INCOMPLETE, FIRST DRAFT, NOT FINAL
See July 26, 2014 for a full discussion. This is a summary as of July 28.
The news that I was "banned" from Offwiki was out and widely known before I was aware of it myself. I am informed that the block was seen and reported by Tarantino, in a hidden thread on Wikipediocracy.com. Tarantino is a well-known "internet researcher," i.e, he outs people, doxxing them. There is also (controversial) evidence that he is Timothy Usher, known for the same, and who was active on Offwiki, much of it a blatant attempt to intimidate by threatening to out and doxx me. The timing here shows that Tarantino was highly interested in Offwiki. To the point:
Wil Sinclair announced Offwiki, July 3, 2014, as a new project with:
(wllm.com/2014/07/03/offwiki-org-is-now-on/) (bold in quotes is my emphasis)
- Let me be the first to point out that Obi-Wan gave them more credit than I have in the quote above. I’m not paraphrasing Obi-Wan, as much as using the assertion that the doxxing and negativity mask the insight of their ideas as a jumping point for a ridiculously inflammatory stunt designed to taunt any dedicated Wikipediocrat within sight.
- There is a vast dialectical no man’s land that neither Wikipedia nor Wikipediocracy can fill. In fact, they have created it through mutual hostilities. This is what I can contribute! A neutral zone in Wiki War II. It clearly needs to be demilitarized. Sharp tongues should be checked at the door. And it needed to be a safe place: no bullying, doxxing, talking shit, or ganging up on other members.
- Any body can participate on offwiki.org as long as they follow a few simple rules. It’s an experiment in wiki governance. It welcomes content that has been created with alternative methods to Wikipedia’s, but it isn’t a fork, and it doesn’t aspire to be a Wikipedia alternative. It’s just a place to talk about stuff and try out some of it. If you’d like to join the party, we’re (right now that’s the royal we) holding a constitutional convention to define a fair and just system of governance to add to a Constitution. We call these people “flounders”. Are you interested in being a flounder, too?
Sinclair got some immediate signups. His aptly named initial "Flounders" were, in sequence of signing up, the first day (July 3):
- Justin Credible (became very active, third non-Wllm sysop)
- Abd (became very active, first non-Wllm sysop)
- Carrite (no activity after July 10)
Wllm is taking action to cover up the history of Offwiki. He's deleted pages already that show what actually happened. In particular, he will "archive Offwiki 1.0" which will break all incoming links.
On July 26, and without any violated warning or notice or explanation, he blocked three users. Me (Abd), Justin Credible, and Just Anyone. He did this while a ban discussion (for me), he had started, was underway, and that discussion was not going the way he wanted. The majority position was to not ban. Very strong majority: not ban anyone.
Ignoring a community consensus, he banned co-founders 2 and 3.
He hid the block log, and cleared Recent Changes so that the ban discussion would be obscure (most site traffic would have been to that page at that point).
He had cited the ban discussion, the day before, in glowing terms:
- I'm elated to say that the community is now taking responsibility for making decisions about how best to resolve this conflict as we speak: Remedies.
There was no conflict under way; however, Sinclair had demanded that I blank this, and avoid conflict, and I had both blanked the page and had voluntarily restricted myself to my user space. That I edited the ban discussion, later, was at his explicit invitation. So the only remaining conflict was whether or not I should be banned anyway. And that was not a "conflict," but a disagreement.
Less than 24 hours before the blocks, he re-affirmed his decision to leave the matter of a ban to the community, in this and many other comments.
He could not have been clearer:
- This is not my decision, and I will not be overriding the consensus of the community under any circumstances. [...] -wʃʃʍ- 20:59, 24 July 2014
Sinclair has no integrity, he does not honor his word, he violates his promises on a whim, and then attempts to cover it up.
Why was Justin Credible blocked? Justin had also disagreed with Sinclair, on the issue of site responsibility. The position Justin expressed was legally sound. However, I also pointed out that there was no legal emergency, that Sinclair would know if one arose.
Sinclair shot the messengers, blocking two out of three of the first two "co-flounders." And then hid the blocks.
He was busted.. The Wikipediocracy community is quick. Beyondpolitics.org had been dormant for a long time.
So, his hand forced, Sinclair acknowledged the "bans." His explanation reveals much about his plans.
