Difference between revisions of "Wikiversity:Community Review/Wikimedia Ethics:Ethical Breaching Experiments"

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I've separated Thekohser's block from PM because they don't appear related. I understand your history with this user, but think that it is best that his actions be left to the community. He is currently an productive member of several other projects, and his skills and employment experience would allow him to be productive here as well. We have already been provided with an outline of what he intends to work on, and we don't have experts in those areas. As with Privatemusings, the community is now aware of his history and record, and would be able to take appropriate action if necessary in the future. [[User:Geoff Plourde|Geoff Plourde]] 23:45, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
I've separated Thekohser's block from PM because they don't appear related. I understand your history with this user, but think that it is best that his actions be left to the community. He is currently an productive member of several other projects, and his skills and employment experience would allow him to be productive here as well. We have already been provided with an outline of what he intends to work on, and we don't have experts in those areas. As with Privatemusings, the community is now aware of his history and record, and would be able to take appropriate action if necessary in the future. [[User:Geoff Plourde|Geoff Plourde]] 23:45, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Never. As far as I am concerned, this user is globally banned.--[[User:Jimbo Wales|Jimbo Wales]] 10:00, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

Revision as of 10:01, 23 March 2010

Wikimedia Ethics/Ethical Breaching Experiments‎

This is a current Wikiversity Community Review. Feel free to contribute. See the policy regarding community reviews for information on formatting and how community reviews work.

Sections moved to subpages

Due to the length of this discussion, some sections have been moved into subpages:

Related links

This community review has attracted wider public comment, including:


A good bit of the discussion above has actually morphed into content rather than policy discussion (i.e., a discussion of whether these experiments are or can be ethical), so if the content is kept, it might be better to rename the page as Wikimedia Ethics/The Ethics of Breaching Experiments and flesh out both sides of the debate incorporating some of what has been said here. There's no reason not to continue along those lines, but eventually the review itself should (at least I hope) bring us to a clarification of the two policy issues, namely, (1) whether or not the discussion of these breaches within our scope, and (2) whether or not Jimmy should use sysop tools here without going through the regular processes (such as posting on WV:RCA, WV:RFD, or indeed WV:CR. --SB_Johnny talk 12:17, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

1: it is within scope
2: he (and also others) should use WV:RCA, WV:RFD, WV:CR, ...
As was mentioned in chat: a mentor could help improve understanding of the ideas of WV. ----Erkan Yilmaz uses the Wikiversity:Chat (try) 12:59, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I guess I should weigh in too: (1) yes, it is within scope, as both the issues it deals with and the experiments themselves have relevance for the study of Wikipedia and its history, and (2) I think it's pretty clear that Jimmy is not at all familiar with Wikiversity policies and procedures, so he should not be using sysop-level tools here (I hope he's becoming more familiar through this process, of course). I think he's somehow restricted from using the tools on Wikipedia as well, but perhaps he can clarify that situation himself. --SB_Johnny talk 13:43, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment Is research about Wikipedia and the other WMF projects within scope? Sure. Is planning to violate guidelines, policies and other standard expectations of behaviour on our sister projects acceptable? Definitely not. I can't accept that this project was intended to simply be about discussing breaching experiments, it was about getting involved in the execution of these experiemnts as I suggested at 16:24, 13 March 2010. So, if the question is if this project acceptable my answer would be certainly not. Can it be made acceptable, by removing elements about planning experiments, then the answer is possibly, and I and others have made attempts to do this. On the second point, about Jimbo, it is preferable that he would engage with the community through the usual processes but we can't demand he do so. For as long as Wikiversity is a project of the WMF and Jimbo is a key figure in that organisation we have to be prepared for him to get involved. We have to remember that the "community" is simply the users who are active at a particular moment. That group of individuals might not be able to agree on something which is actually in the interests of the project and sometimes it will be necessary for the WMF to intervene to push things back on the course they want WV to take. The WMF board are also obviously not just concerned with WV, they have to look after the interests of the other projects. As WMF project, we have to accept the reality of having to walk their line. Those who find that a constraint to the type of research they want to do can create their own wiki free of any interference from anyone. Adambro 14:41, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
    And I think that can pretty much sum up why this is even an issue. Some people think the project does or is intended to encourage breaching experiments on Wikimedia projects. Some people think the project is only researching/documenting breaching experiments that have already happened so people's motives can be understood without the intention of getting involved or doing breaching experiment. What the project's intentions are seems to be the subject of disagreement. I think everyone can agree that Wikiversity is not to be used as an excuse to do breaching experiments on Wikimedia projects. -- darklama  15:22, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I think the solution is pretty clear, work to clarify the project's focus. Even if it may seem to some like the project is being refocused, the outcome should still be the same. -- darklama  15:22, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
    Focusing the definition of WV scope, and improving policies for reviewing projects on the fringe of acceptable scope, would be a fine improvement. SJ+ 14:17, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
    I was talking about the focus of the "Ethical Breaching Experiments" work, not Wikiversity. -- darklama  01:07, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I think that the Adambro comment was well written and I agree with it. I have no real involvement with Wikiversity but I feel it is naturally integral with the other projects. I think Adam was suggesting that users who have gone before and will come after those small few contributing to this page are important and should be considered. I have suggested above in another section that a valid topic which may cover what some editors ere are pushing for would be "How can information become or be used in ways that are harmful?" or to that effect. It would cover your whole topic here, and without the careless suggestion that disregard for ethics amounts to a field trip, could prove to be a point of reference for studying ethics. Studying crime and punishment with special workshops in commiting crime, that's just silly. Focus yourself on the end and use the means to make it real, solid and tight, not to produce yourself as some sort of exhibit. The encyclopaedia is the collection of exhibits. It is not impossible for a haphazard experiment to produce something surprising but experiments without defined goals or educated predictions are playful messing not serious education. That is what you are amounting here. RTG 17:24, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

"improving policies for reviewing projects on the fringe of acceptable scope, would be a fine improvement" (from above) <-- I believe that the Wikiversity community has a sound research policy in place. The problems are created by people who refuse to follow existing policy. Wikiversity's review process for research is community-led, taking the following steps:

  1. People add research to Wikiversity - they are encouraged to flag it appropriately as "research".
  2. If not done already, research is flagged with a template placed at the top of the page.
  3. If anyone reviewing (i.e. simply reading) the page finds something within the research to be questionable on methodological, ethical, epistemological grounds, they can add an appropriate template - or modify the existing one.
  4. The page(s) in question can be flagged for deletion - or a request for comments can be made

The Wikimedia Ethics/Ethical Breaching Experiments page should be reviewed and discussed by the Wikiversity community so that community members can decide if the page was actually outside of the scope of Wikiversity research projects. From the deleted page: "ethical breaching experiment: An experiment which causes no harm in its execution". The purpose of the deleted research project was to explore how ethical breaching experiments "might be designed and executed to best inform policy and practice on WMF projects". It is not clear to me how this research into ethical breaching experiments fails to fall within the scope of Wikiversity research. The matter should be handled according to the usual wiki process: think, discuss, edit. --JWSchmidt 16:17, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Wikimedia Ethics

Why does the resource Wikimedia Ethics/Ethics on Wikipedia and the Internet appear as a subfield of Wikimedia Ethics/Ethical Breaching Experiments? Are there signs that the whole area has been approached with careful thinking? RTG 17:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Not sure what you mean by "subfield", but both pages are part of the same project. You might want to ask on Talk:Wikimedia Ethics, as this really isn't an issue for this discussion. --SB_Johnny talk 17:37, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

WMF view of WV

It is becoming clearer that there is a broader agenda here that is being pursued by the WMF in relation to WV. Jimbo Wales is drawing a line in the sand with regard to speedy deletion of material considered to be trolling as a first step - presumably there are subsequent steps in mind too? Could we please get access to full picture of the WMF board's view of WV - what it likes and what it doesn't? What does the WMF want done differently on WV? Where are the relevant minutes or information? Also note that the questions raised about the WMF relationship with WikiEducator at this stage are also not yet addressed. What's really going on here - can we please get some transparency? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 01:12, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

The only detailed discussion I have seen about what WV should be or become has been here, on this wiki (and recently on this page). There is no particular WMF view of WV - though recently I have heard a number of Wikipedians suggest that trolls are more welcome here than elsewhere. (It's not clear to me that this is true, but some of the discussions about the deleted project are flavored by those thoughts.) I think the current concerns would be resolved by developing ways to
  1. review research projects that would cause trouble for other groups or projects online, or that might hurt individuals through the course of research
  2. review any WV projects that might be veiled attempts to continue an ongoing campaign of wiki politics (forum-shopping a grudge, targetting a user one has disagreed with on another project by using them as a case study for 'research', exploring failure modes of other projects)
  3. focus WV's scope and mission
SJ+ 14:17, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
And to add to this, there is absolutely no connection to anything having anything at all to do with WikiEducator. There is nothing to be transparent about in this regard, because there is nothing to it. I'm only vaguely aware of WikiEducator, to be honest, and certainly unaware of why anyone here should be hostile or worried about them.
My goal here does not extend beyond what I have said, and SJ sums it up well.--Jimbo Wales 14:50, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks very much for these clarifications and your inputs both Sj and Jimbo - I think we're getting a clearer picture of what the WMF wants from WV through this conversation. I think Sj's 3 action suggestions offer positive ways forward. However, I am also a bit skeptical - i.e., the "concern" could be a storm in a tea-cup. By this I mean that my impression is that inappropriate content is a rarity on WV - e.g., besides some Moulton's WV trolling/sockpuppeting contributions some time back and the current breaching experiment about how to content contributed by privatemusings are there other existing materials that you are aware of that are of particular concern? Darklama and I recently organised known research projects into - so that could be one way to take a closer look with regard to original research. Overall, though, original research overall is very rare on WV - almost all of the content is Category:Learning resources. We could probably do with a quality system, but to be honest for WV it is still early days and to date I've largely taken the view that some content (even if low quality) is better than no content. Jtneill

