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I was subscribing to a malicious list, but I didn't know it then.


To: vam@fct.unl.pt
Subject: Welcome to the "foundation-l" mailing list
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Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 20:06:12

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This is a symptomatic dysfunctional welcome message. Compare it to the information provided about the list on
https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l (my bold and check marks):

This mailing list can, for example, be used for:

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So, aside from the unnecessary change in language, you read information about the list that you're no longer welcome to follow. Deceit and ambiguity start the moment your subscription to the list is accepted and you're welcome

The foundation-l list is run by adhair [...], wiki.ral315 [...], and alexandrdmitriromanov [...]

The hypothetical quadriplegic girl

Head-wand

Quadriplegic using a head wand to write on a touchscreen interface

Subject: [Foundation-l] pt:wiki policies
From: Virgilio A. P. Machado <vam@fct.unl.pt>
Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 11:29 AM

Dear Sirs,

Yesterday ([1]), while discussing a private case, whose full details are confidential, I described a strictly hypothetical case as follows:

Suppose a [quadri]plegic girl learns how to use a computer and finds out about Wikipedia. After registering as a user she does all sort of trampling. Would there be any administrator willing to block her from editing Wikipedia?

So far, three administrators, one of them a bureaucrat and member of arbitration committee have answered YES.

The administrator bureaucrat later quoted Wikimedia:Non discrimination policy, explaining that that policy did NOT allow them to treat editors differently, based on their [...] medical condition. Wikimedia:Code of Conduct Policy was also quoted.

I wonder if you would care to comment on all of the above.

Sincerely,

Virgilio A. P. Machado


Phil Nash
Thu May 14 18:40:41 UTC 2009

I don't think it's a case of discrimination; presumably her physical disability does not impair her mental faculty, and she is aware of what she is doing- and certainly should be after a number of warnings. If it's just a case of being unable to communicate effectively, we do have users on en:wiki with similar issues, and have persuaded them to be adopted by willing mentors. However, the bottom line to me is whether the harm to the encyclopedia (willed or not) outweighs the benefit of having that person editing.


Virgilio A. P. Machado <vam@fct.unl.pt>
Fri, 05 Jun 2009 18:16

This is in reference to: [2]

I would like to thank Michael Bimmler for steering me through this mailing list. Michael always addressed me in a polite, professional, and non-judgmental manner. It was a pleasure to correspond with him. We had the kind and level of interaction I was expecting to find at the pt:wiki. Thanks also for the sensible comment made by Phil Nash. Although we might not be in complete agreement, some good points were raised and the benefit of experience is of great value. Twice I asked for Cary Bass' advice about posting this message, but I'm sorry to say that I never got an answer. According to Michael, Cary is Volunteer Coordinator at the Wikimedia Foundation. I'm sure he had more pressing matters to attend to.

Let me try to organize the discussion by separating a) a very real general question from b) my hypothetical example. I believe that the discussion of real examples will be beneficial to both.

a) A very real and clear statement was made by an administrator bureaucrat, also a member of the arbitration committee, which can be found here (the quotations are in English): [3]

He quoted the Wikimedia:Non discrimination policy, explaining that that policy did NOT allow them to treat editors differently, based on their [...] medical condition. Wikimedia:Code of Conduct Policy was also quoted.

I believe that "medical condition" includes the whole spectrum of physical and mental illnesses, but please let me know if my interpretation is not correct.

Phil Nash states that in case a registered user is not able to communicate effectively, as it has already happened on en:wiki, they have been persuaded to be adopted by willing mentors.

I consider that a good example of treating editors differently based on their medical condition. This is also similar to the special treatment given inexperienced users, namely through the Adopt-a-User program ([4]) that has a parallel in the Portuguese Wikipedia (please see interlanguage link.)

That procedure also conforms to current non discriminatory legislation in many countries that makes it compulsory to provide ramps for wheelchairs, Braille markings and sound warnings, and special education for those with all sorts of illnesses, both physical and mental. That is, a non discriminatory policy means that you treat people differently based on their medical condition. NOT treating editors differently, based on their medical condition, is considered DISCRIMINATION.

