User talk:Jimbo Wales

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Privacy - Let's not publish the IP address of non-logged-in editors

In this 10 March 2015 thread the point was made that Wikimedia should not publish the IP address of every non-logged-in editor.

In this 23 March 2015 Wikimedia Foundation "office hours" irc discussion (focussed on the NSA and the privacy of our readers and editors), the point was raised again:

  • [18:11:26] <Dragonfly6-7>: actually, how does this apply to the NSA's (and everyone's) total access to our database of every edit made by an IP user?
  • [18:14:44] <lilatretikov>: Dragonfly6-7 You are right, we are thinking about how to mask that. It is on the radar to address. Not ETA yet.
  • [18:15:02] <Philippe>: (Lila, you mean the historical edits by IP, right?0
  • [18:15:02] <lilatretikov>: Dragonfly6-7 as it is a community related issue as well. You would need to concur.

Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 04:39, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

Simply open an account with a non-descript user name, disclose no personal information, and your IP address will not be disclosed, and your privacy will be protected. Problem solved. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 04:50, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

Ugh. I forgot to sign in. Would a watching admin or OS (or whoever does this kind of thing) please make my IP address disappear from the history of this page? Cheers. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 05:03, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

Without the IP address, how would we know who was responsible for what edit? It would give the vandals a field day... AndyTheGrump (talk) 05:09, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
As I suggested in the linked thread, the IP address should be replaced by a unique identifier (unique to that IP address). Checkusers would be able to see IP address. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 05:36, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
One possibility is a cryptographic hash function.—Wavelength (talk) 05:44, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
An obvious consequence of that would be that it would be impossible to detect the most common form of IP-swapping (where only the last part of the IP changes) without having to request checkuser. Again, facilitating vandalism. There is also the fact that we require a public means of identifying the source of edits to satisfy copyright requirements. It is arguable whether IP alone actually does this, even now - making it entirely impossible to identify the source of unregistered edits would make a nonsense of the claim that anonymous contributors hold the copyright to their posts, since they would have no way whatsoever to prove that they made them. Frankly, I think that this thread is a classic case of missing the point: if the NSA wants to find out the IP's of anonymous contributors, it has the means to do so regardless of what is publicly visible - all hiding the IP will do is give a false sense of security. A more responsible course of action would be for the WMF to make it clear that regardless of what individual websites do, any action carried out by anyone via the internet is vulnerable to interception - both legal and illegal - and that contributors need to consider the potential consequences of posting accordingly. We aren't going to foil the spooks by hiding data they can easily obtain anyway, and we shouldn't be implying that we can. AndyTheGrump (talk) 05:54, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
  • We need more transparency and accountability in editing, not less. Cloaking IP addresses would be a big step backwards. Carrite (talk) 06:29, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
    • I'm surprised people are still making that argument after Eggers destroyed it in The Circle, a fictional work that shows how in the very name of transparency and accountability, a society transforms itself into a totalitarian state. Cloaking IP addresses is a huge step forward. You don't need to see an IP or a real name to know who is shilling what and pushing a POV. Viriditas (talk) 08:30, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
The practical argument I make about the real world of Wikipedia hasn't been "destroyed" by an obscure piece of antiutopian fiction. It seems goofy for me to even have to say as much. Carrite (talk) 17:10, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
I see the merits in both arguments, and so it makes me wonder if there isn't possibly a "third way" that solves all the problems. First let me lay out the two main principles that I think we all agree upon, the problem being that the principles are "in tension" with each other:
  1. Improving user privacy by hiding IP addresses would be beneficial, particularly since geolocation is easy and good these days and an ip reveals.
  2. but ip addresses provide a crucial form of minimal pseudo-identity that we find, as a practical matter, very useful - we'd like to not use that.
Key to that second point is that it is (moderately) hard to change one's ip address, and often the only means to change leaves one with a "nearby" ip address: x.x.x.123 becomes x.x.x.214 for example, which is enough to give us key information that we find useful
Some potential "middle ground" solutions:
  1. Is there a way to "hash" the IPs that preserves the property of "closeness"? I think it deserves some thought. For example, we could hash the first 3 numbers and leave the last digit in the clear. This would give significant locational privacy (since just the last digit is pretty useless for identifying someone) while still preserving what I think is the core value.
  2. Should we change the user flow at logged-out-editing to more firmly encourage logging in? This would require the Foundation to do some A/B testing, but I would imagine that if done well, it could increase overall retention rate, etc. (At Wikia, experience across wikis with different policies suggests that forcing login has beneficial effects.)
My overall point here is that I think we all agree on the goals: privacy good, identifying bad actors good. So "hide IP" or "not hide IP" may be too narrow a way to look at the question - perhaps we can (imperfectly) improve both.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:04, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

I am not aware of any cryptographic hash function that can't be cracked. Hiding IPs may inconvenience us considerably without ensuring privacy. Jehochman Talk 10:25, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

At the risk of lapsing into hyperbole, "Internet privacy" is an oxymoron. The structure of the Internet makes privacy effectively unachievable. Sure we could replace the display of an IP address with a generated hash. We could even replace each IP address with a random account name (so all edits from 83.12.156.32 appear as "Guest Editor Number 12345678") so that we maintain the link between one IP and all its edits but let's not kid ourselves that this ensures privacy. QuiteUnusual (talk) 10:55, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
I think you are both making a common error - perfect privacy isn't possible, but improvements in privacy are very much possible. No encryption is truly "uncrackable" of course - but it can be good enough to deter virtually every reasonably likely attack vector, no? QuiteUnusual's is one example of something that could only be cracked by stealing our database - that's very possible, even our database of encrypted passwords could be stolen - but it's a hell of a lot better than publishing ip addresses in the clear.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:03, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't deny we can make it better, which is why I gave an example, but what I really meant was we cannot guarantee anybody's privacy (and therefore shouldn't pretend we can) because privacy on the Internet requires significant effort from the individual to avoid technical and behavioural pitfalls and even then is still vulnerable. This includes the obvious like avoiding social engineering (phising, spearphising, etc.), malware of all kinds, server side attacks (e.g., man-in-the-middle) but also the less obvious but equally exploitable. These exploits may require government level skills and funding, but tracking an individual down is not overly taxing. People use the same username on multiple sites; they write the same text in different places (e.g., on Twitter, on another forum, on a blog). Even for you and me with Google it is often dead easy to link an IP editor here to content elsewhere on the Internet because of the reuse of common phrases. Identifying these patterns is a trivial activity for anybody with a big data analytics capability. In combination, the technical and behavioural challenges of avoiding being traced are huge. QuiteUnusual (talk) 16:35, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

