Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Archive69

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The user who used to edit as User:Lieutenant Dol Grenn wishes me to state for the record that User: is not him. I initially marked that IP address as such but upon investigating the respective IP addresses and emailing Dol Grenn, it is clear that I was mistaken and I apologise for any inconvenience. --Yamla 19:17, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Major backlog at Wikipedia:Copyright problems[edit]

Hi everyone... there is a multi-week backlog at Wikipedia:Copyright problems. Some help would be appreciated. ---J.S (T/C) 21:55, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Please block confirmed sockpuppets[edit]

Users DP1976 (talk+ · tag · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · filter log · block user · block log · CA · checkuser (log)) and BryanFromPalatine (talk+ · tag · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · filter log · block user · block log · CA · checkuser (log)) are confirmed sockpuppets:

" Confirmed DP1976 and BryanFromPalatine. It is  Possible that 12ptHelvetica is the same. Dmcdevit·t 09:05, 28 December 2006 (UTC)" FINDINGS

Please block BryanFromPalatine , DP1976 , the offending IP (talk+ · tag · contribs · filter log · WHOIS · RBLs · block user · block log · cross-wiki contribs · checkuser (log)) and continue the investigation into possible sockpuppetry by 12ptHelvetica (talk+ · tag · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · filter log · block user · block log · CA · checkuser (log))

Note That on 12/21 DP1976 (confirmed sock of BryanFromPalatine) edited the comments of 12ptHelvetica on a talk page, adding content HERE. Such actions strongly suggest that 12ptHelvetica is yet another sock of BryanFromPalatine. I look forward to the results of this investigation. - F.A.A.F.A. 22:11, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Please provide diffs of abusive sockpuppetry rather than ordering a block. Proto:: 23:37, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
From what I know of this whole situation, it's all that's going on at Free Republic (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) and Talk:Free Republic (edit | article | history | links | watch | logs).—Ryūlóng (竜龍) 23:41, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I have indefinitely blocked DP1976, and blocked BryanFromPalatine for a week for sockpuppeting. It appears Zoe already blocked 12ptHelvetica. Ral315 (talk) 11:42, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Serious backlog at WP:CSD[edit]

Hovering at around 300 items, which is bad enough, but it's been at that level for the last 24 hours or so. --Calton | Talk 00:59, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

I did my fair share, now if ten others do theirs we should have this wiped out. --Cyde Weys 02:12, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

I've been spending a bit of time there ... one thing I have in the pipe is an inquiry regarding copyright problems ... see Wikipedia_talk:Copyright_problems/Advice_for_admins#Need_to_clarify_process. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 02:33, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

I gave you my opinion there (short summary = use the copyvio process). -- JLaTondre 02:49, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Thank you - climbing up the learning curve with the rope you tossed down. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 04:13, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm working on the backlog now. Are there any tools to automate the orphaning of images and the removal of wikilinks/redirects? alphachimp. 02:52, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes. NPWatcher. —Pilotguy (ptt) 04:20, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

AFD can do it decently as well. Just takes a bit of setup. ---J.S (T/C) 04:23, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Down to single digits. El_C 14:33, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Replaceable fair use[edit]

I'm confused over this. On 30 November, I tagged Image:Jayson Blair.jpg for replaceable fair use [1]. On 12 December (5 days after the stated 7-day waiting period), Shyam Bihari deleted the category [2], noting that the backlog had been cleared. Yet nothing had been done to the image - the tag was not removed nor was that "not deleted" template thingy attached to the image. On 17 December, the category was apparently recreated for vandalism (something about "chowbok"), meaning that the image would have once again appeared in the category, but Angr deleted the category without acting on the Jayson Blair image. On 24 December, 25 days after I tagged the image, Alkivar finally removes the tag [3]. Is the backlog usually this bad? How did this image slip unnoticed for three weeks and two administrators? Hbdragon88 06:53, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

It was also entirely unsourced. I deleted it. Jkelly 07:20, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Santa on Sleigh (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · page moves · block user · block log)[edit]

In brief, user considers him/herself a bringer of humor per this former edition of the talk page. The user's only edits have been to promote holiday humor or bemoan the lack thereof, through last February, reappearing (appropriately) today; not a single constructive edit to the encyclopedia can be found among the user's edits. Therefore, to me, this user epitomizes WP:TROLL. Comments welcome. RadioKirk (u|t|c) 04:03, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

I know it is supposed to be a play on Willy on Wheels, but he posted once today and mentioned that he won't be doing the same stuff as he did last year due to the lack of AGF shown by the community. I won't do the blocking, but I will not be upset if he is. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 04:11, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
While this block might evoke images of Scrooge I completely agree with it. This is a perfect example of trollery. (Netscott) 04:13, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Endorse the block, given the lack of constructive edits. --Coredesat 04:15, 25 December 2006 (UTC) No longer endorse the block. --Coredesat 06:29, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Endorse the block. No point in letting Santa get around this Christmas :). In all seriousness, though, accounts doing nothing to contribute to Wikipedia should be blocked. alphachimp. 04:29, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Wow...Blocking santa...Somebody's getting a lump of coal. Just H 02:16, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Hoping that Santa is listening, here are my thoughts: If he's not causing any disruption, and is spreading good will, then there is no cause for blocking. Leaving positive messages for other users does benefit the encyclopedia, and does so much more so than some of the other holiday antics around here, like the things that many people do on April Fool's Day. If the user has become disenchanted due to last year, then I would advise that the person responsible for the account leave it dormant, rather than spreading any ill will. If Santa would like to go and leave users presents (I would suggest limiting himself to those who he gave presents to last year and who expressed appreciation, either on his or thier own talk pages), then more power to him. If not, as I said before, the account should just go dormant, rather than stirring up any kind of disharmony. I think blocking the account will do exactly the same, and would encourage those thinking about doing so to ask themselves "Am I really doing Wikipedia a favor in doing this, since I know how much discord doing so will bring?" Essjay (Talk) 04:41, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
"Santa" was blocked about an hour ago. From what I can see, other than a couple of messages on the noticeboards, he (I'll deem the Santa character to be male) was in the process of responding (with tailored and measured responses) to 5 users who had posted "wishes" on his userpage. I think leaving this go would have been harmless, though I will admit that I wasn't around last year and can only get a sense of what happened through reading the contribs log.
It's obvious that "Santa" was being played by a regular user, who knows many of us here, and that the "lack of constructive edits" pertains to this special-occasion account and not the user as a person. I would urge unblocking now, not so much because I want a present, but so as not to embarrass whoever might otherwise get caught behind the autoblock. Newyorkbrad 04:48, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I've released the resulting autoblock, as there is no reason to think someone who is obviously a regular (and dedicated, to have been here at least a year) contributor will cause any problems necessitating an autoblock. While I won't unblock Santa, I will say I'm deeply disappointed at the decision to place the block. Essjay (Talk) 04:57, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
From what I remember of last year's incidents I think he's (Santa on Sleigh) right - we need to assume good faith a bit more, and would support an unblock. – Chacor 05:03, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I don't think his comments were trolling; bad attempt at humour perhaps, but not trolling. 05:02, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
How does it benefit us to have accounts that do nothing to contribute to our articles? alphachimp. 05:05, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
The same way, how does having Wikipedia:Esperanza, or user autograph pages, benefit the encyclopedia? You might be interested in Jimbo's comment on Wikipedia:Esperanza and user autograph pages... – Chacor 05:13, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not unwilling to suppose that Santa is a bona fide alternate account. 05:08, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, absolutely the EA thing is a good point. I guess this all really gets back to the debate about the full extent of community that should be allowed to develop on Wikipedia. Quite frankly, I don't really have much of an opinion on it. alphachimp. 05:15, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I see that Santa has now been unblocked, although so far there's no note about it on his talkpage or userpage, so he probably doesn't know it yet. I suspect that the moment has been lost, anyhow. :( Newyorkbrad 05:25, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
My mistake... <|:o) 05:35, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

I would like User:Awyong Jeffrey Mordecai Salleh to explain the unblock with no discussion with me whatsoever; not one single edit to Wikipedia by this editor furthers the encyclopedia in any manner whatsoever, and the user's edits define WP:TROLL. I must also ask User:Essjay to review the edit history of an editor who has "been here at least a year" and, at the same time, explain the 10-month absence. The user was previously blocked, then unblocked per WP:AGF; then, this user failed all manner of the assumption of good faith. Is there an explanation? RadioKirk (u|t|c) 05:43, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps you should WP:AGF a little. Did you read Jimbo's comment I linked? If you haven't, please do. I think that based on that comment it's fair to unblock. – Chacor 05:50, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
With all respect, perhaps you should read WP:AGF, which makes clear that the assumption of good faith cannot trump the overwhelming evidence to its contrary. Not one edit by this user is productive in any way; every edit is intended to be either humorous or damning of its lack by Wikipedia editors; if there is a more obvious example of WP:TROLL, I've not seen it. RadioKirk (u|t|c) 05:57, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Since I'm being called out by name here, I'll respond. First, I don't think any of us believe that this is the only account this user is using; to have come in all of a sudden and picked the list of people that were messaged last year is far beyond the scope of coincidence. There is obviously an established user behind this account, one who knows many people, and who makes regular contributions to the site. The fact that this seasonal sockpuppet does not edit in the non-Christmas season is irrelevant; the editor responsible for it obviously does. Beyond that, I see no evidence that the unblocks were a result of AGF; they pretty clearly state they are reversing unjustified blocks made outside of policy. (We don't block to enfore wikibreaks, see WP:BLOCK.) I'd suggest everybody step back at this point, as this has already caused far more discord than the edits of the user, and it will only cause more if it continues. Essjay (Talk) 05:54, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree, though I note that the account is reblocked as of now, so I guess this now qualifies as something of a wheel-war over Santa Claus. Newyorkbrad 06:00, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
The blocks may or may not have been attributed to the correct policy, based on the history of this particular, as you put it, "sockpuppet", and yet, with every respect to everyone involved, including those named within this discussion, they remain no less correct, and remain no less improperly unblocked (not a wheel war, an improper unblock) sans discussion. RadioKirk (u|t|c) 06:02, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Reblocking someone who's been unblocked (both the unblock and reblock without discussion) most certainly is wheel-warring. – Chacor 06:04, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
You assume that the reblock is done sans discussion. That is incorrect, the unblock required discussion in the first place; the reblock restores the issue prior to the lack of discussion thereof. RadioKirk (u|t|c) 06:08, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Please don't attempt to wikilawyer. While the unblock was not discussed you should not have restored the block without further discussion either. Admins have been sanctioned in the past for this. – Chacor 06:15, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Then I'll be "sanctioned" here. I'm correct, and the other editor was incorrect, in my view. RadioKirk (u|t|c) 06:37, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

If he posts on the talkpages of people who actually want him there, by all means let him do so, as I see no harm. If he's posting with wild abandon, however, then I would impose a block. This is my opinion. --210physicq (c) 06:04, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

Not a single edit to the encyclopedia, and annual, Christmas-themed edits to those who do (and do not) embody this user's definition of its "spirit"? What else, if not this, defines WP:TROLL? RadioKirk (u|t|c) 06:10, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Do the talk pages he posts on belong to editors that want him there? Most importantly, is he disrupting Wikipedia? --210physicq (c) 06:12, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm lost; this is even up for debate? RadioKirk (u|t|c) 06:18, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
You submitted this report, people disagree with your actions, you defended said actions, so technically yes, this is a debate. Merry Christmas! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Physicq210 (talkcontribs) 06:22, 25 December 2006 (UTC).
An unblock outside policy and guideline is not a "debate". RadioKirk (u|t|c) 06:37, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Should we then get rid of Concordia, and Esperanza, and unencyclopedic user subpages then? Seriously now. WP:TROLL does not seem to be an accepted description of his edits by anyone but yourself and Netscott. – Chacor 06:15, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Seriously, indeed, comparing the unproductive edits of an apparent troll with projects that further the encyclopedia... RadioKirk (u|t|c) 06:18, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
As the only person who's pushing ahead with this, your single opinion that he's been WP:TROLLing doesn't count for much (neither does my opinion that he isn't). Your reblock as such - that his edits are trolling - was clearly misplaced, however, and you should stand up and admit that you were wrong in wheel warring. – Chacor 06:21, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Hardly my "single opinion" per the responses hereto, you should in fact admit that the unblock without prior discussion was the one and only improper action herein. A "wheel war" requires two people acting within policy and guideline; Awyong Jeffrey Mordecai Salleh's action fails both. RadioKirk (u|t|c) 06:37, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely not. That fits no definition of wheel warring at all (and there is no such thing as an in-policy wheel war). You don't get a free pass to edit war or wheel war or anything else just because you think you were right, or even if you were. We have ways of dealing with cnflicts other than hitting back, and no administrator should be engaging in combative reversions, even when provoked. If you need a policy, perhaps you should read the same page you linked, beginning with "Block wars, in which a user is repeatedly blocked and unblocked, are extremely harmful...". Wheel warring is what you've done: stale reversions of fellow administrators without talking. You are responsible for escalation and responding with disrespect in kind. Dmcdevit·t 08:02, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely, a perfect description of the unblock. Thank you. RadioKirk (u|t|c) 08:13, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
You are welcome; it was meant to be. The unblock was disrespectful. And, I repeat, you are responsible for escalation by responding with disrespect in kind. Dmcdevit·t 08:51, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

This thread has to be the most un-Christmas conversation on Wikipedia. Merry Christmas to everyone (including trolls, vandals, Santa the whom-RadioKirk-calls-a-troll, IP addresses, editors, administrators, bureaucrats, stewards, developers, Jimbo Wales, and everyone else who have no involvement on Wikipedia)! --210physicq (c) 06:32, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

