User talk:Leucosticte/Wikipedians in Exile/Archive 1

Infinite blocks, reeducation, and forced confessions edit

Nowadays, infinite blocks are used to force people to conform to a certain set of principles, values, and behaviors. "I won't unblock you until you promise to behave exactly how I want you to behave." Infinite blocks and a sysop's demands robs people of their freedom to disagree. Infinite blocks stops people from being different. In order to become unblocked, they must obey and say "2 + 2 = 5". Infinite blocks shouldn't be used to change people. People should have the freedom to be themselves.

Infinite blocks are also used to force users to confess. "Acknowledge your crime or remain blocked." Infinite blocks and a sysop's demands robs people of their freedom to contend that they're innocent or that the laws aren't just.

With the exception of outright vandalism and such, blocks should have limits. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 20:25, 9 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Latest example (full discussion). Some sysops want nothing more than forcing another user to submit, even when the initial block was wrong. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 12:47, 4 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All revisions are presumed guilty edit

en:Wikipedia:Banning_policy#Edits_by_and_on_behalf_of_banned_users – I disagree with policy. All revisions should be presumed innocence until proven guilty. "Ambiguous cases" should be discussed.

Policy should also realize that proxy editors possess conscience and are capable of judging and screening requests from banned users. Proxy editors are capable of saying "no" to bad requests and "yes" to good requests. Proxy editors shouldn't be treated as if they were drones, unless a "jury" (the people at WP:ANI?) decides (based on evidence) that they're drones. They should at least be permitted by policy to forward requests from blocked users to the relevant talk page. The spirit of WP:DENY should be removed from policy.

One of the many things missing from the wiki justice system is a presumption of innocence. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 20:48, 9 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

CSD G5 edit

CSD G5 isn't enforced for the sake of upholding the rule. It's enforced as negative reinforcement—as a means of making ban violations be unproductive and a waste of the banned person's time.

Imagine it this way: you have told a difficult neighbor to leave you alone and never come over to your house. The neighbor is unhappy about this. "Well," he says to himself, "I will just sneak over for a minute. He hasn't kept up with the garden very well. I'll just sneak over and plant a few little flowers. He won't notice, and even if he did, then nobody rational could really expect me to obey this silly little bureaucratic rule about trespassing while I'm being so helpful, could they? Besides, I really, really, really want his garden to contain my flowers, so why should he be able to control his own garden?" So the neighbor sneaks over and plants the flowers, and when you wake up, you find a flowering weed in your garden.