In the Portuguese Wikipedia, as exemplified by the statement of that administrator bureaucrat, and member of the arbitration committee, there is the exact opposite understanding and interpretation, contrary to what non discrimination is. So far, nobody else has contradicted that position which was only disclosed in response to my questioning.

My point is that this state of affairs in the Portuguese Wikipedia cannot be tolerated, condoned and supported by the resources of the Wikimedia Foundation, generously provided by volunteers and donors keen on improving the general knowledge and welfare of humankind and not the misguidance of a group that actively or with their silence have taken over the Portuguese Wikipedia. Swift and drastic measures need to be taken to stop this.

b) My strictly hypothetical case assumed that a [quadraplegic] girl had learned how to use a computer and found out about Wikipedia. After registering as a user she did all sort of trampling. To my question if there would be any administrator willing to block her from editing Wikipedia, three administrators, one of them a bureaucrat and member of the arbitration committee answered YES: [5]

No dissenting opinion has been published, to this date, anywhere on the Portuguese Wikipedia. I have refused to do so for the reasons stated at the conclusions of both part a) and b).

This is in stark contrast with the assumptions and procedures advocated by Phil Nash. First he narrows the case to one in which her physical disability does not impair her mental faculties, that she is aware of what she is doing, and certainly should be after a number of warnings. There's no problem with this scenario since it is added:

"If it's just a case of being unable to communicate effectively, we do have users on en:wiki with similar issues, and have persuaded them to be adopted by willing mentors". Thus a procedure is suggested to prevent errors at the source or have someone at the ready to revert them, without requesting for the user blocking. Admittedly, the corrective actions of such mentor would also avoid the need for those requests to be made and to act on them. I find this a viable and correct approach.

I beg to differ with Phil Nash when he states that "However, the bottom line to me is whether the harm to the encyclopedia (willed or not) outweighs the benefit of having that person editing". It is not difficult to conclude, even without any figures, that this kind of benefits-cost analysis would make any action in favor of the disabled unfeasible, and disability rights laws unactable. The very nature of Wikipedia makes it impossible to produce any harm comparable to the benefit of making its edition available to anyone whose capable of doing it, no matter at what cost in reverts. There's already enough vandalism being done by people supposedly sound of mind and body. It's hard to imagine that the marginal costs of handling the errors of the disabled would put the project in jeopardy. There might even be a way to tap additional resources to cope with such costs.

Such is the current situation of the Portuguese Wikipedia. I believe that as a consequence of the self management of the project, it is now being operated and run on a daily basis by a group of people with severe mental, emotional, and behavioral problems, completely out of control and without any kind of supervision and/or regulation. This has been corroborated by several pt-wikipedians. In an attempt to gather a sample of their statements, a non-exhaustive collection was made (http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usu%C3%A1rio:Vapmachado/Adeus_Wikip%C3%A9dia). It was voted for deletion (http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:P%C3%A1ginas_para_eliminar/Usu%C3%A1rio:Vapmachado/Adeus_Wikip%C3%A9dia) with arguments from both sides that are outright embarrassing. Maintaining the page won by four votes.

This voting is just one of many examples of rampant disrespect for the five pillars, occurring, unchallenged, on a regular basis on the Portuguese Wikipedia. Mobbing is practiced matter of factly, and promoted openly on discussion pages. Just for your information, please be aware that I was already harassed on the Portuguese Wikipedia ([6]) for bringing up this subject on "foundation-l." I was under the threat of banishment (http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usu%C3%A1rio_Discuss%C3%A3o:Vapmachado#Aviso_2) from the pages where this harassment takes place, by the same administrator bureaucrat and member of the of arbitration committee mentioned in both parts a) and b). When I questioned the voting for violating that Wikipedia is free content, I ended up blocked for six days (http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usu%C3%A1rio_Discuss%C3%A3o:Vapmachado#Bloqueio_2).

I don't think that analysis of much of the goings on in the pt:wiki by competent professionals would give it a clean bill of mental health. It's a crazy world, I know, but the project is of an encyclopedia, not a crazypedia (forgive my hyperbole.) "Pero si muove." Certainly, it does, but at what cost, it is my turn to ask. Is it really as impossible to bring a project like this under control, once it gets spinning on its own axis, as it is to stop the Earth from moving? Or are there enough resources to correct the course?

