Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Abd (full custodian)/Response to comments of SB Johnny

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Copied from the Candidacy page. My response is interspersed. Section headers supplied--Abd 16:31, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Abd well-intentioned, creative, and dedicated[edit source]

  • Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Abd is a very well-intentioned, creative, and dedicated contributor, with plenty of time to devote and many ideas for improving Wikiversity.
Thanks, SBJ, but I really don't have "plenty of time." Rather, I've made Wikiversity a priority. I won't always be able to do that, which is why I very much want to expand the custodial base. I cannot sustain the level of activity that I've been handling recently. Wikiversity, long-term, cannot depend on me, personally. --Abd 16:31, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Net negative[edit source]

  • However, each of these qualities are double-edged, and I feel that the negatives definitely outweigh the positives when it comes to putting him in a position of trust.
I'm in a position of trust, and have been for a total of over three months, in the three probationary periods. I haven't been shy, I've acted, as a probationary custodian, as I'd act as a permanent one. But SBJ does not take this opportunity to examine actual incidents where I might have betrayed that trust. Instead, he focuses on irrelevancies. Things that I have done when not a custodian, things that may continue whether I am or am not a custodian, and things that may, indeed, be very important to the future of Wikiversity, which was, when I began, under attack and in serious doldrums.
My work with Wikiversity structure and policy should be distinguished from my work as a custodian. As SB Johnny is aware, the latter is mostly boring. If I used tools to support my sometimes controversial views on structure and policy, I'd be creating disruption. It seems that SB Johnny fears this, but no actual example has been shown in the recent probationary period. There are several possible examples from the past periods, they mostly involve Ottava Rima, and my actions in those incidents were never deeply examined; if it were to become necessary, I'd claim that I was acting in anticipation of consensus, and under emergency conditions, where there was immediate and ongoing damage. Those actions were immediately submitted to the community, and a custodian who does this, who acts openly and transparently, cannot do serious harm, unless he or she is the only custodian left standing, in which case the matter is almost hopeless in any case. Some projects have only one administrator. That's not Wikiversity, nor will it be Wikiversity. One of my ambitions is to expand the custodial base here, and we also need 'crats willing to pay attention and respond to requests, such as at Wikiversity:Changing username.
On the one hand, SB Johnny is the only 'crat who has responded to these requests recently, but on the other, he only responded when personally pinged by the users involved, whereas general policy suggests that requests be on the Changing username request page for transparency. I worked to clean up that page to make it easier for 'crats, and I'm proud of that. We need at least one more 'crat, someone willing and able to be available. Perhaps Jtneill, who has been moving his residence, will be able to return to 'crat activity.
The "negatives" are essentially in SB Johnny's mind, not in the record of my actions.
I have been in a position of trust, many times. Have I abused that? This should be the question. By the way, I'd be completely willing to continue as a "probationary custodian." I don't need "permanent" status to help out. As a probationary custodian, I'm subject to Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Standard stop agreement, which I voluntarily accepted. This should make it safe for almost any user to be a probationary custodian. All it takes is some supervision, and if there are too many examples of supervision needed, then it's simple to stop the problem, given that agreement. But we don't need to decide that this time. If I'm not confirmed, and if there is a mentor willing to continue, then it can be decided at that time. --Abd 16:31, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Ignores objections[edit source]

He has over time put forward a number of innovative ideas, but then applies them without building a consensus to do so, and has said on a few occasions that he feels the people who don't agree with his approaches simply don't understand them (and hence, apparently, the objections can be ignored because they lack a force of argument).