When this happens, you have a choice: you can either rip out the flowers, in the hope that having his handiwork destroyed will discourage future trespassing, or you can agree with him that when you said, "leave me alone and never come over to my house", that you didn't actually mean it, and prepare to see your neighbor and his weeds whenever he feels like appearing. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:48, 6 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It depends. Are they weeds or are they useful plants? If they are weeds, then you would destroy them regardless of how they got there. If they are useful plants, laid out in useful ways, then why get rid of them, regardless of how they got there? It seems to assume that the decision to ban the person was the result of an accurate weighing of costs and benefits of his continued participation; it's far from clear than the ArbCom and the community do in fact make good ban decisions.
If your neighbor has a history of causing trouble in your garden, and you tell him, "Stay out of my garden," and then he goes in your garden anyway and improves your garden, do you undo his improvements just for the sake of making a point? That's similar to the kind of logic that WP:POINT violators use. Whatever happened to the principle that "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it"?
There's a reason why G5 was not made mandatory. Obviously there was not consensus to always put the negative reinforcement ahead of other considerations. The community seems to have met in the middle, granting discretion to delete the articles without saying that they have to be deleted. Enforcement ends up being spotty, because the community wanted it to be spotty.
What is the point of deterring the banned user? A lot of these bans are for questionable reasons. Wikipedia's ArbCom is a republican aspect of the system, and is therefore subject to the same public choice problems that other republics encounter. A notable example is that they tend to use their punishment power in suboptimal ways. I believe this was analyzed by Bruce L. Benson in The Economic Anatomy of a Drug War: Criminal Justice in the Commons. The same dynamics apply to Wikipedia.
Probably most of the people in U.S. prisons don't need to be there; they committed some sort of victimless crime or another, or they committed a crime whose prescribed punishment is counterproductive to goals such as restitution, rehabilitation, and so on, but people's attitude often is, "Regardless of whether the law makes sense or not, the fact is, they broke the law and the punishment is prescribed." There are plenty of cops who feel that certain offenses shouldn't be punished, or that the punishments are not the best remedies that could be applied to the situation, but they enforce the laws anyway. But the U.S. system actually allows for discretion; prosecutors do not have to prosecute, as prosecutors must in mandatory-prosecution countries such as Germany. The prosecutors can completely nullify a bad law if they wish by refusing to press charges; for awhile, Obama instructed the Justice Department to not prosecute medical cannabis patients, despite the law against their behavior.
Similarly, we don't have to apply G5, and I would argue that we generally shouldn't. Is there evidence that it is an effective deterrent? Or is it just a hunch? After all, there are plenty of ways to dodge G5's application. A person who truly wants to evade detection usually can; he just has to avoid editing the same types of articles as before. Is that what we want? Or would it be better to create an incentive for good behavior by creating a clear path to reacceptance into the community?
Wikiquote, Wikibooks, simplewiki, and Wiktionary lack a G5 policy, and Wikisource's policy states, "Good contributions by a banned user should be accepted, but where bad faith is possible it should be assumed". I don't notice any major problems arising from those policies. Maybe they would be worthy of emulation. Leucosticte (talk) 01:57, 7 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A weed is any plant that you don't want. In the middle of a wheat field, orchids are weeds. If the cost of the banned user's long-term participation exceeds the benefit of the contribution, then even the potentially beneficial contributions should be removed. If you have to kill a few flowers to discourage the neighbor from sneaking in every night, with ever-growing plans for your garden, then you kill the flowers. And it does seem to work overall, at least to the extent of turning a round-the-clock trespasser into someone who only tries to sneak in on occasion.
That is the justification for deleting beneficial things. In practice, much of what has to be removed is actually undesirable no matter what, and G5's main benefit is getting nationalistic/political/POV-pushing garbage deleted now rather than a week from now. For some banned users, getting their POV on Wikipedia just for a week is a major coup (especially if that week is just before elections or at some similarly time-sensitive moment). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:04, 7 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Any plant that you don't want". Who is the "you"? The Arbcom, whose members are elected in low-turnout elections, and who therefore don't necessarily represent the views of the community all that well?
Anyone who posts any political or historical content at all is pushing a POV, because inevitably some topics are covered while others aren't, some are dealt with at greater length than others, and some receive more prominence than others. It implicitly puts forth a view that some topics are important or relevant to the matter at hand, while others aren't. There can be no completely neutral point of view presented in some cases, but there can be a Wikipedia point of view.
A user may regard getting his POV on Wikipedia for a week as a major coup. If no one was paying enough attention to revert it, especially during a time such as election week when more eyes than usual would have been on that article, then how important was it? An objectionably biased edit to the Barack Obama article, for instance, would probably not last for very many minutes during that time period. So there are measures in place to minimize such harms besides banning.
