User talk:Jimbo Wales

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Regarding Wifione ArbCom case[edit]

Three years ago I noticed this thread on your talk page and I wrote: "...this issue should be properly investigated/clarified." Later, I notified you and others watching this page repeatedly about my concerns regarding Wifione's editing, but I was largely ignored. Now I'm letting you know that the case has come to an end, see this. There is a good off-site summary and broader context described in the current issue of the Newsweek magazine. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 07:02, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

I consider this one of the worst (slowest) failures to tackle a problematic editor that we've seen yet. It's good that we reached this conclusion in the end, but the question that should give us a sense of desire for change is: why did it take so long?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:49, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
No one cared, and I would also say that Wikipedians hesitate to 'take to court' a kind, polite and respected member of the community who has many friends. User:Tinucherian, a WP administrator from India, responded to my questions regarding Wifione in March 2012: "I did also inform some of the members of Arb Com. They feel that there is no credible evidence as such." Well, I presented more evidence at Wikipedia:Editor review/Wifione but the case went to ArbCom only after I repeatedly attacked Wifione and s/he complained at ANI. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 12:39, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
So you've raised two points. (1) No one cared. (2) " Wikipedians hesitate to 'take to court' a kind, polite and respected member of the community who has many friends" I think both points are valid but the first one is incomplete. I'm interested in the question of *why* "No one cared". Overall, it isn't true - lots of people care a lot about manipulation and COI editing. So I'm curious why no one cared *enough* and *in this particular case*.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:01, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Jimbo, Vej resigned as a sysop out of disgust at not being able to get this addressed. (Thankfully he has been willing to pick up the tools again, after the case. Not all would have). At the start of the arbitration case there was a chilling atmosphere towards those seeking to provide evidence against Wifione. Only as the evidence was presented, and it started to become obvious that there was a mountain of compelling evidence, did this attitude start to shift. Several of those presenting evidence openly told others that they were afraid to present evidence in case they were sanctioned. They should have had no reason to fear, since they were helping to expose malfeasance, but the culture here is not welcoming to "whistle-blowers". Not at all. Begoontalk 14:23, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@Begoon: Agree that the issue lingered for years without action, mostly because there are too few editors and hardly anyone cared about an article on an obscure Indian college. Agree that Wifione's polite manner got them a long way. Also agree that the 2014-15 Arbcom case rested very strongly on Vejvančický's evidence and would never have succeeded without it. But disagree re any chilling atmosphere in this most recent case? There was opposition to unbanning Peter Damian so he could directly take part in the case. There was opposition to outsourcing the /Evidence page to an external website. But that's it, at least from my perspective. I've also not followed Wifione much longer than the last few months, but I don't feel there was any reason for anyone involved in this case to fear they would be sanctioned for presenting valid evidence. And as it turned out, nobody was sanctioned for this or any similar reason. I appreciate the point about Arbcom procedures being long and messy, and maybe they need reform. But not seeing why there's a "fear of reprisal," and would welcome evidence that this fear has any practical basis (plus suggestions on what to do about it if proven). -- Euryalus (talk) 07:20, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm speaking from my own personal experience of how the case unfolded. You are correct that nobody was sanctioned for giving evidence, but that was certainly a fear I heard from people considering participation at the time. It would be difficult to deny that Arbcom has a reputation for "sanctions all round" solutions, deserved or otherwise, and this makes people nervous. Read the first 3 sections on the case page at Wikipedia talk:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Wifione/Evidence. The atmosphere is clear - people seeing big, scary templates about possible sanctions, confusion about what is permitted. I'm not a lone voice here - there are several comments broadly agreeing with me below. Now, I've already said that this atmosphere improved once the massive amount of compelling evidence started to be examined, and I've said elsewhere that I was heartened overall by the case and the result. This is true, but you need to consider that fears like these can prevent cases from ever being brought. I can't give concrete evidence of a "fear of reprisal" other than reporting it exists, and that I have experienced it first hand, and asking you to read other comments on this page. What to do? Well, a less "officious" environment around Arbitration could help. The guys at DR strike a good line. Maybe a group of editors available to help those wishing to bring cases to tiptoe through the minefield is an idea? Maybe others have better ideas? Begoontalk 10:44, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
It occured to me you might like an example of unnecessary, discouraging officiousness at Arbcom cases. Ok, here's one. I recently made a very brief, hopefully helpful, uninvolved comment at a request for arbitration. As a consequence, I was added, as a party, to not one, but two arbitration cases, received 4 talkpage messages and pings, and had to post to 2 separate case talkpages to have myself removed from 2 cases I was never a part of. All my "reward" for offering a helpful, brief comment, in passing. There are perhaps between a dozen and 2 dozen people in the same position. This could all have been avoided by the 2 cases being properly considered and drafted before posting, instead of a hurried, ill-considered copy/paste to be "fixed later". Please ask yourself if that kind of thing encourages or discourages participation. Begoontalk 15:39, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
@Begoon: Can't argue with that. --Euryalus (talk) 08:16, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. I should also mention that I do appreciate the good humour and efficiency which you personally brought to removing the incorrectly added parties. It was a breath of fresh air, and, quite honestly, just a lot more of that approach from the Arbs and clerks involved on those pages would be a huge help, in my opinion. Begoontalk 16:53, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
I completely agree with the sentiments above. Fear of retaliation is a common problem when dealing with admins on Wikipedia because there are no checks and balances against admins. This case shows it as others have. It's the admins word against everyone else and the admin is given a 10 to 1 offset automatically. The Arbcom purposefully makes the process of addressing admin problems so complex, so long and so burdeonsome that most just leave the project in frustration rather than deal with it. Problems take years to address if they ever are at all. If anyone thinks Wifione is the only problematic admin...or the worst, they are kidding themselves. Administrative oversite of the admins is a very much needed thing in this project and the Arbcom has shown time and time again that they are both unwilling to do it and don't have the skills to do it. There needs to be a higher level of authority, preferably at the WMF, that gives editors a chance for review and allows admins actions to be reviewed and dealt with outside the protected class status they have on the projects. Unfortunately, just like this case wasn't taken seriously for years, the overarching problem with the admin culture and us and them mentality will also not be taken seriously I fear regardless of how much damage it does to the project with editor retention and the longterm success of the project. Not as long as editors have no voice and admins are allowed "broadly construed" discretionary ability to do whatever they want. 138.162.8.57 (talk) 14:49, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@Jimbo: It was a sophisticated work what Wifione has done for years and I guess that the opaque 'jungle' surrounding his activities on Wikipedia + complicated context of the topic (higher education in India) have discouraged most of editors from doing a detailed research or review the extensive researches made by others. People edit Wikipedia for free and few of them are interested in spending their time on investigating complicated cases of manipulation in areas completely unknown to them. That might be an explanation of 'why no one cared *enough*'. As for your 'why *in this particular case*' - I would say that it was partly because by his friendly and cordial attitude and socializing skills Wifione managed to persuade many of the core community members that his intentions are honest. Wikipedians act often more like members of a group of friends rather than independent editors-encyclopedists. Wifione knew that perfectly and found an ellegant way of how to get to the 'club', in my opinion .... and while I'm thinking about the Indian families potentially misled by Wikipedia and about the inability of this big open project to defend itself against sophisticated attempts to 'game the system', some other editors mourn Wifione's fall on his talk page. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 15:46, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@Begoon:: I would say that good and honest people should follow their own conscience and ethical standards without being afraid of sanctions imposed by a 'culture' of an anonymous online environment. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 15:46, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Indeed, they should, and in this case you and others did. My concern is equally for the occasions we may never discover, where a user has concerns, expresses them, gets a lukewarm or discouraging response, looks at the stress and effort that would be involved in an Arbcom case, and says, basically, "meh - screw that. I've led them to the water - not my fault they won't drink it". If the culture doesn't encourage people to express concerns, and help them through the barbed wire and minefields, we lose valuable input, and people, and serious problems go unaddressed.Begoontalk 16:06, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Any honest discussion of why it took so long to deal with Wifione, and why a chilling effect exists in examining conflicts of interest, needs to start with the one previous ArbCom case that dealt with the issue. The message from that case could not have been clearer, at least to me. It's not surprising that Wifione thought he could beat the rap by being unctuously polite and by casting himself as a victim of unjust persecution and WP:OUTING, because that exact strategy worked brilliantly for the COI accounts in the previous case. (One of the Arbs even compared the COI accounts to Martin Luther King, Jr., which left me literally speechless).

    The Newsweek article on Wifione is pretty well-done; the quotes from Jayen466 were extremely fair and provided good context. Frankly, if someone wrote up the Transcendental Meditation COI issue, we'd come out looking equally bad or even worse, but that's another story. The bottom line is that the chilling effect is very real, from my perspective as an admin, and it comes from the message sent by ArbCom in its handling of the TM COI case. Vejvančický deserves a huge debt of gratitude (and frankly, so do some of the people who put this material together on Wikipediocracy) for tackling this issue despite the confusing and downright counterproductive direction that the community's leadership has taken in previous COI cases. MastCell Talk 16:35, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Correction: I found the MLK comparison, here, and it was not related to the TM editors. Rather, an Arb compared Newt Gingrich's PR man to Martin Luther King, Jr. I stand corrected, although no less appalled. MastCell Talk 17:19, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I suppose the burning question, MastCell has to be: If someone declares a possible COI, does this mean that their colleagues, friends and/or family can then be contacted by anyone who has decides to investigate them?  Roger Davies talk 06:35, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • And MastCell, if someone campaigns against certain ideas in their real life occupation or activities, does this give them just as much of a COI as the editors they try to get sanctioned for operating on the contrary side of the topic as them in WP, especially if they are an admin? Cla68 (talk) 07:07, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • No, Roger, the burning question is how to balance "outing" and harassment concerns with the need to protect the project's integrity against obvious COI-driven editing. In the TimidGuy case, ArbCom tackled the first part of the equation, but did worse-than-nothing about the second. Suppose I stipulate that WillBeback was a horrible person who deserved to be cast into Outer Darkness. OK, done. That still leaves the question of how to deal with a group of editors with an obvious COI, who engage in inappropriate block-voting against perceived opponents, and who consistently use Wikipedia to sell their product by hyping its purported medical benefits. Again, ArbCom completely ignored that concern, and implicitly validated and supported the actions of these accounts, which was seriously demoralizing to those of us who care about COI editing and about the quality and accuracy of our medical coverage.

