User:SirFozzie/Alternate

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((Please forgive all the clutter, this is a quick set of thoughts coming after reading a certain discussion on ANI. I'm going to set one section up for my thoughts, and one section for anyone else who wants to have a go)

Section by SirFozzie[edit]

I'm wondering if it's time to stop the merry go round. It may be time to decide which fork on a path we're going to take. One path leads down towards the Wiki-way, an anyone can edit utopia, at the risk of harming the encyclopedia. The other path leads down a path that may improve the encyclopedia, but risks damaging the community.

Right now, there's no incentive not to use "Alternate Accounts" (or for those of you allergic to euphemisms.. sockpuppets). There's no teeth to the blocking and banning policy, as a long term blocked-user can just turn around and create a new account and go merrily on their way. JB196? Somewhere in the realm of 300 sock-puppet accounts. Wikipéire? Getting close to that number, if I had to guess. Each administrator probably could add his own horror story to the list

Especially cognizant is administrative "alternate accounts". We recently had a long term blocked user, who created another account two or so months after being blocked, and apparently gained the community's trust and was an administrator. A bad decision, and the resulting drama later, he was linked to his old account, de-adminned, and possibly seeing the long term block re-instated.

Right now, there's no dis-incentive for misbehavior. Some one will get blocked, create a new account (a trivial matter), and continue editing on in the same manner, because, what can we do? Block them? Too late! That's the status quo already! All we really do is take up editors and administrators time chasing after the latest sock farm or dealing with a multiply disruptive editor. Our editors and administrators don't have infinite time or patience (I would say that involving one self in cleaning this kind of crap up is one of the prime areas of burnout in the administrative area)

Right now, we're on the fence between "Wiki" (anyone can edit) and "Pedia" (The Encyclopedia). Which is fine, and a neutral place to be. But the thing about standing on the fence.. you have to make sure you don't fall. So, the only question is, do we avoid jumping off the fence to one side or the other, and how?

Do we go the Citizendium way, require real names (or at least registering real names while still allowing Pseudonymous names) and other such identifying information to keep misbehaving users from returning? Or do we go full-fledged "Wiki-Way", and not even try to keep track of blocked/banned users, and trust in "the wisdom of crowds".

Well, I think we need to find a way to put some real teeth in the blocking/banning policy, because I don't quite trust in the wisdom of crowds. As a certain famous comedian once said.. "Think of your average person... then think.. 50% are worse off than them!" (Ok, I've slightly paraphrased that *grins*). I can't think of the proper way to handle it, yet.. but it's better then standing on the fence on a windy day, and keep windmilling our arms, trying to keep balance, and hoping not to fall.

We're growing up (some would say we're already mature, with policies like BLP, etcetera), and we need to act like it.

View by Hamlet, Prince of Trollmark[edit]

A drama sock delivers a soliloquy.

Actually there have been several recent cases along these lines. An arbitrator stepped down after getting revealed as a desysopped user, a senior administrator was desysopped for long term sockpuppet abuse, and two administrators turned out to be returning socks of banned users. The bottom line for people who find themselves on the outs is that, yes, Wikipedia is permeable. But if you don't admit your past it could arise at any moment and haunt you.

The real problem is how site culture rewards people for dodging scrutiny instead of learning from mistakes. We all make mistakes. Perfection is an illusion. If admins who monitored arbitration enforcement received barnstars for their efforts and supportive understanding for occasional goofs, then more of them would monitor the board and the site's long term disputes would be less hopeless. But the wikicultural norm is to avoid that board because it's only likely to earn enemies and to treat ANI as "drama" rather than a venue for serious decision making, then to sit back and chuckle at others while playing it safe by closing uncontroversial PRODs.

Play it safe. Don't make waves. Don't try to solve anything that isn't easy; don't block anyone who has political connections; that could earn enemies. Then you won't be elected to bureaucrat or become a checkuser.

Let's leave The Scarlet Letter in another century.

