Grants talk:TPS/Saintfevrier/Wikimania/2016/Report

Latest comment: 7 years ago by Saintfevrier in topic So long WMF, it was nice meeting you...

The incident at Malpensa Airport


As it has been four days since I have reported the unpleasant incident between myself and User:Geraki at Malpensa Airport when departing from Wikimania 2016, and despite having pinged all three Wikimedians who were present (Geraki, User:Kalliope (WMF) and User:Magioladitis) I have yet to receive a comment or reply, I have no choice but to bring this issue to the attention of the international Wikimedia community and the Wikimedia Foundation. Please read the last paragraph of my report for insight. Stripped of all details - which I would be happy to offer should anyone require more information as to the circumstances - what happened is this:

A well-known Wikimedian and multiple recipient of Scholarships to attend Wikimania, who is also

  • an admin on Greek Wikipedia
  • a Global Renamer on the WM Projects (and perhaps holds even more administrative capacities within the Wikimedia projects that I am not aware of),
  • a founding member of Wikimedia User Group Greece
  • active on the Wikimedia projects since 2003
  • actively engaged in the Wikipedia Education Program by training Greek University students to edit Wikipedia
  • a spokesman for Greek Wikipedia in numerous media channels
  • (and the list goes on)

in the middle of a debate between the two of us and in the presence of the aforementioned two participants (one of whom is a WMF employee) stood up and yelled at me at the top of his voice in front of at least 20 travelers who happened to be at the scene, and who naturally stared at me wondering what was going on.

I have never, ever in my life been treated this way in public.

If - for the Foundation - this is acceptable behavior and no measures need be taken, that's fine with me. Just let me know so I can immediately cut all ties with WMF-related activities. With an anti-harassment Inspire campaign in place on Meta and Friendly Space notices all over the site and the venues, I would have expected at least Kalliope to have taken action right there on the spot to reprimand Geraki for his behavior.

Like I mentioned in the report, the reason it took me so long to report this incident is because I have tried to put it behind me and move on. However this is not possible and I find it very difficult to work every time I try to complete any of my WMF-related obligations or new plans on Meta (i.e. finish up the final report for Wikitherapy or expand the new idea I have registered in IdeaLab).

If this is not the right place to hold this discussion, please advise a public (i.e. on-wiki) space that would be suitable. Pinging more WMF staff into the discussion, will follow up with e-mail notification if necessary. User:EYoung (WMF) User:Mjohnson (WMF) User:Ocaasi (WMF) User:Asaf (WMF) However please note that I wish this issue to be resolved in public, in the same way Geraki's harassment was not a private encounter (you can't get more public than an International Airport). Thank you. --Saintfevrier (talk) 11:44, 22 August 2016 (UTC)Reply