Also, what about contributions stalking? If a user gets a reputation for causing a lot of harm, there should be a lot of people keeping an eye on him. New users, too, should be scrutinized; if they're inexperienced, they're likely to make mistakes, and if they're experienced, then that's cause for suspicion of sockpuppetry and, thus, possible bad faith. That pretty much takes care of everyone who could cause a problem. Leucosticte (talk) 06:23, 8 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"If no one was paying enough attention to revert it" then it wouldn't be up for G5, would it?
Imagine that I post a racist article about Black Americans not legally being American citizens and describing proposals for their deportation. It's sourced to fringey websites, filled with OR and BIAS, but it doesn't qualify for any other CSD. And imagine I've been banned for trolling and race-baiting and drama-causing around this issue. I've told you that my personal mission in life is to make sure that the world knows about these "facts".
Do you think that the encyclopedia is best served by leaving that garbage up for a week while it's "debated" in AFD? Or do you think that the encyclopedia is best served by deleting it as soon as it's discovered? WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:24, 8 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What usually happens with a G5 is that a sysop will delete everything that a banned user has added, rather than reviewing it for verifiability, bias, etc. It could be that the reason no one deleted it to that point was that the article had already been reviewed, and the community was satisfied with its quality. Then a sysop had to unilaterally mess with it out of a desire to enforce a ban regardless of cost. Or maybe the sysop had a bias that was opposed to the banned user's bias, and and the user's being banned gave the sysop a handy excuse to suppress well-sourced content he didn't like. Do we really know that the ArbCom is making good ban decisions, in light of the fact that a lot of those proceedings are not open to the public?
"Trolling," "race-baiting," and "drama-causing" sound like terrible reasons for a ban, because of the Xkcd Law of Drama, among other reasons. If you go to, say, Metapedia and start arguing that blacks should be treated equally as whites, then they would probably say you were trolling, even though all you did was voice an opinion or preference. But it's because they ban users for such comments that the site has become such a European racialist echo chamber rather than a place where people can more freely explore and discuss divergent views (over there, racial equality would be a divergent view).
The fact that trolling, race-baiting, and drama-causing are causes for banning encourages people to make those sorts of accusations rather than focusing on the facts. It encourages people to shift the debate from "These assertions are based on unreliable evidence" to "This guy is being provocative." That's a fallacious appeal to motive, to the extent that people are saying "This argument is just intended to rile people up." Or it could be an appeal to popularity, if people are saying "This guy's views are wrong because they're unpopular." If the argument is, "This guy, right or wrong, is driving away editors, readers, donors, etc." that's another matter; but in that case, so much for the intellectual independence that Wikipedia prides itself on so much.
AfD should be abolished. As you say, it's too slow to delete some articles that should go immediately. I think it's also too fast in some cases.
What if a user went on vacation while an article he could have fixed was up for AfD? Or suppose there's an article that's on the borderline of notability, and if it had remained around awhile longer, someone would have found the necessary sources? No one has really come up with a good solution to WP:DEMOLISH debate that addresses all concerns, but I think in some cases pure wiki deletion might have been a good option.
Let people continue to read the content if they want to peer into the history; people are more likely to do that than to request a copy from a sysop, because it's relatively hassle-free. Debates about the article's suitability for inclusion can continue on the talk page; there is no reason to limit it to a week. Whatever the consensus is at any given moment will determine the article's status, and it can be deleted and undeleted as consensus changes. There is no reason to start over from scratch with a new article each time.
A lot of reforms, such as getting rid of the notability requirement, eliminating most restrictions on userspace, establishing venues for off-topic discussion, and so on, go hand in hand because many people get banned because the system is set up to create unnecessary conflict, rather than accommodating a diverse range of preferences. It's not unlike what we see in the political system, where people argue about how government resources (e.g. schools) should be managed rather than just relinquishing government ownership of those resources altogether, so that private sector actors can do as they see fit. Might not arguments with iffy sources be relegated to an article about arguments with iffy sources, rather than being deleted entirely? As long as the public is put on notice that the sources are iffy, and the content is not displayed in a way that would give it undue weight, it should be okay.
Even the race-baiter doesn't have to go away totally unsatisfied; he can have a venue for voicing his opinions, which will then probably be thoroughly demolished by opponents, and who knows, the discussion may have an enlightening effect on the participants and the observers. Although I recognize the right of a private organization to exclude people, I don't see it as wise if it can be avoided; as Brandeis once wrote, "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." Leucosticte (talk) 21:38, 8 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sure, if you completely abandon any pretense of being an educational project that is producing a reference work, and you turn the English Wikipedia into a free webhosting site, then you could keep a lot of stuff that is now deleted. At the moment, though, the website's owner says that it's not a place dedicated to "freely exploring and discussing divergent views" or providing "venues for off-topic discussion" or or "for voicing his opinions" or "accommodating a diverse range of preferences" about what the site ought to be. If people want to do those things, then they can get their own websites. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:43, 9 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