- He does not explain the ban of Justin Credible and Just Anyone, whom he had previously assiduously courted as positive contributors. He calls Just Anyone a "sock" of Justin Credible, which means, to me, that he either lied to me weeks earlier, in email or by phone, or he is lying now.
- He is the decider of who is invited to "Offwiki 2.0." It is no longer a unifying site, a neutral place.
- He made this decision based on advice from unspecified "experienced admins." He relates a tale of woe based on a tempest in a teapot from the first few days of Offwiki. That conflict had been resolved, no thanks to Sinclair. I resolved it, by how I responded.
- He is inviting Timothy Usher, who had grossly violated more than one provision of the Articles of Confederation that were the only site rules, and who did not do what Sinclair describes. Sinclair wouldn't see outing and doxxing if it bit him in the nose, which it did. Obviously, Sinclair never read with understanding the page he'd demanded I blank.
- He makes decisions based on his own desire to feel good.
- He has not been willing to trust any other person with real administrative responsibility. Neither was he willing to trust the community to advise him, but only selected, unnamed individuals, ignoring the community he invited.
- Since he is obviously controlling the setup of "2.0," and since he's doing this based on hidden advice, Offwiki 2.0 is unlikely to address the difficulties exposed by 1.0. His advice is coming from those who created the "Wikipedia problem," and who continue to maintain it, all the while blaming everyone else for it.
Wil Sinclair on himself:
- It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that this site has an admin problem. It's called Wil.
Sinclair is fond of self-deprecating humor. I know the trait well. It enables us to avoid what we really do.
Beyondpolitics.org will open up to general participation, but I'm not announcing exactly how it will do this because I don't know -- though I certainly have ideas. I do not' declare, in advance, how a community will advise me. I consider that face-palm stupid.
Today I will welcome the second user, who is highly experienced with wikis and with wiki administration, School of Hard Knocks. (I will also be going back to find prior users of beyondpolitics.org, and inviting them.)
Offwiki terminally ill
Offwiki essentially died. Recent changes showed almost no edits between August 6 to August 21. one of these was a "null edit" by Sertraline, who is Zoloft, a moderator at Wikipediocracy, and another was a sarcastic goodbye.. Yesterday, Wil started a flurry of activity, possibly spurred by mention of Offwiki by me on his blog, see a comment on that on my Wikiversity user page.. Among that:
- 07:26, 25 August 2014. Wil asked a user to email him before creating a project.
- 01:27, 26 August 2014
Wil had practically no wiki experience, but heavily judged those who did. He presented a face of conciliatory neutrality, but, in fact, when faced with criticism, he was more demanding and controlling than the run-of-the-mill Wikipedian and Wikipedian administrator, not to mention WMF Staff (who mostly stay out of details).
Here, he takes a delay of less than 24 hours in responding to an email as some kind of negative sign. On-line process, any experienced Wikimedian would know, takes time. AfD standard time is 10 days. That fits with people who have weekly schedule.
Of course, here, as elsewhere, he is asserting strong control. He is the judge of what is legitimate to consider on OffWiki, not the community, thus betraying the original purpose of the site. By abruptly announcing that he will be launching OffWiki 2.0, and that the present content will be "archived," he strongly discouraged any further participation, and the momentum that he had enjoyed, early on, was completely demolished. --Abd (talk) 18:11, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
massive overcontrol on the Dutch Wikiversity
There is an analogy with what very recently happened on beta.wikiversity. Wikiversity is the most inclusive, non-deletionist of the WMF projects. It allows original research, resources on non-notable topics, and en.wikiversity is highly developed. En.wv has many educational resources that have been begun and that are not complete, and it has become traditional to keep such as possible seeds for further growth, and, over time, this actually occurs. Someone finds an incomplete resource and starts working on it. Others see incomplete resources and thing that en.wikiversity is a pile of junk.
Resourceful inventors and other self-motivated learners love junkpiles. We use the material in them. But I just hit Random page on en.wv and found Diabetic History (OSCE). Is that complete? Of course not! A complete course on the subject would be book length. That's an outline, which can then be fleshed out, usually with subpages, if any participant wants to learn about the topic. Wikiversity is for "learning by doing," and researching and writing about a topic like that, as one is inclined, is how one learns, and, indeed, how one can learn very well.
