Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

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Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Jimmy Wales
In response to the EssJay scandal, I want to bring back an old proposal
of mine from 2 years ago for greater accountability around credentials:

http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2005-May/022085.html

At the time, this seemed like a plausibly decent idea to me, and the
reaction at the time was mostly positive, with some reasonable caveats
and improvements:

http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2005-May/thread.html
to read the entire thread of "An idea".

Nowadays, I bring back the proposal for further consideration in light
of the EssJay scandal.  I think it imperative that we make some positive
moves here... we have a real opportunity here to move the quality of
Wikipedia forward by doing something that many have vaguely thought to
be a reasonably good idea if worked out carefully.

For anyone who is reading but not online, I will sum it up.  I made a
proposal that we have a system whereby people who are willing to verify
their real name and credentials are allowed a special notification.
"Verified Credentials".  This could be a rather open ended system, and
optional.

The point is to make sure that people are being honest with us and with
the general public.  If you don't care to tell us that you are a PhD (or
that you are not), then that's fine: your editing stands or falls on its
own merit.  But if you do care to represent yourself as something, you
have to be able to prove it.

This policy will be coupled with a policy of gentle (or firm)
discouragement for people to make claims like those that EssJay made,
unless they are willing to back them up.

How to confirm? What counts as confirmation?  What sorts of things need
confirmation? These are very interesting questions, as there are many
types of situations.  But one thing that we have always been very very
good at is taking the time to develop a nuanced policy.

Just to take a simple example: how to verify a professor?  This strikes
me as being quite simple in most cases.  The professor gives a link to
his or her faculty page at the college or university, including the
email there, and someone emails that address to say "are you really
EssJay?"  If the answer is yes, then that's a reasonable confirmation.

We can imagine some wild ways that someone might crack that process
(stealing a professor's email account, etc.) but I think we need not
design around the worst case scenario, but rather design around the
reasonable case of a reasonable person who is happy to confirm
credentials to us.

(This is a lower level of confirmation than we might expect an employer
to take, of course.)

For someone like me, well, I have an M.A. in finance.  I could fax a
copy of the degree to the office.  Again, someone could fake their
credentials, but I don't think we need to design against some mad worst
case scenario but just to have a basic level of confirmation.

--Jimbo

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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Michael Billington
There have been many calls for accountability, and they all seem like a good
idea. (including this proposal, of course)

However, I am a tad worried that users who wish to stay anonymous may be
treated as less important than those who have credentials which have been
verified, etc. I know we can say that users are equal, despite
accepting/refusing to do this (optional) verification, but it's a lot like
'optional' RFA questions (which aren't really very optional at all) - at
least in my view.

That's only a minor concern however, and I think that this is a good move
despite that. Particularly, I'm hoping that something like this could do
wonders for public opinion of Wikipedia's reliability and credibility,
especially considering recent events. Has a request been filed in the
Mediazilla yet?

--Michael Billington
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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Earle Martin
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
On 05/03/07, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
> For anyone who is reading but not online, I will sum it up.  I made a
> proposal that we have a system whereby people who are willing to verify
> their real name and credentials are allowed a special notification.
> "Verified Credentials".  This could be a rather open ended system, and
> optional.

I think this is a fine idea that can only add to the credibility of the project.

--
Earle Martin
            http://downlode.org/
http://purl.org/net/earlemartin/

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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Conrad Dunkerson-2
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
I see at least two potential problems, which were addressed to some extent
in your original note;

1: Having these 'verified credentials' visible will INEVITABLY lead to
incidents of 'I am a verified expert and you are not'. Frankly, I have as
much problem with Essjay saying, 'we should do it this way because I am an
expert on theology' AT ALL as with it not being true. We just should not
be giving greater weight to 'experts' (verified or not). That encourages
'original research' and 'POV pushing' on the esoterica of their fields.
Experts should work by providing relevant citations and establishing
consensus around text which presents all relevant views... just like
everyone else. If you give them a special status that inherently becomes
less likely and there aren't enough admins to patrol every edit against it.

