Wikinews talk:Editors

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Policy proposal[edit]

This policy is designed based on the ongoing discussions for a de-admin policy on the water cooler and the admin talk page. Its purpose it to provide a corrollary method by which the community may choose to censor its members, a task it seems uninterested in delegating. Feel free to discuss the pros and cons of the proposal here. - Amgine 06:24, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

  • Good thinking, Amgine. I think we should be actively promoting the idea of good-editorship just as we are trying to think through what constitutes good adminship. I think that courtesy and good faith should also be central to that idea.
  • I'm not sure I accept that we actually need to "censor" any of our editors (or editor-admins) in and of themselves. In my view, censorship applies to WHAT's being said rather than the PEOPLE saying it. Thought of that way, any member of the community can censor any article, simply by going in and removing the bit deemed unacceptable.
  • Except in obvious cases of spam or vandalism, "silencing" editors (eg. blocking them) is, in my view, a matter of absolute last resort. But I propose that we try to hammer out a clearer consensus on exactly where that "last resort" should be. My starting point would be that this last resort entails that a clear and specific warning (eg. if you do x again you will be blocked for y period of time) must have been given. My next point would be that X must be clearly defined, otherwise we're back to giving admins "arbitrary power". One example of how this might work: I think many of us would agree that the use of a personally insulting term, which focusses on an editor themselves rather than on their actions, is unacceptable. Eg. "UserZ is stupid", rather than "I think that this particular edit made by UserZ was unnecessary". I think most of us would agree that if a wikinews editor was repeatedly making such specifically-insulting comments to other users (as opposed to comments that a particular user chooses to characterise, without good reason, as "offensive" or "disrespectful"), it would in my view be appropriate, in the last resort, to block for a limited period of time. The final warning should also be very specific eg. "If you use an insulting term towards another user again we will block you for 24 hours". Rather than "If you are disruptive [where 'disruptive' has never actually been defined] again we will block you for 24 hours".

If we're going to use "disruption" as a valid reason for blocking then we certainly need to define what it actually means in the context of wikinews. Rcameronw 10:37, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

What is the difference between de-editing and blocking? ClareWhite 16:34, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

I'm thinking that de-editing would be more in line with a permanent block? --Wolfrider 19:29, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
  • First, I think the required majority for a ban should be 2/3 or higher since it really is the last resort. IMO it's wrong that banning a user would be easier than unbanning him. Secondly I think it should also be possible to impose remedies less severe than a ban. Like "UserABC is subject to a 1RR for three weeks" or "UserXYZ may not edit pages concerning internal politics of Tuvalu for two months". I'm not sure if that is doable under the current concept or if that requires an ArbCom. --User:Deprifry|+T+ 12:41, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Sanctions[edit]

I think there's one very important distinction between the "sanction of choice" for admin abuse (de-sysop) and that for abuse by editors (eg. blocking). If you de-sysop an admin they can still participate in the community. In principle they can even win back their status if they can "redeem" themselves and win back the community's trust. But blocking an editor silences them completely and stops all participation in the community. May sometimes be necessary for time-limited periods if all other alternatives have failed, but it's a blunt instrument if (as is almost always the case) we're simply trying to tackle one troublesome aspect of their work here. A permanent block would permanently exclude them from all participation with no possibility of "redemption".