    The case also explicitly wrote into law that "outing" and harassment concerns took absolute priority over any potential COI issues. The decision left us with a very tough needle to thread, since under these terms virtually any mention of a potential COI could be interpreted as a form of "outing" or harassment, at the whim of ArbCom. It would have been simple enough in the case to terminate WillBeback with extreme prejudice but also to insist that the COI accounts adhere to our basic best practices (for instance, avoiding article edits). By completely punting on that question; by implicitly endorsing the editing of the COI accounts; and by creating an expansive standard for sanctioning COI concerns as a form of "harassment", the TimidGuy decision did a lot to create the chilling effect that people have cited here as a factor in our response to Wifione. If that can't be acknowledged, then I don't see things going a lot differently the next time around. MastCell Talk 19:23, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Re: "I consider this one of the worst (slowest) failures to tackle a problematic editor that we've seen yet. It's good that we reached this conclusion in the end, but the question that should give us a sense of desire for change is: why did it take so long?" — I suppose the facile answer is that too many people are obsessed with potty language or copyright violations or having fun fighting with "enemies" about topical topics in order to spin a "win," and not enough are doing the hard, boring work of verification and improvement. There are insufficient boots on the ground to adequately police content of everything or really much of anything... In addition, Wifione was — nice. Carrite (talk) 18:52, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
@ Jimmy Wales. You might also consider ending the ban you've imposed on JN466 from posting on this page. It's hard to hear with fingers in the ears, I have found, and this page is as close as anything Wikipedia has to being a WP version of Wikipediocracy. He can say his piece here or there (or as a contributor to Signpost) but it seems like banning him from this place is counterproductive to WP's ultimate best interests. Carrite (talk) 19:03, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Banning is always a way to silence criticism one doesn't want to hear. A couple of editors have been banned form editing, costing the project countless edits, merely because the message was a threat to those in power here on Wikipedia. Personally, I really don't feel like Jimbo cares nor do I think he is willing to do anything about this problem so commenting here merely makes us feel better and that we have tried to do our due diligence, but doesn't really do anything to fix the problem. Those that are the problem, got that way, because of the tendency for the community, admins, Arbcom, Jimbo and the WMF to look the other way and pretend they don't see what's going on and anyone who brings it up is banned, blocked, accused of something or other to discredit them or otherwise bullied into place. I could personally name half a dozen admins right off the top of my head (including at least one on the Arbcom) that the project would be better off not being admins and a list three times longer of editors who are a net negative. Stating them openly would lead to a block as a personal attack and not listing them leads to insinuations of "Proove it with links" whereby, once provided, accusations of personal attacks are made and the cycle continues. This is largely due to the lack of oversight of the project, the failure of those in leadership positions to do the right thing and a general attitude, as stated above, of not caring. 138.162.8.57 (talk) 19:35, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
According to a quote in the Newsweek article, "Admins have a huge advantage in Wikipedia....The default assumption is that they are ‘good guys.’” Invariably, the best advice for honest and talented people who are thinking about editing Wikipedia is this: "Don't touch anything remotely controversial until you've become an administrator."Anythingyouwant (talk) 21:58, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Queries

  1. Was the any discussion of Wikipedia Zero (the appropriateness, use of resources, et. al.) on English Wikipedia before roll out?
  2. Are article talk pages accessible using the mobile interface? NE Ent 01:57, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Why no one cared[edit]

You say:

I'm interested in the question of *why* "No one cared". Overall, it isn't true - lots of people care a lot about manipulation and COI editing. So I'm curious why no one cared *enough* and *in this particular case*.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:01, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps you could answer this. I emailed you on 3 December 2013 with a link to this article (which I co-authored). I received no reply. I emailed again on 6 December pointing out the administrators slurs against Mahesh Peri (who I interviewed for the article) were unforgiveable, as was the article he created on Ashok Kumar Chauhan, with the sole purpose of slandering him. I copied the Arbitration Committee, not one reply. I asked an arbitrator later about it, who said “That's not something I'm going to be worrying about I'm afraid, it's not an area that I feel a lot of passion about”. He pointed out that he had won a prize of £25 in the "core content competition", and had also received free Wikipedia T-shirts. “Are these problematic? At what point do you draw the line?”. That, and your failure to act, speak volumes. 81.147.132.55 (talk) 18:53, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

[edit] Oh pardon me, you did mention it later (email of 14 December) when I asked you to comment again. You chided me for "keep[ing] company with other dishonest trolls rather than being respected and appreciated by good people", and accused me of being intellectually dishonest, and as for the Wifione case "It is not generally reasonable to assume that someone not commenting on something is an approval of it, particularly when no one has actually inquired about it in any normal venue." Ha 81.147.132.55 (talk) 19:07, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

[edit] Of course you are expressing concern right now, but that is because it has reached Newsweek, I suspect. But you failed to act in December 2013 because it was not an issue in the mainstream media, and because the offender was a highly placed, well-liked and well-respected administrator, who it was not in your interest to offend. Much easier to accuse me of 'keeping company with dishonest trolls" and not being "appreciated by good people". Who are these good people? 81.147.132.55 (talk) 19:31, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Personally, I think some do care, but those people are either afraid of reprisal, or they would rather focus on building content than get sucked into a month long mud slinging contest at Arbcom and risk getting banned themselves when Arbcom does their usual punish both sides so there are no winners approach. A lot of the fault lies squarely on the shoulders of the Arbcom and their failures to police the project and the WMF for completely ignoring the problem unless its a piece of new software they want to force onto the community. They make the cases so long and complicated no one wants to do them and then the end result is either nothing happening to the admin in question or the invoke a bunch of penalties all around to make sure that A) no one wants to submit and will avoid it at all costs and B) there are no winners and they can be passive aggressive and not choose a side. Its already a fact that if they choose a case they then they know the person is guilty, so once the case is accepted, the person may as well just leave anyway, unless they are an admin that is because although this admin did get punished, that is an extremely rare exception. 138.162.8.57 (talk) 19:40, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
The real question is why don't we have more editors like Antonín Vejvančický's running and maintaining this site instead of what we have now? Viriditas (talk) 20:51, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
If you want to know why, read the preceding comments from Begoon and MastCell and 138.x.x.x. I know of one very definite recent/ongoing case of COI editing. But I dare not report it, or I'll be accused of outing and being a horrible person in general. Even if I were eventually to be cleared life is too short to have to mess with stuff like that. So I try to minimize the damage and figure what the hell. The quote on my user page sums up the problem as well as anything. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 02:23, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Hi Short Brigade Harvester Boris Perhaps the thing to do in these circumstances is not to focus on the perceived COI but look instead at POV-pushing, misuse of sources, revert warring etc that are usually the hallmarks of someone with an agenda,  Roger Davies talk 06:39, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Roger. Up to now the sense that arbs (or recent arbs) think COI per se doesn't matter has been inferred indirectly. I appreciate your stating it explicitly. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 12:06, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Don't be too hard on him, Roger is just passing the majority view of Wikipedians along — it's not the editor, it's the edits (however you want to phrase that). For all the pious expressions of shock and horror when one POV-pushing sock puppeteer after another is revealed and neutralized, there is nothing to be surprised or horrified about so long as the cult of anonymity reigns and anyone anywhere can start editing with or without an account, without limitation on account creation, backed by anti-outing rules and the mantra of Assume Good Faith. It's just the way it is going to be forever. So don't worry too much about who is affected by what degree of COI or nationalist feeling or loyalty to their employer, etc. Concentrate on the edits, not the editor. When those go bad, that's when you've got a case. Carrite (talk) 16:37, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that explains the length of my block log. When I see a problem, I act. According to at least one IP up above, Jimbo and arbcom were contacted about the problem and failed to act. Is this true? Viriditas (talk) 05:02, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Hi Viriditas. Wifione was active on the articles in question from about Apr 2009-Feb 2013, so this is largely historic. There were on-wiki allegations in numerous places, (often with little or no actual evidence) both from 2009 and, after a long gap, from late 2013 onwards: Jul 2009, Dec 2009, Dec 2009, Dec 2009, Dec 2013, Dec 2013, Jan 2014, Aug 2014, Aug 2014, Sep 2014, Dec 2014. It is also worth mentioning that Jimmy reopened one of the discussions here to get the issue aired. Once the issue was raised at ArbCom in Dec 2014, it was accepted with alacrity and resulted in a desysopping and siteban.  Roger Davies talk 06:54, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
The IP commenting above (81.147) is User:Peter Damian. Both Peter Damian, who is banned from the English Wikipedia, and User:Jayen466, who is banned from this talk page, did exemplary and professional research and played fundamental role in exposing the scale of Wifione's manipulation, from what I can say. It is in the best interest of this project to listen to constructive criticism and judge the validity of arguments rather than where they come from. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 06:49, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree completely. This situation was laid out for all to see in a Wikipediocracy blog in December 2013, but I have no doubt that without Vejvančický's wholly admirable pertinacity no action would yet have been taken. Dislike of the messenger should not lead us to stop our ears against the message. Rules like "holding the person introducing the link responsible for all the content of the link" are undoubtedly a deterrent to pursuing cases like this.
I wonder whether, in the light of the danger to Wikipedia of widespread undeclared paid editing and the problems in dealing with it, we should rethink the rule that "the outing policy takes precedence over the Conflict of interest guideline." Fear of being sanctioned for outing is certainly another deterrent to whistleblowers. JohnCD (talk) 17:07, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
It's interesting you say that. "the outing policy takes precedence over the Conflict of interest guideline." was one of the specific concerns pointed out at the time of the Wifione case as a "chilling" equation for potential whistle-blowers, and its prominent inclusion on templates for the case was a cause for concern raised among those contemplating involvement. (I discussed this concern a bit with Euryalus, above). If it doesn't need the "rethink" you suggest, then perhaps it at least needs some refinement and clarification? Similarly, "holding the person introducing the link responsible for all the content of the link" seems, as you say, problematical. Here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk I am now doomed. Begoontalk 15:15, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
@Roger Davies The most recent examples of manipulation are from August and November 2013. Wifione stopped only because the scrutiny became more intense so they couldn't proceed, in my opinion. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 07:17, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, there were a trivial number of edits after Feb 2013 (that's what I meant by "active on"). Why do you think the articles stayed uncorrected after Wifione had effectively withdrawn from the topic?  Roger Davies talk 07:41, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, it is still a mess. I tried to fix some of it. During my editing of the article Ashok Chauhan I had to go to WP:BLPN where I received no independent comments or support but only sharp attacks, see Wikipedia:Biographies_of_living_persons/Noticeboard/Archive204#Ashok_Chauhan. Editing in this area requires expertise which our editors don't seem to have, and even if they are familiar with the topic they often edit in a biased way. In the online reactions over this expose I can see many cynical comments by Indians pointing out that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and that the competition between Indian higher education institutions is a very dirty business. There's also a problem in this area with what we call "reliable sourcing" - IIPM is/was one of the largest advertisers in India, which means that the major newpapers and media may hesitate to publish negative stories about a company that pays them, and it might then influence the shape of our articles. Editing in this area requires very high level of competency and neutrality and we simply don't have competent editors doing that. The most troubling thing is that uncontrolled, irresponsible and biased editing might affect negatively important decisions of real people living in real world. This example also shows that Wikipedia might be an important tool deciding about where big money go. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 08:25, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Arbitrary break[edit]

As several folks said above, it's not a case of not caring, but just that there is not enough time in the day to correct all the articles that appear to be written by paid editors. I don't know that Wikipedia is set up so that we can expect this type of editing to be reverted or even all reported somewhere or even noticed in some cases.

The ultimate problem was noted in a quote in Newsweek "by letting this go on for so long, Wikipedia has messed up perhaps 15,000 students’ lives.” That is very likely correct.