Sincerely,

Virgílio A. P. Machado (Vapmachado)

Prof. Virgilio A. P. Machado vam@fct.unl.pt
Engenharia Industrial http://web.archive.org/web/20070824105539/www.ipei.pt/GDEI/
DEMI/FCT/UNL Fax: 351-21-294-8546 or 21-294-8531
Universidade de Portugal or 351-21-295-4461
2829-516 Caparica Tel.: 351-21-294-8542 or 21-294-8567
PORTUGAL or 351-21-294-8300 or 21 294-8500
Ext.112-32
[96-577-3726]
Faculdade de Ciencias e Tecnologia/UNL (FCT/UNL)

(Dr. Machado is Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering at the
School of Sciences and Engineering/UNL of the University of Portugal)


Nathan
Fri, 5 Jun 2009 14:50

Virgilio, you simply have not provided or described sufficient evidence to back up the conclusion that the people who "run" pt.wp are have severe emotional problems. Such accusations serve only to call your own integrity into question, which I'm sure you wish to avoid.

It should be noted that most disability access laws refer to the right of access to certain classes of goods and services and employment. Editing Wikipedia would not seem to fall into any of the typically covered categories, even were it under the jurisdiction of such laws. While I'm not an expert on the subject, I'm not aware of any laws that even require access to the Internet, let alone resources or activities accessed through it. So the question of law is really separate; if you want to make a case about access, it needs to be done on other grounds.

In the last discussion it was said by many that the primary role of editors is the contribution and improvement of free content, and the privilege of editing access is provided for that purpose. If we can help people with certain disabilities be productive as editors, we should. If a disabled editor, as any editor, becomes disruptive and impedes the goal of the project (and assistance fails to solve the problem) then that person should be blocked.

My suggestion is that if you have a specific problem you'd like addressed, bring that specific problem to the front. The way you've written your post, it seems like you are trying to elicit statements that you can bring back to pt.wp and use in a dispute - all without telling us what the actual dispute is. That doesn't really fly here.

Nathan


Happy-melon
Fri, 5 Jun 2009 22:16

The Wikimedia wikis are, ultimately, private websites, owned and operated by the Foundation. That the software they run happens to allow millions of users the ability to make changes to said site is ultimately just fortunate coincidence: the ability to edit Wikimedia wikis is a privilege, not a right, and one that can be withdrawn at any time and for any reason. With the usual IANAL [I am not a lawyer] disclaimer, legal non-discrimination mandates have no force here. If the issue were a Wikimedia *employee* being fired or blocked with the additional factor of said disability, the situation would be very different. That is not the case. In this context, we are guided only by our own ethics, and the values and goals of the project.

--HM


David Goodman
Sat, 6 Jun 2009 20:51

The key phrase here in basic policy applicable here is "that anybody can edit." Naturally, we can & do interpret it as meaning anybody who is willing to cooperate with the rules and customs of the site. We also by necessity must interpret it as anyone is able to have access to the Internet.

Regardless of the possible lack of legal obligations in present law to accommodate medical conditions (and what country's law would apply here?) -- I think we are morally obliged to, to the extent we can do so without inordinate difficulty. The moral obligation is based on the likelihood that we would want accommodations made for ourselves if we needed them.

David Goodman, Ph.D, M.L.S.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:DGG


Happy-melon
Sun, 7 Jun 2009 10:40

Yes, that's definitely true. But our ultimate guiding principle is the greater good of the project. "Anyone can edit" should apply to, as you say, anyone who is prepared to work constructively with the project, regardless of any disability (we take great pains, for instance, to make pages *editable*, not just readable, by blind users). However, if a user is unable to cause a net benefit to the project through their contributions, for *whatever* reason, then our obligation then becomes one of minimising any damage caused, often by blocking and banning. IIRC [If I recall correctly] there have been past incidents involving editors with mental illnesses; I can imagine a similar problem resulting from an editor with Tourette's. If a contributor is destructive to the project as a result of physical or mental impairment, our actions shouldn't, IMO [In my opinion], be affected by that impairment (partly because it's difficult or impossible to *verify* such a situation). Attempting to get troublesome editors to accept mentorship, or other similar methods, is *always* better for the project than an outright ban, at least initially; the presence or absence of medical conditions doesn't change that either. But Virgilio, it is perfectly possible, and reasonably common, for communities to decide that the most efficient, and beneficial to the project, way of reacting to certain editors' contributions, is to ask them to exercise their right to leave. Banning is a viable action when a user is consistently and irredeemably unconstructive. To us, *why* they are acting in such a way is ultimately irrelevant.