That's how wikis work. Actions speak louder than talk about actions. That is, I may try out an idea, I may suggest and try out a process, within what is allowed (which is wide, generally). However, the issue would be if I insist, if I become disruptive, if my "bold" actions cause harm, if I revert war. There is one incident where I "revert warred," and it was a very special case, and it's the only case I know where there was an appearance of "disregarding consensus."
This was when Moulton was blocked, but continued editing WV pages, including "outing." Off the top of my head, as I recall, I reverted, and Moulton, as IP, reverted, and this went on and on. What I was doing was begging for custodial attention (I had been desysopped by SBJ, based on a very strange CR filed by Ottava Rima). Instead, SBJ blocked me. What I was doing would have been considered completely allowed on Wikipedia. I've seen it done here, by global sysops, with IP vandalism that's repeated. In the end, SBJ was more or less forced to range block Moulton, when it became clear that stewards were about to intervene. The basis for SBJ's position that I was ignoring consensus? A couple of odd opinions on RCA. Basically, I'd disturbed SBJ's peaceful goat farming. He doesn't like that. I don't blame him for that, but ... heat, kitchen. --Abd 16:31, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

ban on Wikipedia[edit source]

Similar behavior led to an eventual community ban on Wikipedia earlier this year. The opening comment of the ban discussion included "This disruption is characterized by attempts to influence project governance in ways orthogonal to accepted modes (e.g. delegable-proxy, self-reversion whilst blocked/banned, placing huge walls of text inside collapse boxes which "you don't have to read" but will be referred to nevertheless as being accepted if not read".

I was blocked, including talk page access, and unable to contribute to that discussion on Wikipedia. Yes, I do collapse lengthy discussions of topics, but I have never claimed that anyone has "accepted" these, read or not. I only collapse what is optional in a discussion. To claim acceptance would be preposterous! What happened there was that people imagine that I'm like them. Natural, I'm sure. The person writing that assumes that someone has accepted their arguments if they don't respond otherwise.
They were right that my suggestions were "orthagonal" to "accepted modes," that's actually quite accurate. "Accepted modes" exist within a one-dimensional linear and confined space, that is either "this" or "that." Delegable proxy makes possible something completely consistent with the ad hoc wiki model, but also integrating aspects of representative democracy. On Wikipedia, this was proposed as w:WP:PRX, and not by me, but by a long-term Wikipedian who had come across my ideas and who was inspired by them. The rejection was vehement, even though this was just an experiment to try out a proposed voluntary file structure, so vehement that he became imbalanced, and, yes, he had some problems. Wikipedia had a very negative impact on him, in the end. Immediately, though, he was indeffed, a draconian response, without warning, for an offense that would normally result in a 24-hour block, if that, if repeated after warning, and he didn't repeat after warning. It became obvious to me that the default oligarchy at Wikipedia felt very threatened by the proposal. The votes in the MfD assumed that it involved "proxy voting.' It did not. It changed no policy, it was just an experiment, one which some obviously wanted not to happen. I didn't insist on Wikipedia. I have now proposed delegable proxy here, have set up a simplified version, and it is being accepted by some, see Wikiversity:Delegable proxy/Table. The problem with this is? Now if I were to start violating policy here, and claiming support from X users based on that Table, it would be offensive. SBJ might imagine that I'd do that, but I would not. Delegable proxy is just a method of estimating large-scale consensus from small-scale discussion, and no changes in policy here are being proposed. At least not yet! The goal of the Wikiversity:Assembly and the delegable proxy aspect of that is consensus, not control by some faction.
And this has nothing to do with my custodianship, I'd have proposed all that, with the same results, even if SBJ's pocket veto of my probationary custodianship had not been bypassed. And that's the real issue here. SBJ is accusing me of wanting to control Wikiversity, when the truth is that he believes that he's in charge, and this has been going on for a long time, since before I came to WV. I've done little about this because what he believes is actually irrelevant, and he's entitled to his opinions. But in this comment, SBJ has raised some very serious issues, below. --Abd 16:31, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Abd user space documentation of Wikipedia self-reversion[edit source]

Abd has himself documented much of this in his userspace, for example here (the main page), here (documenting his "self-reversion"), and here (where he tries to outsmart the bots... the bots were employed because the time of actual people was deemed to be wasted following him around).

