Wikiversity:Notices for custodians

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This page is a central location for communication between custodians.

Probationary Custodianship[edit]

User:Abd has expressed interest in probationary custodianship. Based on his editing history, user support interest, and actions as a custodian previously, it seems likely that his efforts would reduce custodial load on others (with deletes, imports, moves without redirect. etc.) and would also address some maintenance issues he sees that others often ignore. It also seems likely that at some point his passion for defending users whose editing habits are outside generally-accepted norms will lead to controversy. Since we as custodians seem to be working well together at this point, I wanted to ask you all for feedback before responding to Abd's request. If you have any concerns about Abd's role as a probationary custodian, please respond or send email so that I may understand your perspective.

For others in the community, I understand that Abd's role as probationary custodian might raise concerns. But this is specifically a custodian support request rather than a community support request. The community's opportunity for discussion would come later, per Wikiversity:Probationary custodians. Thanks!

Dave Braunschweig (discusscontribs) 21:13, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Having been performing a small portion of cleanup for a while with an aim to continue, more help is great! --Marshallsumter (discusscontribs) 22:29, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks, Dave, for consulting the administrative community. It can't hurt.
I just looked at the Wikiversity:Probationary custodians page. That was a proposed policy that was radically changed by one user and never accepted as edited. Actual practice required no community review to create a probationary custodian, and such review has been rare. It required only a mentor acceptance and a bureaucrat action. The actual practice, long-standing, is at Wikiversity:Custodianship. That was marked policy 12 February 2007, was clearly accepted by the community at a time -- without a formal "vote," it was added to a list of policies by a 'crat -- and is what has been done ever since.
It was deprecated to "proposed" 26 November 2011, without discussion; I reverted with "See talk," and was myself reverted. Because this was an incipient revert war, with incivility, I went to RCA to request custodian attention, and was indef blocked (along with the other editor). And so the policy remained deprecated in spite of abundant evidence that it had been accepted as policy without objection for years, other than one not-sustained effort to deprecate it to proposed.[1]
Review occurs when the probationer is up for permanent custodianship. There are problems with the policy, which can be addressed. The proposed policy does not handle them. --Abd (discusscontribs) 01:47, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Honestly the easy solution is to set up an "assistant" usergroup (I think the usergroups need to be single-word, and "probate" sounds a bit off), that users can be added to by a 'crat, but then removed by any "full" custodian in a no-drama way if someone is unable to rein in their enthusiasm over a problematic issue. For Abd in particular, he could just stay in that usergroup for a couple years until he's got a better track record of keeping things simple. --SB_Johnny talk 12:13, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
  • What happened here, so far is that we have two so-called "active" crats, User:SB_Johnny and User:Jtneill. The traditional probationary custodianship procedure was very simple, and it was marked policy for many years, until demoted by SB Johnny to proposed (which eventually led to a disruptive user agreeing with that, my report to WV:RCA of that action (editing existing policies without consensus was often considered disruptive, but this one depended on a wikilawyered definition of policy), and then my indef block, SB Johnny, for asking for custodial attention. That made it simple! (And that desire for simplicity was explicit in the block suggestion and reason.) (my block log, this was the block of 27 November 2011.) (I have annotated my block log at User:Abd/Block log) Long before I edited Wikiversity, I wrote that a corollary of w:WP:IAR was that "if you have not been blocked, you are not trying hard enough to improve the wiki.")
  • I was blocked for two years, in spite of an open unblock request, in spite of at least one (I think there were two) requests from the community for my unblock. (Mostly, community discussion had died, there was no-consensus on the request, but SB Johnny had clearly enunciated the basic principle as "blocks should require consensus, not unblock," which he then proceeded to ignore when I was involved, both with the block when it I unblocked, and with my own block, whereas his unblock of a controversial user (after discussion) was with his friend, User:Thekohser.) (These are all normal human behaviors. Do not mistake this for a condemnation of SB Johnny, nor of anyone.)