I was once involved in a long-standing dispute that was rekindled by an IP (I forget the topic), and the IP pursued the issue vigorously at an admin noticeboard. One of the issues must have been related to whether the IP was a good-faith editor or a sock of one of the many topic-banned users. The IP was undone when another IP posted an explanation that the first IP was from a VPN service that hid the location of the user, and the second IP posted various links to confirm their statement. In other words, it was the fact that the first IP's address was visible on a noticeboard which allowed someone in-the-know to reveal that the user behind the IP was paying to use a VPN service to hide their location, when that user claimed to be a good-faith user from the location shown by geo-locating the IP, and not a sock of a banned user known to be from another continent. Johnuniq (talk) 11:08, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

This one is a bit tougher than it looks. Certainly User:AndyTheGrump's argument about false security from the NSA is wrong, because that would imply we ought to post IP addresses of logged-in users. It should be clear that we want to allow the logged-in user a measure of privacy, and it is at least conceivable we could give the NSA a headache with sufficiently well-padded encrypted code (though if they don't have instant backdoor access I'd be stunned). More to the point, there's the issue that the NSA and friends continue to pretend they're never really going to use its database to harass, prosecute or otherwise attack random civilians in friendly countries, which hampers at least any short-term use of the data against editors. By contrast, the random MPs, cops, corrections officers, and corporate employees who get caught up in teapot tempests over their silly editing... they're not facing the NSA, but some usually internal investigative process. Then there are people like some Kashmir/Jammu editors who saw a TV broadcast that Syed Ali Shah Geelani was dead, indicated that on Wikipedia, and then were threatened with some kind of consequence, not necessarily "legal" in nature, for doing so. The NSA wouldn't have given them that data, but there might be local spies of some sort who would do as much.
What deeply bothers me about "hashing" IP addresses is that it reifies absolute core bedrock principles of the surveillance society, namely (1) Thou Shalt Never Actually Make It Harder To Track Somebody, and (2) Only The Elite Shall Be Allowed To Do The Spying. It's clear that a lot of NSA wannabes take great pleasure going through Wikipedia IP edits and trying to embarrass some entity they can be linked with. It's hard not to feel like it's a bad thing, but is purifying the monopoly, making it clearer to ordinary people that spying is always done to you, never by you ... is that really something we should welcome?
On the other hand, we really don't want our editors harmed, and they ought to have more control over privacy.
A truer, fairer way to do this is not merely to "hash" the IP data, but to find a pair of big iron cojones and actually delete a portion of the IP data outright. I understand the administrative arguments for keeping track, but ... IPs can jump from one address to the other anyway. The last part of the address can change readily. So would it really hurt vandal-fighting operations that much if we never recorded what the last number was, and chopped out a few bits from the first three numbers, until the address on record was the same for a few tens of thousands of possible computers? We'd have to abandon the use of individual IP blocks, of course; we'd need to have more people checking potentially bad edits from known problematic shortened-IPs instead. My feeling is that the vandal fighters nowadays are vastly more efficient than in the past and that this wouldn't be beyond their capabilities. Also, the IP data would have to be shortened on every single record kept on every single machine - even one notation of the full IP and governments would be parading through your offices threatening to take all your records unless you give them total access without making them ask for a warrant.
But if we don't do that, I'm having a hard time seeing clear to accepting a proposal that would set up yet another difference in power between the People In Charge and the Mere Editors on Wikipedia. Not just because the NYPD is embarrassed, or whoever it is. We keep seeing this gap growing between the information haves and have-nots, between the people who are supposed to discuss and decide everything in private and the people who just see gray lines in the edit history. That's a cancer that already seems out of control. Wnt (talk) 12:52, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
  • The more basic solution is simply to make registration mandatory, as I am not sure if masking the only means of identification we have for non logged-in users would satisfy the licensing requirements. Honestly though, if you care about your privacy in that regard, register an account. Resolute 14:12, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Anyone who edits while logged out sees MediaWiki:Anoneditwarning, which looks like this:

This also - correctly - advises a person to create a named user account if they consider this to be a problem. I think that the current system is broadly OK, as governments already have all the tools they need to monitor a person's use of the web.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 14:17, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

That's a start. Here's my preferred wording... "You are not logged in... Would you like to start editing Wikipedia? It's easy to register an account at the following link..." Carrite (talk) 17:16, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't see how IP has anything to do with "licensing requirements". Attribution to an IP isn't much of an attribution, and the CC wording allows for any degree of anonymity. What's the difference between saying "since you didn't specify a username your edit will be attributed to [your-IP]" and "since you didn't specify a username your edit will be attributed to [your-shortened-IP]"? Wnt (talk) 17:56, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
The difference is that it doesn't identify you with anything that can be externally connected with anything at all. AndyTheGrump (talk) 18:01, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
What's the difference between connecting a user with a shared IP that might be anybody at the cable company and connecting him with a shared shortened-IP that might be anybody at a number of cable companies? You sound as if you forget the CC license is supposed to be protecting the writer - it doesn't actually have provisions written into it demanding that someone looking to subpoena or prosecute him be able to do it, when nobody else can. Wnt (talk) 20:00, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
The CC license is there to protect the copyright of the contributor - it has precisely nothing to do with protecting their identity. AndyTheGrump (talk) 02:27, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Exactly. Which means it has nothing to do with exposing it. Wnt (talk) 11:44, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

There are some situations where knowing anonymous editor's IP addresses are a clear benefit to protecting Wikipedia. Tracking abusive behavior by IP-hopping anonymous editors is commonplace - not just in situations where the IP addresses are similar, but where very different IP addresses can be associated with the same local ISP or geolocated to identical places. There are also situations where clear COI edits have been identified because, for example, a company's IP address was used to whitewash the company's Wikipedia page or where Senate Office IPs were used to make edits to senators' biographies. We offer anonymity/privacy for those who wish to make use of it by registering for an account. It's there for those who want it, so why go out of our way, and to our detriment, to impose it on those who don't care? Deli nk (talk) 19:46, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

