Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

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Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Alec Conroy-2
So, for anyone who doesn't know, it's now come out that there was
basically a citizens "militia" of sorts that created secret mailing
lists where they coordinated their actions and presented secret
evidence against those suspected of being affiliated with a BADSITE.

There's an arbitration on-going that is looking into the behavior.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Durova_and_Jehochman

Durova has resigned as an admin.  A good user appears to have left the
project after being falsely accused of being a sleeper puppet.

This is a LOT of drama.
---

At this time, I can't help but point out that this could have been
prevented.  The names of the militia haven't yet been made public, but
they won't come as a shock to anyone.  We've
all known about the existence of the rabid Pro-BADSITES crusaders
willing to bend or break the rules in order to "defend the
encyclopedia".   This milita of dedicated troll fighters has been a
growing problem here, leading to rampant incivility and massive rifts
in the community, and bad feelings all around.

 Not long ago, I asked the community (through an RFC) and then Arbcom
to intervene to help rein in this behavior.  Neither group did so--
Arbiters expressed the belief that it would " cause too much drama".

I understand nobody wants to deal with "drama"-laden cases, and I
don't question their motives. Bu with the wisdom of hindsight, I think
we've often seen that procrastinating-- putting this problems off and
not confronting them immediately-- leads to the problems getting worse
and worse, as people become embolden by the community's unwillingness
to place checks on  unacceptable behavior.  I think that in the end,
letting these problems continue inevitably causes far more "drama".

I can't help but think that if we had dealt with the incivility and
edit-warring issues in a timely fashion, this whole "secret evidence"
mess might never have occured, and Wikipedia wouldn't have lost one
valuable admin and another promising editor.

Alec

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Steve Summit
Alec wrote:
> So, for anyone who doesn't know, it's now come out that there was
> basically a citizens "militia" of sorts that created secret mailing
> lists where they coordinated their actions and presented secret
> evidence against those suspected of being affiliated with a BADSITE...
> This is a LOT of drama.

Yow.  I, for one, didn't know that (though I can't say I'm surprised).

There's an easy way to short-circuit most of the drama: everybody
on that (or those) secret mailing lists ought to voluntarily take
a pretty long wikibreak.  (A year wouldn't be too long.)  Their
intentions were good, I know, but they got way too wrapped up in
things, and they (and the rest of us) now need some time to unwrap.

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Matthew Brown-5
In reply to this post by Alec Conroy-2
On Nov 26, 2007 9:42 PM, Alec Conroy <[hidden email]> wrote:
> This is a LOT of drama.

But clearly not quite enough for you?

-Matt

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Matthew Brown-5
In reply to this post by Steve Summit
On Nov 26, 2007 9:55 PM, Steve Summit <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Yow.  I, for one, didn't know that (though I can't say I'm surprised).

I'd advise you to be a little more cautious about taking everything
Alec says here at face value.  He's presenting it from the
maximum-drama, maximum-assumption-of-bad-faith point of view, in my
opinion.

-Matt

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Alec Conroy-2
In reply to this post by Steve Summit
> There's an easy way to short-circuit most of the drama: everybody
> on that (or those) secret mailing lists ought to voluntarily take
> a pretty long wikibreak.  (A year wouldn't be too long.)  Their
> intentions were good, I know, but they got way too wrapped up in
> things, and they (and the rest of us) now need some time to unwrap.


It's more complicated than that.  Sitting arbiters were on the list.
Allegedly, three of them-- though I won't say which three are alleged
to have been on the list.  I think they'll come clean--   I think the
community has been very clear that there's been enough secrecy here,
and if they try to impede oversight from the community by refusing to
admit participation, it will just contribute to the belief that they
have something to hide.

>  I, for one, didn't know that (though I can't say I'm surprised).
I don't have words for how shocked I was.   I know I've been a critic
of a few specific members of the "militia", but  I never seriously
believed they were this organized and were actively evaluating "secret
evidence" in what could only be called "secret trials".  I never
imagined they  included arbiters among their ranks.

Alec

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Alec Conroy-2
In reply to this post by Matthew Brown-5
Morven wrote:
> Alec wrote:
> > This is a LOT of drama.
>
> But clearly not quite enough for you?