I agree with you, the current needs seem to be breadth of material and good models for learning resources, not high quality across the board. And as far as I can tell the issue of original research that may cause harm is not an endemic problem; but it has been around for a long time and deserves swift attention. SJ+

Maybe the project is now in the processing of maturing to a next stage of tightening the scope. But in my day to day life with fellow academics at a university the real battle for me is encouraging sharing and contributing of educational and research materials. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 02:32, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

That is the greatest battle I encounter as well. Brion and I took part in a discussion of how to improve OER search (for all internet users), where the implication of the invitation was that Wikipedia should be part of that search; but we raised the idea of hosting and categorizing a more comprehensive collection of course materials on Wikiversity. The attendees said that getting educators to find time to share was the difficult first step... and that licensing uncertainties and the awkwardness of simply 'uploading a directory of files' here and walking away would be the prime barrier to using Wikiversity. SJ+ 03:27, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Regarding the first 2 of the 3 points that Sj suggests (to which Jimbo seems to agree are good suggestions) aren't they in fact what I think most people here are arguing for, and what Jimbo did not?
  1. review research projects that would cause trouble for other groups or projects online, or that might hurt individuals through the course of research
  2. review any WV projects that might be veiled attempts to continue an ongoing campaign of wiki politics (forum-shopping a grudge, targetting a user one has disagreed with on another project by using them as a case study for 'research', exploring failure modes of other projects)
I don't think we can know in advance if a project is goingto come into question, but an early suggestion by Sj may be equally helpful.. that research projects must set out a review panel at the outset of the project (or very soon after describing the project). Obviously deleting a page on the basis of its description is not fair (obvious to most people here it now seems), and that instead, a questionable project ought to be challenged through discussion, and asked to form an acceptable review board before proceeding. Acceptable would in this case probably require someone from the sister project being affected... --Leighblackall 06:08, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Statement of Support

I'm commenting here because Jimmy mentioned my name, and I got a few e-mails asking whether I'm supporting him. So I want to publicly say yes, I do.

There's a lot of talk on this page about whether Jimmy has the authority on Wikiversity to do what he did – the deleting and desysopping. With respect, I think that's a red herring. I support Jimmy because I think his main message is correct – and I am becoming a bit worried it may be starting to get lost in this authority conversation.

What Jimmy is saying is that he believes destructive trolling is happening on Wikiversity, and that the community here needs to figure out how to better protect itself and its work. He says that it's important for a community to be able to clearly define its mission, rather than to have a fully laissez-faire attitude. I completely agree with that – if you can't define what you're doing in a way that excludes destructive nonsense, you have a serious problem.

This is the second time that I'm aware of, in which Wikiversity has been hijacked by nonsense and unable to protect itself. That is bad, and Jimmy saying so is, IMO, the right thing to do.

Jimmy's track record speaks for itself, and I trust his judgment on these issues. If I thought he was wrong I would say so, but I don't: I think he's absolutely correct. Sue Gardner 05:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for your input! "Red herring" or not, with respect, we are just not used to this kind of behavior here. Infinite blocks and desysoping a Custodian is not a good way of discussion, IMHO. On the other side I am pretty sure that despite his methods Mr. Wales acted in a good fate to protect integrity of WikiMedia projects (including WV itself). As the first step of a productive discussion we could look at Wikiversity:No shrines for vandals, Wikiversity:Deletion policy and Wikiversity:Original research. Some changes were already made by AFriedman. I mean especially people from WMF, since according to their opinion the policies are not strong enough. Now is the time for some productive discussion and adjustments. Regards, --Gbaor 10:03, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Wikiversity was supposed to be a place that respected academic discourse, academic freedom, and academic values. But now we hear the word "troll" being flung about like never before. I respectfully suggest that this form of argument — really more a scheme for argument blocking than anything else — has no place here. Jon Awbrey 14:18, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I respect and understand Jimmy's desire to protect Wikiversity. I respect anyone with a desire to protect Wikiversity. Everyone has different expectations of what is necessary to protect Wikiversity. I believe a clear and open dialog is the best way to understand each others expectations.
I understand that Jimmy believes that destructive trolling is happening on Wikiversity and that the community needs to figure out how to better protect itself and its work. Wikiversity deals with vandalism all the time, without Jimmy stepping in. As a member of the Wikiversity community I believe Wikiversity does not have a problem dealing with its problems. I believe some people in the community feel as though Wikiversity needs to better protect itself and its work from Jimmy. I believe this due to the specific works that Jimmy is concerned with. Wikipedia defines troll as someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response. I hope Jimmy and others from the board can understand that the Wikiversity community doesn't see how this particular work is inflammatory and how the the primary intent is to provoke other users into an emotional response.
Also are topics that have the potential to inflame and provoke emotional responses outside of Wikiversity's scope now? Does this mean a topic like "Why the holocaust never happened" is outside Wikiversity's scope now? What about cases where the Wikiversity community doesn't agree that a topic is inflammatory or intended to provoke emotional responses? What if community consensus is that projects that could inflame or provoke emotional responses are within project scope? I think the concern here is that Jimmy or someone else from the board may decided to ignore community consensus. This is a concern for both individuals as well as Universities that may be planning to contribute to Wikiversity.
With respect, I believe that most people are concerned that Jimmy is the one hijacking Wikiversity by ignoring Wikiversity process, and that has caused Jimmy to have a poor track record among Wikiversity participants. I believe in addition to wanting some answers about this particular work people want to know will community consensus be respected and can any decision by the Wikiversity community undo any actions by Jimmy? I believe the impression from the community is that the answer is if the community attempts to come to a consensus that does not favor Jimmy's decision Wikiversity will be closed, and that this will happen regardless of how strongly the Wikiversity community may disagree or for what reasons it disagrees. -- darklama  14:29, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I think the problem is that it is being subverted by some as a place to get back at Wikipedia for not giving them what they want. Several very banned Wikipedia users appear to be active on this project promoting exactly the stuff that got them banned from Wikipedia. In some cases we've seen this used as a way of trying to get the same material into Wikipedia as cited content, sometimes we've seen Wikiversity links spammed on WP. If the Wikiversity community decides that it really is trying to become the research arm of Wikipedia Review then I can see why Jimbo would pull the plug. That would be a shame, there's a lot of good content here. I do think that excessive self-reference back to WP should be avoided. JzG 14:41, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Is why people want to use Wikiversity really at all relevant or an issue that Wikiversity should be concerned with? Wikiversity has generally had the attitude that people get a fresh start here. I think this is pretty typical for most projects. Should it be at all surprising that some things are moved here because they are out of scope for Wikipedia? Should Wikiversity reject works for the reason that Wikipedia has rejected it? Books, dictionaries, research are all outside Wikipedia's scope and sometimes people get blocked for not being able to accept this. Why would other projects even consider blocking someone right away when a book is moved to Wikibooks, a dictionary entry is moved to Wiktionary, or original research is moved to Wikiversity? Projects have different rules and scopes. I think there are a lot of banned people from English Wikipedia that have gone on to be considered respected members of other Wikimedia projects.
If you have seen people trying to justify other projects as a reason to do something against Wikipedia's rules, surely Wikipedia is the place where policy needs to change? How about "What is allowed and within the scope of other projects, shall not be used as an excuse or to justify inclusion here" for a Wikipedia policy? Doesn't Wikipedia already consider wiki's unreliable sources and thus not to be used for citing content? If you think excessive self-references back to WP are inappropriate how about making that Wikipedia policy? I hope you can understand that probably the best way to deal with problems people feel steam from Wikiversity is to make rules on Wikipedia that would prevent them from being allowed on Wikipedia. I would encourage Wikipedia to remove Wikiversity citations they feel are inappropriate and block users that have come there from here to cause problems. Projects block users all the time that come from Wikipedia to do harm. Should all the other Wikimedia projects goto Wikipedia expecting Wikipedia to change its policies to project their interests? I doubt Wikipedia would respect or accept change in policy from people who normally don't contribute to Wikipedia. -- darklama  15:04, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I think 'why people want to use Wikiversity' is quite relevant. If people want to use Wikiversity for its intended purpose, genuine collaborative learning and building learning resources, then they can and should be welcomed. But we have to be quite clear here: some people have also tried to use Wikipedia in the way that JzG has identified - a place to "get back at" Wikipedia. That's not ok.
Of course there can and should be content at Wikiversity that doesn't belong at Wikipedia. The two projects are different. But it doesn't follow that any and all content belongs at Wikiversity, that it should be a free-for-all, a haven for cranks, a haven for trolling. Just to cite one example, a banned user from Wikipedia coming here to write a nasty "case study" of users he doesn't like at Wikipedia is not ok. Setting up a manual and workshop on how to hoax Wikipedia is not ok. What else? Explanations of how to bomb government buildings are not ok. Explanations of how to rob banks are not ok.
I can't write the precise policy - that's going to take a lot of serious collaborative effort, but that collaborative effort has to proceed from a basis that this is not to be a wide-open free speech forum any more than Wikipedia or any other Wikimedia projects are. There are ethical boundaries.
And, to answer your question about cross-project cooperation, I can assure you that you're mistaken. If you have a user who is banned here, and that user come to Wikipedia to try to get back at you by (for example) editing the Wikiversity entry in Wikipedia into a hatchet job, or engaging in 'griefing' on a user page, or whatever - I can assure you that the Wikipedia community, which is quite experienced at dealing with these things, would block them post haste.
Finally I am not unreasonable. I am going to firmly insist on some standards - not contrary to the consensus of the community but in support of genuine community. You care about this project - you don't want it to become known as a haven for cranks and trolls. You won't want it to be hijacked by people who - trust me - will waste as many hours of your time in pointless argumentation about nonsense as you are willing to give them. What you want to do is set up policies (some progress has already been made in this discussion) that ensure that Wikiversity realizes it's genuine humanitarian potential without being a place that causes harm to others. It isn't that complicated, really.--Jimbo Wales 16:14, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
OK I can see how my question might of been misunderstood. One person cannot truly know another person's motives. Do you agree? Surely the Wikiversity community should focus on judging the work as objectively as possible? People may initially come to Wikiversity because they were angered by something. I think the Wikiversity community can help people like that find a constructive way to contribute. Wikiversity is about learning and I think its fair to say the community prefers to give people a chance to find a constructive and educational outlet for there frustration. Wikiversity is here to teach and help people learn. This may mean collaboratively helping people learn how to turn frustration into a constructive dialog or teaching experience.
These may seem like dumb questions: What is wrong with Wikiversity being a free-for-all for all kinds of resources? What is wrong with Wikiversity accepting the principles of free speech? These question are not intended to suggest that Wikiversity should be a place for cranks or trolls, or that Wikiversity should be freely used as a web forum. There is this idea within Wikiversity that with a little hard work and some guidance from the community even cranks and trolls can find a constructive way to benefit learning at Wikiversity. Should the Wikiversity community not be allowed to waste its time on this if it so chooses? -- darklama  18:16, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I think it is very often possible to understand someone's motives quite well.
I don't think your question is dumb, but I do think it has an answer. Go and take a look at Encyclopedia Dramatica if you want to see how horrible things can be if you don't set ethical standards of behavior. And think about the impact on serious learners if they show up to find the site dominated by cranks and trolls making up completely weird and useless things, and apparently serious contributors dealing with them all the time. I think that's a pretty sad outcome. I think we would all rather people come away from Wikiversity after each visit saying "Wow, that's an amazing place, there's such high quality stuff there. I was having such a hard time in my statistics class until I read Exploratory factor analysis/Data analysis tutorial/PASW at Wikiversity." This in contrast to saying "Wow, I really trusted that site but then I found out that they have such a wide-open policy of never getting rid of crackpots that their so-called physics articles were completely full of bizarre theories that no one has ever heard of and that don't really make sense."
Quality matters, and quality is something to be proud of.--Jimbo Wales 18:30, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
As I understand it Encyclopedia Dramatica is a humor website. Not sure how a comparison with that would work. Wikiversity does intend to have some ethical and quality standards which are still works-in-progress. I think the intent is to balance having serious standards which must be followed with a supportive and relaxed atmosphere that seeks to help people and projects move in the right direction. If the community feels that people or projects are unwilling to move in the right direction than it may be time to block and delete. Do you agree that the Wikiversity community should decide when that time has come?
Completely understanding crank theories can be hard to do without some cranks. People may even come to understand why their theories are crank theories. Being supportive may allow visitors to come away from Wikiversity saying "Wow, so thats why people believe it is ethical to rob banks, I never understand that before."
Of course quality matters and is something to be proud of. You'll see no disagreement on that from me. However quality isn't something that develops overnight. Do you disapprove of attempts to help cranks turn their crank theories into quality educational works that meet some form of standard? -- darklama  19:09, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
In answer to your first question, I will say that in general, of course, the community should decide when the time has come to block and delete - in accordance with policies that are sensible and mature, and I believe we are heading in that direction in this discussion. My role here is to let you know two things: first, you don't have to put up with banned trolls hijacking your project, and second, across certain lines I'm not going to allow people to use Wikiversity for disruption of other projects.
In answer to the second question, I think it will depend on the context. I very much believe, as is well known, in a project with both serious standards and a relaxed atmosphere. There are many errors or odd ideas that can be tolerated for a time if they are causing no harm and a discussion is moving forward productively to bring the work around to a more suitable state. But at the point where something is actively tweaking people or causing harm, or seems likely to embarrass the project, a more vigorous approach should be used. Over time precedent will emerge, consensus will form, and - of course - arguments will continue forever about the boundary cases.--Jimbo Wales 10:45, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
I believe the Wikiversity community does not put up with genuine trolls or attempts to hijack Wikiversity. Can you understand the Wikiversity community's perspective on privatemusings and his research project? I think the Wikiversity community doesn't consider privsatemusings' research project an attempt to disrupt other projects. I think the Wikiversity community doesn't even consider this work to be a boundary case. I know I certainly do not, those are the farthest thoughts from my mind. When I looked at privatemusings work I came away thinking "Wow, so privatemusings is trying to understand why people feel compelled to disrupt projects". After reading privatemusings' research project did you come away thinking "Wow, privatemusings is either trying to disrupt projects or encourage others to do so"? If so what about it gave you that impression? I really think privatemusings has something of educational worth to contribute to that topic.
I think this is all just an unfortunate misunderstanding. I think the Wikiversity community needs a lot of time to mature and understand on its own what the best practices are. I think on our own the privatemusings research project would of matured, whether a little or a lot is hard to say. I think what works for bigger projects doesn't really work for smaller projects. I think Wikiversity simply isn't ready for the approaches that the bigger projects take. I think these points have been brought up already. Do you agree with these points? -- darklama  14:58, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Detecting and preventing hoaxes in wikis

