Talk:Office actions/September 2021 statement

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Follow-up to statement: a mini FAQEdit

Hello, all.

I am writing to provide you with updates and answers to at least some of the questions that have been raised about the above statement on Wikimedia-L, here, and elsewhere.

I am still working to get an office hour coordinated, but will do so as soon as possible.

Before I do, I would like to apologize that the translation into Chinese that we sourced was not adequate. I am very grateful to the community members who helped provide a better translation for our Chinese communities. We are working to add more Chinese language capacity to our team and hope to do better in future.

Extended content

When was the Foundation aware of this risk and how long has this lasted?Edit

While we have received related questions, complaints, and concerns from other volunteers dating back to at least 2017, we have been investigating these concerns very seriously for nearly a year, as it became obvious that some early interventions by community members were not going to resolve the issue safely.

What is the connection between the NDA Policy Change and the recent Office Actions?Edit

The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) policy adjustment suspended recognition of NDAs from volunteer applicants who live in jurisdictions that have blocked access to Wikimedia projects and where there was reason to believe that the domicile associated with the user accounts were known to others than the individual applicant(s) and the Foundation. This was necessitated by recent world events triggered by credible information about a more focused security threat to the Wikimedia community that placed multiple volunteers at risk.

The security risk related to information about infiltration of Wikimedia systems, including positions with access to personally identifiable information and elected bodies of influence. This meant that we could not pre-announce our action, without fear of triggering the risk to which we had been alerted. We restricted access to these tools immediately in the jurisdictions of concern, while working with impacted users to determine if the risk applied to them. This is because not all individuals whose access was restricted by that policy change, had bad intent.

The policy change was a first step to address the immediate needs of keeping the community safe. The second step was to get in touch with the impacted users and to work with the Stewards to enact the preferences expressed by impacted accounts in response to individual non-public outreach.

Only after this immediate step to close this security gap was complete did we commence to conclude the investigations into individual community members who may have been involved. The two actions are related in many ways, but not in every point. The Chinese investigation precedes that security risk review and response and does have issues that go beyond it.

Has private information of community members been exposed?Edit

We have no evidence that any technical breach occurred. The first action on changing the NDA policy was intended to prevent technical access to private information about other users by those who could be easily identified, located, and exploited whether by state actors or others with an interest in controlling information. Since our software tracks when such information is accessed, we do not have any reason to believe that this information was accessed in such a manner. There is always a question of how much information volunteers release themselves to other volunteers, including over private email and in meet-ups. I wish we lived in a world where everyone could be taken at face value and good intentions trusted, but while “assume good faith” is a key approach to working in Wikimedia communities, it does not and should not immediately extend to sharing personal information. In the near future, I hope we will be able to increase our collective work towards helping people better understand the risks of what they share and with whom and how to manage their private information safely in a digital environment. In the meantime, I would encourage every Wikimedian who is concerned about their own security to drop by the Voices Under Threat page on Meta: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Voices_under_Threat. This page collects some resources that may help.

Is the community allowed to hold RfAs for those removed of their advanced rights? Is reformation of the RfA system required (compulsory) for holding future RFAs, including or at least for those who were desysopped?Edit

The individual desyoppings took place for a number of reasons, including evidence of biased elections where individuals were pressured (sometimes with off-wiki threats on QQ and other platforms) to vote as they did and evidence of misuse of administrative tools to support the aims and activities of some of the banned members of the group. Activities include doxing, harassment, sharing accounts, and off-wiki coordination. However, it is not always clear how much these individuals knew or understood about what some of the members of that group were doing, and the Foundation does not object under the Secondary Office Actions provision of the Office Action Policy, on removal of advanced rights, to the community determining to fairly re-elect them. Considering that evidence evaluated of the groups’ activities includes physical coercion of volunteers who opposed the group, we do believe it would be better for the community to reform the RfA system first, but in the meantime we are prepared to support by reviewing any such elections against the patterns observed in prior elections.

Were users affected by the NDA policy change ultimately able to recover their accounts?Edit

Yes, although I am not sure if that process is fully complete. Given the nature of the threat, we felt it best secured the safety of the communities and the users themselves to shut down their access on the server-side while we contacted them individually. All users were offered the option to remove their access on their own accord, and some did so. Some users wished to request an appeal of the revocation of their NDA, and our Legal staff have been reviewing those appeals with the support of Trust & Safety to determine if higher levels of access could be restored. User accounts have been unlocked as their access has been formally withdrawn (either through self-request or Foundation process) or as their NDA appeal has been successful.

In anticipation of the question, we do not intend to name the users whose appeals were successful. Doing so could increase the jeopardy of these individuals. They are welcome, of course, to identify themselves, but I would encourage them to consider whether they can do so safely, based on their own risk profiles.

I am also not going to discuss the individuals whose access was removed by the NDA policy change except to note that their removal is not under a cloud.