  • Everyone agrees that the proposed assistant usergroup is a great idea. There seems to be consensus that any permanent custodian should be able to add a user to the group, and any permanent custodian can remove the right. The only difference between this and existing policy is that presently bureaucrat action is required for addition, and steward action for removal. Historically, the bureaucrat action was always a rubber stamp. Highly disruptive users have been probationary custodians, SB Johnny, in particular, mentored one. (And did, in fact, ensure he had the candidate's agreement to removal at his discretion, and did remove the right when it was called for.)
  • When I was a probationary custodian, I agreed to the Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Standard stop agreement designed to make it far easier to stop a rogue custodian. It still required steward action, but set it up for the steward decision to be straightforward and easy. SB Johnny refused to use the process, when he claimed I was going rogue, and instead made a steward request. The request was initially refused, but was then acted on when User:Thenub314 argued for it. All of that drama was unnecessary, based on undiscussed disagreement with a single action of mine (where I unblocked a user, after discussion, and following our clear traditions, where SB Johnny's block was not based on our policies, and where Thenub314 reblocked, without discussion, which was wheel-warring, while he accused me of wheel-warring.) It vastly complicated something that could have and should have been very simple.
  • Sometimes situations are not simple. Sometimes they take research and study, and if someone does that research and study and reports the results, SB Johnny and some others will respond with tl;dr. And if one just presents summary conclusions, they are not believed. This is a classic wiki problem.
  • This is the simple situation: We have a policy, and we have bureaucrats refusing to follow it. That, in fact, is a safeguard in the system, but as soon as I say that, I'm making it "complicated." Life and reality are complicated! The safeguard is there to protect against what?
  • A rogue or inattentive permanent custodian who will mentor a disruptive user and not restrain the user.
  • I know of one custodian who has clearly done that: Jtneill. He has ignored complaints, many times. He was my mentor and ignored complaints about me. He neither asked me to change my behavior, nor did he support me.
  • (Complaints, in fact, were not addressed to him; they were addressed to the community, through highly disruptive process.)
  • He was also the mentor of User:Sidelight12, likewise, and did nothing even when there were reports of major problems on his Talk page, and eventually Sidelights' behavior went completely beyond the pale. Only later, when it was all completely obvious, did he suggest that Sidelight12 should not continue as a probationary custodian, which was already a done deal because I'd acted. However, he could have renewed the probationary custodianship. We had mentors who provided zero guidance. And then the mentee was blamed, but the mentee believed that the mentor supported; after all, the mentor had not objected to the mentee's behavior!
  • He is also the mentor of User:Leutha who was never approved for permanent custodianship. Jtneill wrote, in 2011, that he was thinking of not recommending Leutha.
  • This was a setup for failure, an irresponsible mentor. I had, to be sure, email communication with my later mentors (Jtneill and [[User:Draicone) and I have not reviewed that correspondence. I was emergency desysopped by my first mentor User:Ottava Rima, allegedly because the period had expired. The real reason was that I had short-blocked him for incivility, and his reaction to this set up his loss of custodianship. He blamed me for that, and his later Wikiversity activity was almost entirely directed at getting back.
  • Jtneill confirmed that this short-block was within legitimate custodian discretion, and Ottava promptly filed a Community Review seeking removal of Jtneill's rights. This should be obvious: if you stand for the community, you will take flak. Absence of controversy probably indicates a weak stand. Few can manage to be universally popular without this compromise. In fact, I've never seen it. In my training, we were told that if nobody had shot at us, we probably were not up to anything worth wasting ammunition on.
  • (This is not an excuse for undisciplined disruption. That someone shoots as us does not make us right. It simply is not a proof we are wrong. Jtneill is taking the shooting as proof that I'm not accepted by the community, or that my acceptance should be demonstrated. But that guts the probationary custodianship process, deliberately designed to be non-disruptive. That requirement for community acceptance was a major push of Ottava Rima, who attempted to force it more than once.)
