Resource Zone, and various other forums where their complaints are quickly squelched. -- NetEsq 15:50, 20 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Ok, add that then" "According some ex-editors (source?) the removal procedures are very controversial..." // Liftarn
ODP's editor removal procedures are, in fact, controversial, and reporting the fact that a controversy exists is not a POV claim. What makes these procedures controversial is the fact that many people, most of whom are former editors, complain about them. -- NetEsq 16:32, 21 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Liftarn - would you consider "controversial" more accurate than "very controversial"? Martin 01:54, 22 Nov 2003 (UTC)

It would probably be better if it was written in a more matter-of-fact tone such as "are often criticized by former editors". // Liftarn
Well, that's an option: we could say that "the removal procedures are frequently criticised by former editors" - NetEsq - does that express what you want to express with that text? Martin 19:43, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)

That would not be an accurate representation of the controversy. When I was an ODP editor, I observed many editors speaking out against ODP's editor removal procedures in the private ODP editor forums because they perceived these procedures to be arbitrary, capricious, and opaque. Some critics quieted down and took their criticism underground; some (like myself) did not. Moreover, as I noted above, criticism of ODP comes from a wide variety of sources, and would be coming from many current ODP editors, but for the fact that current editors quickly become former editors when they criticize ODP. In the final analysis, attributing criticism of ODP to disgruntled former editors is simply a pretext for whitewashing the controversy surrounding ODP. -- NetEsq 20:11, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Ok, how about simply saying "the removal procedures are frequently criticised" - would that be an acceptable compromise to you both? Martin 23:40, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Acceptable to me, as a compromise. -- NetEsq 22:17, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Sounds fine to the third one, too ;-) User:gestumblindi 22:23, 12 Dec 2003 (CET)

splendid. :) Martin 15:31, 13 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Can we change that wording now? (liftarn?) User:gestumblindi 00:12, 17 Dec 2003 (CET)
To "the removal procedures are frequently criticised"? Sounds OK, but what is the full text? // Liftarn
I simply changed "are very controversial" to "are frequently criticised" for the time being. User:gestumblindi 03:10, 18 Dec 2003 (CET)
Ok, it may be against Wikipedia:Avoid weasel terms (who criticizes?), but it's clearly an improvement over the current text. // Liftarn