They can, but why should they have to? Then the content and related interaction wouldn't be integrated as closely with Wikipedia and the Wikipedia community. I think it would be better if Wikipedia would broaden its mission. I don't see a reason to believe there would be much of a downside, and the upside could possibly be a more harmonious wiki that could accomplish more.
Maybe Wikipedia could learn a few lessons from the developer community. When code isn't up to community standards, it doesn't get deleted; the community just slaps a warning on it. And I've never seen anyone get banned from the developer community for writing bad code. Some of those unstable extensions might remain in that state permanently. It doesn't really matter.
If people don't want to take that sort of risk, they shouldn't use that extension. Nobody seems to worry that it could harm's reputation to host that low-quality code, or that those extensions could distract sysadmins' attention from more useful extensions. Even a non-working extension might give someone an idea about some other code to write. The same principle could apply to Wikipedia articles; if the warning says that the sources are iffy, then caveat lector.
Also, nobody really cares that some of those extensions aren't all that relevant to Wikimedia's mission. It's understood that cultivating a larger developer community is worth the cost of hosting that content. Some developers will never write any code that Wikimedia wikis will use; they will just take advantage of Wikimedia's free hosting and code review services. But who cares? Trying to police it would cause too much collateral damage. So, they simply broadened's mission to serve a wider range of needs than just Wikimedia's.
Actually, when you think about it, "The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally" is already broad enough to encompass editorializing, depending on what you construe to be potentially educational. Leucosticte (talk) 20:50, 9 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The WMF is not the English Wikipedia. The WMF's mission is broad enough to accommodate editorializing (and it does: see Wikibooks and Wikiversity), but the encyclopedia's is not. It is not possible to "accommodate" non-encyclopedic material and still have the result be an encyclopedia.
To get back to our flower/weed analogy, by rejecting someone's contribution, you're not saying that the world should not have such a plant. You're only saying that the plant doesn't belong in that particular location. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:15, 10 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Since any particular flower bed tends to be rather small and unimportant in comparison to all the space that is available for plants, and the limitations on available space are such that unwanted plants would tend to interfere with the desired plants, perhaps a better analogy would be to the United States. True, a Mexican who has been kicked out of the U.S. for drug dealing does not have to re-enter the United States. He could remain in Mexico; there is plenty of room from him there.
But the U.S. has something to offer that he wants, namely the ability to cooperate with other participants in a huge economy. Unfortunately, there is a misconception among those in power in America that his presence there would be detrimental to the country because the type of activity he engaged in will interfere with the country's goals. Of course, there is not unanimous agreement among Americans on that point, certainly not among those who are in the know, but oh well!
Wikibooks is all right, but not everyone wants to write a book. Some people just want to write an essay or review an essay. It helps abate some of the temptation to editorialize in mainspace when there are other outlets. But it's lame to have to completely leave the wiki to do so, because then you don't have the advantage of existence-detecting wikilinks and so on. (At least, not yet; I still haven't perfected mw:Extension:RPED.) People used to complain over at Mises Wiki about my editorializing in mainspace, so we created the Essay:, Debate:, and Argumentation: spaces, and the problem has been pretty much solved. Leucosticte (talk) 06:09, 11 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If the English Wikipedia weren't the most desirable platform for their publications, then people wouldn't be so upset about having their access to it removed. But Banned User's belief that en.wp is best for Banned User's purposes isn't part of the equation. En.wp isn't "website for doing whatever each individual user wants to do". En.wp is "website for producing an encyclopedia".
If you want a website that connects to all the other articles, then you can fork the English Wikipedia and have your connections to all the other articles. The content is freely licensed by its contributors. You have a licensed right to the content; you have no inherent right to the WMF's privately owned website. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:16, 11 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually, creating a mirror-supplement would probably be better for everyone (i.e. both WMF and the other project) than a fork. That's the gist of the Inclupedia proposal. Have an up-to-date mirror of Wikipedia integrated with other content that Wikipedia doesn't have.
Not everything that goes on at Wikipedia is directly related to encyclopedia-building. There's a lot of frivolous stuff like the Wikipedia:Million pool, userboxes, etc. Leucosticte (talk) 21:45, 11 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ineffectiveness of G5 as a deterrent edit