2: This would be establishing a form of 'academic status' within Wikipedia
that has nothing to do with contributions TO Wikipedia. There will be
countless disputes about what constitutes validation and what sort of
credentials 'count'. There will be a change in culture from this and
people with accepted credentials will feel pressured to reveal them while
people without will resent the hell out of it.

I'd suggest going in a somewhat different direction. I think it makes
sense for the foundation to REQUIRE verification of identities for some
positions, but to not make them public. Board members already have to
publicly identify themselves. It wouldn't be unreasonable to require that
OTRS responders or Checkusers verify their identities privately with the
foundation. You suggested discouraging people from claiming unverified
credentials... I'd instead discourage people from claiming credentials at
all. Their arguments should stand or fall on their merits and citations,
not outside titles and recognitions.


* Jimmy Wales wrote:

> In response to the EssJay scandal, I want to bring back an old proposal
> of mine from 2 years ago for greater accountability around credentials:
>
> http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2005-May/022085.html
>
> At the time, this seemed like a plausibly decent idea to me, and the
> reaction at the time was mostly positive, with some reasonable caveats
> and improvements:
>
> http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2005-May/thread.html
> to read the entire thread of "An idea".
>
> Nowadays, I bring back the proposal for further consideration in light
> of the EssJay scandal.  I think it imperative that we make some positive
> moves here... we have a real opportunity here to move the quality of
> Wikipedia forward by doing something that many have vaguely thought to
> be a reasonably good idea if worked out carefully.
>
> For anyone who is reading but not online, I will sum it up.  I made a
> proposal that we have a system whereby people who are willing to verify
> their real name and credentials are allowed a special notification.
> "Verified Credentials".  This could be a rather open ended system, and
> optional.
>
> The point is to make sure that people are being honest with us and with
> the general public.  If you don't care to tell us that you are a PhD (or
> that you are not), then that's fine: your editing stands or falls on its
> own merit.  But if you do care to represent yourself as something, you
> have to be able to prove it.
>
> This policy will be coupled with a policy of gentle (or firm)
> discouragement for people to make claims like those that EssJay made,
> unless they are willing to back them up.
>
> How to confirm? What counts as confirmation?  What sorts of things need
> confirmation? These are very interesting questions, as there are many
> types of situations.  But one thing that we have always been very very
> good at is taking the time to develop a nuanced policy.
>
> Just to take a simple example: how to verify a professor?  This strikes
> me as being quite simple in most cases.  The professor gives a link to
> his or her faculty page at the college or university, including the
> email there, and someone emails that address to say "are you really
> EssJay?"  If the answer is yes, then that's a reasonable confirmation.
>
> We can imagine some wild ways that someone might crack that process
> (stealing a professor's email account, etc.) but I think we need not
> design around the worst case scenario, but rather design around the
> reasonable case of a reasonable person who is happy to confirm
> credentials to us.
>
> (This is a lower level of confirmation than we might expect an employer
> to take, of course.)
>
> For someone like me, well, I have an M.A. in finance.  I could fax a
> copy of the degree to the office.  Again, someone could fake their
> credentials, but I don't think we need to design against some mad worst
> case scenario but just to have a basic level of confirmation.
>
> --Jimbo


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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Stephen Bain
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
On 3/5/07, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
> In response to the EssJay scandal, I want to bring back an old proposal
> of mine from 2 years ago for greater accountability around credentials:
>
> http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2005-May/022085.html

I think it's a great idea. I've drawn this up into the bones of a
proposal, at [[Wikipedia:Credentials]]:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Credentials

--
Stephen Bain
[hidden email]

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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Mark
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
Jimmy Wales wrote:
> The point is to make sure that people are being honest with us and with
> the general public.  If you don't care to tell us that you are a PhD (or
> that you are not), then that's fine: your editing stands or falls on its
> own merit.  But if you do care to represent yourself as something, you
> have to be able to prove it.
>  

