Community Wishlist Survey 2021/Anti-harassment/UserBlind mode

◄ Back to Anti-harassment  The survey has concluded. Here are the results!


  • Problem: Certain discussions, particularly those dealing with individual user conduct issues, are difficult to participate in in an unbiased manner and without generating side-effects like occasional animosity between editors. The fact that users know that particular other users have passed negative judgement on them can make it difficult for those users to work together in the future. The concern over this can also cause people to avoid dealing with conduct issues entirely.
  • Who would benefit: All contributors, but more directly those dealing with reports of conduct issues (including Arbitration Committees and users active in fora like enwiki's ANI, AE, etc). Also contributors to wikis with "unblockable" users which the community has difficulty fairly judging.
  • Proposed solution: A [selectable] "UserBlind" mode, in which [for you only] all visible usernames would replaced by tokens, eg "[USER #23]", effectively anonymizing other users while the mode is enabled. This would allow fair assessments of conduct reports in a impersonal manner. Not only would the person passing judgement on the actions not know whose actions they are (thus evading bias), the person whose actions are being judged would not have reason to think that the commenting user has anything against them in particular, thus avoiding inter-user tension.
  • More comments: Links: Proof of concept, VPM post
  • Phabricator tickets:
  • Proposer: Yair rand (talk) 05:51, 30 November 2020 (UTC)

Discussion

  • @Yair rand: - how would individuals handle verifying evidence and doing further investigation with this process? Neither AN or ArbCom can function like judges where evidence is just provided - it needs to be cross-checked (in ANI, the closer doesn't do investigation, but everyone else participating would follow it down the rabbit hole). Additionally, when I'm reviewing people for certain roles, such as at RfA, then I need to be able to review their ANI participation to know the quality of their judgement. Nosebagbear (talk) 16:02, 2 December 2020 (UTC)
    • Nosebagbear, when you need to see the usernames, then you just turn the system off. This is a user preference/user script thing, not a permanent change to the underlying software. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:54, 14 December 2020 (UTC)

Jo-Jo Eumerus, MarioSuperstar77, Braveheidi, Firestar464, Tyrekecorrea, KlauRau, Lollipoplollipoplollipop, I-Bin-A-Bibi, The Hand That Feeds You, WikiFer, valepert, Gereon K., Lostinlodos, SarahSV, Klaas, Shushugah, HAL333, I am concerned that you might not understand what you've voted against, so here's my attempt at an explanation. If you had a significantly different idea, then you might want to remove your comment ('oppose votes' aren't counted anyway).

Current situation:

  • The policy says you are supposed to w:en:Wikipedia:Comment on content, not on the contributor.
  • Some editors find it difficult to follow the policy if they can see who said what. Instead, they find themselves evaluating comments based on the reputation of the editor who posted them. For example, if there's a snarky comment, but you see that "I" posted it, then you just know that it was kindly meant or at least not meant to be mean-spirited, but if That Other Editor posted the same words, then you know that it's terrible behavior.

Proposal:

  • Do not change anything whatsoever about your own editing or what you can see in the page history.
  • Do not change anything whatsoever about what's stored in the database. Every edit gets recorded with each editor's permanent username.
  • Offer, as an option, for people who happen to recognize that they're interpreting comments in certain ways, or voting in RFCs (and maybe even in this wishlist proposal) on the basis of "who" said something, rather than focusing on "what" the editor said, a button that would replace all the usernames on their screens only, and not affecting anyone else at all with a number.
    • Set this up so that it's easy to tell which comments on the same page came from the same editor (e.g., every comment from the first editor named on that page is from "User 1", every comment from the second editor named on that page is from "User 2", etc.).
    • Set this up so you can turn it on or off whenever you want.

