Talk:Wikimedia Ethics/Ethics on Wikipedia and the Internet
The first letter in Internet is capitalized if it is in reference to the global internetwork. Dzonatas 05:24, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Comments on weird stuff from the resource page[edit source]
This is some combination of poor writing and shallow understanding of what actually happens on wikis and especially Wikipedia. On the other hand, is this a parody? Current text in italics, my comments indented, each sentence has been made a subsection, and I'm signing each, so that discussion of each can be separate.
Banning annoying editors prevents them from contributing[edit source]
Other websites often simply ban users from contributing to their sites if they are holding discussions which are intended to cause annoyance. This system can often be best for preventing people contributing to discussions on a website to annoy others.
- The intentions of editors is frequently invisible in on-line interaction. People get annoyed without any intention to annoy on the part of another. The deliberate causing of annoyance is called "trolling," and certainly trolling takes place, but it is also common that someone who raises some unpopular position or who challenges abuse is considered to be trolling. This paragraph is also a tautology. "Often be best" is classic weasel. Compared to what? By what standard? Are there other options? "Other websites." Other than Wikipedia? But Wikipedia "bans users" when they are considered to be intending annoyance, and not uncommonly, when there is no evidence of intent, simply evidence that some editors are being annoyed, even, sometimes, only the blocking administrator being annoyed. That's contrary to rules, supposedly, but it happens frequently. So are we discussing, here, actual Wikipedia practice or some kind of theory behind practice? --Abd 22:31, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Banning the promotion of poor ethics might lead to good ethics[edit source]
Wikipedia may be improved from the actions on other sites in several ways. By banning contributors who are promoting poor ethics or attempting to anger other users, an ethic of good behavior might form across Wikipedia.
- Again, banning editors "who are promoting poor ethics" (by what standard?) or "attempting to anger other users," (how does one know?), involves complex moral judgments in the first case, and, in the seconds, it involves mind-reading. One cannot assume attempt to anger from the existence of angry response. Further, there is no evidence at all that bans promote good behavior, and some that it has the reverse effect. My own observation of Wikipedia leads me to conclude that behavior there has been generally deteriorating, though the causes may be obscure. Much of what is readily identifiable as incivility, though, is related to attempts to ban other editors. In other words, the existence of readily accessible ban process then sets up conditions which encourage attempts to ban, as distinct from attempts to find consensus, even if one is annoyed.
- Isn't this comment "promoting poor ethics," then, i.e, the idea that the best way to deal with annoyance is to ban those who are annoying? And so does this imply that the author of this text should be banned? I certainly wouldn't promote that, but it does seem to be implied! Do we think that banning others, i.e., preventing them from discussing disagreements with us, is "good ethics"? Part of the problem here could be that "ethics" is poorly defined, but I think most would agree that . --Abd 22:31, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia, the light of the world[edit source]
Other websites may benefit from the Wikipedia model. By having open discussion and intervening early, contributors will be able to have constructive and open discussions with other users.
- There are certainly aspects of the Wikipedia model that are functional and useful. In certain ways, it's highly efficient; in others, one ends up rolling a boulder back up the hill over and over; Articles that were Featured Articles are known to suffer decay even in spite of constant maintenance, the idea that articles would naturally improve with time, common in early wikihistory, didn't work on Wikipedia in many areas. In other topic areas it works, and continues to work. I would not recommend the Wikipedia model, as-is, though, to any serious project that wants to build permanent (or permanently improving) content, together with a truly collaborative community to maintain and improve it. Wikipedia was successful, not because of the superiority of the model, but because it was first to use a wiki for its purpose and thus it built momentum and an initial dedicated user base; however, it's been burning that base out, some of its brightest and best editors have been banned (it's very annoying to be right), and others have retired, often in disgust. Attempts to reform Wikipedia, even efforts coming from the Arbitration Committee itself, are vigorously resisted by the "core," or at least by large enough groups of editors that attempts are disrupted. It's dysfunctional, it's known and widely acknowledged to be dysfunctional, but it can't change, or, if it changes, the pace is phenomenally slow, the opposite of "wiki," which supposedly means "quick." --Abd 22:31, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Peculiar document[edit source]
I stumbled across this page... but I'm not sure of the reason for its existence. It starts off by quoting a "draft Wikimedia code of ethics" that is just one draft in an essay (i.e. editor's personal opinion), which basically rehashes some but not all of the Wikipedia policies without addition. Why you don't just cite the actual established policies, I don't know, as these alterable but relatively stable documents come much closer to the ideal of a spontaneously evolved, widely adopted ethical code.