The WMCUG still hosts public events, including editathons and news services as some globally banned user(s) are currently in control of WMCUG along with off-site social media platforms like QQ text channels. Should these organizations be removed from on-site exposure as long as they are still in control of such users to comply with global bans?Edit

This is a hard question, and I suspect I will not answer it perfectly. The Foundation has engaged in trust & safety activities for years, not all of which receive universal community support. Some do; some are very controversial. Years ago, in the face of a ban that was controversial in one community, the Foundation adopted a policy that users who edit by “proxy” on behalf of Foundation banned accounts may also be banned. Typically, we try to warn people, but it depends on the risks inherent in the situation at hand.

It is not our current intention to eliminate the on-site page for WMCUG, although I do believe that it will be necessary for us to consider as a movement some of the hard questions around the formation of informal groups. These are allowed, and in my opinion that is a very good idea. It lowers the barrier to participation and organization. It can, however, raise concerns about misuse if such an informal group uses Wikimedia’s sites to suggest to others that they are recognized and authorized in ways they are not.

It is our hope that the remaining editors of WMCUG, including those warned, will take heed of this action and reconsider how they work with others in our communities collaboratively. In some cases, we believe some users may not have been fully aware of what was going on. I strongly suspect that some users may need a period of time to reflect on these actions and determine how they can best move forward with the goals of the movement without the problems of the past.

As to the user group pages, we will continue to watch the ones on our sites to understand if action is necessary if they seem to misrepresent their affiliation or to be proxying for banned users.

As a final note, I want to say that I do my best to answer even very hard questions as candidly as I possibly can. In preparing these answers, I have been working to blend speed and transparency with accuracy, without waiting for input from every possible stakeholder. I have invited involved staff to review and correct me after posting, in case there is any error, but I believe that my answers are all correct.

I am committed to continuing to answer questions. I have said in many forums in the past few years that I will not respond to comments or questions that are disrespectful to me, to my colleagues, or to anyone in our communities. I can talk civilly about our work even if people disagree with me or I disagree with them. I will not answer loaded questions. I do not expect people to bury hard questions under flowery words, but I also do not believe it is a productive use of my time or the community’s at large to tacitly endorse or engage in such tactics.

I recommend placing further questions here on the talk page of this page, using the current Wikimedia-l thread, or (if you desire less public exposure) emailing them to ca@wikimedia.org, which is monitored by our Trust & Safety team. If you use “September statement” in your subject it will help ensure that it is correctly brought to my attention.

Thanks.
Maggie
--Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:16, 14 September 2021 (UTC)

Thank you for the FAQ, it's very informative. Two questions:
  • Were the reasons for all seven bans "conventional" reasons (eg, threats of violence or other serious actions of types that the community has accepted as belonging to T&S)?
  • Does the WMF believe that some/many of the involved contributors have been acting as agents of the Chinese government?
(I fully understand if you won't be able to answer one or both of them, given the context.) Thanks. --Yair rand (talk) 20:53, 14 September 2021 (UTC)
Has WMF considered the associated chilling effect? Does it mean any editors with China friendly views will be seen as a proxy of WMCUG and be banned?--161.129.46.113 00:40, 15 September 2021 (UTC)
Hello Maggie, and thank you for your FAQ. Our local community noticed that an 8th user, User:玄客, has been WMF-banned without announcement. We investigated their edit pattern, and found no connection with the other seven announced ones. Would you please explain why this user was banned (i.e whose sock/provy they are)? Thanks. Itcfangye (talk) 01:56, 15 September 2021 (UTC)
An article roughly entitled as "Wikipedia bans 19 infiltrating users from China; Facebook should learn from this" appearing on newtalk.tw, among similar headlines elsewhere. [1][2][3][4][5][6] Ramification effect on Wikipedia's reputation and accountability in promoting communication and understanding probably needs to be watched. --Zhenqinli (talk) 03:50, 15 September 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the FAQ. WMCUG should respect the wills of the HK/TW people who don't share their political agenda in kowtowing to the Chinese communist party. They shouldn't threanten people with violence or rat people out under the National Security Law, unless those people also threaten violence. They need to be way less nationalistic in their pursuit/"struggle." In the meantime, I do think some of their grievances in their response should be addressed and evidence be shown. The foundation should definitely support people living in China who want to edit but can't, and thus have to rely on Baidu Baike. Not everyone can afford to come out of China and enjoy freedom. WMF's inaction will not convince the CCP to lift the ban. So why not just become an advocate for democracy? Finally, Wikipedia itself should reverse from being "not a democracy" per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:What_Wikipedia_is_not#Wikipedia_is_not_a_democracy. That's all I have to say as a member of the Chinese diaspora. Supermann (talk) 05:34, 15 September 2021 (UTC)
I do not believe that the "not a democracy" statement has much to do with WMF's political standing (or the lack thereof); it is more about the way Wikipedia is run. --125.59.232.45 07:40, 19 September 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the FAQ. My main question is can you provide some information to substantiate these actions? Or perhaps provide some contexts? Currently there have not been much information around to support these actions, and I believe it would provide valuable grounding to the rationale behind this September statement. Without them, actions against these users seems not reasonable and may further fuel the already existing outside political conflicts surrounding Chinese users and users from other regions, which does not belong in an environment of free knowledge. This also does not help the Chinese community, since this action can easily be painted with the light of another round of political grandstanding, which is all too often very biased. WMF should take into actions to help increase the exposure and accessibility for this under-served community, not to suppress it, if Wikipedia is to continue as a platform for free knowledge. OdyU (talk) 05:05, 15 September 2021 (UTC)
Hello @Mdennis (WMF), I think there's no longer having any reason to setup such a public discussion page on Meta-Wiki, as zhwiki already setup it: zh:WP:OA2021. Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 14:10, 15 September 2021 (UTC)
zh:WP:OA2021 is for zhwiki community discussion, not for the global community. Since "this case is unprecedented in scope and nature", set-up a public discussion page in meta-wiki for global community is necessary. SCP-2000 14:26, 15 September 2021 (UTC)
I second SCP-2000's request. Setting up a global discussion would help clarify what this is about to both people from other projects and the media by letting them know what Chinese Wikipedians have been talking about. --125.59.232.45 07:40, 19 September 2021 (UTC)

