Talk:Wikimedia Ethics/Privatemusings' thoughts

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G'day folks...[edit source]

I've been lurking here for a while and finally grabbed a moment to make a post.. I've read the project page, and skimmed this page, which is already getting into areas which seem pretty complex to me.. I'll continue to read what goes on here, and offer a couple of my thoughts too;

  • This is a very good essay, and when I first read it I felt it could well form the basis for some sort of statement relating to project ethics.
  • I'm particularly interested at the moment in issues surrounding pseudo-anonymity, identity, and ethics - there are cans of worms in these areas in my view, and I reckon it's an area worth exploring - we're about 50 / 50 here at the moment in terms of 'real names' and pseudonyms, so that could be interesting too....
  • Another key aspect for me is Wikipedia's insularity - which you could sum up somewhat hyperbolicly by asking 'is Wikipedia a cult?' - I think there are aspects of reinforcement within wiki-culture which actively prohibit reflection and growth, and I wonder if this is further supported by either demographics of editors, or in the nature of the software / online beast.
  • I'm not sure that I completely endorse some aspects of the background and purpose - I'm not sure that the ethical strength of the wikipedia project hasn't actually been pretty much constant, and that scale and timeliness are behind any trends we might identify - this could be a case of describing the same thing from a slightly different perspective, so it's likely no big deal - but I thought I'd mark it here.

Overall (and kinda echoing some of the above) - I perceive an over-reliance on 'rules' within wikipedia culture, without a rigorous examination / understanding of the principles which I believe should govern them - 'do no harm' for example being contravened by the inability of the community as a whole to ensure adherence to site policies and guidelines on biographies.

There's much food for thought here, and I'll stick around and try and get stuck in! cheers, Privatemusings 04:53, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Hi, PM. I thought you'd never show up. Glad to see you made it. :)
  • Thanks for linking the essay by Kirill Lokshin. That will be helpful.
  • People are not as anonymous as they might imagine.
  • I don't think the MediaWiki software is any more or less susceptible to ochlocracy or corruption than any other variety of collaborative or forum software. Yes, the English Wikipedia is a cult, and not a particularly honorable or benevolent one, either.
  • Feel free to suggest revisions to the background statement or the statement of aims. Given your expression of interest in ethics way back in November of last year, I'm hoping you'll sign onto the project here and make a significant contribution to defining and solving the problem at hand.
I agree 110% about the idiotic over-reliance on rules. They are mainly used to kibosh people, much the way the rules of a chess game let you move a piece and smash an enemy, like Wizard Chess in Harry Potter.
Once we get established a bit here, would you consider hosting a Skypecast roundtable discussion with as many interested participants as is practical to include?
Moulton 05:33, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Kohlberg-Gilligan Model[edit source]

Moulton, I look forward to your creation of a sourced learning resource that clearly explains your idea of the relationship of rules and ethics. We disagree on this issue. I think you are simplistic in your claims on this. But Wikipedia clearly has a problem with mindless rule following. It's the mindlessness that is the problem, not the rules. After all, one of the rules is "Ignore the rules". But worse than the mindlessness, is the deliberate gaming of the rules. To fix that will take some kind of structural change. What does ethics have to say about power structures? Openness, division of powers, limited terms in office? WAS 4.250 07:01, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
Sure. I take it you want the sources for my concise summary of the Kohlberg-Gilligan Model of the stages of development of moral and ethical reasoning. That's the model that places rules no higher than the middle-most rung of a seven-stage ladder of development of moral and ethical reasoning. By Kohlberg and Gilligan's model, there are three more stages of development of moral and ethical reasoning that rise above the limited affordance and inherent problems of rule-based socio-cultural regulatory systems. By the way, Carol Gilligan should not be confused with James Gilligan (also from Harvard University) who offered an independent analysis of the short-comings of the Law and Order model. —Moulton 13:03, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
...or, for that matter, the Gilligan who's stranded on a desert island with the rest of the castaways. But I, for one, have my doubts about whether the 7th stage added by Gilligan is actually an advance; it seems to me like a reversion to stage 3, where the subject backs off from universal, consistent principles to return to giving special favor to one's own friends and allies. Dtobias 13:12, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

What is the scientific evidence for the validity of the Kohlberg-Gilligan Model as applied to the English language Wikipedia? WAS 4.250 14:51, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Let's open a discussion thread on the talk page associated with the links to those scholars. We need to work our way through Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan's material, as well as that of John Rawls, James Gilligan, and Rene Girard (among others). —Moulton 15:03, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
Yes. I was going to move it to its own learning resource subpage also. Where you placed it is fine for now. We can move/alter/edit as needed later. The idea is to create learning resources and as you know this stuff and I don't; a back and forth between us (and others) might just be the thing. WAS 4.250 15:17, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
The learning resource on the integrated Kohlberg-Gilligan Model is now essentially in place and available for review and discussion. —Moulton 18:24, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