--HM

"Antisocial production"

The Occupiers Give Notice - geograph.org.uk - 856283

Eddie Tejeda
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 14:57

'Forget altruism. Misanthropy and egotism are the fuel of online social production. That's the conclusion suggested by a new study of the character traits of the contributors to Wikipedia. A team of Israeli research psychologists gave personality tests to 69 Wikipedians and 70 non-Wikipedians. They discovered that, as New Scientist puts it <http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16349-psychologist-finds-wikipedians-grumpy-and-closedminded.html>, Wikipedians are generally "grumpy," "disagreeable," and "closed to new ideas."' http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2009/06/the_sour_wikipe.php

I wonder how the mailing list will react....


Fred Bauder
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 22:07

Always knew this, Wikipedia is generally an outlet for folks who have low interpersonal social skills, or at least insufficient outlets for self expression. As to "Disagreeable and closed to new ideas", that is policy, Wikipedia is a compendium of established knowledge, not a place for new ideas, which we call original research.

Fred Bauder


Phil Nash
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 22:16

1. Small sample, making statistical significance difficult to assess 2. Selected sample, meaning likewise - did the Wikipedians contribute to en:wiki or other wikis? 2a. Sample selection for non-Wikipedia editors? How and from where? 3. If the questionnaire isn't published, it's incapable of independent analysis for bias in the questions asked 4. Peer-reviewed research by whom?

and that's just for starters. I look forward to seeing the whole lot, because I, for one, disbelieve such wide conclusions.


Marc Riddell
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 22:27

on 6/27/09 6:07 PM, Fred Bauder [...] wrote:

> Always knew this, Wikipedia is generally an outlet for folks who have low interpersonal social skills, or at least insufficient outlets for self expression. As to "Disagreeable and closed to new ideas", that is policy, Wikipedia is a compendium of established knowledge, not a place for new ideas, which we call original research.

C'mon, Fred; it is "policy" to be "disagreeable"? And as for "closed to new ideas"; that may be appropriate to the body of the encyclopedia itself, but it applies very much in the various Mailing Lists & Talk Pages. Take a good look.

Marc Riddell


From: Steven Walling
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2009 22:29
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] "antisocial production"

I concur with Phil. That thing is more press stunt than it is a conclusive scientific study. The key thing that makes me discount it is, just like in a survey of articles, Wikipedia as a community is both gargantuan and diverse. The motivation and character of the long tail of contributors who steadily make a few edits a month is obviously vastly different than the top hundred editors by number of edits. I've yet to see a serious sociologist break down and study the community like they would a meatspace culture (though there are those doing so from a purely statistical perspective).

Steven


David Moran
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 22:35

While not exactly science, having gone to more than one Wikipedia picnic to break bread with my fellow contributors ... the conclusions seem pretty accurate to me.

DM


Marc Riddell
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 22:51

And, until that changes, the Project will grow only in size, but not in depth.

Marc Riddell


Phil Nash
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 23:27

I wonder how much of that is due to cultural differences, taking the Pokemon vs Medieval Philosophy difference as one example?

Editors have multifarious interests, and IMO, the worst of them tend to discount outside interests, particularly when it comes to "popular culture", as irrelevant. I'd suggest that NPOV suggests that within a historical perspective, it is not for us now to judge such issues, after all, it's not as if we are short of disk space for our articles. I'm reminded of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Cultures but these days, we have many more than two cultures represented in en:wiki, so diversity should not only be expected, but encouraged; this, to me, means that editors should occasionally step outside their comfort zone and see what is going on elsewhere. Perhaps, since I watchlist about 1600 articles of various types, I get an overview denied to, or rejected by, others, but then also, perhaps I have too much time on my hands. Ho hum.