Mini Faq #2Edit

Hello, all.

I am back to answer some more questions. I will note that my time to do this over the next couple of days will be challenged - I may not be able to respond in-depth unless something is urgent due to a planned medical outage. Nothing serious and that feels a little bit personal to say, but I didn’t want you all to think I was dropping this to traipse off on vacation. I will be able to check in but will have to prioritize my working time according to what is most urgent when I’m available, which may not be immediate communications.

That said, I do have some answers to newer questions.

Extended content

Were the reasons for all seven bans "conventional" reasons (eg, threats of violence or other serious actions of types that the community has accepted as belonging to T&S)?Edit

First, Yair, I’m grateful for your recognition that I probably can’t answer these questions as fully as you would like. :) That you asked allows me to explain why. When we talk about Office Actions, there are a number of factors we have to balance. There is safety to the victims. If by discussing the cause of an action we make it easy to identify a victim of threats, doxing, harassment or other causes, we can compound any harm they’ve suffered. There is the need to reassure communities that we have made a decision for valid cause. We want people to feel safe on Wikimedia, including safe from some distant authority who may swoop in out of the blue and take unfair action. As a human living in the human world where authorities’ actions do not always seem just to me, I completely understand how important that trust is to maintain. There is also a need to avoid inflicting harm to the people who have been sanctioned. This one is complex, but it arises from multiple factors. Any team on which I myself have direct influence will never forget that everyone involved in these cases is a person, deserving of basic human dignity. I believe that the of living persons resolution should in principle apply even to Foundation banned individuals. We are not, after all, a court of law. We do have a legal authority to ban individuals from participating in our projects and, in my not humble opinion, a moral duty to do so when the community needs us to. That can happen when situations are too dangerous for communities to intervene or when situations are more complex than a local community has systems to resolve. (If a global body is created as part of UCoC enforcement, I hope to have community partners on that side of things.) Not being a court of law increases some of our challenges. We do not have the ability to compel evidence; to protect complainants, witnesses, or ‘juries’ (to use a metaphor) from coercion or retaliation; or to protect those who are complained against from vigilante justice (to stick with the same metaphor). Socially speaking, calling people out for bad behavior is a powerful tool to help avoid bad behavior, but it is also a very dangerous one. What we say about people’s behavior on our projects can follow them forever, even if they are young, even if they were going through a hard time, even if they were frustrated, and even if they correct their behaviors in the future. (I found So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed a really thought-provoking read, even if not a handbook for how to do this better.)

One of the reasons I requested to speak far more publicly about this case than we are usually able to do (under legal guidance from a firm who advised the Foundation, not the Foundation’s attorneys themselves) was because this case involves enough people and distributed enough activities that I hoped to be able to generalize somewhat without pointing too firmly at any one person. That said, I am going to go out on a limb and say that I have full confidence that all individuals who were banned were banned for the kinds of behavior that communities (including English) widely regard as within the Foundation’s remit. The case file was reviewed by two of the Foundation’s attorneys and the bans have been marked as “unappealable.” This is because they fall into this categorization: “Excluded cases are those conducted because of statutory, regulatory, employment, or legal policies as defined by Foundation attorneys.” I did not mention “physical harm” lightly. This is something that we see very rarely in Trust & Safety, but it is always serious when we do.

We did wrestle with the question of whether to open up the desysops and conduct warnings for appeal, as traditionally such cases may be open to appeal. At this point, the Foundation’s attorneys do not believe that it is doable, because the evidence file on this case is not defined by individual, but an intertwined conglomeration of hundreds of pages of material. The conduct warnings are not visible sanctions; we have struggled in the past with whether and when conduct-warned individuals should be flagged internally for review when receiving Foundation resources (like scholarships and grants), and based on feedback from a community member who was recently warned that they found their work in the movement unfairly scrutinized, we have modified this approach. (We continue to try to learn and improve, and feedback even from sanctioned individuals is helpful - although by policy we will not communicate with those who are globally banned). Those desysopped can be restored if the involved community chooses to restore their access, and our global head of Trust & Safety is actively and openly speaking with the Chinese community about best practices to conduct that review safely, given retaliation and coercion concerns especially for unaligned volunteers in mainland China itself, but also beyond.