I don't particularly like it.  I have some credentials, and in a few
years when I complete my PhD I'll have some more, but on principle I
would not verify them, yet I would continue to state them offhand on my
userpage (they're true, after all), although I would not really state
anything more strongly than "I research in this area" (a vague
non-credential) in an actual content discussion.  Verifying credentials
opens up a huge minefield of what sorts of credentials count (we now
have to come up with an official list of diploma mills, etc.), and
promotes a sort of credentialism whose absence is largely responsible
for Wikipedia's success.  Basically the only way I could see it being
beneficial for Wikipedia is in the very narrow sense of avoiding
negative press coverage for Essjay-like cases, but that's a small PR
benefit for the much larger amount of real damage it could cause to the
encyclopedia's quality and community.

-Mark


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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Mark
Delirium wrote:
> [a skeptical comment of mine]

Actually I came up with a better-thought-out list of things I'm
skeptical about (degree of skepticism: 35%) which I posted on the talk
page, alongside some comments from other Wikipedians:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Credentials

-Mark


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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Erik Moeller-4
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
On 3/5/07, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
> The point is to make sure that people are being honest with us and with
> the general public.

I would modify the proposal: You only need to verify the credentials
if you're in a position of trust (adminship or higher).
- Reduces the number of necessary verifications
- Has less of an impact on the social dynamics of Wikipedia
- Gives us a good response to media ("user was not in a position of
trust") when other editors use fake credentials
- Gives editors a sense of perspective when looking at userpages
--
Peace & Love,
Erik

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

"An old, rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open,
free and exciting is waking up." -- Ming the Mechanic

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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Guy Chapman aka JzG
On Mon, 5 Mar 2007 14:53:49 +0100, "Erik Moeller" <[hidden email]>
wrote:

>> The point is to make sure that people are being honest with us and with
>> the general public.
>
>I would modify the proposal: You only need to verify the credentials
>if you're in a position of trust (adminship or higher).

I'd start with admins, but if it is not onerous open it to others.
There is definite value in being able to establish your bona-fides. It
also helps us to check for subtle bias.

Guy (JzG)
--
http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JzG


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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Judson Dunn-2
> On Mon, 5 Mar 2007 14:53:49 +0100, "Erik Moeller" <[hidden email]>

> >I would modify the proposal: You only need to verify the credentials
> >if you're in a position of trust (adminship or higher).
>
> I'd start with admins, but if it is not onerous open it to others.
> There is definite value in being able to establish your bona-fides. It
> also helps us to check for subtle bias.

Is this for PR reasons? It seems to me like the people with advanced
credentials are not that often admins due to other demands. This may,
however, preclude them from having the time to send in their
credentials. I wouldn't want to encourage the concept that admins have
more weight in content disputes, and if they are the only ones that
can verify their credentials that might be the case.

I wouldn't mind requiring people in trusted positions not be
anonymous, but if we are moving to a general credentialing system I
wouldn't want that to break down on adminship lines.

Judson
(enwiki:cohesion)

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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Guy Chapman aka JzG
On Mon, 5 Mar 2007 08:50:30 -0600, cohesion <[hidden email]>
wrote:

>> >I would modify the proposal: You only need to verify the credentials
>> >if you're in a position of trust (adminship or higher).

>> I'd start with admins, but if it is not onerous open it to others.
>> There is definite value in being able to establish your bona-fides. It
>> also helps us to check for subtle bias.

>Is this for PR reasons? It seems to me like the people with advanced
>credentials are not that often admins due to other demands. This may,
>however, preclude them from having the time to send in their
>credentials. I wouldn't want to encourage the concept that admins have
>more weight in content disputes, and if they are the only ones that
>can verify their credentials that might be the case.