I am NOT trying to cause drama-- I am trying to help the community FIX
a problem.   If you seriously believe I'm just writing for giggles,
fine.  But I think in your heart you know I'm not trying to cause
drama, I'm just a good-faith idealogue who's trying to improve the
most important website on the planet.

Besides, attacking my character won't help you--  I'm not your problem
this time.  I had nothing to do with any of this coming to light.  I
didn't make the complaint, I didn't investigate, I didn't file the
RFC.  By the time I first heard about any of this,  the RFC was in
full swing and had received hundred of edits.

I know how fashionable it is to attack me, but go look at the RFC and
you'll see almost everyone else regards the "secret list" revelation
as every bit as problematic and dramatic as I do.

Alec

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Durova
In reply to this post by Alec Conroy-2
It's more complicated than that.  Sitting arbiters were on the list.
******
No, it's quite simple.  I made a bad block.  No grand super-secret cabal
ordered me to make it.  And even if they had, list behavior is off-wiki and
outside ArbCom's purview.

If you sincerely believe that list actions are blockable, then would you
consent to a level 2 warning for WP:POINT and WP:AGF?  What's good for the
goose is good for the gander.

-Durova
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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Matthew Brown-5
In reply to this post by Alec Conroy-2
On Nov 26, 2007 10:16 PM, Alec Conroy <[hidden email]> wrote:
> But I think in your heart you know I'm not trying to cause
> drama, I'm just a good-faith idealogue who's trying to improve the
> most important website on the planet.

Perhaps you are not trying to cause drama.  However, I believe you are
trying to USE it - because it helps your cause.  Ideologues are
disturbing to me precisely because the ends almost always justify the
means to them, and to that degree I have a problem with you.

Also, I feel, you are prone to assuming Big Bad Conspiracy and strong
ideological motivation in others.

> I know how fashionable it is to attack me, but go look at the RFC and
> you'll see almost everyone else regards the "secret list" revelation
> as every bit as problematic and dramatic as I do.

A lovely case of self-selected sample, I think.

-Matt

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Katie Chan
In reply to this post by Durova
On Mon, 2007-11-26 at 22:17 -0800, Durova wrote:
> It's more complicated than that.  Sitting arbiters were on the list.
> ******
> No, it's quite simple.  I made a bad block.  No grand super-secret cabal
> ordered me to make it.  And even if they had, list behavior is off-wiki and
> outside ArbCom's purview.

When off-wiki list behaviour affects one's action on-wiki, it is /
should no longer be outside community and ArbCom's purview.

KTC

--
Experience is a good school but the fees are high.
  - Heinrich Heine

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Steve Summit
In reply to this post by Matthew Brown-5
Morven wrote:
> On Nov 26, 2007 10:16 PM, Alec Conroy <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I know how fashionable it is to attack me, but go look at the RFC and
> > you'll see almost everyone else regards the "secret list" revelation
> > as every bit as problematic and dramatic as I do.
>
> A lovely case of self-selected sample, I think.

I'm sorry, but I think this is a lovely case of trying to
rationalize away a serious problem.

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

PeterAnsell
In reply to this post by Katie Chan
On 27/11/2007, Kwan Ting Chan <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Mon, 2007-11-26 at 22:17 -0800, Durova wrote:
> > It's more complicated than that.  Sitting arbiters were on the list.
> > ******
> > No, it's quite simple.  I made a bad block.  No grand super-secret cabal
> > ordered me to make it.  And even if they had, list behavior is off-wiki and
> > outside ArbCom's purview.
>
> When off-wiki list behaviour affects one's action on-wiki, it is /
> should no longer be outside community and ArbCom's purview.

How do you feel about IRC?

Peter

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Steve Summit
In reply to this post by Matthew Brown-5
Matt wrote:
> On Nov 26, 2007 9:55 PM, Steve Summit <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Yow.  I, for one, didn't know that (though I can't say I'm surprised).
>
> I'd advise you to be a little more cautious about taking everything
> Alec says here at face value.

Point taken.  I did mean to say, on general principles, something
along the lines of "if this is true, I can't say I'm surprised".

But having skimmed [[Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment/Durova]],
it appears that the relevant particulars *are* true.
(By "relevant particulars" I mean: that zeal against Wikipedia
Review and its suspected supporters and sycophants had become
excessive, and was being used to justify clearly unjust actions.)