  • Jtneill and SBJ were, as well, radically inattentive when it came to bureaucrat duties, which would be easy to document. We would quite possibly find it easier to get things done if we had no bureaucrats. (There is another bureaucrat who has been very inactive. He is about to hit the global rights removal procedure for inactivity, which takes years.) The problem with bureaucrats and adminstrators who are inactive is that they are not familiar with the actual, current situation on the wiki, and may tend to act knee-jerk. The other side is that with long experience, they may develop gravitas. However, that will show in the way in which they explain their actions. It will inspire broad confidence. Further, they will respond to requests!
  • The proposed userrights change will allow the custodial community to handle problems collectively. The Standard Stop Agreement allowed anything from a simple request to stop an identified activity, to blocking to get immediate attention, if I were acting rogue (and then my unblocking myself without following due process would immediately lead to desysop, stewards recognize that without delay). But I was not acting rogue, and in spite of what was claimed at the time, I was not wheel-warring. There was no emergency. The drama was created by SB Johnny. I took a controversial action after discussion. SB Johnny acted precipitately and blamed it all on me.
  • I have not taken my new probationary custodianship request to the community because it is not an emergency. I consider the policy (that deliberately bypasses "community approval") far more important than my personal user rights. I can do almost all of what I want to do here, without custodian rights. I routinely request custodial action, and those requests are almost always granted. The vast majority of my actions as a custodian were not controversial. And what I do here has been just as controversial, when I've not been a custodian, as when I've been one. (In fact, as a custodian, I've been more careful, less likely to IAR, because custodian actions can be intepreted as actions of the community.)
  • To stand for the future of Wikiversity, I must take actions that some will oppose. Endless discussion is not action. It is well-known on Wikipedia: if you want to become an administrator, avoid acting sincerely to improve the project, do not follow Wikipedia Rule Number One with anything that anyone might oppose, do not even propose such. If you do, you will not get the supermajority required.
  • The Wikiversity process is the only one I've seen that bypasses that highly restrictive limitation (which, among other things, does not protect the community; it simply creates a body of administrators who avoided allowing the community to see their true colors before electing them, and then they can be extraordinarily difficult to remove, sometimes even if abuse of tools has been egregious. We have a similar problem here, I may document it. We have a custodian (I'm not naming now) who made certain promises in the candidacy (which might have been sincere at the time, I'm not a mind-reader), who then acted quite the opposite. And this has caused damage. (Most of what he has done is fine. Some of what he's done has been not-fine.)
  • I have spent many days researching the history of Wikiversity. I know what happened here. I do not have merely the narrow slice of my own direct experience. And so I may say a lot, on occasion. But it is all, for me, about engaging and empowering the Wikiversity community.
  • Wikis, which often start out being very good at enabling the community, always devolve into oligarchies, unless protective structures are set up. When we see problems, our human tendency is to try to find someone to blame. This or that user or administrator is "disruptive" or "abusive." However, the user or administrator would have no power to cause sustained harm if the community were awake. So ... the problem is us. We do not stand for our own power. We are quite happy to leave difficult problems to others. "It's too complicated. I don't have time. Surely X users or administrators can't be wrong. Not my problem. tl:dr."
  • And there goes the wiki.
  • I want to see if there is custodian response here, before taking this to the Colloquium or Community Review. We have administrators and bureaucrats who ignore policy, and reviewing, today, Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Abd (full custodian), I see clear examples. There are basic policies which are ignored. And the community allows it. Is, then, "consensus" contrary to the policies? No. This has never been explicit, it is probable that it is mostly overlooked. --Abd (discusscontribs) 19:08, 29 August 2015 (UTC)


