Fwd: [WikiEN-l] School shooting threats

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Fwd: [WikiEN-l] School shooting threats

Michael Bimmler
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Chris Howie" <[hidden email]>
To: "English Wikipedia" <[hidden email]>
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 18:08:15 -0400
Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] School shooting threats
On Wed, May 21, 2008 at 5:44 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:

> The question, then, is what if any moral imperative does this impose on us?
> And if some of us feel compelled to report such instances to the police, and
> others do not, what if any should the extent of policy be on this issue?
> Personally I can't agree to any Wikipedia policy that mandates or punishes
> behavior off-wiki. On the other hand, I do think a policy that encourages
> all editors to report specific school threats to AN and (when willing and
> possible) to the police is workable and a good idea. Frankly, I'm surprised
> and I'm sure many others would be as well to learn that there isn't already
> such a Wikipedia policy. At a minimum, we should have a policy of forwarding
> all such threats to the Wikimedia Foundation for "official" action if
> necessary.

If it only encourages people to do something then it's not a policy,
it's an essay, which is more than appropriate in this case.  Even a
guideline would be better than policy.

IMO any threat with the slightest hint of seriousness should be
immediately reported.  But making it a blockable offense to not report
would not only be very bad for the project, it would be unenforceable
in just about every case.  Which would in turn make it generally a
useless policy.

On another note, a noticeboard where things like this can be posted
would be helpful.  People who know how to go about reporting something
like this could monitor the page.  (Law enforcement could even
subscribe to an RSS feed of the page history, if they wanted to be
proactive about it.)

--
Chris Howie
http://www.chrishowie.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Crazycomputers

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Re: Fwd: [WikiEN-l] School shooting threats

Ray Saintonge
Michael Bimmler wrote:

> On Wed, May 21, 2008 at 5:44 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  
>> The question, then, is what if any moral imperative does this impose on us?
>> And if some of us feel compelled to report such instances to the police, and
>> others do not, what if any should the extent of policy be on this issue?
>> Personally I can't agree to any Wikipedia policy that mandates or punishes
>> behavior off-wiki. On the other hand, I do think a policy that encourages
>> all editors to report specific school threats to AN and (when willing and
>> possible) to the police is workable and a good idea. Frankly, I'm surprised
>> and I'm sure many others would be as well to learn that there isn't already
>> such a Wikipedia policy. At a minimum, we should have a policy of forwarding
>> all such threats to the Wikimedia Foundation for "official" action if
>> necessary.
>>    
> If it only encourages people to do something then it's not a policy,
> it's an essay, which is more than appropriate in this case.  Even a
> guideline would be better than policy.
>
> IMO any threat with the slightest hint of seriousness should be
> immediately reported.  But making it a blockable offense to not report
> would not only be very bad for the project, it would be unenforceable
> in just about every case.  Which would in turn make it generally a
> useless policy.
>
> On another note, a noticeboard where things like this can be posted
> would be helpful.  People who know how to go about reporting something
> like this could monitor the page.  (Law enforcement could even
> subscribe to an RSS feed of the page history, if they wanted to be
> proactive about it.)
I agree.  Any pronouncement on this must be realistic, but evaluating
the seriousness of a threat is an art that requires a great deal of
experience to sort out those who are just talking like an idiot.  I
think we've all heard the expression, "I'll kill him," used to express
displeasure in TV comedy, where there is no possibility of it being a
serious threat.  That evaluation is even more difficult when we are
dealing with text that does not transmit the tone of voice.

We can recommend HOW a particular kind of threat can be reported, and
that's a good thing for those who have no idea what to do when they find
a threat they consider serious by whatever yardstick they use.  But that
all presupposes that they know on which page to look for those
instructions, when it's the kind of experience that they do not
encounter every day.

Requiring people to report these things makes no sense, and even if we
did we would need some kind of viewing log of the affected page so that
we could say, "These people looked at the article after the threat was
posted, and need to be punished."  That strikes me as completely
unworkable, even to someone that fully supports mandatory reporting.l

Ec


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Re: Fwd: [WikiEN-l] School shooting threats

Michael Bimmler
On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 6:21 PM, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Michael Bimmler wrote:

Eh? You're sure that I wrote this? The text looks rather unfamiliar to
me and I didn't know that I had taken part in this thread :p


--
Michael Bimmler
[hidden email]

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Re: Fwd: [WikiEN-l] School shooting threats

Brad Patrick
In reply to this post by Ray Saintonge
I have spoken publicly about this issue on several occasions.  Using the
"moral" argument, the fact of someone posting on a project in such a manner
is grounds for another individual in receipt of this information to act.  In
previous instances too numerous to count, the posting was brought to the
attention of the admin community, and inevitably someone at the office on
IRC, with the question "what do we do?"  "We" of course is the problem.  If
we mean the community, we're talking about a whole lot of editors around the
world; if we are talking about admins, a narrower group; if we mean the
foundation, then we are taking about a handful.  Point being, you contact
authorities if you believe the threat is credible.  You do what you can
because ethically you don't want to be responsible for having the capacity
to act and not doing anything.

