Criticism of Wikimedia Meta - Blocks'n Locks

Discussion in 'Nobody Cares' started by tyciol, Dec 29, 2011.

A very friendly community
  1. tyciol

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    Jul 20, 2011
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    I'm going to get the ball rolling here: the Stewards on meta are able to gleefully block IPs and lock named accounts on a global scale without oversight or any regulating rules or policies. is merely a draft, so they don't appear to have any official policy on how the power to block is used. I know I've personally had an IP block happen because I edited a steward's talk page to bring attention to how they were deleting a talk page when I created it to post an {{unblock}} template request. The proper response to denying that is replacing it with which was not done.

    What happens is that doing this prevents unblock requests from showing up in the Requests_for_unblock category. Whereas if you change it to declined, this moves it to are similarly unregulated. This is not labelled as a 'draft', so it's worded like it's official policy, but anyone reading it will find a host of vague crap basically allowing stewards to block without being held down to any rules.

    There is wording to imply that it is permissable to globally lock named accounts in place of blocking them, since blocking software is designed for IPs on a global scale (localized blocking of nameds has only been implemented for the wikimedia projects, such as Wikipedia).

    For example, in the Global blocks draft:
    global block can be requested - and either implemented as:
    • temporarily implemented as a global lock until global blocking is possible (though this is discouraged).
    From Global locks page:
    *users who would be eligible for a global block are locked in this way as well

    The problem with this criteria is that since the global block page is only a draft, what sort of things make users eligible for global blocking (were thesoftware possible) is not defined. So right now, stewards are capable of (and exercising that capacity) globally locking people in place of blocking while not actually defining when it is permissible to block a named.

    The Global locks page lists bullets at the bottom which are supposedly reasons when it is okay to lock an account. Based on the wording, it appears to be an elaboration on locking-as-blocking for nameds policy.

    • Accounts that have been used only for vandalism or abuse on multiple wikis and are actively vandalizing now are candidates for a global lock. Please include links to block histories or other evidence of abuse on other projects, and indicate where the account is still active.
    • Accounts whose names are offensive or abusive are also eligible for locking, and may be hidden from logs as well.
    • Accounts that have violated other principles which are grounds for indefinite blocks on multiple individual projects, such as making repeated legal threats, publishing child pornography, or posting private personal information about others which may endanger them
    To break this down, the reasons are:
    • "abuse" (which wikimedia has not defined)
    • "vandalism" (which, while a clear enough concept, doesn't appear to have oversight in how stewards assess what they label as vandalism)
    • The stipulation that the accounts have been used "only" for either of these purposes and that they are actively engaged in continuing them. (this clearly is ignored)
    • Names that are abusive/offensive (this is why I think the bullets apply to names as not IPs since I doubt numbers offend anyone). It is not clear how people determine when this applies.
    • Making legal threats
    • Posting ChiP
    • Posting dangerous private info about others

    So these are the 'clear' points about when locks are appropriate. The current wording allows comfortable wiggle room though.

    The "names which are abusive/offensive" is their first point of wiggle room. For example "NiggersSuck" would offend the nigras, but is "Tyciol" an offensive name?

    Is it the nature of names and their meanings, or the meanings that people associate with names that determines this? Does a name which is neutral become offensive if an ED editor uses it and people view their editing contributions as offensive.

    The 2nd wiggle area is the phrase "principles which are grounds for indefinite blocks on multiple individual projects" for example.

    To give an example of how this can be used: Let's say 2 wikiprojects define core principles to be "supporting jews" and make it their policy to indefinitely ban someone who is unsupportive of them. This means that if someone is NOT supportive of jews , they have just violated a principle which is a grounds for an indefinite block on multiple (2) projects.

    That means that a user can have their name globally for violating a policy, even if they are not even a member of those specific wikiprojects. In this way, if any 2 projects share a policy, this is grounds to globally police the entire Wikimedia community and indefinitely lock the accounts of anyone who anywhere violates said policies, even if they only limit their editing to projects which do not have such policies.

    Another wiggle room is the box:
    • "The following is a proposed list of reasons as an effort to write down current consensus about when this is appropriate. Please revise and add to it, and see the talk page for more."
    So basically, people can hide rules they don't want to publically announce on the talk page. They can also come up with new rules on the spot. They can have hidden "consensus" about a rule, and claim it is consensus, but not actually list the new rule or use of a global block/lock action.

    They are not required to be public about how they use their power, or to amend the list when they use these actions in ways that do not conform to the rules or examples listed on the page.

    I don't know how to conclude this rant, but there's basically very little transparency in how Stewards operate, and considering how much power they possess, I think there should be more of it to prevent them from abusing their powers.
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