Now I understand that the WMF, or you, or me, or other Wikipedia editors are not legally responsible for this, but it does seem that we all have some moral responsibility. I'd have a very difficult time getting the system changed to deal with it, you might have a slightly easier time, the board could do it (if they knew what to do). Maybe we should spend some time giving concrete steps that would help stop this. Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:26, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

The issue is that the English Wikipedia hosts 4 700 000 articles. This is far too many to be effectively monitored by a slowly diminishing number of editors. An obvious step is to (i) greatly raise the bar for notability and (ii) raise the bar for reliable sources. Both these criteria are far too complicated, with far too much wiggle room. However, neither of these would solve the problem of a well-funded organisation using its treasure/influence to achieve positive media coverage in high quality publications. (The recent furore involving The Daily Telegraph and HSBC being a case in point.[1], [2]).  Roger Davies talk 07:04, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, that's opening a fine Pandora's kettle of worms there. I don't think that I could possibly agree less that the solution to POV editing relates to changing notability and sourcing standards. Our deletion policy is one of the (very few) things at Wikipedia that really works well, in my opinion. Operations there are backed by long term consensus, by elaborate sets of guidelines, and a certain dispassionate and objective climate has emerged. Compare and contrast to early AfD debates which were dominated by "seems important to me" and "not important enough" types of arguments, which are a sure recipe for food fights and the rule of ignorance. There are half a dozen changes to things at WP that do not work well to be tried first (including the structure and purview of ArbCom, the establishment of binding mediation for solution of content disputes, tightening of registration and requirement of account use to edit, limitation of new starts to established accounts, etc.)
As for so-called "reliable sources" — that's a relic of the bad old days of Verifiability Not Truth. The fact is that the "best" of sources are wrong sometimes and the most sketchy of publications sometimes include important and irreplaceable true information. Good editors must learn to marshal and balance the factual evidence dispassionately. The obsession with using only a set of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval sources assures POV fighting over inclusion of sources rather than measured discussion about inclusion of truthful information. So-called "reliable sources" are a myth — everything has bias, explicit and implicit. Those who write content have to be smart enough to use the whole range of available information and the ability to do so dispassionately and fairly. End of spiel. Carrite (talk) 17:01, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
@Roger Davies: it's very possible I'm missing something important, but what does your response have to do with the problem? It looks like many warning signs were ignored about Wifione, before he even made it to RFA. I'm referring to the old SPI. Now I've been told there was a COI incident report that apparently didn't go anywhere. And now we find out that Wifione was instrumental in gaming Wikipedia Zero which preyed on the financially poor, captive audience of thousands of people in India looking to improve their lives. Something is seriously wrong here. Viriditas (talk) 20:47, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
The WMF should buy a second hand Watson from IBM and let that system monitor our articles. Count Iblis (talk) 17:45, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
See automation bias and The Machine Stops. Viriditas (talk) 20:51, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
We had one major change to our deletion process a few years back when we introduced BLPprod. Something similar for "Commercially trading organizations and their products" might be an appropriate response to this case, and a rule of one independent reliable source for any commercial entity would reduce the workload on our editors whilst putting a bit of extra work onto those who write about businesses. Apologies to anyone who does that as a hobby. ϢereSpielChequers 21:01, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, it's quite possibly a good idea, but I don't quite see how it would have helped in this case. Nobody is suggesting IIPM does not exist, or is not notable. Perhaps I'm missing the point? Begoontalk 05:58, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
There are some subjects and areas within Wikipedia where the volunteer crowdsourcing model works less well than others, articles about businesses being a case in point. I'm happy to assume that everyone writing about funghi, canal restoration, sport or Milhist is a hobbyist, but, and I know this will sound cynical, I have a suspicion that some of the people who write about commercial organisations have an undeclared COI. So if we raise the bar in that area, we use our volunteer's time more efficiently, and hopefully increase the time available to deal with things like overly promotional articles and POV pushing. Begoon is of course right, this is an indirect rather than direct response to the Wifione saga, but I suggest it would be a useful response. ϢereSpielChequers 14:03, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

A plea[edit]

Jimbo. Above, Peter Damian, posting as an "anon", asks you a question. I think it's a fair question, and the comments here seem to support that. Will you answer it, please? For reference:

Perhaps you could answer this. I emailed you on 3 December 2013 with a link to this article (which I co-authored). I received no reply. I emailed again on 6 December pointing out the administrators slurs against Mahesh Peri (who I interviewed for the article) were unforgiveable, as was the article he created on Ashok Kumar Chauhan, with the sole purpose of slandering him. I copied the Arbitration Committee, not one reply. I asked an arbitrator later about it, who said “That's not something I'm going to be worrying about I'm afraid, it's not an area that I feel a lot of passion about”. He pointed out that he had won a prize of £25 in the "core content competition", and had also received free Wikipedia T-shirts. “Are these problematic? At what point do you draw the line?”. That, and your failure to act, speak volumes. 81.147.132.55 (talk) 18:53, 25 March 2015 (UTC) [edit] Oh pardon me, you did mention it later (email of 14 December) when I asked you to comment again. You chided me for "keep[ing] company with other dishonest trolls rather than being respected and appreciated by good people", and accused me of being intellectually dishonest, and as for the Wifione case "It is not generally reasonable to assume that someone not commenting on something is an approval of it, particularly when no one has actually inquired about it in any normal venue." Ha 81.147.132.55 (talk) 19:07, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks. Begoontalk 18:07, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

I'm afraid it is not clear to me what I'm being asked. I stand by my statement very strongly that it is not generally reasonable to assume that someone not commenting on something is an approval of it.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:06, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
I guess the thrust of the question was: with hindsight, do you regret not acting on the concerns brought to your attention in 2013, are you disappointed that Arbcom members similarly dismissed the concerns on more than one occasion, and do you think these things contributed to this becoming one of the worst (slowest) failures to tackle a problematic editor that we've seen yet? Additionally, do you accept that these failures led to innocent people being financially duped, and that taking them seriously rather than dismissing them could have mitigated that? Whatever your answer to those questions, I have a question of my own for you: what do you think you can personally do to help the community learn from this? And what should others do? Begoontalk 18:25, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
In order to "regret not acting" there would have to be some action in particular that I might regret not taking. What would that be? I don't personally ban people just because, as I wrote at that time on an internal mailing list, "It is abundantly clear that Wifione should be banned." We have a system, and this was a failure of that system - the correct response to a systematic failure is surely not for me to take up the mantle of personal master of bans that I stepped back from years ago.
Second, as for the ArbCom, again the issue was premature at that time for the ArbCom to handle, and certainly within our current operating parameters the ArbCom wasn't really empowered to act. They don't normally pro-actively initiate cases based on emails from banned users. So I'm disappointed in the outcome, yes, but I don't consider it a personal failure of myself or the ArbCom that we didn't step outside our normal roles. I don't know what the best change is but I think we do need a change.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:01, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
So you wrote, on an internal mailing list, at that time "It is abundantly clear that Wifione should be banned"? And this was ignored? If so, I apologise for suggesting you "failed to act". Was there a reaction to your recommendation (other than to not do it), and did you follow it up? I'm sorry to keep banging the drum, but I'm keen to get past "I don't know what the best change is but I think we do need a change", and potential failure points like this are important in that analysis, imo. Oh, and wrt They don't normally pro-actively initiate cases based on emails from banned users., maybe consider the content rather than the contributor? I think it's a rule, or a guideline, or something... Face-smile.svg Peter's evidence, however it arrived here, was crucial to removal of this bad actor. Thanks are due. Begoontalk 19:21, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, I don't think my comment should really satisfy you as me "acting" - I made it in a discussion on the communications committee mailing list where we were discussing the issue. I did not make that comment to the Arbitration Committee mailing list, and perhaps I should have, but the point is - that isn't really my role in general. So yes, I have been thinking about whether I should have lobbied ArbCom to take a closer look at the case. But that's not really where a solution to this is going to be found.
One thing that's important to note: this discussion in early December was followed by him taking a wikibreak (about which I publicly commented that it'd be best if he just didn't come back). He fell silent on the 13th of December and many likely thought ok, he's gone, so problem solved. When he came back his first edit was to start Wikipedia:Editor_review/Wifione. Many might have taken that as a good faith effort to do the right things.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:36, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
It may not be "your role in general", but I strongly suspect that had you, as a community member, "kicked up a stink" about it on this page, or attempted to raise an arbitration case, great notice would have been taken. We all have the power to comment - look how much more seriously you took me than you did Peter Damian, because I'm an editor "in good standing". With our relative credibilities and standings comes commensurate responsibility. I agree that isn't a good solution long term, and better processes need to be found, but we act in the situation we find ourselves. Utopia comes later. Begoontalk 19:55, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

It's not like this type of information is difficult to uncover[edit]

If you're willing ot hold your nose while you read. [3] Hell might be other people (talk) 02:01, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

There ya go... That's one important function of Wikipediocracy: the ability to discuss problematic editing in a manner that would get a person censured or blocked if it happened on wiki... It should also be noted that Greg Kohs is really good at ferreting out COI editing... Carrite (talk) 07:42, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
The collection of information looks quite good, and should be used by someone to examine the edits and take appropriate action. To state what should be obvious, however:
  • Information from WO in general would be easier to deal in a collaborative way if the environment there felt safer from doxing, for example - there might be more editors here willing to create an account and engage productively. I am not saying it is a pervasive problem, but I think it fair to say it has occurred.
  • Additionally, Greg Kohs' information about COI editing would be more palatable if there wasn't the sense that he was doing this, at least in part, to out his competition, while keeping his own socking on the QT. No offense intended, but at least one post suggested the latter (perhaps he was kidding).
Regardless, I reiterate that someone should act on the information provided in a systematic way. Who will do so?
Thanks, JoeSperrazza (talk) 19:47, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
I think i heard that some guy named JoeSperrazza wanted to volunteer for just this sort of thing. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:44, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

An answer[edit]

You asked: It's good that we reached this conclusion in the end, but the question that should give us a sense of desire for change is: why did it take so long?

What is this "us"? The project is privately owned by WMF, which has made it clear that although it will make good faith attempts to receive input from the politically active portion of English Wikipeida (en-wiki), it considers such input neither binding necessarily representative of the readership nor the entire editing community. Based on my limited interactions with WMF staff, it seems to me their understanding of en-wiki is like that of tourists getting a view of forest from a low flying plane -- they may see the forest but you have to live it it for a while to really know what's going on.

WMF made the decision to provide a filtered view of a desktop oriented, First World encyclopedia to a population that lacked the cultural and educational background to critically analyze the information presented. Whereas the bottom of every desktop view (e.g. Cheetah) contains the Disclaimer link to Wikipedia:General_disclaimer:

WIKIPEDIA MAKES NO GUARANTEE OF VALIDITY

the Wikipedia Zero view, [4] contains no such disclaimer, nor does the mobile view https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheetah . Wikipedia Zero was an arrogant, the road to hell is paved with good intentions decision.

We are volunteers. Per policy our individual responsibility is simply to not knowingly contribute misinformation and to try not to act like jerks. Period. We are fortunate that there are those motivated to identify and remove misinformation when they can, and it works well when volunteers have the real life backgrounds to be effective. As an American, I not only don't know anything about Indian educational instructions, I don't even know what sources are the Indian Washington Posts and which are their National Enquirers, or even whether that type of distinction makes sense.

Do I feel sad that some folks in Indian got ripped off? Of course, in the same general way I feel bad about folks being decapitated, stoned, burnt, stuck in a plane with a suicidal pilot, or I may have purchased fish produced by slave labor [5]. Am I going to lose sleep over it tonight? Nope.

Meanwhile, WMF continues with ridiculousness like some myspace / facebook like nonsense: "Gather"

Bottom line: While the Wifione / Indian Institute of Planning and Management fiasco does raise questions, the responsibility for the damage done via Wikipedia Zero as indicated by the Newsweek article lies with WMF, not English Wikipedia.

Thanks to Jayen466 for the Wikpedia Zero link and Jehochman for stepping up and filing the arbcom case. NE Ent 11:53, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