Is what for PR reasons? Start with admins?  I guess not; it gives us a
defined subset of generally active and high profile users.

>I wouldn't mind requiring people in trusted positions not be
>anonymous, but if we are moving to a general credentialing system I
>wouldn't want that to break down on adminship lines.

No, I'd see it as something that should be available to all, but I
have no objection to trialling it on admins to see what the overhead
is like.

Guy (JzG)
--
http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JzG


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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Judson Dunn-2
On 3/5/07, Guy Chapman aka JzG <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Is what for PR reasons? Start with admins?  I guess not; it gives us a
> defined subset of generally active and high profile users.

Yeah, I mean it would actually be useful for PR, the fact that essjay
was an admin did help carry the story in a lot of areas. People
outside wikipedia have weird and innaccurate views of what admins are,
so if there was some problem with a non-admin user's credentials I
don't think people would get so upset.


> No, I'd see it as something that should be available to all, but I
> have no objection to trialling it on admins to see what the overhead
> is like.

That seems reasonable, I would imagine the admin overhead might be a
lot higher per person than non admin, with non-admin users being less
involved and willing to verify that information. It does seem like
there may be a subset of non-admin users that are very
subject-oriented that might enjoy this system though, but I also have
no problem taking it slowly as long as the eventual goal is to open it
for everyone.

Judson
(enwiki:cohesion)

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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Anthony DiPierro
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-4
On 3/5/07, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 3/5/07, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > The point is to make sure that people are being honest with us and with
> > the general public.
>
> I would modify the proposal: You only need to verify the credentials
> if you're in a position of trust (adminship or higher).

There are two parts to the suggestion: 1) marking some statements with
a "verified credentials" tag, and 2) a "policy of gentle (or firm)
discouragement for people to make claims like those that EssJay made,
unless they are willing to back them up".

So is your modification that part 1 would be available to everyone,
but part 2 would be only necessary for admins?

This could be seen to some extent as an extension of policy that is
already in place.  Recently a user came to the unblock list because
she was blocked for using the name of a college professor.  She was
given the choice to verify that she was indeed that college professor,
or to create an account under a different username.

Anthony

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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Erik Moeller-4
On 3/5/07, Anthony <[hidden email]> wrote:
> There are two parts to the suggestion: 1) marking some statements with
> a "verified credentials" tag, and 2) a "policy of gentle (or firm)
> discouragement for people to make claims like those that EssJay made,
> unless they are willing to back them up".

I'm cross-posting this to wikipedia-l and foundation-l, because it may
very well become a Foundation-level issue at some point.

I would support the following:

1) Any user can ask for his or her professional credentials to be verified.

2) Making up professional credentials is prohibited, and may result in
a ban. (This may or may not be covered by existing policy, but judging
from the Essjay case, it is probably not sufficiently clear.) This is
independent of whether or not the user asks for credentials to be
verified. We may investigate claims that are dubious when they are
pointed out to us.

3) Any user trusted on admin level or higher who makes a statement of
credentials on their user page must have them verified through a team
of volunteers designated to this role by the Wikimedia Foundation (we
may want to involve the chapters if this becomes international). The
process of verification could be similar to what Citizendium uses,
i.e.:
a) have an existing, credentialed user vouch for the credentials to be
correct based on personal knowledge,
b) respond to an email associated with a reliable institution, and
point us to a web page of that institution where their credentials are
listed,
c) point to someone associated with a reliable institution we can
contact to verify the credentials.

We may extend this to regular users if it proves to scale well.

4) Users with verified credentials will get a little "Verified
credentials on <date>" marker on their user page, nothing more. This
marker would ideally be independent of the wikitext of the page, and
set in the user table instead.

I am opposed to any marker of edit contributions and such -- users who
care about credentials can look them up, those who do not care should
not be bothered by them in discussions or contributions.
--
Peace & Love,
Erik

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

"An old, rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open,
free and exciting is waking up." -- Ming the Mechanic

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Re: [Foundation-l] Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

jmerkey-3

Erik,

This is going to be nightmarish to police and run. Not to mention you
have to have a
signed release from the person in order to obtain access to this level
of personal information.