There is nothing in the text of CSD G5 to indicate that it's intended as a deterrent. It merely states, "Pages created by banned or blocked users in violation of their ban or block, and which have no substantial edits by others. G5 should not be applied to transcluded templates." But people seem to think its purpose is to deter.

The reason G5 doesn't work as a deterrent is that the punishment simply isn't severe enough to deter people's continuing to come back, given the current degree of quickness and sureness (or lack thereof) of the methods for catching banned users. It's similar to Bruce L. Benson's expected prison sentence formula (viz. expected time in prison = probability that crime is observed × probability of observer reporting × probability of arrest × probability of prosecution × probability of conviction × probability of imprisonment × average prison sentence × portion of sentence served). There was a user who was banned in 2008 and repeatedly came back, despite the fact that every time his identity was uncovered, his articles were deleted, and his edits were reverted, en masse. He simply would switch to different topics the next time he came back.

If one creates articles A, B, C, and edits articles D, E, and F, and then is discovered to be a sockpuppet, one might go undetected (at least for awhile) if the next account one establishes then creates articles G, H, and I and edits articles J, K, and L. Those pages won't show up on the watchlists of those who are monitoring pages created or edited by the banned user. This is especially true if the new set of articles is on totally different topics than the old set.

A person with a diverse or ever-changing set of interests might well be able to do this, and to find it rewarding enough to be worth the trouble. Even if there's a possibility of getting caught, it's only a possibility and not a certainty, and it might take awhile. Wikipedia could, if it wanted, require less evidence of sockpuppetry before using CheckUser, but for the most part they put privacy concerns ahead of catching banned users.

Deterrence is often a fool's errand. I'm fond of analogies, so I'll compare it to a couple other observed phenomena. I am sysop at a wiki that is constantly getting spammed. We keep switching CAPTCHAs, but they keep cracking them. Their desire to spam is strong enough that they invest the necessary time to get around our safeguards.

We usually block their accounts and delete their spam within 24 hours. It doesn't deter them, and it never will, as long as our penalties are that mild. The police have in some cases arrested some particularly egregious spammers, but we're not about to file police reports on this matter, because we don't care enough and in all likelihood, neither do the police.

The government has also launched a war on drugs and attempted to deter people from using them by arresting them if they get caught. Use rates remain high, though. It's probably because the desire to use drugs is strong, the crime is easy to conceal, and the government never had the stomach to impose harsh enough penalties, and erode rights against unreasonable searches and seizures enough, to deter use.

On the other hand, they also refused to legalize it. So we have the same situation as with the spammers and banned users. They continue to do what they do until they get caught, then they get punished, and then they return to doing it again.

Some wikis, like Conservapedia, warn that vandalizing (aka editing in authorized ways) is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030, and that they'll report violators' IP addresses to the authorities. It won't deter anyone unless some serious penalties actually get handed down. If that's not going to happen, then people need to either come to some sort of arrangement that satisfies the needs of the banned enough to successfully channel their energies into acceptable activities, or content themselves with half-measures that don't have much deterrent effect. Sometimes wars (whether on drugs, or illegal immigration, or banned users, or whatever) are best ended with some sort of regulated legalization that grants amnesty and provides a path for return to citizenship, while allowing for the necessary scrutiny to prevent and correct abuses. Not everything has to be about the stick; there can be carrots too.

There is nothing in the text of CSD G5 to indicate that it's intended as a deterrent.
So? There's nothing in most of the CSD's to indicate why we have those criteria. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:55, 14 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Really edit

There are no users who have been banned who could not have been better dealt with through other measures.