Does the WMF believe that some/many of the involved contributors have been acting as agents of the Chinese government?Edit

Since we did not promise an exclusive, I am going to say here what I said to a reporter who reached out with that question: “I am not in position to point fingers at the Chinese State nor in possession of information that would lead me to do so. I can’t even say with certainty whether individuals are influenced willingly or otherwise. In part, that is because I am a Wikimedian myself and am loath to extrapolate more from data than it actually says. I will probably self-censor this before I mail it, but to give you an example, if you asked me if the US Capitol invasion in January 2021 was the US State (or individuals acting under its influence), I would struggle equally to answer you. Yes? No? Maybe? At the end of the day, it is people who believe that they have the right to do bad or questionable things to exert power over others in order to get what they want. It is not a Chinese problem or a US problem, but a human problem, and one we will increasingly be called upon to deal with as information and misinformation are the frontline of conflict everywhere.” (I didn’t self-censor before I sent it out. Picking fights with my own country, I suppose.)

Has the Foundation considered the chilling effect this might have on the Chinese community?Edit

Absolutely, and that has been the hardest part about determining how to act. To be frank, I see that regardless of what we do, there will be a chilling effect. While I am still avoiding publicly speaking about the actions of specific individuals, there is a substantial published record of concerns about the behavior of some of these individuals towards Chinese users in Hong Kong, for instance. The actions described in that published record have a distinctly chilling effect. These are not the only chilling actions taken by members of this group, some of which have impacted mainland Chinese volunteers as well. I spoke in an answer above about my recognition that fear of draconian authority can also have a chilling effect. One of the reasons that I have come out to speak about this so openly is with the hope of mitigating that chilling effect. I wanted people to understand, as much as I could reveal, what we have done and why. It is part of my professional responsibility to think about how Foundation actions impact the ability of our volunteer communities to thrive in their daily activities and to recover quickly when things go wrong. I regret knowing that some members of our Chinese community and beyond are forced to reckon with such activities in relation to their work on our sites and also regret that our systems have not been fully structured to deal with such situations smoothly and easily. However, the reality is that keeping people safe means letting them know where there is danger, and the sharing of information can in some circumstances be a risky act. I really hope individuals will not feel chilled by this knowledge so much as better prepared to assess those risks and work with us and with each other to secure our mutual safety. Figuring out how to do this is one of our commitments with our human rights lead and team.

The 8th user, User:玄客, has been WMF-banned without announcement. We investigated their edit pattern, and found no connection with the other seven announced ones. Would you please explain why this user was banned (i.e whose sock/provy they are)?Edit

All I can say about individual cases is that this series of office actions involved considerable off-wiki and technical evidence. All banned accounts were either identified as socks of one of the named users or was the named user themselves. In such cases, it is always possible that there might be a case of misidentification and that is one of the reasons why users impacted are always reached out to personally through ca wikimedia.org. When an email address is identified with an account, we reach out via email. In some cases, we can only leave a note on their user pages. I will also note that this is the largest batch of bans ever launched in a narrow time window, and if our outreach to the user results in evidence that we have made the ban in error, we will reverse it, annotate why, and publicly apologize.

With respect to WMCUG, I do think some of their grievances in their response should be addressed and evidence be shown.Edit

There are two factors here.

First, the WMCUG is not a recognized body in the Wikimedia movement. I have noted elsewhere I think it is a good idea that we make it so simple for people to gather and organize, but unofficial groups have not signed certain agreements (including conduct codes) that would give them affiliate status. I am willing to speak to individuals who have not been banned as I am to all of you here, but I am not reading communications from the group as whole, especially that include or proxy for banned individuals. I try to give information agnostic as to inquirer, but by policy staff do not communicate with banned users or those who contact us on their behalf outside of legally-supervised channels.

Second, while the Foundation does not publish details of its internal investigation, there has been a substantial body of evidence published about members of this group and its activities by Wikimedians for years. I would refer communities to some of those, such as those shared in English Wikipedia's Signpost by a recognized affiliate that supports the Chinese language projects in a Wikimedia-L thread today: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2019-10-31/In_focus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2021-07-25/Special_report. Nothing in the case files I have seen contradicts the truthfulness of those accounts.

Best regards,
Maggie
Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 18:48, 15 September 2021 (UTC)

@Itcfangye: Hello all, on behalf of the Foundation, I would like to offer a public apology to user 玄客 who was tagged in the recently initiated Global Bans that the Foundation executed. During our investigation, information led us to identify them as a sockpuppet, but upon receiving additional information through our ca@ channel this week, we were able to reassess the account in question. We no longer believe this user is a sockpuppet, and have restored their account.

We are grateful to those who helped us evaluate and correct this misidentification. It is important for us to get this right, and the flagging of concerns helps us reassess as needed.

