User:Herostratus/Gokkun incident Jan 2011

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Article history[edit]

This entire section is was created to clarify things in my own mind, and provided for completeness; it's long and not important and no one needs to actually read it.

Early history[edit]

The Gokkun article was created in 2004. An image (not the one currently being contended) was added at some point (I have it being first added in February 2006 (here), but there's a reference to an image on the talk page archives from May 2005, which I can't explain. But the exact date not important.)

Anyway, he question of an image in this article has been a contentious one since then (see Talk:Gokkun and Talk:Gokkun/Archive 1. There was an image in the article from February 22 2006 until March 4 2006 when it was (improperly, in my view) removed by new anon User:129.12.226.32, then restored on March 15 2006, and again removed on March 24, 2006 by User:Boereck.

User:Boereck took it to the the talk page, and on March 23 2006 began the first systematic and extensive discussion of the matter, and on March 26 2006 a straw poll was initiated (here). At March 28 2006 this stood tied at 8-8 and by the fall of 2006 at 10-8 in favor (of using the image). It now stands at 14-8 in favor of using an image. (But the last four "votes" in favor were added in 2007, 2007, 2008, and 2009, and a case could be made that the straw poll had expired by then. It's now in the archive.)

Middle history[edit]

I haven't gone over the period between the spring of 2006 and September 1, 2008 edit by edit, and this period is probably not important. Apparently the image in question was deleted for copyright violation and there was discussion of this and other matters.

Anyway, by whatever path, On September 1 2008, the article didn't have an image, and User:Seedfeeder then added a new image to the article, and simultaneously (and of course correctly) opened a thread on the talk page, here. There was no response and no objection, and the image stayed in the article.

From September 1 2008 until January 20 2009 (not counting some quickly reversed removals) the image was in the article. On January 20 2009 User:Cmsg removed the image and engaged on the talk page, (here). There was a little discussion, but not much, and the image was quickly restored and remained (not counting more quick removal/restores) until May 7 2010.

May 7-8-9 of 2010[edit]

OK, so at this point the image is in the article, and had been for awhile. In early May of 2009 this was flipped to a state where the image was not in the article. The sequence of events that led to this is rather confusing, and a detailed analysis is included below at User:Herostratus/Gokkun incident Jan 2011#Re events of May 7-8-9, 2010. Since I was involved I can't guarantee that any of this material is free of bias and I leave that to the reader to decide. But here is the bare bones:

So far, so nothing - the image was removed and restored, no problem, back to the existing state. But then:

During the following edits, the talk page was also being populated with a lively discussion, mostly between me User:Herostratus and User:WLU.

WLU then made three unimportant edits ([4], [5], [6]).

The next edits were the next day:

After this editing went on to other areas, and the image was not in the article.

May 2010 to January 2011[edit]

I haven't gone through each edit, but I'm pretty sure that from May 2010 to September 2010 the image was not in the article, except for any quick restore/reverts that might have occurred. Then:

There were a couple of unrelated edits, then

During the ensuing days and weeks, a lively discussion ensued at the RfC. Editing of the article also went on, but not to restore the image, and the article continued to not contain an image.

The RfC was relisted and has never been closed. By simple headcount,it stands now at 9-8 against including an image, by my reckoning. No threads were added following the RfC, until during the events described immediately below.

Events of January 2011[edit]

OK. So we have a situation where:

  • There is no image in the article, and hasn't been for the best part of a year (since May 2010).
  • There is an RfC about adding an image, but it is stalled at no consensus (or, if one has considered it to have expired (it's been open since September 2010), has expired with no consensus). The headcount is 9-8 against. As to strength of argument, I am not situated to evaluate this impartially.

So then:

