Talk:Wikimedia Ethics/Case Studies/Case 1/Archive 1

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Case studies[edit source]

Should we do case studies on specific management anomalies arising in connection with the initiation and development of this learning project?

I'm thinking of several now...

  1. The events on the English Wikipedia that surfaced enough evidence of corruption that an ethical analysis and review became necessary.
  2. The events on Meta-Wiki that drove WAS and myself to migrate our disrupted conversations here.
  3. The recent events on Commons which surfaced further evidence of systemic and endemic corruption.
  4. The very recent events here on Wikiversity which call into question the perplexing practices of as-yet-unknown parties in the WMF Office who are apparently exercising editorial control on educational resources referenced here.

Moulton 01:13, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Please start with studying simple[1] cases in depth. Analysing past events from a distance is a good start. From the perspective of wikiversity, events which are too recent and too intertwined with this learning project itself may cause strong feedback effects which make their study difficult, especially for beginners. Hillgentleman|Talk 03:06, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

I'd be willing to go back to some of the oldest stories in the literature, some dating back to the dawn of civilization itself, to analyze the ethical issues embedded in those ancient stories. Joseph Campbell did this with a wide array of cultural stories.

One of the stories that currently intrigues me is the well-known Parsifal Story (also known as the Fisher King). This story has turned up in four or five unrelated contexts in the past week or two.

Moulton 03:18, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

It sounds interesting. But let us understand the basics first. We can study its applications later. Hillgentleman|Talk 04:55, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Case studies.....[edit source]

I plan on detailing some of my experiences with 'Case 3' - but wondered if anyone present might volunteer to have a very 'plain jane' synopsis of avatar ---> name connections detailed? /me looks at Moulton!? whaddya reckon? cheers, Privatemusings 05:43, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Do you mean cases where a prominent Wikipedian published on-wiki concordances associating my WP avatar name with other identifying information? I have cases that will curl your hair. It's not exactly a simple short story. Would you like to do it in audio/text interview? When it comes to telling personal anecdotes, I tend to painfully illustrate why the Bardic Arts are my short suit. —Moulton 06:22, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
heh - yeah... I'm asking if you'd mind me writing up a very short version of what I'm aware of ocurring... we can then discuss further, edit mercilessly, append with audio etc.! with your permission, I'll post some details I'm aware of.... Privatemusings 06:29, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
By all means. I can supply a lot of details, piecemeal, but weaving it into a coherent story that a first-time reader or listener can apprehend and comprehend requires someone of your narrative talent. —Moulton 15:54, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Please use real, actual concrete cases, not imagined ones[edit source]

If we are to study cases in wikimedia, please use real, actual, concrete cases; and simple ones are easier to understand for beginners. Names can be changed to protect privacy, but if you use examples that you imagined yourself, the educational (or scientific?) value would decrease. Hillgentleman|Talk 06:19, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

feedback on my 'Case 3' would be great.... in particular if you think it would be wise to supply all the relevant links / salient diffs (I think you can distill it to 4 or 5 to be honest, but I'm a little unsure of the norms, and best practice here...) I'm thinking that once I get my own story into shape / sensitively written up etc. I can write about some of the other situations I'm aware of... (/me also pokes Moulton for express permission to write up a paragraph? :-) ) cheers, Privatemusings 07:04, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
What we need is a workshop where we each craft our individual horror stories and then let the others mark it up so as to make our vignettes and memoirs as poignant and succinct as possible. We can probably use Skype to narrate the stories orally to see how they shape up. Once I've recited a story to an interested listener a few times, I have a better idea how to write it up. Oral story-telling activates a different part of my brain than solitary writing, and I find I can produce a better account if I can tell a story both orally and in writing. —Moulton 15:59, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Moulton, While it is regrettable that wikipedia is disrupted by disputes, the learning resource is most useful when we try to keep to the facts and let everybody make up his own judgement. The use of such words as "horror stories" would stir up emotions in some people, and can easily be counter-productive. --Hillgentleman|Talk 05:28, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
In my case, it's not an exaggeration. It's an understatement. I haven't begun to tell the story of my annus horribilis. —Moulton 05:31, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

I now have two new real cases, genuine ethical conundrums that have me stymied. I cannot post the actual cases, as they occurred in E-Mail (and to some extent in Skype and IRC side-channels). The only way I can post them is to adopt the same technique as Cary Bass on Foundation-l, and post them as "scenarios" that resemble the real cases, but without disclosing the identity of the principals. Is that OK with you, Hillgentleman? —Moulton 21:07, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

There's a problem in that if you use genuine cases, and name names and let the chips fall where they may, you're likely to get accused of harassment, personal attacks, privacy invasion, and other bad stuff that can be avoided by sticking to hypothetical cases without any real names. Unfortunately, in that case you may be accused of creating straw men crafted to suit whatever point you're making, and not consistent with anything in the real world. So what do you do? Dtobias 21:46, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Yah, it's an infinite regress of meta-conundrums all the way down. Mebbe the thing to do is to write another elliptical song parody. I'm open for suggestions of song titles to work from. Moulton 21:50, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Moulton, As I have said, the material should be real, but names can be changed to protect privacy. The name change would make collaboration more difficult, and NPOV much harder to achieve, but it is better than nothing. However, Moulton, these problems could have been lessened if you start with older, simpler and clearer cases. Hillgentleman|Talk 04:22, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
It's easy enough to change the names, but insiders will instantly know who the principals are (just as they did in the case of Bastique's "scenarios" on Foundation-l). I now have a third "scenario" (also from Foundation-l) that involves someone whose name on that list means nothing to me. When I post the case, others will no doubt recognize whose behavior I am describing. —Moulton 04:58, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Wikimedia Ethics/Case Studies#Moulton[edit source]