The article discusses dispute resolution on Wikipedia, but it's written as if you've never seen it. Wikipedia has all sorts of specialized mechanisms - third opinions, RFC's, ANI, ArbCom, OTRS emails, office actions, and I'm likely forgetting a few. Some of them leave something to be desired, either by ineffectiveness or heavy-handedness against both sides. I think most Wikipedia disputes are settled because one side just gives up arguing after a few months - not necessarily the person in the right, either.
You also miss the point that there are two main ethics on Wikipedia, in ever-increasing conflict: the inclusionists, who believe that sourced, informative material shouldn't be deleted just because someone disagrees with it, and the deletionists, who come up with all sorts of bogus arguments to exclude material and whitewash or bias articles, and eventually win by being willing to sit on articles and edit war until either they get their way, or at least they've neutralized the creative editor from doing anything useful with endless objections to phony arguments. (Alright, my own bias is showing, but that's how I feel)
The Chris Benoit case can be taken on faith as "coincidence", but this is only one interpretation. An ethicist should not fail to consider usefulness of posting such rumors against the unlikely but important case that a conspiracy theory really is true. Or that medical personnel knew earlier than admitted that Benoit was on the way out, or that the editor suffered from precognition, etc.
As detailed in the Wikipedia article on Citizendium, or as evidenced by a visit to Citizendium with its beta status and out of date constitution, that site is not thriving. They have 121 "approved articles" and less than 20,000 total. As an example of those, consider "History of biology", which retells in broad outline the ancient Eurocentric fairy tale of a sudden flowering of civilization in Greece and Rome, followed by a Dark Age, and then a sudden Renaissance. The problem is, it's not so - the knowledge came from Africa and Asia, especially Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and other lands further east - for example, there is one clay tablet from the Third Dynasty of Ur that signifies as modern and practical a pharmacopoeia as Europe had a few centuries ago. Via Greece's expansion eastward and Rome's conquest of Greece the Europeans had access to the knowledge for a time, but it certainly was not extinguished during the Islamic Caliphate, and notable figures like Paracelsus travelled to those lands to rekindle medical progress.
That site and this page share one common flaw: a lack of the abundant inline references Wikipedians have come to expect. Without clear sourcing, it is hard to tell when suppositions are crowding out facts, or whether the viewpoint presented is even representative of any large number of people. Wnt 17:26, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
- Everything on Wikiversity is for the purpose of creating learning resources. Wikiversity isn't like Wikipedia in that learning materials can include stuff that is wrong, biased, archaic, just about everything but irrelevant. For example, there might be a resource page here on some fringe physics topic, or allegedly fringe physics topic. Those studying physics will learn something about physics if they study this fringe topic and materials related to it. What is the general scientific consensus about this topic? Why is it that, why is the topic considered fringe? What are the evidences one way or the other? Are there any reputable scientists who accept the allegedly fringe position? What's the latest research in the field? All this would be something that could be studied in an advanced physics seminar. It's not necessarily appropriate for an encyclopedia article, it may include materials that don't meet Wikipedia Reliable Source standards, and, in a seminar on a fringe physics topic, even if the topic is actually fringe (i.e., there is clear reliable source showing to to be currently fringe), it is not necessary for balance to be maintained, if the topic is the fringe view and evidence for and against it.
- Absolutely, resource pages here may be created by people with differing motives and perspectives. Wikiversity is very tolerant of this, ordinarily. One can present original research here, it's acceptable. But materials should not be deceptive, should not represent as true what consensus here will not accept as true; but if presented as opinion, particularly attributed opinion, it should generally be acceptible if it is useful for learning purposes. That's my understanding, but I'm new at Wikiversity.
- Now, about the resource page here, its present state should be seen in the light of its history. The page was created and much of the current text came from User:Anonymous101, and it was clearly naive, in my opinion. Perhaps it is relevant that Anonymous101 is retired not only from Wikiversity but also from wikipedia, meta, wikibooks, wikinews, and commons. On the last two sites, Anonymous101 was an administrator. Admin rights have been removed on commons, recently, due to inactivity, last admin action was March 2009; also the last substantial editing was in that month, there was a removal of a retired notice in August 2009, . On Wikinews, Anonymous101 performed a single admin action on March, 2010, but last substantial activity was also in March 2009. This editor seems to have simply disappeared with hints of being "too busy" or the like. I found no sign of contention or frustration which is a common cause of retirements.
