Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/IncidentArchive330

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The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
As an uninvolved admin who has not participated in this debate, I believe it is time to close, archive and move on. Issues about Durova's conduct are properly raised at an RFC, issues about oversight at Wikipedia talk:Oversight, and so on. The rest of this page is largely circular at this point. Thatcher131 03:45, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Thread moved in from WP:ANI. cut paste

Comment from Jimbo[edit]

"I advise the world to relax a notch or two." A bad block was made for 75 minutes. It was reversed and an apology given. There are things to be studied here about what went wrong and what could be done in the future, but wow, could we please do so with a lot less drama? A 75 minute block, even if made badly, is hardly worth all this drama. Let's please love each other, love the project, and remember what we are here for.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:06, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

I think that 75 minute figure may be a bit misleading since six hours later !! was still under a block and couldn't edit outside his talk page.[1] He still hasn't edited outside his talk page, for that matter. Haukur (talk) 19:11, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
[Confused. ] This same godking as desysop ZScout? How many godkings we have? bishzilla ROARR!! 18:47, 22 November 2007 (UTC).
This topic is studying what went wrong, what more can be done to correct it, and what can be done in the future. I don't think this venue offers any drama beyond what can be expected from any issue that provokes a great deal of disagreement. Christopher Parham (talk) 16:27, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
"If I hear one more person imitate a drag queen god king by accusing others of "drama"..." Geogre (talk) 04:28, 22 November 2007 (UTC), refactored by sNkrSnee | t.p. 16:41, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Could these comments be placed in the "back of the line," inclusive of mine; that of Jimmy Wales.

With all due respect for JW, This topic does not start, nor does it stop with Mr. Wales. ErgoEgo (talk) 18:58, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, Jimbo, but alot more than just a 75 minute block happened here. One of our truly best (and I honestly believe, without hyperbole, truly best) may have been driven off for good because of these actions. It was 75 minutes, but it served to temporarily malign the character, and then forcefully expose, one of the greatest assets this Project has ever had who had wished to remain otherwise anonymous. No, this discussion is going on because we love this Project, and because we don't want to see the same thing happen to any of our other great assets who "remember what we are here for." Yes, there is heat, but there is light here as well. --Jeffrey O. Gustafson - Shazaam! - <*> 21:34, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Mr. Wales. I think he made perhaps the most reasonable and level-headed statement I have read thus far in this discussion. In any event, Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Wikipedians! Sincerely, --Le Grand Roi des CitrouillesTally-ho! 21:39, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
This discussion is going on outside any of the ordinary dispute resolution procedures. We have RfC/admin to handle cases of admin abuse. We have RfAr. We have AN/I. But is just a free-standing page attacking an editor, and as such it is out-of-bounds. This page has method for reaching a conclusion. If folks want to pursue this then they should do so according to the simple, standard procedures already in place. I propose to archive it so that folks who want to pursue it can do so in a way that will result in a resolution. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 22:25, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
I second Will Beback's proposal. Sincerely, --Le Grand Roi des CitrouillesTally-ho! 22:28, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
Why can't editors be trusted with the ability to comment here? It will likely die down on its own. — xDanielx T/C\R 03:11, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
There's currently an open question on who oversighted some of the material from this page. And speaking of dispute resolution procedures, someone has started an RfC. Cla68 (talk) 03:25, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
Will, do please know the order of things.
  1. Folks have been asking for Durova's input over and over, so the fact that she is not saying anything is her decision and in fact a sign that she's not participating in resolution
  2. It's "free standing" because some zealots were quite energized to get all of this off of AN/I, despite the people who have been asking for it to remain there
  3. The idea that, if one is discussing something one place, one cannot have an RfAR, is absurd.
People may well be doing both, and there is no reason why the community should not express its opinion on the central matters (secret evidence for private reasons being used to block a long time user without review and without any on-wiki reasoning, and the user never disavowing these actions), even if there is an RfAR, and even if that goes on at the same time. Saying that the community must shut up is not a good idea. Geogre (talk) 11:03, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
Hi Geogre. I don't know if we've ever interacted before, but first let me say I've been a fan of your lucid (if occasionally acid) prose and agreed with much of your ideas in past issues; if memory serves, I voted for you in the last arbcom election. Having said that, I think you've got the wrong end of the stick here, and Jimbo is right (and disagreeing with Jimbo, FWIW, is my favorite indoor sport (insert cheesy emoticon here)). I can't tell you how many times I've seen admins not only engage in outrageous, desysoppable behavior, but come to AN/I and invite those who don't like it to kiss their nether bits. Durova said she was wrong, and she'll accept punishment if it's merited. So, we can let arbcom handle it, no? If more admins would do only that, WP would be a better place. IronDuke 22:41, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

Indefinite block of an established editor[edit]

This section was courtesy-blanked for some time. The person for whom it was blanked has stated that s/he does not wish for it to be blanked. As such, do not re-blank it. Note also that the other party is on record below as "If he wants it unblanked, then by all means fulfill his request.", and this has not been withdrawn to my knowledge.—Random832 17:56, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

I have placed an indefinite block on this account as a disruptive sockpuppet. Due to the nature of this investigation, our normal open discussion isn't really feasible. Please take to arbitration if you disagree with this decision. Thank you. DurovaCharge! 16:48, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I am sorry but some degree of further explanation here will be necessary. I appreciate your desire to keep your investigation techniques confidential but a first review of the contribution history here reveals no disruptive edits of any nature and no warnings of any kind. A response on an urgent basis is requested. Newyorkbrad (talk) 16:57, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
What what? Yeah, Durova, you're really going to have to explain this. I see no transgressions of any kind on the part of this user; indeed, with over 100 DYKs, he seems to be a pretty positive force around here. GlassCobra 17:00, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree with NYB... someone who writes 100+ DYK articles simply can't be here purely to be disruptive. Explain to NYB in private, there's no security issue there, and I think nearly everyone would drop this if he says in public "the secret evidence is enough". But as it is... I'll take this to ArbCom if no one else will, and I don't even really know User:!! --W.marsh 17:01, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Grossly poor block. I happen to know who this "disruptive" editor is, and I'll tell you now he's done absolutely nothing wrong at all Any admin who wants to know can email me. Majorly (talk) 17:04, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Uh, yeah I'm sorry, there's got to be more transparency than this when we're talking about an editor with that contribution history. Even if we're talking about a good hand account that is looking for adminship at some point. ELIMINATORJR 17:10, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I will be more than happy to explain my research to the arbitration committee. Please take this there if that is your opinion. WP:AGF, please: I don't do something this bold without very good reasons. DurovaCharge! 17:06, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

  • (fourth edit conflict) As Durova is not a checkuser, I find it difficult to think of what could be confidential about the evidence in this case. Should not !! be unblocked until others have checked the situation? Sam Blacketer (talk) 17:12, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
If the reasoning behind the block involved personal information of editors then this is the correct thing to do. If you truly object then make your objections known to arbcom. They are not just going to let Durova block someone for the fun of it. There are certain issues that cannot be transparent here, this is a fact of the wiki. I have seen it happen a few times and when I investigated it was indeed correct not to discuss it publicly. Unblocking without talking to arbcom first would be about as irresponsible as Durova making this claim without good evidence(which I am sure he has). 1 != 2 17:13, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Given arbcom's current level of activity that isn't really an option. If you won't answer to the community chose half a dozen admins and explain your reseach to them.Geni (talk) 17:13, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I can understand where Durova is coming from. I don't find the suggestion to send this to ArbCom unreasonable, given Durova's history. Mercury 17:15, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

This has been a tough call, but in my opinion a necessary one. I am very confident my research will stand up to scrutiny. I am equally confident that anything I say here will be parsed rather closely by some disruptive banned sockpuppeteers. If I open the door a little bit it'll become a wedge issue as people ask for more information, and then some rather deep research techniques would be in jeopardy. As I've said this before, take me to arbitration if you want to challenge this. I think I've said that enough times clearly - I opened this thread for exactly that purpose. More than half a dozen administrators have already seen this research. DurovaCharge! 17:16, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Names?Geni (talk) 17:19, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Are you willing to send your evidence to other, independent admins who haven't been cherrypicked? If so, click here. If not, then yeah, I'm sorry, this is going to ArbCom. Not out of an assumption of bad faith, but because such an extreme action with no public evidence must be confirmed by experienced editors. You say that more than 6 other administrators have "seen the research" but none other than you have commented supporting the block here, so there's a bit of a disconnect. —bbatsell ¿? ? 17:30, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Durova has made a reasonable request. Her block should be respected pending arbcom review. Tom Harrison Talk 17:21, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

  • Assuming good faith applies equally to !! as to Durova. Blocks are there to prevent disruption and I see no evidence that !! was being disruptive, or would suddenly start to be disruptive if unblocked. Sam Blacketer (talk) 17:22, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Surely you can see the liability and danger in revealing investigative techniques? Mercury 17:24, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Security through obscurity? We've tried it a few times. has resulted in things like the main page being deleted and various inappropriate images turning up on the main page
  • Durova, could you please explain why you can't elaborate to the community and this has to go through ArbCom? Are there privacy concerns? Or is this soley to keep your techniques secret? If it is the latter then this is extremely disappointing. Ryan Postlethwaite 17:27, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Can I suggest that rather than demanding things we can't have (names) or speculating, we wait for ArbCom? Durova is in direct contact with several arbitrators and CheckUsers at the moment, and her past investigation skills are held in some regard. Durova is not one to block lightly. Guy (Help!) 17:29, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Why can we have the names of the admins who have reviewed the evidence?Geni 17:31, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Agree with Tom Harrison and Mercury. We clearly have a sock infestation. If disclosing details would hamper future sock ID techniques, it is better for ArcCom to review it confidentially. If someone is truly concerned, take it there. Complaining about it here is counterproductive. Crum375 (talk) 17:30, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

If there are arbitrators/checkusers who have evaluated the evidence it would be very helpful if they would comment here; after all, it would be counterproductive to start an ArbCom request if ArbCom is already reviewing the case. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:33, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

AGF'ing both sides, while I see no evidence of disruption (as a DYK frequenter), I'm not going to say anything against either side since I don't know the underlying information. I would like to see the evidence if Durova trusts me with it, but if not then I understand. Iff Arbcom can resolve this in a imely matter then I don't mind it going there. Wizardman 17:35, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

In lieu of my filing a formal request for arbitration, I urge that one or more arbitrators review this situation immediately. Based on the information available to me there is insufficient evidence to support any block. Newyorkbrad (talk) 17:37, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Here's my question, if he's a sock, who's the master? Kwsn (Ni!) 17:43, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, I know of !! and the thousands of excellent contributions he has made... No idea what this about, can we have some idea as to the nature of the transgression at least? My impression was he'd exercised his right to disappear and return... The Rambling Man (talk) 17:46, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I also don't get it...I understand not giving away confidential personal information, but could Durova at least cite the disruptive behavior for which this particular account was blocked? If it's a good hand/bad hand thing, then block the bad hand indefinitely and warn/short block the good hand. But this user account seems to be a productive one. Some of the recent sockpuppet hunting and blocking seems a little witch-hunty to me - what's the point of blocking alternate accounts that are not causing disruption? Videmus Omnia Talk 17:51, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Meta comment: Thank you, all, for not jumping to undo the block. Durova has unblocked !!, and I expect she will explain shortly. - Jehochman Talk 18:04, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Unblock with apologies[edit]

When I make a mistake I like to be the first to step forward to correct myself. It's very surprising that a few facts didn't come to light sooner, given the amount of time my report circulated and the people who had access to it. This is, in fact, not a first account. But it's a legitimate situation. I request early closure and archiving of this thread to protect that person's privacy. DurovaCharge! 18:06, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

The text from the header #Indefinite block of an established editor down to this line was courtesy blanked for a while, but I've reviewed the discussion below and the blanked text itself and I don't think leaving it blanked is appropriate. There's no private information in here and it's all visible via a diff link anyway, so there's no reason not to have it out in the open. Bryan Derksen (talk) 08:14, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Blanked text at [2].