If an IP address was masked in the public logs, it would become difficult to track routine IP vandalism without a checkuser request. It is important to keep track of which IP address made which edit. The only other option would be to make registration compulsory, which is a separate debate.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 05:52, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@Ianmacm: Do you think it would be much harder for you to track an IP doing routine vandalism if we removed the last number of the IP and, say, the 5th and 8th bits of each of the first three numbers? (i.e. logical OR with 9.9.9.255) Wnt (talk) 12:50, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
It depends, as some of the suggestions here would make it hard to track IP vandals. I still believe that the current system is workable, as anyone concerned about privacy can and should register an account.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 13:35, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
If the publication of IP addresses is really all so scary, the fix is obvious: make it so everyone must register an account. Of course, many or most of the casual vandals wouldn't bother to do that and would go away... Carrite (talk) 16:21, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia is very unusual in allowing non-logged in edits. The vast majority of newspaper comment sections, forums etc require a user account to be created, which takes only a few seconds.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 16:34, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Schools are responsible for a lot of our vandalism, and after a certain point they often receive long blocks. We can only identify schools through their IP addresses. We are forbidden to block certain IP addresses, at least not without notifying the WMF, because they fall into certain sensitive categories, eg government, the Foundation, etc. Dougweller (talk) 16:40, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for your thoughtful responses, Jimmy. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 13:50, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Commons, again...

Why are so many senior people on commons willing to take the side of a committed troll and globally locked user over the rest of the project? [1]

Hell might be other people (talk) 20:32, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

I honestly wish I knew. It's been a mystery to me for a long time. The only time I've come across Russavia's images previously is when they've been uploaded to disrupt Wikipedia. I can only assume it's because he sometimes uploads nice images such as the one above.--5 albert square (talk) 23:27, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
He has uploaded lots of seriously wonderful images such as Commons:File:Ours nageant (Musée du quai Branly) (3034045389).jpg. I'm staying out of the debate because my head acknowledges that we shouldn't exempt people from other rules just because they do great work, but my heart is torn because of the great work he has done. ϢereSpielChequers 01:15, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Why do people reward trolling by commenting on it rather than simply ignoring it? NE Ent 02:05, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Reading that debate is chilling, as so many flout the WMF openly. I heard today that Guy Kawasaki has been appointed to the WMF board. Perhaps he will have the guts to clear out the vile rat's nest that infects the leadership at Wikimedia Commons. I speak as someone who has donated hundreds of photos there, and who continues to hope for radical reform there. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:27, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
I sure hope so. It's IRC channel has also been terrible lately. The sad thing is, most 'normal' people seem to just leave or stop participating in conversation, not willing to step into the drama. Russavia's behavior despises me. And there are a few others who are not far behind, mostly due to the way they choose to cheer him on. sad sad sad —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 07:47, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't want to see Russavia sock-puppeting, frankly it annoys me and I have asked him to stop. But at the same time, if all he's doing is uploading in scope freely-licensed photos I don't see a particular need to stop him. He's proven an ability to work round any ban imposed on him, is it really worth our time to play whack-a-mole if he's not actually being disruptive? The community on Commons has never endorsed such a ban, probably because no one has given a convincing explanation as to why he was banned to begin with. The site ban imposed is problematic on many levels: the lack of transparency, the lack of appeals process, the fact that not even the person who was banned knows why he was banned, and also for being so hideously inept that the process doesn't turn off email notifications. Let the Foundation impose an IP ban if they want, it's their ban, they can deal with the problems it caused. -mattbuck (Talk) 10:38, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, I guess it depends how one defines "disruptive," Matt. Russavia's latest sock is "EcuadorWhores" in Spanish... Do you find that disruptive? If not, why not? It now appears on 999 graphics files in the history as the uploader, easily seen by everyone who opens the file in Media Viewer. Commons is not censored, you say? Why, you yourself deleted my Commons User Page that said simply, "Fuck Commons. Love, Carrite from En-WP." Do you remember doing that, oh defender against disruption? Whoa, I guess Commons really is censored, isn't it? Thanks! What do you estimate my survival time would be, in minutes, if I started uploading encyclopedic, educational graphics to Commons as User:CommonsWhores??? The truth is that Commons administrators are scared shitless of the new SanFranBans being used against one of their own and are attempting to nullify them and render them impotent by ignoring them... Congratulations on your fine work, uh, preventing further disruption of Commons by doing that! Carrite (talk) 16:27, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@Carrite: You are right that your userpage comment shouldn't have been censored. As I recall, censoring Wikipedia user pages was one of the first steps down the slippery slope, and has helped to create a cold, pro forma, antisocial atmosphere. It's quite the departure when every other major site online wants people to put their whole lives into the company database. Besides, one should never dissuade an opponent from making a fool of himself. :) Every time anybody censors anything we're shooting holes in the bottom of the boat, and we're all in the same boat, and we can only bail so fast.
But as I explained in my "!vote", I was moved by the citation of [2], that Russavia was apparently uploading images from the "Marcha de las Putas", a real event. I understand that not every person shown who was uploaded was necessarily in on it, and you might argue it is a "bad username" for potentially affecting some bystander somewhere, but it's surely not a low-grade troll. You might call it a high-grade troll, but only if you think that calling attention to a social movement to push back against attitudes regarding sexual minorities is "trolling"; I think it can and should be taken seriously, and the content, or at least what of it is potentially useful, therefore should be preserved. Whether for you or Russavia, trolling has its place, because protest has its place. In hindsight it appears even the vandals have a valuable role to play, helping to patrol the admins and keep them out of mischief! In the days when unknown wags did things like code goatse.cx in HTML tables and make it the background for the main page, I don't recall nearly as much hostile contention within the community over ideological battles. Wnt (talk) 19:07, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
"Whether for you or Russavia, trolling has its place, because protest has its place." — On this we agree. Carrite (talk) 21:05, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Predictable escalation of a conflict about basically nothing that started about 2 years ago. We're now at this stage. Count Iblis (talk) 00:56, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