Lovely sentiment, Physicq. It appears, however, that our friend Santa is probably too busy to bother with Wikipedia now. According to NORAD, this is where he is at now [4]. Hmmm...NORAD tracks Santa, Wikipedia blocks him...Merry Christmas all. Risker 06:49, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
The NWS claims differently ;PChacor 06:52, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

I can't believe that there is an argument going on over this. It is harmless. Get a grip. ... and what if it really is santa??? I bet blocking santa gets you double coal.--Gmaxwell 07:54, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

Yeah. I'm not big into Christmas, but c'mon, this is completely harmless. Who does it hurt? No one if Santa is only posting on people's pages who want him there. And who is he helping? Everyone who's spirits are brightened as a result. Seriously, some editors really need to stop being such kill-joys. Ungovernable ForceGot something to say? 08:15, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Trolling is harmless? I'd have sworn we were writing an encyclopedia... RadioKirk (u|t|c) 08:23, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, but who is being hurt? You keep citing policies but you are not saying how this is actually harmful. A few years ago you could have cited laws in certain US states that said oral sex between two men was illegal, but you'd be hard-pressed to show how it actually hurt anyone. You are merely referencing policies, but in case you don't know, as an anarchist I don't give a damn about generalized policies; I only care about individual situations. And again I ask, who is hurt by this? Ungovernable ForceGot something to say? 08:34, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
The encyclopedia; and, as a libertarian, I find your "anarchist" argument non sequitur at best. The issue remains that, as I brought a block here for discussion, an editor who decides to unblock absent discussion had better have a damned good reason, and it simply didn't exist. RadioKirk (u|t|c) 08:49, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
It's not a non-sequitur. All you are doing is citing policy for policies sake and not giving any reason as to how this individual situation is harmful to the project. You seem to be trying to enforce policy merely because is is policy, but you are not saying why it needs to be enforced. Ungovernable ForceGot something to say? 09:31, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I unblocked because there was sentiment by Essjay and Newyorkbrad that the rationale for your block was weak. Whatever... the energy you expend into defending your block is now costing us more time than any disruption the troll cause. EOD. 08:57, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Consensus to me looks like we are not in favor of this user's being blocked. There. I have discussed an action I would like to take, that of unblocking this user. I have not seen any example of this user's activity that justifies this block, and the existence of features on Wikipedia designed to build community and cheer up other Wikipedians, as well as Jimbo Wales' comments about autograph books lead me to believe that this user needs to be unblocked. --Chris Griswold () 09:24, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Most people seem to be in support of unblocking this user as far as I can tell. And as mentioned earlier, there had been discussion and some people felt the block was not needed. Ungovernable ForceGot something to say? 09:31, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I have unblocked this user. Does everyone realize how bizarre this situation will look to outsiders? This will probably be picked up by a news source, even if it is some hack columnist in England (Everything negative that I have read about Wikipedia seems to come from newspaper hacks who happen to be English). This is like Miracle on 34th Street: RadioKirk, you need to recognize the mail sacks that these other admins have hauled into the courtroom. --Chris Griswold () 09:41, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
Give me a break... RadioKirk (u|t|c) 17:23, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

The consensus was clearly in favor of unblocking at the time it was performed, no matter what Kirk is trying to say after the fact. I do think his comments, actions, and attitude are mystifying and slightly worrying coming from an administrator. Regards, —bbatsell ¿? 17:38, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

At the time the user was unblocked without discussion, four others endorsed the block; the only one who didn't was the one who performed the unblock. Worry all you want... RadioKirk (u|t|c) 17:41, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

Um. You blocked User:Santa on Sleigh. At Christmas. And there was more penis vandalism on the Main Page this morning. This place is going to the dogs... – Gurch 21:13, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, I am a bit disturbed that Admin's attention are being diverted from serious threats to the Project that actually damage Wikipedia's credibility with a debate on whether a user trying to promote holiday cheer is a troll. Agne 08:00, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

RadioKirk advances fallacious logic. He claims a=b and b=c so a=c. Apples are fruit and oranges are fruit so apples are oranges. Santa=troll and troll=bad so Santa=bad. Worse, he constructs the first part of his fallacious equation from a hasty conclusion and somewhat of an argument of authority, or maybe more like begging the question. He declares Santa's activities to be trolling, based on his authority to declare it so, or just begging it so. Beyond the simple declaration of his conclusion, his assumption draws a hasty conclusion that if trolls act in a certain way, all others who act in that same way must also be trolls. Apples have red skin and are white inside, but not all things with red skin that are white inside are apples. Is this debate about strength for reasoning, or about status in a social context? 1 thang 06:11, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

It is a bit odd that this time last year the user made dozens of edits without incident (well, except for a 364 day "enforced wikibreak" block the next day, which was only a joke – Gurch 13:12, 26 December 2006 (UTC)
Sheesh. I'm glad I avoid this board most of the time, otherwise I would have blown my top. I can't believe someone blocked Santa. I thought last year's gift spree was hilariously quirky, exactly like what one would hope to find in a community of volunteers, at least those editors who don't want a top-heavy bureaucratic structure to tell them how to be encouraging. It was also non-disruptive and had clearly identifiable rules in which the gag would occur. FFS. I guess I should go back to the salt mines. - BanyanTree 04:23, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

The "rollback" button[edit]

I'm using this page as it probably gets more views than the relevant talk page. When the rollback button is pressed, it reverts the page back to the last version that is not by the reverted user, and uses the edit summary Reverted edits by Vandal (talk) to last version by Last Good User. My problem is, the name of the rollback link: shouldn't it be called "revert"? Either that, or the edit summary should be changed so they're more consistent. What does everyone think? --Majorly (Talk) 22:49, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

I think it's because anyone can revert an edit – the term just means going back to a previous revision – but the particular type of revert that only administrators have access to is special, and so has its own name – Gurch 23:30, 26 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand what the complaint about the edit summary is. I thought we used "rollback" because we're rolling back all of that user's edits; in my mind, a 'revert' button would imply reverting just the last edit. However, I have no problem with the summary, because it clarifies that the action (possibly) reverted more than one edit. I guess I just don't know why it's an issue. Only admins see it, and I think we all know what it means... —bbatsell ¿? 23:33, 26 December 2006 (UTC)
I'd say we keep the name. As Bbatsell notes, only admins see it anyway, so we don't need to worry about confusion amongst the masses as to its ability. EVula // talk // // 17:09, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I think its fine the way it is. — xaosflux Talk 01:09, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Are we all deficient administrators?[edit]

I have worked up an essay attempting to get at a set of best practices for IRC at user:Geogre/IRC considered, and a few other folks have been working at it as well. The one IRC channel that prompts this most of all is the en.administrators.irc channel. It is a channel "for administrators only," even though at least three people who are not administrators are on it (and two have "ops"). The rationale offered for the channel is that there is a great need for real-time private discussion of sensitive material among administrators.

I have never been to that channel, myself. Instead, I look here, at the Administrator's Noticeboard, and at the Administrator's Noticeboard Incidents. There, I see people with complaints and issues that get investigated and addressed in as little as two or three minutes.

Am I therefore a bad administrator? Are you? What sensitive, real time, private information is it that we are not receiving? Are we all failing Wikipedia for not having it? Should, perhaps, we disallow everyone else from reading and posting to these pages? Or is it possible that there actually isn't such data that should be passed between administrators that can't be accountable to the wider project? Geogre 00:44, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Hopefully you ask sincerely and not as a way of baiting people to respond in the affirmative so they can be targeted to relieve administrative stress. I don't know what kind of people you are, but bad administrators, yes. You're not bad admins for failing to visit IRC, but for failing to control the adolescent slander bandied about there toward charitable contributors to the project. And the proper adjective would be poor, not bad. Depending on one's philosophy, we all be bad people at times or in part.
The question regards not your moral qualities, but whether you poorly apply administrative skills, and the answer to that is most affirmatively yes. You (speaking to the collective you about whom you inquired) invite people to contribute then attack them for the contributions. You impose your subjective values about what is "good for the project" and attack people without remorse when they don't fit your personal standards. You invite people to edit an so-called encyclopedia that "anyone can edit" with the tease that "there are no rules" then once they contribute in exactly the manner such an invitation can be expected to elicit, you turn on them without mercy -- not acknoweldging that their views of the project may have merit though they are contary to yours, but ridiculing and demeaning them as "trolls", "sockpuppets" or "vandals". Yes, those who conduct back-channel dialogues in language not allowed on-wiki have a special flavor of poor administrative skill, with somewhat of an actual bad taste. But that could only happen in an administration where any administrator was free to impose whatever ad hoc pseudopolicy they could rally a like-minded crowd to support.
To make matters worse, it is all done under the rhetorical protections of Jimbo Wales in the world media, whose allusions to "wikilove" (does that mean self-love as in narcisism) present the false notion that the project is more driven by accord than by the rampant dischord that makes this a psychologically toxic enviornment. Properly stated, administrators generally do a very poor job of implementing the values the project claims to advance. KindWordsNotHeard 03:15, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Geogre, let me compliment you for having voiced the thoughts of many other contributors here. Judging by the recent events, IRC has become a dangerous tool for persecuting established contributors and ousting them from Wikipedia. I know admins who were scared from Wikipedia after taking a look at what's going on here. I am particularly disappointed with the behaviour of User:Jdforrester, who seems to pride himself on being a co-author of this channel and defends it so vehemently as if it were a core element of Wikipedia. IRC is deficient in that it concentrates on discussing personalities rather than articles. It is all about people rather than content. It leads people away from the core aim of this project. The recent elections demonstrated that any mention of a vote on IRC among people you think you can trust will garner you several times as much support votes as spamming user talk pages of other wikipedians (which is frowned upon). I don't know what can be done about it as long as there seems to be a circle of admins and, what is worse, arbitrators who derive their authority and popularity primarily from having logs spanning back years, rather than from any onwiki activities. All this makes me very pessimistic indeed. --Ghirla -трёп- 00:59, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Just a quick notice - would people please stop bringing to my attention the above text? I'm well aware of it now that 7 different people have highlighted said statement, and frankly its attacks are mild and are further blunted by the common-sense that I'm sure - that I know - most of you enjoy.
Quick statement of fact - IRC is here, has been here for a very long time, is the core basis for much of the work that we ("we" being "we the firefighters who save the Foundation from lawsuits every week"), and will continue to be used as such, regardless of the hysterical nay-saying that has gone on (though it must be said that none of the contributors to this thread have partaken in any hysteria). Those who take somewhat of a Luddite position and insist that one particular technology must not be used will be disappointed when someone comes along and uses another - as no doubt they will - and when they were to end up not in the flock, how would we know if they respected our beliefs and were being productive?
Of course people should not abuse IRC to stack votes (but then, if we did not have binding votes per policy, there wouldn't be a problem, would there?), to influence elections, or to plot against other people in a political fashion, and I'd like to take the opportunity to highlight Geogre's essay on IRC as an interesting view and possibly helpful on the subject of how to discipline oneself against erring into such matters, and also to thank those that have approached me for clarification about what is before launching into campaigns not based in fact.
James F. (talk) 09:05, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    • Good grief! Are people trying to say this is a personal attack or incivility? Good Lord! You people are really out of your minds, if you think so. Seriously: if anyone thinks this is something like that, then he or she is at such a fundamental disconnect with Wikipedia that I don't know what you're doing here.
    • James: my question is somewhat restricted. I'm not being Luddite, myself, or trying to knock out IRC. The question is restrained strictly to en.admins.irc. As administrators on the noticeboard, I figured we needed to go back to the basics. The debate over the creation of the channel was ... abridged, I suppose ... but it was no slam dunk. My sense was that the preponderance of administrators were against its creation. I'm sure it was the sense of those in favor that the preponderance was the other way. My recollection was that the decision was, "Let's create it and see how it goes." Well, my view is that it has gone badly (that particular channel), so I am returning to the basic question: why have a private administrator's medium, when we have no such thing on Wikipedia? What is the advantage to it that is actually commensurate with our policies and practices? There is no attack in the question.
    • Sure, I have my view. Sure, it's easy to figure it out. It would be the height of "assuming bad faith" to believe that I cannot have a view and yet have honest inquiry, and anyone wanting to sniff through the garbage pails to create a "case" has no business at Wikipedia, because she or he is, frankly, unfit for collaboration. Geogre 12:09, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
"arbitrators who derive their authority and popularity primarily from having logs spanning back years, rather than from any onwiki activities" — that is utter nonsense. It is so absurd I had never even heard anyone suggest it before. You think some people's on-wiki power mainly comes from having logs to use as blackmail? Rubbish! If you wish to change anything, you first need to wrap your mind around the actual truth of the situation. If you keep arguing against these false straw men you're never going to come to any sort of agreement. --Cyde Weys 01:44, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
One does not need threats to increase his popularity. I have every reason to believe that some people have become popular and elected to administrators primarily based on the number of friends they have acquired while chatting on IRC. Whenever I post on this page, I expect my message to be discussed on IRC by some people whose names I ignore. This is disturbing, therefore I encourage every attempt to formulate what are the relations between Wikipedia and IRC, rather than routinely dismissing the question on the grounds of IRC and WP being totally unrelated entities. No, they are related, so much so that IRC increasingly influences Wikipedia decisions, including blocks. Since as much is established, please come up with a policy on the nature of that relationship. Something along the lines of ""Do not block established contributors on the basis of on-IRC discussion." and "Do not let IRC distract you from the necessity of on-Wiki consensus". Is it practicable? --Ghirla -трёп- 02:10, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps. But Cyde, if you want Geogre to take your point, you might be advised to you a more constructive tone. Perhaps you'd be better asking him what he meant, rather than launching in. Please, lets all calm it a bit. And perhaps the thread should be moved to Geogre's talk page. Who knows, perhaps dialogue might be constructive? --Docg 01:57, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I think in this specific instance Cyde was responding to Ghirla's post more than Geogre's, but in these contexts a suggestion of some calm is always welcome. Newyorkbrad 02:05, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
And misinterpreting it, I think. Ghirla wasn't saying that the arbitrators are blackmailing anyone into voting for them, only that their long-term presence on IRC gives them a personal edge in the elections.  Anþony  talk  02:15, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Exactly. --Ghirla -трёп- 02:20, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Not quite — he was saying it was the long-term logs that gave them the edge in the elections. This is wholly independent of how long someone has been active on IRC; indeed, many people don't log at all (no IRC clients I am aware of have logging enabled by default), and very few save them from years back. Ghirla might want to clarify his original statement, because as written, it does indeed state that the logs are what make the difference. --Cyde Weys 02:49, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I think what you're looking for, Cyde, is hyperbole. What Ghirla said was pretty plain to me. In fact, it's something that I wrote up (in my characteristic long form) in my essay: IRC has what I call a lensing effect. I can think of two people who made administrator despite having very, very few edits. They had expressed interest in being admins before they had done any edits at all. Now, I like both of these people, and they never, to my knowledge, acted inappropriately as administrators. These are two whom I know. They're not on trial, but the lensing effect of IRC is undeniable. We can either strike the policy against "talk page spamming" or institute one against IRC spamming, or we can just be hypocrites and say that IRC = power. Geogre 12:32, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

