Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-05-02/BAG, CU nominations

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Bot approvals group, checkuser nominations briefly held on RfA

By Ral315, 2 May, 2008

This week, seven bot approvals group nominations were added to the requests for adminship page; following this move, requests for checkusership were briefly added. The checkuser applications were removed shortly thereafter; bot approvals group nominations continue, but no new nominations are being taken while the issue is discussed.

Bot approvals group

The bot approvals group handles the approval of bot accounts on Wikipedia. The group began in March 2006, with an initial seven-person membership. New members have been added to the group mainly through nominations on the talk page, and the group currently contains 28 members, 14 of whom are active members of the group.

Over the last year, concerns have been raised about how the group has selected itself, amid concerns that the community did not have enough say in bot nominations. Durin nominated the group for deletion in May 2007, arguing that "this group seems to have (perhaps over time) created a rather massive bureaucracy for itself that seems to be self-enforcing". The page was kept, with a suggestion by the MFD's closer, Sean William, that "some reform might be needed". Following some discussion, a trial "open membership" was instituted, where anyone could join the group if they had experience with running or writing bots, had programming experience, and understood bot policy and the role of the Bot Approvals Group. This trial ended in February, however, after a self-nominated BAG member speedily approved a bot that did not follow bot policy.

In an attempt to get more community input into the process, these nominations were added to the RfA page on April 19, with a reconfirmation nomination by BAG member Coren. It was suggested that all current members of the BAG should reconfirm through the process within a six-month period, in order to retain membership within the group.

Six other nominations have been added since, including reconfirmation nominations for Cobi, Soxred93, Werdna, and ST47, and new applications from OverlordQ and Ilmari Karonen. A moratorium has been placed on any more requests, until input is gained on whether the process should be continued. Four of the nominations have been closed as of press time, with the reconfirmations of Coren, Cobi, Soxred93, and Werdna all successful.

It's unclear whether Bot Approvals Group nominations will continue to be hosted on the RfA page, along with adminship and bureaucratship requests; in a straw poll, nearly 90% of users commenting opposed the inclusion of the nominations. Some users have discussed placing the requests on the Bot Requests for Approval page, although no decision has been made as to where future requests will be handled.

Checkusership requests

After Bot Approvals Group requests were added to the page, discussion on the RfA talk page centered around whether other user rights, including that of checkuser, should be handled via the same process. Citing WP:BOLD, Walton One added requests for checkusership to the page as a "proposed process".

1.5 hours later, Majorly made the first request under the new process. His request (since deleted) remained on the page for 13 minutes before bureaucrat and arbitrator Deskana removed it, saying, "this has now officially bordered into the totally ridiculous. this has only been discussed for about two days with an extremely limited subset of people..."

In a later talk page message, Deskana noted that the process had been discussed by a small number of people, for just a few days:

This is madness. Yes, the checkuser policy says that if the community prefers a public vote, then it can have one. But do you honestly think that Foundation would accept the definiton of "community" as "about 10 people talking on a single talk page for a few days", then agree that a person nominated by this totally newfound procedure should be given checkuser rights? I really don't. As such, I've put a stop to that checkuser nomination. I asked, as a fellow Wikipedian, for people to wait. It seems that fell on deaf ears. Now I'm acting as a bureaucrat and putting a forceful stop to this process until there is meaningful discussion on this process. Love me or hate it me for it, it needed doing.

The Wikimedia Foundation's CheckUser policy says that "On wikis with an Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) which has been approved by the Foundation to assign CheckUser status, users can be appointed by the Arbitrators only," but provides an exception allowing communities that "[prefer] independent elections" to hold a discussion, with at least 70–80% consensus, in order to obtain the status.

Discussion was moved to Wikipedia talk:Requests for checkusership. The discussion has, however, stalled over the last few days, and it's unclear whether the effort to let the community decide on the position is ongoing.



Also this week:

From the editor — Board restructuring — Arbitrator resigns — BAG, CU nominations — WikiWorld — News and notes — In the news — Dispatches — Features and admins — Technology report — Arbitration report


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