I see in the oppose votes below that there are a lot of IMO misplaced concerns about transparency and conflicts of interest. What I don't see is any explanation of how transparency suffers by simply not requiring me to see your username at the end of your comments. Nobody's being prevented from seeing the usernames; the proposal here is merely to stop forcing me to see your lovely usernames if (and only if) I don't happen to want to see them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:19, 14 December 2020 (UTC)

WhatamIdoing, there's no benefit in cutting myself off from "this user who is proposing A is the same as the user who proposed the very damaging B last week, so I need to look closely at all this person's ideas." How is this proposal related to anti-harassment, by the way? SarahSV talk 23:08, 14 December 2020 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, is there any benefit in you requiring all editors to see everyone's usernames? Some people think there is a moral imperative to ignore an editor's reputation. They could choose to use this feature; you could choose not to. You said that letting people voluntarily choose not to display usernames on their own screens would reduce transparency. That's not the same as just saying that you wouldn't choose to use it yourself.
(I assume that this is in anti-harassment because not knowing editors' identities means that jerks won't know who's female. The "r u female?" jerks didn't cease to exist when AOL chat rooms died, and some communities have a fairly significant problem that way.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:42, 15 December 2020 (UTC)
WAID, there is a script that does this at de:Benutzer:Martin Kraft/hideUserComments.js. If it's voluntary, the jerks will see the names. I can't think of a way this would help anti-harassment. As for reducing transparency, will this remove names and histories? Because if you click on a user name, you'll see the other issues that person has commented on, and it will often become clear who they are. SarahSV talk 06:48, 16 December 2020 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I didn't realize there was a script for enwiki too. Why does it need help from the WMF if we can already do it? SarahSV talk 06:51, 16 December 2020 (UTC)
I suspect few people would opt in to this and leave it on for themselves wiki-wide, especially if they perceive that nobody else is doing so. An interesting variation would be to mark specific pages with a keyword that turns on BlindMode by default, with a button for the user to unblind at will. (Button could toggle off-on-off, save state in a session cookie so that it works for anons as well as logged-in users.) Pelagic (talk) 02:44, 16 December 2020 (UTC)
If a person clicks Edit, will the names still be aliased? Then they would need to be translated back on publish/save/commit. It would be hard to catch instances where people mention others by name in plain-text without wikilinking, doubly-so if the mention isn't their exact username, like this: Yair, WAID, SarahSV. Still, I guess you could start with the easiest case (sigs, read mode only) then progress to the harder ones (mentions, editing). Pelagic (talk) 02:44, 16 December 2020 (UTC)
If I reply to or @-mention "User24" and it turns out to be "User:WhoImInteractionBannedWith" is that going to go badly for me? How would I prove that I'm interacting blindly with them? What if I criticise a bunch of different User65, User31, etc. across multiple pages and it turns out to be the same person, then I get accused of harassment and stalking? Pelagic (talk) 02:44, 16 December 2020 (UTC)