Question "courtesy blanking"[edit]

If an administrator makes a serious mistake, as Durova did here, does this fall under the "courtesy blanking" guidelines? I thought courtesy blanking was to protect the identities or other personal information of editors, not to put an admin's mistake out of plain sight. Is this a common practice and, if so, doesn't it threaten our goal of promoting transparency and accountability for our actions? Cla68 (talk) 02:17, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Personally, I think hiding away discussion like this only gives trolls the recognition they crave by seemingly confirming their claims of conspiracy and secrecy, instead of simply being open about everything that has gone on and heading off silly conspiracy theories at the pass. Also, if the "courtesy" is being extended to !!, it would probably be most courteous to leave the discussion public (though closed/archived), so that his innocence in the matter is made clear. --krimpet 02:22, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflicted)My request was specifically to courtesy blank for that editor's privacy so that any doubts about my own actions could continue to be discussed on their own merits, without collateral damage.[3] I'm not sure that what happened really was all that serious a mistake. Blocks get overturned all the time. I overturned my own action in 75 minutes, opened the thread here myself to invite scrutiny, and extended prompt apologies. The action itself turned out to be mistaken, but was neither hasty nor superficial. Nobody bats .1000. And I wish to emphasize (in case any lingering doubt exists), the editor I blocked is very much a productive individual in good standing. DurovaCharge! 02:24, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
You're saying that it was courtesy blanked out of concern for the wrongfully-blocked editor? Cla68 (talk) 02:31, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, out of respect for his privacy. I requested it and other editors agreed. I specifically opened my own actions to scrutiny twice: first in starting this enormous thread and then in requesting that my own behavior remain under scrutiny after his had withstood it. From your own opening post to this subthread, it seems you agree that was the right thing to do. DurovaCharge! 02:41, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
What privacy? You killed any expectations of privacy with sleuthing. Not to mention there were no private details revealed above. SWATJester Son of the Defender 04:53, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Echoing Swatjester's rationale, I don't agree that courtesy blanking was the right thing to do here. For Durova to say that it was out of respect for the wronged editor is laughably disingenuous. I'd like to hear Crum375's explanation for why he blanked the discussion. Cla68 (talk) 06:08, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
The only person such a blanking helps is Durova herself. east.718 at 06:31, November 19, 2007

Hi, does User:!! want it blanked? It may be a naive question, but it would seem this should be his decision. Has anyone asked him? • Lawrence Cohen 06:13, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

He wasn't available at the time when I requested the blanking, but it seemed like the right thing to do. From the tone of his comments afterward I see no reason to question that. Rather than reopen that, please refactor the portions of this thread that pertain to him and concentrate on my actions if there's any more to be said. He's no longer under scrutiny. Whether I ought to be is not for me to decide. DurovaCharge! 06:31, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, wasn't trying to cast any aspertions either way. I was just thinking the whole question of blanking could be wrapped up immediately if he said a simply yay/nay to that. From reading all this the only thing I was curious about was the unanswered question (I saw it asked several times, by various folks, including !! on his talk page) of who saw the evidence. • Lawrence Cohen 06:33, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
If he wants it unblanked, then by all means fulfill his request. My only intention was to diminish any lingering suspicions regarding him by inviting criticism to focus on myself. To other posters at this thread, WP:AGF shouldn't need to be mentioned. DurovaCharge! 09:28, 19 November 2007 (UTC)


It seems to me that this was a colossal failure to assume good faith, and that Durova has forgotten that this is an encyclopedia, not a practice ground for sleuthing. This is not the first time this has happened: "Sleuthing" evidence that Durova was not prepared to bring to the public drove Alkivar from the project. Durova, I would like to see some statement from you that you are going to stop accusing editors and blocking them without presenting any public evidence, and I mean "public" as in fully transparent, not only to those you deem worthy. SWATJester Son of the Defender 19:22, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I have to go along with this. Even if this user is Willy on Wheels, Karmafist, myself, or the Devil incarnate, there would be no reason to block until the account actually did something disruptive (such as create abusive sockpuppets, run at RFA under false pretences, or something). This appears to have been a botched attempt at killing a goose that's laying really splendid golden eggs (ouch, that's not hugely polite, my apologies to !!, but you get my point). At the very least we need reassurances that This Will Not Happen Again. Moreschi If you've written a quality article... 19:42, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
""Sleuthing" evidence that Durova was not prepared to bring to the public drove Alkivar from the project." Really? I thought he left because a RfA found against him and desysopped him. Darkson (Yabba Dabba Doo!) 19:48, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
He left before the decision was rendered, because of the evidence. SWATJester Son of the Defender 19:49, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
If the evidence was against him, and the desysopped was likely (as it seemed to be), why does it matter if he left before the RfC was closed? The evidence against him seemed pretty thorough, with or without Durova's. Darkson (Yabba Dabba Doo!) 19:56, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Agreed with Darkson here. Alkivar was going to be desysopped with or without the *puppetry allegations, and it should have happened months (if not years) before it did. —bbatsell ¿? 20:00, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Actually I've never claimed that Alkivar ran any sockpuppets. I've explicitly stated that I have no reason to believe he ever used a sock. There were other serious concerns about his conduct. DurovaCharge! 20:39, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
He was going to be desysopped. He wasn't going to be driven from the project, as is where we are now. SWATJester Son of the Defender 20:06, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, but that's naive. Alkivar was taking his cues from a banned use,r probably the most prolific and disruptive sockpuppeteer currently active. Durova's evidence was not made public but was presented by email to arbitrators, and the arbitrators reviewed it independently. He left because he knew what was coming. I regret that, we probably all do, including Durova, but it's useless to blame Durova for the fact that Alkivar was dancing to Barber's tune, any more than it's her fault that Burntsauce was doing so. Guy (Help!) 22:26, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm with SWATJester 100% here. I don't think you can go and block a respected editor indef, announce it on AN/I then refuse to comment on any evidence, realise you've messed up and offer a two line apology and expect people to be satisfied here. Revealing your investigation techniques doesn't strike me as being a very good reason to direct everyone to ArbCom rather than allowing transparency in your block. Ryan Postlethwaite 19:49, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Yeah... You can't tell people that you MUST be taken to Arbcom or you will refuse to do anything. If there's some reason that only Arbcom can be given the evidence, then go to them BEFORE you block, don't block and make other people go through Arbcom to challenge it. -Amarkov moo! 19:54, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
She sent her "report" to ArbCom before blocking !!. She says she got approval from ArbCom members to block the user as a violation of WP:SOCK. Nishkid64 (talk) 19:59, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
She did not send this to the ArbCom mailing list; the ArbCOm did not approve this block. Paul August 23:33, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately, it was precisely these assumptions that allowed Burntsauce to cause serious damage to the project for half a year. Dannycali was also indeffed as a long term sockpuppet. Such things do exist, and I pledge to work on better checks and balances to reduce false positives such as this one in the future. My report had been in circulation for two weeks among some very senior people and I acted on the reasonable belief that any false positives would have come to light before this. If there's anything more to be said on the matter, please do this editor the courtesy of archiving this discussion out of respect for his privacy and focusing any criticisms on my actions alone. He shouldn't need to be a part of this. DurovaCharge! 20:01, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
It is precisely relevant to this discussion. SWATJester Son of the Defender 20:04, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
However, !! apparently did little but work hard on articles. I've seen no evidence that a single edit he made was considered disruptive... whereas with people like Burntsauce, who made some productive edits, you never had to look too far to find disruptive edits too. Where is evidence of any of this for User:!!? I apologize if I've missed it. --W.marsh 20:07, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
We keep hearing about these "senior editors". But WHERE are they? Why don't any of these senior editors come forward and confirm this? -Amarkov moo! 20:05, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I'll go ahead and say what I've heard plenty of people saying on IRC: It's disturbing that an editor so heavily involved in the SEO field, would use some "proprietary" investigative techniques on Wikipedia, ruin people's Wikipedia experience, and then refuse to provide any evidence to support the allegations out of a fear that those uber-valuable methods will become public. I don't find that acceptable in the slightest. I'd like to hear what Durova has to say about this, and what her plans are for future sleuthing. Forget about "pledging to reduce false positives". Why are you sleuthing in the first place? Why, as it appears, is it your mission to hunt down other editors using private evidence? SWATJester Son of the Defender 20:04, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

To Swatjester: bizarre conversations like that are one reason why I oppose admin channel IRC on principle. DurovaCharge! 20:09, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
That's not relevant and it won't wash. If we lose !! because of this it will take a good deal more than a few lines of rather weaselly apology for collective anger to be assuaged. I have great respect for you, Durova, but I think this shows we need a change of method. Somewhere wires got crossed - we need to make sure that doesn't happen again. Moreschi If you've written a quality article... 20:17, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
While dissociating myself from the more extreme implications in SWATJester's report of what's being said on IRC, and acknowledging that some of the motivation for your actions have been spelled out in your candidate statement for the ArbCom elections, I'd like to see either a statement about what extra checks and balances you intend to employ if you continue your activity in this direction, or at the very least an acknowledgment that public distress in this case seems to indicate that you need to sharply reverse course in terms of sock-hunting. Relata refero (talk) 20:24, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

(edit conflicted)Something in Nishkid's statement requires correction: I did not send the report to ArbCom as a body. I did circulate it in ways that some arbcom members saw it. Nor do I say I got specific approval from ArbCom members to block: I circulated a report that roughly two dozen trusted people saw and no one objected. Please, Nish, clarify these things before speaking on my behalf. This puts me in an awkward position regarding sensitive information. If such posts continue I will only point out that some representations are not my words. DurovaCharge! 20:06, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

It appears I misinterpreted Durova's statements in our discussion. I assumed it was sent to all ArbCom members, instead of individual members, and I thought approval was received before the block was enacted. Nishkid64 (talk) 20:15, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree with many of the critical points raised above, and in addition the attempt partially shift the blame to nameless senior people is pretty poor form. RxS (talk) 20:09, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

It's pretty poor form to characterize things that way. At any rate, if there are serious concerns about my conduct and discretion I have no objection to having my actions scrutinized by people who have full access to the facts. Either ArbCom or the Foundation would be appropriate. DurovaCharge! 20:14, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Or, you could just explain who these nameless "senior editors" ARE, so that they can confirm what you're saying. -Amarkov moo! 20:17, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I think it's a pretty easy characterization: I circulated a report that roughly two dozen trusted people saw and no one objected. In addition you seem to be saying that outside of this 2 dozen people you won't allow your actions to be scrutinized, that's not the way things work here. RxS (talk) 20:25, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
A more specific summary of the due diligence you conducted would reveal no private information at all but would allow the community a much better understanding of the procedure you undertook in making this block. I find it impossible to believe that there is a compelling reason not to provide this detail (i.e. on date I sent a summary of my investigation to names, who responded positively on date).Christopher Parham (talk) 20:19, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Isn't this case supposed to be closed as resolved, why are we still talking. This is a Secret account 20:21, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
The issue is manifestly not resolved, in that a serious error was made and we have no understanding of why it was made or what will be done to prevent exactly the same mistake from being made again. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:23, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
(ec) More to the point; that !! had a more than pristine record, with a history of DYK involvement and that this was instrumental in their unblocking. It just looked severely wrong and people were willing to express their shock and surprise here. Had it been some nameless account with a mediocre past, I'm sure the outcome would have been very different and we wouldn't be discussing it. They would have been gone - QED - with no recourse open to them. I'd really like to know a little more about what went wrong here so we can ensure it doesn't recur. Not everyone is afforded the level of 'justice', if you like, that this editor received - Alison 20:29, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
A review of the Burntsauce and Dannycali histories would shed some light on that. It's not much of a secret that some banned editors do build up sockpuppets for long term use and attempt to mimic legitimate Wikipedians by doing some useful work. That's how, in spite of their disruption, both accounts survived for over half a year. They might still be editing if I hadn't examined them. What happened in this investigation was a rather odd set of coincidences lined up. DurovaCharge! 20:37, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
That's perfectly understandable, but I hope you realise in the absence of any actual ability to scrutinize your methodology, the community is justifiably concerned. Simply put, the basis of any admin action must be satisfactory and timely review; otherwise, however much your intentions might be trusted by all of us, we will always have doubts about your unilateral actions. Relata refero (talk) 20:52, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Excellent point. That's why I've pledged to route these things directly through ArbCom in the future. DurovaCharge! 17:49, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

How's this for a resolution? In the future I'll send such reports to the Committee formally and let them act. And if I happen to be on the Committee I'll let another member act. I don't want to create drama and I respect consensus. DurovaCharge! 20:24, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

If you truly don't want to cause drama, why can't we hear one of these people you discussed the block with corroborate what you've said? That would pretty much kill the drama. -Amarkov moo! 20:28, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Well if I'd been a better dramatist I certainly would have lined up some people to me-too this thread. Hadn't anticipated the necessity. That's not my style. DurovaCharge! 20:31, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Seems you are doing OK on the drama front. More to the point. I'm sure that you blocked in good faith and that you did seek lots of feedback from sensible admins before blocking. The worry is that this might happen again and that's why so many people are fired up about this. Spartaz Humbug! 20:36, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like a good idea. To do otherwise, as you did, makes it look like unilateralism. I'm sure that's not the case, but it certainly looks that way. And yeah, the flipside is that ArbCom is so bunged up anyway that it could be some time before they act upon it - Alison 20:36, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
It's a problem we need to get better at addressing as a site: some banned users refuse to go away, and not all of the sockpuppets they create are throwaway accounts. We're dealing with a situation here where a core of people share tactics and operate as a team. Probably most people who read the noticeboards regularly get that impression. One of the things I've been working on doing is to reverse engineer these people's playbook in a way that lets us identify them and act upon the problem. Such accounts are simpler to identify than to address because they do look legitimate to a superficial browse, and because they'd likely write a better playbook if they knew where their mistakes are. I do my very best to avoid false positives and I pledge absolutely to correct myself as quickly as possible when I make a mistake. In the future, situations where a substantial part of the evidence needs to be confidential are situations I'll route through ArbCom. I hope that satisfies reasonable concerns. DurovaCharge! 20:48, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
(ec)Routing through ArbCom is a sensible first move; some scrutiny is better than none. I'd just say that I'd like to know that the actual "reverse-engineered playbook" has been scrutinized by those who are trusted by the community to ensure that drama of this sort is minimized. Relata refero (talk) 20:57, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
It strikes me that this was a similar situation as what happened with Melsaran. Evidence was uncovered as part of an investigation and it was reported to ArbCom. However, given the potentially confidential nature of the evidence and the fact that there was no ongoing disruption, would it not have been best for an Arbitrator to make the block, specifically stating that they were doing so for the ArbCom, based on confidential evidence, as that is part of the reason ArbCom exists (to deal with such evidence)? Mr.Z-man 20:54, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
You're right, and I realize that now. Will do. That was how we handled Runcorn/Poetlister, for instance. DurovaCharge! 20:58, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

(blanked post by sock of Amorrow)

The key difference with Melsaran was that the evidence was supplied to ArbCom and they took the decision, with the result that the block stuck despite concerns over it. Sam Blacketer (talk) 20:59, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
With respect to: This account has been blocked indefinitely for violations of WP:SOCK. [4] the WP:SOCK page states:

The general rule is: one editor, one account. Do not use multiple accounts to create the illusion of greater support for an issue, to mislead others, to create controversy, or to circumvent a block. Do not ask your friends to create accounts to support you or anyone else. Multiple accounts are not for collusion, evasion, disruption, or misuse.

Would it be possible in the future to be more specific on what part of the policy is being violated? (Among creating the illusion of greater support for an issue, misleading others, creating controversy, or to circumventing a block.)