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Steve Summit
In reply to this post by Matthew Brown-5
Morven wrote:
> Perhaps you are not trying to cause drama.  However, I believe you
> are trying to USE it - because it helps your cause.  Ideologues are
> disturbing to me precisely because the ends almost always justify
> the means to them, and to that degree I have a problem with you.
>
> Also, I feel, you are prone to assuming Big Bad Conspiracy and strong
> ideological motivation in others.

One of the disturbing subthreads of the whole BADSITES debate --
I am not the first to point this out, and I may have more to say
about it tomorrow -- was that anyone who argued too strongly
against it was eventually branded as a "Wikipedia Review
participant" or a "troll" or a "sockpuppet", and then dismissed.

Please don't do this sort of thing.

Dan Tobias was right to criticize BADSITES, and JzG's continuing
attempts to paint Dan as a Wikipedia Review participant or a
tireless crank didn't change the truth of Dan's arguments.
Similarly, your criticism of Alec as an ideologue (a label he
first used on himself, of course) doesn't change the truth of his.

Also, in the current debate, the issue is about one or more
administrators -- Durova, and perhaps others -- for whom their
end justified their means.  So there's plenty of this to go around.

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Bryan Derksen
In reply to this post by Steve Summit
Steve Summit wrote:

> Matt wrote:
>> On Nov 26, 2007 9:55 PM, Steve Summit <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>> Yow.  I, for one, didn't know that (though I can't say I'm surprised).
>> I'd advise you to be a little more cautious about taking everything
>> Alec says here at face value.
>
> Point taken.  I did mean to say, on general principles, something
> along the lines of "if this is true, I can't say I'm surprised".
>
> But having skimmed [[Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment/Durova]],
> it appears that the relevant particulars *are* true.
> (By "relevant particulars" I mean: that zeal against Wikipedia
> Review and its suspected supporters and sycophants had become
> excessive, and was being used to justify clearly unjust actions.)
I'm wary of believing anything at this point. But that in itself is a
bad sign, IMO. I no longer feel confident that "the system works."

There's an ArbCom election coming up, can you imagine the damage that
would be done to ArbCom's credibility if it were to come out afterward
that members that were up for election were involved in this and their
involvement was known but we weren't told about it before voting?

The secrecy is what's most toxic. Maybe we should start applying
Verifiability outside of just the encyclopedic content.


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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Alec Conroy-2
In reply to this post by Durova
> List behavior is off-wiki and outside ArbCom's purview.
Uhhh-- that's a BIG no.  See [[WP:CANVASS]].   Off-wiki behavior is
considered ALL THE TIME.   Are you sincerely saying, after all the
uproar about the methodology,  that the people who "enthusasticly"
endorsed the block don't need to have their actions looked at?



> If you sincerely believe that list actions are blockable, then would you
> consent to a level 2 warning for WP:POINT and WP:AGF?

1.  Who said anything about blocking?  I say that you made a mistake,
and at least five other people fell for the similar mistake, and the
community needs to know who they are, so we can devote extra attention
to double-checking their math in the future (as well as in the past).

Suppose five different doctors consult with each other, and each one
agrees the patient needs surgery for stomach cancer.   The patient
goes under the knife, and it turns out that the patient just
heartburn, and the surgery was malpractice.   Sure, only one of the
five doctors actually performed the surgery, but all five made the
same stupid mistake, and all five need to have their licenses looked
at.

It's not about "blocking" anyone, it's not about blame-- it's about
prevention.   The fact is--  anyone who looked at the "secret
evidence" and enthusiasticly endorsed a block probably shouldn't be in
the business of blocking people anymore.  At the very least, the
community has to know who those people were, so we can keep an eye on
their actions in the future to make sure they don't repeat sorts of
the same mistakes.

.
> If you sincerely believe that list actions are blockable, then would you
> consent to a level 2 warning for WP:POINT and WP:AGF?  What's good for the
> goose is good for the gander.

Whoa whoa whoa--    Are you saying that you think my merely discussing
this subject is a violation of "Disrupting Wikipedia to Prove a
Point"?!!?!?

Durova--  four days ago, you were practically guaranteed to be an
Arbiter.  Today you're no longer an admin.  This is BIG stuff, it is
VERY important, and it is HIGHLY worthy of discussion.  I can't
believe you would seriously try to tell me that I shouldn't be
discussing this subject.