Milos Rancic
Sat, 27 Jun 2009 23:55

On Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 11:57 PM, Eddie Tejeda [...] wrote:

> 'Forget altruism. Misanthropy and egotism are the fuel of online social production. That's the conclusion suggested by a new study of the character traits of the contributors to Wikipedia. A team of Israeli research psychologists gave personality tests to 69 Wikipedians and 70 non-Wikipedians. They discovered that, as New Scientist puts it <http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16349-psychologist-finds-wikipedians-grumpy-and-closedminded.html>, Wikipedians are generally "grumpy," "disagreeable," and "closed to new ideas."' http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2009/06/the_sour_wikipe.php

> I wonder how the mailing list will react....

Generally, my experiences are close to that conclusion.

The problem is that even it is a close approximation of Wikipedian community, Wikipedian community is the best which humanity has. Scientific communities all over the world are much worse: openness is low, flexibility is low, vanity is high, scientific sincerity is low... -- besides the characteristics of Wikipedians, which are, also, characteristics of scientists. Not to talk about artists, businesspersons, bankers, politicians...


Fred Bauder
Sun, 28 Jun 2009 00:06

Yes, that perspective is correct. We do fairly well, comparatively.

Fred


Fred Bauder
Sun, 28 Jun 2009 00:10

> on 6/27/09 6:35 PM, David Moran [...] wrote:

>> While not exactly science, having gone to more than one Wikipedia picnic to break bread with my fellow contributors ... the conclusions seem pretty accurate to me.

>> DM

> And, until that changes, the Project will grow only in size, but not in depth.

> Marc Riddell

Overly pessimistic, one of the things I have done in my life is ferry NBA teams around. If they couldn't play on the court considerably better than than they get along, any high school team could beat them. Elites have a great deal of trouble with social interaction, but they nevertheless can perform.

Fred


Fred Bauder
Sun, 28 Jun 2009 00:14

> on 6/27/09 6:07 PM, Fred Bauder [...] wrote:

>> Always knew this, Wikipedia is generally an outlet for folks who have low interpersonal social skills, or at least insufficient outlets for self expression. As to "Disagreeable and closed to new ideas", that is policy, Wikipedia is a compendium of established knowledge, not a place for new ideas, which we call original research.

> C'mon, Fred; it is "policy" to be "disagreeable"? And as for "closed to new ideas"; that may be appropriate to the body of the encyclopedia itself, but it applies very much in the various Mailing Lists & Talk Pages. Take a good look.

> Marc Riddell

OK, an error, it is not policy to be disagreeable, policy is to be civil, and on the mailing lists and irc too, but I'll stand by the observation that Wikipedia is a dull place, "Just the facts, Ma'am", and intended to be.

Fred


geni
Sun, 28 Jun 2009 01:40

2009/6/27 Phil Nash [...]:

> 1. Small sample, making statistical significance difficult to assess

It's big enough to get some results. The ones across gender lines are more questionable.

> 3. If the questionnaire isn't published, it's incapable of independent analysis for bias in the questions asked

It probably is published but not circulated among the general public.

> 4. Peer-reviewed research by whom?

Whoever does the peer review for CyberPsychology & Behavior I supose.

> and that's just for starters. I look forward to seeing the whole lot, because I, for one, disbelieve such wide conclusions.

The results are hardly earth shattering as it basically adds up to "wikipedia is written but people with weak social skills aka nerds"

-- geni


Milos Rancic
Sun, 28 Jun 2009 06:13

I think that it is very on topic and that we should have it here. What do others think?

I know that a lot of foundation-l subscribers are Wikizine subscribers, too; but I think that many are not because they don't know that it exists. And this will be the constant issue: All newcomers will know for foundation-l much more before Wikizine. And Wikizine summarizes what is going on around WMF projects.


Bence Damokos
Sun, 28 Jun 2009 12:16

You can find the original study at: http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/cpb.2007.0225?cookieSet=1 <http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/cpb.2007.0225?cookieSet=1>apparently they used a pre-existing questionairre called the BFI Questionnaire (probably stands for Big Five Inventory; the closest article in Wikipedia on the subject might be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits)

Best regards, Bence Damokos


Marc Riddell
Sun, 28 Jun 2009 15:35

on 6/27/09 7:27 PM, Phil Nash [...] wrote:

> I wonder how much of that is due to cultural differences, taking the Pokemon vs Medieval Philosophy difference as one example?