I created a page based on idea of Jimbo. While the questions about the initial deletions and appropriateness of those projects is not solved with this particular page, it is a way to try to achieve some kind of consensus. While the "WMF side", if I can call you like this, strongly oppose the idea of the deleted pages in question, others from the "WV side" (including myself) feel that there was some kind of value in there. My personal opinion is that while the planning part was very much on the border what I can accept, the documentation of the past events is something that we can learn from. So let's see what we can do with the new page... I hope you have no problems with the title Jimbo? :) ( <- This was a joke trying to lift the heavy atmosphere from this page.) --Gbaor 16:11, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Thank you, I think this is a very positive step forward, and I hope will be a major milestone in rethinking editorial policy to protect Wikiversity from abuses.--Jimbo Wales 16:16, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Quick note from Cormaggio

Wikiversity was set up to do two things: produce learning materials, and support learning/research activities and communities. The second question was always more vaguely defined, but was always the more interesting question for me. The English Wikiversity's problems have stemmed from an uncertainty about what a legitimate learning/research activity would be, and a consequent uncertainty in Wikiversity's scope as a project. Dealing with the question of what someone is free to learn in Wikiversity is the useful course of action to take here; rather than talk of closing the project. Unfortunately, due to imminent submission of my thesis, I have no time to give this for the next two weeks, and I am only partially up to speed on what has been happening of late, but I will get back to the discussion thereafter. However, just to lend my support to proposals above about clarifying Wikiversity's scope, and its policies on original research - to which I'd also add Wikiversity:Scholarly ethics (no relation of the originally offending pages). Was there no specific workspace created on (something like) 'legitimate learning projects' in the aftermath of the Moulton/JWS drama? Cormaggio talk 17:53, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't know the exact best solution, but in many cases, reference to some external standards can be very helpful. For example, I might suggest that a much higher level of scrutiny be given to "producing learning materials, and supporting learning/research activities and communities" when there exists no known formal or informal equivalent commonly taught at schools and universities. This is not directly a restriction of scope in and of itself, but a useful tool for raising sensitivity. "How to rob a bank" isn't normally taught in community colleges or universities, but "Bank security" is taught at least informally (i.e. not in a degree program but professionally taught) for example here.
Other sources of guidance will be the myriad of policies at universities on research involving human subjects, which will have useful and well-tested language barring projects which will disrupt people's work without their consent.
Finally, I think it worthwhile to note that as Wikiversity grows, it will attract its own homegrown trolls, who will create projects not just to annoy Wikipedians, but to annoy and embarrass people here.--Jimbo Wales 18:23, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't think we'll have trolls as long as we keep in mind the basic worth and dignity of human beings. Our processes are perfectly functional, and individuals who choose to disrupt our environment are handled quickly and fairly. Geoff Plourde 07:35, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I like Jimmy's advocacy of a "tool for raising sensitivity". An example would be WP's development of its BLP policy in the wake of related problems - a policy which does not proclude such articles being written, but holds them to particularly intense standards. I don't think Wikiversity has "perfectly functional" processes, since I think it is still not clear what a legitimate learning/research project on Wikiversity is ("legitimate" meaning authorised by project scope and subject to validation by the community). Cormaggio talk 07:51, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
It would be morelike the whole Wikiversity issue to set research and scope issues. So after something is prepared in here, it should move in some form to Wikiversity Beta for further discussion.--Juan de Vojníkov 05:39, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
That's a good point, Juan. Ideally, the multilingual community would be involved from an early stage - i.e. now. :-) Cormaggio talk 07:51, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I am unclear about the relation of Wikiversity Beta original research guidelines and Wikiversity original research guidelines - e.g., Beta covers ethics, but English Wikiversity doesn't: Wikiversity:Original research - Wikiversity:Research guidelines/En. Are these separate policies with separate jurisdictions or should en.wikiversity also be following betawikiversity/en policies? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 10:26, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
The idea was always to develop multilingual guidelines on research - this was actually one of the conditions of Wikiversity's original setting up. Each language can develop its own variations of course - but it is probably necessary to set some major principles in place centrally. For example, what of NPOV? What of ethics? Without having looked at these two links in detail, relying more on memory, I think Beta's policies are more advanced, since that's where most of the work took place (thanks mainly to Xenon and JWSchmidt). Cormaggio talk 23:18, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Having looked again at Beta's research guidelines, I think they're pretty good and should mostly suffice. A few tweaks may be necessary, and a few old edits are still pending; there is also some useful discussion on talk page. The main question, I think, is around the review boad - how it would be set up and managed, or even whether it is a viable idea. So, some good work from which to build, applying recent experience. Cormaggio talk 07:31, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Comment from an occasional contributor

I have not seen the original (now deleted) pages. I have no idea how appropriate the research project was or was not. And I won't be able to weigh in on that now; I'd be trying to analyse something in complete reliance on the not so disinterested interpretations of others. But I can weigh in on one thing.

The problem with intervention from "on high", however well intentioned, is that it undermines the very community cohesion and self-determination that the project needs to have in order to defend itself against trolls, vandals, inappropriate research, etc.