Really? Even the man who was convicted of distributing child porn? Even people with mental disabilities that make them physically incapable of productive contributions?

Why does "But I want to play with you" always outweigh "we don't want to play with you" in your mind? WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:30, 8 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Was that user convicted of distributing child porn on Wikipedia? If not, it sounds like someone may have been using that user's past as an excuse to suppress dissident views. If the illegal behavior did take place on Wikipedia, then I'm not sure what the law would require Wikipedia to do to shield itself from liability.
Who is the "we" in "we don't want to play with you"? Obviously it's not unanimous, since I dissent from the banning of those users. Then again, I don't have a vote on Wikipedia any longer. Sanger's Law strikes again.
I've owned and operated a lot of wikis and never had to ban anyone. Perhaps part of the problem is that Wikipedia doesn't offer any alternative outlets for biased content. Many wikis have an Essay or Debate namespace, so if a user starts editorializing or polemicizing, that content can simply be moved into the namespace designated for editorials, where headers notify readers that the content does not represent the views of the project.
If the content seems like it's not even suitable for those namespaces, then there's always userspace. But Wikipedia doesn't even let users do what they want with their userspace. Probably the extra cost of storing and serving that content would be a small price to pay for eliminating some sources of discord. Leucosticte (talk) 18:25, 8 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I suspect that there is less pressure from disruptive users because your wikis were smaller than the English Wikipedia. Nobody much cares if their content isn't accepted on a small website. You can always find another. But there is only one website with the traffic and the cachet of the English Wikipedia. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:37, 9 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I suppose. There's also the ability to integrate with the rest of the encyclopedia and its community through incoming and outgoing wikilinks, watchlists, etc. And there's the fact that you know Wikipedia will be around in the long term, and will be kept in good working order, while a smaller wiki might not, if the site owner gets lazy or something happens to him. There are any number of benefits to being part of a larger project rather than a smaller one. Leucosticte (talk) 21:18, 9 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The right to edit edit

This is with reference to the comment, "You have a licensed right to the content; you have no inherent right to the WMF's privately owned website." Does this refer to legal rights or ethical rights? If legal rights, then I think it's worth remembering that old maxim, "for every right, there is a remedy; where there is no remedy, there is no right." For many practical purposes, it's as though there were a right to edit, and a lack of a right of WMF to exclude banned users, because the user has remedies (e.g. sockpuppetry) if he can't edit under his old account, but the WMF lacks an effective remedy for keeping out banned users.

It always comes down to the question, "What are you going to do about it?" If you don't like banned users editing, what will you do to stop it from happening? I've explained above why G5 is often ineffective at deterring banned users. What other remedies are available?

Right now, the main reason I don't edit Wikipedia is that I'm going to wait out my six months, or one year, or whatever reasonable period I need to wait before applying for a lifting of my ban pursuant to the standard offer. In other words, I'm chasing after a carrot, rather than being afraid of the stick. If the carrot turns out to be illusory, then I have no more incentive to stay away.

I have enough experience dealing with bureaucratic and judicial appellate systems to know that they often don't act in good faith when they tell people to continue waiting for justice or amnesty; after awhile, it becomes evident that it's just a delaying tactic intended to sucker the person into patiently waiting indefinitely for an outcome that will never occur, rather than taking the matter into his own hands. But I'll play by their rules for a year, and see what they do at the end. And I will report the results so that other banned users will know what kind of treatment they can expect from the ArbCom under similar circumstances.

With reference to ethical rights, it's all a matter of opinion and preference. The foundation of an ethical system is the goal that one wishes to achieve by adhering to certain principles and/or getting others to adhere to them. What is the goal, and what is the principle, by which one concludes that there is no inherent right to edit?

People disagree all the time on who has proper ethical grounds for claiming ownership and control. A person may say, "I have a right to do what I want with my own body when I am on my own property." The government will say, "Not on our territory, you don't. You have to abide by our regulations concerning what substances you can put in your body while you're in this country." Usually such disputes end up being settled by force.