> Editors have multifarious interests, and IMO, the worst of them tend to discount outside interests, particularly when it comes to "popular culture", as irrelevant. I'd suggest that NPOV suggests that within a historical perspective, it is not for us now to judge such issues, after all, it's not as if we are short of disk space for our articles. I'm reminded of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Cultures but these days, we have many more than two cultures represented in en:wiki, so diversity should not only be expected, but encouraged; this, to me, means that editors should occasionally step outside their comfort zone and see what is going on elsewhere. Perhaps, since I watchlist about 1600 articles of various types, I get an overview denied to, or rejected by, others, but then also, perhaps I have too much time on my hands. Ho hum.

Phil, I'm not talking about Article v. Article, or Subject Area v. Subject Area. I am presenting to an overall, cohesive cultural standard that would clearly define the entire Project.

As it is now, what culture there is is very cult-like in that its members religiously protect what is, and are very resistant to what could be, i.e., change. For the Project to truly grow in depth, and get itself out of the box it has placed itself in, this resistance to change must be confronted.

The Wikipedia Project has been virtually without competition for its entire existence. That may very well soon change.

Marc Riddell


Tisza Gergő
Sun, 28 Jun 2009 18:52

Eddie Tejeda [...] writes:

> 'Forget altruism. Misanthropy and egotism are the fuel of online social production. That's the conclusion suggested by a new study of the character traits of the contributors to Wikipedia. A team of Israeli research psychologists gave personality tests to 69 Wikipedians and 70 non-Wikipedians. They discovered that, as New Scientist puts it <http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16349-psychologist-finds-wikipedians-grumpy-and-closedminded.html>, Wikipedians are generally "grumpy," "disagreeable," and "closed to new ideas."' http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2009/06/the_sour_wikipe.php

> I wonder how the mailing list will react....

This is old news, the Signpost covered the research sometime January. Methodologically it is not much worth: it was based on an online questionnaire, so there is no way to tell which segment (if any) of the he.wiki community it is representative of.


Ray Saintonge
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 04:53

The New Scientist article was indeed dated January 3, and this suggests that people on the Foundation mailing list don't pay a lot of attention to the Signpost either.

Ec


Ray Saintonge
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 06:40

Fred Bauder wrote:

> Always knew this, Wikipedia is generally an outlet for folks who have low interpersonal social skills, or at least insufficient outlets for self expression. As to "Disagreeable and closed to new ideas", that is policy, Wikipedia is a compendium of established knowledge, not a place for new ideas, which we call original research.

The flaw in the latter part of your comments is that I don't believe that they were talking about content. Had it been about content you would certainly be right. Biting newbies, aggressive insistence on established procedures and guidelines across a wide range of article types, or general impatience are all part of the more disagreeable qualities to be found. As a community grows in size and self-importance it becomes easier to ignore new ideas by reacting to them with silence. By quietly disposing of new ideas the community's immune system is at its bacteriophagic best; it is just not smart enough to distinguish between cancers and cures.

Ec


Gerard Meijssen
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 09:00

2009/6/29 Ray Saintonge [...]

> The New Scientist article was indeed dated January 3, and this suggests that people on the Foundation mailing list don't pay a lot of attention to the Signpost either.

> Ec

Hoi,

The signpost is something of the English Wikipedia. I do not frequent there. Also you are wrong on principles when you expect people of this list to give the English Wikipedia all their attention. This is after all the foundation list.

Thanks.

GerardMM


phoebe ayers
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 18:20

Don't be grumpy :) This seems like a good time to plug the Signpost (again):

We have a blog: http://www.wikipediasignpost.com/blog/ with an RSS feed of new issues, so you never have to go near the English Wikipedia if you don't want to.

Though if you do, you can sign up for talk page delivery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/Tools/Spamlist and as a special bonus Sage is keeping a twitter account with interesting WP news: http://twitter.com/wikisignpost

And we're trying hard to include project-wide and Foundation news, including research etc., as well as happenings on en:wp. (don't forget to add your tips to the tipline: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/Newsroom/Suggestions).