Moulton, Please start your narrative from the beginning. In particuluar, a beginner does not know what "IDCab" is. --Hillgentleman|Talk 00:26, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

I used to spell it out in longhand, WikiProject on Intelligent Design. But then some participants quietly took their name off the official Project page, so I switched to WikiClique on ID, which someone else shortened to IDCab. IDCab is an ad hoc ochlocracy that nominally corresponds to the allied editors who WP:OWN the articles branded by the WikiProject on Intelligent Design. —Moulton 05:15, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia has many groups or "cabals", each with varying and overlapping memberships based on interests, points of view, and friendships. They communicate though varying means: email (example: Jayjg sent a "back me up on this Israel article" message to the Wikipedia or Foundation (I forget which) public mail list by accident instead of some other email list), Wikipedia projects (such as IDcab = Intelligent Design Wikipedia project, members mostly (all?) against it), off site coordination sites (such as the Wikia "anti-harassment" site made famous by Durova), Internet Relay Chat (made famous by Giano's efforts and Arbcom's broken promises), or other means (example: London pubs). The groups differ greatly. In my experience there are two groups that have stood out from the rest for their brazen warring. SlimVirgin and friends and IDcab. Both currently have Arbcom cases pending. Both have years of abusive behavior. Now notice the tricky part: Both also have years of wonderful constructive behavior creating great content. So what to do? There is no consensus. so the cases stay pending. and abusive and wonderful behavior by both groups continues. So Moulton claims the solution is something called "ethics". I like learning new things so I talk to him about it at his Wikipedia talk page. which gets protected from editing. so we talk about ethics at Meta. Which gets protected from edits. Someone mentions WikiVersity, it looks like the right place to take the talk. So here we are. WAS 4.250 09:53, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps you could simply refer to them as "members of Wikiproject Intelligent Design"? Unless they actually refer to themselves as the "ID cabal", the term seems to be used in a derogatory sense. Better yet, maybe just have a subpage about this and/or other groups discussed, so it doesn't have to be re-explained on every page it appears on. In general, please maintain NPOV when laying out the histories. --SB_Johnny talk 11:28, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
While the name comes from that project, the members are actually those individuals that continually vote as a block and is not identical with that membership list. The name is more of a shorthand for "wikipedians who usually show up on evolution or creationist articles and talk pages to back each other up with votes, intimidation, hypocracy, blocking, uncivil comments and/or false accusations when maintaining in articles the point of view that creationism is religion and not science and evolution is a fact" (I agree with that point of view - I believe it is fully backed up by the best sources; it is their methods, not that goal that is the problem). For example, Filll has claimed that incivility should be allowed and not punished. The point is to deliberately drive away, ban/block, and claim anyone with similar opinions is a sockpuppet who then is also blocked/banned. The strategy is to make it a bannable offense to believe certain things and thus control article content. Creating content based on consensus means anyone can get their friends together and edit any article and make it say what they want it to say. These methods are being used because good people and not so good people both find the combination of anon editors and rule by consensus on divisive claims to not be working. We have a problem. The system works good enough on most articles most the time. When people try to game the system, we get this mess. For examples of the accusations above, Moulton's case, which he is trying to document here, if he is allowed to. Also see the arbcom case on FM. WAS 4.250 11:53, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
WAS is correct. The IDCab is not strictly synonymous with the official list of participants of the WikiProject on Intelligent Design. Some IDCab members have taken their name off the official list; others have never put their name on. —Moulton 05:19, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

I define it thus: "ID Cabal or IDCab is a name applied by advocates of Intelligent Design to advocates of the majority scientific rationalist view". The label does have a use, though, in that it instantly identifies the person as relying primarily on ad-hominem and also as pushing a fringe POV. 13:21, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Guy, the IDCab are not advocates of Intelligent Design. They are proprietors of the collection of articles on Wikipedia that encompass the controversial topic of Intelligent Design, a notion which they strongly deprecate in no uncertain terms. The IDCab claim to be defending science against a fringe fundamentalist theology, but they do not adopt or employ the protocols of the scientific method to defend and promote science; rather they adopt and employ frankly corrupt political practices to quash the promotion of the notion of Intelligent Design (as proposed by the Discovery Institute and other advocates of that challenge to Darwinian models). —Moulton 15:15, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
Moulton, you completely misread what he said. "ID Cabal or IDCab is a name applied by advocates of Intelligent Design" NOT ""ID Cabal or IDCab is a name applied for advocates of Intelligent Design " See the difference? WAS 4.250 16:09, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
No. You and I are not advocates of ID. Neither are the members of IDCab. I don't actually know of any advocates of ID on Wikipedia. I only know that IDCab tries to paint sincere scientists (who are not advocates of ID) as if they were. Authentic scientists do not go around misrepresenting the views of other scientists and then persecuting them based on such sham portrayals. —Moulton 23:02, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
You just used the term; so you are saying you are instantly identified as "relying primarily on ad-hominem and also as pushing a fringe POV"? WAS 4.250 13:31, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Three new "scenarios"[edit source]

I now have three new cases to post, but since they all occurred in E-Mail, I will have to post them as "scenarios" without identifying the principals. I'll sketch them here, briefly, before posting them on the Case Studies project page.

