Monday, January 23, 2012

Who voted for the Wikipedia blackout?

Belette comments here that a vote for the Wikipedia blackout from anyone with a ‘redlink’ account (i.e. one with a minimal number of edits) “isn't going to get any notice”.

How wrong can he be? Certainly, the election began with ‘tagging’ of the votes which were from ‘SPA’ or sockpuppet accounts. But a number of Wikipedians opposed this, and took the issue to the administrator’s noticeboard (02:34, 16 January 2012). They also complained on the page of Philippe Beaudette - Head of Reader Relations for the Wikimedia Foundation and (note well) an employee of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Hi there Philippe. There's currently an ANI discussion regarding an editor who's tagging SPAs over at the voting page, on the basis that the comments of "passers by" don't get counted. Just want to clarify, is there such a rule in place for that discussion? I'm under the impression that we're inviting any and all of our readers to comment, and we do indeed give equal value to comments of readers-only and established editors alike. Thanks, Swarm X 03:29, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Beaudette replies “Your impression matches my intention. I'll make note to the closing admins. Feel free to reference this statement. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation”. An anonymous member of the powerful arbitration committee also requested that the tagging stop. “… you might as well stop tagging the SPAs; those of us who are going to close are already pretty aware of these issues, and it seems your actions, which I have no doubt were initiated in good faith, have wound up annoying some people needlessly without adding much to the discussion (04:52, 16 January 2012)”

Thus every single vote for the blackout was accepted, even if it was from an IP, or an account which had been set up for the express purpose of voting. Such accounts could not participate in an article deletion debate, or vote in an arbitration committee election, or even start a new article, or edit a semi-protected page. Yet they were allowed to vote to close all of Wikipedia for 24 hours.

This is of course wholly inconsistent with what Jimmy Wales said in an interview with CNN, 17th Jan , that the Wikipedia community, and the editors of the website voted for the blackout.  No they did not.


William M. Connolley said...

I think you're misinterpreting it.

The tagging was done by YRC, who is (a) a twat, and (b) a re-incarnation of [[User:Off2riorob]], presumably in order to obfusticate his block log.

So people will whinge, just because of who did it.

> every single vote for the blackout was accepted

I don't see where you get that from. "you might as well stop tagging the SPAs; those of us who are going to close are already pretty aware of these issues" certainly doesn't say it. It says the opposite.

Moreover, even if you're right in this case, it still doesn't prove your point in general because (even in your version) this was a deliberately taken decision to allow such votes.

Edward Ockham said...

>>it still doesn't prove your point in general

Well, it is an instance of abuse, not intended as a proof. My contention was that anonymity leads to abuse, usually conflict of interest. I then said that an extreme form of coi was when you pretend not to be yourself in an important vote, and so get to vote twice or more. You objected that such votes are not allowed. I showed that they were. Beaudette was quite clear that equal value is given to comments of readers-only and established editors alike. Other comments on the ANI were “There is nothing in that banner or in the introductory memo from Philippe Beaudette of the Wikimedia Foundation that indicates that only experienced editors are welcome to support or oppose an option regarding how we respond to SOPA.” “It is not a vote on content, and readers are entitled to vote and have their votes counted, since the vote may be of concern to them.” “We're directly inviting our readers to comment via a banner. No sense whatsoever in tagging them as SPAs when they do comment.” “When we put up banners, we address all. Not just our active editors, but our readers as well.”

You claim that the editor tagging the SPAs is a ‘twat’ only compounds the mischief.

William M. Connolley said...

> Well, it is an instance of abuse

No, not from the evidence you have. All we know (in your version) is that new accounts were given the same weight as established ones. Since, by your account, that was exactly what was intended in this case, it can't be considered abuse.

To be abuse, in your terms, you'd need to show that some / many of these accounts were socks of other users. You haven't done that.

Edward Ockham said...

In my original post, I said "It is highly probable that all these votes were second or third votes from more established Wikipedia account names".

Furthermore, my general point about lack of systems and controls and good governance generally, is correct. There were no obvious checks run on multiple voting for that election. I know of no checkuser that was run, for example. And I claim that such a system is ripe for abuse. Even if no abuse actually occurred, ha ha, it is still ripe for it.