-- Phoebe


Gerard Meijssen
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 21:56

Hoi,

Is this blog syndicated on either of the two ? That would be the obvious thing to get it read :)

Thanks,

GerardM

"Antisocial production" & pt:wiki policies

Unit Tindakan Khas PGK CT&#039;s drill

Detachment A move forward to "hostiles target"

This is the first time that I wrote about empathy on this list. It would not be the last.


Virgilio A. P. Machado <vam@fct.unl.pt>
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 00:35

Talking about antisocial... It's quite interesting what I experienced in this very list.

I wasn't aware of the study published in the New Scientist until I read about it here on the list, and appreciate the information very much.

Earlier this month I wrote about my perception of the same inadequate behavior on the Portuguese Wikipedia and the adverse consequences that might have. Not surprisingly I met a pretty derogatory comment and plenty of silence. I certainly don't have the status of the New Scientist. I also don't have, yet, any study to back up my observations.

Nevertheless I'm saddened by the undeniable evidence, that even on this list it is easier to find displeasure than empathy, camaraderie, not to mention friendship. As I was told: That doesn't really fly here.

Sincerely,

Virgilio A. P. Machado


Marc Riddell
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 21:47:31

You are not alone in your observations, Virgilio; more agree with you than will admit. It is truly a sad state of affairs.

Marc Riddell


Nathan
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 22:01:21

The most significant problem, Virgilio, is that there isn't too much people on this list can do. Unless and until problems become so clear that steward or Foundation action are obviously called for, there is unlikely to be much concrete action at all. Since we can't impose a solution to the problems you've identified from afar, and most of us can neither verify these problems nor participate in fixing them without speaking the language... What else should we do?

You're right, though, that exchanges on this list aren't always very friendly. Maybe because very few discussions are actually productive, and outside of cooperative effort most friendly exchanges are more likely to be taken off-list.

Nathan


Steven Walling
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 19:10:43

1. You're wrong. Just today I myself received some kind words offlist, but related to a thread. Just because you're not getting the air of friendliness you desire (at this moment anyway), doesn't mean friendliness doesn't exist.

2. It's a mailing list for discussion and debate, not an outlet for personal validation. If you don't like being debated and disagreed with, then don't post your opinions on something. I personally find asking questions rather than making statements tends to garner a gentler response, if you're in need of one.

3. All mailing lists are at times more hostile than any real life conversation. It's far from unique to Wikimedia lists, and I've seen *far* more angry flame wars on other mailing lists. If it's a problem of the medium of mailing lists and not of Wikimedian culture, then there's nothing we could change about our culture that would make a mailing list more friendly. I for one see us as already going out of our way to try and be a culture that welcomes open discussion free of insulting behavior.

Steven Walling


Virgilio A. P. Machado <vam@fct.unl.pt>
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 04:29:41

Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Thanks for the comments from Marc, Nathan and Steven. I'm hurrying this response in an attempt to keep the subject alive for a little longer and generate some interest from others.

Marc, you comment is not very optimistic, but it was a great incentive to do what I announced above. Hopefully others will be more encouraged to voice their ideas about other matters, knowing they'll find a friendly hear and some useful and very welcome feedback.

I'm glad to find Nathan in a better mood this time :-). Of course language is a problem. This is indeed a very interesting problem that I hope has a solution in the international wikipedian community. That is also an obstacle to getting on greater detail in this list since most of its members would not be able to verify and cross check that information.

The Foundation can't afford to let a Wikipedia on some obscure language (that is not the case of Portuguese) to run wild and be run by some mob. At some time a flag will go up. What then? I could offer some suggestions, but I was hoping that you all would come up with some useful and tested procedures.

I'm afraid to have to admit that the lack of interest and advice that I got, so far, covers both list and off-list. I wish that would change, again not only for the present case, but what kind of message is this sending to others? How sure can we all be that there aren't or there would not be other cases in the future?

Quite frankly, I would rather be wrong (not a very palatable prospect) but give others the assurance that their voices will be heard, than letting them remember the story of this guy from "somewhere" who blew the whistle and nobody cared.

Sincerely,

Virgilio A. P. Machado


Ray Saintonge
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 21:53:37

Steven Walling wrote:

> 1. You're wrong. Just today I myself received some kind words offlist, but related to a thread. Just because you're not getting the air of friendliness you desire (at this moment anyway), doesn't mean friendliness doesn't exist.