The first involved a request to remove references to my blog. In the course of exchanging messages, my correspondent became aware that I was relying on guidance of counsel, which he considered a violation of confidentiality. When I pointed out that everyone has a right to counsel, he became upset and responded in a hostile, abusive, and threatening manner. My view is that recipients of hostile, threatening, and abusive messages are under no obligation to keep them a secret, even if there had been a confidentiality agreement in place. (In this case, the correspondent had initially requested one, but I had not acceded to it. Rather I just made him a counter-offer to contact me at will.)

The second involved an E-Mail exchange regarding my "Petition for Redress of Grievance" that I had sent to ArbCom, with copies to others who have been involved in the case. The issue was whether or not I should disclose who else I had copied the message to, and how they should be identified. In the course of puzzling that out, one correspondent took a hard line, and demanded I see it his way, demanded that I declare that I had been in error and apologize to him, or he would discontinue further communication and withdraw further support of my cause. My ethical conundrum was devising best practices for responding to such a distastefully coercive maneuver.

The third involved an E-Mail exchange which I initiated with a poster on Foundation-l who had repeated false assertions regarding my status on the English Wikipedia ("blocked" vs. "banned") and "outting" someone on my blog. I wrote him to resolve his lack of clarity on those points, providing him with citations and evidence to clear up any confusion. I asked him to post an update, to dispel any further misconceptions. He pointedly declined to do so. The question to be studied is the ethics of failing to correct an erratic remark of that nature, once one is apprised that they have inadvertently repeated a falsehood.

Since all three of these took place in E-Mail, would people prefer I post a summary of what's in the E-Mail, or would they prefer I post the text, suitably redacted to conceal the identity of the author in each case? Should I ask a third party to write the summary (or perform the redactions).

Moulton 05:35, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

I suggest that you broaden the issue. (As an aside, I now understand for the first time Greg's hate of somebody.) The behavior you describe (taken more broadly) has been attributed to President Clinton and his wife among others. It appears to be behavior that is successful in gaining both power and enemies. The first step is to get a qualified person to characterize that behavior in terms that have been dealt with by professionals. You have academic contacts. Can you take these emails to such a person and come back with appropriate psychological terminology for that kind of behavior? I would like to google such terms with "management" and "ethics" and see what I can learn about ethical management as related to manipulative psychologies. WAS 4.250 15:42, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Hate is a mask for dread. The puzzle is to identify the abstract dread which the "hated" person arouses. I'm not sure if it's constructive or productive to map those singular anecdotes into psychological terms or DSM IV diagnoses. It might be better to analogize them to storybook archetypes. —Moulton 17:30, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Hate and dread are different emotions and manifest themselves in motivating different behavior, which is why we use two different words. But often some specific thing will cause dread in one person and hate in another person. In particular, if someone is trying to hurt you and fleeing is the best option then fear is the correct motivating emotion while if attacking them is the option most likely to produce maximum benefit then hate is a useful motivating emotion and if thinking about it is best then dread can be a useful motivating emotion. The point of emotion is to motivate and coordinate behavior from various subsystems in the body and brain. Scientific analysis using established psychological terminology is most appropriate for accurate analysis while using storybook archetypes is most appropriate for clear communication to the masses. WAS 4.250 18:08, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
A mask (Greek hypocrites) is a false face, hiding the true face beneath. The countenance of hate masks the underlying countenance of fear. —Moulton 19:09, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
I am reading w:Asperger syndrome which says "stereotyped and restricted patterns of behavior". I had not quite believed you were "half-aspergers". I was thinking more along the lines of you acting out a strategy. I see more clearly now. WAS 4.250 15:53, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually my official DSM-IV clinical diagnosis is 309.28 Adjustment Reaction with Mixed Emotional Features. Basically it means "Gets upset when upsetting things happen." —Moulton 17:30, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
People with differing DSM-IV clinical diagnosis get upset at different things and manifest that upsetment in differing ways, hence its usefulness. WAS 4.250 18:08, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Things that tend to annoy me enough to get me upset about them are intentional acts of annihilation, scapegoating and similar systemic injustice. How about you? —Moulton 19:03, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Actions I believe are pointless annoy me. Threats to my well being upset me. Actions meant to harm me anger me. WAS 4.250 19:31, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Usually if something is seemingly pointless, I assume there is a hidden reason for it. Although I suppose sometimes the reason is nothing more than lulz. Actions meant to harm me perplex me. —Moulton 02:05, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

If the action actually serves someone's interests then it is not pointless. I am referring to behavior that would not occur if the person was adequately informed. For example, I believe that mismanagement of things (including nations) is mostly a matter of ignorance rather than malfeasance. I think that if the world's worst dictators had been better informed then they would have been less deadly. In short, I think most of what passes for evil would have been avoided by better understanding. WAS 4.250 16:22, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

{{huh}}[edit source]

A lot of the things referred to in the narrative are unfamiliar to me and probably to many of the other Wikiversity readers as well. I made the "huh?" template (the "?" got lost somehow in the title) to add to the text after these terms and phrases. Hopefully this will help us serve as "proofreaders", to help get the narrative developed :-). --SB_Johnny talk 12:00, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

That's fine. We should have a Glossary of Terms section someplace in the project pages. WAS probably can figure out where that fits in the page structure. —Moulton 12:17, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, you could even have subpages for each term, reference, etc. (it's a wiki, no problem making lots of pages). Onee advantage to that is that you could shortcut the subpage linking, which is similar to how article linking works on Wikipedia:
  • Link to a subpage from a main page: [[/link/]]
  • Link to a subpage from another subpage: [[../link/]]