Of course I am not requesting the revealing of proprietary sleuthing techniques or any other information that the community at large need not be privy to. Uncle uncle uncle (talk) 21:23, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

  • Durova, I wish you'd discussed it with me, though that was just bad luck. But is it necessary to change the subject above to the point of using terms like "banned users", " throwaway accounts, "share tactics and operate as a team", "these people's playbook", "look legitimate to a superficial browse", in a thread about the blameless User!! ? Don't you see how it makes a certain guilt by association stickily adhere to him? I hope you know by now how little that editor deserves such an aura. A good strong apology (I hve a low opinion of the apologies you did post) would be a lot better than irrelevancies about evidence needing to be confidential (qué? evidence of?) and how "we" need to get better at finding abusers. What does any of that have to do with User:!! ? Bishonen | talk 22:00, 18 November 2007 (UTC).
    • When I first reversed the block I made an apology to this board and requested that the thread be closed out of respect for that editor's privacy. When the thread reopened I promptly requested courtesy blanking of that older portion so that any concerns could address my actions alone. I also delivered a prompt apology at that editor's user talk and reversed the block exactly one hour and fifteen minutes after implementation, which was as swiftly as I could verify the new information that came to light. After speaking to Bishonen by chat I have also archived my own user talk as a courtesy to this editor and, via a different intermediary, I have offered to communicate with this person by either e-mail or chat client, although I doubt that much more could be added to the corrective action and apologies I've already extended. Sockuppet investigations and blood tests sometimes yield false positives. Even checkuser results can yield false positives. About two months ago an administrator got blocked due to a false positive checkuser. That instance took longer than this to correct and the individual who performed the block did not reverse themselves with apologies. If this person informs me himself of other things I can do to set things right I'll certainly do all that I can within reason, but I have received no direct reply to these overtures. In the absence of any direct reply, I think the measures I've already taken are more than reasonable. DurovaCharge! 22:25, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Agree completely. I saw the evidence, it was definitely suspicious, but I can see where it went wrong. Unfortunate, but there does not seem to be any lasting damage, the editor was interrupted only briefly and a sincere apology has been given. What more are we supposed to do now? Guy (Help!) 22:29, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
You're supposed to stop doing things like this. Nothing you in particular have done in terms of blocking recently has reduced drama at all. Relata refero (talk) 05:56, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Nothing. Durova has apologised and taken a reputation hit that means it is unlikely to happen again. Other than slight curiosity as to the identity of the half dozen admins I think we have reached case case closed move on and go find some copyvios or something.Geni 22:39, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

(blanked post by sock of Amorrow)

Perhaps you missed part of the discussions. I had assembled a seven point report with 28 diffs and had circulated it for two weeks before acting. Obviously the methodology needs improvement, but the fact that it ultimately proved to be mistaken doesn't mean the approach was either hasty or superficial. I've pledged specific improvements so this doesn't happen again. DurovaCharge! 01:42, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
  • The one thing that remains to be seen, in my view, is what Durova has done to correct an apparently flawed methodology for uncovering sockpuppets. When a blood test has the potential for false positives, doctors don't use it as the sole basis for initiating potentially devastating treatment in situations that are not time critical. My issue with Durova's response to date is that it casts this as the inconvenient byproduct of an effective process rather than as the result of a flawed process which requires correction. Additional oversight by the ArbCom is not likely to be a solution -- oversight by a handful of experienced editors was not sufficient to catch the errors in this instance, why would that be sufficient going forward? Christopher Parham (talk) 23:14, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

The question here isn't "was Durova wrong to have blocked !!", we already know the answer to that. The question here is why are we supporting a continuous failure to assume good faith, and what place does "sleuthing" have on this project? I thought we were here to write encyclopedias, not to dig up dirt on other editors, certainly not to character assassinate them with evidence that won't be made public by someone heavily involved in the SEO industry using their proprietary tactics. That's just wrong to me. We don't answer to them, we answer to the community, and the community is obviously NOT O.K. with private sleuthing being used without revealing the evidence and the methods involved. SWATJester Son of the Defender 23:08, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Responding to a couple of the recent posts, the corrective measures I'm taking have little to do with whatever effect today's events have on my reputation. Editors who contribute legitmately shouldn't be put on the spot. We all want to minimize that and I'll do my part, although not to the extreme extent one or two people suggest of giving up sockpuppet investigations. In a recent conversation about the 500+ JB196 socks I mentioned that I'd really like to be spending more time on other things, but the net good to the project of rooting out one Burntsauce probably exceeds the net good of creating one featured article: the damage being done by that individual was really quite extensive. Other than that, the points being raised at this stage of the discussion are repetitions of things that have already been addressed quite a few times to the satisfaction of most people. I'm sure the sockpuppeteers and their supporters would be delighted if fewer investigations were performed, but there's no need for such a radical and detrimental solution. DurovaCharge! 23:52, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Durova did the same thing to me the other day when she indefinitely blocked me for being a sockpuppet of MyWikiBiz on the basis of "secret evidence." This excuse about not publically revealing her proprietary techniques so the trolls don't catch on all sounds quite clever and responsible until one realizes that she doesn't have the faintest clue of what she's doing. Expect much more of the same if Durova makes her way onto the Arbitration Committee, when puzzled observers can assure themselves that, as an arbitrator,Durova must know something that they don't. She doesn't. Based as they are upon an appeal to her track record, rather than to any evidence, her acccusations have proven too unreliable to be of any value. 00:18, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

I think Durova has the ability to be fair and reasonable. She blocked me previously for using two other accounts, which admittedly I did, but after I demonstrated that I could operate constructively with only my main account, seek mentorship through adopt-a-user, check in with her, alter various other editing habits, etc. she has allowed me to be unblocked and since being unblocked I have received some barnstars and much positive experiences with other editors.. Since being unblocked I have also unfortunately experienced some on-Wiki harrassment from a few accounts (two of which, thus far, checkusers proved were indeed sockpuppets or sockpuppeters and others of which were blocked for invility and personal attacks) and so I can understand why some would want to limit on-Wiki posting of evidence, because it's hard to resist the viciousness of some of the more disruptive editors and their socks. Anyway, I hope that helps. Best, --Le Grand Roi des CitrouillesTally-ho! 00:48, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It seems to me (and quite possibly many others) that the main problem here is the patent lack of transparency in regards to Durova's sockpuppet "investigative techniques". I can see Durova's logic in not revealing methodology on-wiki, but why can't she provide a syllabus of it through e-mail to established users who ask, especially users who are very logical and will all but eliminate the falsity coming from these methods? !! has many, many DYKs and should be treated like a jewel, not like a criminal in disguise. What's more unnerving is the issue Alison brought up: What if a sporadically-editing, obscure, new user was one of the "false positives"? They very well could have been the next Newyorkbrad. For that reason more than any else, Durova, in my opinion, needs to recuse herself from sockpuppet hunting until her methodology for which has been reviewed by a sensible user. —Animum (talk) 01:20, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Normally I do offer to circulate this type of report among trusted users upon request. Most editors who submit private evidence do not make such an offer, nor do they make it known that they have submitted any evidence privately. In this instance I stopped doing so almost immediately because new information came in that showed up a flaw in the result. DurovaCharge! 12:13, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Maybe instead of calling for her recusal, we could ask that she discuss with the Arbitration Committee her investigative blocks prior to blocking? --Iamunknown 01:26, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Iamunknown, I've already pledged to route future investigations of this type through them and let them handle it. Or, if elected, I'll let another arbitrator act upon my investigations as proof to the community that I'm not being the lone ranger. Incidentally, TOR nodes keep posting cricitisms of my actions to this thread. It's become a rather good honeypot for that purpose. ;) DurovaCharge! 01:38, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It appears User:!! has been ennulled unblocked[5] with an explaination. I doubt there is any one here who hasn't made well intentioned errors. Lets close this and focus efforts on more productive channels--Hu12 (talk) 01:45, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, and with a note to Krimpet: please do not restore posts that originate from TOR nodes.[6] I think it's a fair assumption that the person would use a legitimate account if he or she had any. As my previous post explains, the blanking was not accidental. DurovaCharge! 01:53, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Why remove the post, when this only gives trolls more to lap up? It would make more sense to rebut the post, or at least leave it be and let people decide for themselves if it's just baseless trolling. Though, if this user was in fact blocked by you as a sockpuppet using similar proprietary detection methods which have now proven to be faulty in at least one instance, I think it's reasonable to at least acknowledge this person's concerns. --krimpet 02:29, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
The above post was one of two TOR node posts that Krimpet restored to this thread today. Here's the other.[7] If the user had reasonable and legitimate concerns then, after the first blanking if not before, he or she would surely have signed onto a legitimate account. Most of my investigations and sitebans have stood up to extensive scrutiny, and in unusual instances such as this I correct myself swiftly. Per WP:DUCK, TOR node posts to a thread such as this are very unlikely to be legitimate. Please do not restore such posts again without consensus support. DurovaCharge! 02:38, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It seems to me that there is one reason why the user in question might well need to use TOR: if their IP was blocked about a week ago. It seems to me that that is, according to the diffs actually exactly what the IPs complaining about! At least in this case, TOR node posts to a thread such as this are not unlikely to be legitimate. This is precisely the kind of slapdash thinking/repeating of conventional-wisdom-talking-points we cannot afford. Relata refero (talk) 06:10, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
The user has been referred to the proper venues: ArbCom and the Foundation. The individual's refusal to pursue normal options does not validate the complaint in the slightest. It would be a strange day when the refusal to seek a legitimate unblock becomes an excuse to violate WP:SOCK. DurovaCharge! 17:54, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

(blanked 2 posts by sock of Amorrow)

  • I see this IP doesn't come from a TOR node. A separate thread at AN is discussing the issue of TOR blankings. If this is a good faith post, then please overwrite the signature from your regular account or IP address. The two posts above were the second and third edits ever from that IP, and in order to reduce a drama-ridden thread it would be better to have clear accountability.[8] DurovaCharge! 03:49, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

I am still concerned about this incident. It is a not-widely-known statistical fact that if you have a population with 5% incidence of a condition, and a test that is 95% accurate in detecting the condition, a person who is selected at random and tests positive has only a 50 percent chance of actually having that condition. In other words, running a "test" on random users will result in an unacceptably high number of false positives. Durova, do you realize this? Kla’quot (talk | contribs) 03:48, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