大家好,我代表基金会,向最近在基金会发起的全球禁令活动中被标记为禁止用户的 玄客 公开道歉。在我们的调查过程中,调查信息使我们误将他们识别为马甲账号。但本周,通过我们的 ca@ 频道收到另外的信息后,我们重新评估了问题帐户。我们不再认为该用户是马甲账户,并对这些账户进行了恢复。 我们感谢那些帮助我们重新评估和纠正这种错误识别的人。对我们来说,正确处理这些很重要,重视大家的关注有助于我们进行必要的重新评估。 亲切问候 WMFOffice留言) 2021年9月16日 (四) 21:45 (UTC)

--Zhenqinli (talk) 22:47, 16 September 2021 (UTC)

Wikipedia has suffered an "infiltration" that sought to advance the aims of China, the US non-profit organisation that owns the volunteer-edited encyclopaedia has said.

The Wikimedia Foundation told BBC News the infiltration had threatened the "very foundations of Wikipedia".

I would like to know if the BBC report accurately reflects the event(s) that happened at Wikipedia as well as the views of WMF. Also, given the seriousness as described by the BBC report, is there a time frame that substantial portion of the evidence behind the allegations implicating the 18 (19 minus User:玄客) former Wikipedia contributors in the infiltration can be made public to the Wikipedia community? This would be of interest not only to the Wikipedia community, and also in the spirit of due process and "innocent until proven guilty". Thanks in advance for any clarifications. --Zhenqinli (talk) 15:35, 17 September 2021 (UTC)
The BBC editor undoubtedly did his best to frame a very complicated situation that was not within his particular experience. I had, for instance, to try to clarify to him the difference between editors and administrators, so I'm sure there are facets of this that he didn't grasp. I don't see anything he quoted me as saying that I disagree that I said, but I will say that I talk a lot and he quoted a little. I think in that context, he probably did a very good job.
But, for example, with respect to the involvement of the Chinese state, he quotes me as saying, "I am not in position to point fingers at the Chinese state nor in possession of information that would lead me to do so." That is from the written portion of our interview. The full statement I gave them is above in the collapsed portion of Mini-Faq 2; I shared it before the article came out. What I wanted to emphasize to him was that this is not a uniquely Chinese problem. I will say that the "very foundation of Wikipedia" was from the 30 minute verbal part of the interview, and I do not have a transcript, so I cannot be 100% sure what I said, but I surely know I did not say that this incident threatened our foundations. It is nowhere near that level of severity. What threatens the foundation of Wikipedia, as I hoped to explain, are groups that coordinate to overwhelm the policies around collaboration on content and practices. I believe that whole-heartedly and was working to deal with that even before I was employed at the Foundation as a volunteer. That ranges from paid, promotional editing firms to conspiracy theorists to political groups - any group that wants to subvert the open community practices for their own ends.
In terms of evidence, we do not release evidence. The decision has been made after staff and attorney review and is not subject to appeal. There are times when I wish we could release evidence, but as I explained in probably too many words in the FAQ above, releasing evidence can have damaging effects for the users who brought the issue to our attention, the users who have been targeted, and even for the users who have been sanctioned. I would rather people be angry at me than to hurt any of them unnecessarily. The Foundation has a legal and moral responsibility, and we have to live up to that. I truly do, however, regret the harm and mistrust this causes to the Chinese community at large. I can well imagine the chaos of being unsure what is going on. I hope we can heal that with good collaboration over time, but I know it won't be instant or easy. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:52, 18 September 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. The BBC report has been widely sourced and circulated in the news media. At the minimum, should Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) ask the BBC to issue a correction based on the actual facts and conversations, aligning with the WMF official views? The incident has been sensationalized in news media as "19 infiltrators from China" "threatening the very foundation of Wikipedia" in the same vein as the 19 "9-11" terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center, causing collateral damage and backlash along the way.
I believe one of the lessons from this episode is that some of the WMF processes (such as investigation and press interview) should be improved along the line of Neutral Point of View. For example, it is error-prone to take the narratives from one side of a noisy dispute at face value and as the fact. --Zhenqinli (talk) 17:48, 18 September 2021 (UTC)
I do agree that the phrasing of "infiltration" is a bit over-the-top -- despite the statement's clarification that it can be intentional. --125.59.232.45 14:00, 19 September 2021 (UTC)
Agree. Using "infiltration" without being able to show evidence in the context of discussing global blocking of former editors or administrators, seems incompatible with Wikipedia's own fundamental principle of Assuming Good Faith:

Unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, assume that people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it.