Seriously, Wikipedia would be a lot better off it it were easier to get the admin bit and easier to lose it; easier to get sitebanned and (usually) easier to return. Rather than maintain an illusion that one was never wrong in the first place, admit "Yeah, I goofed there. And here's how it made me wiser." Banned users aren't always and irreparably wrong; they can also bring useful perspective. Rootology has retired durnit and I'm looking for other editors like him--ones who aren't afraid to admit they've goofed and are willing to move forward productively. Wikipedia has never had an arbitrator who's admitted to getting the short end of an arbitration case. Examine at the comments of the current Committee and ask yourself they aren't sometimes a bit overconfident, a bit self-satisfied, a bit out of touch--yet diligently protecting their own reputations. That sets the tone elsewhere. It isn't the best example.

Reward your fellow editors for taking honest risks. Otherwise this site will stagnate. Urge them to own up when those risks go wrong, and--if they learn and grow from it--welcome them back to the fold. Hamlet, Prince of Trollmarkbugs and goblins 18:20, 30 September 2009 (UTC) I am a fully disclosed sockpuppet account. Click the sig to learn whose.

View by Tznkai[edit]

I have more views on this, but for now I just want to say that what people fail to realize is that there is no perfect solution - there may not even be a good solution. Everything is a balancing test, and some costs are simply structural. As Wikipedia has grown more and more Serious Business, it has grown both more mature, and more stupid. The more we take ourselves seriously on issues like BLP, the more we run to risk of making any disagreement on Wikipedia an entirely over the top argument about weighty issues that have no place. I am in many ways a technocrat by disposition so before I think about ought, I think about can. Can we really reduce the number of sockpuppets? No. For people who want to, it will always be trivially easy to create a sockpuppet. What we can do, is reduce the incentives. For the most dangerous class of sockpuppets, by which I mean sockpuppets seeking to pervert the material for personal gain, the only they we can do is take the article away from them (and thereby everyone else) entirely. For behavioral sockpuppets, they likely come in two sorts: those who continue to have bad behavior, and are booted as well, and those who essentially reform. How we deal with the latter half, I'm not sure yet, but its clear that blocking them does not always work. The question might be, is it big enough of a problem in practice, or is it on a principle?

More later, too disconnected right now.--Tznkai (talk) 18:37, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

View by Jehochman2[edit]

I two am an alternate account. Can you guess who I am?

There are a few constructive actions we can take:

  • Tighten up WP:SOCK to reflect reality: one user, one account. If you need more than one account you either have to disclose it publicly, or disclose it privately to ArbCom and provide some sort of justification. It is inherently not fair when some editors obstruct transparency by using multiple accounts. We all should be subject to the same level of scrutiny.
  • Clarify that admin candidates are normally expected to disclose past accounts. Failure to make a substantially honest disclosure often results in an immediate loss of sysop access. Some thinking needs to go into what sort of disclosures should be required and how to handle exceptions, such as users who made a clean start to escape harassment.

There are no easy answers, but we should keep trying. Jehochman2 (talk) 19:27, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

View by Lar[edit]

I've said it before, I'll say it again. You want to stop socking? You can reduce it to just about zero. Require real names, validated to "Amazon.com" level (doesn't have to be perfect) to edit. That sweeps away heaps of problems at once. It may not be the "wiki way" according to some.... but not according to me. It still allows "anyone can edit"... if they want to. They don't have to if they don't want to, or if it's too dangerous for them to reveal their real name or what have you. But do we really need pseudonymous edits? At all? No.

Note that you can't get there from here without at least a fork if not an out and out start over, or something equally disruptive to the current edit population. But it solves the problem posited. ++Lar: t/c 21:22, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

Lar, I'm pretty much with you on this one. Not totally sold on it, but definitely think it's an approach worthy of extensive exploration. In case you're not aware, Danny Horn of Wikia has done some excellent research along these lines, and his findings suggest that very good things happen when you require people to make accounts (as far as I know, he hasn't gone that extra step of looking into the results of requiring real names). Not sure if he's published anything, but it's good stuff, and worth tracking down for anyone thinking seriously along these lines. -Pete (talk) 20:55, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

View by Apoc2400[edit]

Requiring names is to much and kills the openness. Requiring admins to identify to the foundation in some way, now that would help for this kind of cases. --Apoc2400 (talk) 21:29, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

View by Black Kite[edit]