  • In replying to the Original post, what is the definition of a "troll"? Urban dictionary defines it as someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community. The WMF has locked/banned 8 users and only 2 of them are people i'd categorize as "not trolls". I'm aware of the reason for the ban of 7 of the 8 users on that list, and the odd one out if obviously Russavia. You asked why the commons community is taking his side, well there is one simple answer, he is the ONLY one banned by WMF without a valid reason and if you read my comment on the page you linked. Most of the users in the 'know-how' know the reason for the ban of the other 7 editors and we actually agree with all the bans, so going back to the topic since it seemed to have been derailed by the "trolls" above, he may be locked by the WMF, but he has been an invaluable member of the commonswiki. Heck, the 2014 "Picture of The Year" on wikimedia was uploaded by him and not to mention the current picture of the germanwings plane that crashed in the Alps on the Main Page, was sought after and uploaded by him even after he was globally banned by the very foundation he is helping, you asked why "many senior people on commons willing to take the side of a committed troll and globally locked user over the rest of the project?", because on commons (not sure how it works on enwiki anymore), we judge users by their contributions and their dedication to the project as a whole and not by some meaningless ill-thought-out global ban by the WMF which only brought Commonswiki down to its knees. As someone who works on commons and tries to upload great high quality images for use on not only this wiki but 700 odd other wikis on wikimedia, i see him as a valuable member of our community. Its not easy to get licensing rights for use of copyrighted images, I know, I have tried and failed many times but if we are just going to ban people like him and continue to tolerate the 1000+ others on SPI's then it makes us wonder, who exactly is a troll?...--Stemoc 04:23, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I didn't see "so many senior people on commons willing to take the side of a committed troll and globally locked user over the rest of the project." What I saw is exact opposite. Please check the user profiles of each users participated there instead of merely counting the numbers. And the lack of much participation is another sign that Commons is not much interested about such dramas. BTW, it will be nice if legal can clarify whether a banned users contributions/uploads are well under wmf:TOU. If yes; I will neglect them. Otherwise better NUKE all edits by a banned user along with blocking their socks. It is not a big thing to discuss much. Jee 09:25, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
@Jkadavoor: What difference does it make if they are "well under TOU"? When we look at an image we should only be asking whether a) it furthers the educational mission and b) whether legal authorities hinder people from using it. I see little ideological difference between deleting images a "sock account" uploads because it violated the rules and deleting all the content that any account has uploaded after it is blocked/banned/locked/etc. just for spite. Before long you could be nuking half the files on the project, because Wikipedia has developed a bad habit of banning longtime contributors, simply because they have the most opportunities to get into a spat with somebody. Wnt (talk) 11:16, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
We enjoy the safe harbor protection provided by DMCA. So only the "editor/uploader" is responsible for his mistakes as far as service provider and maintenance volunteers are not aware of it. Here I don't know whether a banned user is how much responsible for his "edits". Further, I don't know how much WMF can claim they are not aware of such edits as they already locked the sock accounts. IANAL; so better the legal answer to it. If everything is OK; I prefer not to touch any of their (banned users') uploads. Jee 11:36, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I haven't heard of any serious copyright-based allegations against Russavia, though I'm sure with all his uploads there's the inevitable "that horizon is copyrighted!" "FOP" issue on occasion. Also, I'm not aware that any provider is required to assume that anyone will infringe copyright - so far as I know, DMCA notices are issued against files, not people. Also, locking an account and reviewing all its uploads for copyright issues are two very different things. So I really don't see what DMCA safe harbor possibly has to do with this. Also, I don't see what the legal difference is between a WMF employee locking the account and an Arbcom volunteer doing it; again it seems like you're very close to saying just delete anything any blocked user ever posted. Wnt (talk) 16:02, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
If the goal is to stop Russavia from creating sockpuppets then deleting all the socpuppet uploads makes sense. A mentally sane person will get frustrated and stop when they are not accomplishing anything. Mr Muffler (talk) 16:14, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
The purpose of blocking him is that he is a troll, yet you believe that preventing legitimate use of his productive contributions (while adding to the workload and distress he causes admins) will frustrate him and make him go away. I think that this quite literally falls under the textbook definition of doublethink, a skill I admit I'm not very good at. Wnt (talk) 19:33, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I do not know if he is a troll but anyone can see that he is causing argument among users. If he stops trying to upload images the arguments stop. Any child can use the toolset to upload images from Flickr. Why let one user hold Commons hostage? Mr Muffler (talk) 20:31, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
He's not holding us hostage in any way shape or form. He's not threatening us, he isn't making us change our policy. -mattbuck (Talk) 23:16, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
So your idea is that anyone who causes argument, block 'em? If a case is contentious, always throw out the user? "Not to be guilty when accused is disorderly, and being disorderly is a crime." A very modern attitude, no doubt, quite well established in regard to Guantanamo Bay, for example. But it's not what we're here for. Wnt (talk) 00:40, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Suppose you told me "You are fine. But please don't come to my home anymore." Do I argue with you, "I'm fine. So why not I can come?" or "Hey; there are so many people and places where I'm not only fine; I'm wholeheartedly welcomed too. Then why not care him and his home." This is more a gentleman business than something that can be defined/restricted by rules. BTW, no other banned user want to sock. I don't know any of them personally. But as far as I know, Dcoetzee was a gentleman onwiki and we all admire his uploads related to Google Art Project which are much valuable than of the user in question's uploads. I didn't see a single sock of him so far.
The current situation is disturbing. If this continues, it will end up more than 365 socks in one year. I will not complain even if WMF take some extra ordinary measures to stop it, something like merely allowing a single sock to "upload only" rights :(. Jee — Preceding undated comment added 01:03, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
@Jkadavoor: As you know, this is not a private home. The situation is closer to that found when somebody in a college administration throws out a beloved member of a fraternity for making him look bad, but the people who actually live there take little interest in helping to ensure that the persona non grata order is actually respected. Now it may be, as in the case of the fraternity, that in the end every single member must be convinced very conclusively that the building is not their home, and that a college (like an encyclopedia) is run by and represents the interests of one single person only, the one in charge. But that is an outcome with notable destructive consequences. Wnt (talk) 01:19, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm not sure how blocking an editor who has generally uploaded good images be of any benefit to the foundation..aren't we actually trying to get more editors involved in both enwiki and commons and banning/locking users willy-nilly without a justification will just deter them from joining. I personally do not like Russavia, and even he knows it but I have been around for over 8 years and I always value a user via their contribution and dedication to the project which russavia undoubtedly has and even though he is locked, he still helps out users like me on IRC and i value that...I would do the same for any other editor on any wikimedia project. As i said above, unless the WMF can clarify on the reason for banning a productive user who at that time was also an elected admin, I refuse to take their side. What if one of you get locked here by the WMF without any justification? It can happen to anyone. Transparency is all we ask for and I'm glad he hasn't gone mental yet and on a vandalism spree which happens to a lot of users who are banned with out a valid reason...--Stemoc 01:34, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Hmm; I personally DO like Russavia, even though failed to tolerate with his behavior. I know nothing about the reason behind his initial ban; so can't comment on it. But I've plenty of reasons to believe he is eligible for a ban which includes my experience with him after that ban. I don't know how much transparency is possible. But I had handed over many evidences to the crats, admins in CU team and to IRC ops. I'm not a guy who post everything publicly in paste bin.
I still support a move like this. If a good standing volunteer like Nick can talk with WMF and acts like a mediator, he has my supports. I missed his early post in this page. There may be a possibility to allow an account with limited rights or so. But the first thing we expect from a person who is willing for a negotiation is to stop socking. Jee 03:06, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Regarding Wifione ArbCom case