--Zhenqinli (talk) 02:01, 20 September 2021 (UTC)

Global Times is not happyEdit

Global Times is not happy about this action in their English report (WMCUG quoted). On Chinese WeChat they have resolved to targeting one specific zh.wp user (PhiLiP), digging out his LinkedIn and Twitter and branding him as a "traitor" (汉奸). I recommend WMF and especially its Legal team keep a close eye on this matter. All involved editors should take precaution -- lock your social media accounts, for example. --125.59.232.45 07:29, 18 September 2021 (UTC)

Similar news popping up from other Chinese outlets. I believe WMCUG is talking to major media for clout and chaos. Wait until they learn about Grayzone. --125.59.232.45 08:03, 18 September 2021 (UTC)

Thank you for that very good advice to us and to involved editors. Now is a time to be very careful. I would encourage editors who may be or have been threatened with retaliation to reach out to ca@wikimedia.org or, if the threat is immediate physical danger, to emergency@wikimedia.org. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:55, 18 September 2021 (UTC)

Credible threats to safetyEdit

I'm not sure what the standard is to assess "credible threats" for people who have access to private information, but whatever the method is I wonder: is it being applied to users in other high risk locations, particularly the USA? In light of a continued defiance by the NSA, we'd want to be extra careful that people aren't exposed to the risk of being put in a very difficult position. Nemo 08:49, 18 September 2021 (UTC)

  • I suppose there's an argument that with WMF servers mostly located in the US there would be an easier (hopefully overt) way for the feds to access the information. --125.59.232.45 11:47, 18 September 2021 (UTC)
We thought about that pretty hard, because it really is a growing concern across the world. In the immediate, we wanted to deal with the existing threat, but not close access too broadly without a clear and consistent policy. We are also hoping to do some serious work on digital security in the movement in the near future. It's not just people with that access who can be put in difficult positions (although those people are positioned to do a lot of harm). We have dealt with editors taking part in editathons or other movement activities coming under scrutiny when they are too easily located. We need to help people evaluate their risks and risks to others, and we need to figure out as a movement how to balance transparency, openness, and safety. It's a blend we'll probably have to evaluate and reevaluate in coming years. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:00, 18 September 2021 (UTC)

Code of conduct & Quality of sourcesEdit

User:Mdennis (WMF) mentioned in at the end of her second FAQ that WMCUG has not agreed to Wikimedia's UCoC. I believe this is a good opportunity to point out that zh.wiki content, especially those contributed by individuals associated with the WMCUG, has historically been and continues to be in defiance of the UCoC. One of the seven globally locked users declares support for NazBolism on his page. On the article side zh.wiki have a consistent trend of anti-internal-migrant activism, going so far to include an article about "Shanghai's internal migrant problem". On en.wiki you would expect such crime-rate arguments to be countered by more mainstream research or at least a mention of socioeconomic factors, but in the mainland they are the mainstream research, and as such are protected or even favored by NPOV (esp. WP:DUE) and RS.

For the WMF and the zh.wiki community to effectively uphold the UCoC, it must confront the fact that a good bunch of Chinese-language research, not just from the mainland, is (pardon my language) horse manure. Beyond the casual racism, classism, light authoritarianism, there's also a heavy dose of pseudoscience especially of the medical kind. The Falun Gong, the Taiwanese MOHW, and the Chinese government all swear by the "miraculous" effects against COVID-19 their alternative interventions (listening to Master Li, NRICM101, Lianhua Qingwen) have. Every article for a random fruit has some 養生 stuff sprinkled in about how TCM thinks it's a cooling substance with the ability to smooth your skin. You simply cannot keep pillar #2 up with this sort of sources. I guess I should phrase this as a question: Does WMF acknowledge the overall trends of content difference among sources of different languages? (Hope this unloads it :/) If so, what has the WMF done and what does it plan to do to ensure the quality of sources?

Perhaps the even bigger barrier to upholding the UCoC is its relative inaccessibility. The UCoC isn't fully translated yet. I shall get to it. --125.59.232.45 06:02, 19 September 2021 (UTC)

I'm sorry for the lack of clarity, but i didn't mean that the WMCUG had not agreed to the Universal Code of Conduct. I should have linked it. I meant Wikimedia user groups/Agreement and code of conduct - all officially recognized user groups must comply. I note that it, too, is only 57% translated into Chinese. :/ However, I'm extremely grateful for your translation intentions with the UCoC. :D
I'm sorry to say that I cant entirely answer that question because it extends beyond my realm of responsibility. I know that information literacy is a key focus of some of Wikimedia Foundation Community Programs team, including the education program. That said, it strikes me that the problem you raise here is a ripe one to solve as part of our movement strategy efforts. I feel it probably falls into one of those movement challenges that the community can lead on. Maybe Cluster H? Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Transition/Discuss. I wonder if this is an area where a grant in the next cycle could fund community connections to explore the problem and solutions. Hmm. Something to think about and explore!
In case this sounds like my goal is to say that I don't think this is important or that I don't think the Foundation can take responsibility here, that is not my intent. :) One of my responsibilities is to think about how we make a strong community, and that includes not taking over work that the community can and should do, while also not failing to support them when they need support. Delicate balance. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:10, 19 September 2021 (UTC)

We hope that the Foundation will reply to the conflict between the current Note regarding global bans and some of the cases in the Chinese Wikipedia.Edit

@Mdennis (WMF):