Wikiversity:Probationary custodians provides an appropriate approach to probationary custodianship. Serious concerns have been raised, and Abd would be wise to withdraw his request rather than pursuing behaviors that have a net negative effect on Wikiversity. Forcing this issue is likely to result in an undesirable outcome for all concerned. -- Dave Braunschweig (discusscontribs) 23:22, 29 August 2015 (UTC)
I thank Dave for his response. This is the reason I have not pushed it. For years, faced with failures on Wikiversity to respect consensus (policy violations often represent that), I elected to avoid disruption by "not pushing it." I'm considering that the net effect of this has been harmful. Notice that it was practically suggested that I go to the Colloquium for consensus. The "appropriate approach" Dave points to -- twice in this discussion -- was a disruptive proposal at a time when we already had an official policy, and that official policy is what Wikiversity has actually followed, before and since, except for now. This is the first time not followed. So ... this is not some petty issue. It is about the core of how Wikiversity operates.
My claim is not that we should always follow policy. This is not mere wikilawyering. However, the policy has a purpose, a function, and the status quo is frustrating that purpose and function, and it's time to resolve this. Either policy is accepted, or policy should be changed.
By the way, as it stands: Custodianship Policy.
So if someone wants to change the policy, this time, it's going to the community. If the policy stands as created and used for nine years, no need for that community discussion. The behavior that "pursued" has "a net negative effect"? I can document a pile of such behaviors, that have been tolerated for many years, frustrating the community, frustrating many. It's time we resolve these issues, not keep sweeping them under the carpet. Because I know how to do this, I have a responsibility to do it. My goal is consensus, but not a fake consensus created by most people shutting up and not standing for what they believe. A real consensus, that is, then, powerful, and that creates a vibrant community.
Any other comments? --Abd (discusscontribs) 01:22, 30 August 2015 (UTC)
If I am understanding this correctly, Abd is asking for SB_Johnny to turn on Custodian powers for Abd based on the consensus for the "assistants" group, with Abd being its first member. This is okay with me. But, ultimately it may be up to SB_Johnny. --Marshallsumter (discusscontribs) 03:08, 30 August 2015 (UTC)
Yes. No user is obligated to act contrary to belief in the welfare of the community -- or their own welfare. What SB_Johnny does is indeed up to SB_Johnny. However, SB_Johnny could defuse this possible disruptive issue, immediately, by following policy. That's his right. He might do it, I've seen him do things like that, in the past. Jtneill could, as well. If they are worried, they could ensure that there was an agreement in place, with someone trustworthy, as SBJ did with Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Salmon of Doubt, an example of creative use of voluntary agreements to handle possible problems. Salmon of Doubt was a highly controversial user. There was opposition to the candidacy. It was essentially ignored, by SB Johnny and the 'crat who implemented. --Abd (discusscontribs) 04:59, 30 August 2015 (UTC)
I think a quick look ar Abds response to talk suggestion above illustrates why it would be unwise to extend Abd's responsibilities on Wikiversity: After it has been pointed out that Abd should learn to keep things simpl his response is 11.806 bytes long and makes 24 separate points. I think that we should allow him the chance to develop a way of responding to situations rather than setting up an "assistant" usergroup to accommodate such a controversial candidate. I would second Dave Braunschweig's suggestion above that this request is withdrawn. Leutha (discusscontribs) 09:21, 30 August 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, just saw this. Did the new usergroup get created (with the bugzilla request and all that jazz taken care of)? --SB_Johnny talk 14:31, 17 September 2015 (UTC)
Not that I know of. Abd is currently indef blocked for personal attack(s) on Dave. Suggestions? --Marshallsumter (discusscontribs) 15:02, 17 September 2015 (UTC)
I saw, I was just wondering if anything ever came of the bugzilla request for the usergroup. No suggestions come to mind, though it does look like same-old same-old from his recent activity. --SB_Johnny talk 15:54, 17 September 2015 (UTC)
There's no record of any request on Bugzilla for a Custodial assistants group. This may have been me dropping a ball I didn't know I had. My last request on Phabricator about turning on math functions needed for PlanetPhysics went into confusion or nowhere. For the latter I believe there's a resource here that turns on or off math functions for Wikiversity. There may be something similar here I can use for the Custodial assistants group. --Marshallsumter (discusscontribs) 16:40, 17 September 2015 (UTC)
If or when I find such resources I'll ask at the Colloquium first in case there are any concerns. --Marshallsumter (discusscontribs) 17:06, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