One thing about that though: it's a lot easier to make links if you're using a "flat" structure, meaning that you only have subpages on one level (Main page/Subpage), rather than a "deep" structure (Main page/Subbage/Sub-subpage). See b:WB:LMOS#Basic_structure for more details on how subpages work. --SB_Johnny talk 13:49, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Biased and confusing presentation[edit source]

The presentation of case studies in this page is biased and confusing. It focuses on Moulton's problems with various editors who got him banned from Wikipedia. It does not present "cases," as much as "LOOK AT HOW MOULTON WAS WRONGED!" Please review Ethical Management of the English Language Wikipedia/Case Studies alt for how this page should be written and consider replacing this page entirelty with that one. Salmon of Doubt 21:13, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Confusion is the first step toward Enlightenment. —Moulton 23:24, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

In addition, these case studies call out individual actors as acting badly. This is always a mistake. Things are complicated in the real world, and to generalize in the way this page does is antithetical to maintaining a high level of scholarly ethics. If we must present cases, we should label what happened, not present why something happened. For instance - the main page states that the IDCab engages in "intimidation and hypocracy." This is not a statement of fact, as much as one of opinion (beyond the fact that just using the language IDCab is basically trolling for emotional response). If this page is really supposed to help "manage the English Language Encyclopedia," it cannot engage in counterproductive behavior that will distance the managers. Salmon of Doubt 21:18, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Would you like me to provide the forensic evidence and analytical reasoning to support the claims that you are skeptical of? —Moulton 23:24, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
If you could do so clearly and in English, that would certainly be better than just asserting conclusions. Just because you think you're right doesn't mean you're right. Salmon of Doubt 00:07, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
The evidence and analysis to support the allegation of hypocrisy is here.
In the ongoing evidentiary phase of RfAr/C68-FM-SV, DanTobias has presented evidence and analysis to support his thesis that "FeloniousMonk has promoted a toxic, divisive mindset." Dan identifies half a dozen recurring themes, including 1) tribalism and favoritism, 2) bullying, intimidation, and coercion, 3) hypocrisy and double standards, 4) character assassination, and 5) faux science.
Moulton 00:51, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

The fate in the wisdom of the crowd[edit source]

One thing I notice from reading these (this case study and the alternative(s)) is a "wisdom of the crowd" versus "scientific inquiry" at the heart. It's not really a "us" versus "them" type paradigm. It is a misconception of a what appears to be a plurality and what appears to be a singularity. On Wikipedia, anything of a scientific nature/process tends to be spotted to the singularity while the a few numbers in votes tend to be spotted to a plurality. Even though the scientific basis may have come from greater numbers, being only presented by one person one Wikipedia makes that presenter seem like a single vote among the greater crowd. There is no weight to such votes -- only numbers. The consensus process of Wikipedia tends to bend the current state of affairs to the numbers game tangent to Wikipedia, and, of course, that tangent is no where near the billions of people of the world that know the straight truth. Further, some view science as a religion rather than a perception, so there is conflict when two religions can't agree to exist even if that means to allow each other views merely to be acknowledged. Those who treat science as a perception tend to fall prey to the religionistas -- rather it be theory or theology.. they both start with the theo- root word. Does fate rest in the hands of Ontology's crowd? Dzonatas 00:41, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

The history of science is replete with examples of new scientific theories overthrowing long-standing popular misconceptions. Perhaps the example that is best known to the lay public is the story of Galileo, who had the temerity to promote the Copernican model of the Solar System, much to the chagrin of Pope Urban, who tossed Galileo into the hoosegow for daring to contradict the teachings of the Church. The story of Charles Darwin is a little murkier, since his opposition came from more scattered quarters than Galileo's. The Scopes Trial is probably the best known persecution of a proponent of Darwin's Theory. An older example, albeit less about science and more about philosophy and didactic education, is the Trial of Socrates, in which his Apologia was considerably more eloquent (but no less contrite) than Moulton's rather atrocious drafts of comparable purpose. Incidentally, all four of us (Socrates, Galileo, Darwin, and Moulton) are redheads. —Moulton 01:08, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia acts as a single entity. That is why crowds gain such influence. The world of science is divided worldwide among several different universities and single scientists, writing books on their own. Wikipedia can be seen as a medium for those who want easy access to knowledge. A serious search for knowledge requires a visit to the library. I don't think that the problem of populism can be resolved on Wikipedia, without decreasing the influence of Wikipedia to the common people who use it.--Daanschr 22:35, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Endless reverting[edit source]