  • January 10 1:53. User:Valknuter added an image to the article. Edit summary was "image adds to article".
    • Comment: This was Valknuter's 14th edit to the Wikipedia, and so he is entitled to make this edit, but he should have engaged on the talk page, especially as a fairly new editor working on a contentious subject. Simple rookie mistake, though.
  • January 10 2:49. User:Neptune 123 changed the size of the image.
  • January 10 5:36. User:Herostratus removed the image. Edit summary was "no consensus to restore image".
  • January 10 9:57 User:Cyclopia added the image. Edit summary was "no consensus to remove it either, it seems"
    • Comment: in my view, this was a really bad edit, for a couple of reasons:
      1. User:Cyclopia should have opened a thread on the talk page instead of making this edit. This would have been per WP:BRD.
      2. The edit summary "no consensus to remove it either, it seems" shows a profound misunderstanding of a very core point of WP:CONSENSUS which is that changes to an article's state, if contested, require consensus or at least some effort in that direction. Cyclopia's point, if generally accepted, would lead to chaos.
    • WP:CONSENSUS violation as noted.
  • January 10 14:50 User:Herostratus removed the image. Edit summary was "Per the principle of stare decicis, which you people use all the time to keep the stuff you've snuck in; see WP:CONSENSUS."
  • January 11 8:11 User:Cptnono restored the image. Edit summary was "'you people'? The talk page shows a consensus if sources can be provided saying that a glass is used. sources were provided on the talk page. Do we need to add in links to porn sites that are RS to allow the image?")
    • WP:CONSENSUS violation.
    • Comment: We are beginning to have a problem, as the editors are talking at cross-purposes here - Cptnono is arguing content, Herostratus arguing policy - and they are engaging using edit summaries. It's time, and past time, to open a thread.
  • January 11 14:39 User:Herostratus opened a thread on User:Cptnono's talk page.
    • Comment: User:Herostratus should have opened a thread on the article talk page rather than a user's talk page. (This thread did not prove fertile and no further discussion ensued there until after Herostratus was blocked.) (To be honest, I User:Herostratus didn't even notice here that User:Cyclopia and User:Cptnono were different people, which I can't prove and I guess is misfeasance anyway, so whatever.)
  • January 11 14:41 User:Herostratus removed the image. Edit summary was "Revert, no consensus for inclusion - user has been engaged on his talk page".
  • January 11 14:42 User:Cyclopia restored the image. Edit summary was "It seems there is. Now let's all stop edit warring".
    • WP:CONSENSUS violation. WP:3RR violation, assuming that one considers Cyclopia and Cptnono to be de facto working in concert. (Not alleging any kind of conspiracy, simply noting that the two editors are effectively tag-teaming as a practical matter.)
  • January 11 16:05 User:Enric Naval opened a thread on User:Herostratus's talk page (here) warning him to not restore the image again.
  • A couple of edits were then made to the article, regarding technical aspects of the image display, peripheral to the main issue: January 11 16:38 User:Mattbuck made a technical change to the image display; January 11 18:03 User:Enric Naval opened a thread on the article talk page, Talk:Gokkun#image size, regarding technical display aspects of the image.
  • January 11 18:19 User:Herostratus opened a thread on the article talk page, here
    • Comment: Somebody should have done this sooner. Per WP:BRD it should, technically, have been a person advocating to change the article state. But whatever - thread opened, problem solved, one would hope.
  • January 11 18:20 User:Herostratus removed the image. Edit summary was "Uh, I don't see any consensus to restore the image, see the RfC. Let's engage on the talk page, OK?"
    • WP:3RR violation, I think, depending on whether or not opening a thread on the talk page mitigates that.
  • January 11 18:30 User:Herostratus replied on User:Enric Naval's talk page (informing him that a thread had been opened on the article talk page).
  • The next edits were to the thread on the article talk page:
  • On 11 January 2011 21:24 User:Enric Naval opened a report at WP:3RR (don't have the diff, but the thread is here). He then informed Herostratus of this thread on Herostratus's talk page: January 11 21:26.
    • WP:AN3 procedure violation ("You should try to address the problem through dispute resolution").
  • January 12 3:12 User:Herostratus posted on User:Enric Naval's talk page.
    • Comment: I guess this was pointless, since the 3RR report was already filed.
  • January 12 2:33 User:Cptnono contributed to the thread on the article talk page.
  • On January 12 4:10 User:Herostratus was blocked by User:Magog the Ogre.
  • January 12 8:35 User:Enric_Naval restored the image. Edit summary was "restore image: no consensus to remove, on-topic, free image, no alternative image available, image could be more accurate but there is no better replacement".
  • WP:CONSENSUS violation. WP:3RR violation, maybe, depending on how one weighs various factors.

And that is substantially the end of the incident.

(N.B.: there were also violations of WP:CIVIL (including by me, User:Herostratus), WP:DISPUTE, WP:GAME, and probably other policies as well, and I haven't noted these to avoid overly impeding the flow or editorializing.