Information Systems and Computer Applications[edit]

I have a class of 15 - 20 students who are starting work on Information Systems and Computer Applications. Tuesday evening is the first class meeting, so there could be some creative editing for awhile as they learn their way around. Just wanted to let you know. -- Dave Braunschweig (discusscontribs) 02:34, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

I'll make sure to know so I don't mess up again like before with another class. --Atcovi (Talk - Contribs) 10:41, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

Edits under protection and request process[edit]

Today I noticed that the Edit under protection box on WV:RCA had two open requests. So I looked and found:

  • Most requests took a ridiculous amount of time for edits that were uncontroversial and that would take a minute.
  • There was a request still undone that had been open since 8 December 2013. It was a simple edit, and, yes, it was one of the few requests that had Template:Editprotected included. So that means that for almost two years, this category has had an open request, unhandled.
This and other recent events have raised in my consciousness that we don't need more administrators! We need an active community that leads, because actual usage of admin tools usually takes minutes, if the community sets it up. One of my Wikipedia adventures was clerking w:Mediawiki talk:Spam-whitelist because requests were sitting there for many months, for something that really should be routine. If a regular editor asks for a blacklisted page to be whitelisted, it should take no more than a few hours. Instead, admins would argue with the user as to whether the page was "necessary" or not. That's really a decision to be made by the editors of articles, and sometimes they just want to discuss a link. The blacklist administrators were making it difficult for themselves, creating more work, which they then avoided doing, but making themselves guardians of content. That is not the best administrative role.
So I'll be making structural suggestions out of this. I am not writing this to berate our volunteer custodians. Really, the community has largely abdicated its responsibility to run the wiki, thinking that is the job of administrators. And when administrators do it, what do we get?
We get standard wiki practice, which readily can become less than welcoming to new users. It is not bad administrators, it is unstated but assumed duties laid upon them. I did it too, when I was a custodian. I considered it my duty to watch Recent Changes, to supervise everything happening on the wiki.
Bad Idea!
However, I do request this of all administrators who are active:
  • Once a day, when possible, review the action request categories. Requests should receive a response quickly. Such responses do not need to be extensive, nor to take a lot of time. If a request is not prepared, ready for action, advise the requestor how to prepare; for example, "please discuss this on the Colloquium," or the like. Then disable the request. It can be renewed later. If you don't know what to do, ask. I.e., ask for another opinion and leave the request template in place, because if custodians are examining these categories, another will see it if you leave it open. Just expressing your "I don't know" will show the user that their request is being taken seriously. And you will then have the relevant page on your watchlist.
  • Following these ideas, all requests should be handled quickly, even if only to suggest further action to the user.
  • When you handle a request, note this with the request, so that others don't waste time checking it out. Template:Done and a signature will do the trick.
We used to have many "speedy deletion" requests open. It's poor process, because we then stop paying much attention to the category. I know what happens. One looks at the request, doesn't know what to do, so one puts off doing anything, and then it is lost in the avalanche of more events. We have become extremely proficient at handling speedy deletions, without becoming deletionist. --Abd (discusscontribs) 00:57, 4 August 2015 (UTC)
I added some examples of poor process from Wikipedia, but it's far enough off topic here that I've removed it, it can be read at [2]. --Abd (discusscontribs) 01:42, 4 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Update. I've been expanding the open requests box on WV:RCA. This is intended for requests that should be promptly attended to. If any custodian looks at such a request and believes it should be discussed before being done. the speedy template should be removed, reason given. Template:Delete may be replaced with Template:Proposed deletion, or removed. Template:History merge may be replaced by Template:Merge to (which proposes discussion). When custodians put this off, requests accumulate and then get less attention. Speedy requests may now be seen in a single glance by looking at WV:RCA. --Abd (discusscontribs) 17:21, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Operational note. The cached version of WV:Request custodian action/Header is routinely not updated, so the box display will be obsolete. So I added a "purge cache" link to the table. Clicking on that link will purge the cache. It also opens up the Header page, so one sees the updated box. When acting on a request, one may also wish to purge that page cache afterwards, to clean it up for other custodians. Anyone can do that, though. --Abd (discusscontribs) 16:41, 29 August 2015 (UTC)