If admins were required to identify to the foundation, I think you'd find yourself with quite a few less admins. After the Video Professor incident, I certainly wouldn't trust the Foundation with any personal information. Black Kite 21:48, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

View by Karanacs[edit]

I think it is time for the community to decide whether we wish to enforce WP:SOCK or not. There have been several high-profile cases recently where abusive sockpuppets of vested contributors have been discovered and no real sanctions have been imposed (I don't consider desysopping to be much of a sanction). Making exceptions to the rules for some people while throwing the book at others is a great way to confuse everyone. How do I know if the rules apply to me or not? If editor X gets away with breaking this rule, does that mean they get to break every rule without penalty? If editor B is a regular user with no special priveleges and no powerful friends, will he be more or less likely to challenge editor X on policy interpretation? Probably less. Will editor C be emboldened to break policy herself because after all, someone else got away with it? Maybe.

No, I don't believe we can ever eradicate all sockpuppets, but that doesn't necessarily mean we should ignore the problem. Either we condone behavior that our own policies say is disruption and/or abuse or we don't. If we as a community truly believe that exceptions should be made, then I think the reasons need to be given quite publicly, and logged (we won't sanction editor X for violating policy Y because .....). Karanacs (talk) 21:55, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

view by DGG[edit]

At the least, we ought to require the use of real names for admins. Nobody with arbitrary authority has the right to be anonymous, but must be responsible for their actions. There might be some provisions for exceptional cases, as Jehochman2 points out above, but that would be a detail to be worked out further. (This will not prevent anyone from editing who must be anon for any one of several good reasons). If this should leave us with fewer admins, I think the net effect might be to raise the standard. The part of the entire matter I regard as most disturbing is the support from other admins for someone who had been blocked and lost adminship for cause, obtaining adminship with the new account. DGG ( talk ) 22:43, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

Oh, that's an even better idea. That had never occurred to me…but it would certainly solve a lot of problems, without any downside that I can think of. -Pete (talk) 20:58, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
In fact…do you know if anything like that has been proposed at the strategy wiki? If not, I'd love to see that written up as a proposal for all Wikimedia projects. (The proposal could be something like, "develop the technical infrastructure to support…", leaving each community free to make a decision based on its own needs.) -Pete (talk) 21:02, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
We've lost admins who've become the targets of grave real life harassment. Disproportionately this affects the ones who are female. Within a site whose editor base is already 87% male, the principal effect of that would be to discourage diversity. Speaking as a woman who opened an FBI case as a result of a (100% correct) admin action, have a look at what I put up with at the breast appreciation userbox deletion discussion where I was probably the only female commenting. While you're at it, please send a free t-shirt to my home address and silkscreen a bullseye on it. This proposal is preposterous. Durova320 19:58, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Durova, real life id's are not something that should be made publicly visible - and there is more than just gender discrimination ramifications; non US/UK names can very easily identify culture and nation and you end up disenfranchising more than simply the capable human half of the population that is female, you also potentially lose editors whose home politics may make it very awkward to have a real person connected to an edit or action. Of the 87% male editorship noted by Durova, how many of them are White, and from the US, UK, former British empire, or Europe? Perhaps more than 87%. This is a world wiki, and we do not need the current First World centric bias to be any more enhanced than it is. Should enhanced access accounts be required to identify, then it needs to be somewhere secure from both prying eyes and the potential conflict of interest of Wikia. LessHeard vanU (talk) 14:34, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
I was going to expand, but LessHeard vanU has put it better than I can. Being casual about releasing your identity is an undeserved privilege that many people don't have.--Tznkai (talk) 20:13, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
In addition to the above it would effectively disenfranchise large numbers of our best admins/editors who had any kind of professional reputation to defend - would you like to be a school teacher in this position? Most admins would be students, retired, or very thick-skinned indeed (this last not being the ideal qualification). Ben MacDui 09:23, 4 October 2009 (UTC)
Upon further consideration, the end of that comment might go too far. It's possible to have a reasoned stand in favor of this argument. I still disagree with it strongly, but wish to extend respect toward the other perspective. Durova321 01:30, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
While i applaud Durova's openmindedness on this question, i agree with her initial value judgement. --Rocksanddirt (talk) 03:42, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Durova. I completely respect your perspective on this, and am gratified that you're open to discussion. In case anybody has any doubts, I consider the safety of our community members as one of the top priorities of any change. My desire to consider this idea does not reflect apathy or ignorance of this critical issue, just a different way of approaching it. (I don't think this is the best forum for discussing the details of the proposal, so I'll leave it at that.) But Durova, I appreciate your followup. -Pete (talk) 06:31, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
I cannot see how it would prevent anyone from editing. That's a separate question. But even for admins, there could be an exception for accounts provided with a pseudonym after identification to the foundation. or some such mechanism. DGG ( talk ) 23:39, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