@NE Ent: I am disappointed to see an editor I have a good impression of trade in some ugly cultural stereotypes ("...First World encyclopedia to a population that lacked the cultural and educational background to critically analyze the information presented"), but setting that aside I want to address a couple of points you made:
  1. The disclaimer you quote may absolve WMF from the legal liability but it does not absolve it from the ethical responsibility to present accurate and neutral information. More importantly (since I don't answer for WMF) the disclaimer does not impact my personal desire to achieve the same goal. If ever the community/WMF decided that as long as the disclaimer is present on every wiki-page, we should not even try to get things right, I'll find another hobby. So I think the disclaimer issue is a non sequitur in some ways: if Wikipedia Zero were a bad idea for some reasons, it would have remained so even if it had had the pro forma disclaimer.
  2. Individual editors of course can't be knowledgeable about every subject-area covered on wikiepdia, but the community on the whole does have expertise to evaluate sources, even from India. For example, I among others, twice commented at RSN on the reliability of the main critical source Career360 that was used in the IIPM articles: in July 2009 and again in November 2009 (as far as I know these were my ever edits/comments related to the article). However, the company was persistent enough to contact User:Sphilbrick through OTRS, who acting in good faith and perhaps unaware of the earlier discussions, opened another RSN query about that same source in Feb 2013 to which (voila!) only Wifione replied disparaging its reliability. So this was not an instance of editors not caring enough (as Jimbo proposed) or of editors not knowing enough (as NE Ent proposed), but rather volunteers with-no-axe-to-grind not being as single-minded about the subject as persons whose livelihood depend upon it (kudos to User:Vejvančický for being an exception).
Question for @Jimbo Wales:: In light of the Wifione debacle, how do you think we can avoid such off-wiki/on-wiki tag-teaming and deal with problematic COI-editors more swiftly? For example, in the Naveen Jain case mentioned below, how should wikipedia deal with Wiki-expert-edit (talk · contribs) who:
  • created an account in 2008 and made exactly 10 edits to unrelated articles (enough to get auto-confirmed) before jumping onto the Naveen Jain article. In the next 7 years the editor has not made a single edit in any other subject area.
  • the editor has edited from Jain's company IP and has claimed to be Naveen Jain himself (later denial).
  • while Jain, or his representative, probably contacted you off-wiki recently (judging from your intervention), the editor revived his account on-wiki after a 4-year hiatus. he is currently blocked for a short period due to edit-warring.
Is this enough evidence to establishing problematic COI/paid-advocacy? (To be clear, I have no "evidence" that actual money was exchanged; don't see how I could have such evidence; and certainly won't go looking around for it)
Also note that I have no involvement with Jain, Ronz et al, and have never (afaik) edited any of the related articles/talk-pages and only happened to look at the page-histories after seeing the subject mentioned here. But I do strongly believe that wikipedia has to handle COI and paid-editing issues more swiftly and firmly if it does not want uninvolved, good-faith, editors to walk away from the problematic articles with a c'est la vie. Regards. Abecedare (talk) 04:16, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
"ugly cultural stereotypes" Yea, I knew that was going to happen regardless of how I phrased it. On the other hand it's a conceit to pretend that every person on the planet is "the same." There is a difference between individuals devoting what free time they can spare to trying to make Wikipedia as good as it can be and pretending that, or ever expecting it to be, 100% accurate, or sufficiently accurate that it's appropriate to market to unsophisticated users. The are about 140,000 active editors ... and the criterion for "active" is pretty low ... and nearly five million articles, an article per editor ratio of 34.350627828415. There are a quarter million [6] articles tagged {{Unreferenced}}. The scale of Wikipedia is such that we should never pretend it is anything other than a free encyclopedia written by amateurs with no guarantee of veracity. NE Ent 12:27, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
It’s not as bad as you say. Many articles simply don’t represent an obvious threat, and bad apples are easy to spot, especially when they work assiduously on the same set of articles. There is also a wicked offsite forum of people who can crowdsource the problems. The real problem is that this is not happening on Wikipedia, and the reason is that criticism is seen as negative. Not so in the real world: you can get a savage review, and sometimes these are unwarranted, but mostly they are not. They improve your work. Similarly, a free press set in opposition to the government (which the government hates) is the best means of improving government. Wikipedia needs a cultural change to allow people like me to work without damaging Wikipedia. Our strategy is simple: look for bad actors, research them thoroughly, write it up nicely, and then place it in the mainstream media (in this case, Newsweek). This helps Wikipedia by waking people up and thinking about ways to reform. By the same token it harms Wikipedia because of the negative publicity. Think how much better it would be if we weren't regarded as 'trolls' and 'dishonest manipulators', and if our emails were not sent into some spam filter and Wikipedia sticking its finger in its ears singing 'la la la can't hear you'. All it needs is a change in culture. Criticism is good: encourage it and help those who want to help you in this way. Simple, right? 81.147.135.211 (talk) 12:47, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

Solutions[edit]

This is an interesting string, but not very focused on potential solutions to better-handling similar problems in the future, which I think would drive a more productive focus of discussion. CorporateM (Talk) 18:36, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

Absolutely. What are your potential solutions to better-handling similar problems in the future? If you think they are substantial enough, maybe a new thread would be appropriate. Begoontalk 19:39, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
part of it comes down to the fact that people who believe everything they read on the web are going to be taken advantage of - whether its by dubious content in Wikipedia articles or e-mails from a Nigerian Prince or that "free" ap you just tapped. What is Wikipedia's role in fighting global il-weberacy? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:52, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
That's... astonishing. Among the many thousands of words I've read on the Wifione saga I think that's the first attempt I've seen to shift the blame for our years long failure to prevent a corrupt administrator from manipulating content to benefit a company and place a portion of the blame on the reader. Honestly, that leaves me pretty speechless. If we think our readers are incapable of critical thinking and analysis that would give us more of a duty of care, not less. Best bit of "victim blaming" I've seen on WP for a long while. Begoontalk 02:43, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@Begoon: Well, I would probably break it up conceptually into three problems:

  • Sockpuppeting
  • Tenuous editing
  • Astroturfing

I haven't participated in many SPIs, but it does seem like we need better methods and tools for it. Personally I would support the use of analytics to automatically detect socks using IPs and device IDs (while keeping the private underlying data confidential). But I don't think such a proposal would be popular around here. CorporateM (Talk) 03:38, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

It is an excellent idea but we need the WMF to take this on. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:35, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
For "tenuous" I assume you mean tendentious (I noticed you used the same term in a section below, too)? One of the particular (systemic) problems in this case was the enormous reluctance to contemplate that a popular admin had been doing that. Addressing that should certainly be a separate item on the "list".
One of the problems with "automatic" sock detection (there are many) is that not all "socks" are illegitimate. Unless an automatic tool could consider the context of the edits (and I don't see how it could) then it seems to me that it would generate a mountain of "false positives" that a human would need to wade through. I don't entirely rule out the possibility, because software can be very clever (see Cluebot), but I think it would be a huge undertaking to create such a program, as it would need to "learn intelligently" from its errors in much the same way Bayesian spam filters do. Begoontalk 05:09, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
@Begoon:I think it could be done merely by adding a notice when two accounts edit the same page from the same device within 30 days of each other. There are not very many situations I can imagine where two people are editing the same page from the same computer and it is not at least some kind of off-wiki colluding and there could always be an opt-out process for those rare exceptions. Yes, it would require some work and innovation, but nothing worth doing is easy and no problem that hasn't already been solved can be fixed on a whim. CorporateM (Talk) 17:21, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Example: KEEP: This company is notable! CorporateM (Talk) 17:22, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
SOCKBOT: The following user's have edited this page from the same computer: CorporateM, Sock2, Sock3
Perhaps it is easier than I thought after all. See you at WP:VPI. Begoontalk 17:29, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
@CorporateM: - see e.g. Wikipedia:WikiProject_Spam/Local/outletstoresmalls.com .. even cases that do not require sockpuppet investigations stay unchecked, guess what happens when you add to that workload. --Dirk Beetstra T C 06:38, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Wifione worked hard to evade detection. It took a long time because she was trying hard to mask the activity. Nobody should get too upset. It's just the statistical outlier. Usually we spot and fix this stuff sooner. This time we didn't. Other media also have their problems. Jehochman Talk 22:14, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
We have a ton of problems. I would estimate we catch about half of them. I have a list of dozens of cases but cannot post them on Wikipedia. If our policies change we might be able to address them. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:38, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
@Jehochman: - you say it is the statistical outlier. It is however what 'SEO'(-type) activities on Wikipedia are doing: stay under the radar - they are even specialised in it. I have in my 'portfolio' 2 big companies that do just that - try to stay under the radar (and there are likely many more), and have been doing so for 7-8 years (every now and then they stick their heads out too far or independently problems are identified).
It is not thát hard to stay under that radar. As Doc James says, we catch about half of them (and actually, I think Doc is very, very optimistic). Our possibilities are limited (of those 2 companies, I blacklisted a large string of domains last year, (and many of their domains were already blacklisted) only to be met with massive opposition from the community: find other ways of stopping it .. eh, how for example). And you have to be even careful with outing, libel, etc. (I presume this is what Doc James means when he can not post cases to Wikipedia). As suggested throughout here, editors do not do anything to curb these problems, and are not willing to have hurdles in their editing in order to stop the problem, and enforcing the ToU is simply down to us; nor the foundation, nor ArbCom is willing/capable to set examples (nail a couple of big ones), let alone provide a means of really helping with such cases. It pays your bills to stay under that radar .. --Dirk Beetstra T C 06:38, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
There's a difference between a business that creates a largely factual Wikipedia page about themselves, perhaps with a bit of puffery, that everybody can see and understand, and a business that's scamming people by using Wikipedia to spread disinformation. Jehochman Talk 13:30, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Or to prevent the spread of genuine information which casts a bad light on their business. That's when it can get really ugly. Begoontalk 15:25, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Jehochman - and those are again different from companies that use Wikipedia to promote their business throughout Wikipedia on multiple pages and wherever they see fit. Unfortunately, the companies that make a page on themselves are just the few, the ones that are blatantly promoting themselves throughout Wikipedia, or who are deliberately spreading disinformation, or which prevent the spread of genuine information that casts a bad light on their business are by far the largest numbers (though the number of 'largely factual Wikipedia page[s]' about companies, created by people with a vested interest, is also rocketing sky-high. --Dirk Beetstra T C 03:23, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Could you provide examples? I haven't seen too many scams on Wikipedia. Most of what I see is garden variety self promotion that is fairly harmless. DGG suggested tightening the notability requirement to help reduce the problem. I think that'd be a good first step. Jehochman Talk 03:41, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

And that sometimes gets to the problem that Doc James is mentioning - outing, libel, etc. I do not disagree that real scamming is too usual, and that is really a problem if it occurs. Though, as I said, SEO is a real business that aims to stay under the radar, and what I note is that there is a lot of real spamming going on (and some of that may even include scamming). We only see the surface of the spamming (and even that gets washed away ..). Companies go on for years doing that, even after having been detected in the past (they lay low for some time/dive back under the radar, and then pick up where they left). Going through the archives of Wikipedia:WikiProject Spam gives you numerous examples of companies that managed to stay under the radar that now violate our ToU (and before our pillars) for a long, long time, and some of those are way, way beyond 'garden variety self promotion'. If what I see happening with large scale spamming, and how that stays sometimes for years undetected, then I hope that that is not a measure for the amount of scamming that stays undetected ... --Dirk Beetstra T C 10:08, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Your extraordinary email[edit]

In the interests of transparency, I am noting here (a) your incredible insinuation that it was “dishonest and manipulative” of me to notify you/the Arbcom of the Wifione problem in December 2013 in the knowledge that an email from a banned user would probably be ignored, and (b) your suggestion that you could ‘solve’ this problem by placing my email address into a spam filter that deletes emails from me “the moment they arrive”. 81.147.135.211 (talk) 09:03, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

See also my comment here. It doesn't have to be this way. Wake up. 81.147.135.211 (talk) 12:47, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

(For the benefit of those as baffled as I was by the above, Peter is referring to an email he received from Jimmy in the last day or so. In a comment at Wikipediocracy, Peter says among other things, "[Jimmy] said that in general, anyone who emails him or the arbcom about a real problem, in the full knowledge that their email would probably be ignored because they are banned or an unperson, was using 'dishonest and manipulative tactics'. That's exactly what he said. I say 'insinuated' because a reasonable inference is that he was referring to me when I emailed him and the Committee in December 2013." --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 15:11, 29 March 2015 (UTC))
It's not inherently a bad idea to discard emails from banned users even if they point out real problems. Banned users are banned because their contributions cause, on the average, more harm than good. Sure, in this case, a banned user said something that was good--but you only know that in hindsight. It's impossible to make a policy of "listen to banned users only when they say good things"; any policy that would have led to Wikipedia listening to this banned user's useful information would also have led to Wikipedia listening to an endless list of things said just to cause trouble. And that isn't worth it. Ken Arromdee (talk) 16:38, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
It's "inherently" a bad idea to automatically discard any potential source of information without examining it if you're creating "the sum of all human knowledge". Once we start applying prejudice to our sources that'll be one of those "slippery slopes" I keep hearing about. Just saying. If a guy "banned" from my local chamber of commerce tells me I have a loose tile on my roof, I will still check. It's prudent to do so. Your "even if they point out real problems" argument is silly, and holds no water at all. We ignore warnings of real danger based on a prejudice against the messenger? Seems an awful lot like cutting off the nose to spite the face. Begoontalk 17:41, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Begoon, I often receive over 1000 spam emails in a day. It is of course possible that if I checked in enough depth one of them would genuinely have my Great Aunt Mavis's missing £240,000,000. But it seems to me better to leave such emails unopened, and allow the spam procedures to take their course. All the best: Rich Farmbrough00:50, 31 March 2015 (UTC).
Agree with Begoon. It's absurd to automatically discard any potential source of information without examining it. If the evidence I, and other editors, presented about Will Beback in 2008 had been examined instead of ignored Wikipedia and dozens of editors would have avoided a lot of unnecessary damage. Unfortunately, he was a "good editor" and I must therefore be a "bad editor". I was and still am, regularly shot as the unwelcome messenger of inconvenient news. My talk page is full of impeccable evidence of Will Beback's dishonesty, harassment and battleground behaviour. Here, if you can spend 10 minutes, is evidence I submitted to a 2008 Arbitration and Jayen466's excellent analysis of Will Beback's "evidence". [7][8] Ignore it at your peril.MOMENTO (talk) 01:44, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Get real. We aren't talking about crude spamming here. Our work is taken seriously enough to be placed in mainstream media. There is a list of articles here. The Newsweek story was only the most recent example. Ignoring emails simply because they are from a 'banned user' is irresponsible. You might also ask why they are banned. Perhaps because they were drawing attention to conflicts of interest? Why is this considered 'disruption' on Wikipedia? 109.145.57.84 (talk) 08:25, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

NPOV[edit]

What ultimately brought Wifione down on the face of the arbcom decision ( i recognize that there were all kinds of outside discussions and pressures that are not visible in the actual case), was the irrefutable evidence of a long-term pattern of NPOV editing. It was a genius solution to the problem.

