Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

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Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Chris Jenkinson
Hi all,

My decision to found the admin IRC channel has meant that I've had to
take a lot of flak from some of my friends which has been quite
upsetting. I thought I would write this email to the list to explain
what I see its purpose as. This also serves to highlight the importance
of RC patrol.

I started the channel following Danny's suggestion that there should be
a private place for discussion of confidential issues which we don't
want the public (and by extension, the media) to know about. Such issues
include complaints to the Foundation about libel in articles. Everyone
should know this is one of Wikipedia's greatest problems, that anyone
can say nasty things about someone else and quite often this isn't
picked up on RC patrol.

Danny's suggestion for a private method of communication between
"trusted users" given the issues we face was an excellent one in my
opinion and I thought that an IRC channel is an ideal medium for this
type of discussion to occur. Admins form a pretty diverse group of
trustworthy users (all admins have the best interests of their project
at heart) so for simplicity I created the channel for admins only.

The suggestion of a "trusted user" group is an interesting idea but
unfortunately very selective. Who is responsible for choosing who is a
trusted user? Whoever it was, there would be a large number of people
who would be missed off even though they are perfectly trustworthy.
Also, think of the consequences if someone found out if they weren't
considered trustworthy as they weren't given channel access - it would
be quite demoralising for one. Rationally, there may be perfectly solid
reasons why they weren't given access but emotionally it is still
demoralising. That's why I went by the simple, easily-defined standard
of admins on the English-language Wikipedia.

Later Danny and I talked about the scope of the channel and raised the
point that people who work the OTRS lists should be given access, since
they get the bulk of the libel complaints and are best placed to notify
people of potential issues. This is an entirely sensible argument.

Some people have raised concerns about backroom decisions, cliques and
the lack of transparency this channel will create. These are fair
comments to raise but I believe they are unfounded. Firstly, the
channel's purpose is not a decision-making one. Unrelated chit-chatter
and non-confidential discussions are pointed out as inappropriate for
the channel and go on to take place in #wikipedia. Some admins have
refused to join because they think the channel is closed and hidden. I
think a better action for them to take would be to join, and
self-regulate what the channel discusses. If it's not appropriate, ask
the people discussing to talk in a different channel.

On a related note, the entire reason this channel exists is due to the
problem we face from libel. This is why we must be grateful for the
existing work people who work RC patrol do, and we should do everything
we can to help them out. Problems which are ending up in OTRS and the
admin channel are due to edits slipping through RC patrol. What we need
to do is make their job easier. Admins who help out on RC patrol know
the huge difference admin rollback makes, compared to having to do it
manually. This is why we should either make the majority of RC
patrollers admins, or give them access to rollback. Because of the
rising standards for becoming an admin on the English language
Wikipedia, the former is becoming more hard. Arguments of "adminship is
no big deal" have now become "adminship should be no big deal". We have
to recognise that this shift has taken place - and those who hold this
principle should take part in RFA more, supporting more candidates.

Another - and better - solution, however, is to grant the rollback
privilege to good contributors who are not admins. This would make the
jobs of RC patrollers much easier - and will have the knock-on effect of
lowering the amount of complaints the Foundation gets. The Foundation
agrees that this is a great solution to the big problem we face. There
is a poll to gauge community consensus on the issue:
  -->
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_rollback_privileges/Poll

Chris (Talrias)

--
Chris Jenkinson
[hidden email]

"Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful."
  -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
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Re: Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Florence Devouard-3
Chris Jenkinson wrote:

> Another - and better - solution, however, is to grant the rollback
> privilege to good contributors who are not admins. This would make the
> jobs of RC patrollers much easier - and will have the knock-on effect of
> lowering the amount of complaints the Foundation gets. The Foundation
> agrees that this is a great solution to the big problem we face. There
> is a poll to gauge community consensus on the issue:
>  -->
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_rollback_privileges/Poll 
>
>
> Chris (Talrias)

Aside from all other comments you made (in which I do not wish to enter,
at least not now), I must absolutely ask where does the statement "the
Foundation agrees it is a great solution to the big problem we face".