Rcameronw

How is this different? De-admining removes their ability to act as an admin. De-editing removes their ability to act as an editor. You'll never know if a de-admined user would be a better admin due to your action, any more than you'd know if a de-edited user would be a better editor. Both have the opportunity to request restoration of status, but at 70% approval requirement it is effectively impossible. Both are blunt instruments. Neither should be approved. - Amgine 20:11, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
Please don't propose policies in an attempt to be arch Amgine. --Wolfrider 22:08, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
It's not merely to be arch, it is to be fair. Neither policy is a good idea, in my opinion, but if we have the one we should have the other. Since reasoned discussion was not being heard, example may be. - Amgine 22:14, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
Amgine, I think that's a bit unfair. I for one have been very heartened by the way that what started out as quite an apparently angry discussion many days ago has gradually become more and more respectful and reasoned. At the outset there seemed to be two entrenched camps, whereas now I think we've got a much more nuanced discussion. --Rcameronw 23:06, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
I don't think 70% is an insurmountable hurdle at all, so long as a de-adminned admin is willing to make the case in a fair and reasonable way. I think you might be surprised how open-minded the community was prepared to be if it seemed that a de-adminned admin had learned from their mistakes and was ready for a second go at it. But actually I'd not personally be opposed to lowering the threshold to 60%. An editor who's been completely excluded, on the other hand has absolutely no chance at all for a comeback. But I agree that de-sysop is also in many ways a blunt instrument. How about this as a more nuanced "sanction": Temporary de-sysop - Where an admin has caused serious concern but not done something to warrant permanent loss of status, we could hae a suspension of admin priveleges for a fixed period. Any thoughts? --Rcameronw 23:21, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

--Rcameronw 23:21, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

I think that would be an excellent authority for the ArbCom to utilize, Rcameronw. - Amgine 23:33, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

"De-editing"?[edit]

  • Sorry to top-post. What purpose is it proposed to serve? Do you understand what purpose wikimedia serves? How does de-editing serve wikimedia's purpose? Technical questions, even though valid, are academic if the action has no well-understood purpose, or if the understood purpose does not fit wikimedia's explicit purposes. -- Simeon 04:03, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
  • The De-Editing policy serves in lieu of a arbitration committee to give the community the opportunity to ban users who have proven themselves to be detrimental to the goals of the community. This is not the only way to do this, nor even the best imo (I would prefer an arbitration committee, personally.) It serves the purpose of Wikinews by supporting the community through the removal (or reduction) of disruptive members, and enforcing community-developed policies and standards. In short, it is a method of showing contributors are responsible to the community for their actions. - Amgine | talk en.WN 04:29, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

What is "De-editing"? How is it done? Who can do it? When it is done, what record exists of it having been done? --JWSchmidt 04:12, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

"De-editing" is removing a user or IP's editing privileges through a process similar to a de-adminship. It is a poll of community members, requesting that a person's privileges be removed. It was done briefly on en.wikipedia, I believe the spring of 2003 or 2004, through a process called "Quick Polls" before being abandoned as hopelessly divisive and unworkable, replacing with an arbitration committee. I believe a modified version was or is used on de.wikipedia. - Amgine 04:21, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
Technically, how is it done? Who can do it? --JWSchmidt 04:32, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
At the request of the community and according to policy, an admin applies a block to a username or an IP. - Amgine 04:37, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
So "De-editing" is just an extension/modification of existing Blocking policy? If it is a way to block users, how long is the block for? --JWSchmidt 04:48, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
The characteristic is that it is the community creating the block. As the policy states, the account owner is welcome to request their editing privileges be restored on the editors page, so there is a minimum block of 7 days. The maximum would be up to the community to determine. If the account owner does not request the block be lifted, or the community prefers not to lift it, it would be indefinite. - Amgine 04:52, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

If someone is blocked from editing how do they edit the editors page so as to request having editing "privileges: be restored? "Requests should be certified" <-- What does this mean? --JWSchmidt 12:40, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Sorry I did not reply to this earlier, JWSchmidt. For some reason it isn't on my watchlist.
A user's name or IP is blocked. To request their privileges be restored they would need to make the request while not logged into their username, or would need to edit from a different IP address to request their other be unblocked. There are a range of options to do so.
Certifying a request is to have a minimum number of additional persons "sign onto" a request for deadminship within a limited amount of time. The suggested number for deadminship was 4, which I would assume would be the same required for de-editing. - Amgine 07:10, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Question?[edit]

Amgine, I see the requirements you inserted for de-editing someone is "majority" while for de-admining it's "overwhelming majority" . Why the difference? Doesn't the difference give the impression of an elitist platform with extra protections and higher removal thresholds for the admins. ? Neutralizer 23:44, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