Three years ago I noticed this thread on your talk page and I wrote: "...this issue should be properly investigated/clarified." Later, I notified you and others watching this page repeatedly about my concerns regarding Wifione's editing, but I was largely ignored. Now I'm letting you know that the case has come to an end, see this. There is a good off-site summary and broader context described in the current issue of the Newsweek magazine. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 07:02, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

I consider this one of the worst (slowest) failures to tackle a problematic editor that we've seen yet. It's good that we reached this conclusion in the end, but the question that should give us a sense of desire for change is: why did it take so long?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:49, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
No one cared, and I would also say that Wikipedians hesitate to 'take to court' a kind, polite and respected member of the community who has many friends. User:Tinucherian, a WP administrator from India, responded to my questions regarding Wifione in March 2012: "I did also inform some of the members of Arb Com. They feel that there is no credible evidence as such." Well, I presented more evidence at Wikipedia:Editor review/Wifione but the case went to ArbCom only after I repeatedly attacked Wifione and s/he complained at ANI. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 12:39, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
So you've raised two points. (1) No one cared. (2) " Wikipedians hesitate to 'take to court' a kind, polite and respected member of the community who has many friends" I think both points are valid but the first one is incomplete. I'm interested in the question of *why* "No one cared". Overall, it isn't true - lots of people care a lot about manipulation and COI editing. So I'm curious why no one cared *enough* and *in this particular case*.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:01, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Jimbo, Vej resigned as a sysop out of disgust at not being able to get this addressed. (Thankfully he has been willing to pick up the tools again, after the case. Not all would have). At the start of the arbitration case there was a chilling atmosphere towards those seeking to provide evidence against Wifione. Only as the evidence was presented, and it started to become obvious that there was a mountain of compelling evidence, did this attitude start to shift. Several of those presenting evidence openly told others that they were afraid to present evidence in case they were sanctioned. They should have had no reason to fear, since they were helping to expose malfeasance, but the culture here is not welcoming to "whistle-blowers". Not at all. Begoontalk 14:23, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@Begoon: Agree that the issue lingered for years without action, mostly because there are too few editors and hardly anyone cared about an article on an obscure Indian college. Agree that Wifione's polite manner got them a long way. Also agree that the 2014-15 Arbcom case rested very strongly on Vejvančický's evidence and would never have succeeded without it. But disagree re any chilling atmosphere in this most recent case? There was opposition to unbanning Peter Damian so he could directly take part in the case. There was opposition to outsourcing the /Evidence page to an external website. But that's it, at least from my perspective. I've also not followed Wifione much longer than the last few months, but I don't feel there was any reason for anyone involved in this case to fear they would be sanctioned for presenting valid evidence. And as it turned out, nobody was sanctioned for this or any similar reason. I appreciate the point about Arbcom procedures being long and messy, and maybe they need reform. But not seeing why there's a "fear of reprisal," and would welcome evidence that this fear has any practical basis (plus suggestions on what to do about it if proven). -- Euryalus (talk) 07:20, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm speaking from my own personal experience of how the case unfolded. You are correct that nobody was sanctioned for giving evidence, but that was certainly a fear I heard from people considering participation at the time. It would be difficult to deny that Arbcom has a reputation for "sanctions all round" solutions, deserved or otherwise, and this makes people nervous. Read the first 3 sections on the case page at Wikipedia talk:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Wifione/Evidence. The atmosphere is clear - people seeing big, scary templates about possible sanctions, confusion about what is permitted. I'm not a lone voice here - there are several comments broadly agreeing with me below. Now, I've already said that this atmosphere improved once the massive amount of compelling evidence started to be examined, and I've said elsewhere that I was heartened overall by the case and the result. This is true, but you need to consider that fears like these can prevent cases from ever being brought. I can't give concrete evidence of a "fear of reprisal" other than reporting it exists, and that I have experienced it first hand, and asking you to read other comments on this page. What to do? Well, a less "officious" environment around Arbitration could help. The guys at DR strike a good line. Maybe a group of editors available to help those wishing to bring cases to tiptoe through the minefield is an idea? Maybe others have better ideas? Begoontalk 10:44, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
It occured to me you might like an example of unnecessary, discouraging officiousness at Arbcom cases. Ok, here's one. I recently made a very brief, hopefully helpful, uninvolved comment at a request for arbitration. As a consequence, I was added, as a party, to not one, but two arbitration cases, received 4 talkpage messages and pings, and had to post to 2 separate case talkpages to have myself removed from 2 cases I was never a part of. All my "reward" for offering a helpful, brief comment, in passing. There are perhaps between a dozen and 2 dozen people in the same position. This could all have been avoided by the 2 cases being properly considered and drafted before posting, instead of a hurried, ill-considered copy/paste to be "fixed later". Please ask yourself if that kind of thing encourages or discourages participation. Begoontalk 15:39, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
@Begoon: Can't argue with that. --Euryalus (talk) 08:16, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
I completely agree with the sentiments above. Fear of retaliation is a common problem when dealing with admins on Wikipedia because there are no checks and balances against admins. This case shows it as others have. It's the admins word against everyone else and the admin is given a 10 to 1 offset automatically. The Arbcom purposefully makes the process of addressing admin problems so complex, so long and so burdeonsome that most just leave the project in frustration rather than deal with it. Problems take years to address if they ever are at all. If anyone thinks Wifione is the only problematic admin...or the worst, they are kidding themselves. Administrative oversite of the admins is a very much needed thing in this project and the Arbcom has shown time and time again that they are both unwilling to do it and don't have the skills to do it. There needs to be a higher level of authority, preferably at the WMF, that gives editors a chance for review and allows admins actions to be reviewed and dealt with outside the protected class status they have on the projects. Unfortunately, just like this case wasn't taken seriously for years, the overarching problem with the admin culture and us and them mentality will also not be taken seriously I fear regardless of how much damage it does to the project with editor retention and the longterm success of the project. Not as long as editors have no voice and admins are allowed "broadly construed" discretionary ability to do whatever they want. 138.162.8.57 (talk) 14:49, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@Jimbo: It was a sophisticated work what Wifione has done for years and I guess that the opaque 'jungle' surrounding his activities on Wikipedia + complicated context of the topic (higher education in India) have discouraged most of editors from doing a detailed research or review the extensive researches made by others. People edit Wikipedia for free and few of them are interested in spending their time on investigating complicated cases of manipulation in areas completely unknown to them. That might be an explanation of 'why no one cared *enough*'. As for your 'why *in this particular case*' - I would say that it was partly because by his friendly and cordial attitude and socializing skills Wifione managed to persuade many of the core community members that his intentions are honest. Wikipedians act often more like members of a group of friends rather than independent editors-encyclopedists. Wifione knew that perfectly and found an ellegant way of how to get to the 'club', in my opinion .... and while I'm thinking about the Indian families potentially misled by Wikipedia and about the inability of this big open project to defend itself against sophisticated attempts to 'game the system', some other editors mourn Wifione's fall on his talk page. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 15:46, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@Begoon:: I would say that good and honest people should follow their own conscience and ethical standards without being afraid of sanctions imposed by a 'culture' of an anonymous online environment. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 15:46, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Indeed, they should, and in this case you and others did. My concern is equally for the occasions we may never discover, where a user has concerns, expresses them, gets a lukewarm or discouraging response, looks at the stress and effort that would be involved in an Arbcom case, and says, basically, "meh - screw that. I've led them to the water - not my fault they won't drink it". If the culture doesn't encourage people to express concerns, and help them through the barbed wire and minefields, we lose valuable input, and people, and serious problems go unaddressed.Begoontalk 16:06, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Any honest discussion of why it took so long to deal with Wifione, and why a chilling effect exists in examining conflicts of interest, needs to start with the one previous ArbCom case that dealt with the issue. The message from that case could not have been clearer, at least to me. It's not surprising that Wifione thought he could beat the rap by being unctuously polite and by casting himself as a victim of unjust persecution and WP:OUTING, because that exact strategy worked brilliantly for the COI accounts in the previous case. (One of the Arbs even compared the COI accounts to Martin Luther King, Jr., which left me literally speechless).