Wikiversity is still in its infancy, in comparison with Wikipedia, and justifiably so, as it is a much newer project. When it matures, it will be amazing in ways we cannot begin to imagine now, just as the crazy success of Wikipedia today was unimaginable to its proposers back in 2001. Let's not talk any more about closures, even as a threat lurking in the background. Let's figure out how to give the community the tools it needs to get from here to that crazy success. Thanks for reading, -- Απεργός 05:56, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

I absolutely agree with your diagnosis. The problem is not that people here are not well-intentioned, etc., but that the project is still in its infancy. I don't agree, clearly, with the prognosis. A well-timed and well-discussed intervention from "on high" can be extremely useful in assisting the best members of the community feel strong enough to stand up to trolling. This is not a democracy. Every vote need not count equally, and so if you have a bunch of banned users showing up from Wikipedia and engaging in pure sophistry to hijack the project for their own ends, you can toss them out. This is how the Wikipedia community formed and became strong - we have always said that the work (building a high quality free encyclopedia for everyone) is what defines the community, not the other way around. So at various times we were able to set policy based on that notion - the end goal - rather than endlessly hoping to appease every random person who popped by with an obnoxious purpose.--Jimbo Wales 10:50, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Also an only occasional contributor (as an educator, I probably should spend more time here) - while I'm not a Wiccan, the principle of the Wiccan Rede (summed up, "do what you will if it harms none") seems the obvious corollary to recent events. If applied in a more specified fashion as a policy or rule I think it could work to weed out rubbish growing on the edges without unduly limiting or restricting those here working in good faith with what they want to do. Orderinchaos 11:24, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
"The work defines the community, not the other way round." <-- Wait a minute. The Wikiversity Community itself, as an active learning community, is a principal goal of the project. This is one of the defining characteristics of Wikiversity. Wikiversity is a particularly plural society and we don't always agree on what is "good", and we don't always try to. We don't care if there are multiple pages on the same topic representing different point of views. I think it is rather an over-statement and over-reaction to describe a few pages of dubious content as "hijacking the project". In the end, Wikiversity is fundamentally different from Wikipedia and it is not clear that we should grow in the same turbulent way as the online encyclopedia that everybody can edit. Peace. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 22:32, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Comment from Collect

WV has established deletion procedures (RfD). Clearly JW has the ability to establish a top-down precedent (as he did) with the concomitant drama, though he might well have been advised to simply follow the extant process, with little drama ensuing at all. SBJ clearly was of the opinion that where a process exists, it ought well be followed. I thus doubt the wisdom of punishing SBJ for doing what was clearly the process in existence at the time on WV.

The issue at the heart, moreover, is whether WV is "a textbook producer" or is a "research institution." If the former, that is fine. If the latter, then (like all research institutions) it must face the fact that some of the research is going to be unpopular with someone. I find the bit about "trolls" therefore to be a distasteful tangent entirely, and not applicable to any of the contributors I have seen here. Collect 14:34, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

WV is for "class materials" and "research". Wikibooks is the textbook producers. The distinction between "class materials" and "textbooks" seems to be blurred for some people. I agree research will be unpopular with someone. "trolls" is a poor way to establish and understand why research is unpopular with someone. If every unpopular research was dismissed as "trolling", research would likely never get anywhere in the academic world. New research is usually unpopular to begin with. -- darklama  15:12, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
I fear you misapprehended the point being made. Kindly note the tenor of the comments <g>. Collect 18:49, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Unethical research

Research is unethical, amongst other criteria, if it harms, or has the potential to harm, the subjects of that research. Breaching experiments on Wikipedia are unethical if it is disruptive to the thousands of editors working there. Many commentators above seem to have failed to grasp this simple principle, or at least have given the "freedom" of Wikiversity editors priority over this. As a regular contributor to Wikipedia I am furious that this project has allowed planning of these kind of attacks on your pages. You do not have our permission to carry out breaching experiments on Wikipedia and doing so harms the reputation of Wikipedia and all the people who have put so much effort into creating it. I dare say I could break your windows if I tried hard enough, they are probably not sufficiently secure - but it would still be wrong to bring the fragility of your windows to your attention in this way. It is completely incorrect that openly discussing how to carry out such attacks improves security. Far from it, one act of vandalism is inevitably followed by more once the trail has been blazed. In my view, Jimmy Wales would be entirely correct to have Wikiversity closed down if it fails come out against this behaviour. SpinningSpark 18:09, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Dear friend! 1. If you are "furious" than maybe calm down and write a non-furious comment afterward. 2. The trail has been blazed already. See yourself. And from the deleted page it seems that there are some other fake BLPs sitting on the site right now. 3. Have you read/seen the pages in question? --Gbaor 18:23, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Spinningspark appears perfectly calm to me. Gbaor, on the other hand, seems to be dictating what Spinningspark can and cannot justifiably feel. Righteous anger has a place. If someone wrongs me, I am justifiably angry. I see no evidence that Spinningspark is in any way allowing his/her very justifiable anger to affect him/her unduly; if someone burglarizes and vandalizes my home, I may well be angry - and there is absolutely no reason to be condescending and order someone to put their outrage aside. Outrage is indicated and called for when injury is willfully done. To suggest otherwise is to advise being a willing victim. You might want to back off and drop the condescending tone of superiority. The "pages in question" have zero, I repeat zero, bearing on the issue - just as which houses were burglarized, whether low rent trailers or mansions, would not have any bearing on whether the burglary was wrong. KillerChihuahua 18:32, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Please accept my apology for the "the condescending tone of superiority" to Spinningspark and anyone else who might get offended by it. Your words making sense. It seems they are choosing wise people for WP admins after all (edit: just realized that this might be interpreted other way that I meant it. So just to say, I meant it as a compliment.). I could say I just wanted to be friendly. Well it is true. On the other hand this was not the first "rush in" for this page. Although I must admit this one was more polite... This is how I handle the things... To the point: "the pages in question" are the topics what we are discussing here + some other minor issues, such as if the reaction of mr. Wales (the blocks and desysop) were appropriate reaction. The latter part was called "red herring" above, so the pages and the topic/content remains. --Gbaor 18:49, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
What people seem not to understand is that people here think that injury was not willfully done nor was it supported by Wikiversity. Wikiversity is not responsible for the actions of others. This is like accusing Wikipedia of willfully helping someone to kill another person because they read the w:Gun article. -- darklama  18:51, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
How can anyone think that a deliberately fake article with accusations of Nazism, adultery and murder cannot be intentional injury? Of course it is, and detailed instructions on how to do it again is equally bad. SpinningSpark 19:08, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
That is hardly what I am saying. I am saying that Wikiversity is not responsible for people creating deliberately fake articles. Block the people responsible, delete the fake articles, and be done with it. -- darklama  19:14, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
The Mike Handel article remains deleted which is what the link you provided seems to be discussing. If you know of any other such pages on Wikipedia, please provide me with links so that they can also be deleted and the perpetrators blocked. I don't know what pages you are referring to: I have read the deleted Mike Handel article on Wikipedia, the articles in Wikipedia Signpost, the On Wikipedia page you linked to and nearly all of this page. I do not know how much you think I need to read before I am allowed to give an informed opinion on Wikiversity (please give links) but I do know that on Wikipedia I only need to know the article was entirely fake before coming to the decision to delete the article and having everyone involved with it chucked off the project. SpinningSpark 18:57, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
There are (as far as I know) 2 mirrors of the deleted content. An early version (link blocked by the spam filter) and an another. All the info we have. There might be more info in the history, but since the pages are deleted, I just don't know. Link from a blog comment with the first few words of the page: here, full page here --Gbaor 14:14, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
It is perfectly clear to me that the page went way beyond an academic discussion of breaching experiments into a "how to" description encouraging others to follow. Especially inappropriate is the list of proud boastings of successes in getting fake articles onto Wikipedia. SpinningSpark 18:18, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Jimmy Wales on Disruptive Technology

“Next up the panel of Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Niklas Zennström (Skype, KaZaA, Joost), and Mitchell Baker (Mozilla) ponder the subject of "disruption" in relation to breaking old business models. When asked how he felt about busting the old encyclopedia model, Jimmy Wales responded, “I’m a bad man” …” — Technorati, 27 Jan 2010.

Cited by Jon Awbrey 18:44, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Jimbo's statement illustrates the fact that anything we do "disturbs the universe" (Freeman Dyson) to some degree, and it's equally trite but true to say that "life is an experiment" for all of us. Jimbo thinks he's a "bad man" in the nicest possible way, I'm guessing, and Wikipedians think that it's just tough luck for anyone who doesn't like their experiments with disruptive social-technical forms.

So firing those kinds of words back and forth does very little to settle the question of when a perturbance has crossed a line too far or when a rupture has ruptured something we'd like to preserve. Life, the experiment, is just not that simple.