View by Ched[edit]

  • (placeholder for now) — Ched :  ?  04:53, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
  • OK - First: This little thread that SirFozzie has so graciously offered to host in his user space may have to bear my posts in increments. Second: Ched Davis is my real life name. While "Charles" is listed as my first name on my birth certificate, the number of "Charleses" in my family made it impracticable for me to go by that in r/l, hence the nickname. Third: I apologize for what is likely to become a tl;dr thread. Fourth: If there is such a thing as a stereotypical wikipedian, I probably don't fit the mold. To be blunt, I have a daughter that's 10 years older than many of the current administrative corp.

This leads me to the "background" info. Not that it is important in the least, but still something I feel compelled to type out. I've been a member of the Internet community since before the term "www" was coined. I've done email, ftp, command-line editing, and eCommunications since the mid-80's. I was an early USENET participant, and saw my share of alt thread flamewars. I've been a mod/sysop/admin. on more forums, message boards, chat rooms, and domains then I care to remember. I've done the grunt work of data-entry, and held the responsibility of network administrator for large corporations in real life on multiple occasions. I've met many folks in real life after first meeting them on the web, and I walked away from much of the Internet communication world back around 2001-2002 for various reasons. I've watched the Internet age, come of age - and I've been a Wikipedia reader since the early days. However, I only got back into this whole eCommunication via a public forum (Wikipedia) late last year. By wiki standards, I'm probably a n00b of sorts.

Now, on to the matter at hand. To be honest, when I first ran across WP:SOCK, I had rather a good chuckle. Noble in its intent to be sure, and the concept is a great idea - but I'm sorry, it's rather laughable to think that it's the answer to any wiki-problems. Wikipedia was founded on the popularity of anonymity. The idea that "anyone can edit" is what has brought the volume of editors here; hence, the volume of content. Now to be sure, Brion could tell you the exact IP of any edit made on this domain, even the the browser a person used, and in some cases perhaps even the street that the edit was made from. Various ISPs on the backbone could also trace that info., and some of the more savy users with the proper tools can review things with a fair amount of certainty of who wrote what. But the bottom line is that people move, change providers (hence IP addys), and the plethora of free wi-fi is wonderfully abundant in our world these days. To be painfully honest, any hope of stopping "socks" doesn't exist. Sure, I've blocked one or two obvious neer-do-wells, and sent 2 or 3 things to SPI when they make it clear that constructive collaboration is not the intent; but as a catch-all? ... nope, sorry, not gonna happen. The Internet is a wonderful things in many aspects, but it is still a double-edged sword; as is Wikipedia.

Wikipedia carries with it both the wonderful ability to share knowledge, and for those who crave it, an entertaining source of drama. It also carries the ability to do real life damage (read BLP vios). We can focus our efforts on "who-said-what", and the ever popular "who knew what, and when did they know it?" soap operas, or we can focus on improving the quality of what we present to the public. Do things like the Pastor Theo incident, the various POV pushing, the "team-work" influences, the super-sekrit mailing lists, and indeed the recent Law vs. undertow debacles detract from our goals? Certainly. Depending on your individual perspective, they can be saddening, demoralizing, and even fuel for anger. I understand that people can feel betrayed. Betrayal often leads to hurt, and hurt can lead to anger, but anger serves no person well. Nobody like to feel "left out of the loop". We all like to be included in things here. But face it folks, there are 3 million articles, a thousand admins., and tens if not hundreds of thousands of active editors here. There is simply no way that any one individual can be aware of everything.