These kinds of situations are a tremendous time sink and a point of stress
for all concerned.  But, if they are simply ignored, one day it will turn
out the warning signs were there, something awful will happen, and we will
be tarred and feathered.  In my view, imposing any type of obligation as a
matter of policy is impossible.  We assume good faith; we should assume
people who intersect with something as unusual and concerning as this will
do the right thing.

Brad
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Re: Fwd: [WikiEN-l] School shooting threats

Chad
On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 1:46 PM, Brad Patrick <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I have spoken publicly about this issue on several occasions.  Using the
> "moral" argument, the fact of someone posting on a project in such a manner
> is grounds for another individual in receipt of this information to act.  In
> previous instances too numerous to count, the posting was brought to the
> attention of the admin community, and inevitably someone at the office on
> IRC, with the question "what do we do?"  "We" of course is the problem.  If
> we mean the community, we're talking about a whole lot of editors around the
> world; if we are talking about admins, a narrower group; if we mean the
> foundation, then we are taking about a handful.  Point being, you contact
> authorities if you believe the threat is credible.  You do what you can
> because ethically you don't want to be responsible for having the capacity
> to act and not doing anything.
>
> These kinds of situations are a tremendous time sink and a point of stress
> for all concerned.  But, if they are simply ignored, one day it will turn
> out the warning signs were there, something awful will happen, and we will
> be tarred and feathered.  In my view, imposing any type of obligation as a
> matter of policy is impossible.  We assume good faith; we should assume
> people who intersect with something as unusual and concerning as this will
> do the right thing.
>
> Brad
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

Exactly what I was thinking, you just managed to express it better than any
of the e-mails I drafted and subsequently tossed. Thank you Brad.

-Chad

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Re: Fwd: [WikiEN-l] School shooting threats

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Michael Bimmler
Michael Bimmler wrote:
> On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 6:21 PM, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  
>> Michael Bimmler wrote:
>>    
> Eh? You're sure that I wrote this? The text looks rather unfamiliar to
> me and I didn't know that I had taken part in this thread :p
>  
Sorry.  I usually try to trim off the excess before replying at the
bottom.  In this case it looks like you were *forwarding* Chris Howie's
response to Nathan.
My error.

Ec


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Re: Fwd: [WikiEN-l] School shooting threats

Brad Patrick
In reply to this post by Chad
Incidentally, people interested in the phenomena should read our article on
the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_shooting

and in particular the referenced articles on risk assessment and how to
conceptualize risk.  In terms of averting disaster, one of the best things
you can do as an individual is actually *pay attention* to people in your
everyday life.  Especially in the school environment, simply interact with
people who might otherwise avoid interaction altogether.  Intervening with a
friendly hello to the "invisible loner" is a minor gesture - inconsequential
to you - but may have a butterfly effect on the
depressed/disenchanted/isolated youth.  Is anything enough to prevent an
incident of this kind?  We don't know.  We can't know.  But I think this
community agrees that doing nothing is not an option.

B

On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 1:50 PM, Chad <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 1:46 PM, Brad Patrick <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I have spoken publicly about this issue on several occasions.  Using the
> > "moral" argument, the fact of someone posting on a project in such a
> manner
> > is grounds for another individual in receipt of this information to act.
>  In
> > previous instances too numerous to count, the posting was brought to the
> > attention of the admin community, and inevitably someone at the office on
> > IRC, with the question "what do we do?"  "We" of course is the problem.
>  If
> > we mean the community, we're talking about a whole lot of editors around
> the
> > world; if we are talking about admins, a narrower group; if we mean the
> > foundation, then we are taking about a handful.  Point being, you contact
> > authorities if you believe the threat is credible.  You do what you can
> > because ethically you don't want to be responsible for having the
> capacity
> > to act and not doing anything.
> >
> > These kinds of situations are a tremendous time sink and a point of
> stress
> > for all concerned.  But, if they are simply ignored, one day it will turn
> > out the warning signs were there, something awful will happen, and we
> will
> > be tarred and feathered.  In my view, imposing any type of obligation as
> a
> > matter of policy is impossible.  We assume good faith; we should assume
> > people who intersect with something as unusual and concerning as this
> will
> > do the right thing.
> >
> > Brad
> > _______________________________________________
> > foundation-l mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
> >
>
> Exactly what I was thinking, you just managed to express it better than any
> of the e-mails I drafted and subsequently tossed. Thank you Brad.
>
> -Chad
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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