The most obvious response to such a fallacy is the favorite "Not necessarily."Centrxtalk • 02:08, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, Doc, they're actually not my words at all. I assume those are Ghirla's. The last few times Cyde posted on my talk page, they sure looked like personal attacks. I don't believe in blocking for WP:NPA. Geogre 02:11, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I wonder if Cyde regards me as a bad administrator for not being on en.administrators.irc. I wonder if he regards Newyorkbrad as a bad administrator every moment that he's not on it. I wonder what vital private information it is that we, as administrators, need that is being passed there that cannot be passed here. I'm just trying to ask the question: what, exactly, is it that justifies a channel that is hidden from the hoi poloi of Wikipedia? We don't seem to hesitate to discuss administrative matters here. Are we just bad people doing a bad job? How can we do it better by joining en.administrators? Geogre 02:11, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I've never been on IRC, but then, there are lots of people who think I'm a bad admin. User:Zoe|(talk) 02:27, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Have you considered the wisdom that crowd might offer you regarding how your own activities affect others? Or is that not the crowd you believe to be imbued with wisdom? There are other reasons than IRC activities that people consistently reach such conclusions. KindWordsNotHeard 03:15, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Where did I say "consistantly", SLA? It's generally the vandals and those who coddle them who feel that way. User:Zoe|(talk) 16:34, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
(irrelevant disclaimer: I'm not actually an administrator as of now. Newyorkbrad 02:19, 27 December 2006 (UTC))

It seems that people have forgotten (or perhaps even never known) why #wikipedia-en-admins was created. The purpose was to have a forum where Foundation people (Jimbo, Brad, Danny, et al) could discuss high-priority issues requiring urgent action with trusted admins in a non-public place. Why non-public? Because these issues generally involved matters which were the subject of press attention or of threats of litigation, or otherwise prone to creating difficulties for the Wikimedia Foundation if not dealt with quickly and, as much as possible, quietly. Unfortunately, the channel was quickly compromised (there have been several instances of logs being leaked to various unscrupulous parties who have used them to try to create embarrassment or otherwise complicate the Foundation's efforts to avoid being embroiled in negative publicity or litigation), and as a result, such situations are now managed through other, even more secret, forums.

We could shut down the #wikipedia-en-admins channel, but that wouldn't get rid of the nonpublic backchannels. It would just change their names and disperse the participants somewhat. At least #wikipedia-en-admins is an obvious channel name; it is certainly more informative than one of its progenitors, #fluffykittens.

Major administrative decisions have been made, at times, in these backchannels. Some of them have been quite momentous. In most of those cases, the decisions that have been made have been decisions that could not possibly have been discussed, let alone made, on the public wiki, but nonetheless have had to be made. This is a situation where the exigencies of real life, a universe which is replete with dastardly beasts such as reporters, pundits, and attorneys, force us to dispense with a full and open public discussion because doing so is the only way to avoid a vicious nasty lawsuit that would at best cripple and at worst utterly destroy Wikipedia. You don't have to like this. I'm not really all that happy about it either. But it's the way things are, and it's not something that's going to go away any time soon.

So, anyway, that's the "vital information" that gets passed through IRC backchannels like #wikipedia-en-admins, and why it cannot be passed through the public noticeboards. If you're not an admin doing crisis management for the Foundation, then you probably don't need to be there. But it would rather nice of those of you who are not doing crisis management for the Foundation to at least afford the assumption of good faith to those who are. And keep in mind that there's always the chance that if you do see an admin do something inexplicable, it might be a crisis management action, and that perhaps a polite private inquiry should be your first line of action, instead of an incendiary post to one of the noticeboards. Kelly Martin (talk) 02:51, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

What a brilliant message Kelly. 110% spot on. --Kind Regards - Heligoland | Talk | Contribs 02:54, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
The Foundation here is at cross purposes with the media, and with its projects ambition to avoid advancing points of view. KM suggests the channel was created to facilitate discussion of sensitive topics without incuring "negative publicity" in the press. But if something negative occurs in the context of Wikipedia, those who advocate free flow of information advocate mass communication of such negative events with equal force as positive events are communicated.
Wikipedia claims to represent any and all topics in the world with a neutral point of view based on all avaiable information. The foundation, on the other hand, and those who advocate the secret channel, don't seem to trust any other crowd -- not even a crowd of professional and trained media personnel to explore negative aspects of the project and to represent those negative aspects in a way that benefits clients of those various media markets. In Wikipedia's small world, the only valid benifit is to the project -- not the common good, not the rule of law, not human decency. If comments "disrupts the project" no matter how severely some aspect of the project might need to be upended, administrators act thoughtlessly to exclude the comments and the commentator. After a few years of such tolerance for self-interests above all other interests, of course some so empowered will develop suspicious or downright anti-social administrative habits.
The reasoning appears to suggest Wikipedia has cause to hide some dark underbelly. If Wikipedia is above board, not libeling, not invading privacy and not usurping copyrights, there is no legal threat it needs to fear. Legal quandries can be discussed as openly as any other topic, unless one party hopes to gain an advantage by concealing strategy. KindWordsNotHeard

Thanks for your input, KindWords, but I am afraid your view represents a significant overstatement. I can think of many types of situations that need to be addressed in a forum other than on-wiki. I have personally been involved in threads here where I have suggested getting the discussion off the public noticeboard, for exceedingly valid reasons. Such situations are hopefully rare (and don't include something like whether to hand out a 48-hour civility block), but they certainly exist. Newyorkbrad 03:28, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

If indeed such circumstances arise, you could advance the discussion by detailing such a circumstance rather than simply declaring that they arise. You could also advance the discussion by citing which of my views you believe to represent a significant overstatement. Is it an overstatement to imply the professional media have a valid interest in publicly examining negative aspects of a project that both relies on the public for content and influences public perceptions with its content? Whether or not situations such as those to which you allude exist does not necessarily inform your claim that one or all of my earlier statements is significantly overstated. Until you advise us what sort of situations to which you refer, we must allow that the circumstances I state as not warranting secret talks and those you claim to know of but don't elaborate may be entirely different circumstances. KindWordsNotHeard 03:57, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
The problem with detailing the circumstances, as you request, is that in these cases the factors that necessitated nonpublic discussion initially generally prohibit public discussion on a going-forward basis as well. There's been any number of events that I've been involved in where I am prohibited by confidentiality principles from discussing them with any specificity, indefinitely. You will simply have to trust that the Foundation is providing adequate oversight of such activities. If you can't trust in that, and that's a material condition for your participation in Wikipedia, then, well, I'm sorry. Kelly Martin (talk) 05:21, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I find such appeals to authority unconvincing. Clearly, better oversight is needed. El_C 06:21, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
What happened? —Centrxtalk • 06:22, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Huh? El_C 06:32, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Why is better oversight needed? —Centrxtalk • 10:10, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
To stop it from being used to abuse the project. El_C 15:13, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
What abuse has there been? —Centrxtalk • 21:08, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I do not have to trust that anyone is doing anything adequately until I see evidence. Assuming good faith does not imply assuming the adequacy of anyone's effort. I trust my knowledge of narrative to know that almost any confidential situation can be explained in general terms. I trust my experience sufficiently to know that failure to adequately describe reasons often betrays a lack of an adequate description.
What I do know is that if something warrants discussion in a descrete forum, an IRC channel does not provide a secure venue. When personal information about those involved in quasi-public activities is discussed in a secret forum, the operators of that forum have an obligation to maintain the same dignity and respect in that forum as if it were an open forum. As a general rule of caution for those who engage in editorial discussion in any context (but not in any way expressed here as a suggestion of particular action), words exchanged among confidants may still generate actionable harm. KindWordsNotHeard 06:19, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
It would obviously be counterproductive to link to specific discussions that I believed should not continue on-wiki, but in general they concerned topics such as (1) dealing with incidents of off-wiki harassment and physical threats, (2) a situation in which an editor appeared to have a mental health issue that was being implicated by being talked about here, and (3) specific and concrete legal threat situations. Please note that by the latter, I refer not to the generic "this edit is defamatory" or "I'm gonna sue" which can usually be handled with an on-wiki cite to WP:LEGAL (or application of WP:LIVING where warranted), but to specific and concrete threats of litigation by people who are known in the real world to have brought prior litigation against their detractors, and that legal threats are sometimes directed not just against the Foundation but against individual administrators or editors.
I emphasize again that I am talking about rare situations, not the everyday stuff of content or user conduct issues, as to which primary decision-making should be transparent on-wiki as much as possible. Newyorkbrad 16:49, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
What I am hearing here are two sub-channels of communication going on ... one is an essential part of doing business (any business) and the other is a cruddy secret-handshake club of same-sayers, a clique. Surely folks are not talking about the same set of discussions here, but at least two sets of IRC-enabled activities - one laudable and essential, the other despicable and damaging. The matter of controls revolves around how to maintain the one while extinguishing the other. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 06:26, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Sounds like what I'm hearing. There's probably a useful debate about the scope of the first channel mentioned, but without at least an allegorical situation to discuss, I've not heard anything here that would give me an idea what might be an appropriate scope for secret discussion in an ostensibly transparent organization. KindWordsNotHeard 07:00, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
  • I do have a few questions regarding the IRC situation, especially in the context of Kelly's responses. Fair disclosure: I am not an admin. I do not use (Wikipedia) IRC. I also don't think there's some vast IRC-wing conspiracy at work here ... but that doesn't mean I don't see some things about the current environment that could benefit from dialogue.
1) Kelly's explanation seems contradictory to me. Either IRC has been compromised and is worthless for secure, emergency information, or it is an essential means to distribute secure, emergency information? Couldn't this goal of real-time intervention be better served through an ArbCom (posibly +clerks) only channel that is actually secure? Or are there enough of these problems that such an approach is insufficient (I hope not!)?
2) Wikipedia is neither a bureaucracy nor a social networking site, but frequent IRC communication has aspects of both. The social networking aspect is obvious; the bureaucracy less so. An honest question: how many low-yield (1WW or 2WW) wheel warring events have been caused by desynchonized information, because one side of the conflict was party to material that the other side could not become party to? Priveledged information is essential for ArbCom, which is why there's no WP:RFArbCom, but I worry about its long-term effects on admin-to-admin interactions.
3) Outside of the realm of issues with a viable need for real-time intervention (and as a business manager, I'm quite aware of what those may entail), is anything gained by discussing administrative actions off-wiki? This isn't meant to be rhetorical: is there ever a time when it would be preferable for two admins to confer regarding, say, a 48 hr civility block (as mentioned above) in a non-permanent, sunlight-free manner? Offhand, I don't think I can think of any, but if you pressed me to debate the other side, I'd give it a whirl, too... the bottom line as I see it, though, is that off-Wiki discussion of routine admin functions is more confusing for the non-admin editors and for the non-IRC admins, and we should try to select for processes that minimize confusion for the project.