The whole controversy over Essjay will die down in time. Folks should
stop and think
things through rather than reacting to the bad publicity. One reasonable
step would be that any high ranking member
must submit accurate credentials before being appointed to an office of
trust.

Let's be honest, if it were a low level editor or admin on the english
wikipedia no one would have cared
or even noticed. It was because it was a high ranking member of the
community who had been used for
press interviews.

One other solution is that only PR or spokepersons talk to the press,
not just anyone.

Jeff

Erik Moeller wrote:

>On 3/5/07, Anthony <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  
>
>>There are two parts to the suggestion: 1) marking some statements with
>>a "verified credentials" tag, and 2) a "policy of gentle (or firm)
>>discouragement for people to make claims like those that EssJay made,
>>unless they are willing to back them up".
>>    
>>
>
>I'm cross-posting this to wikipedia-l and foundation-l, because it may
>very well become a Foundation-level issue at some point.
>
>I would support the following:
>
>1) Any user can ask for his or her professional credentials to be verified.
>
>2) Making up professional credentials is prohibited, and may result in
>a ban. (This may or may not be covered by existing policy, but judging
>from the Essjay case, it is probably not sufficiently clear.) This is
>independent of whether or not the user asks for credentials to be
>verified. We may investigate claims that are dubious when they are
>pointed out to us.
>
>3) Any user trusted on admin level or higher who makes a statement of
>credentials on their user page must have them verified through a team
>of volunteers designated to this role by the Wikimedia Foundation (we
>may want to involve the chapters if this becomes international). The
>process of verification could be similar to what Citizendium uses,
>i.e.:
>a) have an existing, credentialed user vouch for the credentials to be
>correct based on personal knowledge,
>b) respond to an email associated with a reliable institution, and
>point us to a web page of that institution where their credentials are
>listed,
>c) point to someone associated with a reliable institution we can
>contact to verify the credentials.
>
>We may extend this to regular users if it proves to scale well.
>
>4) Users with verified credentials will get a little "Verified
>credentials on <date>" marker on their user page, nothing more. This
>marker would ideally be independent of the wikitext of the page, and
>set in the user table instead.
>
>I am opposed to any marker of edit contributions and such -- users who
>care about credentials can look them up, those who do not care should
>not be bothered by them in discussions or contributions.
>  
>


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Re: [Foundation-l] Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Erik Moeller-4
On 3/5/07, Jeff V. Merkey <[hidden email]> wrote:

> This is going to be nightmarish to police and run. Not to mention you
> have to have a
> signed release from the person in order to obtain access to this level
> of personal information.

I'm not sure I've provided enough context to fully explain the
proposal. The idea is not to _require_ anything, but to only ask for
confirmation if people make the claim _themselves_, and then only for
people in positions of trust, or those whose credentials have been
called into question. Anyone is free to reach any level of trust
without professional credentials.
--
Peace & Love,
Erik

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

"An old, rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open,
free and exciting is waking up." -- Ming the Mechanic

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Re: [Foundation-l] Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

jmerkey-3
Erik Moeller wrote:

>On 3/5/07, Jeff V. Merkey <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>  
>
>>This is going to be nightmarish to police and run. Not to mention you
>>have to have a
>>signed release from the person in order to obtain access to this level
>>of personal information.
>>    
>>
>
>I'm not sure I've provided enough context to fully explain the
>proposal. The idea is not to _require_ anything, but to only ask for
>confirmation if people make the claim _themselves_, and then only for
>people in positions of trust, or those whose credentials have been
>called into question. Anyone is free to reach any level of trust
>without professional credentials.
>  
>
This is more reasonable. I concur.