So here we are, searching for answers to questions we're not even sure of. People looking for scapegoats, wanting to hang good honest folks from the highest yard-arm. We're squabbling amongst ourselves over Oh what on earth are we to do. Hint: We should work on building an encyclopedia. People are chastising an admin or two because they might have known something they didn't "disclose". Seriously folks, take a good long hard look around you in the real world. The politicians, employers, and heads of corporations who are not "disclosing" things is a frightening thought. Is what a website editor or admin. failed to say really that high up on the list of things to get all bent out of shape over? There are people killing young men and women in far off lands. Are you really that upset about Admin:A not squealing on Editor:B? I know that it hurts to feel betrayed, and I know that some folks take this whole "Wikipedia: the sum of human knowledge" site very, very seriously. The site should be taken seriously, it's a noble and wonderful thing; but at what cost do we attempt to belittle another human being? We'll achieve more positive outcomes by encouraging good things, applauding those who accomplish valuable things, and working together to achieve the right things, then we will ever achieve by berating, chastising, and embarrassing users for mistakes. If something's wrong - fix it. You don't need to make a big deal out of who made what mistake. If "Wikipedia" is a representation of our world, and ArbCom is our "court of law"; then please remember that it IS a virtual world and court. One side-note that I find a bit ironic: Some of the most experienced editors who are screaming the loudest about "Law", didn't even cast a !vote in his RfA. Excuse me if I have a bit of a smile at that.

So, my view on socks eh? Well, I look at this way. We have a lot of young editors here. At 16 they may create an account, edit to their hearts content, get a little bullheaded and spout off a bit. Perhaps we stop them from editing for a while. Then at the age of 18 they become the all-enlightened, all-knowing adults they want to be - and they're embarrassed about some of the things they've done and said in the past. So? They create a new account, and edit with an expanded knowledge-base. So? They make the 'pedia a better site. They didn't "disclose" their previous account. So? We're not picking the next Pope, or choosing a "Head-of-State" here people - we're building an encyclopedia. (or so I thought). Pay attention to an individual account. Does the account do good things? If so ... applaud it! Don't go digging under rocks to find dirt; because in the end you just may find out some things about yourselves that you might wish you hadn't. Those who wallow in the mud long enough, will eventually end up looking pretty dirty themselves; even if it's for the best of intensions.

Now, we can all get back to building this damn 'pedia thing, making new friends, sharing our knowledge, and enjoying the time we volunteer here - or we can dig in our heels, demand satisfaction and someone's head on a pike, and fuss and fume til the hard-drives are full. I'll choose the former, thank you. — Ched :  ?  14:32, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

View by other THE ONLY Protonk[edit]

Though you can probably gather a good guess at my identity, it will be a cold day in hell before I officially identify to the foundation for adminship. Their limp defense (noted by BK) of pseudonymous editing makes me unwilling to do so.

That said, I should point out that forcing admins to identify won't solve the problems we have been having recently. No amount of ID in the world will tell you that eco==PT or law==whoever the other banned editor was.

Also, I don't think this problem can be policied away. We don't need a prohibition on alternate accounts generally. We don't need more stricture around declaration of those accounts. The intent of the policy is that the community matches an editor to a persona. Anything that disrupts that correspondence should be avoided. Anything that does so in order to avoid scrutiny (Hint hint, a ban == scrutiny, see below) should be avoided at all costs.

Lastly, when the fuck did it become ok to sock around a block/ban? I'm appalled at the number of editors who are grousing about blocking an editor who socked around a ban under the assumption that they were good people on the 'new' account. Protonk (talk) 05:39, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

View by Alanyst[edit]

Our policy shouldn't allow editors to create their own alternate accounts at all, even though we can't technically prevent it. If an editor needs a new account for legitimate reasons, they should be required to have a checkuser set up one for them, and the checkuser should be able to annotate the new account(s) non-publicly (in the database, not just a mailing list message) to tie them to the primary identity. The checkuser would also have to record the rationale for the alternate account, and the rationale would be non-public but visible to other checkusers. The checkuser should be empowered to decide, based on the rationale, whether the editor should publicly disclose the association between their accounts (e.g., for bot accounts) or may keep the association private (e.g., to avoid harassment).