--Serpent's Choice 07:36, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

  1. Yes, IRC has been compromised and is worthless for secure, emergency information. Yes, an ArbCom-only channel would probably work. Neither of these things, though, completely obviate the function of #wikipedia-en-admins.
  2. Sorry, Wikipedia is both a bureaucracy and a social networking site. We don't like it, it's not supposed to be one, and our official policies specifically mention the fact that it is neither, but in reality Wikipedia has aspects of both of these things; it is as much as we can do to keep their impact to a minimum. IRC is certainly more of the latter, though I'm reluctant to believe it's much more of the former. I also don't see an immediate problem with that. "Low-yield wheel war" must be some technical jargon I haven't previously come across. I imagine such things have happened, though I imagine they are at least as many, if not more, that don't involve IRC as do involve it. Suppose the information was on the mailing list (which not everyone reads), in a private email between one administrator and another, or even just elsewhere on the wiki. We can't all read everything.
  3. Perhaps nothing much is gained, but I don't see that much is lost either. The responsibility for an administrative action rests with the administrator who made it, regardless of where they discussed it and who. I think any medium of discussion is better than none at all, which is what I think many people would/are often tempted to go with if the immediacy of IRC is not available. – Gurch 13:34, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Gurch, regarding (2), no, its not some technical jargon. Its more a term I contrived for the purpose: a "low-yield" wheel war is one that involves only one or two reversions of admin actions, as opposed to, say, the Pedophilia Userbox wars. But, more importantly, regarding (3), what I fear is lost is the ability for independent review. GFDL, the value in reliable references, historical-tagged deprecated policies, and more exist because one of Wikipedia's greatest strengths is the ability for anyone to review what came before (or, at least any admin to do so, in the case of administrative actions that are not user-visible). Because IRC is off-Wiki, and, further, because IRC discussions cannot become on-Wiki, there is no chance for independent review. It doesn't take believing in a cabal or assuming bad faith to think that admins can make mistakes; all of us make mistakes. The problem, as I see it, is that it is much harder to tell if mistakes are made, what they were, and why they happened when the reason behind the decisions is both secret and ephemeral. Serpent's Choice 18:45, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Rebuttal of Kelly's statements. I'm glad that the illogic of it is covered by Serpent's Choice. The admins channel "was created" by whom? Can any administrator join, as is hypothetically the case? How, then, can it be a Foundation channel, and why is it not called a foundation channel? Aren't there Foundation mailing lists and channels already?
    1. How is this IRC superior to a mailing list?
    2. If it is open to all administrators, how is it for "a few trusted" administrators?
    3. Does the membership include any non-administrators?
    4. Imputing motives to people who quote or summarize logs is irrelevant and unsupported. People tend to pass logs when people on the channel go into abuse mode (abusing people and abusing policies).
    5. How, again, is it superior to AN/I and AN?
    6. I repeat my initial question: If it is vital to administrators, then why are we not all there? If it isn't, then why is anyone there?
  • Finally, for people who come back with the old chestnut that "back channel" will occur anyway, it may, but it won't with Wikipedia's resources. It won't with Wikipedia's name attached to it. Is the mailing list deficient? Are the noticeboards deficient? Kelly doesn't explain.
  • Why can't we know, even in summary form, what the circumstances are that necessitate a forum without rules? Why are we all such untrustworthy? Should we be allowed to edit Wikipedia if we are not allowed to know under what conditions? This makes no sense whatever and is, in short, not an answer. Geogre 12:48, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
  1. You cannot hold a conversation on a mailing list, just as you cannot hold a conversation on a wiki. By "conversation", I mean a scenario in which one person says something, another person replies, and this is repeated a good few hundred times within a short space of time. This is not possible when you have to wait anything from ten minutes to over an hour for the reply to come back. Also, I hate mailing lists.
  2. It isn't.
  3. I think so.
  4. They do?
  5. See (1). I hate AN, too.
  6. We are not all there because some of us either don't like it, don't agree with it, cannot use it because of a restrictive firewall or other technical reasons, don't think it's necessary or, like me, are just fed up with all the arguments that surround it at the moment. Why is anyone there? Well... do you think the mailing list is vital to administrators? If not, why are we not all there, and if it isn't, why is anyone there? Same goes for this page and AN/I. Are they vital? Many administrators don't check these pages regularly or even at all unless they've been informed of something that specifically concerns them through other channels.
  • Why does a lack of deficiency in existing channels preclude the establishment of alternative channels?
  • There are no such circumstances. All fora should have rules. – Gurch 13:34, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Gurch has graciously answered Geogre's questions, but I would like to expand on those answers somewhat. The admins channel was created, IIRC, by Essjay, at either Danny's or Jimbo's request (I forget which). Its original purpose was as I discussed above: to facilitate communication between the Foundation and enwiki administrators. The channel is under the auspices of the Wikimedia Foundation IRC project, which mainly means it's under the nominal supervision of James Forrester as the Wikimedia Foundation's designated group contact with freenode, the same as all other "official" Wikimedia-related IRC channels (such as #wikipedia, #wikimedia, et cetera). None of the Wikimedia-related IRC channels consume any of Wikimedia's resources; they are all hosted at freenode, which provides the IRC service as a public service to open source and open content projects such as Wikimedia. freenode has no ties to the Wikimedia Foundation that I am aware of (although I believe the Foundation may have made donations to freenode's organization from time to time and certainly many WMF donors donate to freenode as well). This is unlike the Wikimedia-operated mailing lists, which are hosted on Wikimedia-owned and -operated servers.

IRC, as Gurch notes, enables the ability to have conversations. While it is possible to have a conversation in a mailing list, this is normally a slow process entailing hours if not days. IRC allows the same conversation to be had in minutes. This is very important especially when responding to active crises -- the very purpose for which #wikipedia-en-admins was created. The problem with the on-wiki noticeboard is that they are too public. The channel was created to allow the dissemination of important information to people who need to act on it without, at the same time, disseminating that information to the general public, and more importantly to those people who would attempt to use the information thus acquired to harm the Foundation or its activities. The public mailing lists, being excessively public and frankly overrun with trolls, is even more useless for the purpose for which the channel was established; the same defect is why the public #wikipedia channel is not useful for this purpose.

The admins channel is, in principle, open to any admin. However, admins who, through their conduct, convince the channel's management that they are not trustworthy may be refused admission to the channel, and the channel management reserves the right to invite such other persons as they feel will benefit the channel's mission. This has included, to date, selected admins of projects other than enwiki, various Foundation staff, developers, and certain others who, while not admins, are nonetheless trusted by the Foundation and by channel management. Note that "trusted by the Foundation and by channel management" is not the same as "trusted by the enwiki community".

Participation in the channel is not "vital" to being an administrator. The participation of a decent number of administrators is vital to the Foundation, but there is no particular reason why any particular administrator has to be there. If participation in the channel will not assist you in being an administrator, there is no reason for you to be there, and you might as well be somewhere else. The channel exists to serve the Foundation's purposes, not to serve your personal purposes.

Again, the reason why there can be no on-wiki discussion of the sorts of matters that necessitate the confidentiality I discussed earlier is the fact that the wiki is inherently public and these matters are necessarily confidential. It's not that you, Geogre, are specifically not trusted (although, to be frank, I personally would not trust you), but that anything said publicly on the wiki is necessarily shared with everyone in the world, and that includes any number of people who are not trusted, and who have demonstrated hostile or malicious intent toward the Foundation and its projects. In addition, the Foundation imposes a privacy policy on its volunteers, and we are obliged to adhere to it when dealing with Foundation matters. The constraints of that policy prohibit public disclosure of the circumstances of most of the incidents that necessitate the existence of a nonpublic forum such as the administrator's channel. If you are dissatisfied with that, I suggest you take it up with the Foundation's Board of Trustees; they are the source of that policy and it is they that would need to change it.

Now, at this point, because of the fact that there are so many people now admitted to the admin's channel who do not accept its purpose for existing and, in fact, enough who are actively hostile toward that purpose, the admin's channel is probably mostly useless for its original purpose. The channel has instead become the equivalent of the "old hats" list of a.f.u (see Clay Shirky's article on group dynamics in online fora): a low-noise (or at least lower-noise) alternative to the main IRC channel (which is really quite the cesspit at times), used for general discussion of issues deemed to be of importance to the people who are engaged in "gardening" of the English Wikipedia community. It's my conclusion that the admin's channel has scaled beyond the point of usefulness, which means that it's probably time to create the "new hats" channel. (There actually was a channel filling this role for quite a long time, but it lost critical mass when four of its major participants all left the project or went on longish breaks at about the same time.) The current attacks on the channel (e.g. the several people who have in the past disdained it but recently have taken to lurking in it, supposedly to provide "accountability") are simply going to create more impetus to establish a new backchannel (to which they will not be invited) where gardening discussions will simply be moved to over time. The discussions will not cease, they will simply move, and by forcing them to move in this manner you will ensure that you are not part of those discussions. Kelly Martin (talk) 16:17, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

I got here late, so I only read the original question. My answer is everyone has the right to talk to each other in private outside the wiki, everyone has the right not to. But actions on Wikipedia need to be based on evidence on Wikipedia. HighInBC (Need help? Ask me) 16:19, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
It is not rational for us to be expected to review admin action via secret evidence, regardless of whether we trust or enjoy the trust of the "foundation" (I think I at least do). Take it underground, then; much better than secret IRC discussions being invoked onwiki. El_C 16:58, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I've explained twice already why this is not feasible in certain circumstances, and why it is important for others to assume good faith when they encounter such situations and make private inquiries in such cases instead of public inquisitions. Kelly Martin (talk) 16:56, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Kelly, I certainly understand the importance of a conversation-speed setting for sensitive issues. Frankly, that's why I suggested the secure ArbCom channel, above; I'm not sufficiently versed in the canny means of Foundation back-office structure to know exactly who else would need such a channel, but I assume that an OTRS-staff channel would be reasonable as well. The current IRC structure is ill-suited to these needs, or, at the least, is better suited to other needs than to its own. It is demonstrably not secure; logs are leaked to users here, to email, to Wikitruth, to who knows where. That would make it seem a poor choice for the sorts of ArbCom or OTRS work that you appear to allude to. But by the same token, it is an "excellent" means to quickly debate typical administrative decisions. I don't think that requires any assumption of bad faith or cabalhood; it is efficient at that task. The problem is that, like everyone, admins can be wrong, and decisions that are logically discussed in secret appear to everyone else to have been brought to life more like Athena, full-grown from the head of Zeus. You have been actively involved in the necessarily-secret business in the past (although I'll confess to being more than a bit confused about your actual current role in the Foundation...), so do you have any insight into how we might fix this? This thread is evidence enough that it is not working as intended. Serpent's Choice 18:40, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

I know this discussion is long enough already, but I just wanted to inject my own opinion here, as I've been thinking about the issue for some time. I feel that the problem is not with the use of IRC in general, but with the blanket prohibition on public logging, as stated on meta:IRC channels. More specifically, the issue is not that there are private channels — as has been mentioned, people who want to conspire in private will find a way regardless — but that the most popular and convenient channels, including both #wikipedia and #wikipedia-en-admins, remain in "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" mode by default. Thus, well-meaning people who simply want to discuss Wikipedia-related things on a real-time forum are encouraged to do so in a confidential setting, even if the actual matter being discussed could easily have withstood the light of day.

My proposal for fixing the problem would be to make all open Wikimedia IRC channels officially logged by default, and to announce this prominently in the channel topic as recommended by the Freenode channel guidelines. At least for some channels, including official but invite-only ones like #wikipedia-en-admins, the logs could be kept behind a password, available only to selected groups (ArbCom / all admins / etc.); the important thing is that official logs exist, not that they be available to anyone who Googles for them. Of course, private unlogged channels could still be created, and even made (semi-)official, for those who want and/or need such privacy. The important thing would simply be that someone who just wants to stop by to ask "is this edit vandalism?" should not be encouraged to do so on a confidential channel. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 16:46, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

I do not believe that you'll find a great deal of support for such a change. Kelly Martin (talk) 16:56, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Hoot! I have a feeling that one "leading member" of the channel will fight until her last breath against ever having that channel logged. Heck, I'd bet there would be an instant forking, "at the request of the Foundation or Jimbo, I forget which!" That's the thing about IRC: someone can come along and just tell you that it was true, or that it wasn't, and you can't ask for proof! Wheeee! Crowbait 18:15, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Thank you Kelly nice to here you sounding a little more eloquent than you do on IRC, but what I want to know is why are you in the admin channel? - have you suddenly been promoted, or do you just feel your opinion is necessary to all on all subjects? Giano 17:04, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I am in the admins channel because (a) I want to be and (b) my presence there is useful to the project insomuch as I can advise others on appropriate courses of action to take in specific situations (having previously proven myself competent to do so). (I am assuming that (b) is the case because, as of yet, nobody has sought to revoke my access or advise me that my presence is no longer beneficial.) I am aware that a small but noisy segment of the Wikipedia community no longer feels that I am worthy of trust; however, that opinion is apparently not shared by the Foundation, or by the bulk of the participants in the admins channel. I am still very much involved in gardening the Wikipedia community, and participate in the channel to that end. I offer my opinions because, in the past, many diverse people have indicated to me that my opinions have been helpful to them. You are, of course, free to disagree with them, but I think the project would be best served if you did so respectfully.
Now, I ask you: why do you care that I am a participant (and, in fact, leading member) of the admin's channel? Why are you interested in my motives for participation there? Kelly Martin (talk) 17:18, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Because it seemed to me, (and do please correct me if I have misread the figures) that an overwhelming majority of those who voted in the recent arbcom elections intimated they would not trust you. Therefore your asumption that your "opinions have been helpful" is perhaps at best antiquated. The fact that you are, as you say, "a leading member" of the admin's channel - shows just how out of touch those that continue to tolerate your presence there are. It must be very difficult to know when one is "over the hill", one of those things only your best friends can tell you. We shall have to try and think of ways to help you. Giano 17:35, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Funny, I'd like to be in the channel, too, and I'm sure I have plenty of input. Unfortunately for me, it tells me that the channel is invite only. If "I'd like to be" and "I can offer input" is now the only reason anyone needs to be there, then I'll await my invite patiently. --badlydrawnjeff talk 18:27, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
  • You're quite right Jeff, I'd like to be there too, and my input is very prolific indeed, we can join together perhaps because I've certainly never had 200+ fellow editors telling me simultaneously they have no confidence in me, so I must more than meet the criteria, or perhaps IRCadmins is just really a private "gossiping club" for the select few regardless of wiki-status, experience or lack of it. Giano 19:49, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I don't think you quite understand the meaning of "invite-only" in this context. "Invite-only" on a Freenode channel means that a channel operator has to invite you to the channel (or add you to the auto-invite list) before you can join. This is to distinguish such channels from non-invite-only channels, where anyone who isn't banned from the channel can join. Clearly a channel intended for English Wikipedia administrators has to be set up as invite-only in this sense. In other words, invite-only does not mean you have to "await an invite", it means you have to request one. Have either of you ever actually asked to join the channel? – Gurch 13:51, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm a 12 year IRC veteran, I know how it works. It's invite only because the channel operators, who are admins here from the sound of it, wantto keep certain users out. Since it appears the only roadblock has to be "I want in" and "I can offer input," I've requested an invite. I requested it 36 hours ago. I'm still waiting. --badlydrawnjeff talk 13:54, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Some things need to be discussed confidentially. Other things just need to be discussed. Is there any reason there couldn't be some selection of channels that are publicly logged and clearly labeled as such? Would anyone use them? Dragons flight 16:56, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Aye, there's the rub. I realize how difficult changing the policy of an existing channel (not to mention dozens of them) on such an issue would probably be; but on the other hand, I doubt getting dozens or hundreds of users to simultaneously move to a new channel would be any easier. I doubt most people on, say, #wikipedia care one bit whether the channel is logged or not, but by the same token they're not going to bother to join "#wikipedia-logged" when the channel they're already on is working just fine. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 20:37, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