That's the thing about your "militia" members still don't seem to get.
 You didn't get desysopped because you made one tiny bad block for 75
minutes-- that's not the issue.

The issue is-- you shouldn't be engaging in anything like this in the
first place.  In a secret kangaroo court, you were BOUND to screw up
and execute an innocent man. It was only a matter of time.

It's like the drunk driver who crashes into a tree and says "So I
swerved off the road a little bit-- big deal! It was just a harmless
little accident--    why are you suspending my license?"   The problem
isn't that the drunk driver accidently hit a tree-- it's that he was
engaging in behavior that was BOUND to hurt someone sooner or later,
but doesn't have the judgment to realize that driving drunk is a
problem.

As far as Assuming Good Faith--  every word I've said is backed up by
your own statements.  You've told us there are lists, you've told us
about secret evidence, you told us about the five other sleuths and
the fact that the arbiters were involved.   I'm not Assuming Bad
Faith-- I'm Assuming You're Tellling the Truth.

Alec

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Alec Conroy-2
In reply to this post by Bryan Derksen
On 11/27/07, Bryan Derksen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> There's an ArbCom election coming up, can you imagine the damage that
> would be done to ArbCom's credibility if it were to come out afterward
> that members that were up for election were involved in this and their
> involvement was known but we weren't told about it before voting?

SUPPOSEDLY, if I understand the shape of things , that's not a
scenario you have to worry about.

Supposedly, the names of everybody involved has already been revealed
by one or more list participants.  Anyone who hasn't come forward
before the start of the election is, supposedly, going to have their
involvement revealed and substantiated with evidence.  But of course,
nobody wants it to come to that--  it would be better for the
community (and much less dramatic) if everyone involved comes forward
on their own, so atleast until the election starts, THERE IS NO
DEADLINE.

Again, that's not coming from me.  I don't have the full list names or
the emails, and I won't be the one doing any revealing.  Despite my
verbosity,  I'm really not that involved in this dispute-- I've been
playing catch up from the start, and I'm always the last person to
hear about these things.

Alec

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Durova
In reply to this post by Alec Conroy-2
bad sign, IMO. I no longer feel confident that "the system works."

There's an ArbCom election coming up, can you imagine the damage that
would be done to ArbCom's credibility if it were to come out afterward
that members that were up for election were involved in this and their
involvement was known but we weren't told about it before voting?
The secrecy is what's most toxic. Maybe we should start applying
Verifiability outside of just the encyclopedic content.
******
What's toxic here is how quickly some people fall into the same logical
errors I fell prey to, unaware of the irony that they practice exactly the
same faults they criticize.

Confirmation bias is a dangerous thing.  Extraordinary claims require
extraordinary evidence.

-Durova
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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

David Gerard-2
On 27/11/2007, Durova <[hidden email]> wrote:
>Alec:

>> bad sign, IMO. I no longer feel confident that "the system works."
>> There's an ArbCom election coming up, can you imagine the damage that
>> would be done to ArbCom's credibility if it were to come out afterward
>> that members that were up for election were involved in this and their
>> involvement was known but we weren't told about it before voting?
>> The secrecy is what's most toxic. Maybe we should start applying
>> Verifiability outside of just the encyclopedic content.

> What's toxic here is how quickly some people fall into the same logical
> errors I fell prey to, unaware of the irony that they practice exactly the
> same faults they criticize.
> Confirmation bias is a dangerous thing.  Extraordinary claims require
> extraordinary evidence.


Indeed. Start with an assumption of bad faith and extrapolate from
there, and you have Wikipedia Review.

Working definition of "cabal": group of people talking that the
labeler isn't in.


- d.