Hello @Saintfevrier: It appears that the mentions were not formatted properly for pings to work; unless a note is signed at the time a "mention" is made, notification does not function. You can read up about this here, for future reference: For that reason I suspect the other people you have mentioned within your report as well as here, in the report's talk page, might have missed the pings too. Another thing to keep in mind is that even though there is no designated cross-project channel to report harassment specifically, the Support & Safety team at the Wikimedia Foundation (that would be reviewing such reports) can always be reached directly. You can find our contact details here: I was made aware of your report only yesterday evening, as I did not receive the pings at all. I will be reading your report and I am sorry for not having done so earlier.Kalliope (WMF) (talk) 07:34, 23 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
@Kalliope (WMF): thank you for the reply and the useful link; you are right, I completely overlooked the fact that I had not signed on the main page of my report and thus the pings indeed were inactive. I apologize for expecting a reply when none of you were aware of the situation (i.e. the four days prior to yesterday). On this page however the tildes were in place from creation of the page so I cannot imagine why the other users have not been alerted: my experience has shown that at least User:Geraki is quick to respond when he is pinged in the way I habitually use on Meta or Outreach. (see his readiness here) In any case, a quick look at the link you supplied gave me another idea and I will straightaway inform Geraki of this thread on his talk page here on Meta. I will also send an email to Support and Safety with the link to this thread (from your writings above I gather that there is no other designated space for such issues), thank you for pointing me in this direction. However I will repeat that this discussion is to be held in public: Geraki made a scene in a busy public space just hours after the closing of the most important annual Wikimedia event. For all I know there could have been many more Wikipedians in the vicinity of the Briciole cafe who viewed or heard him shouting at me; I don't think this is an issue that deserves confidentiality. Thanks for the assistance and looking forward to your comments. --Saintfevrier (talk) 11:04, 23 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
Hello again @Saintfevrier: Following further consideration of the situation and my unique position as a witness to the events, I have come to the conclusion that I am not the best person to lead this discussion on behalf of the WMF. Similar to court cases, one can't be a witness-on-the-stand as well as a judge. As such, I will have to recuse myself from the lead in order to avoid any bias and to best serve all parties involved. My colleague User:Jalexander-WMF will be handling this matter moving forward. This is just a heads up so that you are aware that future communications on the matter will most likely come from him. Kalliope (WMF) (talk) 07:12, 24 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
Hello @Kalliope (WMF):. Thank you for informing me as to how this matter will proceed forward. I understand your decision to recuse yourself from the lead in this discussion; there would however have been no need for the incident to escalate to such heights so as to command a procedure similar to court cases if the issue had been resolved "on the spot" (I do believe you have the authority to intervene when such incidents occur in your presence). In any case, I was recently made aware of this grant proposal and I have added a comment to the Endorsements paragraph. Hopefully you will receive the ping, if not I can communicate this to your talk page (in addition to Marios's and Geraki's). I will wait and see if there are any reactions from the other two Wikimedians - either here or on the Grants section - and will then proceed with other "mention" options, as you advised in your first reply. Thanks again for your prompt and actionable input to this discussion. --Saintfevrier (talk) 09:57, 24 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
Hello, Saintfevrier. I’m truly sorry that you feel I could have resolved the situation on the spot; I’m afraid that while I do have some staff authority to intervene at Wikimedia Foundation-funded events where there are reports or I observe incidents of the kinds of issues described at Friendly_space_policies#Definition_of_harassment, and would do what I can to do so regardless of staff authority wherever I witness harassment, it doesn’t extend to resolving disagreements between two people in public spaces, even when there is shouting.
Replying inline, if you don't mind Kalliope. I have seen the Policies you mentioned and I believe this incident falls under bullet no. 2: as you may recall the three of us (i.e. the three participants who were present throughout the entire conversation, as indeed you did leave for a short while) were seated at the first counter of the bar and the discussion was indeed heated, as I mentioned from the beginning. However Geraki deemed it necessary to stand up and step aside from the counter to shout at me. The way I see it, this was deliberate intimidation. But it may just be that we have a different viewpoint on when a WMF staff member need reprimand an event participant; perhaps it would be better to wait for other WMF staff to comment on this.
I was not present when your conversation with Geraki began, and, as such, I missed a large proportion of what was said between you before the conversation resulted into the raised tones that I did witness upon re-joining you. From my perspective, I saw two people engaging in passionate self defense that became heated. To the best of my memory, those of us who were standing by did encourage the conversation to calm down; in any event, it did calm, Geraki’s tone returned to lower levels and he walked away from you within a few minutes of my rejoining the group, as we made our way to the x-ray control. While I understand that it may have felt frustrating and intimidating to be shouted at and I certainly don’t condone shouting at other people (neither as staff nor in my personal capacity), I did not myself observe harassment that would justify any form of further intervention on my part.
Yes, it did feel frustrating and intimidating, thank you for making the point I mentioned above from Friendly Space policies; I am also glad that you do not condone shouting at other people in any capacity. Harassment it was however: I would accept your account of the situation as being something other than harassment if any one of you or the other participants (who are blatantly absent from this discussion) had registered your objection before I used the term in question to communicate my experience in a number of channels (my Wikimania report main page, this discussion page, email, Geraki's talk page and the Why women don't edit Wikipedia page). We both know how active Geraki is in a multitude of discussion pages on Greek Wikipedia, Meta, Outreach and so on, and how passionately he defend his views. His failure to respond to any of the notifications I have sent can only imply that he has no objection to my calling this an incident of harassment. As for your observation, if feeling intimidated and frustrated by a fellow Wikipedian - as you suspected I felt - does not fall into the "harassment" category, and if you do not condone shouting, I really would like you to indicate a set of circumstances that would command further intervention on your part.
While I realise that our processes may seem unnecessarily judicial to you, even had the disagreement occurred at a Foundation sponsored event where I intervened further, my intervention would not have bypassed the need for a review of the situation by the rest of the Trust & Safety team. Allegations of harassment are serious, and fairness to all parties requires such in-depth review even when initial action is taken. All such allegations are investigated thoroughly. The recusal from lead of staff who are involved in or witness such incidents is common practice, to ensure that the review is fair.
I'm fine with this, thank you for elaborating.
I am confident that the investigation, even if it may seem procedurally complex, is in good hands with James and will be properly conducted to review the matter. Regardless of the outcome, I am very sorry that the incident occurred and that it had affected you in the ways that you mention. One of our goals as a team this year is to work on best practices for de-escalating conflicts at events, and better handling for disagreements that grow too heated is well worth exploring. While conflict is quite probably unavoidable anywhere people of passion and intelligence collaborate, we all want to do what we can to keep disagreements from derailing our mutual goals. Kalliope (WMF) (talk) 07:19, 25 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
One minor correction: the event has affected me in the ways that I mention (present tense). If you have a look at my activity on the WM projects you will see that I am abstaining from anything related to moving my WMF-related projects forward; the tolerance of this incident has really shaken my confidence in the Wikimedia Foundation and if it is not resolved I will never again participate in developing Project Grants, applying for TPS grants whether for Wikimania scholarship or other purposes etc. I'm quite happy with my pure volunteer activity within the community (since 2007), more so after meeting like-minded Wikimedians within the ranks of the Wikimedia Community Schools Association Greece: e.g. please take the time to see the article I wrote about our Bullying and Harassment writing weeks going live today on the country's most widely-read education portal, in perfect timing with the beginning of the school year. Hopefully the Foundation staff appreciates my contribution to the Wikimedia movement and will resolve the issue at hand so that we may all return to pursuing mutual goals. --Saintfevrier (talk) 10:26, 25 August 2016 (UTC)Reply