The ethical implications of pressing 'Save'[edit source]

Another thought for the sketchpad — I'm interested in examining the thought processes involved in, and the moral / ethical and legal relationship between the editor, and the material present when pressing 'Save' on a wiki.... I've been talking to a few people in various ways, and it occurs to me that to a degree people are currently only considering the material they have directly engaged with (as in 'Sure, I take responsibility for that paragraph I added — but not the rest of the article...) — this leads to blindspots, with established articles being edited, but not actually substantively reviewed — and there's a possible irresponsibility there I'd like to examine in some way... more fat for the fire, I guess! cheers, Privatemusings 06:26, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

There probably are some legal and ethical minefields here, since the ensemble of dozens or hundreds of small edits can yield a problematic article for which no single editor bears overall editorial responsibility. Doug Hofstadter illustrated this paradox with his analogy to ant hills. The ant hill can take on an emergent personality of its own for which no individual ant can be held responsible. Bureaucracies are like that, too. The emergent property of a bureaucracy can be paralysis, for which no single bureaucrat can be held responsible. Even today, there is some concern that ArbCom may be in a state of paralysis. —Moulton 04:41, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Block your friends, never your enemies[edit source]

I never heard of this before, and it is has merit. It made me think of an idea. What if there was a flag you could say 'hey, i trust my friend, so i will flag him to allow him to block me' on your friends? It would give kinda pseudo-admin status over one another where neither of the two have to be admins to block one or another. Thoughts? Dzonatas 01:20, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

I think that's a great idea (and I'll try and dig up the diff. where Lar explained this concept, which I totally agree with...) - I also have a feeling that software solutions to some of these problems will be less effective than 'soft' solutions.... (though I'm open to reasons why they might be better!) - for example, to use this example, I could just say to you 'Ask me to stop editing, and I will' - giving the same functionality (pretty much) - it's the understanding coupled with the power which is the real benefit that I see here.... Privatemusings 02:29, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
What you are describing is the human analog of what is known in computer jargon as a Flow Control Protocol. In communication systems, the slower machine, when receiving, has the privilege to regulate the rate at which the faster machine (when sending) can transmit information. In serial communication circuits, flow control is associated with Control-S/Control-Q symbols in ASCII. An alternative Flow Control Protocol is Request to Send (RTS) / Clear to Send (CTS). The details are unimportant as long as both sides are using an agreed-upon Flow Control Protocol
In 1985, I wrote a Computer Dialogue illustrating the concept.
Moulton 03:12, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
@Privatemusings, it's the medium and the essential idea that the medium can change. Ya, you could say the 'ask me' and hit the save button, but you noted a question even on the ethics of the save button itself. Does one always have to hit the save button in order to convey such conversation? If you ever read the book Robert's Rules of Order, then you probably can acknowledge how a deliberative assembly works. So ya, I guess one can't ignore the fact of being friends with the developers, which allow such soft solutions and other deliberative means by this medium. Dzonatas 05:05, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
I think I'm following your gist - though may unfortunately be missing some of your points (sorry!) - I'm in danger of providing an example of what I've written about - the 'better idea' syndrome - so I should note that I really don't see any downside to the flag you mentioned being developed and installed.. I'd like to see how it works in practice... there's actually a whole bunch of interesting possibilities once you start thinking like this... I certainly like the 'de-centralisation' of power that it could facilitate.... I'll think a bit more about that! cheers, Privatemusings 05:28, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
My point? Oh, I basically agreed to your thought about this here in my own way. To carry the thought forward in a softer tone, it could be said more like 'admin your friends, not your enemies.' In deliberative assemblies, the rules (like to perform admin roles only on friends as this thread suggests) are pretty much voluntarily accepted. The flag, noted earlier, would be just one example of such volunteered deliberation. On a more technical side, it is quite a scalable option to consider. It's good feedback. Dzonatas 14:40, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Wiki Journal[edit source]

"A Very Wiki World - funny goings on behind the edit button at the Encyclopedia anyone can edit" <-- I'd like to see such an article. In general, I'd like to see some kind of Wiki Journal develop here at Wikiversity. Maybe you article could get such a "Wiki Journal" going. --JWSchmidt 01:32, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

I've been journalizing some wacky wiki weirdness for the past year, both on the Media Ethics Blog associated with the Utah State University School of Journalism and Communication, and (to a lesser extent) on my personal blog. —Moulton 02:49, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
JWSchmidt, is what you are looking for? WAS 4.250 09:04, 7 August 2008 (UTC)