The requirements to become an admin are overwhelming consensus... While I've decided not to become to involved in the policy discussion about administrators, I will say that if it requires an overwhelming consensus to become one, it should probably require an overwhelming consensus to remove adminship. I'm not certain Amgine was thinking of the de-admin policy when he wrote this draft -- and if he was, I'm not certain the two policies should be directly related. Think of it this way, Neutralizer: If one is unsuccesful in a request for de-adminship, one could simply come here and initiate a request for de-editing. I'm also not entirely certain Amgine is even serious about this proposal at all. If the arbcom comes about, this policy should/will/must become pointless. Let's focus on the arbcom. --Chiacomo (talk) 00:31, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up re; the sincerity of this effort. Amgine promoted this as a "corrolary" to the deadmin so if he is serious then the thresholds should be the same if we have not completely left the realm of logic. I can easily see a rogue admin. with no editing ability...they would still be able to wield the blocking tool (without the threats). I'd still like to hear what Amgine has to say about it rather than try to guess. Neutralizer 02:55, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
If you are "de-edited" you cannot do anything on the Wikinews site. --Chiacomo (talk) 03:20, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
Ok, I stand corrected...hmmmm....ok Chiacomo, thank you. Neutralizer 03:27, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
Took time to think about this. I don't think we should be in a position where we have listed administrators who have lost their editing priveleges. It would create a misleading list and cause confusion for new visitors to the site who might try to contact that admin because he is on the list of admins. I really think we should try to get away from doublespeak situations . Neutralizer 15:16, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
So,back to my main point from which I allowed myself to be distracted; Amgine promoted this as a "corrolary" to the deadmin so then the thresholds should be the same if we have not completely left the realm of logic . Neutralizer 15:16, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
If someone were de-edited they would no longer be an administrator -- or any other part of the community. How's the bird flu situation? --Chiacomo (talk) 16:57, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
Ok; I'll start to work on a bird flu feature story today..but I gotta admit; it's depressing as all hell...it really looks like this pandemic's gonna happen and there's not a damn thing anybody can do about it...the story will be full of all kinds of conflicting pov/opinions from a whole variety of health officials and govern. leaders, all with 1 thing on common...trying to cover their asses before the flu hits the fan. Neutralizer 20:05, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

Prank?[edit]

I had initially assumed this was a joke, prank, or amusing POINT, and I laughed. But it now seems people are actually taking this seriously? Doesn't this just make us look stupid in the eyes of the rest of the Wikimedia Foundation? Nyarlathotep 17:27, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

To explain further, it is my understanding that wikipedia very rarely takes any form of permenent sanctions, Willy on Wheels being the cannonical exception. Correct? Nyarlathotep 17:33, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

It makes a change from repeated RfdAs. :-) --Brian McNeil / talk 17:44, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, tis' true. Hence my laughter. :) Nyarlathotep 17:57, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Voting on editing privileges considered harmful[edit]

The German Wikipedia uses voting on blocking users, in my experience, this has led to very public and very ugly fights about blocks, and very simplistic remedies. Usually users are blocked for a long term or indefinitely, and in definitely blocks tend to lead to sock puppets and escalation.

Quite simply, if you make it relatively easy to block someone indefinitely, and relatively hard to get back in (in most cases, there will not be a re-vote, and if there is, it will likely fail the 70% threshold), you will frequently block someone indefinitely. Due to the fact that there is no extensive period of evidence collection or argument, you end up with a process that is biased in favor of momentary feelings of "us vs. them", that is, a user who may be temporarily disruptive will quickly find themselves banned for life.

This is against the spirit of the Wikimedia projects, which is to strive for rehabilitation and thoughtful remedies. I think that for issues like this, an arbitration committee like the one used by the English Wikipedia is a much better solution; it is more flexible and less likely to be affected by emotional groupthink. Instead of just saying "You are blocked indefinitely", such a committee can say "You are banned from editing policy pages" or "You are banned from editing articles related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict", or "You can be instantly blocked for 24 hours if you make a personal attack at an admin's discretion", etc. Such remedies are much more useful for effecting a real change in a user's behavior.