Vejvančický I too want to commend you for sticking with it, and doing the hard work of gathering really killer diffs in the evidence you presented, that clearly showed the long-term pattern of violating NPOV. Really awesome work. I have some questions for you (and anybody else who lived through it and has answers), related to the discussion above, if you would be willing to answer.

  1. Ballpark, how much work (like how many hours) did it take you to pull that evidence together?
  2. the difs range in date from 2009 to Feb 2013 and you presented this evidence in Jan 2015. Here is the question - why did you (or anybody else, as far as you know) not bring a case for NPOV violations two years earlier (or even earlier)? (maybe you or someone else did, and I don't know that - if so, I am sorry). (and please don't take my question as any kind of blaming you! opposite. i am just trying to figure out the history and thinking.... really.)
  3. If you didn't bring one earlier, is it because you were focused on the paid editing aspect, and going after NPOV just didn't occur to you? I am asking this because in retrospect, it is just so clear that it was a slam-dunk case, and things look different in hindsight than they do living through something.
  4. Was there much discussion of focusing on NPOV during all the conflict leading up to the arbcom case?
  5. Where did the idea of focusing the arbcom case on NPOV actually come from?

I am focusing on NPOV, because although the community has been terribly divided about how to deal with paid editing (per the endless debates in the five parallel proposals to ban paid editing that followed the Wiki-PR scandal), due to the tension in the guts of Wikipedia between anonymity/OUTING and the valid concerns about the corrosive effects of paid editing on NPOV..... everybody agrees that NPOV is what matters at the end of the day. And as the wifione case shows, it is possible to prove an NPOV case. To slam-dunk it. And that we can catch paid editors (not to mention unpaid advocates) using NPOV. In any case, thanks again for your hard work, and thanks in advance for answers (to the extent that you wish to answer) Jytdog (talk) 22:35, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

It's not quite true. While NPOV matters at the end of the day, it is not the limited understanding of NPOV demonstrated by some. Take two examples:
1) "X corporations paid agent writes that the study shows X's product is safe. [cite]
2) "X's product is safe, according to the study. [cite]  
Those two statements contain similar but also different information - the first provides more information by focusing on the relationship of the writer to the subject and attributes, the second does not. Some Users don't seem to realize, it does sometimes matter what the relationship of the writer is to the subject - that itself (the relationship of the writer to the subject - not the identity of the writer per se) is encyclopedic information. Alanscottwalker (talk) 23:17, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
yeah we can get all in the weeds on that. but i mean NPOV, the heart of it, as arbcom applied it to the evidence presented. i am really interested in answers to the questions above. Some of them will (in my view) answer Jimmy's original question at the start of the thread. I am also trying to better understand the model that has been created. Jytdog (talk) 00:01, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I spent days or weeks researching Wifione's activities on English Wikipedia and familiarizing myself with the broader context of the topic. I presented the first (more detailed) draft of my evidence to the community in January 2014. The page was followed by some established editors and I thought that my evidence is sufficient to provoke broder investigation. But nothing happened. I thought that my "wrongdoing detector" is maybe more sensitive than that of others. But I wasn't sure how to proceed. I'm not an "ANI person" and I rarely participate in disputes between editors. I repeatedly "attacked" Wifione on highly visible forums (such as here or WT:BN) to be sure that many eyes will watch and some reaction will follow. It was not the cleverest thing to do, I admit. But still nothing happened. Wifione then went to complain about my "personal attacks" at ANI where another established editor (User:Jehochman) noticed that the issue is more persistent and suggested me to take it to ArbCom. I agreed but it was finally Jehochman who has filled the case. Biased editing was the most solid part of my investigation, that's why I focused on it. I was 100% that I don't accuse Wifione unjustifiably. --Vejvančický (talk / contribs) 08:10, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks very much for your answer. So that was a lot of work! It is too bad that you brought it to forums where there no official action that could be taken. The posting here and there, in non-actionable forums does start to look like harassment. I understand why you did it, however... but yes, that was not good for anybody, i think. What is great, though, is that it finally was brought to the right forum (I reckon AE was better than ANI, as ANI is subject to all kinds of vagaries that AE is not). In any case, you and those working with you have established a model for situations like this (not so much for dealing sock-making paid editors, but rather for long-term paid editors who establish a trackable record), which I think is really great for the community. It will be easier for others going forward now. I think the answer to Jimmy is that things can take a long time in WP - we are a messy community, not a lean corporate machine. But we got to the right answer in the end. So really, Vejvančický, thanks. Jytdog (talk) 08:26, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Some recent efforts[edit]

So I have been trying to address COI issue regarding paid editing via armies of sock puppets. What I have found is:

  • Jimmy Wales is supportive of us doing something / blocking them
  • We have TOU that does not allow undisclosed paid editing
  • The WMF is not interested in enforcing the TOU. They want us to do it.
  • Arbcom does not see it as a problem. And does not feel the TOU apply to them / En Wikipedia.
  • There appears to be little desire to run check users when evidence is reported in private
  • It appears likely that reporting evidence publicly runs the risk it will result in a permanent ban by Arbcom
  • The WMF has not agreed to provide support to editors if they are so banned by arbcom due to this
  • Elance and Fiverr are willing to comply with our TOU by deleting account there.
  • I have proposed to the WMF the creation of a specific group of functionaries to deal with TOU enforcement. The WMF has not replied after more than a month and a fair number of emails.
  • I recently deleted promotional content added by very experience brand new accounts with evidence they wrote them for pay. Rumors are circulating that arbcom is thinking of taking action against me. Recently the accounts have admitted they are paid and one has admitted to having another account.

So where to from here?

  • I have proposed a panel on the topic in Mexico [9] (Jimmy Wales has agreed to introduce it, no one from Arbcom has agreed to be on it; legal at the WMF is still thinking about it.)
  • If there was community support to create a new group of functionaries to enforce the TOU then the WMF may be willing to support the creation of one.
  • We need to elect arbcom members who care about balancing issues of COI and OUTing. Very few of the current bunch do.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:31, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks so much for your work on this, Doc James . How is that working with elance and fivver.. Have they agreed to self-police that, or do we need to ask them to do it on a user-by-user basis? Thanks again Jytdog (talk) 00:08, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Haven't pursued it that far. Was hoping for at least moral support from the WMF. I guess one concern is is User:Roger Davies / Arbcom going to attempt to have me banned for doing this? Does this count as contacting someones "work"? These people do make a living selling Wikipedia writing services. Are we allowed to interfere with people's livelihood like this? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:12, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Elance and Fivver won't be able to self police - as the issue is undisclosed paid editing, they can't tell if the paid editing was disclosed or not. - Bilby (talk) 00:50, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes certainly. The request would be that users who do Wikipedia work would have to disclose there Wikipedia accounts on their Elance user pages which would allow verification of disclosure. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:27, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
That would effectively be a request that users are required out themselves. I can't see that getting through. - Bilby (talk) 01:33, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Unlikely to get through here at Wikipedia I agree. Elance; however, has been very helpful and might be willing to add the requirement that all those doing Wikipedia work through there website must list the Wikipedia accounts they are using so that we can verify that they are complying with our terms of use. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 10:03, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
There is something that feels ugly about this approach. On Wikipedia we could never insist on outing, so having another site insist on outing on our behalf is a really ugly solution. - Bilby (talk) 10:10, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Doc James, "no one from Arbcom has agreed to be on it"? First I have ever heard of it, so "not agreed" seems a bit premature as I've never been asked. That said, I reckon like most people I'm not wealthy enough to up sticks and fly to Mexico for a panel discussion. So thanks for the invite, but alas I will indeed have to watch it from afar. Second, you are concerned you will be banned? What have you done that would justify being banned? Euryalus2 (talk) 02:59, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
What Euryalus2 said. LFaraone 04:43, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Maybe my emails to the arbcom mailing list do not make it through? I never heard back from arbcom so I guess this could be the case. Legal at the WMF has declined to be on it. The proposal is here [10] Is anyone from arbcom interested? User:Euryalus2 and User:LFaraone were should I post the invite?
I have heard rumors that my deleting of a promotional articles created by undisclosed paid editors using a sock is not allowed. And through the grape vein been warned to be careful. These rumors could all be false and confirmation of their falsehood would be reassuring. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 09:59, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

I'd just like to deconstruct some of the things being said at the start of this section:

  • Jimmy Wales is supportive of us doing something / blocking them
    • Well yes. He's entitled to this point of view, and it is shared by many people; and lots of those accounts *do* get blocked for clearcut policy violations such as failing to maintain a NPOV.
  • We have TOU that does not allow undisclosed paid editing
    • Yes we do.
  • The WMF is not interested in enforcing the TOU. They want us to do it.
    • They leave it to the individual projects to determine how they wish to enforce it and what steps they want to put into place to prevent it. They even allow projects to "opt out" provided there is a consensus to do so. Mediawikiwiki and the developer group as a whole have opted out, for example.[11]
  • Arbcom does not see it as a problem. And does not feel the TOU apply to them / En Wikipedia.
    • I'm not seeing "Arbcom" saying it isn't a problem, or that it does not believe that the TOU applies to them or to this project. What I am seeing is Arbcom saying it is outside its scope to enforce this problem, because Arbcom is a dispute resolution body, not a police force. As can be seen on various pages where this issue is being discussed, the members of the Arbitration Committee have varying perspectives on the most effective means for *the community* to address this issue, which is entirely appropriate because it's a community issue, not a dispute resolution one.
  • There appears to be little desire to run check users when evidence is reported in private
    • That's not entirely correct; there's little desire to run checkusers based largely on off-wiki information that is submitted in private. The evidence for checkusers, regardless of whether the request is public (SPI) or private, should indicate that there are multiple accounts involved, otherwise there isn't really a valid reason for running a Checkuser.
  • It appears likely that reporting evidence publicly runs the risk it will result in a permanent ban by Arbcom
    • It depends on the evidence. Non-public personal information or personally identifying information from off-wiki is generally a violation of the harassment provisions, because there is plenty of evidence that fraudulent accounts and claims are made off-wiki that do not correspond with on-wiki information. Nobody has problems with evidence that is available on-wiki, as far as I can see, although there are proscriptions to prevent people from using "COI" as a club.
  • The WMF has not agreed to provide support to editors if they are so banned by arbcom due to this
    • The WMF doesn't agree to provide support to any editors who are blocked or banned by Arbcom or communities. There's no difference here.
  • Elance and Fiverr are willing to comply with our TOU by deleting account there.
    • Excellent work.
  • I have proposed to the WMF the creation of a specific group of functionaries to deal with TOU enforcement. The WMF has not replied after more than a month and a fair number of emails.
    • Why are you proposing it to the WMF instead of the English Wikipedia Community? The WMF has no control over whether or not a project decides to appoint people to do certain things, provided that there is no violation of global policy. And what, exactly, would these functionaries be doing that current functionaries, administrators, and users don't already do?
  • I recently deleted promotional content added by very experience brand new accounts with evidence they wrote them for pay. Rumors are circulating that arbcom is thinking of taking action against me. Recently the accounts have admitted they are paid and one has admitted to having another account.
    • It's really unfortunate that *any* editor is the subject of rumours for deleting non-encyclopedic content. Whether or not those edits come from people paid to make them or people who are simply advocating their personal position, they're problem edits and should be removed. We as a community could afford to get a lot tougher on advocacy editing.