Endless reverting can go on.. well, endlessly. I think it would be more productive to discuss whatever you see as problematic and turn the project into a genuine inquiry. Having a discussion about why you disagree with the other would perhaps be a good way to go - and to reflect on your own individual biases/perspectives in the process. If the reverting continues, I will consider protecting the page. Cormaggio talk 13:12, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree with Cormaggio. This is a study project, and proper study calls for asking good questions of those proposing questionable views, concepts, notions, theories, beliefs, etc. See, for example, this recent NY Times article about encouraging students to ask good questions (and provide good answers). —Moulton 14:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
My section is mine to do with as I wish. I do not wish to engage in endless meandering about if or if not specific actions are disruptive. The goal of my case study is to evaluate what can be done ethically to stop disruptive actions. Moulton's self-serving "questions," do not assist in this aim. He is free to add his own learning resources, however he should not "completely chang[e] the meaning [of] another's contributions." I find this entire page to be generally reprehensible - it should be depersonalized - like my contributor protected page (Wikimedia Ethics/Case_Studies_alt). Salmon of Doubt 13:22, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Salmon of Doubt, I don't understand where you get your ideas from, how you form your beliefs, opinions, or judgments, how you examine the evidence to support your claims, or what methods of reasoning you are employing to arrive at your curious and remarkable conclusions. Color me vexed and perplexed. I am asking you to disclose how you arrive at your published claims. Moulton 14:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Which specific claim confuses you? Salmon of Doubt 14:34, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
It's not the claim. You could claim the moon was made of green cheese and I would be just as perplexed about where you got such a ridiculous idea from, and upon what evidence and reasoning such a preposterous claim reposed. The claims you make are not confusing; they are simply preposterous claims, ungrounded in evidence or reasoning. What I am challenging you to do is to exhibit your evidence and reasoning to support your preposterous claims. —Moulton 01:31, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Again, I'd urge a step back. How about thinking about the following questions (off the top of my head)... Are people in full control of their sections? Does each section constitute a "case study"? What is a case study meant to achieve? What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of having individual sections and depersonalised pages? How can this overall process of describing and analysing case studies help us learn something about Wikipedia - and perhaps ourselves? Cormaggio talk 13:46, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
How can one determine that a "case" is an actual occurrence, objectively characterized, and not a delusional flight of fancy or distorted perception? What epistemological tools of thought do we rely upon? —Moulton 14:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
1. Are people in full control of their sections?
The answer to this is either "yes" or "no." If "yes," Moulton should not be editing my section. If "no," then we should go back to my neutralized version of this page (
2. Does each section constitute a "case study"?
The answer to this should be "yes." It is however, currently "no." Each section is either a thought-experiment or a screed against a Wikipedia contributor.
3. What is a case study meant to achieve?
A case study should be a specific incident meant to illuminate a problem and then show the attempted solution to that problem and the results of that attempted solution. It allows for the evaulation of problem-reactions.
4. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of having individual sections and depersonalised pages?
A depersonalized version allows individuals to focus on the acutal problems and actions taken. A personalized version allows for the examination of actual interactions. In this case, a personalized version is actually being used a vector for vengence against contributors to the English Wikipedia.
5. How can this overall process of describing and analysing case studies help us learn something about Wikipedia - and perhaps ourselves?
It cannot until such time as this project is no longer being used for vengence by vested contributors.
Hope that helps! Salmon of Doubt 13:58, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
You clearly both have different perspectives on the "case" you're talking about - so it seems like the initial problem is representing the case. Might I suggest that you form cases built on diffs/transcripts (in much the same way as an en.wp arbcom case is developed), and then discuss these cases from your own perspectives? Might I also suggest that you're focusing too much at the moment on objectivity? Isn't it useful to share, discuss and unpick different perspectives? Cormaggio talk 14:30, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I would be happy to see the cases built on diffs and in-context transcripts. Salmon of Doubt 14:35, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Applied Action Research[edit source]

Cormaggio's Question #1. Are people in full control of their sections?

  • Salmon of Doubt's Answer: The answer to this is either "yes" or "no." If "yes," Moulton should not be editing my section. If "no," then we should go back to my neutralized version of this page (
  • Moulton's Response: It occurs to me that editors are often "out of control", where the locus of control could be either an external regulating umpire or personal self-control.

Cormaggio's Question #2. Does each section constitute a "case study"?

  • Salmon of Doubt's Answer: The answer to this should be "yes." It is however, currently "no." Each section is either a thought-experiment or a screed against a Wikipedia contributor.
  • Moulton's Response: How may an impartial observer adjudge whether a purported case is an objectively presented characterization of a cited historical event, a hypothetical thought experiment, or an ill-tempered polemic screed against another editor?

Cormaggio's Question #3. What is a case study meant to achieve?

  • Salmon of Doubt's Answer: A case study should be a specific incident meant to illuminate a problem and then show the attempted solution to that problem and the results of that attempted solution. It allows for the evaluation of problem-reactions.
  • Moulton's Response: Would it be possible to adopt the protocols of Action Research to jointly and creatively solve specific, well-identified, well-documented, and well-presented cases?

Cormaggio's Question #4. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of having individual sections and depersonalised pages?

  • Salmon of Doubt's Answer: A depersonalized version allows individuals to focus on the actual problems and actions taken. A personalized version allows for the examination of actual interactions. In this case, a personalized version is actually being used a vector for vengeance against contributors to the English Wikipedia.
  • Moulton's Response: Could a depersonalized version be presented as an allegory? In a personalized version presented on-wiki with only keyboarded text, how do observers detect the non-verbal affective emotional states of the participants, as normally signaled in transient facial expressions, tone of voice, and gross body language? What is Salmon of Doubt's evidence and reasoning to support his thesis that case studies "are being used as a vector for vengeance" against other editors of the English Wikipedia?

Cormaggio's Question #5. How can this overall process of describing and analysing case studies help us learn something about Wikipedia — and perhaps ourselves?

  • Salmon of Doubt's Answer: It cannot until such time as this project is no longer being used for vengeance by vested contributors.
  • Moulton's Response: Again, what is Salmon of Doubt's evidence and reasoning to support his thesis that the Ethics Project is "being used for vengeance by vested contributors", rather than as an appropriate vehicle for studying the problems arising on the English Wikipedia and devising best ethical practices for dealing with them? Also, who are the "vested contributors" whom Salmon of Doubt is accusing of being vengeful?