Material result[edit]

If I may editorialize a bit here, to me a summary of the above sure looks a lot like this:

  • An article existed in state X for a substantial period (better part of a year).
  • An RfC was opened to move the article to state Y.
  • But no consensus was reached to do that, by any reasonably objective measure, either by headcount or argument.
  • But User:Cyclopia, User:Enric_Naval, and User:Cptnono couldn't accept that.
  • So they decided to change it to their desired state anyway.

And in this, they were entirely successful, notwithstanding the policy violations and collateral damage required to do it. And nothing can be done about it, I guess. This is dispiriting, and a slap in the face to the 17 people who took the time to participate in the RfC, and a hell of a way to run an encyclopedia, in my opinion.

About that 3RR report...[edit]

The crux of User:Enric_Naval' report is: "But in his last edit he [Herostratus] removes again and insists that the image has to remain removed while the discussion is ongoing."

Well, yes.

The concept (and policy) that consensus is required to change the state of an article is far from perfect. The state of an article can occur more or less at random (if, say, somebody sets a state and nobody happens to notice for awhile), and then it can be difficult to change that state, if it's not clear-cut case. God knows I've seen this work against my preferred state for an article a few times, and it can be frustrating. But the alternative is chaos. We would have endless series of "Reverting, no consensus either way, and I prefer my state" edits, with whomever files the the first report or whatever "winning".

In my view, this seems basic to the functioning of the Wikipedia, which is probably why it is prescribed in WP:CONSENSUS, in both letter and spirit.

As for the rest. User:Enric_Naval cites a long list of edits that I have made to the article. Well, most of these were reverting what is, at least by fair argument, trollery (see User:Herostratus/Gokkun incident Jan 2011#Re the participation of very-low-edit anon users), and most of the rest were vandalism reverts. And I rather resent these edits being used, in part, as reason for a block.

And User:Enric_Naval goes into quite a bit of detail with extensive quotes about an unrelated matter from a few months ago, which, sheesh. This was a complicated matter which I am not prepared to spend another week of my life sorting through diffs to litigate this, and where I was wrong I apologized and apology accepted, and where I was justified I made that case, and User:Enric_Naval characterization of the matter is simplistic and one-sided, in my opinion.

If I show a general pattern of tendentious editing and am a problem editor, then that'd be very different, and User:Enric_Naval would be remiss in not pointing that out, and I should be blocked or banned or whatever.

But absent that, could we try to stick more or less to the matter at hand when we are blocking editors? "User not perfect - made a mistake last fall - BLOCKED" is not a path we want to be following, I don't think. I don't know if I was blocked (in part) because of this matter, but it was part of the report and Magog accepted the report, so I would have to assume yes.

Supplementary material[edit]

This is really a wall of text, I guess. I'm not usually this obsessive but writing it down helped me work out how everything went down, so I might as well include it.

It's a philosphical issue[edit]

Just want to point out that when we are talking about is, essentially, a philosophical issue (or, if you prefer, a political issue or an ideological issue) regarding what is and is not a good idea for a popular all-ages encyclopedia to be including the way of images that are, in the strict literal sense, pornography.

It's not a matter that is easily amenable to compromise. This is not to say that discussion that can't be and sometimes is fruitful. But it's not the kind of thing that can easily be solved by compromise wording or whatever.

I'm just pointing this out, because a lot of the dispute resolution steps hang, ultimately, on the assumption that everyone is most interested in making good-faith attempts to reach the best result in a framework when the editors fundamentally agree on what we are trying to do here.

When the disagreement is a fundamentally over one's overall vision of what the Wikipedia should be, this breaks down. When that happens, procedures designed for the former situation are liable to being gamed for political advantage in what is, ultimately, a philosophical dispute.

I don't know what the solution to this is. Applying WP:IAR, maybe, although that also is dangerous. Anyway: I'm just saying.

Re the participation of very-low-edit anon users[edit]

Here's the thing. A lot of people don't think that anons should be allowed to edit, period. I'm not one of them, and I appreciate new anons and engage them with personal messages often enough. And of course an anon making his first edit is quite possibly a Professor Emeritus of Romance Languages at Columbia or whatever and it should not be assumed otherwise.

But, you know, in some articles... a lot of edits to this article are very-low-edit anons writing "[NAME OF SCHOOLMATE] LOVES TO DO THIS!" or whatever, and I'm not going leave that in while I wait for the user to provide sources.