    The Newsweek article on Wifione is pretty well-done; the quotes from Jayen466 were extremely fair and provided good context. Frankly, if someone wrote up the Transcendental Meditation COI issue, we'd come out looking equally bad or even worse, but that's another story. The bottom line is that the chilling effect is very real, from my perspective as an admin, and it comes from the message sent by ArbCom in its handling of the TM COI case. Vejvančický deserves a huge debt of gratitude (and frankly, so do some of the people who put this material together on Wikipediocracy) for tackling this issue despite the confusing and downright counterproductive direction that the community's leadership has taken in previous COI cases. MastCell Talk 16:35, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Correction: I found the MLK comparison, here, and it was not related to the TM editors. Rather, an Arb compared Newt Gingrich's PR man to Martin Luther King, Jr. I stand corrected, although no less appalled. MastCell Talk 17:19, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I suppose the burning question, MastCell has to be: If someone declares a possible COI, does this mean that their colleagues, friends and/or family can then be contacted by anyone who has decides to investigate them?  Roger Davies talk 06:35, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • And MastCell, if someone campaigns against certain ideas in their real life occupation or activities, does this give them just as much of a COI as the editors they try to get sanctioned for operating on the contrary side of the topic as them in WP, especially if they are an admin? Cla68 (talk) 07:07, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Re: "I consider this one of the worst (slowest) failures to tackle a problematic editor that we've seen yet. It's good that we reached this conclusion in the end, but the question that should give us a sense of desire for change is: why did it take so long?" — I suppose the facile answer is that too many people are obsessed with potty language or copyright violations or having fun fighting with "enemies" about topical topics in order to spin a "win," and not enough are doing the hard, boring work of verification and improvement. There are insufficient boots on the ground to adequately police content of everything or really much of anything... In addition, Wifione was — nice. Carrite (talk) 18:52, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@ Jimmy Wales. You might also consider ending the ban you've imposed on JN466 from posting on this page. It's hard to hear with fingers in the ears, I have found, and this page is as close as anything Wikipedia has to being a WP version of Wikipediocracy. He can say his piece here or there (or as a contributor to Signpost) but it seems like banning him from this place is counterproductive to WP's ultimate best interests. Carrite (talk) 19:03, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Banning is always a way to silence criticism one doesn't want to hear. A couple of editors have been banned form editing, costing the project countless edits, merely because the message was a threat to those in power here on Wikipedia. Personally, I really don't feel like Jimbo cares nor do I think he is willing to do anything about this problem so commenting here merely makes us feel better and that we have tried to do our due diligence, but doesn't really do anything to fix the problem. Those that are the problem, got that way, because of the tendency for the community, admins, Arbcom, Jimbo and the WMF to look the other way and pretend they don't see what's going on and anyone who brings it up is banned, blocked, accused of something or other to discredit them or otherwise bullied into place. I could personally name half a dozen admins right off the top of my head (including at least one on the Arbcom) that the project would be better off not being admins and a list three times longer of editors who are a net negative. Stating them openly would lead to a block as a personal attack and not listing them leads to insinuations of "Proove it with links" whereby, once provided, accusations of personal attacks are made and the cycle continues. This is largely due to the lack of oversight of the project, the failure of those in leadership positions to do the right thing and a general attitude, as stated above, of not caring. 138.162.8.57 (talk) 19:35, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
According to a quote in the Newsweek article, "Admins have a huge advantage in Wikipedia....The default assumption is that they are ‘good guys.’” Invariably, the best advice for honest and talented people who are thinking about editing Wikipedia is this: "Don't touch anything remotely controversial until you've become an administrator."Anythingyouwant (talk) 21:58, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Queries

  1. Was the any discussion of Wikipedia Zero (the appropriateness, use of resources, et. al.) on English Wikipedia before roll out?
  2. Are article talk pages accessible using the mobile interface? NE Ent 01:57, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Why no one cared

You say:

I'm interested in the question of *why* "No one cared". Overall, it isn't true - lots of people care a lot about manipulation and COI editing. So I'm curious why no one cared *enough* and *in this particular case*.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:01, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps you could answer this. I emailed you on 3 December 2013 with a link to this article (which I co-authored). I received no reply. I emailed again on 6 December pointing out the administrators slurs against Mahesh Peri (who I interviewed for the article) were unforgiveable, as was the article he created on Ashok Kumar Chauhan, with the sole purpose of slandering him. I copied the Arbitration Committee, not one reply. I asked an arbitrator later about it, who said “That's not something I'm going to be worrying about I'm afraid, it's not an area that I feel a lot of passion about”. He pointed out that he had won a prize of £25 in the "core content competition", and had also received free Wikipedia T-shirts. “Are these problematic? At what point do you draw the line?”. That, and your failure to act, speak volumes. 81.147.132.55 (talk) 18:53, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