The English Wikipedia community has lots and lots of ways to reduce the volume of promotional/advocacy/paid advocacy editing that doesn't involve special police forces or rewriting critical policies that have protected many outstanding editors from harassment for years. There seems to be a realization after many years that our notability standards, especially for businesses, need to be significantly upgraded; I'd suggest we also look at BLPs in the same light, as there are lots of "COI-type" BLPs being generated. We can reconsider how easy or difficult we want to make it to delete these articles and keep them deleted: if they're deleted by PROD, they can return with just a simple request for example. We can consider whether we want to take a page from German Wikipedia's method of dealing with "corporate accounts" - they've had a lot of success with it. We can re-examine our username policy, which seems to have the effect of thwarting the ability to effectively address a lot of advocacy issues. I'm as disturbed as many other people on this page about what seems to me to be obvious promotional material; however, having fought some battles where it took a huge amount of work to get the accounts blocked and the content deleted because our policies favour keeping the material and the editors, I know that all the functionaries and checkuser investigations in the world won't have any effect on fixing this problem. Risker (talk) 15:22, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks User:Risker for the clarifications. Yes I agree increasing notability requirements for businesses and people is an excellent idea. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:36, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Doc James is doing some wonderful work here. His list above of the contradictions in the community's positions is telling. I'll add just one more:

  • Nobody enforces our prohibitions (in WP:NOT) against advertising, marketing, promotion, and PR. The problem with paid editing is that paid editors insert advertisements, which is a type of promotion, which is part of marketing, which makes the ads 3 violations in one.

I guess people would enforce these rules if a Super-Bowl-type ad was put in an article, but it doesn't appear that any less will trigger enforcement. Note that an advertisement is simply a communication from a business or other enterprise that is intended to increase sales or help achieve another business objective. For example, consider the following classified ad in a newspaper, "Hay for sale. Inquire at MacDonald's farm." That's an ad and it would be an ad even if it was hand-written and nailed on a fence post. Paid editors usually put much more obvious ads in our articles. Let's do something about it. Smallbones(smalltalk) 03:21, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

We do. Advertising is already prohibited and articles that are irremediably advertising-based can be speedy deleted, alongside articles that lack notability. Surely what this discussion is about is not catching people who put advertising on articles, but seeking to catch people before they put advertising in articles by linking their alleged identities on (say) elance with their alleged identities on Wikipedia. -- Euryalus2 (talk)| — Preceding undated comment added 03:29, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
While I know that advertising is prohibited, nobody enforces that prohibition. I think the problem is not when we catch advertisers - it is so easy to catch an advertiser that you can catch as many as you want whenever. The problem is admins who don't enforce the rules. I just picked out an ad in about 10 seconds as an example. I went to Category:Foreign exchange companies, where I know there are lots of advertisers, picked one with an interesting name InstaForex and sure enough it's all "Hay for sale" without a single reliable source. Smallbones(smalltalk) 05:32, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
So at this point the most useful thing is to delete such articles. This is best done by doing it. I would at this point even suggest increasing the notability requirements for commercial organizations in general, such as a requirement that there be more than local coverage, & a statement that sub-national awards do not show notability & that articles only about funding are non-substantial, (and possibly a restriction of crowd funding showing notability, on the basis that everything that gets crowd funding also gets PR & is non-discriminate) -- similar restrictions have worked on other subjects. This can be done either by passing a guideline, which is slow &difficult, or by simply interpreting by accumulated consensus at Afds, which is easy and can start to happen even as we are talking. DGG ( talk ) 06:09, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
We've got an industrial sized problem, we need an industrial scale solution. AfDs are often argued about forever. I believe you (DGG) participated in the 2 (or 3) AFDS about the new "publisher" who was planning to issue about 3 books, but hadn't yet issued anything. The argument eventually shifted to the article about the owner, who was your basic drug company exec, with alot of material on his new publishing company. The process took several weeks and I'm not even sure of the outcomes. Smallbones(smalltalk) 13:36, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
It's definitely an industrial-sized problem. One analyst found that maybe 30% to 45% of articles about businesses likely are either started by or most-heavily edited by a COI editor (see pages 7-8). While the previous IP was too insulting, I do agree with his question -- in any round-up of advertising disguised as articles, we will have to plug our nose and take a careful look even at donors to the Wikimedia Foundation, many of whom (http://www.bing.com/search?q=%22wikipedia+donors+feel+entitled+to+more%22&go=Submit&qs ) have repeatedly stretched the spirit of our guidelines against self-promotion. - 2001:558:1418:0:0:5EFE:AA8:BDEF (talk) 14:19, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
You would have more credibility if you didn’t refer to yourself in the third person, likely in a poor attempt to avoid scrutiny (“an analyst” - hah! You mean a fellow-traveler in paid editing). Expecting you to stop evading your ban is clearly a lost cause. I question the statistical significance of your results, as well (they could be quite good, or could be lousy, depending upon information not apparent in the presentation). JoeSperrazza (talk) 14:46, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I believe Jimbo recently said that his Talk page should be considered an "open door", even for banned users, if they can conduct themselves thoughtfully and in a considerate manner. Though, I think he also said that if others wish to enforce WP:DENY, that he would support that, too. Statistical significance (really, margin of error) on a random sample n=100 is fairly easily calculated, at whatever confidence level you choose. At a low enough confidence level, and a high enough margin of error, any probability sample over n=30 can be described as "statistically significant". - 69.57.233.20 (talk) 15:01, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
There is such a drawerful of socks (some banned, some blocked, others who knows) posting here that it would be disruptive in itself to simply revert them (and have them and their enablers unrevert, ad nauseum). Regardless, I agree that, in general, Jimbo has supported a more enlightened approach as to who posts here, as long as they are non-disruptive. A bit more honesty and civility would go a long way in making their points be taken seriously. Otherwise, it is just eye-rolling lunacy. JoeSperrazza (talk) 15:15, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Actually those numbers are pretty close (a tad low) to what the Public Relations Society of America's survey data[12] seems to imply. However, they surveyed whether PR people felt it was common to edit their client/employer's page, as oppose to whether they have themselves, which could explain the statistical difference. They found that about 60% of PR people feel it is common to edit the page and 13% felt it was common to pretend to be someone else to make edits.
  • Is there anyone from WMF watching this page that can update us on the legal recourse? The court case in Germany was very influential in educating folks in the region and it seems like the legal path was suddenly dropped after WMF's own employee was found engaging in similar tactics.
  • Doc James, in your work on this issue, have you found any ideal examples of misleading product claims I can send to the Federal Trade Commission? They seemed potentially interested in very specific types of examples of successful, non-disclosed edits that were misleading regarding a commercial product.
Disclosure: I do quite a bit of sponsored editing in a more wholesome way, for anyone that doesn't know. CorporateM (Talk) 15:24, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Only have a few for medical products. We have much less issues in the area of medicine with paid editing than in the area of BLPs and companies. Lots of alt med stuff but the FDA do not regulate them. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:40, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Re the extraordinary claim that "no one enforces the prohibition against advertising" can someone get some statistics on the number of G11 deletions we have in an average day? Personally my focus at newpage patrol is more on things like attack pages, but I know there's a whole community of people tagging article with {{Db-spam}} and deleting them. I suspect there's also lot of spam simply reverted at recent changes, but "articles deleted per G11" should be easy to measure by anyone who has the requisite tools/nowhow. ϢereSpielChequers 06:09, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Having made some slight attempt to "tighten" Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies) [13], I am as yet unconvinced that what User:Risker says ("There seems to be a realization after many years that our notability standards, especially for businesses, need to be significantly upgraded") is true. Perhaps User:WhatamIdoing can respond, here. Alanscottwalker (talk) 10:25, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Hi Alanscottwalker. What I mean is that there are people participating in this thread and in similar threads elsewhere on the project who are quite active in deletion discussions that closely relate to notability, and they are now coming onside to the point of view that higher expectations are required for businesses and organizations. It took me literally 3 minutes last night to participate in a couple of deletion discussions and PROD a couple more articles on businesses/organizations/events/products that display no significant notability. People consistently holding those sorts of articles up to a fairly strict reading of the current notability standards (let alone any increased standards) could make a big difference. If everyone in this thread went and participated in, say, 10-20 AfDs on related topics in the next two weeks, that alone could start to turn the tide. Risker (talk) 13:19, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Good suggestion. A dynamic I have seen is that when one non-notable company has a Wikipedia article, its competitors feel that they too need to have a Wikipedia article, just to keep up. If that first article is deleted, half a dozen more won't be created. Jehochman Talk 13:36, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Suggestion[edit]

The Terms of Use are a heavy club to be wielded by lawyers when there is a severe of systematic abuse of the site. English Wikipedia policies and guidelines, on the other hand, are nuanced rules designed to enhance content quality, and these are best enforced by knowledgeable editors acting through site channels. Of course, there can be communication between the two groups responsible for enforcement of the two sets of rules. If editors observe significant ToS violations, these should be reported to the lawyers. I think the status quo is just fine, and that people should carry on with minimum fuss. Over-reacting to a single incident is a bad idea. See moral panic. Jehochman Talk 14:05, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Of course. Making a fuss leads to things like this, and none of us want that, do we? Begoontalk 15:42, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't understand the point of your comment, but I think resorting to shrill rhetoric, exaggeration, half-truths or outright propaganda to wage battle on Wikipedia isn't the way to solve a problem. It is more effective to remain calm, polite, and rational. That's what I meant by "minimum fuss". Jehochman Talk 19:56, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Quality control is not moral panic, although it is interesting you use the term moral, since at its base, non-disclosure is about dishonesty and lack of ethics. The reader simply should have access to the encyclopdic information that an article is written by the subject, or by the subject's agent. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:48, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia doesn't require users to disclose their identity. Until we do, people need to focus on the edits rather than the editor. Jehochman Talk 19:56, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia requires users to fairly and thoroughly represent encyclopedic information - as long as an article writer fails to disclose that they are the article subject or the agent of the article subject (it's not about their identity, it is about their relationship to the encyclopedic subject) - they are misleading readers, providing incomplete information, and being dishonest. Alanscottwalker (talk) 20:09, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
The real world is rarely clear cut. What if I own property at a resort and work to improve the article about that resort. Is that a conflict? Would I include negative info that might damage my investment? Am I required to disclose my life story so that other editors can audit my work looking for conflicts? It's much better to look at the tone of edits rather than the editor. We don't want people to engage in doxing activities. Jehochman Talk 20:48, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
We ask editors all the time, why they want an edit, the very least they can do is be honest, indeed they are expected to be - that is the sole basis for 'assume good faith'. (Moreover far too much of the discussion of such blatant acts of dishonesty, suffers from the logical fallacy of whataboutery. There is no basis to claim that clear conflicts are not clear conflicts). Alanscottwalker (talk) 01:07, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Let's say somebody says, "I'm the PR person from this company and the article is all wrong. It has the wrong person listed as president, the year of foundation should be 2005 instead of 2004, and we don't sell wiggly widgets anymore. I just want to correct the record because our customers are reading this page and getting confused." Will the Wikipedia community reply in a friendly way, or will some admin indef the account for COI editing and then report them to ANI? Not all COI editing is so horrible. I suggest that this PR person could be welcomed, and things could be explained to them. What I don't want is the hysterical response that some on this thread seem to advocate. Jehochman Talk 11:42, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
In my experience, having responded to editors like that, the community will be grateful for information. And why should the community not be? The editor has been upfront, honest, and helpful. Most importantly, the reader will be able to know where such information came from. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:52, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Alan; I've never seen a COI editor given a hard time for correcting anodyne factual errors. We have the opposite problem—we are overly deferential to COI editors even when they make substantive changes. The layer of scrutiny between a PR person with a declared COI and a Wikipedia article is razor-thin, often just 1 editor. Take, for example, Tom Graves, a US Republican Congressman. His political consultants came to Wikipedia and declared a COI. Their goal was to promote Graves' role in attacking Obamacare (since this plays well with his constituency). The talkpage thread is here. Basically, the political consultants' text was approved verbatim by an editor with little or no experience in US politics, who stated that the additions "were to my eye factual and not blatantly promotional or non-neutral; some references were checked to see they supported the suggested text". That text now appears, verbatim, in our encyclopedia with absolutely no indication to the reader that it was written by Graves' political handlers. Is this an acceptable level of review when dealing with paid political consultants—that is, people who make their living off their ability to favorably manipulate media coverage? MastCell Talk 18:56, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── No. We don't have the editor hours available to deal with COI editing properly. The only real solution is to warn readers that anybody can edit Wikipedia, and that people connected to subjects often do. I'm sure an article like Barack Obama is watched by hundreds of editors and stuff like this would be reverted. For less prominent topics, the risk increases greatly that the topic could have been spun by somebody connected with it. I could invent a reliability heuristic that would score a page based on the number of editors, page watchers, and page views to give some indication how reliable the page is likely to be. (e.g. "This page has had X editors, has Y people watching it, and has Z page views per month. It is likely to be [very reliable, reliable, not so reliable, dodge, a steaming pile of poo].") Jehochman Talk 21:28, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Mastcell, true. But at the least, the record of all that is now and forever publicly there - that is still better than it not being made available at all. Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:42, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