Which brings us back to all the years and centuries and millennia that civilizations around and before us have devoted to saying what it means to be civil. Jon Awbrey 20:44, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Research vs. Experiments

Are research and experiments both equally viable for the university? Are they of equal value to the university? As these two words have been bandied about a bit here as (from my view) equal in importance, and the whole debate has interested me, can it be said that one thing is more important than another? Why? I can think of countless research routes but few experiments. RTG 23:06, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

I think research and experiments are both viable for Wikiversity and are likely of equal value to Wikiversity. Saying one is more important than the other is probably not the way to go. Experiments are important for testing the validity of hypotheses or assumptions, and for learning answers to some questions. Which is heaver apples or oranges? You could learn the answer by dropping an apple and an orange, record which falls first, and repeat the experiment several times. You could also use this same experiment to test the validity of someone's theory that apples are usually heaver than oranges. If you were to do this you would be doing both an experiment and research. Research does not always involve experimentation though.
I think you are misunderstanding the issue of Research vs Experiment that is debated on this page though. Did you take my apples and oranges, did you suggest that my apples and oranges be taken, or did you simply observe someone take my apples and oranges and wonder why? The Research vs Experiment bit is centered around was the work research or was the work an experiment? -- darklama  23:50, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

On the issue of policies

I actually see a broader problem here than mere scope. Wikiversity's lack of hard rules might seem good in practice, but it leaves the door open to disasters and detracts us from important resources. We need to set a firm scope as to what's just not allowed. Some good content might get caught up in the heat of things, but the imperfect order of Wikipedia is far to be preferred to this outright mayhem. If we are to become a usable resource, we must sort things out in a more efficient manner.--Ipatrol 00:29, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Wikiversity is not wikipedia. If it is your opinion that the current situation is a mayhem, please take a look at the list of participants in the discussion. Wikiversity is set out to be a place for exploration. And it is to attract a set of participants different from, you know, wikipedia. Wikiversiters are here to explore and discuss knowledge, ideas and theories rather than to collect hard encyclopaedic facts. There are certain things that are obviously not allowed - e.g. vandalism, personal attacks. I don't know what you mean by "the imperfect order of wikipedia". The scope of Wikiversity is outlined in the project proposal. It defeats Wikiversity's own mission to shape it into what it is not. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 15:31, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
"this outright mayhem" (above) <-- I agree that out-of-process page deletion and blocking of Wikiversity participants is "mayhem". We need policies that prevent the deletion of pages without community discussion. We need policies that prevent the blocking of Wikiversity editors who have never violated any Wikiversity policy. We need policies that require community discussion before blocks are imposed. We need policies that exclude from participation at Wikiversity disruptive invaders from outside the project who believe that they are above the fundamental rules of a wiki-based learning community: think, discuss, edit. --JWSchmidt 15:52, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I think your view of policies is flawed. You say "We need policies that prevent the deletion of pages without community discussion". So should we never speedy delete anything which is obviously not constructive such as attack pages? You say "We need policies that prevent the blocking of Wikiversity editors who have never violated any Wikiversity policy" but that seems to fail to recognise that no policy we can ever write can cover every eventuality. Just because there isn't a policy saying something is wrong it shouldn't mean a custodian can't block someone if what they are doing isn't in the interests of the project. Also, you say "We need policies that require community discussion before blocks are imposed". So do you wish to custodians to feel they have their hands tied waiting for others to offer their opinions before acting to stop disruption to the project? Adambro 17:06, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I think you are exaggerating the urgency of the matter. Vandals are blocked. No question about it. They produce nonsense like "aq34 azdlf gadg adgggfk". On the other hand, controversial users like Private Musings doing controversial projects are rare. If you have already let the matter sit for a considerable amount of time, I would expect that any drastic action should happen after the community has discussed it. Adam, you seem to have some ideas of what "isn't in the interests of the project". Great. The problem is that many others, like I, don't. And I don't think any wikiversiters would have the same ideas. That's why we need to discuss before we act. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 19:21, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
your view of policies is flawed <-- Splitting the hairs: "should we never speedy delete anything" <-- speedy deletion is fine for obvious vandalism. "attack pages" <-- I'd like to hear what you mean by "attack pages". In the past, there was a time when the Wikiversity community had some of its pages called "attack pages" by Wikipedians. There was community discussion and the community decided if those pages should be deleted or not... as I recall, all of the pages were kept, which probably upset the Wikipedians. I suspect that "attack pages" has a special meaning for Wikipedians in the same way that "troll" does. "Just because there isn't a policy saying something is wrong it shouldn't mean a custodian can't block someone if what they are doing isn't in the interests of the project" <-- this is where Wikipedia and Wikiversity differ. Unless "what they are doing" is obvious vandalism then there should be discussion and page editing before page deletion. In most cases, any problem with a page can be fixed by editing rather than deleting. Deletion is too often a crutch for people who can't be bothered to edit. If there is a problem and it isn't obvious vandalism then there should be discussion before blocking. At the very least people should be told if they are violating a policy and are in danger of being blocked. "acting to stop disruption to the project" <-- If it is a case of obvious vandalism then I trust custodians to act without discussion. For anything else, discussion should come before blocking. I certainly do not trust Wikipedians to decide what constitutes "disruption" of Wikiversity. People who reach for the ban hammer before discussion and community consensus that a policy was violated have done vast damage to Wikiversity. --JWSchmidt 22:40, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Contorversy of these two points is going round the bush at this review:- Comments from a sister project are paramount in that which concerns them, ad finitum, no discussion thereof to be entered into. If you do not want to encourage the sister sites input, you shouldn't be contributing here because the goal is to make the sisters all happy families not ostracise them, no matter how big the chip on your shoulder is. Discussion contrary to those points are of no value to this review and is forming more basis for the comments of some than anything else. I am of the view, and have been of the view for some time, that editors who dispute by labelling a large group of people unworthy based on the actions of a few, should have their entire commentary removed until such time as they are prepared to be more specific about who they are accusing and of what so that we can be clear about the whys. I call it "Accusing persons unknown" because the editors of Wikipedia who have made opinions here are very few and yet when it is brought up that they are unreasonable it appears that the whole site, more persons unknown than known, is unworthy and that involvement with Wikipedia is to be considered an instant lowering of value. That is unfair defamation of character and it is actually illegal in most parts of the world. Stop talking so much about Wikipedia - you're not making sense with it. RTG 20:50, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Does it concern wikiversité (the french wikiversity)


There was a message on wikiversité chat asking to read and contribute, so here I am.

Does it concern wikiversité (and others non-english wikiversity) ? Because :

  • as far as I can see, wikieducator which represents a conflict of interest for some members of the board have only an english version ;
  • as far as I know, wikiversité (can't tell for others languages) have no troll problem.

I would be very disappointed to see all wikiversity disappear. So, my question is, should our peaceful and constructive french wikiversity be scared to be dropped by the WMF board ? Should we prepare for a fork, wasting time and energy that we won't be able to put in pedagogics works ?

If yes, the centralized part of WM projects – the WMF – is maybe a problem for our community.

This message wasted the time I planned to use for a course on data base systems. :(

By the way, our community reached 1000 articles this week (with [http://fr.wikiversity.org/wiki/Coniques,_courbes_param%C3%A9tr%C3%A9es "Coniques, courbes paramétrées", an IT/math stub)!

Don't remove the wikiversité please. Psychoslave 12:30, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Bonjour! I wanted to answer this earlier, just forgot :) The idea of closure came up just briefly at the beginning, and now seems that no such thing will happen. At least this is what I understood from Jimbo's and SJ's clarification. As far as I know this problem is enWV specific, but anyone is welcomed to contribute to the discussion. ...and congratulation for the milestone (or kilometer-stone in this case)! --Gbaor 16:48, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Way out?

Hi! Last evening I put together some points that (I think) summarize the opinions and wishes of nearly everybody here. Sort of "golden middle road". Here they are:

  • Wikiversity won't facilitate any breaching experiments on Wikipeadia or any other website. Although the initial project was meant in order to make less penetrable (citation from the deleted page: "...whether or not such things [experiments] are possible, and if so, how they might be designed and executed to best inform policy and practice on WMF projects."), but the topic itself is very controversial. As an unwanted outcome, it may attract (bad fate) people who do not want to do research, but simply vandalize Wikimedia projects under the umbrella of "research".
  • Wikiversity policies will be reviewed and approved by voting from by both sides (WMF+WP and WV) that they will be appropriately stict to stop any people with harmful intentions, but allow full academic freedom (as the crucial part of the research process)
  • The review method will be set up on WV to assess any ongoing and future research projects. This review method will be approved by both sides.
  • A few interested WP admins could enter the Probationary custodianship process and eventually become WV custodians. This should serve both as a strengthened link between the two projects and hopefully prevent incidents like this in the future
  • Privatemusings and Thekohser will be unblocked, SB Johnny will be re-sysoped
  • Mr. Wales won't use his Founder rights on WV any more without previous communication with the community
  • WV will host any type of research (primary and secondary) fulfilling the criteria which will be approved by both sides as mentioned earlier
  • Research of WP will be permitted including its criticism in order to highlight a weakness of WP, which can be eliminated as a final result of the research project

What do you think? --Gbaor 12:41, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

