permanent departure over administrator/developer consensus fraud
I have been a strong opponent of proposals on wikipedia that serve to concentrate power, create "classes" of users, and put more decisions in the hands of administrators that contribute very little to the actual work of creating an encyclopedia.
For example, I am a strong opponent of a new proposal, "flagged revisions". You can read about my opinions on this subject at my blog, rhubarb is susan Flagged revisions, which turns "edit this page" into "suggest an edit to this page" for the overwhelming majority of wikipedia editors, was promised for October 2007. The dates have slipped, and now it looks like it will happen in late 2008; I wrote about the impetus behind it thus:
- any bureaucratic class will attempt to gain more control, and the administrators are no different. While anonymous and drive-by users contribute the actual substance of value, the administrators have now pushed through a fundamental change in the project that will make them second-class citizens.
A relatively minor proposal, "non administrator rollback" (NAR), I opposed for similar reasons: new powers to admins to "certify" users as trusted or untrusted. A large amount of discussion, with a significant (30%) fraction opposing NAR for reasons such as mine, occurred in early January.
To my great surprise, and against longstanding wikipedia tradition, the 2:1 in favor was declared a "consensus" by a developer without remark, and the proposal was implemented. "Consensus" is a term of art, but only to a certain extent. No consensus-model group I've worked with, including those in the Quaker and academic traditions, would consider 2:1 in favor a consensus sufficiently obvious as to not require a great deal of further discussion.
My feeling in the past was that increasing centralization of power would generally fail because of the strict ways consensus -- necessary for new policy to be enacted -- has been interpreted. What seems clear at this point is that select administrators and other wikipedia "higher ups" are going to implement new policies as they see fit and without regard for consensus.
In the NAR consensus discussions, I've been particularly surprised by the bullying tone of administrators Ryan Postlethwaite and Until(1 == 2); similar behavior I encountered during arguments over flagged revisions from other administrators such as CBDunkerson, and it's re-enforced my belief that as much value as admins contribute in vandal fighting and dispute resolution, many lack the emotional maturity to handle power in a responsible, and responsive, fashion.
I have contributed a great deal to the encyclopedia, both in the field I hold my doctorate in (physics), and in other fields I've had a hand in over the years. It's plenty of fun. But I can no longer contribute value to a work that I feel has in a fundamental sense abandoned the principles that led me to join in. I've protected this page, and will no longer contribute to wikipedia; I encourage others to do the same.