Jeff

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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Stan Shebs-2
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-4
Erik Moeller wrote:

> On 3/5/07, Anthony <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  
>> There are two parts to the suggestion: 1) marking some statements with
>> a "verified credentials" tag, and 2) a "policy of gentle (or firm)
>> discouragement for people to make claims like those that EssJay made,
>> unless they are willing to back them up".
>>    
>
> I'm cross-posting this to wikipedia-l and foundation-l, because it may
> very well become a Foundation-level issue at some point.
>
> I would support the following:
>
> 1) Any user can ask for his or her professional credentials to be verified.
>  
In principle this makes sense; but limiting to verifiable bits is going
to make it a short list - degree X, licensed Y, employed by company Z
between dates W. How do you verify a carpenter, or "freelance
consultant", aka euphemism for being unemployed? :-)

Stan


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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Cheney Shill
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:

> In response to the EssJay scandal, I want to bring back
> an old proposal
>
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2005-May/022085.html
>
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2005-May/thread.html

> to read the entire thread of "An idea".
>
> For anyone who is reading but not online, I will sum it
> up.  I made a
> proposal that we have a system whereby people who are
> willing to verify
> their real name and credentials are allowed a special
> notification.
> "Verified Credentials".  This could be a rather open
> ended system, and
> optional.
>
> The point is to make sure that people are being honest
> with us and with
> the general public.  If you don't care to tell us that
> you are a PhD (or
> that you are not), then that's fine: your editing stands
> or falls on its
> own merit.  But if you do care to represent yourself as
> something, you
> have to be able to prove it.

For someone reading and online, but blocked for nearly a
year and unable to comment elsewhere, I like it in general.
 It seems to go even a step further than requiring only
admins to verify significant credentials they claim and
apply it to everyone.

My primary concern is in practical elements:
1. Who's verifying (e.g., admins verifying themselves,
buddy admins verifying one another)?
2. Are they allowed to post credentials while waiting on
verification, potentially taking advantage of practical
limits in how much can be verified via an extended waiting
period?  As a rough example, there are citation requests
that are essentially infinite, circumventing the point of
requesting verfication.
3. Do the credentials override any of the basic policies?
E.g., does a verified PhD get to post OR?  I foresee
latitude problems as it is, much like admins and article
creators seem to get months, if not years, to provide
sources.


~~Pro-Lick
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/User:Halliburton_Shill 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Pro-Lick 
http://www.wikiality.com/User:Pro-Lick (now a Wikia supported site)


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Re: Accountability: bringing back a proposal I made nearly 2 years ago

Oldak
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
On 05/03/07, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
> The point is to make sure that people are being honest with us and with
> the general public.  If you don't care to tell us that you are a PhD (or
> that you are not), then that's fine: your editing stands or falls on its
> own merit.  But if you do care to represent yourself as something, you
> have to be able to prove it.


[For the sake of full disclosure, I'm doing my BSc at KCL.]

I have some concerns with the "impact on the social dynamics of
Wikimedia" (as Erik put it) that would result from Jimbo's idea. I
fear that users will unfairly be given more worth based upon their
credentials.

Academic credentials seem to me to have little to do with many of the
skills necessary to being a Wikipedian (even less so when it comes to
positions of trust). Sure, one would expect a user with a background
in academics to write readable, clear and well-researched articles
(such is their training), but beyond this the vast majority of work
done on Wikimedia (grunt work, minor edits, &c.) seem little helped.
What's more, I'm not sure how credentials would come into the article
creation/improvement process anyway: if an article is good and
well-referenced then it's quite irrelevent whether it's primary editor
has just secondary education or a PhD. [IMO, referencing should *in
theory* make the qualifications of our editors irrelevant]

Since academic credentials don't improve the intrinsic worth of an
article (at least, I don't believe so) and doesn't say anything about
a user's editing, community and administrator skills, I can't see a
reason to react to Essjay's controversy with such alarm.

--
Oldak Quill ([hidden email])

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