"Tried to outsmart the bots." I'd urge people concerned about this to read my page, as cited, and there is a subpage about the filter. I was labelling all my edits to Wikipedia, in the edit summaries, with my user name, and self-reverting, "Will self-revert per ban of Abd" and "Self-revert per ban of Abd." I have a long-standing opinion, backed with some substantial evidence, that self-identified, self-reverted edits, unless the content is truly harmful (i.e., outing or serious incivility or other serious disruption) don't violate bans, just as self-reverted 3RR violations don't violate 3RR, or self-reverted incivility doesn't violated civility restrictions (unless the self-reversion is simply wikilawyering, another issue, a way of committing serious incivility and claiming an exemption). (Imagine an edit summary, "Abd is a lying Moslem pervert pedophile, well self-revert this truth per civility policy.")
The bots didn't prevent my editing at all, they simply prevented me from labelling the edits, which then made ban enforcement more difficult rather than less difficult. In other words, the edit filter was self-defeating, all it did was prevent the self-identification, the cooperation with the ban. I spend a few edits determining what exactly was banned. The ban caused serious collateral damage, and I attempted to undo this. And then I simply abandoned self-indentification. The edit filter did not inhibit my actual editing, and, in fact, nothing did but my increased involvement here. And the edit filter was causing collateral damage (which I documented in a subpage). It was disabled. What I do know is that my WV page was reviewed by WP admins, who, in some cases, acted to prevent continued problems caused by over-zealous enforcement. That was part of my goal, to facilitate change through making existing practice visible. It's unusual that a blocked and socking editor will cooperate like that by identifying all the edits. I didn't attack anyone on that page, and, notice, the attempt at Wikiversity to delete the page failed, see the RFD archive. And that WP activity ceased. Why? Because I became very active here. I find it ironic that some Wikipedia editors fail to understand how WV helps the other projects, but it seems that some progress is being made. I can point to a number of examples of how our welcoming attitude here has prevented disruption and socking elsewhere. We provide hope. Some seem to want to stop that, and I intend to stand firmly for it.
And this has nothing to do with my use of tools here, and my demonstrated trustworthiness on that. --Abd 16:31, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Experiments on Wikiversity[edit source]

Abd has subjected the Wikiversity community to similar treatment:

Personal RCA[edit source]

SBJ misrepresents my position. I suggested -- and tested, with some success -- a clerked RCA, something that if done on Wikipedia, instead of the free-for-all AN/I, might make Wikipedia far more functional. At the time, RCA was routinely becoming like AN/I, a debate forum, which actually defeats the purpose. I haven't paid attention to my personal RCA page, but any user could create something like this, participation is completely voluntary, and if I'm no longer a sysop here, I might get that going again. (As a sysop, I watch RCA and requests for anything controversial should be made there. I would also watch any personal RCA page, like mine, where the user shows clerking ability, keeping it simple.) SBJ apparently doesn't understand traditions about user space. Users do not have "absolute authority" there, but user authority over their own user space is generally respected. I've used user space for mediations, successfully, on Wikipedia. ("Success" meant that users who were about to be blocked, one or both, because of their conflict, became cooperative and mutually supportive.) It's a device for allowing clerking by a volunteer clerk, the user. That personal request page violates no policy, and could be seen as a suggestion to make the regular RCA more functional, while reducing disruption. However, there has been little use of RCA for debate recently, so it became not necessary, at least at this point. However, some possible disruption just began, I'd say, with SBJ's re-opening of a discussion there which had been moved to a place of better function, thus creating an opportunity for a forked discussion. It's his privilege, but the effect could be disruptive. Let's hope that sanity prevails.
This is, again, an example of SBJ using what I've done, and would continue to do, as an ordinary user, not a custodian, as an argument against custodianship. This is turning into a referendum on my general approach, and maybe that's important, which is why I can thank SBJ for raising all these issues. I want people, including him, to take stands for what they believe in. --Abd 16:31, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Self-reversion here[edit source]