If the government can muster enough resources to impose its will, then it wins, and ethical arguments are of no avail; the policeman will be unfazed by libertarian arguments when he comes to make an arrest. On the other hand, if the individual can find a way to do what he wants without being caught, then he gets away with it. And often, the individual is just as unpersuaded by, or uninterested in, the government's arguments about what he has no right to do as the government is about his arguments; so those individuals do what they want to do, when they can, regardless of law or ethical arguments. It's the same way with this.

Wikipedia is privately-owned, supposedly. To some extent, that private ownership by WMF might be considered a legal fiction, since possession is nine-tenths of the law, and the wiki lacks the ability (or perhaps the ruthlessness) to keep out trespassers without causing even more collateral damage than is being wreaked by present policies. On certain government property, one is allowed to voice one's opinion. WMF and other nonprofits could be considered quasi-governmental, since they are among the pet children of the government. They are exempt from a lot of taxes, and donations to them are tax-deductible. Arguably, to the extent there is a natural right to free speech on government property, the same might apply to quasi-governmental bodies. Where one draws the line is rather arbitrary.

But even in the ethical realm, there is still the question of, "What are you going to do about it?" I can argue to a spammer all day that he shouldn't spam my site because it's unethical. It accomplishes nothing if he either doesn't share my ethical views or doesn't care about ethics in general. In such cases, all I can do is resort to what limited tools I have at my disposal to undo the damage he causes my site and to make it harder for him to spam. It would be pointless, though, to resort to ineffective methods of deterrence, unless those methods also serve some other purpose (such as spam cleanup) whose benefits outweigh their costs. Leucosticte (talk) 05:33, 12 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A banned user has neither a legal nor an ethical right to edit Wikipedia.
Generally, the available remedies for a banned-but-socking user seem disproportionate to the disruption caused, so a deliberate choice not to escalate the penalties is made. The WMF has the legal right to report the user to the user's internet provider (which can, and has, caused complete loss of internet access) and to law enforcement (which could result in criminal prosecution), as well as to sue the user in civil court. But they normally don't, which I hope you'll agree is the reasonable choice for the typical banned user. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:02, 14 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The ethics are just a matter of opinion. You haven't provided any arguments to back up your bald assertion of what is or isn't ethical. Leucosticte (talk) 22:57, 18 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's a pretty obvious ethical case: I have no fundamental need to edit Wikipedia (e.g., I will not get sick if I can't). I have no fundamental control over Wikipedia (e.g., I can't make the owner keep the servers online). Wikipedia is not mine. The owner controls access to it. No actual need and no defined right == Therefore, I have no ethical rights to edit Wikipedia.
It is the same line of argument that is used to determine whether I have an ethical right to be in someone else's house against the owner's wishes: What's the harm to me if I don't? (Nothing: I've got my own home.) What's the harm to him if I do? (Something: Loss of control, inability to use it the way he wants to.) Therefore, I have no ethical right to be in someone else's house, even if I think that house is prettier, cleaner, nicer, more interesting, etc., than my own.
The equation changes if I had an actual need: e.g., if I had no home and a dangerous storm was coming up, then I would have an ethical right to seek life-saving shelter in any available home, because my need for shelter would outweigh his right to control his property. But that's not relevant to Wikipedia: Not editing Wikipedia cannot harm your health. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:02, 19 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ethical principles seem obvious to those who hold them, yet people disagree so much. But I think the need/want demarcation is pretty arbitrary. The question always arises, "Need it in order to do what?" Even continued life is not a "need" for all purposes that one might wish to accomplish. Many answers to the trolley problem don't require that one continue to have shelter and so on. One simply jumps in front of the trolley and accomplishes one's primary objective, sacrificing secondary objectives that were deemed less important.
Some people argue, "Education is a basic need, and so the taxpayers must fund it." A basic need in order to accomplish what? Oh, to get a good job? In other words, in order to fulfill wants that wouldn't be satisfied by a crummier job. The line between those wants and needs can be pretty blurry; some extra money can help you afford to move into a safer neighborhood, eat healthier foods, get the very best doctors and medications, etc. Those differences in quality can sometimes mean the difference between a longer life or a shorter life.
Property rights too are a matter of opinion and preference. Ludwig von Mises argues, "All ownership derives from occupation and violence. When we consider the natural components of goods, apart from the labour components they contain, and when we follow the legal title back, we must necessarily arrive at a point where this title originated in the appropriation of goods accessible to all. Before that we may encounter a forcible expropriation from a predecessor whose ownership we can in its turn trace to earlier appropriation or robbery."
Where did Wikimedia's servers come from? The raw materials probably came from land that was forcibly taken from some indigenous tribe, who in turn probably forcibly took it from someone else. But it seems expedient, for certain purposes, to disregard the past and let what was taken from that land belong to WMF now. Well, what if someone determined that it was expedient for other purposes to forcibly take from WMF? Who is to say which purposes are more important?
The utilitarians would say that we should seek the greatest good for the greatest number. That runs into the problem of how you measure or even define what is the greatest good. Happiness, for instance, is a pretty slippery concept, and hard to measure numerically.
Shrinks will sometimes ask, "Where are you, on a scale of 1 being homicidal or suicidal, and 10 being fine?" I guess that's okay for risk assessment, but it's hardly a measure of how happy one is. I gave up on it a long time ago and started just using a system by which I measure my mood using four modes, most of which relate to ability to produce, and only one of which (mode 1) makes any reference to happiness.
Maybe I should even get rid of mode 1 because it's a mood that rarely arises and the distinctions between modes 1 and 2 are blurry. What causes a switch from one mode to another, I haven't entirely figured out; it's a mix of stimulus and tendency to respond to certain stimuli in certain ways. Recently, I've been in mode 2, which I attribute to reaching a point at which I had solved certain problems, figured out how I was going to approach dealing with certain problems, or figured out a way of thinking about them so that they didn't trouble me as much. Leucosticte (talk) 22:09, 19 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Unblock negotiations and conditions edit