[edit] Oh pardon me, you did mention it later (email of 14 December) when I asked you to comment again. You chided me for "keep[ing] company with other dishonest trolls rather than being respected and appreciated by good people", and accused me of being intellectually dishonest, and as for the Wifione case "It is not generally reasonable to assume that someone not commenting on something is an approval of it, particularly when no one has actually inquired about it in any normal venue." Ha 81.147.132.55 (talk) 19:07, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

[edit] Of course you are expressing concern right now, but that is because it has reached Newsweek, I suspect. But you failed to act in December 2013 because it was not an issue in the mainstream media, and because the offender was a highly placed, well-liked and well-respected administrator, who it was not in your interest to offend. Much easier to accuse me of 'keeping company with dishonest trolls" and not being "appreciated by good people". Who are these good people? 81.147.132.55 (talk) 19:31, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Personally, I think some do care, but those people are either afraid of reprisal, or they would rather focus on building content than get sucked into a month long mud slinging contest at Arbcom and risk getting banned themselves when Arbcom does their usual punish both sides so there are no winners approach. A lot of the fault lies squarely on the shoulders of the Arbcom and their failures to police the project and the WMF for completely ignoring the problem unless its a piece of new software they want to force onto the community. They make the cases so long and complicated no one wants to do them and then the end result is either nothing happening to the admin in question or the invoke a bunch of penalties all around to make sure that A) no one wants to submit and will avoid it at all costs and B) there are no winners and they can be passive aggressive and not choose a side. Its already a fact that if they choose a case they then they know the person is guilty, so once the case is accepted, the person may as well just leave anyway, unless they are an admin that is because although this admin did get punished, that is an extremely rare exception. 138.162.8.57 (talk) 19:40, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
The real question is why don't we have more editors like Antonín Vejvančický's running and maintaining this site instead of what we have now? Viriditas (talk) 20:51, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
If you want to know why, read the preceding comments from Begoon and MastCell and 138.x.x.x. I know of one very definite recent/ongoing case of COI editing. But I dare not report it, or I'll be accused of outing and being a horrible person in general. Even if I were eventually to be cleared life is too short to have to mess with stuff like that. So I try to minimize the damage and figure what the hell. The quote on my user page sums up the problem as well as anything. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 02:23, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Hi Short Brigade Harvester Boris Perhaps the thing to do in these circumstances is not to focus on the perceived COI but look instead at POV-pushing, misuse of sources, revert warring etc that are usually the hallmarks of someone with an agenda,  Roger Davies talk 06:39, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Roger. Up to now the sense that arbs (or recent arbs) think COI per se doesn't matter has been inferred indirectly. I appreciate your stating it explicitly. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 12:06, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Don't be too hard on him, Roger is just passing the majority view of Wikipedians along — it's not the editor, it's the edits (however you want to phrase that). For all the pious expressions of shock and horror when one POV-pushing sock puppeteer after another is revealed and neutralized, there is nothing to be surprised or horrified about so long as the cult of anonymity reigns and anyone anywhere can start editing with or without an account, without limitation on account creation, backed by anti-outing rules and the mantra of Assume Good Faith. It's just the way it is going to be forever. So don't worry too much about who is affected by what degree of COI or nationalist feeling or loyalty to their employer, etc. Concentrate on the edits, not the editor. When those go bad, that's when you've got a case. Carrite (talk) 16:37, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that explains the length of my block log. When I see a problem, I act. According to at least one IP up above, Jimbo and arbcom were contacted about the problem and failed to act. Is this true? Viriditas (talk) 05:02, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Hi Viriditas. Wifione was active on the articles in question from about Apr 2009-Feb 2013, so this is largely historic. There were on-wiki allegations in numerous places, (often with little or no actual evidence) both from 2009 and, after a long gap, from late 2013 onwards: Jul 2009, Dec 2009, Dec 2009, Dec 2009, Dec 2013, Dec 2013, Jan 2014, Aug 2014, Aug 2014, Sep 2014, Dec 2014. It is also worth mentioning that Jimmy reopened one of the discussions here to get the issue aired. Once the issue was raised at ArbCom in Dec 2014, it was accepted with alacrity and resulted in a desysopping and siteban.  Roger Davies talk 06:54, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
The IP commenting above (81.147) is User:Peter Damian. Both Peter Damian, who is banned from the English Wikipedia, and User:Jayen466, who is banned from this talk page, did exemplary and professional research and played fundamental role in exposing the scale of Wifione's manipulation, from what I can say. It is in the best interest of this project to listen to constructive criticism and judge the validity of arguments rather than where they come from. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 06:49, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree completely. This situation was laid out for all to see in a Wikipediocracy blog in December 2013, but I have no doubt that without Vejvančický's wholly admirable pertinacity no action would yet have been taken. Dislike of the messenger should not lead us to stop our ears against the message. Rules like "holding the person introducing the link responsible for all the content of the link" are undoubtedly a deterrent to pursuing cases like this.
I wonder whether, in the light of the danger to Wikipedia of widespread undeclared paid editing and the problems in dealing with it, we should rethink the rule that "the outing policy takes precedence over the Conflict of interest guideline." Fear of being sanctioned for outing is certainly another deterrent to whistleblowers. JohnCD (talk) 17:07, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
@Roger Davies The most recent examples of manipulation are from August and November 2013. Wifione stopped only because the scrutiny became more intense so they couldn't proceed, in my opinion. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 07:17, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, there were a trivial number of edits after Feb 2013 (that's what I meant by "active on"). Why do you think the articles stayed uncorrected after Wifione had effectively withdrawn from the topic?  Roger Davies talk 07:41, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, it is still a mess. I tried to fix some of it. During my editing of the article Ashok Chauhan I had to go to WP:BLPN where I received no independent comments or support but only sharp attacks, see Wikipedia:Biographies_of_living_persons/Noticeboard/Archive204#Ashok_Chauhan. Editing in this area requires expertise which our editors don't seem to have, and even if they are familiar with the topic they often edit in a biased way. In the online reactions over this expose I can see many cynical comments by Indians pointing out that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and that the competition between Indian higher education institutions is a very dirty business. There's also a problem in this area with what we call "reliable sourcing" - IIPM is/was one of the largest advertisers in India, which means that the major newpapers and media may hesitate to publish negative stories about a company that pays them, and it might then influence the shape of our articles. Editing in this area requires very high level of competency and neutrality and we simply don't have competent editors doing that. The most troubling thing is that uncontrolled, irresponsible and biased editing might affect negatively important decisions of real people living in real world. This example also shows that Wikipedia might be an important tool deciding about where big money go. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 08:25, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Arbitrary break

As several folks said above, it's not a case of not caring, but just that there is not enough time in the day to correct all the articles that appear to be written by paid editors. I don't know that Wikipedia is set up so that we can expect this type of editing to be reverted or even all reported somewhere or even noticed in some cases.

