Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2007-04-23/Robdurbar

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The Wikipedia Signpost

Administrator goes rogue, is blocked

By Sam Blacketer, 22 April 2007

Robdurbar's admin-enabled account went on a brief rampage on Thursday morning, deleting and then vandalising the Main Page, deleting articles, and indefinitely blocking well-known Wikipedians including Jimbo Wales. Editors could not remember another time when an admin went on a vandalism spree, and a debate opened over whether the response (an emergency desysopping after 17 minutes) was speedy or delayed.


Robdurbar created his account on 6 July, 2005 and was granted admin status after a request which concluded with 48 supports and 3 opposes (2 neutral) on 12 August, 2006. On 3 March this year he announced he was leaving, although he would continue to edit occasionally. He declared that "I'd rather start anew" rather than use his existing account for future edits. Other than blocking himself as an accident, his block log was clean.


On Thursday 19 April, Robdurbar returned, firstly to delete an empty article. The vandalism spree began when he unprotected Cheese at 09:57. He then deleted three established articles before deleting the Main Page at 10:01. At 10:04 he recreated Main Page with a nonsense word. When Riana reverted at 10:07, Robdurbar again vandalised the page to say "DO what you will". He was blocked by Lostintherush and then started blocking accounts in good standing, including Lostintherush and Riana, and then unblocked himself to again vandalise the Main Page with the message "how long can i keep this up". After further blocks, at 10:14 Steward Jon Harald Søby (flagged down first by Peter Isotalo) desysopped him via Meta-Wiki.

The overall toll of the 17 minutes was ten good standing accounts given indefinite blocks, five established articles deleted, the Main Page deleted three times (and left unprotected for some minutes during which anonymous users vandalised it), and Robdurbar unblocking himself three times. All vandalism and inappropriate admin actions were swiftly reversed.


With Robdurbar not giving an explanation for his actions, some users wondered whether his account had been hijacked. In response to a request, Checkuser Mackensen said "I see nothing obvious to suggest that the account was compromised", and others noted that among the targets for Robdurbar's blocks were people he has had disputes with. A Request for arbitration to confirm the desysopping was filed and attracted six arbitrators who all agreed to the desysop without hearing a full case. Arbitration Committee Clerks decided that a majority of active arbitrators (which would mean seven) would be needed to decide the issue.

Later, contributors from Wiktionary commented that a similar situation had happened on that project when Wonderfool twice blocked all admins and deleted their Main Page in September 2005. In August 2006, Dangherous went on an identical rampage. On this second occasion, with Stewards unavailable (some were at Wikimania), a developer had to perform the desysopping and revealed via CheckUser that Dangherous was actually a sockpuppet of Wonderfool who worked his way up to adminship once again. A second request for CheckUser tried to find whether Wonderfool was related to Robdurbar, and has shown that Robdurbar is really one of Wonderfool's sockpuppets.

Possible changes

In discussion on Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents, Carcharoth asked "is it good or bad that it took 17 minutes to deal with this?" HighInBC commented that the incident showed the "whole emergency de-adminning system works". Robdurbar's actions led to discussion of whether administrators should retain the ability to unblock themselves. Jesse Viviano made a novel suggestion that admins should be able to sacrifice their own sysop status and desysop another admin, in order to allow for debate on which of them should be resysopped.

Also this week: Rogue admin

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