There's a flawed assumption in that analysis: what makes you suppose I run these tests randomly? The other due diligence methods pursued, and methods to improve them further, have already been discussed at length here. Suffice it to say that false positives are rare, I make diligent efforts to make them still rarer, and I correct errors promptly. What more can you reasonably ask? DurovaCharge! 03:52, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
My question, which you did not answer, was a question, not an assumption. You don't have to get defensive about it, and I would still appreciate an answer. Can you clarify what you mean by "false positives are rare" - do you have a number that you can share with us?Kla’quot (talk | contribs) 04:00, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
What I responded to was the query, In other words, running a "test" on random users will result in an unacceptably high number of false positives. Durova, do you realize this? The whole question is problematic on several levels. It simply doesn't correlate to what I actually do well enough to be answerable. Kinda like saying, "Are you aware of the risks that commuter trains pose to your daily commute?" to someone who works from home and doesn't live in a region serviced by commuter trains, and doesn't particularly want to discuss how or where they get their work done. DurovaCharge! 04:34, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I doubt it's possible to make a meaningful assessment of your rate of false positives, given the samples available and the potential for future cases to differ materially from past ones due to puppeteers changing their behavior. Christopher Parham (talk) 05:24, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
(ec)(Reply to Durova) Actually it's like asking that question of someone who's arrived at work with what looks like a train ticket sticking out of their pocket. You've said, in a strangely roundabout way, that you don't pick users at random and run tests on them. That's great, however you still haven't reassured me about whether the underlying statistical phenomenon, which comes up time and time again in things like cancer screening and drug testing policy, manifests itself in the kind of evidence that you collect. The math is so counter-intuitive that the vast majority of people get it wrong. I'm not questioning your intentions or your character, which in 100% of my previous interactions with you has never seemed less than stellar. Designing test methods in a way that will give a low and quantifiable number of false positives is difficult. Knowing that someone as smart as you misread the evidence, I'm afraid that giving the same evidence to ArbCom is likely to have the same result. Kla’quot (talk | contribs) 05:41, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, without getting into too many specifics I'll lay out some differences between this and my arbcom evidence. For the Alkivar case I was preparing a three part presentation. The first was on Burntsauce, the second on Alkivar, and the third didn't fully materialize because the research generated some unintended results. During the third part of the investigation I implemented what appeared to be a routine block that precipitated the the Eyrian arbitration case. Eyrian's own conduct in the aftermath overshadows the work I was doing in that portion (except for the Dannycali block). The Alkivar portion of that presentation was a six page text file of description and dozens of diffs, distilled from original notes that ran to about 30 pages, and the Alkivar evidence itself implemented some more definitive methodologies. The Burntsauce evidence was on a par with that. So while I wouldn't call two pages and 28 diffs superficial or hasty, it wasn't as extensive or as conclusive. With regard to statistical analysis, I don't think there are enough stable variables here or a large enough sample size to really make that useful. What matters from my perspective is that this does generate mostly accurate results and we've been good about correcting the errors swiftly. I'd love to get the false positives down to zero. Everyone would. It takes a lot of hard work to locate and implement specific improvements. DurovaCharge! 06:04, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't know why you're bringing up the previous Arbcom case. I didn't ask about that case and have never gone anywhere near it. I am disappointed that your response when asked to clarify what you meant by "rare" was to repeat your assertion with its original level of vagueness. I only hope that the people whom you ask to act on your evidence will read my concerns and understand them more than you do. Kla’quot (talk | contribs) 09:01, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I apologize if that response missed the point of your question. We seem to be operating from different paradigms. If I understand you, you want a statistical clarification. I've attempted to convey that the question is framed in ways that make not useful. If that's an unsatisfactory answer then the basic dilemma is this: in order to begin answering it I'd have to correlate it more closely to the actual field conditions it attempts to describe. You seem to regard that as digressive and I definitely regard it as treading on sensitive territory. Then if we got that far, we'd be stuck with too small a sample size to parse statistically. Comparing two different sock investigations can be like comparing apples and oranges. What I want to ask in return is why you place such weight on framing the question in these terms when the good results are valuable, the false positives are uncommon, and the errors get corrected quickly. DurovaCharge! 09:58, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I do appreciate your response. Let me try this again: I asked two compltely separate questions. : First question: "It is a not-widely-known statistical fact that if you have a population with 5% incidence of a condition, and a test that is 95% accurate in detecting the condition, a person who is selected at random and tests positive has only a 50 percent chance of actually having that condition." This is a mathematical fact. I asked you whether you are aware that this fact exists. I was expecting something like, "I completely understand what you are talking about" or "I didn't know that." Second question: You have repeatedly asserted that false positives are "rare." What is your definition of rare? I was hoping for an answer like, "In the past 6 months my methods have led to blocks of 100 accounts and only 1 of them has asked to be unblocked." Please do not reply by saying that false positives are rare. Kla’quot (talk | contribs) 10:31, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
You appear to be asking that Durova be perfect. Why? One mistake is now known, and it was swiftly rectified. 99 blocks which were not mistakes, stand. Other blocks in which Durova's investigation played a part, also stand. The group of individuals most focused on abusing Wikipedia right now are resourceful and determined. It will not be especially helpful to tell them the ways in which they betray themselves, for obvious reasons. Of course the best solution for all concerned would be for them to go away and leave us alone, but since they refuse to do that, and since they are resourceful, determined, devious and obsessive there are likely to be very occasional errors. As long as they are repaired swiftly and we both apologise and learn from them I fail to see the need for further debate. Sure, it would be better if such false positives never happened. The way to get there is by the banned abusers going away. Since we can't make them do that, all we can do is watch. You saw the damage Burntsauce did, and that also had the regrettable side-effect of bringing down Alkivar. Nobody is happy about that. For reasons I can't fathom, a few people seem to give encouragement to these banned users off-wiki. For reasons I also can't fathom, but which may not be entirely unrelated, we seem to be engaging in a witch-hunt here. Apart from apologising and swiftly reversing the block, what else is Durova supposed to do? Guy (Help!) 11:41, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
You seem to not acknowledge that the community has almost universally expressed concern that this particular block was of an editor with several positive contributions, indeed someone who appears a near-ideal user. If it happened to someone with a more dicey record, like 90% of the users on the 'pedia, most of us would have let it slide. What this means is that of the 99 blocks that 'stand', in your reasoning, we have no way of knowing for certain, absent the normal discussion and scrutiny, that they are in fact all justified. They may well be, and (in my opinion) probably are; but we can't assume that. We have checks and balances, scrutiny and noticeboards, for precisely this reason. If we start seeing 'banned users' or their enablers under every bush in a paranoid manner, the project will suffer. And it appears that that's what happening. This is not the first time that this is being said. If you are genuinely interested in reducing drama, then you need to take the community along with you. It seems you haven't, or have gone too far. Can we agree on that? Relata refero (talk) 12:33, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Quite the contrary, Relata. Please do not speculate on decisions to which you were not a party. DurovaCharge! 17:48, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Why would I need to "acknowledge" something that Durova made clear right up front, with the original post to this noticeboard? The correct response here was what Durova did, which was to reverse the block, apologise, and learn from the experience. It is not clear to me what else is expected from this continued debate. The cause of the problem is very clear: long-term abuse by determined and unscrupulous people. Be on your guard, everyone, and "trust but verify". I really don't see what this debate is achieving at this point. Guy (Help!) 13:38, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
While I'm sure Durova has learned from the experience I don't believe he has satisfactorily committed to, in the future, taking simple steps that would prevent easily-avoided errors like this one; possible measures include reviving the apparently forgotten practice of corresponding with a user before indefinitely blocking them. What the debate achieves is to establish whether or not we think such measures would be useful in the future. Christopher Parham (talk) 00:12, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
No, dash it, Guy, what you need to acknowledge is our concern that the only reason that the unblock happened this time is because the user's as near ideal as can be. All of us are worried that if it wasn't an ideal user, we wouldn't even be here. (We're also a little guilty, perhaps.) The cause of this problem is not long-term abuse, it is overzealous enforcement. We all know that one extreme is as bad as the other, history and experience will tell all of us so, and the community seems to think we've swung too far towards the enforcement extreme. So lessen up a bit, OK? This is more drama than any of us want. Also we don't want too many productive users scared off the project. Relata refero (talk) 14:08, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Per this check, I average about one apology a month for all purposes, whether block related or not. That's roughly one every 1000 edits. And with regard to the first question, I'm stunned to see a pop quiz in basic statistics here that wasn't intended analogously. DurovaCharge! 12:03, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
If you don't understand why my first question is relevant to this case, I suggest reading our nice article on Prosecutor's fallacy. Kla’quot (talk | contribs) 07:37, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
And by the way, a pop quiz is when you are asked to give the answer to a math problem, not when someone gives you an answer and asks you if you would have gotten it right. Kla’quot (talk | contribs) 05:46, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

Durova, to refuse to answer some of the editor's questions here and say that if anyone has a problem with your methods to "take it to the ArbCom" isn't very helpful. The overworked ArbCom doesn't have to get involved if you'll answer to the concerned editors on this page. Would you please answer the following questions?

  • How do you decide who will be a target of your sleuthing?
  • What methods do you use to sleuth editors?
  • What is your rate of false positives and how do you know when you get a false positive?
  • Who are the ArbCom members that you mail your evidence to, or is it to the entire ArbCom?
  • Why do you feel that you should act "behind the scenes" with the ArbCom over these matters, when you could just as well post your observations and proposed actions here or at AN, which I've seen other admins do?
  • Do you share your evidence with the accused editor and ask for an explanation before taking action on their account? Cla68 (talk) 08:15, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
In light of these previous questions there's some room for doubt about whether that list is assembled in good faith. If it was in good faith, could you clarify? Why do you repeat a series of questions, most or all of which I've provided reasonable justification for declining to answer onsite, without any new reason for answering them? DurovaCharge! 09:58, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Your "justification" may seem reasonable to yourself: not to many others. You appear to have appointed yourself as the Wikipedia Bureau of Investigation, and treat the criticisms of little admins with disdain. As I have mentioned to you on several occasions, if you methods are so secret, for @@@@'s sake don't shout about them! Otherwise we might just conclude that your spouting self-agrandiziung rubbish which is detrimental to the project. Given your repeted blanking of contributions to this page (four since 10:00 UTC today), I have warned you to stop. If you continue to user your editing privileges in such a controversial manner, you will only have yourself to blamew if they are suspended. Physchim62 (talk) 12:34, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

If any one doubts that Durova is in the business of self-agrandisement, they should take a look at this edit from her talk page, coming just two minutes after she semiprotected it (for the first time). Physchim62 (talk) 13:56, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

This discussion is beginning to generate more heat than light. shoy (words words) 14:28, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Fair enough, we can always move it to Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Durova if you think that would be more helpful. Physchim62 (talk) 18:24, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
To the admitted block-evading IP editor who keeps trying to post here: you have already been advised repeatedly of the legitimate options for pursuing an unblock. Refusal to try normal venues is not an excuse to violate policy, nor does persistent policy violation strengthen your complaint. This noticeboard needed semiprotection for several hours due to your disruption, during which time legitimate unregistered users were unable to access it. Please demonstrate respect for those people by making your case to ArbCom or the Foundation, if there is any case to be made. Your conduct here is likely to be weighed in their decision and it would strengthen your own position to demonstrate that you are amenable to feedback, by following this advice. DurovaCharge! 20:55, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
User:Songgarden DurovaCharge! 21:51, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Are you OUT of your MIND? Semi-protecting the AN/I because an IP editor YOU are in a dispute with is posting things that you disagree with? Are you so blinded in your quest to sleuth everyone on this project and to CYA in this admitted mistake you've made that you would disrupt one of the single most active pages on the project, screwing over EVERY SINGLE IP EDITOR who wants to make a post here for....over 7 hours? SWATJester Son of the Defender 22:04, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

In all due respect, it appears we've got Amorrow futzing around on TOR nodes. As it has been previously stated on this board and others, Amorrow's presence on Wikipedia is damaging beyond the simple fact that he is banned.—Ryūlóng (竜龍) 22:49, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Proprietary Sleuthing vs Checkuser: I notice that multiple posts on this page by user:Songgarden were blanked by Durova [9] and tagged as made sockpuppets of User:Amorrow, but FloNight who is a checkuser has flagged [10]user:Songgarden as a sockpuppet of user:Once and Forever.
Both of the Main Accounts (Once and Forever) and (Amorrow) are indefinitely blocked users, and therefore their sockpuppets should be blocked and their posts may be blanked. But, why was the Songgarden account originally blocked as a sockpuppet of Amorrow instead of blocked as a sockpuppet of Once and Forever?
Were proprietary sleuthing methods used to make the incorrect determination that Songgarden was Amorrow?
Was a checkuser used in making the original determination?
Am I mistaken that a pledge was made to work on better checks and balances to reduce false positives in the future and immediately there was another mixup? I agree that a bad apple and a bad orange are both bad fruit - but why call one the other when tools are available to differentiate them (and the original flagging as Amorrow didn't save any work, because FloNight still performed a checkuser and fixed up the user page with the correct information) Uncle uncle uncle (talk) 23:04, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Just a minor point. FloNight is not a checkuser - see Special:listusers. Though she may of course have been acting on information given to her by a checkuser. WjBscribe 23:11, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
If anyone objects, go ahead and change the designations. Either way, the editor was very decidedly banned and had no legitimate "dispute" to pursue. The contention that banned editors who exploit TOR nodes and are obviously being disruptive are somehow immune from post blanking until an absolute dead-on ID is established has been tried before at this site and earns no traction at all. Again, I'm flattered that such people respect my volunteer work enough to go to such lengths. If I weren't good at this they wouldn't care. DurovaCharge! 23:50, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
All these people you've wrongly blocked are lining up to complain about you, and you see that as evidence that you're doing a good job?
The problem isn't that you want to keep banned users off Wikipedia, or that you want to hunt sockpuppets. Several good administrators are supporting you because they agree with those goals. The problem is that you don't know what the heck you're doing.
Whether your techniques are inherently unsound, or you're just making atrociously poor use of them, we can't know. What we know is that your answers are wrong as often as they're right, and your aggression in pursuing them is driving good people away from the project at an alarming rate. For the good of the encyclopedia, you should step away from this investigatory role to which you've assigned yourself, for which your unwillingness to expose your methodologies to scrutiny and arrogant refusal to entertain the possibility of error makes you uniquely unsuited. 04:40, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Section break[edit]

Please forgive me if this seems a diversion at first, but I'm trying to get my head around the process here for duck-sniffing. I'm easily confused, so if we can focus discussion tightly here, that would help me.

  1. Some comments were blanked [11] [12] by Durova w/ comments "blanked TOR node post"
  2. Further posts were blanked [13] by Durova as "blanking admitted block-evading posts."
    • Again, I'm not seeing anything presented that suggests this is a banned user, just a blocked one.
    • We don't generally just blank block-evading IPs, do we?
  3. Then some items are blanked as being from a particular banned user. [14]
    • Some to-and-fro on talk [15] suggests this wasn't a sock of a banned user, or at the very least not He-Who-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

While this user's comments were not tremendously helpful, I'm not seeing any justification for the aggressive blanking. So...

  1. How much tolerance do we have for blanking?
  2. How clearly does someone have to "smell" like a banned user?
  3. Is the A-name being used as a magic word to slam shut discussion? (talk) 23:39, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

  • It is not minor that a non-checkuser is taking on a sock/synthetic role of a checkuser.
I am not a sock of anyone and, in fact, it appears that Once and Forever is a sock of an established user? I do not care. I came here in good faith; can establish a German IP and I like the name Songgarden. I have been blocked and falsely positively accused of being a sockpuppet by a person that promised not to do same. Please unblock. Truly yours, Songgarden. Deutschland November 20, 2007. (talk) 23:40, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
This will be my last attempt at sucking some sense out of this... from Durova's comments above:
  1. "[T]he editor was very decidedly banned" still appears to be at best ex post facto. All that flows on from this can't ignore that.
  2. "[F]lattered that such people" re-affirms the judgement, which depends on facts not yet in evidence. (Emphasis mine)
  3. "If I weren't good at this they wouldn't care." I'm boggled by this comment. Isn't it possible (however remotely) that people care because Durova isn't that good? Not suggesting either way, just that I find the fact that errors were made sliding off the proverbial ducks's back in that mann frightening. (talk) 00:01, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
It is perhaps a case for:

No checkuser done; no record of same. False positive? Hardly. Swept under rug as Durova has made countless similar block mistakes Care.less? (talk) 00:32, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Good excuses for her question number 76, she has. Then maybe she will unblock

Songgarden for lack of evidence like she did for some of the other poor souls out there. How many more are there? Too many. (talk) 03:10, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

False positives[edit]

I think a better way to look at the issue of false positives is to ask yourself how you would have reacted, in your first few weeks or months of editing, if you had been incorrectly blocked as a "false positive"? Depending on the response to that question, does this mean that more oversight is needed of such sleuthing practices? Carcharoth (talk) 00:54, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Are there any other false positives in the block logs here? • Lawrence Cohen 01:01, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

A few, give me a minute to find the links. Kwsn (Ni!) 01:07, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
[16], [17], [18], [19], and [20]. There may be more of them. Kwsn (Ni!) 01:10, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
More: [21] and [22]. Kwsn (Ni!) 01:19, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
It seems to me that the pattern forming here is that it's okay to block an account if a particular admin has suspicion that they are someone else that is blocked, and in order to justify the block, the name of the previously-blocked user is appended to the current user. Conversely, if a blocked user's IP address or favorite subject areas come into convergence with that of another user (good or bad), the assumption is made that the second user is a bad agent, and is subject to blocking. I thought this was the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, but it seems that there's more time being spent watching the metadata associated with users' edits, rather than actually improving the encyclopedia. When I signed up for my Wikipedia account over a year ago, I don't remember consenting to all of this probing and checking and accusation related to my account. Serious question... do you even have the legal right to be spending so many resources toward surveillance of users, rather than fulfilling the legal mission of the Wikimedia Foundation -- building a free, open-source encyclopedia. If contributors only knew they were subject to so much monitoring, I'm not sure as many would still participate in this project. - CinnamonGirl (talk) 01:50, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
mmmmhhhh ehheh, and Mr./Ms. User: Songgarden is still showing blocked as a sock of Amorrow? Not right is it? (talk) 02:04, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
(reply to Cinnamongirl) Durova is a volunteer, so the Foundation is not spending resources per se on her activities. What she is doing seems perfectly legal to me. And yes, whenever you click the Submit button you do sign up to have everything you contribute to the site be analyzed by anyone. I am not defending the quality of her results (actually as you can see above I have lots of concerns about it), but it is within her rights to do the kind of data-gathering that she does. Kla’quot (talk | contribs) 03:01, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
However (if anyone's still reading this section), the 10% the evidence that Durova says is not public presumably required the use of her admin tools to access. For example, viewing deleted revisions requires use of admin tools. Traditionally, although we consent to have everything we contribute to Wikipedia be scrutinized, we consider the capability to view deleted revisions to be a trusted privilege. Kla’quot (talk | contribs) 05:26, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