The problem is that secret IRC discussions are being invoked onwiki as grounds for admin action, even when such secrecy appears far from paramount. That is highly divisive and counterproductive, and works against the aims of the project. El_C 17:03, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Indeed that is the problem. If it's secret, it should stay secret and the channel ops/monitors should try to ensure such discussions have no consequences for individuals (no talk of blocking established users, attempts to undermine them, no blackening of names); or if it's to include all that, then it must be possible for users to find out who said what about them so they can challenge it. The ArbCom channel and mailing list exist for when established users have to be discussed discreetly. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:12, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Kelly Martin that the people who make the serious decisions about Wikipedia need to be able to talk with each other in private; but I doubt they are doing that on IRC any more, as it doesn’t seem very private judging from the toxic leaks which ignited this debate. The issue doesn't concern that but whether administrators and others should make routine decisions about blocking and suchlike on IRC instead of on Wikipedia: I believe they should do it on Wikipedia, to be transparent. And if on occasion they need to discuss something privately—for example, to outwit a vandal who monitors their activities—they could surely do that by e-mail. I would like to see as many administrators as possible follow such a principle, which would spare them lapsing into the gossip and slander so natural to informal conversation but so hurtful to the targets if revealed in the cold light of day. It is still possible, of course, to be gossipy and conspiratorial on Wikipedia itself, but there you do at least take more care, knowing the parties involved might read what you say, or that you might be called for breaching policies and guidelines. I can understand that some editors might enjoy socialising on IRC: I see no harm in that, so long as a voluntary code-of-conduct be observed—for example, no discussing Wikipedia business directly or criticising editors not present. A room moderator or appointee of the sort (excuse me, I've never been on IRC) could keep each session on the straight and narrow. qp10qp 18:26, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
It's an issue of speed and efficiency though. In IRC you can resolve in a few minutes something that would take hours on-wiki. Not everyone likes playing talk page tag. Hell, I don't even use the talk pages of anyone who I can contact on IRC because it's just that better. IRC clients will ping when you are contacted; Wikipedia doesn't. If you aren't browsing Wikipedia but are still at your computer, you won't get a talk page message, but you will get an IRC PM. --Cyde Weys 19:44, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Absolutly, there's a flipside to this whole IRC situation that nobody has noticed, or doesn't want notice. Decisions can be made to block a user within seconds, but just as easily, a decision to unblock can also be made, a discussion that could take a day on Wiki can be done in an hour on IRC. And after all is said, we choose on admins on their ability to look at the evidence available on Wikipedia regardless of where or who presents it. Is an AIV report on IRC any less valid than an AIV report at WP:AIV - Nope, the evidence still has to exist on Wikipedia or the blocking admin will get a bollocking. --Kind Regards - Heligoland | Talk | Contribs 20:02, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
If you need assistance, what's wrong with posting on the administrators' boards? Not only will you get a quick response, but you will probably get it from someone you don't usually work with, which is healthier. And everybody will know about it, which is more useful. As for unblocking, why would there need to be a rush? There's too much unblocking going on already, in my opinion. And usually a number of people are watching an incident once it's been presented on the noticeboard, so I see even less need for IRC with unblocking: those without IRC would be half in the dark as to what was going on. qp10qp 21:05, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Very good point indeed. Over to you Kelly, James, Cyde and I suppose GMaxwell for an answer to that one you are the leading players there, what have you to say to that valid point? - what about you Mindspillage you are very quiet this evening? Giano 21:09, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    • On the odd, and I mean very odd occasion I've taken something there, it's because I find that the interface better facilitates discussion and that contrary to the point made above, I get discussion with people I don't ordinarily work with. It's also quicker and the discussion doesn't drag and spiral into awful tangents. Hiding Talk 21:27, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Not a leading player here, but I'll take a stab.
  • Not only will you get a quick response... as has been pointed out, very little is quick than IRC. From just El_C's comment above down to Giano's took 4 hours to get 5 unique responses.
  • ...but you will probably get it from someone you don't usually work with... just as a set of people might frequent an IRC channel, so might a set (or the same set?) frequent this page. Even if the channel was disbanded tomorrow, and all participants congenially came to AN/I to discuss all issues, it doesn't guarantee more participation...just more eyes to see things. (Which I won't deny is all many are asking for)
  • And everybody will know about it, which is more useful. Everyone can know, if they eyeball the block logs. Even more people would know if Admins would post their block actions to AN/I as they occur, as I wish they would. While advanced warning of block actions on AN/I would be great, I suspect some admins feel time is more critical - hence, discussing it in the immediate forum of IRC, than on-wiki. Regardless, the only "invisible" action I know of on Wiki is Oversight. --InkSplotch 22:36, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm, this argument isn't going to die, is it? It's so long now I can't find where I should put this, so here goes.

This thing about administrative actions not being discussed on IRC. As far as I'm aware there's no rule stating where on-wiki you have to discuss administrative actions. So it's perfectly acceptable for a small group of users to disucss administrative actions on their own user talk pages, yes? Becuase it's logged, "open channel", call it what you will. However, every administrator does not read every other administrator's talk page, so they're not going to know about it unless they specifically go looking, are they? So surely the argument about different parties not being equally well-informed applies there as well? So we should go one step further and insist all administrative-action-related discussion takes place on this page? I don't understand this approach to the matter at all – Gurch 21:25, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

The difference is that other users can read the discussions on the talk pages afterwards, so they can reconstruct what happened. This is not possible on IRC, as long as it is strictly forbidden to publish any logs. --Conti| 21:43, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I realize that. The key word there is "afterwards". I'm not talking about reviewing incidents days or weeks after the event; I'm talking about the point raised by, for example, Serpent's Choice in point (2) of his earlier post to which I replied; that (apparently) wheel wars emerge because one user has information that another does not, at the timeGurch 22:07, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
For that matter, if discussion of administrative actions is banned on IRC, is there anything to stop people discussing administrative actions privately in a different channel, and then hastily posting stuff on each others' talk pages after they've already made the decision just in case anyone asks for a "record of the discussion"? It seems to me that you can't change the actual means of discussion, only the apparent means of discussion – Gurch 21:32, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Oh, one more thing. Are administrators prohibited from discussing administrative actions with each other via email? Is this not even less "open" than IRC, as with IRC there are generally a couple of dozen people permanently logged in who can review (if not share) the conversation at a later date if the need arises? Forgive me if this stuff has already been dispensed with – Gurch 21:32, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it is fine to discuss on other pages than this, because that leaves a trail of accountability, though if speed is the concern (as it is of a couple of people above), you will get more attention and action if you post on the administrators' boards rather than on one person's talk page. And let's not exaggerate Wikipedia's slowness—it gives you alerts when you get a note on your talk page, and you can exchange talk very quickly if you have to. But if the matter is so complex that it needs an involved conversation, much better to place it on the administrators' boards and get advice from others, tangents notwithstanding. Seeing the arguments written down and being able to read them over and consider your comments and actions is in my opinion likelier to result in a wise decision.
As for e-mail, I'd say use it for administration work only when you really have to, and then report the conversation as part of the incident's discussion. qp10qp 21:49, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Well, I have no intention of using email for such things, just as I consider myself capable of using IRC in an acceptable way (though it's too unpleasant to do so at the moment). But if we're going to start making claims of abuse, attempt to enforce, er, "openness", and introduce rules for one, should we not do so for the other, too? – Gurch 22:03, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not advocating e-mail for admin instead of IRC; I'm advocating just using Wikipedia. But I can imagine cases—where an admin is being stalked, for example—where a resort to e-mail would be understandable. qp10qp 22:51, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
As I wrote above, people who want to talk in private will always be able to do so, whether by IRC, e-mail, telephone or whatever. The problem I see with the "no public logging" rule on #wikipedia and related channels is that people who just want to talk about Wikipedia-related things on IRC are encouraged to do so in a non-reviewable forum (since that's where everyone else is).
It's not as if the people on #wikipedia could expect any real privacy, since anyone can join, and Kelly Martin has stated above that even the invite-only #wikipedia-en-admins channel cannot really be considered secure any more; all the prohibition on public logging is doing now is making it easier for trolls to cause confusion and for honest miscommunication to escalate into conflicts, and harder for third parties to figure out afterwards what has really happened when people present conflicting stories.
As for e-mail, personally I've only discussed administrative actions via private e-mail twice in the time I've been on Wikipedia. Both times left me feeling vaguely dirty, even though the issues being discussed were the antics of permabanned users and even though on both occasions it was the banned user themselves who first took the matter to e-mail. I just don't personally like discussing things "off the record" if it can be avoided, and find maintaining such secrecy to be often stressful. ("Can I say this? Where did I hear that? Will I reveal something by acting on this?") Still, I do accept the need for such privacy in certain cases — I just wish we wouldn't encourage it for trivial matters. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 00:56, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I think SlimVirgin has the right answer - if the admins need a private channel to discuss confidential situations, that's fine, but that channel shouldn't have a visible impact on the public wikipedia. If something needs to occur without a public explanation, it should occur by an Office action, not by a random admin stating that they are acting for reasons that they cannot disclose, but that were discussed on a private IRC channel. There is some risk that any private communication channel will result in a de facto exception to the "little or no campaigning" rule that is forming, but I don't see a good solution to that, except to ask editors to report any off-wiki campaigning that they see. TheronJ 14:48, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
  • I'm afraid the "leading lights" or IRCadmins have abused the channel to such an extent that no one will ever trust anything that come out of it again. Too much dirty work has been done there. It need to be closed and quickly. Then we need to make an example of those admins who have abused the system their with their lies and clumsy plotting. As for those who just stood idly by in the channel gleefully listening to it all but saying nothing, their attempts, to distance themselves from it all now, claiming "they called Jimbo" or "I advised against" are quite frankly nauseating. they knew what was going on and did nothing. They are no better then the ringleaders. The way their behaviour changed the moment Jimbo walked into that room was akin to a teacher entering a class of delinquent juveniles. The channel must be closed, and fast, to restore Wikipedia's reputation. Giano 15:12, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
And then what?
  • Set up a semi-official, publically logged channel as a replacement?
  • Set up a semi-official channel with logs privately viewable by the ArbCom?
  • Have no semi-official replacement at all, thereby leading to the exact same situation but without the semi-officialness?
Also, what should be done with #wikipedia and #wikipedia-en? They're not logged either. Do you want them closed down too? How about #wikimedia-admin? And how about the various channels available to other languages and other projects, over which we here at en.wikipedia have no control whatsoever? – Gurch 15:29, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
  • I repeat "the "leading lights" or IRCadmins have abused the channel to such an extent that no one will ever trust anything that come out of it again". The channel is now debased, it is corrupted like a putrefying limb it has to be amputated. That may be painful, it may be unpleasant, it may be difficult, but it is always beneficial in the end. Giano
Yes, I did hear you the first time. But since your main concern seems to be with the conduct of certain people, my question is nonetheless relevant. Do you want a replacement channel with different rules about "openness" established (so that as far as accountability is concerned, it is no different to the mailing list), or do you want the channel to be removed entirely and no replacement created. Your tone gives the impression that you wish for the latter of these. However, it seems to me that there is nothing to stop the people whose conduct you have a problem with from simply taking their discussions elsewhere. The rest of us (neutral parties such as myself, who nevertheless find IRC discussion useful) are then deprived of a resource which we wish to use (and have always wished to use) for productive purposes. On the other hand, setting up a more open channel would prevent the abuse and coruption of which you speak from taking place, forcing out those who wished to use it for that purpse. They may well still choose to take their discussions elsewhere, of course – but the rest of us need not be impeded as a result – Gurch 19:11, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
  • That all rather depends on the fates of the lying and unpleasant admins who corrupted IRCadmins in the first place, if they are allowed to remain as admins then no admins can be trusted to have secret wiki-concerned conversations. When I read edits like this [5] from one who was there and making such comments as "Giano isn't worth it", but making no attempt to halt the plotting, one rather comes to the conclusion best not to trust any of them. They don't even support each other, when the cips are down. Giano 19:44, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
If I may draw your attention to my lengthy response to your statement further down the page, I have some further concerns regarding this statement, and I'd appreciate it if you addressed those too. Are you suggesting I be desysopped? Have I become "corrupted"? Am I one of the "lying and unpleasant" administrators of which you speak? And if not, why is it a bad thing that I'm not supporting them (whoever they are)? – Gurch 20:29, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
This page is getting ridiculously long, I almost missed you. I would refer you to my comment somewhere down there, that a "A man is known by the company he keeps" - sad but true. The IRCadmin channel has a reputation that is now in the gutter, please do not shoot the messenger, I did not put it there. Giano 20:41, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

My own conclusion[edit]

I really, really, really am trying to read without jaundice, here. My own conclusion, from reading the above, about the question I asked (ignoring all of the other stuff) is that it's down to "it's for private communications between the Foundation and certain trusted admins" (Kelly) and "WP:ILIKEIT" from Gurch (not meaning to denigrate there, but you did say that you like IRC and don't like noticeboards).