Following up on your report


Dear Saintfevrier,

Though I've said so live during our Hangout on Friday, I want to say again here that I'm sorry for my slow reply. I didn't became aware of this report until I received an email notification from Asaf on Friday morning. You've been clear how much the encounter at the airport impacted you, and you deserved to have your report acknowledged promptly. I hear how much embarrassment and distress you experienced in the wake of your encounter with Geraki and I regret that you haven't received adequate support. As I communicated on Friday, I'm eager to provide whatever support I can.

I'm concerned to hear that you are questioning whether you still belong in the Wikimedia movement. Your contributions over the years have been so impactful--not just online, but also for the lives of the many individuals who have been touched by your work. You have worked hard to make our projects safe and meaningful places for people to come and contribute. Your departure would be a huge loss under any circumstances, but it would be especially terrible to think of you leaving because you you don't feel you belong. Many people value your presence, and I really hope we can find a way to help restore your sense of safety and belonging.

The Trust and Safety investigation is one aspect of WMF's response to your report, which several of us in the Community Resources Team are following. As I said on Friday, there may be other additional support that would be helpful right now. I hope you will continue to reach out and let us know what you need.

On a different note, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading this report. I appreciated getting to re-experience Wikimania through your eyes, through both your words and your pictures. The picture of you and Jaluj brings back fond memories of our breakfast together the last morning. Speaking of Jaluj, you'll receive a notification, but we've awarded a Rapid Grant to the project that you and Wikitherapy inspired during Wikimania. This is just one of many examples of the impact your participation makes in our movement.  :-)

Thanks for all you do, Saintfevrier!