A desperate scream from outside of the echo chamber[edit]

"The main source of [Wikipedia's decline] is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today...operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage." - The Decline of Wikipedia.

Is anything seriously being done about this by **you** today Mr. Wales? Any widespread structural change initiatives?

Everyday there are more warnings to change. Namecheapblues (talk) 13:29, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

@Namecheapblues: You realize that report is from 2013 and was discussed here and on other pages, right? --NeilN talk to me 13:59, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm curious about what NCB feels should be done about the "loose collective" which operates a "crushing bureaucracy" with an "often abrasive atmosphere." One would thing that someone with a 99%er user box on their page would be in love with the "loose collective" part and not seeking to impose some sort of military or corporate command structure based in San Francisco as a cure for what ails us. So, what in particular do you think needs to be changed to streamline our "crushing bureaucracy?" And how exactly is JW in a position to advance such a program? Carrite (talk) 15:42, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
    • A big step in the right direction would be disbanding the Admins. Make all ArbCom cases evidence based. And repeal the absurd rule that "No administrator may modify a sanction placed by another administrator without the explicit prior affirmative consent of the enforcing administrator".MOMENTO (talk) 01:54, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
      • Exactly right - if the direction is anarchy. --NeilN talk to me 03:09, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
        • This is a structural problem that starts at the top. Disbanding the admins and arbcom still keeps the board (who Mr. Wales is a prominent member) in control. I am just interested in what Mr. Wales personally is doing to address this. I have texted some of the other members of the board the same question. Do you think an actual old fashioned letter may get a better response? Namecheapblues (talk) 13:11, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
          • You truly have no clue what admins do around here. You'd have better luck getting people to listen to you if you showed some understanding of how Wikipedia actually worked instead of deriving your views from "Wikipedia is dying!" articles. --NeilN talk to me 23:01, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
          • You're welcome to send any letter you want, in any format you want, to whoever you want. But if it's going to start with "disbanding the admins", I don't think you'll get much traction. Put WP:AIV on your watchlist for a day or so, and see what wouldn't be stopped without any admins around. That's quite aside from everything else admins deal with, but just there, you should get an idea of where your proposal leads. Seraphimblade Talk to me 23:08, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Just so we are on the same page, the only person suggesting the admins and arbcom be disbanded is Momento. I am just interested in what Mr. Wales personally is doing to address this. Namecheapblues (talk) 00:58, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
    • @NeilN I have had enough experience with Admins and ArbCom to qualify as an expert witness.
    • @Seraphimblade Talk to me You epitomise the problem. A group of "Editors intervention against vandalism" would be just as effective. Even a humble banned editor can safely remove vandalism.
    • @Namecheapblues (talk) You won't get much joy from Mr.Wales. He likes things the way they are.MOMENTO (talk) 01:52, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
      • Yes, I looked at your talk page and contribution history and am not surprised you've run into obstacles - probably a good thing. --NeilN talk to me 02:14, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
      • i'll ask you they same question I ask everyone who makes the same superficial judgement you just made - "Please show me five bad edits from my edit history". With all the blocks and bans you should be able to find a hundred.MOMENTO (talk) 02:23, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
        • Thanks for giving me the task, but no. If editors are clever enough, they can edit here tendentiously for years without crossing the line (see the Wifone section above). Those who lack self-control usually get dinged for edit warring once in a while. --NeilN talk to me 02:38, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
@ Momento - As you have made a grand total of 153 edits to mainspace in the last 7 years combined, I think your challenge to find "a hundred" bad edits in your edit history smacks of hyperbole. Carrite (talk) 11:30, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
@ Carrite - One of the pleasures of editing Wikipedia is seeing my critics demonstrate their bias. Carrite provides two examples in one sentence. One, I didn't say "in the last 7 years combined", I said "in my edit history". In which case the number of mainspace edits is 2,118. Two, I didn't challenge NeilN to find "a hundred bad edits" in my edit history, I challenged him to "show me five bad edits from my edit history". In which case I have asked him to "show me five bad edits" from 8,724 edits. Or .057% of my edits. Like NeilN, Carrite is another of the bureaucrats that rule Wikipedia . Unable to accept my challenge to back up their opinion with facts they rely on other bureaucrats for their truth. And like all good bureaucrats they stick together, cover up each others failures and gang up on any editor who has the temerity to exclaim "But the Emperor isn't wearing clothes". In conclusion, Carrite owes me an apology for misrepresenting my very clear challenge, for not assuming good faith and mischaracterising my very clear and fair challenge as "hyperbole". I therefore sentence him to finding "six bad edits from my edit history".MOMENTO (talk) 02:05, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I've got no interest in digging through your editing of eight and nine years ago to try to find 5 or 100 bad edits. Perhaps you are right and your series of blocks were a bunch of mean people taking out their aggressions on you for no good reason. That is one possibility, certainly. Best regards. Carrite (talk) 07:21, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Don't worry, you're in great company. It took years for Timid Guy to be vindicated and Will Beback to be exposed for (and this is from Arb Com) "persistently dwelling on editors' affiliations" and using the "affiliations [of others] as an ad hominem means of dismissing or discrediting their views"and "for participation that is suggestive of battleground conduct and/or harassment" leading to being "desysopped and may only regain the tools via a new Request for Adminship and indefinitely topic banned from pages related to new religious movements, broadly construed" and "indefinitely banned from English Wikipedia". Not so much "a bunch of mean people taking out their aggressions on me for no good reason" but rather an systemic campaign of harassment and vilification that reaches all the way to Jimbo Wales who banned Timid Guy without a shred of evidence and refused to urban him.[14]MOMENTO (talk) 08:08, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
    • @ NeilN - Straight out of "1984". Innocent behaviour is a clever ruse of the guilty..MOMENTO (talk) 02:51, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
      • Since I have some sympathy for those who have been involved in Arbitration cases I took a look. These three [15], [16], [17] edits seem bad. They are the first three of eleven examples given. (Like NewYorkBrad and FayssalF I didn't agree there was sufficient justification given for the "battleground" finding.) However I am not inclined to waste more time looking at the other eight, I am pretty sure that more than one of them will be a bad edit. All the best: Rich Farmbrough01:20, 31 March 2015 (UTC).
      • Thanks for your interest RF. Let's start with the last edit first. 1) The edit I reverted was inserted without discussion. 2) The source (Worshipping the absurd) was criticised "as methodologically flawed and theoretically misfocussed. It has therefore failed to understand the basic significance of the DLM, and, more seriously, misrepresented it".[18] 3) There are several other reliable sources that describe the "extra-terrestrial" comment as a joke. 4) It has never appeared in the article since. I will address the others tomorrow.MOMENTO (talk) 10:15, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
      • Here's another editor's comment on the above edit - This was a revert by Momento of this edit by Msalt. The resulting talk page discussion is here. After several paragraphs of discussion, Msalt said, at 22:36, 6 March 2008 (UTC), "Good points all around. Until we see clear evidence that Rawat himself discussed extraterrestrials, I think the wise move (given BLP) is to leave it out." Jayen466 14:21, 10 March 2009 (UTC)MOMENTO (talk) 18:57, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
      • The first edit presented by RF above is from a disgraceful hatchet job article deleted in May 2008 (Criticism of Prem Rawat).[19]At the time I explained on the talk page "This may simplify things - Wiki policy on Verifiability - "When the original material is in a language other than English: Where sources are directly quoted, published translations are generally preferred over editors performing their own translations directly. Where editors use their own English translation of a non-English source as a quote in an article, there should be clear citation of the foreign-language original, so that readers can check what the original source said and the accuracy of the translation. Since Haan, Kranenborg, Van der Lans and Schnabel quotations are not provided with independent published translations or even the Dutch original I am removing their "quotes" until these are provided. And since Andries, is a poster on an anti- Prem Rawat website, his translation will not be acceptable".Momento 03:57, 18 January 2007 (UTC) In addition to the lack of independent translation is the inherent bias of these sources. Haan was a member of a critical movement within the Roman Catholic Church and wrote his piece for University Magazine that was not peer reviewed. Kranenborg was a Christian minister. And van der Lans wrote his piece for KSGV, a Christian-inspired Dutch association. To them Rawat was going straight to hell and had no redeeming features.MOMENTO (talk) 20:56, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
      • The second edit presented by RF above is to revert two insertions by Will Beback.[20] The first insertion is factually incorrect - the property was purchased by DLM not Prem Rawat. The second insertion contains a quote from an unnamed source that the property was "a palatial, wallled estate". The picture that accompanies the article shows a building site with a temporary fence and scaffolding.MOMENTO (talk) 20:11, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
      • So three edits that were either necessary or reasonable or in another editor's opinion "Each time I drill down into one of these situations the result seems to be a "six of one, half a dozen of the other" type of situation, and I find myself unable to judge that Momento's action was either intentionally disruptive or taking the article away from a version that was clearly good and neutral encyclopedic writing. Jayen466 14:21, 10 March 2009 (UTC) I recommend that you look at Will Beback's editing during this period.[21] I was topic banned for a year, Will Beback was admonished.MOMENTO (talk) 20:26, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
        • Aren't you indefinitely topic banned on this subject? --NeilN talk to me 19:45, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
        • Not on Jimbo's talk page.MOMENTO (talk) 19:54, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Copyright question[edit]

A lot of our community, city, county, etc articles lack photos and probably won't get photos any time soon, as the vast part of the rural small town America doesn't have a Wikipedian with a camera nearby, and this isn't even counting the numerous places around the entire world lacking photos for our articles either from Wikipedians themselves or creative commons licences that we can use (by pulling from Flickr for instance). So, I was wondering, what are the legal copyright statuses of the millions (or billions?) of photos hanging out on Facebook (and other social media et al) pages and profiles that people have taken while on vacation or about their home town? I've heard rumors that whatever you post as far as photos on Facebook are not your own copyright, but I was wondering what the reality was. Is this a resource we can use? And if we can, the question is- should we? And no this is not a way to talk further about monkey photos and all that crap, so please don't go delving into that.Camelbinky (talk) 19:02, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