It seems to me that, if it does exist so that certain (i.e. selected) trusted (and "by whom?" and "how do we know?" come up) administrators and the Foundation is the reason, then why are those persons not inducted into the Foundation? I cannot imagine what sort of data is private enough that it cannot be revealed to the project but can be revealed to an IRC channel. Checkuser data? That cannot be revealed to anyone but ArbCom. Anyone who uttered that stuff in an open IRC channel would be a fool and should be drummed out. Slander/libel of living persons? We discuss that stuff on the noticeboards all the time, because it's something has to happen on the Wiki for us to address. People's real political activities? That's no one's business but ArbCom, if even theirs. Kelly doesn't explain, even in vague terms, why the rest of the administrators cannot be told this stuff nor, even in vague terms, why other administrators can. More particularly, I don't get any sense that the rest of us cannot perform our duties without the information.

Additionally, if such were the function, and if the function were so strong that we cannot even be told what it is, so strong that we must assume that the channel is used for that and only for that (because no one can check, and if someone sees something else going on there, he or she cannot report it or prove it), it would have been negated the instant a non-administrator were in the channel. In fact, at present two non-administrators (certainly one, and I think two or three) have "ops" in the channel. Also, we have nowhere gotten any indication of why the logical and secure medium for discussing sensitive matters (e-mail and mailing lists) are not sufficient.

The idea that an IRC is better than e-mail because it's real time is silly. The other person has to be awake, at a computer, and online, as well as on IRC, to be available for chat, just like e-mail. If you're both at your computers, you can send e-mails back and forth as quickly as chat. If you're not, then the chat makes no more sense than e-mail. It's a foolish argument that really shouldn't be offered.

Nevertheless, I don't see anything I'm missing out on. I can be a good admin without that channel. I'm not sure that I could be one with it, but I know I'm not a bad one without it. Geogre 16:17, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

So don't use IRC if you don't want to. And shut down #wikipedia-en-admins... it won't actually accomplish anything, but it would prevent possible criticisms of the channel. The rest of it (that IRC is bad in general, the strawman that IRC participation is required, the conclusion that the opposite extreme is better (that participation should be discouraged)) is all a waste of time, and nearly trolling. A lot of work gets done on IRC with regard to the wikimedia servers, the toolserver, and for other projects, and nothing suggested so far could lessen the work that gets done over IRC. (and probably won't change the "no logging" default used across many channels) --Interiot 18:23, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
So who has said that IRC is bad in general? It wasn't me. Accusing me of "nearly trolling" would be considered a personal attack by some of the block-happy people who hang out on en.admins.irc. In fact, what I have said is that the en.admins.irc has no philosophical justification. The fact that three to four non-administrators are some of the heaviest users of it should have alarmed the people who claimed the great need for trusted environments as much as it did the people convinced that those people are generally up to promoting their own good above all else. If you're in favor of the original justification for that channel, you should be outraged at what it is now. As for the media channel, the dev channel, etc., when these same people use those channels without check from the other users, they will have succumbed to the weakness of the medium, too, and gone again toward the promoting of little playgrounds for little people to stroke their egos. All I ask is that we have some justification for the sacrifices that we take onboard by having "private" channels, when we have "private" nothing else on Wikipedia.
I would urge you, though, to read my essay, if you believe that you're near to characterizing my views accurately. I promise you that it's pretty well written. It's at user:Geogre/IRC considered. Geogre 22:18, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually I didn't say I like IRC, just that I hate mailing lists and this page. Right now I hate IRC too, because it's caused people to get into this mess. But I take your point. (As you can probably guess, I also didn't put too much thought into those one-word answers; fortunately Kelly Martin seems to have compensated for my lack of verbosity by writing a whole page of stuff in response.
I'm sorry if I misstated. I was asking, though, why we accept a non-Wikipedia and anti-Wikipedian medium. It's one thing to say it exists, and it's another thing to say that there is a reason for it. Geogre 22:18, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
The other person has to be awake, at a computer, and online, as well as on IRC, to be available for chat, just like e-mail.
This is true. Though in my case, if I'm on a computer I'm online and connected to IRC, so there are only two conditions to be met.
My point is that mailing lists can be fast, and e-mail is fast. There is a different feel to IRC, but there are huge limitations to it as well (limitations I discuss in my essay; in short, it's line/buffer length and lack of persistence). I feel that in-depth reasoning is not possible when you get five words per line and that any on-Wikipedia action affecting users deserves some detailed (and usually some slow) reasoning. Emergencies occur, but they're pretty darned rare. Geogre 22:18, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Ah, I remember being a little puzzled when I read that the first time... what exactly is this "line/buffer length" thing of which you speak? OK, you can't write an entire essay in one line, granted, but that doesn't matter. That's not the way conversation works. You can fit a perfectly good, long sentence (or even two) into one IRC "message". Yes, it will wrap to the next line, but so will it in any other medium. IRC is not for posting essays; if you want to say a lot, say it a sentence at a time, and people will read each sentence as you say it. If they have something to say, they may be patient and wait until the end, or they may interrupt you in mid-sentence. That's how conversation works – Gurch 23:49, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
If you're both at your computers, you can send e-mails back and forth as quickly as chat.
This is not true. Apart from anything else, you'd either have to schedule your email client to send and recieve every ten seconds, or keep hitting the "Send/Recieve" button while the other person was typing. And if you kept replying to the previous person's email, eventually you'd be sending tens of kilobytes of text back and forth each time just to transmit one line of conversation.
Anyway, IRC has been around for a while – it predates HTTP, HTML and wikis (if not SMTP) by several years, so let's not get too bogged down in arguments over whether "IRC is better"; the benefits and drawbacks of decades-old protocols have been pretty extensively discussed elsewhere, and are not really relevant to our "problem". For general collaboration – a central part of Wikipedia – people are entitled to use whatever method of communication they find to be most productive – Gurch 19:11, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
If we had persistence (the words stuck around via logs), portability (we could take them onto our user pages or policy pages), and accountability (some rules for what's allowed and not allowed), I'd be pretty indifferent and regard en.admins.irc as just another venue. The lack of those three forces me to ask why we grace the thing with our name and allow the implication that it has some status other than "chat room." Geogre 22:18, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

A subquestion[edit]

If these back channels are used to discuss confidential matters, shouldn't we have a mechanism for deciding who has access to them? It's perfectly OK for appointees to exercise delegated power confidentially, but these people should be appointed and the power should be properly and publicly delegated, either by the community or by the foundation. When did I or anybody else give our consent for specifically these people to discuss confidential matters in relation to the project? Zocky | picture popups 18:07, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

  • The last time I asked a question like that, I was told (by a now blocked user), "tough, loser." At the time, I figured that wasn't an official position, but no official position emerged. Is it Danny? I've known Danny for years, and I would be shocked that he'd act without process. Is it Jimbo? If so, it would be uncharacteristic, given his statement of purpose on his user page. Is Brad? I don't know him, so I have no comment. The point is that it seemed to me to be self-selection, and that's not good if the self-selected also have any say on exclusion. I'm still not sure that I believe Kelly when she says that the channel was created by Jimbo or the Foundation, as she can't recall the details. Can no one offer a diff showing the creation rationale? Geogre 18:25, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
    • Anyone in the channel can see the list of people with access to the channel (/cs access #wikipedia-en-admins list), and anyone inside could protest if non-admins they didn't trust got added, I guess. As far as I know, that should be sufficient. As others have said though, I'm not sure how much it gets used for secure communications anymore. --Interiot 18:43, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
FGS, it is a private club devoted to the adoration of Kelly(who is not even an admin), James and Co. No doubt Danny who founded it does not see it that way, but that is what it is. Anyone who fails to follow the line there is made to feel very unwelcome. The rest are so grateful and pleased to be there they will do anything asked of them. The only time they behave themselves is when Jimbo turns up. It is now a hindrance to the future development of Wikipedia, it is abused and debased and needs to be abolished. Giano 19:07, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
You're dead wrong on every count. --Cyde Weys 20:46, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
You mean you don't behave when Jimbo turns up, or that there have been some other occasions when you've behaved? I disagree with Giano, but it shouldn't be possible for his position to have legitimacy. The fact is that I have seen, with my own eyes, people conspiring to block him. I have seen, with my own eyes, three people talking about their desire to "kill" Irpen "slowly." I have seen, with my own eyes, people talking about absent users as "process wonks" (that's me!) and "wiki-lawyers" and "trolls," and these were steady contributors. In other words, because it has occurred in the past, Giano's broadside could be wrong on a specific occasion, but it is correct on another occasion. Every one of us is undermined when we speak to users because of this. How can I tell an actual troll "there is no cabal," when I know that there has, in fact, been collusion and sniping and ugly denigration? I used to believe in the aggregate good will of the project, that, if Kelly or you were to engage in character assassination, others would quickly put an end to the nasty talk -- the way things often happen at the general Wikipedia IRC channel. However, after having user after user say that he or she was "frightened" of being "kickbanned" for protesting, and after seeing, on three occasions now, threats used against anyone who told people to stop being so malignant, I think the problem is in the idea of an owned IRC medium. Get all of the non-admins out of the admins channel or let non-admins in. Geogre 22:26, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
      • My point is, if there are really confidential things to be discussed, we should be much more careful about who gets to discuss them. If there aren't, the backchannels aren't likely to be helpful on the whole. Zocky | picture popups 19:59, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
[in response to Giano] —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Gurch (talkcontribs) 20:19, 28 December 2006 (UTC).
OK, time for a long reply.
So far in this discussion, I've tried to bring up some points that I thought might be worth discussing merely from observation of what people had said before; from an outsider's point of view, so to speak. However, as the conversation has progressed over the last 24 hours, I have become increasingly concerned. I feel compelled to bring up my personal experience at this point, as it would appear that either I am guilty of gross misconduct and should be desysopped immediately, or I am not. I would very much like to know which.
I was asked if I would find the channel useful soon after I became an administrator. It must have been some time in July; I forget exactly when. Had I requested access sooner (well, any time after my RfA), I am certain I would have been granted it; I had no record of incivility or, as far as I'm aware, anything else that would be percived as problematic. I started, participated in, and listened with interest to many productive discussions in that channel, and I certainly feel I have more experience and a better understanding of Wikipedia as a result of being there. I certainly don't regret my involvement. Yet apparently, I am either to blame for months of abuse, or "nauseating" as a result of my faliure to do anything about it.
I probably spent thousands of hours logged into that channel (not always actively conversing, of course, but nevertheless logged in), before this argument flared up during the ArbCom elections and I decided I wouldn't want to be seen to be taking sides. So, then, I'm an administrator, and I used IRC. Frequently. I'm not entirely sure whether that makes me an "IRCadmin"; I sincerely hope it does not, as if it does, I am shocked to hear such allegations as "lies and clumsy plotting" directed at me.
If it does not, my situation hardly seems to be better. I wonder aloud whether I "stood idly by in the channel gleefully listening to it all but saying nothing". It's quite possible that I did, if you define that to mean being logged in but not speaking. Generally such behaviour indicates that I'm out, asleep, or just concerned with other things. On the other hand, there were discussions that I did read, but did not contribute to. Generally I couldn't think of anything useful to say, or wasn't particularly bothered about the issue, but I read them nonetheless; I like to be informed.
This last paragraph also does little to reassure me. I don't particularly adore Kelly. She's not my type. For that matter, she doesn't particularly like me. I spent several months on the B-list (remember that?) and it was me that first discovered and questioned its existence. Interestingly, I never discussed the matter on-wiki; I brought it up in the IRC channel. The fact that it was subsequently MfD'd and deleted without my involvement (I was on holiday) seems to demonstrate that not everything that happened in that channel was dictated by one party. My relationships with James and whoever you're referring to when you say "and Co" are also notably lacking in the adoration area.
I find the notion I belonged (and, I suppose still do belong; last time I checked I still had access) to some sort of "private club" bewildering. Prior to my RfA I had had virtually no dealings of any sort with administrators, other than the odd one-time message/reply over some trifling issue. I was nominated by a non-administrator, and supported primarily by non-administrators. That situation changed little over the next month (it inevitably changed a small amount out of necessity). Certainly I had done absolutely nothing that might warrant some kind of "membership"; yet I was welcomed as another administrator and, as I say, had many productive discussions in the following months.
I won't pretend that in those four and a half months I didn't see the odd bit of somewhat questionable conduct. However, I know for sure that I saw a lot more of it on-wiki, and I'm not aware that I involved myself in anything that violates any of our policies as they stood then, or stand now. I was (and still am) relatively inexperienced, so I'm sure I did something wrong at some point. But I'm curious as to the percieved magnitude of it.
So, I have apparently done something wrong, and whichever it is, I'm not going to like it. But I need to know. What is it? – Gurch 20:06, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Sadly, a very short reply, in England they have saying "A man is known by the company he keeps" I'm proud of all my wiki-friends, there is not one, I would deny. Some are very clever, some are eccentric, but they are all honourable, and I would trust every one of them. Giano 20:25, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
It would seem, then, that regrettably I will never be your friend, as you appear to be implying that you don't trust me. Possibly your loss, possibly mine; we will never know. On the other hand, you don't appear to be desperately seeking removal of my administrative privileges, which can only be a good thing.
You stated on my talk page, The IRCadmin channel has a reputation that is now in the gutter, please do not shoot the messenger, I did not put it there. It was not in the gutter when I first came across it – or perhaps, lacking experience, I could not tell at the time that this was the case. And I'm pretty sure *I* did not put it there either. I would advise that if the messenger is going to be spared, so should everyone else that happened to be around at the time – Gurch 21:02, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