--Marti (WMF) (talk) 01:36, 12 September 2016 (UTC)Reply

Marti thanks so much for your kind words, and your appreciation of my work. The Wikimedia projects have been an invaluable tool in helping second-chance learners gain confidence and self-respect while adding value to the projects themselves, and my recent efforts in the field of mental health with Wikitherapy have been so tremendously rewarding (like I said in the Hangout, Dimitris is now translating words into 9 (!!!) languages on Greek Wiktionary, Evangelia is still the most active contributor on Greek Wikiquote... and they feel great about it!). Moreover, the projects have served as my "safe haven", my retreat from the serious problems that you know I have to deal with every day in my personal life. Losing this haven would cost me a great deal and I really don't want that to happen, especially now that I have so many exciting new things planned: a group of friends and I are planning a revolutionary social initiative that will bring the Wikitherapy participants and the values that have made the program successful to our local society at large. And of course I am thrilled that Jaluj's grant was approved! She is a passionate Wikimedian and mental health professional and I am sure she will put all her energy and warmth into the project... hopefully we will both be presenting our work in Buenos Aires next year (I think I told you that she has invited me to the psychiatric conference in her city next June). As for the incident: if it has affected my own feelings in such a way, imagine how much worse it would have been if I had had one of my Wikitherapy participants with me (which is not a far-fetched vision: I really do hope to be able to take them with me to a Wikimedia event in the near future). I would never, ever risk the well-being of one of my students or "patients" by exposing them to a WM-related setting that would be anything less than 100% safe. I hope the issue will be resolved in such a manner that I myself will regain my confidence in the WMF procedures, and that such incidents will be prevented in the future. I hope my report has helped in this direction. Thanks again and hope to talk to you again soon:)--Saintfevrier (talk) 13:04, 14 September 2016 (UTC)Reply

So long WMF, it was nice meeting you...


This will be one of my last writings on Meta, and it will be LONG, as it is a farewell: to Wikimania scholarship awards (I've received three), to project grant awards (one), to TPS grants (one, in addition to the three aforementioned). I do not wish to participate in any WMF-funded activities from this point on, and I had made it clear from the beginning of this report that I would have it no other way if the outcome of my public harassment incident was such. As I have made valuable acquaintances and friendships along the road, I feel the need to offer an explanaton.

The verdict is finally out: last night I received an e-mail from James Alexander stating that <quote> At this point we do not believe that there is sufficient evidence of harassment to warrant our taking action against Geraki.</quote>

It took a month and a half of investigation involving witness reports and community feedback (S&S team)... hours of work writing emails, online reports and replying to comments (myself)... tens of consoling adjectives from S&S describing how they perceived my feelings (bold and italics my own)...:

  • User:Kalliope (WMF) said she doesn't condone shouting in any capacity, and that I must have felt frustrated and intimidated.
  • User:Kbrown (WMF) said it must have been stressful.
  • And as User:Jalexander-WMF was the officer in charge of the investigation after Kalliope recused herself from the lead, I have no choice but to quote his words in his final email to me (I'm afraid you can't have it both ways: Kalliope likened the investigation to a court procedure. To the best of my knowledge court rulings are made publicly available)

I know that this outcome may not be what you wanted or expected. Please know that it is not because we don't take your concerns seriously. It is not a declaration that no harassment existed. We must assess complaints based on the evidence that we are able to evaluate, and our policies require quite strong evidence for us to affirm harassment and act. Because of that we consider the case on our side closed for now. I know that doesn't change what you felt then or now, and I can't stress enough my respect for that. The confrontation between Geraki and you in the airport was undoubtedly highly distressing. Incidents like this can be incredibly painful no matter how they end, and I do not imagine that pain will disappear quickly after this email. I do hope that you'll choose to continue being an active member of the Greek Wikimedia community (both on and offline), because it would be significantly worse without you.

... to conclude that despite all the semantics of harassment being in place, no need for action is warranted.

Honestly, I rest my case.

Don't worry about me: I'll be fine.

My very first edit on Meta was on 27 September 2011 (ironically supporting a now member of WMUG Greece in his Steward vote), four and a half years after my first edit on Greek Wikipedia on 8 February 2007. Here is what I accomplished over the course of those four and a half years:

  • completed my first Wikipedia Education Project in April 2007 at a time when the WEP didn't even exist (and we presented our project at a Research Institute on the Patras University campus);
  • completed my second Wikipedia Education Project in May 2010 when the Wikipedia Education Program was still unheard of in Greece (and we presented our project at a national conference in Athens Concert Hall: pg. 17, first session);
  • won first prize at a European STEM conference in Brussels with my Wikipedia-themed poster in May 2011;
  • earned a scholarship to attend Wikimania 2011 in Haifa (I timely informed the committee that I would not be able to attend and I believe the scholarship was awarded to someone else);
  • presented a Wikipedia workshop to European educators in Prague in August 2011.

Not bad for a "renegade" Wikipedian and dedicated educator, I think you will all agree.