On the first point, a stronger statement is needed that unauthorized (by the owner of the target institution) breaching experiments are unethical per se, not just that Wikiversity will not sanction them because they are merely controversial. On the action of the Founder, normal process should involve discussion, but when action is required to prevent harm, especially ot another project, then it is justified that immediate action is taken and discussion is afterwards. I would expect this of any WMF Steward, it does not just apply to Wales. You cannot demand that Wales gives up this power in regard to Wikiversity, your project is not above anyone else. Undoing Wales' actions would be wheel-warring if there is no discussion with him first, the very reason SB Johnny was de-syssoped in the first place. On the re-sysopping of SB Johnny, judging by the discussion on his talk page, this would not seem to be a problem as Wales has already offered to do this once SB Johnny has agreed to desist wheel-warring with Wales. SpinningSpark 12:59, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
"...unethical per se, not just that Wikiversity will not sanction them..." - The proposal means: drop them now and drop them in the future as well. This is in fact the WV side of the "bargain" These experiments are a valid topic, but "unethical", "controversial", "extremely evil", "for the greater good",... however you want to call them. --Gbaor 18:10, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I want to say that consuming other people's resources without permission (and a lot of resource has been consumed on Wikipedia to deal with this) is unethical and that Wikiversity will not sanction pages detailing how to go about doing this. SpinningSpark 17:41, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
about SB as I said lower: resysop.--Gbaor 14:01, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
A further point is that any experiments on Wikipedia and like projects is experimenting on unpaid editors. This is especially unethical since one would be using up their time and resources which they believe they are devoting to something entirely different. This is akin to theft. SpinningSpark 13:10, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
The proposal did not mention experiments at all. It says: "research on WP" which is a different category. More like a "case study". --Gbaor 14:03, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
The proposal opens with "Wikiversity will drop the idea of breaching experiments". How is that not mentioning experiments. SpinningSpark 17:41, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Sorry there is a misunderstanding here I believe. I meant that we won't do any experiments of this "penetration testing" nature (first point), but we will do research of "case study" nature (last point). So the first point is basically in agreement what you want to achieve. (Note: This was a "homegrown" proposal from my side. I did not asked anybody in advance, but would be happy if you could express your views. Thanks to those who did already.)--Gbaor 18:10, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
If there is misunderstanding, that is good cause for rewriting your proposal. If you agree that unauthorized breaching experiments are unethical (even when done in good faith) and similarly for any other experiment that consumes the target's resources, then there is no reason you cannot say so in the proposal. The deleted material gave no sign whatsoever that the authors considered this activity unethical. Quite the contrary, it gloried in past successes of this and encouraged more of the same. SpinningSpark 18:36, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Updated it to make it perfectly clear. The aim of the proposal was to state cold facts, rather than go into judgment whether it was ethical or not. After all the differences between our opinions led to this lengthy discussion. --Gbaor 18:48, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Taking a position could potential undermine a person's intention to be a neutral and objective observer. A failure to state a position does not mean an author shares the beliefs of the people that are the subject of the author's researched. I think the subject of the research in this case were the people doing unauthorized breaching experiments. Who was the subject of the research may be another area that is disagreed on. I believe people have grown tired of discussing who's interpretation is right or wrong though and it is probably time to bring this review to a close. -- darklama  19:05, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
(ec) That goes nowhere near far enough in my opinion. To begin with, the line still contains a lot of rationalisation for the subject - that it was done with good intentions ("...to best inform policy and practice..."). I am far from accepting that the page did have good intentions; my reading of it is just the opposite, many of the authors seemed to be delighting in damage to Wikipedia. Secondly, saying that the reason for not supporting this activity is that it attracts bad faith participants is not strong enough. This leaves open the door to possible future experiments that could be designed to effectively exclude bad faith participants. My view is that all unauthorized activities that consume resources are unethical. There is no reason a matter of ethics cannot be stated in the proposal if we agree that it is correct. The title of this page is "Wikimedia Ethics..." after all. Nothing less than outright banning of this activity without conditions would be acceptable to me. I also believe the phrasing could be made wider than just breaching experiments. Any activity that causes damage is not acceptable, since it requires resource to put right and damages the reputation of the target - particularly important for Wikipedia. SpinningSpark 19:16, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
@Dark Lama. I find it hard to accept that the subject of the research was merely into people who conduct breaching experiments. Several contributors to the page seem to be admitting to creating hoax articles. You want to close the debate without reaching a decision? You are opening the door to further action outside your project if you go down that road. SpinningSpark 19:31, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
What do you mean by "unauthorized activities"? This is a space for exploration and with infinite possibilities how can we get authorization for everything we do? You have made it very clear that we all have different opinions on the values of controversial activities, and that's why we need to discuss before we act. Who is to judge whether your evaluation (or Darklama's) of the said project should be more accurate? Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 19:29, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I mean unauthorized by the authority controlling the target institution. In the case of a bank, for instance, this would be perfectly clear. A security test authorized and initiated by the bank's board of directors is perfectly ethical, useful even. An attempt to breach the bank's security by private individuals without the bank's knowledge is unethical, likely illegal and possibly dangerous to boot. In the case of Wikipedia, things are a little more difficult as there is no clear central authority from which to seek permission. However, Wikipedia's policies are quite clear: contributions which add to the content or otherwise improve the encyclopedia are always welcome and no permission is required; contributions which damage the encyclopedia are not welcome and will never be approved. Breaching experiments without doubt fall into the latter category as they are adding untrue content to the encyclopedia which requires resource to clean up and damages the public reputation of Wikipedia. Experiments which involve only observation and do not change anything on Wikipedia are, of course, acceptable. An example of research that actually did add content to Wikipedia but is still acceptable was mentioned on the deleted page. Although it was described there as a breaching experiment, it actually is not. It is adding new content in scope, and therefore counts as improving the encyclopedia, even though it was intended as a test of the "speedy deleters". SpinningSpark 19:49, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
PS, there is a page on Wikipedia for notifying School and University Projects. SpinningSpark 20:55, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
The work had only one author. I think it is reasonably safe to say that the people that did the hoaxes were not page authors or contributors. I think the author was attempting to quote what the hoaxers had to say about their hoaxes when interviewed by the author or what the author found them saying elsewhere. I think the questions the author asked or where the author obtained the quotations used would of been nice to include for completeness and might of made the fact that the hoaxers were not involved in the development of the research on Wikiversity clearer. -- darklama  20:34, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
The page certainly does not read like a study of hoaxers, it reads like an advertisement for them. SpinningSpark 20:55, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
"The page certainly does not read like a study" <-- I think the fundamental problem is the same that faced Galileo. Galileo spoke the truth of what he saw and he was condemned by authorities who saw the truth as unwelcome. Wikiversity makes use of an amazing invention: it is called the "edit" button. If there is a possible problem with a Wikiversity page then Wikiversity participants click "edit" and discuss the matter. --JWSchmidt 21:09, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
That could be true. I think there wasn't enough context to understand whether the author was trying to make it read like an advert or not. I think the Wikiversity community would of seen reading like an advertisement as a reason to improve the work. Deletion on Wikiversity would have been unlikely to have been suggested unless people felt there was no chance of it improving. I assume this is usually true for Wikipedia as well since it has {{advert}}. -- darklama  21:14, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
@JWSchmidt. Don't be condescending. I have 18,000 edits on Wikipedia so I know perfectly well were the edit button is. However, if this had been on Wikipedia I would be reaching for the delete button rather than the edit button. The page served no useful purpose. The terms of reference it gives itself are "On this page we discuss, brainstorm, and possibly execute ethical breaching experiments - in particular whether or not such things are possible, and if so, how they might be designed and executed to best inform policy and practice on WMF projects." Yet all of the examples it gives of breaches are harmful hoaxes according to Wikipedia policies and nowhere on the page is there any discussion of how this is helping the WMF. SpinningSpark 21:23, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
And to compare me to the witch-hunting unscientific accusers of Galileo is a vile insult. SpinningSpark 21:25, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Nobody is denying that there are hoaxers on Wikipedia or covering it up as you seem to imply by the Galileo analogy. Helpful research into how to combat hoaxing is welcome. The deleted page was not doing this, it was, rather, glorifying hoaxing. If there is even a single sentence on that page that is of any use in actually combatting this behaviour please point it out and I will copy and paste it to Wikipedia myself. SpinningSpark 21:30, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Some of you keep suggesting that the possibilities for Wikiversity are "infinite". That suggestion cannot have a high value. You cannot focus your eye on the sky because it is infinitely larger than you. All you can do is look at one star, a cloud, something small. The whole sky can get mapped but you don't just assimilate the whole thing naturally because you can't even see the whole thing let alone focus on it. What is beyond this infinity? I asked the Wikipedia Reference desk recently about infinite space and time. They said that when infinity comes into the equation they have encoutered mistakes or the subject is not fully understood yet and produced a lot of scientific references to back that up. RTG 21:48, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I have not noticed anyone suggesting that possibilities are infinite in this discussion. Even if someone has said that, so what? Are you suggesting that Wikipedia has defined a specific limit count on how many article it will allow? People don't need to focus on infinity for infinity to be possible. One person can look at one part of the sky, a second person a different part of the sky, a third person yet another part of the sky, and so on until the entire sky is being looked at by someone. -- darklama  22:21, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
@ Dark lama. The question the author seems to have asked is "I'm up for running a breach or two over the next few months, if we can work out a sensible way of doing it", hardly an uninvolved interviewer documenting the opinions and methods of miscreants. Reading the entire thread one comes away with the impression of someone actively colluding with and encouraging the hoaxers. SpinningSpark 22:08, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
The keywords for me are "if we can work out a sensible way of doing it." To me that suggests the author was trying to encourage discussion on what people think is sensible. Assuming the author was being serious rather than joking. I don't care to speculate on what the author was thinking or what the context of the author's comments were in without understanding the whole story from the author. -- darklama  22:21, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Whatever the motivation, the author was clearly trying to organise breaches of Wikipedia which contradicts your presentation of him as someone merely observing the actions of others. This also "I think I'll copy the 'how to avoid checkuser' info over too" is way out of line. There is no justification for promulgating this kind of material. SpinningSpark 22:42, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
"the author was clearly trying to organise breaches" The project clearly stated that the goal was to explore if it was possible to find an experiment that would "causes no harm in its execution". Why is an exploration of the possible existence of such an experiment "way out of line"? "clearly trying to organise breaches" <-- Please list the breaches that were being organized. --JWSchmidt 00:48, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
The opening statement of the thread I linked, as I quoted above, says "I'm up for running a breach or two" so however you wriggle, the intention was to actually cause breaches, not just to discuss them. Any hoax is harmful to Wikipedia, the argument for it not doing harm seems to revolve around choosing minor topics which would not attract controversy, Privatemusings stated "I'm hoping to be far too dull to warrant attention". At best, this is misguided. Causing additional workload for the volunteers at Wikipedia is not acceptable behaviour, nor is damaging our reputation by inserting false articles. SpinningSpark 01:09, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I think we must conclude that Privatemusings did find his ethical breaching experiment: it was the Ethical Breaching Experiments project itself. His project did not harm, but it brought out in the open the censors who delete and block before knowing what they are doing, before they bother to discuss and edit. Privatemusings created a great learning project for illustrating a fundamental problem in the WMF. --JWSchmidt 05:52, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Of course it is doing harm. It is encouraging hoax articles on Wikipedia. There is no other WMF project which would have tolerated this for a second. The fundamental problem here is not the actions of Wales, but that WV has failed to take action itself against something that would not be given house room anywhere else. If WV had been doing that there would have been no reason for Wales to take action. After the event, there is no recognition that WV has a problem with giving space to trolls and all the discussion from WV participants seems to be centered around rolling back Wales' actions so they can be put through a due process which you do not actually seem to have. Protection of WMF projects trumps internal processes in any case. You should not be putting other projects at risk by undoing Wales' action simply because your toes have been trodden on by an outsider. SpinningSpark 09:35, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Couple things: first, I don't think it was encouraging as much as documenting, and I don't think the people who want to do these hoaxes need any encouragement. Second, this page is the due process.
I'd also like to point out (if I haven't before) that the "sock puppeting page" is probably more helpful for inexperienced checkusers than it would be for an inexperienced sock-puppeteer. The technical info would only be useful to someone who could figure that out themselves in a few short minutes, and the common sense stuff is just common sense. People try to spoof all the time, but the CUs know how to pick it up. IOW, if anyone followed those instructions and ran up against an experienced CU, they wouldn't stand a chance. --SB_Johnny talk 10:07, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
This has been characterised several times on this page as observation rather than proactive hoaxing. This is mistaken, as I noted above more than once, Privatemusings wrote ""I'm up for running a breach or two" which is difficult to interpret as other than an intention to insert hoaxes. Such language is rather unacademic and indicates a disruptive purpose, especially as Privatemusings must know he is communicating with trolls when he was discussing this project. I have not seen your sockpuppeting page, but if it is anything like the one under discussion here, you should give it a very careful look. SpinningSpark 10:22, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
If there were problems with any of the pages created by Privatemusings (which I doubt), those problems could have been fixed by using the "edit" button. The only harm done in association with Ethical Breaching Experiments came about because of out-of-process page deletions, the inappropriate block of Privatemusings and a subsequent emergency termination of a custodianship that was performed when there was no emergency. --JWSchmidt 15:25, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I have two basic problems with proposal:
  • I think Wikipedians deciding Wikiversity policy and process would set a bad precedent and is bad for the Wikiversity community as undue/undesired influence. Wikipedians can help develop and take part in any discussion concerning policy development at Wikiversity without being part of the final decision. Whether a proposal should become an official Wikiversity policy, guideline, or process should continue to be left up to the Wikiversity community. I think if any Wikipedians are to become Wikiversity custodians they need to go through the mentor process which means finding Wikipedians that custodian mentors can trust, and be trusted by the Wikiversity community when their mentoring period is up.
  • I think a more neutral, specific, and appropriate suggestion is that Wikiversity will develop policies to address best ethical practices. I think this should address unethical concerns by the broader Wikimedia community without needlessly dragging this discussion out over disagreements.
-- darklama  13:23, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I did not meant the Wikipedians will develop the policies, but merely that people will be notified, so they can express their opinion, similarly as we can go to WP any time and add our views on WP policies. Since mianly people from WMF "complained" about weak policies, they would have a chance to say what they want (it they want).
"if any Wikipedians are to become Wikiversity custodians they need to go through the mentor process which means finding Wikipedians that custodian mentors can trust, and be trusted by the Wikiversity community when their mentoring period is up." - I meant exactly this. There are many WP admins or trusted users, so I thought some of them might be interested --Gbaor 13:50, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