    • He also tried (with more or less the opposite of community support) to employ his theories on self reversion and block evasions when Moulton was blocked here. Later when he himself was blocked, he continued along that path.
One of the most successful examples of the use of self-reversion was here on Wikiversity, arranged while I was indeed a sysop. It's documented on that self-reversion page study in my user space; SBJ points just to my section of that page, it's a general study of self-reversion as a technique for allowing nondisruptive participation by a banned user, thus moving "orthagonally" to the free/blocked thesis that traps some wiki thinking. However, all I did as a sysop in this regard was to block an account created by the cooperation of Thekohser, to allow a password-verified pointing to IP edits that were his, so they could be reviewed. SBJ doesn't remember this clearly, he was inactive at the time, and only came back during the successful RCA request that I eventually filed to resolve the issue. I attempted to suggest self-reversion to Moulton, and that failed. Moulton was not interested in cooperation, and self-reversion requires cooperation. Moulton was unblocked, not by me, but by Ottava Rima, as some kind of parting gesture, or possibly a "see how bad it will get" parting shot. I would never have unblocked Moulton, because he'd never agreed to cooperation. However, for a time, Moulton was, in fact, nondisruptive, if occasionally irritating. That changed.
As to "when he himself was blocked," I don't recall specifically, and it's not worth looking up, but I think I may have made some requests and self-reverted. Or I just made some of "block-evading IP edits," which I considered necessary for the protection of the community. I was trying to avoid steward intervention, but SBJ did not respond, until later, when it because obvious that stewards could and would respond. If we don't enforce WMF privacy policy here, they will, and every time that happens it damages Wikiversity's reputation. Seriously. My actions there were never reviewed, because I never considered a review to be worth the effort. I don't file Community Reviews just because I'm personally offended in some way. There has to be clear reason and value to them, my view. --Abd 16:57, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Playspace[edit source]

See Wikiversity:Playspace. This is a device for avoiding deletion of inappropriate pages, inappropriate for mainspace, but possibly useful for the user. And perhaps useful eventually for Wikiversity. It has settled, in my usage, for such pages created by IP, otherwise I will move pages to the user space of the user who created them. It works. SBJ at one point objected to the name "Playspace." Apparently he thinks it insulting. Fine. He can create something like it under another name. But this should probably be in user space, the space of an active user, who will take responsibility for the pages not becoming magnets for disruption.
But "play" is not insulting to academic educators, those in the field of education itself. It's an essential part of deep learning process.
Again, This isn't about my use of custodial tools. Most of the Playspace work has been done when I was not a custodian. As a custodian, I'm doing deep Recent Changes patrolling, and thus see, often before others, possibly inappropriate pages. So I've been moving some of these IP-created pages to my own playspace. I'm probably going to tag most of these for slow deletion (another process I'm pioneering, see Category:Slow deletion, an idea which has had some community support when proposed. We may eventually have timed categories, with expirations named in the Category name. But one step at a time!

Canvassing for the Assembly[edit source]

    • Most recently, he has been widely and relentlessly canvassing for "delegable proxies", which are to be used in the "Wikiversity Assembly" (the "rules" for the assembly are to be found in his userspace, so presumably are not intended as a collaborative thing at this time).
Well, not "widely," and certainly not "relentlessly. See User:Abd/Assembly invitations. The widest "canvassing" was that, the other day, I placed an invitation on the talk page of every inactive custodian (14, as shown by WV:Staff). Which brought in one who registered in the Assembly.[1] Is that some bad thing? How? Notice that I've invited people who might not, shall we say, knee-jerk support what I do. Aside from the inactive custodians, I've invited, since August 23, 16 users, four of whom have opposed my candidacy, all invited previously to the opening of this PC nomination.
See User talk:Abd/Assembly invitations for an explanation of the inactive custodian invitations, and a suggestion for all Wikiversity users about the Assembly and invitations to it.
This is not the behavior of a user who wants to control the project, as distinct from seeking more efficient and effective ways of finding project consensus. The Assembly project has just begun and it may not at all be obvious how it will work, but that will change in coming weeks.
The only proposed Assembly process nominated so far is about forming a study committee to suggest Assembly process itself. The page SBJ cites is a rough draft. Just my proposal, that's why it's in my user space. The actual process will not begin until it is seconded by a user, and, yes, as a default clerk for the Assembly page, I will follow my own proposed rules. They bind nobody else. This is all designed for minimum disruption, minimum useless debate, while allowing maximum input, and while facilitating the creation of coherent reports, as distinct from what we often get when there is controversy, train-wreck pages that are very difficult to interpret.
Again, no use of tools involved. --Abd 17:49, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Meta activity[edit source]