This pattern of action by Durova needs to be curbed; it is too open to abuse, has too little oversight, and possesses the capability to do harm, which should be minimized above all. Of course, it's already too late for that. [23] east.718 at 02:19, November 20, 2007

I'm convinced that Durova is very emotionally invested in the idea that her sleuthing method works, based on the way she brushes off any suggestions that it might not. That simply makes her method even more unreliable: it's not just subject to the prosecutor's fallacy, but to confirmation bias as well. That is, Durova places blocks based on her belief that her method is accurate, but she wants to believe that her method is accurate, and is therefore unlikely to properly account for evidence that it isn't.
Let me clarify that I think that Durova has worked very hard for Wikipedia and done a lot of good things as an administrator. She is certainly not doing this maliciously -- she has the best of intentions. That does not mean, however, that what she is doing is correct. There is a reason why most of what goes on at ArbCom is open for scrutiny by so many people, and why CheckUser has so many checks and restrictions on how it can be used. This is how these processes account for the inherent biases of evidence, which are magnified when one person is the prosecutor and judge. (These aren't malicious biases, I reiterate. They are inherent psychological biases which would affect anyone in the same position.)
So I'd like to add to the chorus of people saying that Durova must stop placing blocks (or recommending blocks to ArbCom) based on secret evidence and a secret method of investigation. Durova's process is not endorsed by Wikipedia policy, and it has insufficient protection against its inherent biases to be good for Wikipedia.
I hope we can somehow convince Durova to stop this just by saying that we disagree with it; I don't like the suggestions that it will require some doomful process like an RfC or a recall. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 06:25, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Rspeer, I agree, I do not believe Durova is being intentionally malicious. But I'm not certain that doesn't even make it worse. She's convinced that she is infallible. She's convince that she will be 'vindicated. She said as much, at least 5 times, on arbitration talk pages.
If Durova will come out and acknowledge the mistakes she's made.. and openly apologize to those she's wronged AND HARMED, then I'd support something short of de-sysop.
Her monicar charge says it quite clearly. She's charging fast and furious into the fray, without regard to anyone else's innocence. Lsi john (talk) 06:42, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

CopyVio Alert[edit]

I've done my own research (take it to ArbCom) and determined that this entire script is a copyvio, and requires immediate deletion. Evidence

 CROWD:  A witch!  A witch!  A witch!  We've got a witch!  A witch!
 VILLAGER #1:  We have found a witch, might we burn her?
 CROWD:  Burn her!  Burn!
 BEDEMIR:  How do you know she is a witch?
 VILLAGER #2:  She looks like one.
 BEDEMIR:  Bring her forward.
 WITCH:  I'm not a witch.  I'm not a witch.
 BEDEMIR:  But you are dressed as one.
 WITCH:  They dressed me up like this.
 CROWD:  No, we didn't... no.
 WITCH:  And this isn't my nose, it's a false one.
 BEDEMIR:  Well?
 VILLAGER #1:  Well, we did do the nose.

At least they gave their "witch" a public hearing. I think the Inquisition is overdue, not that I expect it. sNkrSnee | t.p. 02:54, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Can we take a step back from the Durova-bashing a bit?[edit]

As an outside observer who has been following this thread for the last couple of days I am just appalled at what this has turned into. Durova is a volunteer just like everyone else here and in her long line of service has she created a pattern of abuse that calls for such blatant lack of good faith? No, on the contrary her contributions shows a tireless worker who cares about the greater good of the project. Yes she is human just like everyone else and no one is infallible in judgment or action. In the midst of all the commentary above it is clear that little have noticed that her blocking was not a snapped or irrational judgment but one that she tried, in good faith, to based on evidence and fact checking. Yes those "facts" were ultimately wrong and she has since made several good faith attempts at reconciling that with both an apology and corrective action to prevent further mistakes. If you have questions or concerns about her methodology then inquire with her via email or on her talk page. But there is nothing that she has done that warrants the severity of a public lynching and it would be more worthwhile for the crowd of people here to work on the task of writing an encyclopedia instead of contributing to what this thread has become. AgneCheese/Wine 03:19, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Agne27. Remember, Durova blocked me twice before, so one might think I would be hard-pressed to defend her, but admittedly she was right that I did use two other accounts (I haven't since and have no intentions of ever doing so again) and since she unblocked me I found her to be understanding, fair, and willing to listen and make helpful suggestions. I therefore do believe that she means well and I fear that we are being distracted now from focusing our efforts on other editors who use proxy editors or who harrass their fellow editors in disruptive manners. We have all made a mistake sooner or later and we should commend those who do what they can to acknowledge and correct their mistakes, especially when they're more apt to do good in the long-run. Best, --Le Grand Roi des CitrouillesTally-ho! 03:40, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
While I agree that the block was in good faith, I still think that it was irresponsible in that Durova failed to take basic precautions which a reasonably careful person would have used. I don't believe that the corrective action taken thus far will do anything to prevent further mistakes because it doesn't dissuade the sort of negligence that led to this error. The damage done by this incident undermines Durova's positive work to the extent that if incidents like this are to be a commonplace, Durova's work is a net detriment to the project. Christopher Parham (talk) 03:54, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. In fact I would say that throughout this incident Durova has conducted herself with the utmost integrity and humility. After two weeks of patient research and observation she made a decision that she thought would best serve the project by limiting the potential long term and devastating disruption of another Burntsauce-like sockpuppet. She was open minded enough to post her action here for outside scrutiny and to consider the differing evidence presented by others. Because of that she was able to quickly correct her mistake before the editor in question was largely inconvenienced. That takes a lot of humility to admit one's mistake and to take quick and decisive action to remedied it. If you believe that there is more that she could do to prevent future mistakes then I encourage you to continue discussing that with her personally. That is far more productive than anything this thread could produce. There is nothing more to be accomplished here then a needless public lynching which certainly doesn't benefit the project. AgneCheese/Wine 04:15, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't dispute Durova's integrity and humility. Christopher Parham (talk) 04:25, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
The question here is, essentially, "Should users spend their time trying to uncover sockpuppetry using secret methods?" I don't think anyone doubts that such methods are fine to confirm sockpuppetry. But we don't let checkusers run checks without a good reason to suspect misconduct already, and Arbcom doesn't get to pick up cases that aren't first brought to them. Should we or should we not apply the same scrutiny to other opaque processes? That needs to be decided. -Amarkov moo! 04:01, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree that your question is worthy of discussion, but at the appropriate policy page, not here at AN/I. This thread is already overly long and inconvenient to those who wish to browse the board. How about moving that fine discussion elsewhere? - Jehochman Talk 04:07, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Agree, totally. AgneCheese/Wine 04:15, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Oops, I thought I mentioned that. Yeah, the issue is no longer Durova, really, and this discussion is therefore pointless now. -Amarkov moo! 04:46, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
To follow up, I'd have in mind an explicit commitment that before blocking any account with meaningful positive contributions, Durova will (1) contact the account describing his concerns (from the blocking policy: "administrators should generally ensure that users are aware of policies, and give them reasonable opportunity to adjust their behaviour accordingly, before blocking") and (2) raise his concerns about the editor on a community noticeboard for general comment before blocking. Christopher Parham (talk) 04:25, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

For a mistake that lasted all of 75 minutes, we as a community have probably spent at least 75 hours of time debating this. Debate can help produce beneficial changes, but at some point it needs to end. I think this thread has come to the end. Everyone, back to work, or else Jimbo is going to dock your pay. - Jehochman Talk 03:45, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

QUOTING from Le Grand Roi des Citrouilles: "We have all made a mistake sooner or later" Hear, hear! A message to that effect ought to be carved in stone over the Wikipedia Portal. (Wherever it is.) Wanderer57 (talk) 03:53, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
There is nothing confirmed about my presence here as a sockpuppet save for my being blocked under false positive pretenses. I do not use TOR and I come here from all over the world. I am guilty because she says so? I am still blocked as a sock of some banned user that I have never heard of and I, quite frankly, like the User name: Songgarden. There is no checkuser and no evidence confirming anything and I am only one of many victims that have fallen from grace because of your Diva Durova. (See above list.) Please unblock me and unprotect my pages.

Thank you, User: Songgarden (talk) 04:44, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Jehochman, it may have been a 75 minute block, but it drove !! from the project. How would you like it if I were to block you for being a "disruptive" sock and then not say of who and how I know this. Kwsn (Ni!) 04:57, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

"Bashing" etc
Maybe I have something wrong, I don't know any of the players. Here's how I see it: Durova banned a user for opaque reasons, a user so uncommonly righteous that people of consequence were moved to question it. Durova demured, insisting that her secret evidence was a lock, and invoking AGF by saying: "I will be more than happy to explain my research to the arbitration committee. Please take this there if that is your opinion. WP:AGF, please: I don't do something this bold without very good reasons." Ten minutes later she preemptively AGFs her expected detractors, saying: "This has been a tough call, but in my opinion a necessary one. I am very confident my research will stand up to scrutiny. I am equally confident that anything I say here will be parsed rather closely by some disruptive banned sockpuppeteers. If I open the door a little bit it'll become a wedge issue as people ask for more information, and then some rather deep research techniques would be in jeopardy. As I've said this before, take me to arbitration if you want to challenge this." That part has been blanked in one heckuva courtesy, so I don't blame you if you missed it.
Exactly 1hr10m later Durova concedes it's all been a mistake, which is a remarkably short time to disprove all that evidence. In a blaze of non-accountability, she "apologizes" by using the word (only) in the title, claims she likes to be the first to fix her own mistakes, then appears to blame her faulty research on unnamed colleagues for not fixing her mistake sooner (I thought she liked to do that?), and requests early closure and archiving to protect the OTHER person's privacy! On the page we can still see, she claims that even though this one was an error, the accuracy of her secret methods is not in question. She's asked to explain how she determines this, and responds by saying that the question doesn't make any sense to her. Whatever it is she's doing, and she says it's a secret, she seems to intend to keep doing it.
Remember, this only got picked up because the user in question was apparently a saint. A lot of people are troubled by the realization that, if this had been a regular human, it probably would have passed without comment, as Durova was urging. If it can (almost) happen to him, it could happen to a lot of less exemplary users, like me. Please note that I have made no assumptions regarding the sincerity of Durova's initial judgement, because it isn't relevant. But I do find this episode very disturbing, and her interpretation of other people's reasonable criticism of her behaviour as flattering proof that she's "good at this" is completely stunning.
If I have something wrong, please explain; if I've been unclear, please ask. But I don't think it all happened the way it's now being described above, and I don't think this is about public lynchings, but private ones. sNkrSnee | t.p. 05:13, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
It seems that you are extending the soapboxing on your talk page to this discussion. Even with the best intentions, it is very easy to make mistakes on WP. Please hawk your sour grapes elsewhere. --Mathsci (talk) 09:59, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for those excellent links. Sadly, I was unable to find your point. I'm pleased that my user page facilitated your perfunctory evaluation of my opinion, though I note that "soapboxing" traditionally involves proselytizing an argument, rather than declining to do so. I regret that I am unable to offer a response to any of your relevant comments. Ever thine, sNkrSnee | t.p. 11:08, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Jeez, if every single mistake was exposed to this (more often than not overly-dramtic) witchhunt discussion there wouldn't be any room left on the servers for articles. Darkson (Yabba Dabba Doo!) 13:09, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
This is NOT a problem merely because Durova blocked mistakenly. It's that she blocked, refused to provide any reasons why, continually invoked the presence of a few dozen nameless senior editors to explain why we shouldn't ask for evidence, and then somehow managed to realize that the block was mistaken 70 minutes later. Assuming good faith, I say that she truly did realize that her evidence was faulty. But if this guy had been less perfect, many fewer people would have questioned it, she wouldn't have reinvestigated, and a user would be blocked wrongly because of evidence nobody saw. That is much, much more serious than your average "oh look I was wrong". -Amarkov moo! 14:27, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

70 minutes after the block, Majorly sent me a clue, and I explained to Durova that she really had made a mistake, and that the block needed to be lifted immediately. That explains the rapid reversal. Any other questions I can answer?

I believe that ordinary administrator blocks should be based on public evidence. If something is so sensitive that it cannot be handled publicly, then the info should be passed to Arbcom or a Checkuser for action. Those folks are organized to handle secret evidence, and they operate under strict controls. I explained this to Durova, and she agreed immediately. She's stated that she will follow this rule, and most folks have agreed. Would it be useful to record this rule in our written policies? Like this: [24] - Jehochman Talk 15:08, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Jehochman, there is no "consensus" for that addition. If there was, there would be no one complaining about it. Kwsn (Ni!) 15:37, 20 November 2007 (UTC) Struck after re-reading. Kwsn (Ni!) 17:00, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I think we have an administrator (Durova) that has taken on the world with an ego the size of the world. I believe there are some places where executions were stopped when it was determined that innocent people were being executed. The above list is going to get longer if she is not stopped. It is not an isolated event from what I can see. Now it is up to the world to look at what she is really doing. Her lack of evidence and cover up, herein, is very much akin to obstruction of justice.