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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Bryan Derksen
In reply to this post by Alec Conroy-2
Alec Conroy wrote:

> On 11/27/07, Bryan Derksen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> There's an ArbCom election coming up, can you imagine the damage that
>> would be done to ArbCom's credibility if it were to come out afterward
>> that members that were up for election were involved in this and their
>> involvement was known but we weren't told about it before voting?
>
> SUPPOSEDLY, if I understand the shape of things , that's not a
> scenario you have to worry about.
>
> Supposedly, the names of everybody involved has already been revealed
> by one or more list participants.  Anyone who hasn't come forward
> before the start of the election is, supposedly, going to have their
> involvement revealed and substantiated with evidence.  But of course,
> nobody wants it to come to that--  it would be better for the
> community (and much less dramatic) if everyone involved comes forward
> on their own, so atleast until the election starts, THERE IS NO
> DEADLINE.
{{citation needed}}. This is exactly the sort of secretive "behind the
scenes" assurances that appears to have caused this train wreck in the
first place. At this point the only thing I'm willing to accept at face
value is that there's something nasty going on here, because I've read
through plenty enough ANI and RfC material in the past hour or so to
convince me of that much at least.

> Again, that's not coming from me.  I don't have the full list names or
> the emails, and I won't be the one doing any revealing.  Despite my
> verbosity,  I'm really not that involved in this dispute-- I've been
> playing catch up from the start, and I'm always the last person to
> hear about these things.

Who's it coming from, then? I'm willing to follow the chain of inquiry
the hard way, but I feel it should be done in a public and verifiable
manner otherwise it's pointless.


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Re: Missed Opportunities to have avoided the Durova Case

Alec Conroy-2
In reply to this post by Durova
On 11/27/07, Durova <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Confirmation bias is a dangerous thing.  Extraordinary claims require
> extraordinary evidence.

What is it you think I'm claiming that you haven't already admitted?

If you think I'm saying you're a bad person or have nefarious
intentions or some secret conspiracy (aside from the formerly secret
conspiracy to protect wikipedia from trolls)-- you're wrong.   I'm not
suggesting you had some sort of ulterior motive in blocking !!--  I
totally believe you legitimately believed he was a sleeper sock.  I
have nothing bad to say about you as a person.

As far as I know, all I'm alleging is what's already been admitted.
The fact is-- the "secret evidence" and "secret lists" are very very
controversial.  Wikipedia has long been subjected to criticisms of
"hivemindedness", "cliquishness" and "cabalness".  Until a few days
ago, the idea that there was a group of editors performing secret
investigations, weighing secret evidence, and coordinating their
opinions-- it was a joke.  A crackpot conspiracy theory.  Nobody
really believed trusted Wikipedians would get together for organized
"sleuthing", swapping "secret evidence" and reaching "secret verdicts"
about who is to be blocked.  Nobody seriously believed that would ever
happen.

Except...  it happened.

The secret mailing list is a huge blow.. a huge blow.  It really was a
betrayal of trust.  The community genuinely believed these sorts of
lists didn't really exist, they trusted the leadership to not engage
practices like this.

And now that it's come out, you're danged right people are going to
insist on knowing who was involved.  Youv'e seen for yourself how
seriously the community takes this issue-- and there's no laughing it
off as the trollings of ED-lovers this time.

This siege-mentality militia  is destroying the encyclopedia.  It has
caused more drama and more distraction than anything else in the
history of the encyclopedia.  Let's run down the list of how much the
little "militia" has cost us in terms of time and effort and drama:

* The original MONGO case and the ED links purging
* The BADSITES policy dispute
* The NPA#EL policy dispute
* The Attack Sites Arbcom case.
* The Desysopping of MONGO and the whole arbcom case that led up to it
* The purging of Making Lights
* The purging of Michael Moore
* The purging of Don Murphy
* The dispute that tried to ban even the mere MENTION of ASM
* The purging of Robert Black links
* The purging of any questions, even good faith ones, involving the
slashdot article on SV
* MONGO's edit-warring NPA#EL into being policy
* MONGO, JzG, and others' habit of accusing anyone who disagrees with
them of working for WR or ED.
* The banning of !!
* The revelation of "secret evidence" and "secret mailings lists"
* The RFC on you, and your resigning.
* The Arbcom case that's still ongoing.

How long is this gonna go on?  Your posse of overzealous defenders is
doing more to disrupt the project and destroy user trust and faith
than all the vandals in the world ever could.   I know you're doing it
out of the goodness of your heart, I know you're doing it out of a
desire to be protective.....

But you're hurting the project, and ya'll need to stop.  Go read the
RFC if you don't believe me-- the consensus that the "militia" is
hurting the project is there, and had the RFC continued, it would have
just gotten more and more opinions that the siege mentality is the
wrong direction for the project.

Alec

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