Afaik, the board members never discussed the issue between themselves
(and I actually doubt they should); and even less issued a statement on
the matter.

Libel accusations and their legal consequences directly impact the
Foundation. And yes, deserve much more attention that they currently get
(a dual system involving both the new channel and OTRS members from all
languages is definitly interesting in that prospect).

However, a new feature to improve vandalism fight is more of a community
issue. Community which must find a way to convince the developers to set
up the feature. If you give good arguments, I am sure you can convince
them. But I do not remember the Foundation saying anything on the
matter. Nor do I think it is its job at all.

Ant

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Re: Re: Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Chris Jenkinson
Anthere wrote:
> Aside from all other comments you made (in which I do not wish to enter,
> at least not now), I must absolutely ask where does the statement "the
> Foundation agrees it is a great solution to the big problem we face".

Jimbo and I have discussed this on several occasions.

Chris

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Chris Jenkinson
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"Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful."
  -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
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Re: Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Florence Devouard-3
Chris Jenkinson wrote:

> Anthere wrote:
>
>> Aside from all other comments you made (in which I do not wish to
>> enter, at least not now), I must absolutely ask where does the
>> statement "the Foundation agrees it is a great solution to the big
>> problem we face".
>
>
> Jimbo and I have discussed this on several occasions.
>
> Chris


Jimbo is Jimbo.
Jimbo is the foundator.
Jimbo is the benevolent dictator.
Jimbo is the chair of the Foundation.

But Jimbo is NOT the Foundation.

Assimilating ONE person to a full group of people is RUDE.

It denies our existence. It denies our efforts. It denies the work we
are putting in the Foundation itself. It denies the very existence of
our personal opinions. It makes us appear as if we were puppets.

And this is NOT acceptable.

When you talk to a person, you receive the opinion of this person. ONLY.

Ant, a PERSON.





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Re: Re: Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Sam Korn
On 1/25/06, Anthere <[hidden email]> wrote:

> But Jimbo is NOT the Foundation.
>
> Assimilating ONE person to a full group of people is RUDE.
>
> It denies our existence. It denies our efforts. It denies the work we
> are putting in the Foundation itself. It denies the very existence of
> our personal opinions. It makes us appear as if we were puppets.
>
> And this is NOT acceptable.
>
> When you talk to a person, you receive the opinion of this person. ONLY.
>
> Ant, a PERSON.

Ant, I really don't think Chris was attempting to be rude.  Yes, he
carelessly took one person's opinion to represent that of several
people, but I am sure that this was an honest mistake, not a malicious
(or even thought-out) attempt to bypass the work you do.

Indeed, I don't think anyone would underestimate the work you do.  I
am sure that this was really only the result of a misunderstanding.

--
Sam
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Re: Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Florence Devouard-3
Sam Korn wrote:

> On 1/25/06, Anthere <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>>But Jimbo is NOT the Foundation.
>>
>>Assimilating ONE person to a full group of people is RUDE.
>>
>>It denies our existence. It denies our efforts. It denies the work we
>>are putting in the Foundation itself. It denies the very existence of
>>our personal opinions. It makes us appear as if we were puppets.
>>
>>And this is NOT acceptable.
>>
>>When you talk to a person, you receive the opinion of this person. ONLY.
>>
>>Ant, a PERSON.
>
>
> Ant, I really don't think Chris was attempting to be rude.  Yes, he
> carelessly took one person's opinion to represent that of several
> people, but I am sure that this was an honest mistake, not a malicious
> (or even thought-out) attempt to bypass the work you do.
>
> Indeed, I don't think anyone would underestimate the work you do.  I
> am sure that this was really only the result of a misunderstanding.
>
> --
> Sam


I am *sure* it was an honest mistake.
This is nevertheless not the first time, not even the first time *this*
week. And this is disheartening.

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Re: Re: Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Sam Korn
On 1/25/06, Anthere <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I am *sure* it was an honest mistake.
> This is nevertheless not the first time, not even the first time *this*
> week. And this is disheartening.

I think most of these "honest mistakes" are due to the fact that there
are very few statements by the Board as a whole.  Thus statements by
individual Board members are understood as being on behalf of the
Board as a whole.