    • Finally, and perhaps most alarmingly, Abd has been very active on meta putting himself forward as a "representative" of Wikiversity. We've seen that issue before (with Ottava Rima), and I don't think we should go there again. (The person he was advocating for in this effort is someone in need of a psychiatrist, and I seriously doubt that any amount of "assuming good faith" on a wiki will help him, though that's been tried.)
The page cited by SBJ is a local page, and does not show what he claims. The "person" involved is a Wikiversity user who was in good standing here, no disruption, productive and helpful, when locked. "In need of a psychiatrist" is radically uncivil. I'd urge SBJ to retract this statement. I've only briefly touched on this, I hope that it does not become necessary to examine the situation more closely. The user involved has been very patient, to his credit; delay in this has been due to 'crat unavailability, same as the problems with WV:Changing username. No decision has been made whether or not a process should be initiated here, i.e., a CR, but the global lock at meta set a very bad precedent, as some highly experienced users -- including SBJ himself -- pointed out at the meta ban discussion. We are attempting to deal with this in the least disruptive manner possible, because history shows that discussion of this user will bring in many users with axes to grind. If it's necessary, all this will be documented. The page SBJ cited was created for usage in discussing this with 'crats, but wasn't actually pointed to. Is there a problem with that page?
Unfortunately, that page shows, without rubbing it in (it's not made obvious), a serious violation of WV bureaucrat confidentiality. I'm a bit surprised that SBJ would cite it here. --Abd 18:00, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Most ideas interesting but he's too certain he's right[edit source]

Again, I think Abd means well. Most if not all of his ideas are interesting and worth considering. The problem with his approach is that he seems to become so sure of the validity and righteousness of his ideas that he just runs with them without taking an interest in getting others to come along, support, and improve them. Awarding a "badge of trust" to a person with this particular blind spot would both shed a bad light on the community that gave it to him, as well as bolster a sort of confidence that we should not be bolstering. To those new users who have found him helpful, I'm sure he can continue to be helpful without this status.
I think it's also important for the community to take very seriously the comments of "Salmon of Doubt" and "S Larctica" (scare quotes intended), because giving this person trusted status really will reflect badly upon the community here. It pains me to say it, but if Abd is confirmed, I would be prone to voting on closure as well, because this would (to me) make it crystal-clear that this community is both irresponsible and unsustainable. --SB_Johnny talk 22:24, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
I've faced, shall we say, this problem many times, and with a number of situations, years ago, I've had the opportunity to discuss them later with people who were initially perplexed by my behavior. They've said to me, "You were right, we just didn't understand." Now, with this and twenty-five cents, at one time, I could get a ride on the subway. No longer. I propose solutions to problems that I see, and try them out. I do not insist, unless the matter is extremely clear, and, so far, where I insisted, the ultimate resolution was quite what I was advocating-by-doing. I.e., Moulton was range-blocked to prevent what I was preventing by reversion, as a relatively recent example (and as a non-custodian), earlier this year.
I do not believe that being a custodian confers any sort of advantage in content and policy positions, and a custodian who enforces a personal position contrary to consensus should be removed. True consensus is essential to my goals. In the example I mention from years ago, people were opposed to what I was doing, but what I was doing was independent, it did not actually require them to do or support anything. I followed my legal rights, that's all. And within months, all those people had signed up, because it became obvious that what I'd done was the way forward, possibly the only way. Yeah, it was a difficult case, because these were all my friends (and the friends of my ex-wife). I have better skills now, for sure. But I do take stands. Taking a stand does not involve "being right." I want everyone to take a stand for what they believe. Right and wrong actually have little or nothing to do with it. If we all take our stands, we can then discuss them and seek consensus.
Where I might differ from some others -- which doesn't make me "better," just different -- is that I'm willing to take risks, to do something if I have the right to do it, even if some people don't "approve." But I do not Revert War, except maybe with a blocked editor, reverting the removal of highly disruptive edits with privacy policy violations in them, who is insisting on his way. And that SBJ doesn't understand this, I'll say, is a bit horrifying to me. But it's his right to take a stand. And my right to comment on it. And we and the community may then discuss it, if we choose.
SBJ's statement about closure would be scary, if there were a snowball's chance of closure. We have a Wikiversity 'crat who would vote for closure of the project because he disagrees with a (hypothesized) permanent candidacy approval? Based on? Who obviously considers this project as-it-is -- because all of his objections are to my non-custodial actions, which are definitely not opposed by the community, they have been allowed and even supported -- "irresponsible and unsustainable," but who is not willing to lend a hand to actually resolving the problems, that's been made crystal clear.
My sense is that SBJ is being completely honest here. He considers Wikiversity a train wreck, and has so considered it for a long time. His net effect here, over the last year, has been to increase disruption, not to resolve problems. That's unfortunate, and I hope he'll reconsider.
Wikiversity is actually the best hope that Wikipedia will realize its original vision, because that original vision requires genuine consensus. The problem is that WP did not develop genuine consensus process, early enough. I've been studying voluntary organizations for about thirty years, and what I've seen seems completely understandable to me, it was intrinsic in the naive structure. Compare Wikiversity, as something like a full, complete, comprehensive, open university, with Wikpedia, as an encyclopedia. If Wikipedia is allowed to control Wikiversity, this would be like the editors of an encyclopedia trying to control what academia says about a topic. Bad Idea. Tail Wagging the Dog. The editors are properly those who edit the encyclopedia, but academia properly advises. Following advice is optional, but controlling advice is stupid. When WV is mature, consensus here will be followed there, it can practically be guaranteed, from what I've seen in successful consensus organizations. That's my long-term vision, and is why it is so important that we develop genuine consensus process here, while we are still relatively small. When we become large, as we will, when our traffic exceeds that of Wikipedia, as it may easily do, it will be too late. That's part of what happened to Wikipedia. It's like clockwork. It is not the fault of Bad Guys, as some are fond of assuming. It's just what happens, if something else isn't set up, early on. --Abd 18:35, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Friends in the foundation[edit source]