The ultimate problem was noted in a quote in Newsweek "by letting this go on for so long, Wikipedia has messed up perhaps 15,000 students’ lives.” That is very likely correct.

Now I understand that the WMF, or you, or me, or other Wikipedia editors are not legally responsible for this, but it does seem that we all have some moral responsibility. I'd have a very difficult time getting the system changed to deal with it, you might have a slightly easier time, the board could do it (if they knew what to do). Maybe we should spend some time giving concrete steps that would help stop this. Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:26, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

The issue is that the English Wikipedia hosts 4 700 000 articles. This is far too many to be effectively monitored by a slowly diminishing number of editors. An obvious step is to (i) greatly raise the bar for notability and (ii) raise the bar for reliable sources. Both these criteria are far too complicated, with far too much wiggle room. However, neither of these would solve the problem of a well-funded organisation using its treasure/influence to achieve positive media coverage in high quality publications. (The recent furore involving The Daily Telegraph and HSBC being a case in point.[3], [4]).  Roger Davies talk 07:04, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, that's opening a fine Pandora's kettle of worms there. I don't think that I could possibly agree less that the solution to POV editing relates to changing notability and sourcing standards. Our deletion policy is one of the (very few) things at Wikipedia that really works well, in my opinion. Operations there are backed by long term consensus, by elaborate sets of guidelines, and a certain dispassionate and objective climate has emerged. Compare and contrast to early AfD debates which were dominated by "seems important to me" and "not important enough" types of arguments, which are a sure recipe for food fights and the rule of ignorance. There are half a dozen changes to things at WP that do not work well to be tried first (including the structure and purview of ArbCom, the establishment of binding mediation for solution of content disputes, tightening of registration and requirement of account use to edit, limitation of new starts to established accounts, etc.)
As for so-called "reliable sources" — that's a relic of the bad old days of Verifiability Not Truth. The fact is that the "best" of sources are wrong sometimes and the most sketchy of publications sometimes include important and irreplaceable true information. Good editors must learn to marshal and balance the factual evidence dispassionately. The obsession with using only a set of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval sources assures POV fighting over inclusion of sources rather than measured discussion about inclusion of truthful information. So-called "reliable sources" are a myth — everything has bias, explicit and implicit. Those who write content have to be smart enough to use the whole range of available information and the ability to do so dispassionately and fairly. End of spiel. Carrite (talk) 17:01, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
@Roger Davies: it's very possible I'm missing something important, but what does your response have to do with the problem? It looks like many warning signs were ignored about Wifione, before he even made it to RFA. I'm referring to the old SPI. Now I've been told there was a COI incident report that apparently didn't go anywhere. And now we find out that Wifione was instrumental in gaming Wikipedia Zero which preyed on the financially poor, captive audience of thousands of people in India looking to improve their lives. Something is seriously wrong here. Viriditas (talk) 20:47, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
The WMF should buy a second hand Watson from IBM and let that system monitor our articles. Count Iblis (talk) 17:45, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
See automation bias and The Machine Stops. Viriditas (talk) 20:51, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

A plea

Jimbo. Above, Peter Damian, posting as an "anon", asks you a question. I think it's a fair question, and the comments here seem to support that. Will you answer it, please? For reference:

Perhaps you could answer this. I emailed you on 3 December 2013 with a link to this article (which I co-authored). I received no reply. I emailed again on 6 December pointing out the administrators slurs against Mahesh Peri (who I interviewed for the article) were unforgiveable, as was the article he created on Ashok Kumar Chauhan, with the sole purpose of slandering him. I copied the Arbitration Committee, not one reply. I asked an arbitrator later about it, who said “That's not something I'm going to be worrying about I'm afraid, it's not an area that I feel a lot of passion about”. He pointed out that he had won a prize of £25 in the "core content competition", and had also received free Wikipedia T-shirts. “Are these problematic? At what point do you draw the line?”. That, and your failure to act, speak volumes. 81.147.132.55 (talk) 18:53, 25 March 2015 (UTC) [edit] Oh pardon me, you did mention it later (email of 14 December) when I asked you to comment again. You chided me for "keep[ing] company with other dishonest trolls rather than being respected and appreciated by good people", and accused me of being intellectually dishonest, and as for the Wifione case "It is not generally reasonable to assume that someone not commenting on something is an approval of it, particularly when no one has actually inquired about it in any normal venue." Ha 81.147.132.55 (talk) 19:07, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks. Begoontalk 18:07, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

It's not like this type of information is difficult to uncover

If you're willing ot hold your nose while you read. [5] Hell might be other people (talk) 02:01, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

There ya go... That's one important function of Wikipediocracy: the ability to discuss problematic editing in a manner that would get a person censured or blocked if it happened on wiki... It should also be noted that Greg Kohs is really good at ferreting out COI editing... Carrite (talk) 07:42, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Naveen Jain

You made some pretty bold claims here in response to a BLP's request for help, suggesting that Ronz was engaging in tenuous editing. I've spent quite a bit of time on the page since then after seeing it on your Talk page. From what I can tell, the page containing a substantial amount of critical material was actually representative of the total body of literature and therefore NPOV.

For example, in-depth profiles in Inc. Magazine and The Seattle Times focus mostly on allegations of lying to investors, cheating employees out of stock options, etc., whereas no sources of similar quality have been identified to suggest he is notable for other, most positive acheivements. It is a bit more balanced now though - focusing both on the rise and fall of InfoSpace.

If you have counter-arguments supported by sources, they would be welcomed. The accusation of tenuous editing wasn't very specific and it's not clear what in the actual article you felt was unfair to the article-subject. CorporateM (Talk) 04:10, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

The Signpost – Volume 11, Issue 12 – 25 March 2015