By requiring a checkuser to be involved in setting up alternate accounts, it eliminates a whole line of argumentation about whether a sock was legitimate or not by virtue of their contributions or behavior. Either it had a checkuser's blessing from the outset, or it did not -- and if it did not, then it is subject to sanction. A person can hardly complain about being blocked if they knew how to get their sock approved but failed to do so. (This assumes the process of setting up a legitimate sock would be well-known and straightforward enough to encourage good-faith editors to use the process.)

Benefits:

  • Fairly lightweight change to MediaWiki architecture required -- no major redesign, just a couple of extra fields
  • Allows continued legitimate use of alternate accounts when there's a good reason for them, but encourages use of a single account in normal cases
  • Makes enforcement of sockpuppet policy easier and more uniform by making the distinction between legitimate and abusive socks more objective; reduces opportunity for a double standard to exist
  • Checkusers can tell which accounts are known to be legitimate, why they were set up, and whom they're related to, without having to dig into user pages, histories, mailing lists, etc.
  • Backwards compatible: existing legitimate socks can be "blessed" by a checkuser at any point after the feature is implemented, without losing bot accounts, etc.
  • Decision to allow an alternate account is made by a trusted checkuser whose actions are subject to regular review by the Audit Subcommittee (yay accountability!)

Drawbacks:

  • Requires a policy change to require users to request alternate accounts from a checkuser
  • Adds bureaucracy to the process of establishing a legitimate sock
  • Potential burden on checkuser resources
  • Doesn't make sockpuppetry harder to carry out; just harder to plead innocence when detected
  • Users who already have an account need to know not to create a new one, even though it's easy to do (especially if the old account is forgotten or abandoned)

alanyst /talk/ 06:49, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

I don't see any benefit from this, checkusers are useful for linking unknown socks not creating new accounts. I'm interested in the idea of checkusering new and random admins, but that would generate some false positives (I can remember one London meetup when a laptop passed round the table with at least two admins logging in and out of it). ϢereSpielChequers 16:06, 3 October 2009 (UTC).
Appreciate the feedback. I didn't intend to tie this to the techniques collectively called "checkuser" -- but rather the degree of trust and experience assumed to be found in those who hold the role of checkuser. If there is a better role to serve as gatekeeper for approving alternate accounts, or if a new role needs to be established for that purpose to avoid expanding the scope of the checkuser role, then that's compatible with the intent of my idea. alanyst /talk/ 19:31, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

View By Other Crossmr[edit]

Why bother? What is yet another policy going to accomplish? Anyone who isn't blind can see the way things go around here. I can't count the amount of times we've had continuous and unending drama-fests over certain users simply because they have friends. Whether the issues are socks, civility, and who knows what other kinds of disruptive editing. Anyone who uses socks to further some position is abusing the communities trust. Anyone who abuses the communities trust should be cut off. If someone has an interest in editing a subject they'd rather people not know about and want to use an alternate account so be it. But if either of those accounts were to ever interact in the same discussion to express an opinion, game over. If the user ever wanted to gain adminship a check user should be run on his acceptance and he should be given the opportunity to disclose his accounts, failure to do so would automatically disqualify them. So if they are trying to separate some subject they should decide what is more important editing that subject or being an admin. However it won't make any difference. There are too many people here who want to play political games. As long as the community permits that all the policies in the world won't do anything.--Crossmr (talk) 07:28, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

View By Kww[edit]

I think the first necessary step is to simply prohibit alternate accounts that do not have complete public disclosure. One person should have one account. Secondary accounts for bots and things like editing on public computers should be allowed, but only if the name is an obvious variation on the primary (like "User:Kww public library account", for example), with disclosure. The usual arguments for undisclosed alternates don't mean much in my view: if you don't want to tie your reputation in neurochemistry to your expertise in fetish porn, then don't edit articles on fetish porn. If you screwed up badly, persevere: don't put on a mask and pretend to be someone else.—Kww(talk) 15:23, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

View by llywrch[edit]

First, I want to state that I don't understand the attraction of sockpuppets on Wikipedia -- beyond entertainment or specific technical reasons. (For example, I've considered creating a second account simply to test out ideas for new user skins: it's better to screw up a skin for a throw-away account than for the account I use every day.) You want to do astroturfing for your important cause? You'll be found out eventually, & do more harm than if you simply accepted the loss & moved on. You still have a burning desire to contribute to Wikipedia after you've been banned for good? Either contribute with the knowledge that you can get banned for your misbehavior, or consider that you may have a serious problem & live with the ban; simply don't come back.