Getting friendly words offlist, says nothing about the list. I'm sure that we all are more friendly with some than with others, so there's nothing unusual about private messages. It's much easier to say something to someone privately; there is less risk of needing to defend every point that you are raising, less risk that some detail might be taken adversarially.

> 2. It's a mailing list for discussion and debate, not an outlet for personal validation. If you don't like being debated and disagreed with, then don't post your opinions on something. I personally find asking questions rather than making statements tends to garner a gentler response, if you're in need of one.

Conflationist nonsense! One of the problems is precisely that those who don't like being bullied don't post, because that shuts out an entire range of opinions from those who are more thoughtful than loud. There's a problem with just asking questions too. If what you want is a dose of paternalistic pablum, that's exactly what you'll get. Attend a political (or some other) speech that is followed by a "question period", and there is an implicit social barrier between you and the speaker. If you know he's wrong you still have to concede that he is in a position to shout louder.

> 3. All mailing lists are at times more hostile than any real life conversation. It's far from unique to Wikimedia lists, and I've seen *far* more angry flame wars on other mailing lists. If it's a problem of the medium of mailing lists and not of Wikimedian culture, then there's nothing we could change about our culture that would make a mailing list more friendly. I for one see us as already going out of our way to try and be a culture that welcomes open discussion free of insulting behavior.

It's not just mailing lists. Perhaps our worst offenders don't even participate in the mailing lists. Mailing lists are certainly less hostile than those in-your-face real life situations that encourage violence. Perhaps too, those who shout here wouldn't have the courage to express their real feelings in person to their opponents. Going out of one's way is primarily a reflection of individual efforts, and we do have some such individuals. It doesn't generalize well into a community effort.

Ec


Ray Saintonge
Mon, 29 Jun 2009 23:44:18

Virgilio A. P. Machado wrote:

> Marc, you comment is not very optimistic, but it was a great incentive to do what I announced above. Hopefully others will be more encouraged to voice their ideas about other matters, knowing they'll find a friendly hear and some useful and very welcome feedback.

Marc and I just happen to come from a generation of grumpy old men who have never had enough good sense to abandon our principles. If you do that long enough the optimism can suffer until you can pull yourself off the carpet and try again.

> I'm glad to find Nathan in a better mood this time :-). Of course language is a problem. This is indeed a very interesting problem that I hope has a solution in the international wikipedian community. That is also an obstacle to getting on greater detail in this list since most of its members would not be able to verify and cross check that information.

> The Foundation can't afford to let a Wikipedia on some obscure language (that is not the case of Portuguese) to run wild and be run by some mob. At some time a flag will go up. What then? I could offer some suggestions, but I was hoping that you all would come up with some useful and tested procedures.

It's unrealistic to expect those who do not speak your language to solve the problems. Just because the anglophones happen to be hanging from the top of the Tower of Babel does not imply that they have any greater expertise. I am willing to concede that the behaviour on some obscure language projects is nothing short of outrageous. How do you determine what the Foundation can or can't afford? Being able to deal with the problems requires for the community to have a critical membership mass. The Foundation can't demand other solutions without compromising NPOV and individual responsibility. If there are specific problems in a project, and nobody knows about them, nothing can be done.

> I'm afraid to have to admit that the lack of interest and advice that I got, so far, covers both list and off-list. I wish that would change, again not only for the present case, but what kind of message is this sending to others? How sure can we all be that there aren't or there would not be other cases in the future?

The lack of interest is no surprise. Why would anyone with an already full plate of problems want to take on a new one? You can never be sure that there will be no other cases in the future.

> Quite frankly, I would rather be wrong (not a very palatable prospect) but give others the assurance that their voices will be heard, than letting them remember the story of this guy from "somewhere" who blew the whistle and nobody cared.

Preferring to be wrong is very altruistic in an environment where most are desperate to be right, and to win. You don't have to worry about them remembering that nobody cared when they never acknowledge that someone was blowing the whistle in the first place.

Ec


Mark Williamson
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 02:11:05

Behavior on many projects IS outrageous; when someone complains the response is almost universally that the foundation doesn't get involved in local project business.

Mark