First of all, let me thank you for this righteous act.
I know that you have worked hard during these months in order to conduct a more extensive investigation.
On my own behalf, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Foundation.
We have currently initiated a number of motions, one of which is about removing all links from WMC. But it also covers the issue of whether to allow WMC to hold "editorial competitions" with Wikipedias in other languages(Before this group of Wiki-terrorists is completely confirmed and expelled).
According to our current case, which is this one and only case of the administrator Ch. Andrew
"If one person from the organisation (the moderator of the editorial competition) abuses his authority to discriminate against others in the context of the editorial competition, the organisation in :which that person is involved is also banned from promoting its activities on this site for one year."and this ban is still in force.
However, there is a conflict between“...Users may still join the user group and participate in the group's events, but should be aware of and comply with the Global Ban policies, and must not participate in Wikimedia projects in proxy of globally banned users”under the provisions of the Foundation's territory-wide prohibition notice and the case of "prohibited from promoting related activities on this website because of discrimination against others"
We hope that the Foundation will be able to answer this question, as it may be relevant to the question of whether the case of Ch. Andrews will be overturned.
I would also like an answer to the question of whether this community behaviour is allowed by the Foundation, assuming that the WMC is banned from the whole area due to its members - and thus our community is judged not to hold any activities until these "Wikiterrotist" (is a disparaging term used by our community for such people)are confirmed to have been completely expelled from the organisation.
And furthermore, does the Foundation recognise the validity of the case decided by the administrator, Ch. Andrew?if so, should Temple's announcement be amended?
I sincerely hope you can answer this question.
Finally, please allow me to thank you once again for all that you have done to keep justice alive!——WMLO (talk) 20:45, 21 September 2021 (UTC)

@Mdennis (WMF): The Chinese banned users have been called "wiki-terrorists" here by User:維基百科最忠誠的反對者. Are the WMF folks okay with that? If not, could you please make the user retract his/her words and sanction him/her perhaps? This is an egregious personal attack in my opinion. 4nn1l2 (talk) 21:07, 21 September 2021 (UTC)

@4nn1l2:Believe that the idea that users who do real harm to our users, who flesh search them, who give out their personal information, do so to achieve their own goals - I think we can call this "wiki-terrorism", and it is perfectly reasonable to call these Chinese Ban users "wiki-terrorists".And I swear that I will not call a wiki user a "wiki-terrorist" without an investigation by the Foundation and a trial outcome.
Also, you are here to defend this group of people,right?But when I started the discussion on the "WMC members resort to legal threats against Hong Kong Wikipedians" a few months ago, why didn't you participate in the discussion? I urge you to discuss with us how to prevent further threats to the Wikipedians of Hong Kong, rather than defending this group of vandals who have been banned from editing Wikimedia projects and defending their already lost "reputation as Wikipedians".
In my opinion, no offence - but it is a very false thing to do.---WMLO (talk) 21:37, 21 September 2021 (UTC)
Just because they have been banned from a website on the internet does not make them "terrorists" or "wiki-terrorists". I'll wait for the WMF people to answer my question. If need be, I may go to the Meta:Requests for help from a sysop or bureaucrat and ask their assistance too. 4nn1l2 (talk) 22:03, 21 September 2021 (UTC)
@4nn1l2 Don't you know why they were banned from editing wiki projects and why their actions were called "wiki-terrorism"? I choose not to call those who were warned about election rigging in the Chinese RFA, but not blocked, "terrorists" in the Foundation's campaign, which I think is already a manifestation of AGF. But as for the six people who leaked the privacy of Hong Kong Wikipedians, thus causing them physical harm in reality, such as violence, and who organised bad actions to cause damage to Wikipedia, and trampled on the Foundation's friendly rules, I refuse to withdraw my comments about these Wikipedian terrorists unless the Foundation has evidence and found them not guilty.---WMLO (talk) 22:30, 21 September 2021 (UTC)
I recommend remain civil to others who have different opinion with you and follow Dispute resolution to resolve the difference with others. Thank you. SCP-2000 05:00, 22 September 2021 (UTC)
Hello, all. I'm going to try to take this in order.
First, WMLO, you ask a good and very hard question. I am not 100% sure if I am understanding fully what you are asking, so please excuse me if I overlook something and help me understand what more you need. What I said above about the user group represents the Foundation's stance at the time of this writing. This is a new situation for us, and we are hoping that if the members of the group choose to continue as a group, they will work within policies in doing so. User groups are, as I mentioned before, meant to be lightweight and easy to set up and to be dedicated to activities that build out the impact of the movement. That's important work.
Based on what you've said here (concerns about abuse of the role), I believe that it is best decided by an individual community whether a group should be able to promote its activities on their sites. The only exceptions I can think of off of the top of my head would be if that group was being excluded for factors such as their gender or race, and even then at some point I hope we have a global body of volunteers who can help settle such situations. I know from conversations that I've had with colleagues that we want to help the Chinese community if our help is needed, but we do recognize the validity of the Chinese community to decide such issues. Whether that decision is one that can be made by one administrator is, I think, a question for the community itself to decide. If there is help that is needed (I do not know what form it might take), I am certainly open to hearing about that and understanding what we might do. I know one of my staff has engaged on the Chinese project about potential safer voting mechanisms. We are certainly open to exploring what we can do to support.
In terms of your concerns, 4nn1l2, I need to start by noting that the Foundation does not sanction people for personal attacks, not unless they constitute a pattern of harassment and are beyond the ability of community processes to handle. We prioritize community self-governance whenever possible, and regardless of the specific term used here this would not be a case that would fall under the Foundation to review. Meta has very capable administrators. I suspect that the question of what constitutes a personal attack against a group of people, rather than one, may be complicated, as may be the question of what constitutes a "fellow community member" (quoting the meta policy at Meta:Civility), but nobody is in better position to answer the question than Metapedians.
In terms of my personal opinion, I agree with SCP-2000's recommendation completely. I think it is best if we remember that there are a lot of people in a lot of pain. People have been hurt, physically. People have also been hurt emotionally, and that can include those who have been afraid or who have known people who have been hurt and people who are confused and upset that friends of theirs have been accused of doing something wrong. I have had friends blocked by the community and the Foundation, and it can be difficult to process those emotions. It can cause anger and grief. I have also experienced being angry when it seems like others are missing the point that people have been injured, especially if they have been asking for help and feel that their cries have not been heard. In my experience, it can be very hard to talk calmly in such situations, but in the long run it is usually better for all if we can. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 23:50, 22 September 2021 (UTC)
Thanks, Mdennis (WMF), for your response. Just to be clear, I have no friendship at all with these Chinese banned users. I don't know any of them whatsoever, and I was the person who removed all Techyan's privileges on Commons as soon as I understood he got banned by the WMF: c:Special:Redirect/logid/316152287 (only a few hours after he got banned). Still, I believe calling these banned users "wiki-terrorists" is way off, so I'll raise the issue on the admins' board. My main objective is to make 維基百科最忠誠的反對者 retract his accusations. We know little about this incident, and the WMF, for better or worse, has not been transparent about the issue. 4nn1l2 (talk) 17:32, 23 September 2021 (UTC)