Second, the entire ideas of Wikipedia is that everyone follows them, at least most of the time. And if you have to break the rules, have a damned good reason for doing so and/or be willing to live with the consequences. The idea of Wikipedia is to create an encyclopedia, a reference work other people will find useful. It is not a social experiment to benefit bright people whose intellectual leanings keep them from fitting in Real Life(tm) social groups. In other words, it shouldn't take rules & people to enforce them to write useful stuff, & if you aren't spending most of your time improving the content, maybe there's something wrong with how you see Wikipedia. (Unless you have the duty of being a member of ArbCom.)

Lastly, SirFozzie makes a good point above: there is a tension between the ideal of "an encyclopedia" & the ideal "that anyone can edit". The "anyone" part has not been 100% true ever since the first person was banned from Wikipedia, back in the mists of Wikipedia's origins, & has become even less true ever since it was learned hundreds of millions of people consult it every day. However, the "encyclopedia" part hasn't been 100% true either, because there are so few incentives to contributors to give priority to the important content over one's own interests. (Yes, this is why we have so many articles on professional wrestling & pokemon characters, yet it is also why we have an amazing collection of stubs on places you've never heard of: it's more fun to work on those than on a high-visibility article where some jerk can dispute your contributions over political reasons, dispute citations, or simply revert because the name of the day ends in "y".) The problem in this tension between these two ideals is not that they conflict, but that too few people are willing to even acknowledge that there are two unrelated ideals here which aren't always in harmony. -- llywrch (talk) 18:11, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

View By LessHeard vanU[edit]

For the greater majority of contributors, including Admins, Arbs, 'Crats, Stewards and other functionaries, Wikipedia is a hobby. This provides both benefits and drawbacks, many of which have been exampled above , but gets to the core of anonymous editing, you cannot require adherence to professional codes of conduct, fully visible real life identity, and the ability to terminate the employment of those whose actions or behaviours are contrary to the purpose of the project. You can make every effort to ensure people act responsibly and respectfully, request that they identify their bias' and viewpoints with regard in how they edit, and sanction the accounts and sometimes as far as is possible the individuals who are intent upon disrupting the project, but by taking away the ability to anonymously and easily edit the encyclopedia you are removing the huge potential of anyone who can improve the place from doing so. Think of the kind of editor, and supporting functionaries, who will remain - exactly those whose ideals are not based around open editing but invested interest in presenting their worldview.

Further to my comments at DGG per Durova, perhaps identifying those of us to whom this is a Very Important Hobby may be possible - as long as it is a private identifying process, simply to confirm that this person appears to only operate acknowledged accounts. I am also trying to kick start a process that will lead to a policy and process by which admin accounts can be deflagged far more easily and via the actions of the community, in the belief that making the bit easier to lose will result in its gaining and holding to be far less of a Dig Deal and as such something that should not give reason to bend or subvert policy in order to retain. I suggest that making the differences between anonymous, autoconfirmed and enhanced privilege editors lesser rather than greater we demotivate people from socking in order to achieve "status" where a previous identity is tainted.

We are not going to stop people from opening new accounts regardless of whether existing ones are active, and nor are we going to stop ip editing unless we are willing to conclude that the Wikipedia we have now was a mistake and we will take the good bits (the content) and start afresh as a project for White Middle Class Males (and their friends) to maintain Truthipedia. As a White Middle Aged Aspiring Middle Class Male I really would not want to be associated with arseholes like me exclusively, and I do not think the world will benefit overmuch either. LessHeard vanU (talk) 15:06, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

View by Moni3[edit]

The discussion over tightening accountability and transparency is no more contentious here than would be to any large group who had been thrust (or actively sought and achieved realization) into international prominence. I am unable to shake the way Stephen Colbert said with a touch of glee Wizardman (talk · contribs)'s name on television when discussing the arbitration decision about anonymous editors from the Church of Scientology.