Voting

  •   Support ValeJappo【〒】 18:33, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose It is often important to know who is commenting on an user conduct dispute - there are users who either can be trusted in their comments and those which can't. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk, contributions) 18:50, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
    @Jo-Jo Eumerus: I'm sorry, I think you (and maybe some others here) may have misunderstood the proposal. The proposal is for a mode that users could enable, so they could look at a page without seeing the names behind the actions/comments, when this would be helpful. In situations where it would be counterproductive, it could just be not used. --Yair rand (talk) 21:46, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
    Perhaps, but I still don't think it's a good idea - it sounds like we'd be enabling folks who want to be careless. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk, contributions) 10:45, 15 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose MarioSuperstar77 (talk) 19:31, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support _ I use this already as script and it is truely a benefit for my work. -- Marcus Cyron (talk) 19:39, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support I have positively contributed in the past, only to see my contributions removed by previous editors of the page I was seeking to improve. They acted as if they "owned" the page and dismissed my arguments. I gave up because I'm too busy with other things in my life than editing Wikipedia. Too bad, as I am an expert in the area I was trying to improve. Cerniagigante (talk) 19:57, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose I don't think this would be a useful tool. It's likely to lead to further distrust among the community. Plus when a strong conflict emerges, many people are aware of who is defending which position. Everyone will be guessing who is under user1 and so forth. --Braveheidi (talk) 20:30, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose Suitable as a user script, you can choose, but don't promote it.--YFdyh000 (talk) 23:23, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Editor760 (talk) 23:28, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support UncleMartin (talk) 01:30, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support --Ciao • Bestoernesto 02:00, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support AnotherOnymous (talk) 03:13, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose per Braveheidi and Jo-Jo Eumerus. Firestar464 (talk) 05:04, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Yair rand's reply to Jo-Jo Eumerus is key to me, this could be a optional valuable tool. —The Editor's Apprentice (talk) 06:14, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose I don't think I know when to use that feature. Users will see the comments before they use the feature. To prevent that, you have to enable the feature by default. But it is dangerous to show all comments anonymously by default. Because malicious users may also comment. --Tmv (talk) 08:16, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose One of the main values of Wikipedia is its transparency, with the trade-offs that this might imply. Replacing users by tokens distort the traceability of edits and other problems or conducts (e.g. vandalisms, corporate edits, etc.). For anonymity the basic option of creating a nickname already exists. Xavi Dengra (MESSAGES) 10:59, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose We don't need this. There are better things to do and Wikipedia is an open project. If somebody doesn't want to contribute, they don't have to. --Ján Kepler (talk) 14:19, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose --Олександр Кравчук (talk) 16:44, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose The thing is that part of this is about connecting with people, and if people don't have any idea at all who's who, they can't make the connections between people which make Wikimedia work in the first place. Tyrekecorrea (talk) 19:14, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   SupportWinnerWolf99 talkWhat did I break now? 20:04, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose there's already enough going on with users hiding behind IPs etc. therefore no tool to make it even easier close to default to avoid transparency--KlauRau (talk) 20:29, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support 4thfile4thrank (talk) 04:16, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Weak oppose // Lollipoplollipoplollipop :: talk 05:41, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose Per Xavi Dengra I-Bin-A-Bibi (talk) 14:43, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
    •   Oppose Thanks for the explanation, but I understood quite well what this proposal is about. We already have a certain level of anonymity within Wikipedia, and frankly this issue has nothing to do with the tools at one's disposition, but with the ability of not looking for drama. I-Bin-A-Bibi (talk) 20:23, 14 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Lvova (talk) 15:22, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose While I understand the sentiment behind this, it would only be useful in a very narrow set of circumstances. Otherwise, it's better to have people posting under their own usernames, because patterns emerge from user behavior. Plus, obfuscated usernames will become a problem when UserX shows up in a discussion as User#22, but everyone can tell it's them due to their argument and/or writing style. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 17:08, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
    • ('oppose votes' aren't counted anyway)
    • That's an odd statement to make. If you mean "this is not a vote," that's already understood. We are airing our reasons for not supporting this measure.
    • To that end, since this is apparently optional for each user, I still oppose this feature. Individuals who wish to avoid letting the identity of an editor bias their opinions should... work on doing that themselves. It's a social issue, not a technical one, and a technical solution will not help. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 20:12, 14 December 2020 (UTC)
      User:HandThatFeeds, the wishlist has always operated on approval voting. Oppose votes are not counted. Only the raw number of support votes matter. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:43, 15 December 2020 (UTC)
      That... makes no sense whatsoever, so I'm hoping a better explanation is available. Because if Oppose votes are not counted. Only the raw number of support votes matter. then a proposal which has a single Support vote and twenty Oppose votes... gets passed & implemented. What am I missing here? — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 13:32, 15 December 2020 (UTC)
      HandThatFeeds, the wishlist is a ranking system. A proposal that gets a single Support vote will be so far down the list that it has no chance of getting CommTech's time assigned to it. This wish ended up as #135 on the list, with 22 support votes, neighbor to wishes such as Community Wishlist Survey 2021/Mobile and apps/Welcome page on mobile app should respect dark mode setting, which got 22 support votes and no opposition.