Sysops shouldn't pressure blocked users into surrendering their right to speak on talk pages. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 14:48, 27 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's called a topic ban, and it's pretty common for people who have difficulty with a single subject, particularly when they have seriously disrupted the talk page activity in the past. This user, for example, says she is in a real-world lawsuit with the subject (who is also a Wikipedia editor), and her talk-page contributions seem to be a violation of OUTING. This is exactly the kind of situation that shouldn't be permitted to continue disrupting Wikipedia, even on the article's talk page. In fact, per NLT, she should probably be blocked until her lawsuit against the other editor is finished.
WMF projects are not free speech venues. The freedom of the press belongs solely to the person who owns the press (or website, in this case). If users want to exercise free speech, they can get their own websites (as this user already has, and is already using it to post her complaints about the subject). WhatamIdoing (talk) 08:11, 28 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Exposing Batworld's obvious COI is outing? Batworld doesn't have any qualms about sharing her own identity: [1], [2]. In addition, a topic ban ought to be backed by community consensus. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 13:02, 28 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Mary does more than say that User:Batworld is associated with the organization; she also names the user's alleged (and disputed) real-world location, which isn't disclosed by the user and is very likely a violation of OUTING: "Personal information includes...home or workplace address". WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:21, 29 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply] – Batworld's location isn't a secret. Mary Cummins was simply using that information in order to show that and Batworld belonged to the same person. Cummins wasn't exposing Batworld's location without reason. In addition, Batworld exposed herself and her location by editing Wikipedia without logging in. Batworld is responsible for her own exposure, not Mary Cummins. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 14:54, 29 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Associating an IP address with a registered username is also a violation. SPI requests for this are routinely rejected because it's a violation of the policies. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:47, 30 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Unblock negotiations"? Aren't they more like "unblock supplications"? Leucosticte (talk) 21:01, 30 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Off-wiki behavior edit

See also:

Leucosticte (talk) 23:52, 17 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Return to the user page of "Leucosticte/Wikipedians in Exile/Archive 1".