[in response to Gurch 20:06]    Obvious hyperbole doesn't usually require a reply, as far as I know. If Giano does sincerely believe that those in the channel spend time adoring Kelly or James F, it would be good to explain that further, because I just haven't seen that. Bishonen did mention she felt unwelcome on the channel... that's unfortunate, I don't think any admin should be made to feel unwelcome there, and it'd be nice if we could change that. --Interiot 20:28, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
In response to Interiot: Did you notice, "You're not doing yourself any favors?" Did you notice the invitation to leave? Would you have perceived that as an implied threat? A lot of people do. Bishonen is not cowed, of course, by ridiculous puffing up like that, but many people are, especially when people were just saying that they might announce Jimbo's selection of ArbCom for him (trans. "I am important") and others speaking over and over again of how important she is to Jimbo/Danny/Brad/the Cosmos. Given that that particular person has seen fit before to go to talk pages and say, "You are heading for a ban" (that's ban, folks, not block), it sure could be construed as a threat. Where, then, were the voices piping up and saying, "You're full of beans! You can't threaten people like that! You're not the center of the universe, you nasty, bitter solipcist." Where were the voices saying, "Will people please stop talking bad about everyone else?" (Curiously, that occurred right in the middle of one user directing everyone at RDH's blog so that they could collective condemn it and complain about his complaining.) The modus operandi here was to whine about "whiners," to insult people who they thought were insulting, and to continually refer to each other about their own importance. If we need something to stop, it might be that. Are these the people we trust? Are these the people we want with confidential material? Are these the people we think should have a private space so that they can speak without fear of accountability? They aren't for me, but I'm just a drone, just a writer. Geogre 22:36, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Oh Goody! Is that an invitation to post some logs? Giano 20:36, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I think it was more of a response to me than an invitation to do anything. Though your question is a good one. I would say no, myself. I've just gone through some logs from a few months back, and they really are very boring. Given how long this thread is already, a few hundred lines of log files is only going to make it harder to read – Gurch 21:26, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Why thank you for the info Geogre! It helps put my mind at ease...I was wondering how that rude little anon comment got on my board (And on X-mas too for X's sake!:). I chose to delete it rather than feed some nameless troll, but had they bothered to sign, or even put a bit more thought into it, I might have deemed it sponge worthy. So I've now tightened security a bit and disabled anon commenting. But I'm a bit gratified that my tiny community has finally come under the eye of the mighty IRC cabal. I must be saying something right there, to have them interrupt such a vital and deep philosophical discussion amongst all the lil fluttering fairies to try and gather an X-mas stoning party. Though, sadly, only one pebble was cast...I'm sure it would've been more if not for the goddamned holiday:)(Ghost In The Machine)|R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine)]] 04:01, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

I also find your views on IRC pretty much spot on.
  • I really don't see how it is practical
  • [07:29pm] *** piggesknuckles ( has joined #wikipedia-en-admins
  • To have any sort of in-depth or
  • [07:29pm]((piggesknuckles))WHAT UP MAH BITCHES!
  • meaningful discussion when
  • [07:29pm]((piggesknuckles)) /flicks a boogie at thee!
  • one only has a single line of text and
  • [07:29pm]((piggesknuckles))HAHAHA PWANED!
  • is being constantly interrupted and
  • [07:29pm]((piggesknuckles)) I just totally pawned this vandal!
  • distracted by the
  • [07:29pm]((piggesknuckles))INDEF BLOCKED BABY!
  • discussions and comments
  • [07:30pm] *** jwales (n=jwales@wikipedia/Jimbo-Wales) has joined #wikipedia-en-admins
  • of others.
  • [07:30pm]((piggesknuckles)) /me hides bossman
  • Unless, of course, you restrict who is allowed on
  • [07:30pm]((piggesknuckles))BYYYEEEEEE!
  • to a small, select number.
  • [7:30pm] *** piggesknuckles ( has left IRC
In which case, you end up with an even more closed and "leetist" pigs' non-bovine pen than before. And the problems related to secret, off-wiki decsion-making are made much worse.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) 04:01, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Some admin stats[edit]

I just ran a check on all 1082 admins the results are shocking.

  • 63.49% (687) of these users are currently active (last edited 3 days ago at most)
  • 85.12% (921) of these users are active (last edited 29 days ago at most)
  • 2.96% (32) of these users are long-term inactive (last edited 1+ years ago)
I thought others might be interested Betacommand (talkcontribsBot) 07:06, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
That works out to more than 32 +sysop accounts sitting unused and unguarded, all of them tempting to those interested in compromising them. Things like this make me wonder whether long-term inactivity should result in desysopping, purely for security purposes. (Doesn't one of the Scandinavian Wikipedias do that?) Picaroon 07:16, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
We do it at the Commons. Inactive for a year will get you desysoped, but you can reapply if you become active again. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 07:20, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
PS there is at least one account that has been inactive for over four years. Betacommand (talkcontribsBot) 07:21, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I see no compelling reason to desysop them. It's not a simple matter to compromise one of our accounts. alphachimp. 07:26, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
And the thing is that an inactive admin account is no different than an active admin account. If my account were to be hacked tomorrow, it's no different than an admin who has been inactive for four years- an immediate desysopping is required. Ral315 (talk) 07:27, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
If your account were hacked, you would be on here or on IRC very quickly to let someone know about it. On the other hand, if the account of someone who hasn't visited the site in over a year were compromised, there's much less of a chance they would notice. BigDT 13:09, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Not really. In the amount of time it would take me to realize it (if I was online, probably at least 5 minutes; if I was offline, who knows...), the person controlling my account could have done almost every malicious thing possible. In any event, it's likely going to be the admin who first sees a disgusting picture on every page who'll recognize that my account (or any admin account) has been hacked. Ral315 (talk) 11:29, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
All admin actions are reversible. The accounts aren't sitting anywhere physically, and by not loggin in, it's more difficult for somebody with keylogger (example) to get the password. And besides,compromising danger is independent of usage (even used accounts can be compromised). -- Drini 07:29, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
We got enough admins on Wikipedia that if one account goes bad, we got plenty to fix the damage and I do not see a need to desysop people for not being here on Wikipedia. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 07:31, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Some actions are easier to reverse than others. I won't violate WP:BEANS here, but a breach could be really miserable. We should try to reduce the chances, but turning off inactive admins might not be my number one priority. --Gmaxwell 07:35, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Speaking from a purely technical point of view, an active admin account is more prone to be hacked than an insecure one. I won't discuss why here, though... Titoxd(?!?) 07:42, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Than an inactive one, not insecure. For example the admin accounts that had blank passwords were pretty likely to be hacked back when those existed. :) --Gmaxwell 08:06, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Basic security measures like changing the password (to a complex/unguessable/long password) after 90 days of inactivity would solve that potential problem. The admin could just change their password using existing tools to get back in when they re-activate. Atom 20:45, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I had originally meant. Freudian slip... Titoxd(?!?) 08:40, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Sounds about right, 740 admins performed at least one admin action between 11/01 and 12/18 (where admin action = something that makes a log entry, not editing a protected page). --Gmaxwell 07:34, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Or 68.39% of all admins Betacommand (talkcontribsBot) 07:41, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Demoting inactive admins is a perennial proposal (see WP:PEREN) that has pretty much been rejected several times in the past. The latest incarnation is here. >Radiant< 10:56, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    • Demoting? I can see why perfectly sensible proposals, in line with the usual business practice where privileged accounts are concerned, are rejected when temporary desysoping is seen as demotion. Angus McLellan (Talk) 15:52, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
      • Well, the obvious issue is, what's temporary mean? If a controversial administrator gets into a car accident and doesn't edit for four months, can he automatically regain his adminship? Ideally, this would be the case, but what if someone raised a complaint- would this admin have to go through a potentially unpassable RFA? Ral315 (talk) 11:34, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
  • It's not one of the hottest concerns we have, but people who aren't here aren't here, and, if they come back, they'll be way, way, way out of the loop and therefore not enjoying community trust. Administrative status is not a caste one is born or reborn into, and it's annoying that we keep treating it like an inherent quality of the person. (If a person came back after only two years, he'd go looking for VfD, VfU, be unaware of WEB, BIO, ALBUm, etc. He'd never know that we had echelons of echelons of IRC, which is now less and less optional. He'd never know a ton of things, including where the speedy deletes are, how templates are controlled, what userboxes are, etc. I'm not sure he could function very well as an admin upon his return.) Geogre 12:57, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    • True, but as he had been made an admin he is (presumably) a sensible person who would realise that the site would have changed a lot in two years. We should trust our admins to familiarise themselves with the new common practices before doing anything after a long break. Raven4x4x 13:22, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
      • I'm not sure what other admins have been "out of the loop", but neither Zoe nor myself had much of a problem getting back in. Conversely, I've seen one or two freshly promoted admins that are pretty much clueless regarding how certain important parts of Wikipedia work. Unless you would propose an "admin exam" on rules knowledge that people have to pass upon promotion and return (say, 100 multiple choice questions, need at least 75 correct, and no I don't seriously think this is a good idea). >Radiant< 13:30, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    • It depends on what the definition of an administrator is. If it's a person trusted by the community, then it should be a heck of a lot more fluid than once-chosen-always-holy. Great that Radiant! and Zoe got back in the swing of things, but that's not much of a data set to extrapolate from. Crowbait 18:03, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
  • And what about just add some more new admins ? ≈Tulkolahten≈≈talk≈ 13:09, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    I would not object to an Admin exam, but I imagine I'm in the minority here. It would be open book, for technical reasons, so all it will test is if the editor in question can look things up, read and comprehend - which is a core skillset which some of our admins seem to lack. KillerChihuahua?!? 13:35, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    • Not to mention that copy/pasting the answers from the last candidate is also a core skillset... :) >Radiant< 13:44, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    • Well ... RFA still asks that punitive block question, so copy/pasting is clearly one of the three most important admin functions! </humor> Serpent's Choice 13:50, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
  • (after edit conflict) Only if the exam did not have question pooling, and had "open grading". I've been in distance education for the past 10 years. Creating a question pool, multiple-choice/single select and/or multiple-choice/multiple select, with scores released either by section or the entire exam, without giving out correct (and/or incorrect) choices selected - or even pass/fail only - would not compromise the integrity of future exams. This is all academic, though, as there is zero support for testing admins. KillerChihuahua?!? 13:55, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    How is it that we've had three standard questions in RfA for more than a year, and each candidate seems to be able to express themselves in their own words? 13:59, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    Paraphrasing. KillerChihuahua?!? 14:04, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
    some don't even manage that. Agathoclea 15:32, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Crossing the streams a bit, what with writing the test before the horse, aren't we? Anyway, it dead-standard practice on any system with access control to remove access when it's no longer used/required. Security concerns aside, it's just tidy to do so. The risks associated with auto-re-opping someone who has been away are microscopic. I'd even suggest that the one year band is too long: Were I "Access Control" I'd dead-min at nine or even six months. - brenneman 23:58, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

But I'd also mass-purge any account over one month old with no contributions, just to put my opinions into context.
brenneman 23:59, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Agree that inactive for a year should be desysoped.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  12:27, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Troubles in Wayside...[edit]

I loved the Wayside School books as much as anyone else, but I don't think individual characters merit their own articles. Recently User:Everyoneandeveryone created a bunch of new pages: Mrs. Jewls | Louis the Yard Teacher | Allison | Bebe Gunn | Benjamin Nushmutt | Deedee | Eric Bacon, Eric Fry & Eric Ovens | Jason | Jenny | Joe | John | Kathy | Maurecia | Myron | Rondi | Sharie | Stephen | Sue | Terrence | Miss Zarves. What's the correct procedure here? Mass AfD? Mass Prod? Mass redirect? Many thanks in advance for your advice. Gzkn 02:00, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Merge & redirect to Wayside_School#Characters. If there is a lot of material, it may deserve a new article Characters in Wayside School, definitely not individual articles. Quarl (talk) 2006-12-28 02:13Z
I would suggest an AfD to get consensus for the mass merge and redirect. RFC is technically the proper forum, but it's unlikely to get any real attention. You may just do the mass merge and redirects, yourself, and wait for protest, if any, as Quarl suggests. It's not as polite, but it will probably have the same effect. Geogre 16:41, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Mass AfDs are always a dirty business. User:Zoe|(talk) 18:14, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I would start with the four or so most minor characters, lump them together into one nomination, then two or three of the next most minorlumped in a second nominstion, etc. Gets the efficiency of the bluk buy without the brain-straining "six of these, three of those, two and a half merges and a redirect" kind of close. - brenneman 22:46, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Well, looks someone was rouge and went ahead and deleted them all, so I guess I won't have to lift a finger. :) Thanks for all your advice though. Gzkn 09:17, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
I don't believe A7 covers fictional characters, and am concerned it's being used this way. CanadianCaesar Et tu, Brute? 09:22, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
You are correct, and the ends do not justify the means, folks. I can't bring myself to do anything about it, but you are correct: A7 is wholly inappropriate. One could argue "no context," but not really A7. Geogre 15:00, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure if all of them were deleted under A7. I checked a few of them: some where deleted as "nn character", others as "doesn't need its own article". Hmm. Gzkn 03:14, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
I really don't want to have to DRV these. I was wondering why the three books got prodded today... --badlydrawnjeff talk 03:17, 30 December 2006 (UTC)