From Spain, I am ErgoEgo (talk) 15:39, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

AMEN. Lsi john (talk) 14:10, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Problems with Durova require ongoing monitoring and follow-up[edit]

    • NOTE: KnowledgeofSelf has reverted this, so I will copy it on some editor's talk page. Censorship??**
I have a pretty serious example of how Durova caused serious damage to another editor, and I can provide it privately, but only if it is treated confidentially, and is to be taken seriously ( I beg to differ at the above sentiment that Durova has integrity. She takes half truths, expounds them as condemning facts, rushes to judgement and makes sure the person has no say in the matter, and gets the most serious punishment possible. In my case, she made false allegations online, one particularly serious (both totally false) and then she did her best to make sure I received no assistance. Why do I know this? Because I got assistance, through some pretty high channels. The people helping me told me she complained, and tried to claim that I had done X and Y, and she sent "email evidence" to prove it, which I'd already provided to them, as part of the dossier, so she got ignored.
My case isnt really important, because I no longer desire to contribute here (I wrote some unique articles in my area of expertise). I was a good faith occasional expert editor. I wasn't just bitten. I spent a huge expensive amount of work-time dealing with dealing with the mess this caused. Durova didn't start my case, but she sure did finish it. I was already dealing with a false accusation, which she managed to make worse. Afterwards, she took special care to try to prevent others from helping repair what was an obvious mistake.
As a part of my healing process, I've sometimes looked at Wikipedia's internal politics, while drinking my coffee. From what I read online, she does this kind of "follow up" a lot. It is pure vindictiveness, and not against vandals or even socks. It is anyone who she has pinpointed as "bad".
What is important about the !! case is that this be not taken as a one-off mistake, and I caution you not to interpret it as such. Recall that the only reason that Durova removed the ban and the accusation, was that she was challenged, and harshly, due to the spotless reputation of !! This is of course a very rare case. If you people want to be sure that this isn't a repeating phenomenon (which it is) then I suggest someone take some time and follow up on this. Given the harshness of her behavior, someone needs to monitor her. She needs to be told by someone in a position of authority that this was wrong, and that if she does it again, that there will be repercussions that will be enforced. If this isn't done, she'll just keep doing it. She thinks that it is perfectly fine.
The real question is: Do you?
(Restored for (talk · contribs) who was blanking other people's comments and got reverted - - Jehochman Talk 16:52, 20 November 2007 (UTC))
TO JEHOCHMAN: Young man, I dont even write on here, and your sneaky antics make me SO mad, that I will do so. I wasn't blanking anyone's comments. There was probably an edit conflict (odd that you mistook that for my supposedly impersonating Durova). If so, where is your so-called good faith? I can answer that. You know damned well that I didn't blank anyone's comments, and you know damned well I didn't impersonate Durova. If you aren't a liar, then you seem to have had some sort of hallucination. (see, I assume good faith). I have another question here, please. Why is this conversation off the ANI board? So it can be hidden? It should be back there, and apparently Mr. Hochman, as well as trying to silence me (thanks to Bishonen for protesting this, by the way) has done his level best to hide this important dialogue about a lady who makes quite a bit of trouble on here. I strongly suggest this conversation go back on ANI, where it gets the attention it deserves. (talk) 17:40, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Durova needs to be desysoped[edit]

The answer here is very simple, Durova has to be desysoped. I am extremely surprised that she has not been already. This type of behaviour is completely unnaceptable. Giano (talk) 17:09, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Giano, is this a request for recall? If so, you should probably post it on the main board as I doubt many people are watching this subpage. Videmus Omnia Talk 17:23, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Not a re-call, she needs firing! Giano (talk) 17:33, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Comment from IP that JeHochman tried to sneaky-ban: THIS CONVERSATION NEEDS TO GO BACK ON THE REGULAR ADMINISTRATOR BOARD, WHERE IT BELONGS AND WILL BE DULY ARCHIVED. Why does JeHochman get to move this to some offsite location? I find that really suspicious. Not only did he hide it, but he basically blocked me to shut me up. He blocked me in a manner which did not allow me to make comment, which is the normal means of blocking an IP (or anyone). He needs to be audited frequently, just as she does. And I'm not any of the socks they are going to accuse me of being, either. I have a name, and a phone number, and I can give those, to the right people. (talk) 17:44, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Giano, if you're serious about this, and the amount of opacity in Durova's actions and the lack of accountability certainly is outrageous, it's probably better to have a sort of "executive summary" of the situation (all that tit and tat, above) along with a call for the aggrieved and others to open ArbCom action. It's not about the rights of any one IP editor or any one long time editor: it is about Wikipedia operating by its founding principles, keeping everything in the light. While some may feel, "Oh! She was perfect past all parallel -- / Of any modern female saint’s comparison; / So far above the cunning powers of hell, / Her guardian angel had given up his garrison," in truth neither Durova nor anyone else can work with secret evidence in secret notices to secretly selected secret ArbCom members to perform a public action. If it's a "false positive," we're destroying a solid contributor, engendering ill will, and justifying everything the people on the "Bad Sites" say. It's not a matter for a subsection of a subpage. Utgard Loki (talk) 17:57, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Well put. I recently added something to that effect to WP:BLOCK. [25] - Jehochman Talk 18:00, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, and if you continue to edit policy pages in that fashion you will be blocked. There is no consensus here for the changes that you made and, even if there were, there are plenty of other users who could have made the edit. Physchim62 (talk) 18:26, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I note your warning. I'm not clear what this is about. I wouldn't have thought this was a problem since everybody on the discussion was in agreement. Can we discuss this or ask somebody to help us sort it out? - Jehochman Talk 18:57, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
For those interested in a more limited discussion concerning the role of secret evidence in blocking, please see the discussion here. Best, --Bfigura (talk) 19:13, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Physchim62, I'm am also confused about this warning. First, you are in an extended conflict with Jehochman, so blocking him would seem to be, at best, grossly inappropriate; second, bold edits to policy are not, in themselves, grounds for blocking. Is there some mistake? Could you clarify? --Iamunknown 21:19, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I am finding this whole thread slightly surreal. We have an editor who has set herself up as one women vigilantina patrolling the unlit streets of Wikipedia in search of suspicious characters, when she finds them she attacks with a stiletto and they are dead. Suddenly we find one of the victims has not been instantaneously killed so before his untimely departure he tells us he is actually a editor held in huge regard. So lets cut through the surrealism and ask FFS what is going on here. Where is the arbcom, where is Jimbo? where is the whole Wikipedia hierarchy? why is this Admin still running around loose and why is it being left to me to ask why? This Admin does not just want de-sysoping she needs banning completely for all our sakes. Thank God she is not in the US military in Iraq. Giano (talk) 19:08, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
    • Please maintain civility. I believe Durova did serve in the military, so that last sentence may be a bit too low. Please keep the discussion on Wikipedia alone. Best, --Le Grand Roi des CitrouillesTally-ho! 19:11, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
How on earth is saying that low, and how on earth an I supposed to know what someone called Durova does in RL? There is a whole world ourside of USA I suggest you explore it!Giano (talk) 19:16, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Please do not make assumptions about fellow editors. I have been blocked by Durova before, but I still think we should be fair and avoid insulting each other. Sincerely, --Le Grand Roi des CitrouillesTally-ho! 19:19, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I am very sorry for you but we are not running a charitable organozation. Durova has proved to be incompetent on a grand scale. She has to go. Giano (talk) 19:23, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
It's colorful, but it's also hyperbolic. We are ok, I hope, with hyperbole. The suggestion, I believe, was that it was vigilante justice and that Iraq has seen that landing in the news recently. At least that's what I get from it. However, "Where is ArbCom" is a good question. ArbCom moves slowly perforce, but it also requires someone to move to initiate. It, too, is not a policing body, flying over the rooftops looking for troubles. Someone needs to ask. Utgard Loki (talk) 19:18, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

It appears that there are three avenues available if you would like to propose that Durova be desysopped. One is to start a "proposed recall" thread on her talk page. The second is to email a request to the ArbCom board. The third is to request an open ArbCom case. On a different subject, I don't think it was wrong to move this discussion to a separate page, as long as there was a short notice left at ANI pointing editors to this page if they wished to continue participating in the discussion. Cla68 (talk) 21:09, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Giano, Why demand Arbcom or Jimbo do that which you can do yourself?
Durova has stated:

I am a voluntary participant in a program called "administrators open to recall." That means I'll stand for reconfirmation of sysop status if half a dozen Wikipedians in good standing request it. Nobody's ever initiated such a request.[26]

If the community requests that she put down the mop, she will. Uncle uncle uncle (talk) 21:53, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

support of Durova[edit]

Durova de-sysoped???? I haven't read all of this long discussion but skimming through it there are several admin who have committed clear cut abuse while Durova's actions are just debatable, not Gestapo-like. One was mentioned in previous ANI as having several RFA and a very controversial one that was finally passed. Since then, that admin has acted quite wildly, according to at least one admin. Will I mention the admin? Hell, no! That hothead will certainly block me and I wouldn't be given the consideration that user:!! has.

Another hothead admin got into an argument with an editor, blocked him and page protected his user talk page so that he could not request unblock. If that isn't abuse of power, what is? If I mention his name, it will only expose me to block.

Yet another admin responded to an ArbCom request for arbitration by blocking the user and blanking the request. I only saw it by crusing the unblock request list. That user's request was later denied by the same admin.

Or how about an admin who blanked a checkuser request? If a non-admin did that, it would be a reason for banning. With an admin doing it, nobody says anything. Will I mention it? Hell, no! I do not have a death wish. Like Jimbo Wales said, WP is not a democracy.

The fact that Durova is allowing discussion without blocking non-admins who comment earns her a barnstar. Chergles (talk) 19:40, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

I find it impossible to convince myself that you're serious, yet I'm mesmerized by the possibility. sNkrSnee | t.p. 20:04, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I am serious! If Durova is desysoped, then a lot of admins should be desysoped first. Chergles (talk) 20:08, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, my fault for imprecision - I specifically was thinking of the proposed barnstar. I suspect you literally couldn't give it away, but I'm still chuckling, so thanks! sNkrSnee | t.p. 20:30, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I kinda see what Snickersnee is saying... not blocking those who comment is kind of a low bar for barnstars. Leebo T/C 20:38, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

This is now so surreal, I wonder if anyone is in fact running this encyclopedia. Has the Arbcom gone away on a bonding trip with Jimbo, David Gerard and Kelly Martin?. Are they as we speak having a naked group hug in a mud hut around a smoking fire, while the rest of us sit here wondering in amazement? Giano (talk) 21:04, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

What's more surreal is that Chergles actually made her that barnstar. And she put it up. Hey when I'm wrong I'm wrong! sNkrSnee | t.p. 11:55, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Giano, please refrain from assuming bad faith on the part of multiple editors. Thank you. --Le Grand Roi des CitrouillesTally-ho! 21:24, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Bad faith? Durova exemplifies it! Giano (talk) 21:28, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Why bring Jimbo, David Gerard and Kelly Martin into the discussion? --Le Grand Roi des CitrouillesTally-ho! 21:42, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Every time I've heard of "secret" techniques combined with how good the results are has been a snake oil salesman, and frankly many of Durova's posts have a certain snake oil quality to them. Security through obscurity simply does not work as has been demonstrated time and time again. It took me five minutes to figure out who the blocked user was (without using any proprietary "deep investigative techniques"), and something that points to him as an abusive sock is a pretty crappy system. I would suggest that certain people need to dig themselves out of their "foxhole" and see the other side of the wiki; the one where people write articles.

The whole tried, convicted, and sentenced in secret type blocks are very problematic. The person being blocked isn't even told what they are accused of, who their accusers are, or who judged them guilty. What's worse, they aren't even afforded an opportunity to explain/defend themselves before being muzzled.

I would also like to point out some people who I think need to reexamine their position (and attitude), and leave the siege mentality that seems to have developed among certain groups.

Were you all privy to the secret evidence? Did you do due diligence on the evidence and arrive at your own conclusions or just take Durova's word for it? Or, were you not privy to the evidence at all and were just taking a "guilty until proven innocent" approach?