Though I recognise the difficulty presented, I do think it would
reduce these confusions if a definitive statement "by the Board" could
be presented more often.

--
Sam
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Re: Re: Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Jimmy Wales
In reply to this post by Florence Devouard-3
Anthere wrote:
> Jimbo is Jimbo.

Indeed.  :)  It is never ever a good idea to take something that I say
as foundation policy or opinion, particularly when I've merely expressed
vague agreement with a general idea in an irc chat.

My support of the concept of rollback privileges is of the form: "If, in
the judgment of a broad cross section of the community, similar to the
nearly unanimous support we saw for semi-protection, this is a good
feature, then of course I will gladly endorse it.  In the meantime it
sounds more or less like a good idea to me, but I defer to the judgment
of those who know better."

--Jimbo
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Re: Re: Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Essjay
In reply to this post by Sam Korn
I have to agree with Sam; I myself have been guilty of saying "the Board" or
"the Foundation" when what I mean is "Jimbo." Unfortunately, it is from
Jimbo that we outside the "Foundation walls" most often hear, and it is from
Jimbo that most "executive orders" issue. We can't help but be confused at
exactly where Jimbo's authority to bind the Foundation begins and ends. When
he says "We should do this, it shall be done" (as he does from time to
time), is it inappropriate to say "The Foundation says that..." For example,
when page creation by anons was turned off on EN, (at least acording to
Brion) it was done by order of Jimbo; are we (and the press as well) wrong
in saying "The Wikimedia Foundation ordered..."

Not being privvy to the internal discussions, it becomes very hard for us to
figure out where Jimbo stops and the Foundation starts, particularly because
we don't know if he has discussed it with the rest of the Board (consulted
with Congress?) or if he is doing it on his own authority (issuing an
Executive Order?).

Perhaps we need to force him to put disclaimers on all his statements: "I'm
Jimbo Wales, and I approved this message" vs. "I'm Jimbo Wales, and the
Foundation approved this message." Better, however, would be to realize that
as frustrating as it may be to see the two confused, it goes a lot farther
to gently correct the mistake, rather than dressing down the person who made
the mistake. After all, they are a person, too, and they have feelings, too.
We should all try harder (our hardest, every day) to set the best example we
can, whether that be to look back over what we're saying and make sure we
have our terms straight, or biting our tongue when our toes have been
stepped on.

Now, (as I love to say) "Everybody back to work!"

Essjay


On 1/25/06, Sam Korn <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 1/25/06, Anthere <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I am *sure* it was an honest mistake.
> > This is nevertheless not the first time, not even the first time *this*
> > week. And this is disheartening.
>
> I think most of these "honest mistakes" are due to the fact that there
> are very few statements by the Board as a whole.  Thus statements by
> individual Board members are understood as being on behalf of the
> Board as a whole.
>
> Though I recognise the difficulty presented, I do think it would
> reduce these confusions if a definitive statement "by the Board" could
> be presented more often.
>
> --
> Sam
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.wikipedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>



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-----
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Wikipedia:The Free Encyclopedia
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Re: Re: Thoughts on admin-only IRC channels and RC patrol

Chris Jenkinson
In reply to this post by Florence Devouard-3
Anthere wrote:

> Jimbo is Jimbo.
> Jimbo is the foundator.
> Jimbo is the benevolent dictator.
> Jimbo is the chair of the Foundation.
>
> But Jimbo is NOT the Foundation.
>
> Assimilating ONE person to a full group of people is RUDE.
>
> It denies our existence. It denies our efforts. It denies the work we
> are putting in the Foundation itself. It denies the very existence of
> our personal opinions. It makes us appear as if we were puppets.
>
> And this is NOT acceptable.
>
> When you talk to a person, you receive the opinion of this person. ONLY.
>
> Ant, a PERSON.

Anthere, you know you and I have talked often enough and I respect your
personal contributions and beliefs enough that I would never intend to
deny your own efforts. I meant Jimbo, and I'm sorry for the mistake in
phrasing.

Chris

--
Chris Jenkinson
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"Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful."
  -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
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