Virgin Unite was created by spa Virgin United (talk • contribs • deleted contribs • nuke contribs • logs • filter log • block user • block log) on the 27th, at the same time as... well, you know what. A few editors tried merging it, a few think it deserves a seperate article e.t.c. My concern is less over the article than over the AfD proposed by User:Lovelac7. AGF was soon forgotten, and this editor got a severe mauling from several users, with rather uncivil comments such as "don't bite the hand that feeds you", "don't screw with the AfD process", "don't jump to conclusions". In particular, User:David Gerard !voted for "speedy keep" with a laconic "wtf". Being a member of the foundation, which is currently being sponsored by Virgin, I'm not sure he should have a say in the discussion (this was his first and only edit of the day at the time of writing this). The same goes for User: Charles Matthews, who as a member of ArbCom is pretty "high up in the ranks", so to say. That AfD is over, having been closed (very quickly) after the nominator withdrew, apologising profusely. However, from what I gather, Virgin will not be the only company !advertising on the site, so maybe a set of guidelines should be established outlining who should and should not participate in the discussions relating to their articles (be they AfDs or not). Suggestions? yandman 11:25, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

By the way, I do know that neither David nor Charles are being paid for their work, so it's not bad faith COI, but I still think it's COI. yandman 11:26, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
  • David's "wtf" can easily be explained: Virgin Unite is unquestionably a notable enterprise. I think a dose of good faith is probably called for here, and frankly if any other charitable matched-funders don't have articles then we should simply create them ourselves, thus forestalling the problem, because there is little doubt that people seeing the site banner will want to know who the matched funding providers are. If it's thought to be a problem then maybe we could create them on Meta as sponsors or something, but that's probably unnecessary. Guy (Help!) 11:34, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, we would have had an article created by ourselves if I'd actually pulled my finger out about 1am on the 27th and done it :-) But I got daunted by the fact I couldn't find much information... If we'd nuked the original article - the author of whom is now blocked - it'd have been recreated in seconds with good reason by a respected contributor, and everyone would've been happy about that. I'm not really sure this is much to worry about. Shimgray | talk | 11:40, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
"wtf" does not explain that. Anyway, I don't see that this organization is "unquestionably" notable. The sources in the article are relatively trivial: one is some barebones tax information, one is a PR release from the organization, one is a motorcycle website, and there at the end we have another PR release. The only actual reliable source is one part of a medley of several different philanthropic people, and is not even about the organization but is about Richard Branson. The group should be mentioned in the Richard Branson article and the Virgin Group, but there is no evidence in the current sources that it warrants a separate article. There may be better sources, but the possibility of those existing is far from the organization being "unquestionably a notable enterprise", and those sources would need to be added to the article for it not to warrant merging into those other articles. —Centrxtalk • 11:54, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
The sources in the article are relatively trivial: Do you mean the Forbes magazine story -- which I put in the article when I recreated after a trigger-happy admin redirected it to Virgin Group -- or the New York Times story that a subsequent editor added? How did you overlook those? --Calton | Talk 12:40, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
The New York Times article I mentioned above: it is split into several sections and one of those sections is about Richard Branson, not Virgin Unite. I overlooked the Forbes article because it is not in any citation or references section, however that article is also about Richard Branson and his many activities, and has a grand total of two sentences directly about Virgin Unite. —Centrxtalk • 21:56, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Guy, try actually clicking the link -- which I helpfully provided -- instead of jumping to conclusions: "Entrepreneur From Britain Opens Charity in America" is the headline on this story. --Calton | Talk 00:15, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
That was not in the article when I wrote the initial comment. —Centrxtalk • 05:44, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
In other words, you didn't bother to check what was placed directly in front of you. Got it. --Calton | Talk 05:58, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
No, that's not true, check your facts. —Centrxtalk • 23:29, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Nope, it's right there where I put it, exactly as I said it was and which you misidentified. My facts are checked and it remains true. Inconvenient, but true. --Calton | Talk 23:33, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
You were referring to my original comment, I was referring to your comment that was in reference to my original comment. My original comment was referred to the other Times article and, though it admitted the possibility of better sources being found in the future, was not actually written in the future and therefore did not have those sources that were found in the future. —Centrxtalk • 00:44, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
As I say here, the article was created by "us" (by which I mean regular Wikipedians, 23 of them plus an anonymous user or two). A simple look at the page with History Flow will show you that.
As I also say in that post, The question of whether we should have an article at all (or whether it should be merged somewhere else, etc) is not so urgent that we need decide it right at this very minute. Everyone have some tea and come back in a day or two with some perspective. --bainer (talk) 11:57, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I think it is relatively urgent, because of the disproportionate attention the article will be getting due to the !advert. A sort of second "article of the day", if you will. Anything remotely smelling of fish (such as the apparent COI here) will quickly be used against us, be it by silly websites or by more serious sources. yandman 12:55, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I tried to merge it into the parent article, which is what we do with two line substubs, but this was reverted. I still think that's the best way to go. Proto:: 13:15, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Am I missing something here, or is Yandman's argument that a regular contributor to Wikipedia shouldn't edit the article about an organization that donated to Wikipedia because it's a conflict of interest? If that's the case, how on earth are we supposed to write the Wikipedia article? – Gurch 14:54, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
A regular contributor, no problem. A member of the foundation, maybe a problem. yandman 16:58, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Members of the Arbitration Committee are not members of the Foundation. The Arbitration Committee exists and has jurisdiction only on the English Wikipedia – Gurch 21:48, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
The Foundation has no members at all, nor have there ever been members. The bylaws used to have provision for members but that was taken out earlier this month (see foundation:Resolution:Bylaws revision). Coincidentally, one of the reasons for this was to remove any possibility for any group to stack the Foundation and try to influence it in any way. --bainer (talk) 01:04, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Still, this is one of the better Wikidramas, in that at least no actual trolls are involved :-) Guy (Help!) 15:13, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Who knows? Maybe ED will be the next sponsors... yandman 17:42, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

I can't see that they're a COI violation, since they couldn't even get the name of the charity right in their User name. :) User:Zoe|(talk) 18:10, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

David Gerard is not a member of the foundation. He is a member of Wikimedia UK, which IIRC, does not get anything out of the Virgin Unite matching donations offer. Technically, there are no legal members of the foundation, as the foundation has no such thing as membership under its bylaws. Titoxd(?!?) 01:00, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

It does have a board, doesn't it? The board would be the "members" in the context being used here. Employees(?) as well. ---J.S (T/C) 02:03, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Ah, my mistake. I thought David was a member of the foundation. I just think that for the benefit of all, those who are, for want of a better word, "high up in the ranks" should be careful not to give the impression that the sponsors are receiving special attention, if you see the general vague uneasy feeling I'm trying to convey. yandman 14:07, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

At least it wasn't just speedily deleted and protected like Arch Coal was, I see COI has moved on that far. - hahnchen 05:07, 31 December 2006 (UTC)


I stumbled upon Wikipedia:Adopt-a-User, of which I was previously unaware. Fostering community and helping new users is an awesome goal, but I'm a little worried about the MySpacy-nature (some people have a list of 10 or 20 "adoptees" via the {{adopter}} userbox) and the involvement of kids combined with the perceived permanent relationship (see posts about "forever families" on talk page). The more official this project becomes, the worse the damage should something disreputable hit the media. Am I just being paranoid? Can this project be nudged in a slightly different direction? Quarl (talk) 2006-12-29 08:46Z

I think the Adopt-a-User program is aimed at helping new users, not necessarily young users (although sometimes they overlap). I guess changing "Older editors can "adopt" newbies..." to perhaps "Established editors can "adopt" newbies..." in the intro might clear up some confusion. Gzkn 09:20, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Actually I frequently recommend WP:ADOPT to editors whether or not they're new to Wikipedia when someone seems to be making a sincere effort to help build an encyclopedia but is getting in trouble with site policies. Sometimes I've shortened a userblock when an editor pledges to enter the program. It's a positive and productive way for people to get their questions answered and adjust to the way this site works. Most of their mentorships are successful. Maybe a few superficial elements of the project space could use improvement, but I'm proud we have it. DurovaCharge! 14:43, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

At this stage, I wouldn't want to offer an opinion as to the utility of this program. But I would say that something like CAblonde15's asking for mentorship makes me raise an eyebrow. As I read the username and contribs, this user is implying she is a 15-year-old blonde from California, and her only edit is the {{adoptme}} template. This looks a bit like bait of some kind to me. She(?) is on my watchlist, but I wonder what others think. IronDuke 15:35, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
As with anything else at this site, an occasional problem user tries to exploit the program. One confirmed example is BooyakaDell, whom I recently banned after an investigation concluded that this account was a sockpuppet of previously banned JB196. Even there the mentorship turned out to be a positive factor in resolving the problems this editor was creating: the adopter Lethaniol earned thanks all around for level-headed participation. That sort of example doesn't make me doubt the usefulness of the program any more than vandalism to the front page featured article makes me doubt the utility of having featured articles. DurovaCharge! 18:13, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. Seeing what Lethaniol did on that case provided me the impetus to become one of the WP:ADOPT folks (The other adopters have beat me to everyone so far :) SirFozzie 18:20, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

WP:CCC and WP:CON[edit]

Can somebody provide me with some background as to how Wikipedia:Consensus can change came to be a policy? While I am expressing some doubts as to the establishment of this (CCC) particular policy (Wikipedia's most recent if I'm not mistaken), that is not my point.

I am deeply intrigued by the fact that this other pillar, Wikipedia:Consensus remains a guideline. Maybe it's me, but explicitly basing a policy on a (by definition not-binding) guideline seems to be contradictory. A quick looks makes it seems to me as if WP:CCC could be merged into making WP:CON a policy.Circeus 15:27, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Oh, great. More "obvious logic becomes a policy so people can misapply the title without understanding the policy" pages! Good grief, is anyone fooled any more? Says: "We can change." Will be used as: "I will do what I want because CCC." Prbt. Crowbait 19:50, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually, That's exactly what happened at Wikipedia talk:Overcategorization.Circeus 21:39, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Fraud Act 2006[edit]

I'm trying to clear out some of the backlog at copyright problems and came upon Fraud Act 2006. The article is basically a copy and paste of this page. It's a British government site which is covered under crown copyright. Am I correct in understanding that crown copyright doesn't allow for this? Metros232 15:58, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

The page of the Act you linked to has the copyright conditions at the top of it:
Explanatory Notes to Acts of the UK Parliament are subject to Crown Copyright protection. They may be reproduced free of charge provided that they are reproduced accurately and that the source and copyright status of the material is made evident to users.
But you can't include the coat of arms:
It should be noted that the right to reproduce the text of these Explanatory Notes does not extend to the Queen's Printer imprints which should be removed from any copies of the Explanatory Notes which are issued or made available to the public. This includes reproduction of the Notes on the internet and on intranet sites. The Royal Arms may be reproduced only where they are an integral part of the original document.
Tyrenius 17:31, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, but basically doesn't that mean that it can't be edited now really? Any edits we make to the text would be altering the content against the copyright. So, essentially, the article is one big block quote. Metros232 17:39, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, it's basically a no-derivatives licensing. I've removed it and replaced it with a short (but legit) stub Shimgray | talk | 17:54, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Fixed now. It's a rather decent article, though I say it myself - summarised the basic provisions of the Act and linked out to the detailed explanatory notes (which is what was originally pasted here) Shimgray | talk | 18:37, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Taylor Allderdice High School[edit]

Okay, I'm getting involved in what's going to blow into a revert war at the above article. Admin's will need to get involved and sort it out now. All requests for comment on the actual issue have fallen on deaf ears, so I'm not sure how else to solve it. See the talk page for a really inane long winded discussion about original research. Cheers, bye. Hiding Talk 19:35, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Appear to need an admin steeped in copyright experienced for an AfD closure[edit]

It appears that an admin with a lot of copyright-related experience is needed over at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Cesária Évora to facilitate closure of the AfD. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 02:21, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

My advice would be to delete the original copyvio article Cesária Évora (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views), per policy and consensus, and then to move the newly written non-copyvio version, Barefoot Diva (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views), to Cesária Évora. Sandstein 19:56, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Close an AfD please[edit]

I have rescinded my nomination of this article's deletion as a condition of the improvement it has received as a result of my nomination. Could an admin close this AfD early as Keep? Thanks. ju66l3r 02:39, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Sure, closed. Naconkantari 02:46, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, Naconkantari. ju66l3r 03:35, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
Note: you can just close it yourself (withdraw), if you're the nominator. f(Crazytales) = (user + talk) at 17:13, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Need some advice on AfD closure[edit]

OK, I'm worried I've improperly closed two AfD items - my only two recently at that. According to WP:DPR

Every day, the day page (ie Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Log/Year Month Day) more than five days old should be moved here. The decision to keep or delete a page is to be implemented only after this move has been performed. To process an AFD debate listed on a day page containing debates old enough to be closed: (continues)

I've closed two items without moving them or waiting for them to be moved. I have in the past closed items (more than a year ago, I think) and never needed to move them or list them elsewhere - however, times might have changed. Regards --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 03:42, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

You're fine. That quote is about moving the day page (ie