Then among other things I started engaging in Wikipedia Community activities while continuing Wikimedia projects in my classes, posted on the WMF blog, earned a scholarship for (and attended) Wikimania 2015, earned a TPS grant, an IEG grant and a a scholarship for (and attended) Wikimania 2016. Retrospectively. I was very happy with my involvement in WMF-related and funded activities, as it gave me the opportunity to further expand the reach of my projects (i.e. The Wikiquote at the Hospital grant awarded to my dear friend Andrea whom I met in Esino Lario and who was ecstatic to hear about the work I had already done with my Wikitherapy participants). Up until my confrontation with Geraki at Malpensa.

Dear Geraki: hope you are happy with the result of the investigation. I - on the other hand - am happy that you didn't ruin my memories of Mexico City: my last impression of Milan is quite easy to remedy. At the first opportunity I will hop on to a plane and wander through Malpensa, seeping in good memories to replace your shouting. It wouldn't have been easy to change my memories of Mexico: I am grateful for being wise enough not to confront you then. I never, ever want to see you or talk to you again. I never, ever want my Wikitherapy participants - my Wiktionarian is now translating in 12 languages and my Wikiquote enthusiast is the sole most active contributor on Greek Wikiquote for all of 2016 to this day - to be anywhere near you. If we ever - on non-WMF resources - venture out to a Wikimedia event, I will stand over them like a watchdog as I no longer have any confidence in "Friendly Spaces Policies", "Community Health" or other campaigns of the like being run by the Wikimedia Foundation.

It would have been very easy for all of this not to have happened: I can handle a heated debate, whether in person or online. I cannot handle someone stepping aside from the table and raising his voice to SHOUT at me so that the whole airport can hear him. Kalliope as a WMF employee could have stepped in to stop the SHOUTING on the spot; she didn't. Marios could have intervened as a mutual friend to stop the shouting on the spot; he didn't. I would have accepted a sincere apology from you either in person or online after the shouting; you didn't offer one. I was willing to discuss the issue online after I reported the incident and pinged you online a zillion times; you never appeared. You deemed it necessary to appear only after I added a comment to Marios's grant proposal, and then only to accuse me of carefully planning my harassment report to attack your User Group's grant. As you can see, your grant was funded; I, on the other hand, remaining true to my principles, risk not attending Wikimania 2017 or presenting Wikitherapy in Buenos Aires in June 2017 if I don't find alternative funding to cover my expenses. I refuse to attend either event on WMF funds (so much for scheming...). And Wikimania 2017 is particularly important for me: I was born in Montreal in 1967, the year Expo 67 - the most succesful World's Fair of the 20th century - was held in the city. Fifty years later, attending Wikimania 2017 in Montreal would be a milestone for me. It remains to be seen whether I will be able to make it there (fortunately I have relatives in Montreal so accommodation is not an issue). Moreover, I have already sent the title of my presentation to Andrea so that she may include it in the Argentinian conference program. A TPS would probably leave both myself and the Foundation happy, as it is remarkable that the innovative concept behind a minor Wikimedia project that started in a small town on a Greek island has now made its way across the Atlantic to a South American hospital, and there is a community of mental health professionals eager to learn more about it. If I applied for a grant I would most likely get it; "not gonna happen". If I make it there it will be solely on non-WMF resources.

I need to get back to my pressing daily problems (FYI Geraki, one of the reasons I didn't file the complaint right after I returned to Greece is because i had serious family problems to attend to: I didn't want to get into details but since you have accused me of scheming, please be aware that I spent all of July and the greater part of August dealing with neighbors complaining to the police about my sister's shouting, both in Athens at the center she stayed at so I could attend Wikimania, and twice here at home. Only her shouting is involuntary: she acquired memory and behavioral disorders after sustaining serious anoxic brain injury by malpractice at the birth of her second child).

Please be aware that I intend to communicate the link to this page to whomever I deem needs cognizance of the situation.

Before closing, a big "thank you" to Marti for being the only WMF employee to fully understand where I am coming from and publicly support me both here and on the "Why Women Don't Edit Wikipedia" Grant. Marti, now that I know where I stand in relation to WMF procedures, I need to finish up my Wikitherapy final report. I'll get in touch so we can schedule a meeting.

And one last thing: here is an example - in different context but strikingly similar in circumstance - of how harassment is fixed ON THE SPOT. If more corporations worked in this manner the world would be a better - and safer - place.

Mina Theofilatou, Argostoli, Kefalonia Greece--Saintfevrier (talk) 11:34, 14 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

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