I think it's very important that people make sure to take an independent look before commenting, and without letting other people's judgment substitute for their own. I'm very impressed (and somewhat surprised, given my cynical nature) to see that the majority of people were able to do so. (talk) 21:23, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Could you please notify those people that you are discussing their behavior here? It is customary to notify people. Thank you. - Jehochman Talk 22:19, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
It's customary for people who comment on threads to follow up on them, so I will assume good faith that these good people already know. (talk) 16:19, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Since this is a drive-by and this IPs first and only edit I think it can safely be removed; there are quite enough baseless accusations floating around without adding context-free ones as well. Alternatively we could run a book on which banned abuser was behind it: Awbrey 5-1, Kohs 2-1, JB196 10-1 ... Guy (Help!) 15:55, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for making my point for me :) (talk) 16:19, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Paul August just posted above that Durova did not send her evidence to the ArbCom board and they did not, as a body, approve the block in question here. So who did she send her evidence to and who gave her approval for the block? I think she needs to answer this question. Cla68 (talk) 23:39, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

That question has been asked repeatedly and (to my knowledge) Durova has simply ignored it and refused to answer. Videmus Omnia Talk 02:16, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm shocked that anyone thinks that "Durova not blocking the complaints" is a special honor. People complain about me, about you, about everyone. Sometimes, people are even a bit outraged, sometimes even insulting. That's nothing to get all upset about, and administrators are supposed to be servants not rulers. They are supposed to be "trusted," and the moment they betray that trust, they lose a piece of their administrator's legitimacy.
We all have to abide by the policies of Wikipedia, and one of the chief policies is that of privacy. Few issues are as instantly magnetic, few infractions as automatically worthy of the virtual death penalty, than privacy. This means both willingly blinding ourselves by not investigating everyone and not, by any means whatever, saying that X user is Y user is Z user or IP.
Checkuser is the office that investigates IP addresses of contributors, and checkuser users are not supposed to perform checks unless they are 1) asked, in writing, in a form that can be demonstrated (i.e. not private e-mail, but only RFCU or ArbCom mailing list) 2) pursuing a documented suspicion based on a set of actions that can be ennumerated that will provide a compelling "probable cause." Checkuser users must enjoy extraordinary levels of trust, and several of us are upset at a recent extension of Checkuser rights to people who we believe do not have this trust.
This case, however, violates several of these important principles.
  1. Durova appears to be applying "secret" investigations which she intimates are akin to Checkuser
  2. She is doing this solely upon her own private suspicion
  3. She will not or cannot reproduce the set of probable causes, nor the data she has attained from her research
  4. She furthermore announced publicly the identities of users based on this secret evidence based on secret investigations for private causes
  5. She has then been wrong about it, but in the meantime she has broken the block policy
  6. She has blocked an established user on the basis of undocumented violations.
So, the way I see it, we are in deep, dark waters here. I can, as we all can, forgive. I can, as we all can, assume that her motives were pure. I can, as we all can, say that this was zeal in defense of virtue. However, these actions resulted in damage to several editors, and she seeks no forgiveness. What's worse still, she shows no contrition and will not swear off these methods. Personally, I can't see anything but sanction. I'm not sure that demotion would actually stop the secret investigations, etc., but the block action would be off the table, at least. Geogre (talk) 02:28, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Geogre, Durova is doing what all admins do to some extent: looking for patterns of abuse. This is a false-positive, regrettable but soon rectified. Most are not. Bear in mind the months of damage done by Burntsauce before ArbCom finally banned that account. Rather than evryone joining the pile-on, it might be more productive for people to be on their guard for the abusers, who are seeking (with great success it seems) to derail ArbCom candidacies for anyone they feel will be unhelpful to their campaign. Guy (Help!) 16:01, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
"This is a false-positive, regrettable but soon rectified."
We still appear to have lost a good user in !! because of the abuse here... • Lawrence Cohen 16:11, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Be careful, a good faith error is not abuse. As for !!, I have no idea why he has quit. There must be more to it than just the 75 minute block. - Jehochman Talk 16:17, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Heck, this time of the year, !! might well be away from his computer and not even know about all this comotion.
Let's face it folks, the Golden days of building up Wikipedia are gone, the project's done. Oh it will still need maintence and there are new developments that need to be covered, but the best thing might be to lock it in the current state for a month or two mass wikibreak so the excess of people involved (including trolls, disruptives and sock puppet masters) would find new hobbies instead of biting on each other like an old time alt.flame usenet group.
The common tendency for people to get into fights in an all text communication medium is known back to the late middle ages. There's lots of speculation, but no solid theory I know about as to why. The best speculation might be that people are rewarded by attention and for some people it doesn't matter if the attention is positive or negative. That the Wikipedia community built up this repository before disintegrating into backbiting is impressive. Keith Henson (talk) 22:11, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
My wording of abuse was that it apparently revealed a private relationship between !! and whatever his previous username was to many people. What if !! had abandoned an old name because of being abused or harassed? The abuse wording was in that--an innocent person's privacy was breached and then laid out to the public, unfortunately. I actually have asked Durova a question on her ArbCom questions page that if she answers will probably put half of this fire to rest outright. She can easily end all of this nonsense by simply naming the admins she sent data on !! to, so that they can say: "Yes/no, based on the available info that was mailed to us, it was a good/bad block." If they say bad, then this can go to RfAr or wherever it needs to with less fighting. If they say Yes, good block, we can just end this as a simple mistake that got completely out of hand. Only Durova can end this by disclosing who saw the data, with them commenting, or if User:!! says, "Enough already." • Lawrence Cohen 16:25, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

About this thread...[edit]

I have been reading through it, and the basic gist of it is (from what I can glean from it...) is:

I have seen heated discussion on this thread/subpage, and I would ask that, rather than trying to argue with one another, we try and work collaboratively. Debate is fine: it's expected on pages like these, but arguments for the sake of it aren't.

As Le Grand Roi has said, everyone makes mistakes, and nobody's perfect, which is a maxim I agree with, and it's true as well.

Durova has done good work for the Arbitration Committee, and if it stops just one more JB196 or MyWikiBiz sockpuppet from trying to come back to Wikipedia, then she must be doing something right.

This could go to an arbitration case, but I'd rather not see it come to that. The recent discussions about Privatemusings (talk · contribs · count) have ended up coming to this.

I ask that we try and work together, rather than fight about things. It'll be better that way. Thanks, --Solumeiras talk 22:42, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

A lot of good things have happened. FT2 has drafted a proposed policy on Wikipedia:Confidential evidence. Rather than casting blame, we should address the problem and educate people how to do a better job. - Jehochman Talk 22:48, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I do admire a sense of humour, but in this case even I have a problem trying to laugh. Durova is a self appointed danger to the project. She needs removing before any more respected and valuable editors are blocked because they sus out the system faster than she feels they ought. Giano (talk) 22:50, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
My very simple reading is that either matters are done in full view of the community, or that individuals are permitted to operate certain procedures in secrecy by the permission of the community. By community I do not mean ArbCom or Jimbo, but similar to the manner by which admins, and 'crats (and to a lesser extent, ArbCom themselves) are allowed use of certain tools. The process of review may be entrusted to ArbCom or 'Crats (or the sake of security), but nobody should be allowed privilege unless it is endorsed by the community or bestowed by Jimbo (with due notice) - oh, and that Recall be mandatory. Perhaps this is not the venue, but it is the instigation. LessHeard vanU (talk) 23:00, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
  • My aim of posting this wasn't to cast blame, or aspersions, but to try and address the problem. Jehochman, you've almost said the same thing as me there. FT2's proposed policy I will have to read.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I'm not forcing people to agree with me or disagree with me here. I'm trying to avoid the "let's-generate-more-heat-than-light" theory, and actually help, but if I've done wrong, let me know and I'll try and see how I can do it better. Sorry. I've tried to help, but it probably hasn't worked. Anyway, at least I've started some points for discussion. Thanks, --Solumeiras talk 23:02, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

A short clarifying note -- the original proposal on WT:BLOCK to add a section on "confidential evidence" was already well underway when I saw it. It was obviously a sensible suggestion (at the least, such things happen, so guidance to prevent excessive problems/unfairness and gain good practice is sensible) and a subsection in blocking policy visibly wasn't the right place, so I drafted an outline page for others to work with, that would establish the page in a helpful direction. With luck, that takes care of future cases which will then have a firmer foundation. Past and present ones may need attention if there's been a verifiable snafu, policy/communal norms breach, or poor judgement. FT2 (Talk | email) 01:44, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't know how many of you have been administrators longer than I have -- maybe all of you -- but the statement was never needed, because it's simply at odds with all of our policies and procedures to operate on secret evidence. Why do we have RFCU? Why do we have AN and AN/I? Why do we have blocks by uninvolved administrators? Why do we have generous block appeals? Why do we have our various privacy rights? Why has ArbCom ruled previously (and frequently) that secret communications and off-site material cannot even be cited in the reasoning for a block? It's really, really, really, really obvious. There isn't a controversy. Administrators are not special people. We do not rule. We do not get to cite Franz Kafka as our founder. I don't care what they do elsewhere: it is the death of democracy and the death of the project and the whole demotic mess that is Wikipedia to have Star Chamber prosecutions and executions. Geogre (talk) 02:33, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Here, here, Sir Geogre. You are a most persuasive speaker here and your cause is most worthy, indeed. There is ample evidence and a very lucid history of wrongly executed Durova blocks/victims, which, in fact, support your position, albeit a mighty effort it would be to take on such a powerful, feared, and yet admired editor. ErgoEgo (talk) 02:56, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
    • Thank you. I'm not sure about the "popularity" that is alleged for Durova. It is not my aim, however, to prove a lack of popularity or even to show prior bad acts. Instead, we have to remember that popularity saves no one. Popularity, even were it there, could not excuse a single bad act. As I said, above, we can all forgive. Even Lsi John and PrivateMusings could conceivably forgive, but forgiveness is impossible without repentance. If you forgive a check forger who doesn't say he'll stop, then you are not showing mercy or wisdom: you're an accessory to continuing fraud. If Durova were aware of what she did wrong and going to disavow any future use of the block button (at least) and going to never use secret processes for secret evidence shared with secret people, then it would be possible (although there is still the matter of devastation to the "false positives" she has hit). Without those, though, her friends would be hard pressed to say she was behaving acceptably, and ArbCom would be hard pressed to exonerate, and popularity, if there is popularity, cannot plaster over these misdeeds. Geogre (talk) 12:23, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
  • It's been interesting reading your responses to my thread. However, the nature of this topic is at large controversial, and there is no deadline for resolving it. But whilst it is OK to be be bold and question processes, questioning people's motives might be another different thing entirely. Forgiveness is something the Wikipedia community can, and should do, and assuming good faith is one area of that. Let's see how the situation plays out before deciding "This should go to request for comment! No, it should go to Requests for arbitration! I disagree, Durova should be de-sysopped!! No she shouldn't!"

Having an argy-bargy over these kind of things isn't productive for all concerned. How we resolve the situation amicably is one thing, and a hard one to do. But let's see how things pan out first. --Solumeiras talk 18:40, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

This whole discussion/topic (above) should be available in ANI[edit]

I want to have the ability to get to it; I do not see it in any index or archive? Thanks. ErgoEgo 23:36, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

There is a link in ANI to this page. However the title "Indefinite block of an established editor" does not indicate who is involved or what the issues are.
Wanderer57 (talk) 02:50, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

I might get yelled at for this, but...[edit]

I notice that this discussion hasn't gone anywhere productive since I mentioned yesterday that it was generating more heat than light. If you have further issues with Durova's conduct, I'm sure she would be happy to discuss them in a civil, non-witchhunting manner at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Durova (which I notice is still a red link at the time of this writing). shoy (words words) 02:44, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the suggestion, I hope nobody yells at you. However, I think your optimism is unfounded. Unless I'm wrong (!), Durova has made no edits here since this thread was split from the main AN/I., and I don't regard her previous comments as satisfactorily responsive. People have continued to request explanation, and it has fallen to others to attempt to answer on her behalf, causing additional inaccuracy and confusion, if that's even possible. The idea of refactoring the discussion for her convenience (for what now, a third time?) in the hopes of recapturing her interest seems unproductive. It's not like she's unaware of the issue.
I notice that she remains active responding to questions in her ArbCom candidacy forum, and I won't comment on that, other than that it seems to suggest an obvious course of action, if we desire a more illuminating light:heat ratio. Personally I find her silence here dismissive and somewhat insulting, and a completely inappropriate reation to what have (frequently) been legitimate and civil questions. Perhaps that's my own failing. But I'm not surprised this page has degenerated into frustrated incoherence, when one half of the dialogue refuses to show up. Threads like this are where hope comes to die. sNkrSnee | t.p. 03:35, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
You could try her talk page. She's only got ten fingers and there seems to be lots of action there and at the election questions page. Maybe she just doesn't have time to be everywhere at once. - Jehochman Talk 03:48, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I didn't realize it was that much faster to type on one's own talk page, perhaps I'm more ignorant than I thought. Since she demonstrably DOES have time to participate in her ArbCom forum, and (to my mind) these issues are quite relevant to that consideration, is there any reason not to do that there? Isn't that what it's for? I'm really sincerely asking, since I have no clue. It seems to me that the only real advantage to taking this to her talkpage is that even fewer people would notice it than hiding here under a nondescript title, and that's only an advantage for her. Frankly, I deplore "phone tag", and the idea of extending the meme into a new wiki-medium does little for me. sNkrSnee | t.p. 04:19, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure if a formal RfC is necessary, since this thread having its own page basically makes it a stand-alone RfC that will be available as a reference forever (if it doesn't get "courtesy blanked"). Cla68 (talk) 04:37, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
This page does not serve as a requests for comment. Lots of people aren't commenting here because they don't want to feed the drama. If you start an RfC, you will see how many supporters and detractors she has. - Jehochman Talk 04:47, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
"Lots of people aren't commenting here because they don't want to feed the drama." You are not wrong. — Satori Son 05:22, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry, this is confusing, words mean different things here. Does "drama" include having Durova set aside a block of time to provide the same sort of responsive accountability that she no doubt aspires to continue as an Arbitrator? I think it's a pretty hard sell to ignore the obligations of your current job in pursuit of a coveted promotion. But that's just me.
Look, I don't know anybody, so I have no investment in this (and I cringe when I calculate the odds that this will be "verified"). Oh yeah, that's why I care. Evidently, a certain percentage of friendly fire is deemed acceptable, but nobody wants to say what that is. Every now and then someone will disappear, and if nobody notices or cares (or only the wrong sort), game over, and all your obsessive work too. Someone like me? I can appeal it to ArbCom somehow, and trust that they'll look at it. Except that Durova's running for ArbCom arguing how swamped it is (and so she can use her valuable sleuthing skills). And if anyone has questions, she says she can't answer, and (everybody!!) "take it to ArbCom" (but only if you really can't trust her). So why even bother?
Maybe it's all somehow necessary, but silence won't convince me. I think you should forget about connecting the socks, and just deal with behaviour. Why do you even care about motive or identity at all (and yet still allow IP editors)? Is it just to have foxes to hunt? If the only way you can tell a good article from a bad one is by finding out who did it, you're doing something wrong, and it probably doesn't end in "pedia".

Where I live, we call *that* drama. sNkrSnee | t.p. 08:39, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
ps Oh look, the recall notice just went up. Much better, I bet there's hardly any more drama at all.