Moulton 14:44, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I'd much rather if both of you really engaged with each other, instead of seemingly trying to impress an impartial observer (ie me). How about firstly representing the case, identifying key events/edits/statements, and discussing these comments, and acknowledging your own perspectives? It seems to me like discussing specifics would be much more productive in identifying various practices in Wikipedia - and only on that basis will claims like "vested contributors" and "remarkable conclusions" be mutually understandable. Cormaggio talk 15:23, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
My perspective is simple to state. Salmon of Doubt presents preposterous claims, unsupported by evidence or reasoning. I am challenging him to produce the evidence and exhibit the reasoning to support his preposterous claims. —Moulton 01:31, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I just want to ask: how do you think action research could be of help in this conflict? My own suggestion (as I've said before) is that any approach should firstly attempt to represent the case (including different POVs), instead of trying to "solve" it. Cormaggio talk 14:00, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't think action research will resolve this conflict. Moving this discussion to the pages dedicated to action research, will only replace the conflict. I don't think it is good to have one conflict exported to several parts of Wikiversity. The outside world who might be interested in Wikiversity in a positive way might back down, because of the lack of seriousness.
I suggest to keep this conflict out of the Colloquium. There have been a couple of topics on the Colloquium dedicated to this conflict and i think it will not be productive to continue giving attention to it. It is better to positively try to build up Wikiversity instead of to spend too much time to internal disputes.--Daanschr 08:57, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Action Research is a joint problem-solving approach, where all parties cooperate to solve their joint problems. If one party is antagonistic to the concept of cooperation, then it is unlikely that Action Research can be employed. But in any event, the venue would not be in the pages of the Action Research Learning Project itself (unless students engaged in learning the subject elected to undertake such a case as a practicum exercise). As far as I know, Salmon of Doubt has not declared himself a student of the subject. And while I am hardly an authority on the subject, my role so far has been to explain the subject to those who wish to learn something about it.
For this reason, I expect that Salmon of Doubt and I will be obliged to employ his preferred method of engagement, which is an atrocious dramatic encounter method. I've never been warm to the approach adopted by Encounter Groups, as I'm not fond of the dramatic arts or playing uncharacteristic thespian roles. I barely function as a player in traditional role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, for the simple reason that I find it difficult to adopt a persona other than my own native temperament as a schmeggegy scientist who is hopelessly didactic and boring as sin. For me to play George to Salmon of Doubt's Martha in an obnoxious reprise of Virgina Woolf is about as far from my own comfortable skin as one can imagine. Nevertheless, if Geek Theater is the only method acceptable to my counterpart in this curious and asymmetrical learning exercise, I'll don the greasepaint and do my level best to play the role of my half of an atrociously gut-wrenching odd couple. —Gastrin Bombesin (Talk) 11:55, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I was under the impression that Salmon of Doubt had recently taken a vow to discontinue reading Moulton's writings. I am chagrinned to see that he now appears to have broken his commendable vow. What's even more curious to this reporter is that Salmon of Doubt appears to be tampering with Moulton's lessons here. Perhaps he doesn't care for Moulton's peculiar methods of education. —Montana Mouse (Talk) 15:27, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Salmon, if the rules regarding signing are broken, than you could ask someone of the organization to interphere. Edit warring is not an appropriate way of solving such an issue. Moulton, why don't you want to sign your edits on this talk page?--Daanschr 14:22, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Daanschr, to the best of my knowledge, I did sign all my edits. Did someone suggest otherwise? As to rules about signing edits, I am not aware of any applicable or enforceable rule that has been breached here, but if one exists and is mandated by local site policy (and there is a demonstration of a breach), I have no doubt the Wikiversity Custodians will raise it to everyone's attention in the most appropriate manner. —Moulton 14:33, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
The above edit, which is signed by Gastrin Bombesin has been written by you, according to the history of this talk page. Is everything all right with you, Moulton? I can't imagine that someone actually likes to spend his time this way on the Internet. Is there something about Wikiversity, or certain users on Wikiversity that you don't like in such a way, to behave the way you do?--Daanschr 14:40, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I'm just dealing with an obnoxiously vexatious litigant. No big deal. Have you taken a minute to research the character of Gastrin Bombesin? That's one of my alter egos whom I occasionally invoke to demonstrate the affective state of dyspepsia which arises from time to time when dealing with a particularly vexatious character. —Moulton 14:51, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't know how you expect to engage positively with such a disdainful attitude. An action research or any other type of positive action process would only work within some bounds of mutual respect (if even to disagree profoundly). I'd ask you to please stop making put-down comments — I don't understand why you do this in a purported project about ethics. Cormaggio talk 15:07, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Don't mind Moulton. He's just engaging in his idiosyncratic methods of education, when dealing with resistant learners. —Montana Mouse (Talk) 15:27, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
And how are you — Moulton — attempting to facilitate learning in this context? Cormaggio talk 19:11, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for asking, Cormaggio. See the next subsection, below. —Moulton 20:24, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Facilitated Education Through Muppetry[edit source]

Permit me to reproduce, verbatim, this thread from the discussion page for the Participants and Objectives of the Ethics Project...