Wikipedia is used like a Multi-User Dungeon because we allow it. I get to spend hours, weeks, and months poring over an article and I share the site with doofuses who seek simply to game the vanity fair of RfA, ANI, and ArbCom. Sometimes, unfortunately, I can see less than half a legitimate reason to sock when one's view on content has been suppressed from admin action or dubious consensus. This crap behind the scenes that involves someone's self-worth? I don't get that shit at all.

I'm getting impatient with editors who have spent years here who still cannot recognize a poor source, or the folks who rush to edit war and fall into the same argument spanning across hundreds of talk pages about tiny facts in articles without going to the damn library and looking it up. What's the online equivalent of a frying pan I might be able to employ to give these folks a good "whang!" over the head?

Must we really force integrity upon people? These can't all be children who have no moral anchor, who depend on faceless strangers for approval, who choose sides over substance.

Apparently, yes we must. What is it we want this site to be? I don't pay any attention to ArbCom and the ongoing scandal of confessions and resignations is quite frankly embarrassing. How mortifying would this be to have this ArbCom soap opera publicized to all creation? Sockpuppetgate: what did you know and when did you know it? I take pride in the work I do here. Is that misplaced?

Perhaps we are unable to help ourselves as people. Perhaps we just cannot keep from causing spectacle, either by screwing up and being the cause of scrutiny, or simply by thinking our individual views are so earth-shatteringly important that we demand resolution to our questions from the very people whose legitimacy we question.

My personal requests: ArbCom members, STFU and make some decisions. Be open and honest about it. Do your job. Quit resigning when people disapprove of your ideas. Quit making these stupid confessions that cause whirlwinds of discussion, vortexes of energy that take away from content improvement. Start thinking about your public responsibility to lend some stability and legitimacy to this site.

Admins: stop policing for civility and act as role models. Write articles. Write good ones. Help newbies and praise hard-working editors. If you find yourself basing your entire identity on how much a respected member of Wikipedia you are because you have admin rights, drop them immediately. Ask for them again when you are able to define yourself by the quality of work you do instead of the rights you have been granted arbitrarily.
Editors: Just be who you are. Don't sock. Write good articles for free. Don't plagiarize. Visit your library often. If you value your relationships with faceless strangers over policy that is supposed to clarify communication and help with personal integrity, and these friendships cause you to assist in someone else's duplicity, reconsider who you choose as friends. --Moni3 (talk) 15:22, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

View by ϢereSpielChequers[edit]

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. I !voted for both Pastor Theo and Law, as of course did many of the RFA crowd. So far this year we have only appointed 96 admins, standards as measured by edits, tenure, gaps between RFAs are higher than ever and yet we failed to spot either of those two, both of whom passed RFA "first" time. As our admin numbers dwindle adminship becomes perforce a bigger deal; and the embarrassment of incidents such as these is magnified. Four of our 900 or so active admins is less than half a percent, two of ninety six is over two percent. My fear is that our rising RFA standards are making it progressively more difficult to gain adminship, unless of course you are a blockevading sockpuppet.

Its unfortunate that we can't use some form of identity verification of admins, but I accept the arguments above that rule it out. However there is a possible solution that would be practical, would allay some people's suspicions about us admins and shouldn't deter any good faith candidates from adminship. Random checkusers on admins would deter sockpuppeting, whilst allowing cleanstart and legitimate use of alternate accounts. Users can change their IP address as easily as they change their broadband provider, so this isn't a perfect solution, but I think it would help restore the communities faith in its administrators.

I also think we need to reaffirm or revise wp:CLEANSTART, as I believe there is significant support in the community for the idea that cleanstart should not fully apply to anyone who subsequently wants to become an admin (currently it is allowed "only if there are no bans or blocks in place against your old account"). I think the area of concern is about candidates whose previous account(s) had expired blocks. My suggestion would be that RFA candidates who previously had a cleanstart from an account that didn't have a clean block log should email the ARBcom list informing them as to who they'd been before the cleanstart, and asking if their previous blocks were so old that they could run without mentioning them, or conversely for a form of words that they could use. ϢereSpielChequers 13:18, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

View By Other editor[edit]