Wikimedia Ethics/Case Studies2

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Case 1 — An example of problematic behaviour and response

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User:Foo posted a message to User:Bar's talk page stating "Hello Bar, I know that your name is George Bigginsworth, and that you live at 12 Acacia Lane, stop editing Wikipedia or I'll take this further".

User:Foo is immediately indefinitely blocked, and the edit he made is removed permanently from the database, so as to be invisible to all editors and administrators except the very few with the 'oversight' privilege.

Is that it? Is there anything else we should do?

Case 2 — 'Privileged' information and competing priorities

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A user (ProblemUser) was alleged to be an abusive sockpuppeteer. This behaviour can cause severe disruption. The central task of a wiki administrator is to maintain the smooth running of the site, in order to build the best encyclopedia possible, a task which may involving blocking or banning disruptive users.

As problems with ProblemUser began to develop, administrators asked the user to identify his alternative accounts. An administrator who had received note of the alternative accounts in confidence was concerned that he was using them in a way contrary to policy, and not in the best interest of the project. The adminstrator broke the confidence, asking for advice from several Aribters members, and the co-founder of Wikipedia. ProblemUser was eventually blocked, and this block was upheld and extended by the Arbitration Comittee

Was it ethical, in these circumstances, to share information concerning the multiple accounts used, in order to minimise disruption, and maintain policy compliance, or should the confidence of the disclosure have been maintained?

Case 3 — Pressure Groups

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Wikipedia has many editors, each with varying and overlapping interests, points of view, and friendships. They communicate though varying means: email, Wikipedia projects, off site coordination sites, or other means (example: London pubs). The groups differ greatly.

Some groups are believed to active disruptively - via tag-team edit warring. Many of these groups, in addition to tag-team warring, also contribute unarguably good content.

What can we do to support the needs of its editors, particularly editors who are involved in conflicts over article content?

Case 4 — disruptive editors

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TroublesomeEditor was considered by many editors of Wikipedia to be disruptive. A score of users requested that TroublesomeEditor agree to learn and abide by the project's fundamental polices and guidelines, agree to immediately desist from edit warring on a series of articles, agree to desist from badgering, harassment and disrupting talk pages, or canvassing for help in doing so, agree to recuse himself permanently from editing any article which represents a [conflict of interest] for him, and agree to recuse himself permanently from editing all articles related to an area of public controversy. Other than TroublesomeEditor, not a single user exonerated his actions.

TroublesomeEditor was eventually banned from the site. Over the year since his initial ban, TroublesomeEditor has spent days of his life focused on changing Wikipedia to mirror his views. In addition to Wikipedia, TroublesomeEditor was banned from multiple other online communities. Wikipedia editors have spent countless hours trying to prevent TroublesomeEditor's systematic disruption and attacks against it's various editors and offshoots.

What can be done to turn disruptive behaviour to something more creative? How can it be done without wasting the time of good editors?