(ec)Addressing one minor point ... discussion properly should have involved the participation of Privatemusings. Infinite blocks do not appear conducive to discussion. It is also to be noted that JW has, in fact, been limited in his powers by some projects. Had he simply noted in his deletion that it was due to "overriding legal concerns" or the like, and posted such on an RfD, I doubt that this drama would have ensued. I wot not your background other than as stated on WP, but I trust the adage about "act in haste" is found in the British grammar schools <g>. And SBJ should not have to admit to a sin which he clearly did not view as having occurred. "Please, Sir" should not be found on WV. Collect 13:29, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. SB_Johnny should not have to admit to a sin which he clearly did not view as having occurred. I also believe this to be true of Wikiversity itself. Wikiversity should not have to admit to a sin which it clearly did not view as having occurred. Wikiversity should be able to write a policy on best ethical practices without having to agree that something unethical happened. -- darklama  13:33, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Not admitting anything. His actions wanted to facilitate discussion. Should be reinstalled. Full stop. --Gbaor 13:52, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

I disagree vehemently with a lot of what you've proposed. This is not and should never be Wikipedia, or an extension of Wikipedia. Just because Wikipedians don't like our actions doesn't mean that they should gain a chokehold on our internal affairs. I will be proposing a separate set of changes, because most of these are unacceptable and only serve to stunt the growth of this project as an independent entity. Geoff Plourde 22:09, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Resolution Proposal

The following points should resolve the situation here while preserving project autonomy.

  • Wikiversity will develop policies to address best ethical practices.
  • A review method will be developed to assess research projects and ensure that they adhere to rules, policy, and ethical guidelines.
  • Privatemusings and Thekohser will be unblocked. Should Jimbo seek to have them reblocked, he may initiate a community discussion and seek a ban per WV policy.
  • SB Johnny will be re-sysopped Jimbo has resysopped Johnny today, so this is a moot point. Geoff Plourde 00:28, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
  • A discussion on Jimbo's authority shall be held to determine how much power Jimbo should have. If it is the will of the community, Jimbo will be desysopped or voluntarily abdicate authority over this project and agree to use existing process.
  • WV will host any type of research (primary and secondary) that doesn't violate policy.
  • Research on Wikipedia will be permitted as it has merit and can provide the Wikipedian community with feedback on effectiveness. In cases where research could negatively impact Wikipedia, researchers will be required to utilize the WP RfC process and consult with WP officials in the specific areas being studied. RfCs may be required as part of the review mechanism when studying other projects.

Geoff Plourde 22:37, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

To tell the truth, I don't see too much difference in the core issues between our proposals. So I am essentially fine with it. --Gbaor 17:43, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
The requirement to start an RfC before launching a new project is a great idea and should weed out any harmful project in the future. I appreciate that it is sometimes difficult for the researcher to foresee the damage that could be inflicted and consulting the target project first will certainly guard against this.
It is for you to decide the action, if any, against any of the parties involved in this incident, but for what it's worth, it seems to me that the action of SB Johnny was entirely in good faith. I do not, however, have the same certainty with regard to the motivations of Privatemusings whose actions in this are highly dubious. I do not think you should wait for Wales to initiate a community discussion, or anyone else outside WV. You should start one yourself now if you truly think that you should run your own internal affairs.
SpinningSpark 01:32, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I understand your concerns about the motivations of Private Musings. My statement about Jimbo initiating the conversation is prompted by his decisions to block the users. It is designed to indicate that the unblock is not determinative of their suitability as editors here, but rather a recognition of the need to use existing process. Any user could initiate the discussion. Geoff Plourde 02:09, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I am sure Jimbo can speak for himself, but my understanding is that his justification for taking unilateral action is that WV had not initiated action internally itself. My point was that Jimbo, like myself, is standing outside WV seeing something disagreeable coming out of it. WV should police itself, not rely on outsiders to initiate an internal process, which we outsiders really don't want to get involved with. SpinningSpark 02:22, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
WV is not WP and not everyone here edits or understands WP. If someone doesn't complain, we may not know that there is a problem. We do police ourselves when we are aware what's going on. Geoff Plourde 02:28, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but that does not apply in this case, you have now been made more than aware that the actions of this editor are a problem to Wikipedia. Where are the police actions? SpinningSpark 06:53, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Spinningspark, I would love to initiate the police actions simply to put this behind us, but the present situation makes that impossible. We would need to hold a community discussion to block/ban Privatemusings, which PM is entitled to participate in and refute the allegations against him. Since Jimbo has decided that PM remains blocked, end of discussion, we can't hold a fair hearing. Once Jimbo agrees to unblock Private musings, we would be able to initiate necessary proceedings. Geoff Plourde 19:12, 21 March 2010 (UTC) 18:57, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't see why the fact of Privatemusings block should stop any proceedings, at least from a technical point of view. This happens all the time on Wikipedia at ANI. I certainly have no wish to tread on anyones toes and am not saying you should do it like WP, but just so you understand how it works. When an ANI thread is opened, any named parties in the complaint are notified on their talk page. A blocked editor can read the ANI thread but not contribute to it. On WP (and I assume it is the same on WV) blocked editors are still permitted to write on their own talk page, primarily for the purpose of appealing the block. It is possible for the blocked editor to write a response to the ANI thread on their talk page, and if they do so, it is the usual practice for an administrator to copy it over to the ANI discussion. SpinningSpark 17:24, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Being clear about accusations against people and allowing them to defend themselves against the accusations is a fundamental principle of justice. I know that justice is not relevant to Wikipedia, but I expect it at Wikiversity. --JWSchmidt 18:15, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Right. Unlike wikipedia, wikiversity is as much about building the community as building the contents. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 18:21, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Of course Wikipedia believes in building the community, it is a founding principle. "Allowing people to defend themselves against accusations is a fundamental principle of justice", the suggestion I made was a way in which PM could be allowed to defend himself, you may well not want to take up my suggestion, up to you, but please do not insinuate that I am not interested in justice, you have no grounds for such an accusation. Why is there such an anti-Wikipedia undertone to this discussion? I find it baffling. SpinningSpark 19:20, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