And we do have {{Template:Spa}}, and we don't let very-low-edit anons vote in RfA's and do certain other things that bear on Wikipedia functioning and governance, which is why we have WP:AUTOCONFIRM.

Well, showing images that are strictly pornography is a highly contentious subject and, the many other problems aside, bears on our ability to exist as a 501(c)(3) charity. And while established contributors are entitled to not care about that or decide that it's worth it, I'm not inclined to let troll very-low-edit anons decide this fraught issue. And by the way, this applies to removal of pornographic images as well, and I have reverted those too (e.g., here, although rarely, partly because that doesn't happen as often (imagine that!).

And so I'm not inclined to give very-low-edit anon users the right to insert images that are strictly pornography into the Wikipedia without first making and winning a case on the talk page, I don't welcome or look kindly on this particular type of contribution by very-low-edit anon users. The reader is invited to apply the term "trolling pornography" as he or she sees fit.

Re events of May 7-8-9, 2010[edit]

On May 7 2010, the image was established in the article. User Bidgee over at Commons deleted the image from Commons and User:CommonsDelinker, a bot, very quickly deleted it from the article. But the image was immediately restored at Commons, and because of this I infer that Bidgee had deleted it on his own say-so without a proper discussion. There is no CommonsRelinker bot, but a user restored the image soon after it was restored on Commons.

At this point I (User:Herostratus) became involved in the article (I had had two previous edits, both vandalism reverts ([7], [8].) I removed the image and opened a thread on the talk page. The discussion was extensive but involved only a few editors and no "consensus" can be said to have been achieved. So here's the blow-by-blow:

You see the problem here. The image had been in the article for ages, and now I (Herostratus) am asking people to go to the talk page to restore the image. However, the only person restoring the image at this point is a very-low-edit anon SPA user, and see User:Herostratus/Gokkun incident Jan 2011#Re the participation of very-low-edit anon users regarding justification. To continue:

And then this:

  • The image was removed - actually, made invisible with comment brackets - by User:WLU, who had just recently restored it, and who was arguing on the talk page that the image should be in the article. His edit summary was "Invisible image pending outcome of discussion on the talk page".

I don't know why WLU did this. Maybe he was influenced by the discussion on the talk page, and found the arguments (mostly if not entirely made by me) to be convincing. Maybe he was just being collegial. Maybe he was intimidated - I was making my arguments on the talk page forcefully and with, more to the point, uncivilly (for which I can be faulted) but I don't think I was bullying. See for yourself (Talk#Gokkun#Sigh) and maybe I was. And if I was then WLU's removal of the image was forced and should be restored.

There wasn't an an edit war at this point - there had been to reverts to remove the image (one by User:Tide rolls and one by me (User:Herostratus, but to a very-low-edit anon user. That is not edit warring. If User:WLU hadn't removed the image, maybe I would have - I was obviously not in a good mood - but probably not. And if I had it would have been wrong to do so, and out of character, I think. Anyway, it's hard enough to figure out what editors have done and why without trying to figure out what they might have done.

And so if User:WLU hadn't removed the image, maybe it would be there still. Probably would. And if another established editor had restored the image, the image would probably still be in the article.

But that didn't happen.

Confusing situation, and the participation of a very-low-edit anon editor was not helpful, see User:Herostratus/Gokkun incident Jan 2011#Re the participation of very-low-edit anon users section below for my take on that.

Anyway - the CommonsDelinker and the revert by User:Fourthords is not important. The crux of the matter is this edit: here - I (Herostratus) removed the image, which is my right per WP:BOLD, and went to the talk page, where no one objected - except User:WLU, who was convinced (I guess) and acceded to the removal [here.

However, the title ("Sigh") and opening ("The image re-added (again!)...") that I gave to the talk page thread doesn't make sense in this context. I'm acting like I was annoyed by intervention from one or more very-low-edit anons, but the time stamp doesn't bear this out: my removal of the image and creation of the talk page thread happened in the same minute. I simply can't explain this. I think I was acting in good faith and was just confused and annoyed. However, another reading could be that I was just pretending to be confused and annoyed as a political ploy to intimidate opposition. Whether or not that would have been out of character is not for me to say.

However, it's not crucial, in my opinion. Edit made, talk page thread initiated, that is the key point. That the initiation of the talk page, and some of my later participation was uncivil was not helpful and I can be faulted for that. But the talk page did devolve, ultimately, to a reasonably useful discussion of the matter.