Another fundamental problem is that blocks do not work. Many of the most disruptive users will come back again and again under different usernames (most people have dynamic IPs, and range blocks would be too far reaching), often getting more annoying in every incarnation. Handing out lots of indefinite blocks is likely to lead to many more cases of sock puppetry, subtle vandalism, and generally a climate of paranoia and aggression. Again, in my experience, all this has already happened on the German Wikipedia, where a similar process is being used.

As Amgine points out above, there also used to be a process called Quickpolls on the English Wikipedia for temporarily blocking or desysopping users, especially in edit wars and other cases of disruption. In fact, I invented that process. Unlike the one proposed here, however, it was only meant for short term bans, and coexisted with the arbitration committee. Still, in the way it was implemented, it was a failure, as it led to the aforementioned public fights and division.

So, as someone who once proposed similar mechanisms, I can say with some confidence that this is a Really Bad Idea[TM].--Eloquence 23:24, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for sharing that with us. Experience is a valuable lesson. What does the English Wikipedia experience with an arbitration committee have to teach us? -Edbrown05 00:40, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I think the English Wikipedia ArbCom, for the most part, is working. I'm not very happy with the fact that Jimbo has in the past appointed some people unilaterally, some of whom turned out to be controversial; I do think people on an ArbCom should have the highest possible community support (consensus would be ideal). This ensures that their decisions are respected in the community at large. Furthermore, yearly elections are a necessity; and two years should be the absolute maximum term (some amount of term shifting may be desirable for continuity). An open election process with a strict policy that comments should be limited to a sentence at most seems to be reasonable. "Disendorsements" and similar divisive tactics should be prohibited. I don't mind secret voting, though my intuition is that consensus would be easier to reach in a public election, as users "fall in line" when they see broad support for a candidate.
Some people feel the ArbCom is too lenient, but I think that this is exactly the point. If you keep problem users in line with certain decrees, they are still an identifiable part of the community and they can be managed. If you block them indefinitely, they have practically no choice (if they want to continue to participate, which many do) but to turn into sock puppets and trolls. Take Neutralizer as an example. Yes, he can be annoying, but how would you like to deal with a new Neutralizer sock puppet every week? CheckUser helps, but even then you'll have open proxies and other anonymization tools to deal with, and you end up with a climate of fear and paranoia where anyone who behaves in a manner similar to a problem user (whose numbers are only going to grow) is quickly accused of being a sock puppet. Besides, CheckUser is only available to a small minority of users, and often the accusations come before the check can be made.
The biggest problem with the process proposed here is that once this kind of thing gets rolling, it is very hard to stop. Wehret den Anfängen.--Eloquence 01:31, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, everything Eloquence said. ;) BTW, a great deal of psychology research suggests that people are much less continuous over time, and much more the product of their enviroment, than anyone normally admits; although obviously not completely. Eloquence's view that "inclusively plus more social tools with a lighter touch is the best long term approach to problem users" seems consistant with this. Nyarlathotep 13:38, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I agree with Eloquence, which is why I was hesitant to vote here as well. However, if it came this far as to some users thinking that we needed this, obviously something's wrong with our current process. --MrMiscellanious (talk) – 13:56, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I also agree with Eloquence: this is a flawed system which should not be implemented unless there is no other recourse. On the other hand, the argument that using this system will result in sockpuppeting while an arbcom will not is clearly mistaken by the experiences on en.wikipedia: persistent problematic users acting in disregard to community norms do so whether they are banned temporarily or permanently, or given limitations. Is anyone actively pushing for arbcom elections on Wikinews, so there might be an alternative recourse? - Amgine | talk en.WN 19:11, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

There we go :-) --Eloquence 05:00, 18 January 2006 (UTC)