User:Tothwolf/rescued essays/Rule 0

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This was originally written as a comment for an ANI report, but not posted there because of length. Please feel free to edit this essay to improve it.

This is indeed an unusual case, involving a Wikipedia:Rule 0 violation (possibly more than one). No policy on Rule 0? Of course not! Rule 0 cannot be stated, for stating Rule 0 is a Rule 0 violation, but I can describe it indirectly. "Thou shalt not mention an appearance of absence of the Emperor's clothing." That old story has the violator be a child, and we understand that children will break the unspoken rules of society, but we expect adults to follow them. There is a developmental disorder, ADHD, which has as one symptom an inability to sense and follow unstated rules.

Users with ADHD are at high risk of violating Rule 0, while believing that they are following all policies and guidelines, and thus of being blocked and eventually banned. They will not, of course, be blocked for Rule 0 violation. It will always be for something else, such as "disruption," "trolling," or "corrupting youth." Never mind about the last one, that was ancient Greece, not Wikipedia, and the disordered one was Socrates. WP:TROLL is actually about as close as the policies get to explicitly describing Rule 0. ADHD is a disorder, from the point of view of normal social functioning, but societies which cannot accommodate those with it eventually are destroyed as conditions change, because ADHD is probably a genetic variation and the presence in a population of those with this variation is essential to the ability of that society to adapt to new situations, ones that require rule changes or other out-of-the-box thinking.

Now is this essay appropriate here? Perhaps not. I have ADHD. However, it does explain what is happening. This whole affair from start to the present is clear, once Rule 0 is understood. It explains why a User:Absidy with no history of edit warring, no incivility warnings, no prior disruption that I can find in the record (going back to 2005, the four accounts involved are easily identified because the linkages were never concealed, three of them you will find together easily and it takes no advanced skills to pick out the fourth), and no blocks of any length except for one place in error and quickly removed, is now indef blocked from a single incident, not repeated, that normally would have resulted in a mere warning, and which, in fact, did result in a warning from one admin, but then a block from another, the admin who was allegedly personally attacked, violating COI rules. There were, before this, a series of incidents where the user did things that were odd, outside expectations, but not actually rule violations, and no harm was done by them. But activity outside expectations does arouse the intense interest of the "Rule 0 police," who are, naturally, never formally organized and don't think of themselves that way.

Because WP:PRX provides a means that could possibly shift the power distribution in Wikipedia toward equity from the status quo, this proposal is, in itself, a Rule 0 violation. It would be so in just about any community. Rule 0 violations are disruptive, by definition, see WP:TROLL. Wikipedia contains the elements which would allow the integration of Rule 0 violators, but this, by definition, allows consideration of changes in the unwritten rules. Above, I indicate that Rule 0 violations will always be called something else; this, in fact, tends to infuriate immature Rule 0 violators, because, typically, these violators will know that the accusations being made are false, and so they will develop resentments and other negative conditions, and may become serious trolls, vandals, and saboteurs. Others can see beyond it and drink the hemlock, understanding that society must have its rules, and that they are not exempt. But ancient Greece did not survive, that culture could not adapt and was crushed. Once we understand that WP:PRX represents a Rule 0 violation, we can then see why totally preposterous arguments are presented as to why it should be rejected, and that a large community of experienced users, members of the defacto oligarchy here, would join in these arguments or approve them, and that this community will not be content with mere rejection. The ideas must be stamped out, and quickly, before the youth are corrupted there is further disruption.

This is not the place to examine those arguments, except to mention the deep irony that the rejection of WP:PRX is mostly based on a myth, that this proposal involves voting, a myth made more plausible by tactical errors on the part of the proposer, Absidy (who created an appearance of voting in the example he used). In spite of repeated explanations that WP:PRX does not involve voting, that "proxies" are not allowed to vote on behalf of those who have named them, under current policy and under this proposal -- which makes no policy changes at all and which, in my opinion, does not even require any community approval --, most delete votes were based on WP:NOTAVOTE. User:Kim Bruning is perplexed because, rationally, rejecting the proposal would settle the matter -- and there is no activity attempting to remove the rejected tag -- yet this DRV was created. The irony is that the closer, Bruning, did not respect the vote. But it's not about voting, right? Isn't it about cogency of arguments? Why is this proposal "disruptive," so disruptive that it must be deleted instead of merely being marked "Rejected"? Well, it obviously is disruptive, because it has so many editors upset. If it is deleted, they won't be upset, they will be able to sail along, comfortable that the risk to the status quo has been eliminated. Unfortunately, that is not what will happen if they succeed. What will happen is that "disruption" will continue to increase, and to prevent it, more and more users will have to be blocked for Rule 0 violations disruption and lack of respect for community consensus, such as by writing and placing disruptive essays and files on Wikipedia proposals and process in their userspace. I wrote in Bruning's Talk that his closing was the least disruptive outcome for the MfD, because, as far as I'm concerned -- and those who will come across this -- it settled the matter of WP:PRX and I wouldn't have any legitimate cause for filing a DRV case or for RFC or other process on that issue. Clearly, the Rejected tag -- which was already there, in spite of my disagreement with it, which, in fact, continues in a way -- was placed through what I'd call a local consensus, and acting contrary to local consensus *is* disruptive, and properly treated as such.

The proper process here, however, was not the filing of this ANI report. Bruning was correct to close the DRV, had he been uninvolved. However, he was involved, so that was not correct. No harm done, however, because the proper remedy remains. Nevertheless, Bruning, by allowing a continued Rule 0 violation, was, himself, in violation of Rule 0, thus it was taken to ANI as abuse, even though there was adequate process to handle the issue short of that, such as simply reverting his closing edit.

Folks, this is a mess, and it may get messier before it stops. I'd urge all participants to step back and take a deep breath. I'm acting slowly, spending many fewer hours on Wikipedia, focusing on one step at a time. If enough others do the same thing, we might get through this without major disruption. Otherwise, this could really get ugly, and, I know full well, there are those who will read this and think that I'm planning on making it ugly. I'm not. But Rule 0 violations and the attempt to punish them can start riots, if cooler heads do not prevail. It's true. If there is continued fuss and disruption, my step-by-step approach to WP:DR will be postponed, so the day of reckoning may also be postponed, some might think, but, in fact, fuss and disruption will hasten the day; problem is, when change happens through "violent revolution," it often ends up with something worse, not something better. Wikipedia is a stunningly beautiful creation. Let's make it better, deeper, and able to survive through the hazards of rapid growth. Don't be surprised, though, if those who are attached to it as it is, and who are willing to act to prevent the possibility of change, destroy it. This has happened countless times through history, and it will happen here if we do not open our eyes and ears and hearts. Absidy saw that, but he was unable to cope with the tragedy of rejection. Don't worry about him. He'll be fine. Worry about the project.

The character Syme in the classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was liquidated not for political unorthodoxy, but because he explicitly and overtly stated the underlying principles behind Newspeak.