Possible effect of OA2021 on zhwiki participationEdit

It appears that the pace of creation of new Chinese Wikipedia articles (especially higher-quality ones) has slowed in the past two months. While correlation does not necessarily imply causation, it may be worth asking:

zh:Wikipedia:DYKCEdit

  • If looking at the snapshots of "Did You Know" candidate articles in Chinese Wikipedia for the past months, there is an apparent drop in the number of candidate articles per week meeting the minimal DYK requirements after OA2021, indicating a possible discouraging effect for Chinese Wikipedia participation.


Number of zh:Wikipedia:DYKC articles per week1
Date Number of "Did You Know" candidate articles per week
2020-09-01
73
2020-10-01
68
2020-11-01
52
2020-12-01
48
2021-01-01
63
2021-02-01
71
2021-03-01
73
2021-04-01
70
2021-05-01
40
2021-06-01
41
2021-07-01
64
2021-08-01
65
2021-09-01
80
2021-10-01
43
2021-11-01
34
2021-12-01
50
2022-01-01
44
2022-02-01
45
2022-03-01
49
2022-04-01
53
2022-05-01
53
  1. according to Internet Archive Wayback Machine snapshots.

zh:Wikipedia:统计Edit

Average number of new zh:Wikipedia articles created per day since 20211
Date Average number of new zhwiki articles created per day
2021-01-12
222
2021-02-27
217
2021-04-12
227
2021-05-31
204
2021-07-12
238
2021-08-16
286
2021-09-20
286
2021-11-09
200
2022-01-16
147
2022-03-14
175
2022-04-26
233
  1. according to zh:Wikipedia:统计#里程碑.

"Neutral Point of View"Edit

The statement and communications of Wikimedia Foundation regarding OA2021 indicate that the Foundation considers its own management, instead of the Wikipedia community, as the ultimate arbiter on Wikipedia's Five Pillars (including conforming to en:Wikipedia:Neutral point of view). The Foundation apparently also has the liberty of indulging in claim that "infiltrations" by outside forces such as Chinese editors threatening the very foundation of Wikipedia. Is there a potential problem here? --Zhenqinli (talk) 04:44, 5 November 2021 (UTC)

I am reasonably confident that the WMF does not consider itself the ultimate arbiter of NPOV or the other pillars. --Yair rand (talk) 05:01, 3 January 2022 (UTC)
It seems that you are not aware of this paragraph from the official Wikipedia Guideline (quoted verbatim with the last sentence highlighted by myself):

Office actions and declarations from the Wikimedia Foundation Board or the system administrators, particularly concerning copyright, legal issues, or server load, take priority over community consensus.

--Zhenqinli (talk) 22:50, 5 February 2022 (UTC)

And where exactly do you see content decisions, i.e. POV decisions, here mentioned? It's about sys-admins, copyright, legal and such, not content. Yes, I'm as well a bit concerned about T&S, as I have little confidence in their ability to rule anything properly, but office actins, and this one against massive interventions by the indiscutabel chinese regime and their lackeys against encyclopaedic values were overdue. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 15:42, 6 February 2022 (UTC)
Return to "Office actions/September 2021 statement" page.