They are copyrighted and unusable to us unless specifically released, or fall into one of the NFCC criteria. Gaijin42 (talk) 20:44, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
According to Facebook terms and conditions when you post a photo or status you give them "a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any [IP] content that you post on or in connection with Facebook"... wouldn't that mean that Wikimedia Foundation could simply ask Facebook "can we have access to your database" and if they said yes, then Wikipedia has the right to use them? Theoretically speaking of course, I doubt anyone (including myself) would say this is a good idea to go forward with. But if this is something that theoretically it is legal maybe it can job someone's imagination on how to get more photos without being so Big Brother-like and invade privacy.Camelbinky (talk) 21:17, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Camelbinky 1) Facebook has that license so that they have the right to redistribute them on facebook (or less charitably, to use in ads). No way facebook would say "ok." 2) You think taking peoples pics from facebook without their express consent would be less big brother-like? 3) There are tons of pics on Flickr that are CC licensed. google also has a CC search. Any town that you cannot find a CC pic of you probably can't find a non-CC pic of either. Gaijin42 (talk) 00:04, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
User:Gaijin43 1) Actually they have said yes to other corporations and I never said we SHOULD. 2) You should read my comments a bit slower to understand exactly what my position and what I really said because obviously you're commenting without knowing what I said. 3) You're totally wrong, there are PLENTY of non-CC pics out there of places we don't have a CC pic of. So basically thanks for totally being unhelpful on this completely theoretical discussion that I had hoped would spur a way to find CC pics for the thousands of articles missing ones. Next time listen to momma, if you have nothing nice or helpful to contribute, best not to say anything at all.Camelbinky (talk) 02:03, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
It's a pity the US doesn't have something like Geograph. William Avery (talk) 21:28, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
this image is free because it was posted to facebook by its creator

I created a template to be used for such photos, but it was deleted. Not because it wasn't legally valid, but because of a fear it would be misused.  :-( There's a copy in userspace. See User:Elvey/Template:Free--PublicOnFacebook , Wikipedia:Templates_for_discussion/Log/2014_September_28#Template:Free--PublicOnFacebook --Elvey(tc) 04:56, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Because part of Wikipedia's goal is to create free content, we intentionally stop short of using the maximum amount of fair dealings that we could (and it makes it easier to cover an international audience/presence). So the standard ends up being roughly "if it's implausible that we could hope to get a free image". For almost anywhere in the United States, that's not going to be the case. WilyD 09:58, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
‎Is that English? Seems more like word salad to me. I created a legally valid template for use on any images legally posted to facebook by users. Camelbinky, if you want to upload such images, feel free to mimic what I did with the image at right. --Elvey(tc) 17:22, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Lots of things are legal, but if you're undermining the goal of the project, what you're doing is going to get deleted. It's legal to sell pop, but you can't use your userpage to do it. This is no different. WilyD 09:21, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Daughters[edit]

I wanted to ask you, Jimbo, if you would have a problem if I added the names of your daughters to your Wikipedia article, or if you would prefer that this information not be included. If I did include it I would source it to this Guardian story. Everymorning talk 00:15, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Adding stuff (favorite color, names of children, hobbies) to infoboxes is yet another contentious issue at Wikipedia. WP:BLPNAME includes "The presumption in favor of privacy is strong in the case of family members of articles' subjects and other loosely involved, otherwise low-profile persons. The names of any immediate, ex, or significant family members or any significant relationship of the subject of a BLP may be part of an article, if reliably sourced, subject to editorial discretion that such information is relevant to a reader's complete understanding of the subject." See BLPN discussion where a long argument concluded nothing that I can see, yet the articles appear to not include the names of children. Johnuniq (talk) 00:30, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
There is no encyclopedic value in including the names of children (particularly minors), unless for example there has been widespread discussion in third party sources about the reasons that someone named their child Applebox4 or that a celebrity's naming of their child Gertrude is believed to be responsible for the fact that Gertrude jumped from #1104939029 most common name to #4. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 13:37, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree that unless the minor is notable in their own right, they should be kept anonymous other than the mention of their existence by count and gender or better yet the genderless collective children. Nyth63 01:32, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
I certainly share the belief that names of the minor offspring of most living people are not of great encyclopaedic interest - especially if that is substantially all the information that would be given. However it is sometimes the case that the contrary is true, where the child is of significance other than simply as a child - for example they have published a notable book, acted in a notable film or are otherwise significant (they do not need to rise to the level of notability). Only Jimbologists can decide in this case. All the best: Rich Farmbrough01:34, 31 March 2015 (UTC).
  • In general, infoboxes have too many fields, which leads to obsessive sorts filling them all in, which leads to massive infoboxes which clog page layout and scrunch out actually useful graphics. "Children" and "Spouses" and "Religion" are excellent examples of fields that should not be. Carrite (talk) 02:24, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
We should follow the same policy for me as we follow for everyone. But I think we are remarkably inconsistent about this. In general, I think infoboxes versus article is not the most important issue - it's inclusion or non-inclusion. And my view is that in most cases, we should not include. An incidental mention in a profile piece is not enough. I think Rich Farmbrough has it right: the rule that the child must be notable in their own right (i.e. capable of supporting an independent Wikipedia entry) is probably too strict. But if the child hasn't done ANYTHING encyclopedia-worthy, then what's the point?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 20:49, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Funnily enough I had a similar conversation off-Wiki recently about this. My opinion is that they should not be included unless the child is notable in their own right. Otherwise it's just unnecessary clutter to the infobox. --5 albert square (talk) 21:47, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, put your money where your mouth is, and get to work. Save Jimbo's for last, so that it doesn't look like you're coddling. - 69.57.233.20 (talk) 01:50, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Self unblock[edit]

Is it technically possible for an administrator to unblock themselves? PennJilletteFan (talk) 08:17, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Yes WilyD 09:19, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, but if they don't have a good reason for lifting a block on their own account (usually because they blocked themselves for testing purposes or for some obscure technical reason), they are generally expected not to, and should generally expect to be in serious trouble if they do it anyway. (That is, the mere technical capability to do something doesn't necessarily equate to permission to do that thing. My car can technically go faster than the speed limit, but that doesn't mean I'm allowed to put my foot to the floor driving through a school zone.) TenOfAllTrades(talk) 19:02, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Technically, in that the Mediawiki software will let them do that, yes, they can. However, absent very specific circumstances (such as, they blocked themself as a test or by accident and are unblocking that), self-unblocking is grounds for an immediate desysop. An administrator blocked by another admin is expected to either wait out the block or request it be lifted through the standard appeals process, just as anyone else would be expected to do. Seraphimblade Talk to me 19:09, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
It is not possible on The Test Wiki, which also uses MediaWiki software. I once blocked myself for a week and couldn't get through it. SD0001 (talk) 09:24, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Hoaxes[edit]

FYI:

In this Daily Telegraph article, writer Michael Deacon admits to adding a false fact to Muhammad Ali which survived 8 years (until 28 March when his confession was published). Michael's Wikipedia biography - a stub - was created last December by User:Mabelina, an author with 74 extant articles to their name. Michael says nearly every fact in his BLP is wrong. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 17:31, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

I always find it funny that journalists, who could publish false information in their own publications, are gobsmacked when false information can make it into other media. --TeaDrinker (talk) 20:50, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Particularly in this case, in which the lie appeared in a print publication thanks to him, if I understand the story correctly. Well, nevermind. We are Wikipedians and ought not to waste time being bothered by his confessed lies. All we really should care about is making sure that Wikipedia is correct. Are his claims that his year of birth, school, and university are all wrong correct? --Jimbo Wales (talk) 20:54, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Year of birth has been corrected using a reliable source and the place of birth, that he was educated at Gravesend Grammar and that he went up to Cambridge University have all been removed as unsourced.[22] I'll be interested to see whether anyone looks into the veracity of (the now-retired) Mabelina's other 73 articles. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 09:01, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
In other hoax related news a banned user decided to do some very interesting vandalism as part of an experiment, and managed to get away with it for the most part.[23] Kind of depressing when you think about it. Although probably not as depressing as the fact that a hoax article created by someone for the sole purpose of accusing their friend of being Nazi, existed for over 5 years.Bosstopher (talk) 12:30, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Given what appears to be unfolding here, I think this link is relevant. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:51, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Aww, deleting that must have been an April fool joke. Ha ha! It's the 2nd, now, where I am, so here it is, restored: ↓ Begoontalk 14:00, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

One man's poignant example of Wikipedia's perpetual failure can be another man's "confessed lies", I guess. I happen to be in the process of unwinding a series of 30 vandalisms of creative misinformation deliberately inserted into Wikipedia as part of an experiment that I hope will forever disprove the myth that "falsehoods are usually quickly reverted within minutes on Wikipedia". Once I have finished reverting these tidbits of misinformation, I will memorialize the experiment in a blog post at Wikipediocracy, which I hope will spread to the wider media, so that unsuspecting readers of Wikipedia will learn that it mostly should not be trusted word-for-word. - Saint Kohser (talk) 11:51, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

So long as he continues to revert vandalism please do not block him. User:Fred Bauder Talk 14:28, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Ah. OK. Here it is. (I don't usually read that thread.) --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 15:52, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

April 2015[edit]

Information icon Welcome to Wikipedia. Everyone is welcome to contribute constructively to Wikipedia. However, please remember that editors do not own articles and should respect the work of their fellow contributors. If you create or edit an article, remember that others are free to change its content. Take a look at the welcome page to learn more about contributing to this encyclopedia. Thank you. Grognard Extraordinaire Chess (talk) Ping when replying 02:38, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

The Signpost, 1 April 2015[edit]

April 1st stuff[edit]

Happy April fool's day! :-) — Rickyrab. Yada yada yada 13:35, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

YAAAAAAAAWN.--ukexpat (talk) 14:39, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Talk back[edit]

Nuvola apps edu languages.svg
Hello, Jimbo Wales. You have new messages at User talk:The Herald/Talkback.
Message added 05:38, 1 April 2015 (UTC). You can remove this notice at any time by removing the {{Talkback}} or {{Tb}} template.

A cup of coffee for you![edit]

Cup-o-coffee-simple.svg Before Coffee takes it all! :) DivineAlpha (talk) 05:53, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
I have this funny feeling that when I take a sip, it will turn out to be tea instead. (April Fool's Day and all!) :-) --Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:35, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
In which case it would be pretty tasty. — Rickyrab. Yada yada yada 13:37, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
... feed it to the birds? --Gerda Arendt (talk) 13:48, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Nomination of Wikipedia for deletion[edit]

A discussion is taking place as to whether the article Wikipedia is suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia according to Wikipedia's policies and guidelines or whether it should be deleted.

The article will be discussed at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Wikipedia (7th nomination) until a consensus is reached, and anyone is welcome to contribute to the discussion. The nomination will explain the policies and guidelines which are of concern. The discussion focuses on high-quality evidence and our policies and guidelines.

Users may edit the article during the discussion, including to improve the article to address concerns raised in the discussion. However, do not remove the article-for-deletion notice from the top of the article. SD0001 (talk) 06:12, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

April Fool's Day. Ho hum. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:15, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, it's pathetic isn't it.--ukexpat (talk) 14:38, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Who cares though? Let them have fun, it isn't killing me inside. - Knowledgekid87 (talk) 18:16, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

RFA[edit]

Lame...--ukexpat (talk) 16:11, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Guess what? I don't care. He's becoming an admin and I will make sure he does. If he doesn't, I will block him a thousand times. Epic Genius (talk) 16:19, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Now really, no one can take a joke? Nyth63 19:17, 1 April 2015 (UTC)