- The last edit of Anonymous101 to the resource page here was 22 July 2008, the version at that time can be loaded from that diff. The next edit was by M, who was in fairly short order blocked over related controversies. Whatever might be said about M, that editor's history on Wikipedia, here, and elsewhere in the WikiMedia Foundation web sites shows a failure of dispute resolution to actually resolve disputes; rather, sometimes, a decision is made, by various means, sometimes as simple as a single action by a single administrator which is not opposed, or is opposed but the acting admin has superior administrative rights, to "resolve" a problem by blocking or banning one side. M added a link, as can be seen by article history, to a blog of his, a review of an article in the New York Times, on August 7. On August 15, that link was removed by an editor I'll call C, with the edit summary, (Further reading: Removing links to blog that outs Wikipedians.) Looked at by itself, the edit is odd. The link is to M's blog, but the page linked doesn't seen to out any Wikipedians. However, the other pages on the blog might, and someone might follow those links to find the other pages, but anyone could find those pages with Google anyway. Another editor here, reverted that removal as vandalism, but the originally removing editor linked to the NYT article. M then (August 18), restored his own blog reference. The possible conflict of interest wasn't disclosed openly, which is an ethical problem that I see on his side. On September 16, C removed both the link to M's blog and another link to an essay or report by another banned editor, A, which had been standing in the resource since placed there by Anonymous101. A's paper is not accessible at the original URL, but there is a copy of what may be the same material on Wikipedia, User[A]/NOR historical datapoints.
- What was going on? A had been blocked on Wikipedia since September 2006. C's entire edit history at Wikiversity seems to have been concerned with this page and the like. In September, C was blocked on Wikiversity. From a review of C's contributions, C was solely interested in bringing Wikipedia conflict here. Before being blocked, C had removed the M and A links. An IP restored them, probably M. It appears that all contributions by that IP were reverted by another editor, an administrator from Wikipedia who likewise had no participation history on Wikiversity. This was happening at a time when Jimbo Wales, the founder or co-founder of Wikipedia, was intervening on Wikiversity, an event which still echoes here. M had engaged in some activity that was controversial even among regular Wikiversity users, and saw his first block from a regular Wikiversity admin, but the next block was indef from Jimbo Wales. Other pages with edits from M have been deleted and it is impossible for a non-admin to review them.
- However, there appears to me to be no reason why the links on this page, provided proper context as may be needed, cannot be linked from here. If there is a policy against linking to a page on a web site, where the web site contains other objectionable material, this is a stricter policy than exists even for Wikipedia. One of the sites raised in the discussions when I looked at C's contributions was review.com. At one point Wikipedia Review was subject to blacklisting and efforts to sanction editors who even mentioned it, on Wikipedia, I believe. Those efforts have almost entirely stopped, and Wikipedia Review is frequently linked from discussions on Wikipedia where something there is relevant. That's a wiki-war which is over, an operating consensus having appeared, which does not involve such secondary censorship. Accordingly, I will be looking at the links that were removed, and intend to restore them if it seems appropriate to me.
- Meanwhile, the resource is a mess. It has not been significantly edited since the flap in 2008. My guess is that Anonymous101 was the kind of editor to avoid serious controversy. M had general interests in terms of wikiprocess, and started editing the resource immediately. M was at that point the only editor who had a serious interest in this resource, it appears, and M was blocked from editing in September, 2008. This is what happens when conflicts are "resolved" without consensus. Disruption may appear to go away, but the project has been damaged. Sometimes it may be unavoidable, but my personal suspicion is that blocking and banning are used far more readily than necessary to actually protect the projects.
- I have anonymized some names here, I do not want them to show up in searches, and none of this is intended to indict any user, editor, or administrator. My interest is in what actually happened, not in blame or approbation, and that is what is appropriate for an academic environment.
- I may not have time to improve this resource, but I will watch this page and make such improvements as I can find time for. If conflict appears here, I will not insist on my personal view, but will consult the community for advice, according to Wikiversity policy and guidelines and, as well, general sound wiki practice. Where other wikis and their editors are involved and affected, I will seek the broadest possible consensus in the larger community. --Abd 23:50, 3 May 2010 (UTC)