      In practice, only the top handful of wishes will be implemented (unless someone was planning to implement those independently anyway). Looking at the results, if they try to fully implement the top item, then they won't even make it to wish #2 next year. Wish #4 and #6, if fully implemented, are also potentially whole-team-whole-year Wish #135 has no hope at all. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:32, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
      Thank you for the explanation. Seems an odd way of deciding what gets made, but at least the format makes more sense. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 16:58, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose I imagine that it is not by transforming the account name as anonymous that it will resolve the judgment of accounts with serious cases of conduct. I believe that whoever is part of the Arbitration Committee, of the members of the administration, should be responsible for carrying out all evaluations based on the project's policies and all of them were elected for this. Therefore, hiding the name for anonymity would only bring more problems, especially for those being accused, not even being able to find out if the user is really part of the team of evaluators. WikiFer msg 22:08, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Strong support, particularization, animosity, personal attacks, are bad counselors and not based in justice. BoldLuis (talk) 09:30, 11 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose valepert (talk) 12:25, 11 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support ArnabSaha (talk) 15:16, 11 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose Seems to be in contradiction to transparency and openness. --Gereon K. (talk) 17:23, 11 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose let’s not give bullies another cloak to hide behind. Lostinlodos (talk) 22:40, 11 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose We need transparency when discussing user conduct, which can have serious implications for the person being discussed. SarahSV talk 04:44, 12 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Neutrality extends to not prejudicing users against each other. Ingeborg S. Nordén (talk) 06:40, 12 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose If someone wants to discuss anonymously just logout and use your IP-address Klaas `Z4␟` V:  13:40, 12 December 2020 (UTC)
    • @Klaas van Buiten: Using the mode hides others' names from oneself, not one's own name from others... --Yair rand (talk) 02:49, 14 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support I have been blocked before because of Administrators opinions. Turns out, the user I had serious issues with was, as I had suspected, a serial sockpuppet Wikipedia user with a string of aliases- neutrality is of the utmost importance Melroross (talk) 16:35, 12 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support  ⎛⎝Grzegorz Wysocki⎠⎞  14:09, 13 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose This may lead to situations of inadvertent conflict of interest. There are simpler alternatives for this script side or even using logged out IP address if temporary anonymity is the goal Shushugah (talk) 19:33, 13 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose This would limit transparency.HAL333 (talk) 21:15, 13 December 2020 (UTC)
    HAL333, how does an optional and reversible system "limit transparency"? Everyone's usernames are still recorded in the database. Anyone can see them at any time. The point of the proposal is that you are not forced to see other editors' usernames when you don't want to. Some people find that it's easier to "Comment on the content, not the contributor" when they don't know who the contributors are. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:57, 14 December 2020 (UTC)
    WhatamIdoingI get that, I am concerned with the case where a genuine blind peer mode occurs, however the people involved have COI in whatever contexts, and such COI will be dismissed because user claims to have done a blind peer recommendation. Shushugah (talk) 22:10, 14 December 2020 (UTC)
    I don't think this proposal is for a genuine blind peer mode. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:49, 15 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:54, 14 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support good idea Medea7 (talk) 22:13, 14 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose See comment no. 4: this already exists in user-side script form, so the devs have no reason to spend resources reinventing this wheel.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  04:57, 15 December 2020 (UTC)
  • Not sure I support the proposal at this stage, but very strongly support further discussion and development of the core idea. Better have a good understanding of all possible implications before designing this. I believe it could eventually become a very positive tool for Wiki communication. --Joalbertine (talk) 09:22, 15 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose I feel that transparency and responsibility are a cornerstones of Wiki.--Lighter (talk) 11:54, 15 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose It could foster anonymous harassment. Golmore (talk) 17:34, 15 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Weak support Intriguing idea, but might need to carefully consider the implications. Pelagic (talk) 02:52, 16 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Okimeolvx (talk) 12:31, 19 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose I do not instigate or (rarely, if ever) participate in Wiki dramas, but sometimes I needed to dig into wiki archives, including checking the full history of renamed or pseudo-vanished accounts, even resorting to external web archives (only "legit" ones, no wiki-crazies), to understand what it was all about, that is who is/was/will likely be who, to understand the what, where and whys. Most often, such "drama" accounts are subsequently globally banned after many years of wikilawyering, secret socking (and much worse) and winning individual admin BATTLEs for long-term POV pushing. Each of us has an agenda (see the essay), and the most obnoxious "dramatists" among us are the ones who claim that that we are free of it, cause we "fight for TRUTH". Thus no: the present system is too "sclerotic"/forgiving/idealistic enough, and I claim so as a (happily) indeffed user myself :) Zezen (talk) 19:33, 19 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Of course, in most cases you do want to see who's commented and this proposal will do nothing to take away your ability to do so. It's an optional gadget that you can just turn on. There are definitely cases where it will be beneficial to have it turned on (I certainly would!), and this won't affect anyone who doesn't want to use it. Uanfala (talk) 21:07, 19 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose If you think your comment is okay, you should not care about your name being published. Right? WikiAviator (talk) 11:15, 20 December 2020 (UTC)
    Your name would still be published. This proposal is "If you think you are fair and unbiased, and not just supporting a comment because you know it was written by an admin, then you should not care whether you know who posted which comment. Right?" WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:35, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
  •   Oppose Nachtbold (talk) 11:57, 21 December 2020 (UTC)