Just an additional thought after looking at WV:RCA: we do have friends in the foundation who are trying to support us (such as SJ, a board trustee who voted above, and User:Kaldari, a foundation employee who has made his opinion clear elsewhere after a rather strange encounter with Abd). His custodianship will not likely be helpful in getting additional support. --SB_Johnny talk 23:18, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Sj is certainly welcome here. The RCA discussion he started was premature, because the problem he's pointing to can easily be resolved -- and is being resolved -- by discussion with the editor. I closed that RCA discussion because the matter was being addressed, fully, on the editor's talk page. No custodian action was being requested other than attention, and attention was provided (some had already been provided, and Sj didn't seem to recognize that), and the closed discussion invited further participation in the talk page discussions. SBJ re-opened that discussion without considering the reasons for close, which was largely to avoid a forked discussion. I'm not reverting SBJ's re-opening, that would be revert warring. I simply did what I considered best for the wiki, in closing the request as being attended to, and leaving the archived discussion on the RCA page for review ("more eyeballs." I'd closed "without prejudice," which meant that if some action were required, it could be re-opened. I predict that no action will be required, so further discussion there will just be a waste of time. Of course, I could be wrong. So? Good example of what I do. No usage of tools was involved.
As to Kaldari, it was indeed strange. Kaldari created some original research pages in mainspace. However, they were named with what would be appropriate as titles for journal articles. I moved one to Kaldari's user space, simply suggesting that placement in Wikiversity mainspace should be considered. How, not whether or not. Kaldari apparently got upset, moved the page back, then moved it back to his user space. Kaldari did some comments that showed an expectation I'd harass him or something. But there was really no problem, and we ultimately agreed on the solution and the result is not only two excellent articles that will become open access journal articles, but placement of these resources within existing school/topic structure. Win-win. That's what I aim for. Kaldari's initial negative response shows how some Wikipedians have come to expect administrative abuse based on personalization of disputes and prior history. They won't find it here, not as long as I have anything to say about it.
In fact, Kaldari kept his "journal article names," and a good precedent was established. The use of mainspace subpages for such "journal articles," and a bit of mainspace page structure improved. No usage of tools was involved.
I'm not adding links here unless it seems necessary.--Abd 19:07, 14 September 2011 (UTC)