Let's see. Who uses "drama" to dismiss every wrong done? Well, Kelly Martin does, and all of those who follow Kelly about (thousands turn to her every day for opinions, she claimed once). There is such rank intellectual dishonesty about that arrogance that I can only hope that the actual proceedings that would be called for (not an RFC, and believe me, this can be ported directly over into an RFC format) would calm the drama indeed by removing the cause. The cause is not those who dislike secret evidence and blocks without justification, but those who perform those blocks without justification. The cause is not those who say, "But I was blocked, and I have that on my block record forever, along with accusations," but the people who do the block. "Such drama," children, is in those who continue to believe that they are Napoleon, and the people who go about in a parody mince of a bad cabaret saying, "drama" are aspiring to be the dogs. Let's get this to arbitration, and then we can see whether Durova has violated the blocking policy and the privacy policies, and then we can see whether the supporters (who write very much like one another... remarkably so) can explain it all away. Geogre (talk) 12:13, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

WOW, Is this a flash-back or what?![edit]

If I didn't know better, I'd swear someone was writing about MY experience with User:Durova. She's publicly attacked me, she's made vague 1/2 truth accusations about me. She's threatened to expose me for the 'long term vandal' that she 'knows' I am. She escalated a situation, unrelated to me, and tried her best to drag me into it. She escalated the entire situation to Arbitration simply for self-vindication and she tried desperately to goad me into turning the Arbcom into something 'about her'.

I can't say I'm surprised that someone else has had these experiences.. but I'm surprised that they so very closely echo my own experiences with this administrator.

De=sysop? absolutely.

Lsi john (talk) 05:13, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

It's also interesting that she Blanked both User and Talk pages for User:Smee, seemingly at the request of a new editor who's identity is obvious to anyone who has dealt with the edit warring User:Smee akd User:Smeelgova in the past. Why would User:Durova suddenly need to delete a user's page who had not been online in 3 months, if not to help the new identity hide from their block history? Lsi john (talk) 05:23, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Do you have links/diffs to back up what you're saying? This is what I mean by this thread serving as a de facto RfC. Cla68 (talk) 05:47, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I could fill this thread with volumes of links of Durova-Abuse. Which would then result in nobody reading the thread. Her own self-proclaimed wiki-sleuthing is self-evident in her edit history. Anyone who seriously cares about wikipedia can easily find lots of examples of the conduct outlined above. Scan her talkpage history for my posts if you want diffs. I merely remarked at the striking similarity between my experiences with her and those of the person who posted the initial objections here. She's one of the two reasons that I stopped editing, and if the community isn't willing to get rid of her, then I'm not willing to spend hours digging up diffs to demonstrate her lack of worthiness to be an admin. Lsi john (talk) 06:03, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
You have a flawed argument. "if the community isn't willing to get rid of her, then I'm not willing to spend hours digging up diffs to demonstrate her lack of worthiness to be an admin". So in order for you to provide evidence we should block or ban Durova first? The community is (or at least I am, but I think that the community is aswell) willing to ban Durova. That is iff she has done something ban-worthy. I highly doubt that to be the case and so without some very compelling evidence, I'm not going to support any sanctions against her. James086Talk | Email 13:12, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
James, I appreciate your position, I really do. And, I'm not asking for a block, I'm suggesting there is enough anti-Durova evidence already presented and enough anti-Durova-Admin present to justify a call for her to voluntarily re-open her RfA as she has 'claimed' she would. I've provided diffs before, on her talk page, and I've been threatened with blocks for opposing her. The diffs are on her talk page. Her history of snap-judgment bans, and and steam rolling over her chosen 'abusers', is all well documented. If an RfA is opened, where my efforts to locate and post diffs would be justified, I'll dig up multiple examples of her sleuthing abuse and wrongful public accusations. For now, its not hard to research it for yourself, though it is time consuming. Lsi john (talk) 13:56, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I see, I thought "get rid of her" meant block or ban her rather than de-sysop. I will review the evidence at a RFC or RFA if it comes to that. James086Talk | Email 22:50, 21 November 2007 (UTC)


User:Durova claims to be for recall. It seems that quite a few editors 'in good standing' have made some fairly substantial objections.

Well, User:Durova, how about voluntarily stepping down? How about voluntarily re-opening your RfA?

Or is your entry in that category just grand standing? Lsi john (talk) 05:39, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Actually, to the best of my knowledge, no users in good standing have actually asked for such a recall on Durova's talk page (as detailed in common conditions of recall). Expressing concern on this page isn't the same as formally asking for recall. --Bfigura (talk) 05:44, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
The guidelines state that you need to ask for a recall on her user talk page. Cla68 (talk) 05:48, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
If she's TRULY open to recall, she won't insist on any formalities. In reality she truly believes she has done nothing wrong and couldn't possibly be reprimanded or recalled. She's said just that openly on her talkpage and on arbitration talk pages. And I have no desire to push for a recall. Clearly there is evidence above that people have some serious questions about her conduct. That should be sufficient for any LEGITIMATE entry in the 'open to recall' category. If she requires more than the ample complaints that have been presented above, then she is insincere in her inclusion in the category. Lsi john (talk) 06:07, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
So let me get this straight. By the fact that nobody has asked for a recall over this matter, Durova is "grand standing" about being open to recall - and yet you yourself admit you aren't interested in recalling her? It seems to me that you are the one who's grandstanding on this issue. FCYTravis (talk) 06:46, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
(E/C) The community seems to have expressed dissatisfaction with her methods. That's not the same thing as demanding her recall (although people are free to do so if they wish). And all CAT:AOR means is exactly what it says: "...willing to stand for "re-confirmation" of adminship if a sufficient number of editors in good standing request it...". Open-to-recall admins are not expected or required to holistically ascertain the will of the community from a single debate. And your statements above make it hard to accept your claim of no desire for a recall at face value. --Bfigura (talk) 06:56, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm not the first one to mention recall in this discussion.. and to satisfy your government-regulations, I have posted your requisite request on her page. It's absurd, of course.. she has no intention of actually being open to recall. She'll point to supporters and claim there is no need. If she were truly open, she wouldn't need to be formally asked, she'd have seen the countless objections over the past year that I have, which have culminated in this thread... and she'd open the recall on her own. .. surely she would, right? Since she has openly stated it countless times on her talkpage and on arbcom talk pages. Lsi john (talk) 07:41, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Most sensible comment so far[edit]

I agree entirely with this sensible post by rspeer:

"I'm convinced that Durova is very emotionally invested in the idea that her sleuthing method works, based on the way she brushes off any suggestions that it might not. That simply makes her method even more unreliable: it's not just subject to the prosecutor's fallacy, but to confirmation bias as well. That is, Durova places blocks based on her belief that her method is accurate, but she wants to believe that her method is accurate, and is therefore unlikely to properly account for evidence that it isn't.
Let me clarify that I think that Durova has worked very hard for Wikipedia and done a lot of good things as an administrator. She is certainly not doing this maliciously -- she has the best of intentions. That does not mean, however, that what she is doing is correct. There is a reason why most of what goes on at ArbCom is open for scrutiny by so many people, and why CheckUser has so many checks and restrictions on how it can be used. This is how these processes account for the inherent biases of evidence, which are magnified when one person is the prosecutor and judge. (These aren't malicious biases, I reiterate. They are inherent psychological biases which would affect anyone in the same position.)
So I'd like to add to the chorus of people saying that Durova must stop placing blocks (or recommending blocks to ArbCom) based on secret evidence and a secret method of investigation. Durova's process is not endorsed by Wikipedia policy, and it has insufficient protection against its inherent biases to be good for Wikipedia."

I also think that Wikipedia:Confidential evidence is a good step towards getting some consensus thrashed out over this. Carcharoth (talk) 11:27, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I can accept that there must be secret methods and secret investigations. Otherwise the problem of trolling and sockpuppets would become completely unmanageable. That's a truism on any user-generated content site, any participatory human activity in fact. There must also be a layer of bureaucrats able to act on secret evidence, who are protected against direct reprisals and opposition from those who they investigate; otherwise, disabling Wikipedia's defenses becomes part of the trolling process. The only open question, for me, is whether Durova's methods are the right ones, and how Durova, ArbCom and others who might use them might be held suitably accountable. There will always be some false positives - that's what reviews and appeals are for, and there will always be more false negatives than false positives if we're trying to be fair. We cannot allow one bad block to become ammunition for dropping our defenses against trolls. Wikidemo (talk) 19:21, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
The most pertinent point is that the person gathering "evidence of disruption" is the most unqualified to proceed on the findings - the investigation of possible malpractice excludes the assumption of good faith and likely the evaluation of other good encyclopedic contributions in building the case and arriving at the conclusions. If such methods of uncovering possible malicious editing is going ever to be endorsed the material needs to be evaluated by independent third parties before any block is applied - and those placing the block will need to be as accountable as the party providing the evidence. LessHeard vanU (talk) 21:23, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
That's a fair comment. A firewall between the one who investigates and the one who decides would provide oversight and keep decisions neutral and unimpeachable. It's reasonable to ask that any person who gathers secret evidence ask an uninvolved administrator who is trustworthy and will maintain confidentiality to review and act on the evidence. That's going forward. So far I don't see any evidence that doing so to date is a problem that merits censure. Wikidemo (talk) 21:41, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Wrong end of the problem[edit]

I've seen alot of discussion about how the results of 'secret investigations' should be handled, but I think that is missing the bigger problem here. We shouldn't be conducting such investigations in the first place without damned good reason to suspect the target beforehand. We don't run checkuser on just anyone... the Wikimedia privacy policy prohibits it. Indeed, Wikimedia pledges to only look into private information if there are strong reasons to suspect an account of wrongdoing. Not subjecting your volunteers to intrusive investigation for no good reason is a fairly basic trust... which we should not be encouraging individual users to do an end run around.

Durova responds to this concern by saying that her investigative methods are publicly available. Great. So are those used by Daniel Brandt. That we can investigate anyone and everyone doesn't mean that we should. We ban people for doing this. 'Blacklist' entire sites which engage in such activity. Yes, there is an obvious 'malice differential' here, but that really doesn't matter much if the end results are the same. !!'s privacy was still violated for no apparent reason. Nothing was released publicly, but it was spread around widely enough that it could have slipped out... and the disclosures which were made were enough to cause us to lose a user, at least for now and possibly permanently.

The act of investigating is itself a betrayal of trust, regardless of whether anything is found or communicated to others. That is why official representatives of Wikimedia are only allowed to do it when there is reasonable cause for suspicion. Encouraging some users to themselves conduct such investigations (while banning others) is inherently wrong. If an investigation is warranted, users can contact ArbCom and/or Checkusers and let them handle it. No one should be allowed to appoint themself the 'ethical investigator of secretive Wikipedians'... we didn't tolerate Brandt doing it and we shouldn't tolerate it from Durova either. That we agree with her motives more and trust her not to intentionally reveal information to the public does not diminish the wrong of the investigation itself. !! is still gone, and there was still no good reason to have investigated him in the first place. --CBD 12:18, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Amen. I was trying to say the same, above. What has me outraged is that apparently another person has decided that RFCU is for suckers. That is far, far, far across the line. It would be better that we dealt manually with every vandal's every act than that we compromise on something so fundamental as this. Geogre (talk) 12:26, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Absolutely. Well said. There is also a disturbing amount of general paranoia shown by people in general in the statements about the need for secrecy and suspecting sockpuppets at every turn. Sockpuppets will always be a problem for a project like Wikipedia where everyone can edit. There are already systems in place to deal with that. What we need is good editors who can see through subtle attempts to distort content, regardless of who is doing the distortion (be it good-faith editors, single-purpose accounts, trolls, or a legion of sockpuppets). Focusing on the content is needed as much, if not more, than rooting out sockpuppets. Sockpuppets are powerless if they can't influence content. Carcharoth (talk) 12:46, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Hear, hear. east.718 at 12:47, November 21, 2007
Very well-put. --krimpet 14:38, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Hi, I don't usually contribute on things like this, but there's something I just don't understand- "!! is still gone, and there was still no good reason to have investigated him in the first place." Unless I have this wrong, they were blocked for 2 hours, and then got unblocked with an apology. I'm not understanding the long term harm here. And why would they quit over that? Am I missing some secret subtext? Kaisershatner (talk) 15:41, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm not !!, but I can imagine that I were blocked without notice or warning on thin, secret evidence (however well intentioned), then unblocked with a summary of 'false positive', I'd be pretty irate too. And it's not as if !! was blocked and stormed off. (See here,). Best, --Bfigura (talk) 17:01, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
It is my understanding that it was the outing of the real life identity of !! by the Daniel Brandt style investigation (we call that harassment in the case of Daniel Brandt) that drove !! from Wikipedia. The block and its aftermath simply informed !! of the widespread e-mailing of confidential information about his real life identity. Daniel Brandt also claims to want to improve Wikipedia. Daniel Brandt believes that public knowledge of the real life identities of Wikipedia admins is required for accountability and accountability is required for NPOV (lack of bias). Durova believes that private identification (to some extent) of all editors is required in order to reveal sockpuppet abuse; again for the sake of NPOV. They have a lot in common. Durova, this is not an attack. It is a defense of Brandt. WAS 4.250 (talk) 00:06, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
I find it a condemnation of both. It's all well and good to want to be the one knowing all the names and having all the pictures, but that's not how Wikipedia was set up. It's well and good for Brandt to not want his name known if everyone else's isn't, but that's not how Wikipedia was set up. Furthermore, Brandt's public person status was written up. Some Wikipedians have had their public persons written up at Wikipedia, as well, by third parties. Secret information cannot be the basis of a block on Wikipedia, and outing people is absolutely forbidden. Geogre (talk) 04:38, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Why the hurry?[edit]

The question that is nagging me is why there was such urgency to make the block. Why could it not have been discussed with the blockee first? Why not a "Hey, could you shoot me an e-mail about something private and it's pretty urgent so ASAP please. Thanks." Then wait until the person returns. What was the fear? That the person would suddenly go on a vandalism spree if they found out they were a suspect? It's not even an admin that would have to be emergency desysopped. Discuss the evidence in as civil a manner as possible and determine off-wiki/out of the public light if there is some room for doubt first. To me, this approach would accomplish the same end result without the huge explosion and drama that we're seeing here and would save face on both sides if an error did come to light. —Wknight94 (talk) 15:01, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Apparently her methods and evidence are secret, so for the benefit of all here is a sample. In fact its is a huge chunk of it:

"Here's the sock moving all of Giano's talk archives. No stranger is this much of a good Samaritan."

Now the moves.