How to drive yourself crazy

Believe it is a good idea that:

  1. anyone should be allowed to edit without revealing their identity
  2. no one should be allowed to act as if their multiple accounts are different people
  3. it is important for you to volunteer your time to enforce this

WAS 4.250 18:44, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Hey, I sympathize with you and you're exactly right. I figured all of this out a long time ago. Come over to WR and we'll talk about it! (Actually, if you want my personal view, I'm beginning to think that ole Jimbo is starting to see the wisdom of this kind of thinking...I often wonder when we'll see him over at WR...) The Fieryangel 19:48, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

I agree that the use of anonymous/pseudonymous/sock-puppet accounts is a crazy-making feature of Wikipedia (and other online venues). Somewhere in the land of proverbs there is this admonition: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."

Having said, that, let me also point out that the use of puppet characters in educational sketches is a time-honored tradition. Burr Tillstrom pioneered it on children's educational television with Kukla, Fran and Ollie, quickly followed by "Buffalo" Bob Smith with Howdy Doody. Shari Lewis, Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), Fred Rogers, and (especially) Jim Henson used puppetry in a creative and appropriate manner to craft high-quality edutainment aimed at children of the late 20th Century. I expect that some of our academically dry material can be usefully presented through Aesopian sketches populated by Muppet-like players. I've long used well-known character voices like Montana Mouse, Barsoom Tork, Gastrin Bombesin, and Caprice the Flying Goat (among many others) to voice different perspectives in dramatized presentations of educational ideas.

Moulton, the Schmeggegy Scientist 10:00, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

Moulton 20:24, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

I didn't ask for a history of (sock)-puppetry — I was asking how your general behaviour (not limited to sock-puppetry) was facilitating learning. All I can see is an escalation of drama, which is entirely unproductive, and from which you seem to absolve yourself from all responsibility. Cormaggio talk 11:11, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

What we have committed to learn in the Ethics Project, Cormaggio, is ethics. We have committed to learn the theory and practice of ethics. Permit me to quote for you a passage from the theory portion of that study in ethics...

Look again at the last line of the above analytical review, Cormaggio:

Now, where you ask, is the asymmetry that is generating the dramatic restoring force?

Let me show you where the asymmetry arises...

Searching for a solution

I am certain, WAS, that you are well aware that my problem with your pet "project" is that parts of it have nothing to do with "ethics" at all. In fact, in order for you and I to reasonably discuss solving the problems, I'm going to have to ask you to acknowledge that the project, as it was operating, was partially being used as a platform to express personal dissatisfaction with a personalized, one-off dispute with the English wikipedia.

Assuming that you can acknowledge that, we can move on. I could obviously use technical means to ban Moulton from any page I wanted to. I am more than proficient enough with Pywikibot to make that happen. I suspect that would quickly lead to Moulton and myself being blocked - and let me make this as clear as I can - I would have no problem at all with just banning the both of us. I suspect that you are reaching the point where you also would have no problem with that.

However, because I believe your project, if you were to clear it out, might, at some point, have some small amount of value, I'll give you the opportunity to solve it. I will take or not take any action you want me to take or not take, so long as the project space here does not decrease in value over the medium (not short) term. I will state for the record, however, that I do not believe it is possible for myself and Moulton to reach agreement on anything, though I am eager to see you try. I strongly suspect that the end result here will either be the deletion of the entire project or topic/project-bans for Moulton and his Wikipedia Review friends along with myself and my Wikipedia friends.

There. Go to it. Salmon of Doubt 22:30, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Salmon of Doubt, thank you for your well thought out comment. I too am "Searching for a solution". Yes I am well aware that your problem with the ethics project is that you think parts of it have nothing to do with ethics. I acknowledge that all project participants, yourself included, have multiple motives for contributing; and sometimes this has led to it partially being used as a platform to express a variety of personal dissatisfactions such as personalized, one-off disputes in the English wikipedia. If you are serious when you say "I will take or not take any action you want me to take or not take, so long as the project space here does not decrease in value over the medium (not short) term." then please:
  1. Don't talk to Moulton or about Moulton on any talk page. (When I first arrived at Wikipedia, I got into a misunderstanding with SlimVirgin who misinterpreted a remark of mine as an attack, and I solved the dispute by promising her - I thought up the offer, she accepted - I would not talk to her or about her anywhere; about 3 to 6 months later she came to my talk page and asked for help on something so I asked if I was relieved of my promise - which she had probably forgotten - and she said yes)
  2. Ignore Moulton on all talk pages; except for deleting anything he says on your talk page
  3. The only ethics project pages that you edit should be ones you yourself have created, but feel free to own those.

While the above is written in absolutes it should be interpreted in a common sense fashion, because there will be exceptions that arise. Further at some time, things might calm down enough that it would be useful for you to test the waters by slowing finding more and more useful exceptions to the above until at some time it becomes apparent that there is no longer a need for you to follow the above.

Does that make sense to you? Are you willing to give the above a try? WAS 4.250 23:07, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

There is your asymmetry, Cormaggio, in boldface.

Salmon of Doubt — the Ambassador to Wikiversity from the English Wikipedia's WikiClique on Intelligent Design — decloaks at the talk page of WAS 4.250 — the distinguished gentleman who initiated the Ethics Project here — and issues a terroristic kamikaze threat against Wikiversity. And WAS 4.250 thanks him for his "well-thought out comments"!

(Incidentally, I have asked WAS to resign from the Ethics Project.)

Look at the asymmetry. Salmon of Doubt comes swashbuckling into Wikiversity like some Klingon suicide bomber. And what does he care if he dies blowing the joint up with a terroristic robot? He is wearing the costume of a disposable avatar from nowhere in cyberspace. For all I know, he is connecting through an untraceable TOR node.