I think suggesting that someone start a RFC before doing an experiment on Wikipedia is fine, but as a policy any requirement should be more general like requiring people get informed consent before doing anything that involves contact or interaction with a person, group, or organization. -- darklama  04:21, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Good idea, thats the point of the RfC. Lack of informed consent makes an experiment unethical Geoff Plourde 04:39, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
  • The existing Wikiversity methods are fine (see Wikiversity's review process for research). The only problem is that outsiders do not follow the Wikiversity rules. If you have a problem with a Wikiversity page then you click "edit" and fix/discuss the problem. Wikiversity does not need more censorship by people from outside the project who do not read/understand the Wikiversity pages they delete, outsiders who do not talk to- or understand the Wikiversity participants that they block. If everyone will just use the "edit" button then all will be fine. The Ethical Breaching Experiments project was not 9/11 and the Wikiversity community is not helped by outsiders shouting "the sky is falling" and pushing on us the wiki equivalent of the Patriot Act. --JWSchmidt 15:08, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I like most of this. My authority here does not derive from the community and isn't something I'm interested in exercising in the future in any case. I recommend that this portion of things simply be removed - in that it is an argument and discussion that we simply don't need to have, and which will make it much more difficult on all sides if a situation arises in the distant future. Don't make policy which isn't needed. If you find me in your hair in 3 months time, then by all means, do something about it at that time.
  • I am in discussions with Privatemusings by email, discussions which may result in him being unblocked soon enough.--Jimbo Wales 16:03, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I doubt Privatemusings is going to recreate the pages in question, so can you please unblock him? Geoff Plourde 00:36, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Wales, you got me confused. Are you saying in the same breath that you are not going to "exercise" your authority in the future but then you may be back in 3 months? Anyway, you cannot have it both ways. If you want to influnece wikiversity editorial policies beyond the legal responsibility with the wikimedia foundation as a host of the project, please remain here as a community member and contribute as an editor. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 17:09, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Oh, let me explain. Some may have a concern that it would be my intention to come here and rule on policy on a regular basis, and attempt to establish myself as a dictator of this project. I am saying: don't worry about that, and if I do that, I think you'll be quite sensible to go to extreme measures to stop me from doing it. I intend that we will continue our productive discussion about boundaries of trolling, and ways of creating standards that we can all be proud of for Wikiversity.
I heard from a French Wikiversity contributor by email that their policies would have led to the immediate deletion of this nonsense from the start. I don't know exactly what their policy is, but it would be interesting to see if we can learn something from them.--Jimbo Wales 17:55, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I see. I take your reply to mean if we do what you consider appropriate then you wouldn't need to be back. If we do something you don't like then you will come back like you did. My concern then is whether you will seek to communicate with the community before you pull out your tools. And, ironically, Wales, if you do stick around more and discuss your views on the policies with us, we may consider your views seriously as a respected community member. Hillgentleman | //\\ |Talk 19:04, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
If your authority doesn't derive from the community, from where does it derive? You are a board member, that gives you a vote in board meetings, it doesn't give you authority to act unilaterally. --Tango 17:43, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
That's a very interesting question, deeply philosophical. If you figure it out, I'd be interested to know. :) In this particular case, I have the support of the Foundation to assist in the formulation of new policies and to enforce - in the short term - as I have done. Beyond that, I see no reason for us to speculate or test - as I've no intention of doing anything radical or unusual (and indeed, other than finishing up with this episode and helping facilitate a healthy dialog about why the toleration of trolling is bad, and how to productively end it, I have no intention of doing anything at all). In general, I am a strong advocate of "interpretive restraint" - it may be fun to decide grand questions, but it's seldom all that useful, and it can set up situations in which unforeseen needs arise. For example, if we decided that "Jimbo has absolute authority in Wikiversity" (an absurd position which I do not support) then we'd run the risk of me doing something completely bonkers and being bound by a principle that makes no sense. If we decided that "never again" can Jimbo overturn anything here, we run the risk of this small community being overwhelmed with votes from general spillover from Wikipedia. The middle ground is better, where we all agree that gentleness, deliberation, and common sense are among the overarching principles, and we refrain from holding referenda on questions that have no immediate import.--Jimbo Wales 17:52, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Authority must derive from someone (or ones) with the power to enforce it. In our case, I can see two groups with significant power on Wikimedia projects. There is the Wikimedia Foundation (since they have the off switch) and the community (since either mass revolt or mass desertion would destroy the projects). So, your authority must come from one or the other. As you say, in this specific instance you do have some delegated authority from the Foundation, but that isn't the case in general. Trying to act authoritatively without the backing of somebody with actual power runs the risk of someone calling your bluff, and that would be messy. I agree with the general principle of not being overly prescriptive with our policies, but I think that if anyone ignores rules and it turns out the community doesn't back them, then they need to take a step back and let the community decide what to do. We should be prescriptive about any exceptions to that general rule (basically, Office Actions should be the only exception, and they should be done for legal reasons only). I wonder if you realise that the actions you took have had the opposite of your intended effect. You have drawn attention away from the very real problem that you wanted to solve (for the record, I agree that the pages in question should be deleted) and towards yourself. This would almost certainly have gone better had you explained your concerns and tried to persuade the local community to your view (since your view makes a lot of sense and the local community are generally an intelligent group, I expect you would have succeeded). Your last sentence is very strange - what you did was neither gentle nor deliberation. It was the exact opposite... --Tango 18:12, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
"the pages in question should be deleted" <-- I've seen no evidence to support this claim. Given the amount of time that has past since the pages were deleted, I think it is safe to conclude that there will never be any such evidence provided. I am at the point of believing that there is no such evidence and that is the reason why there was never any discussion of the deletion before the deletions took place. Such out-of-process deletions are disruptive to the Wikiversity community. Lightening bolts from god that smite Wikiversity participants are a sickening horror for this learning community to endure. Why is it so difficult for some people to find the "edit" button? Oh, right, they don't have to. They're special. Editing and discussing is for the little people. That is the lesson to be learned from Privatemusings' little learning project. With such a first time success for this experiment, we must anticipate a bright future for a long series of ethical breaching experiments. --JWSchmidt 19:39, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't see how there could be evidence either way. It is a matter of opinion. --Tango 20:32, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
There is very clear evidence in this thread at Wikipedia Review that Privatemusings had the intention of using this project to insert hoax articles into Wikipedia. This is damaging to Wikipedia and is grounds for speedy deletion on all other WMF projects that I contribute to. @JWSchmidt, speaking as a Wikipedia editor, I do not want to come over to you project and edit your pages. I do not necessarily understand your project and ground rules and you most likely would not appreciate outsiders messing with your pages. It is perfectly reasonable for Wikipedia to expect Wikiversity to put a stop to activities that damage our project. The fact that outside intervention was necessary is borne out by this discussion in which, for the most part, WV editors continue to defend the deleted material with no recognition of how damaging this is to our project. SpinningSpark 17:10, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
"Privatemusings had the intention" <-- What Privatemusings wrote on the discussion forum: "there's no fundamental problem with any sort of breaching experiment, as long as it's ethical (so probably involves things like doing no harm etc" The deleted Wikiversity project page specified: "Ethical Breaching Experiment: An experiment which causes no harm in its execution". The deleted Wikiversity project was an exploration of the idea that a harmless experiment could be found. By definition, the project was aiming to not harm Wikipedia. So how does deleting the project "put a stop to activities that damage our project"? --JWSchmidt 18:06, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
He has written that the project intends to do no harm, but that does not mean that the project will do no harm. Whether or not Privatemusings intended harm, the fact is he will cause harm to Wikipedia with hoax articles. Some of the discussion seems to be relying on the article subject being fictitious (so there is no possibility of harm to a real person) but this is completely ignoring the harm done to the reputation of Wikipedia. For instance, in reply to Gomi's suggestion to "Create articles on non-existent people and companies. This will be difficult, but if carefully checked to be non-existent, the harm done here is minimal" john Limey responds "This one is the most interesting and the least likely to be deemed unethical". Privatemusings then copies over Limey's example of "I have two lovely fake biographies on Wikipedia that have been there over 6 months" to the WV page as an example of a breaching experiment without any other comment. Nowhere does PM say that he thinks this example is unethical, and given his stated aim of adding hoax content, I can only presume that he does believe that this is ethical. At any rate, he has provided no criticism of Limey. SpinningSpark 18:49, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
JWSchmidt, :- Experiments in breaching ethics, so long as they don't breach any ethics... haven't you directly given that double negative several times now? Someone has now three or four times at least. I can answer your other question... if you can cure one ail, does it depend on your curing them all or is the opposite true, i.e. no you certainly wont cure them all if you wont even cure one first. Is this the land of politics and standpoints or guidance and learning? Apparantly the rate of damage to Wikipedia would have been very minimal with the existance of this project. What then is the rate of damage to Wikiversity without it, or is that lesser important? What is a good projection, some good examples, of areas affected by the exclusion of this project? Where exactly is the education going to be notably stunted except in the area of hoaxing a free-to-edit website? ~ R.T.G 21:41, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

(out) "Breaching experiments" is a "term of art." If they are done within ethical confines they are "Ethical 'Breaching experiments'" and not "'Ethical Breaching' experiments." [1] We ought to beware of any "eats, shoots, and leaves" interpretations. Collect 22:46, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Terminology is not always maintained for its suitability. ~ R.T.G 08:07, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

Research Policy Review

Currently the policy governing research is the Research guidelines on beta Wikiversity. This policy was implemented per Board instructions several years ago and should be sufficient in coverage. Darklama is working on addressing questions researchers may have about doing research on Wikiversity and ways in which research process can be implemented. Please post things below that you would like to see addressed. Geoff Plourde 23:45, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Private musings

Jimbo's block of Privatemusings has made it difficult for the community to review his conduct and consider whether action is merited. I think we have all taken notice of the contentious nature of the research Privatemusings was engaged in. He seems to be a reasonable chap, and I strongly doubt that after the severity of the response he will restart the project. Blocks aren't supposed to be punitive, but rather preventative. We don't need to prevent Privatemusings from restarting the project, so please unblock him. If he tries this again, its sufficiently documented enough that the community could take appropriate actions in the future. Geoff Plourde 23:45, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Granted.--Jimbo Wales 10:00, 23 March 2010 (UTC)


I've separated Thekohser's block from PM because they don't appear related. I understand your history with this user, but think that it is best that his actions be left to the community. He is currently an productive member of several other projects, and his skills and employment experience would allow him to be productive here as well. We have already been provided with an outline of what he intends to work on, and we don't have experts in those areas. As with Privatemusings, the community is now aware of his history and record, and would be able to take appropriate action if necessary in the future. Geoff Plourde 23:45, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Never. As far as I am concerned, this user is globally banned.--Jimbo Wales 10:00, 23 March 2010 (UTC)