There's your drama, Cormaggio. There's your asymmetry and there's your drama, right out of Star Trek: The Klingons vs the Federation.

Did you flinch?

They are perplexed and struggling to find a solution.

And all Salmon of Doubt can think of is mindless violence.

But if you consult Barsoom Tork and Montana Mouse, they have a better idea...


Barsoom Tork - Jun 18, 2008 12:57 pm (#4 of 57)
Anthropologist From Mars

The Final Absolution

Drama Theory

Montana Mouse - Jun 15, 2008 10:21 am (#2356 of 2369)
I never signed up to be an Internet movie star.

Previously, Schadenfreude Theatre presented a pair of seemingly unrelated operas, one entitled Fear and Loathing in Lost Vagueness and one entitled No One Expects the Spammish Inquisition!. These were in addition to another Soap Opera entitled, Bildungsroman in the Age of Character Assassination, which featured Bela, Klaatu, Moulton, and a variety of walk-on cameos by various and sundry characters from the Original ATI/RI/PDR Soap Opera which Bela kicked off some five years ago.

Now the third opera in the Ring of the Neener Bomb is getting underway at the English Wikipedia. This one is tentatively called The Final Absolution and promises to have considerably better music than that previously provided by Barsoom Tork Associates.

To kick things off, a Wikipedian who goes by the name of Filll has posed the following invitation:

How about you start with this, and then answer my 8 questions?

The reference to the starting point is a scathing Indictment of Moulton lodged by another prominent Wikipedian, an admin who goes by the name of FeloniousMonk.

Moulton 13:00, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Note: This discussion continued (after being archived) at Talk:Wikimedia Ethics/Case Studies1#Applied Action Research. Cormaggio talk 15:19, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Call for win-win solution[edit source]

Instead of having all the cases list on one or two pages, can we just subpage each case individually? Then, we can setup a category tag that can be placed on each page. Dynamic content lists, to replace Wikimedia Ethics/Case Studies, can then show the links to all the cases. I have seen some win-lose ideology being suggested in regards to this project, and that kind of ideology is just not acceptable. Dzonatas 18:06, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I suggested at User talk:Salmon of Doubt#Request that "Perhaps someone could move all specific cases to their own learning resource pages, and the "main" cases studies page will contain only generic data and links to the specific cases studies. They can also be subpages rather than sub-subpages and can also be linked to at the main project page." If you want to do that, please go right ahead. WAS 4.250 20:46, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I suggest doing that to Wikimedia Ethics/Case Studies 3 which is a copy of Ethical Management of the English Language Wikipedia/Case Studies from before the edit war was re-begun on it. WAS 4.250 22:08, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I might have some time this weekend to dig into it. Dzonatas 15:11, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Evaluation of three new users on Wikiversity[edit source]

The users Moulton and WAS+4.250 appeared on Wikiversity on 9 july 2008 and have since that time been mostly active on the Ethical Management Project. User Salmon of Doubt appeared on 19 August 2008 and has only been active in fighting user Moulton on the ethical management project.--Daanschr 16:31, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Don't overlook:
  • See also: http:‍//
Moulton 18:27, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

So, what is the purpose of this? Why are you doing this?--Daanschr 18:30, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

We are doing this to improve the ability of Wikimedians (ourselves included) to reason about ethics and devise best practices for solving vexing and perplexing ethical conundrums and dilemmas. —Moulton 21:05, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
All of us wish to improve the management of Wikipedia. We disagree about what constitutes optimum ethical management of the English language Wikipedia. You can see by our behavior what each of us believes to be optimal ethical behavior. Salmon believes in punishment, Moulton feels tit-for tat is educational, me? — well, judge for yourself. WAS 4.250 21:00, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Not quite Tit-For-Tat. See the Amusing Helicopter. —Moulton 21:20, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Whatever you want to call it, this feud has gotten pretty old and stale. I've certainly had my battles with several of the same editors, but enough is enough. Sχeptomaniacχαιρετε 00:04, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
It's about time you showed up. Where the hell have you been? And where are the rest of the good guys in this dusty Western? —Moulton 00:48, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
The script called for a duel, not a gang fight. WAS 4.250 01:23, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
OK. A duel. Atrocious song parodies at 20 Kbps. —Moulton 01:34, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, not interested in a fight just for the sake of a fight. I really don't see the purpose in battling here. Sχeptomaniacχαιρετε 17:13, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Focus[edit source]

  • Again, guys, Please be aware that the learning project has just begun. It would be much more effective to focus on past, simple, concrete cases, draw some conclusions and lessons from them, before embarking on a study of current events, which would be much more difficult to study, not the least because of the feedback effect it would generate. As I can see, the content generation has been slow, and bogged down by rather minor disputes. Hillgentleman|Talk 01:30, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree. Fighting over atrocious song parodies on an obscure blog that no one reads is just petty, full stop. —Moulton 01:38, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Hillgentleman, Moulton, WAS and Salmon of Doubt are one person who is fighting a battle with himself. There isn't a conflict. This guy is playing a game with you.--Daanschr 07:09, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Highly doubtful. WAS and Moulton have very different histories and editing patterns at en.WP, and Salmon is most likely one of the anti-ID group (IDCAB in Moulton's terminology) Moulton clashed with over there. I could throw out the user names of some of the most likely possibilities for who is behind Salmon, but it doesn't matter. I can't say I've ever met Hillgentleman before, though. Sχeptomaniacχαιρετε 15:42, 28 August 2008 (UTC)