The Dutch WikiMedia community wanted to use the Dutch project on Beta Wikiversity (designed as a language incubator for Wikiversities) for educational resources, formal ones, perhaps for actual usage in schools. They saw that Beta Wikiversity was full of pages with little content, poorly organized, with many problems. (Much worse than en.wikiversity, which does have pages like that, but not so many and we are continually working on organizing the site, cleaning it up. It takes time. Anyone can do this work. It is not necessary to be a sysop. Routinely, I tag pages there for speedy deletion and they are generally gone within minutes or hours.)
How had it happened that Dutch Beta was largely a mess? A Dutch user had, for three years, been working with an undisciplined and inexperienced understanding of the Wikiversity mission. Because the Beta project is language-balkanized, regular Wikiversity users with other-wikiversity experience did not see what he was doing. In three years, there were two comments on his talk page hinting at problems. He responded, and the commenting user did not follow up. So he very readily assumed that what he was doing was fine.
A Dutch user with high Wikipedia experience (over 500,000 edits!), and many advanced privileges cross-wiki, applied to be a Wikiversity sysop. The original Dutch user was overjoyed! Once he was approved, the new sysop organized a massive deletion effort. With only the tiniest exception, the entire content of the Dutch Wikiversity was deleted, over 5000 pages. It was claimed that there was consensus for this, but, in fact, most pages were deleted merely based on some proposal and then the sysop acting. And not all the pages were problematic, and not all the pages were authored by the naive user. Pages that were subpages of other pages were deleted for "no educational content," but those pages may have been critical for the improvement of the page supra.
For example, this was created by another user, and the only problem with it appears to be that it's not polished and not fully complete. The opinion of the Dutch users has been expressed that something should be a complete resource, ready-to-use in a class or the like, before being allowed in mainspace. However, they did not allow the pages nominated for deletion to be moved to user space, which is what we do with pages problematic in this way on en.wikiversity.
That page is under a proposed deletion notice, the link above is to a copy I made, see here the original. The deletion templates are accompanied by a listing on a Dutch deletion page, this is the listing.
The Dutch users demanded control, bypassing the normal Wikiversity sysop community, and a moved page was moved back and deleted, anyway, and then a copy of the page content, minus the category that made it "Dutch Wikiversity" material, was also deleted by the same custodian without a discussion. (And the original deletion had not been discussed. There was clearly no consensus for deletion.) That content was harmless at worst, and the only thing wrong with it was that it didn't belong in mainspace, it could have been in project space or user space.  is that page. Notice that it mentions the custodian deleting. Very positively, showing the user's attitude toward the new Dutch users, who then proceeded to totally ignore his understandings, learning goals, and content creation, wiping out three years of work in a bit over two weeks, using a highly defective process and violating sysop recusal requirements.
This is severe over-control. See the Beta Request Custodian Action page where sysop action was requested. Total mess.
If a small community of Dutch users persists, however, they can indeed generate enough user traffic that a new Dutch Wikiversity project will be allowed. What I worry about is that this will not be what is known as Wikiversity, it will be something else, something highly restricted. Anal, to use a word. Further, the active users have settled to three, the same three who supported my block, at a point where I had one nondisruptive edit to the Dutch Wikiversity (but they seemed to think that Beta was the Dutch Wikiversity). The same three also have voted on the WMF metawiki to close Beta Wikiversity. I.e., they want to use it to get Dutch Wikiversity running, then shut it down so nobody else can do the same.
There is another multlingual site, Incubator, which is designed mostly for Wikipedia sites. However, it can also be used for Wikiversity site creation (The WMF Language Committee at one point suggested that). They could have done that, bypassing Beta. But so strong is the impulse to Delete! among encyclopedists that, I'm sure, it never occurred to them. They will now have some opposition if they try to create a Dutch Wikipedia, which they created. It was not necessary at all.
Since the Dutch sysop, in Dutch comments on pages -- he seemed to imagine that English users cannot read Dutch! -- called the rest of the Beta community, including the sysops, "rodents," I had the perfect occasion to develop my user page there. I describe on my home page here how to email or contact me, and, a reminder: registration on beyondpolitics.org is currently be approval, but that is only so that we are not overwhelmed with traffic, spammers, and vandals -- and, since I'm involved, vandalism could definitely be expected -- until we have a substantial sysop community. In other words, we are not repeating the OffWiki mistake. I'm in no rush. --Abd (talk) 18:11, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
WikiMedia Foundation overcontrol
And at the same time, the WikiMedia Foundation pulled a trick similar to what Jimbo Wales tried several years back. Apparently they forgot. The wiki community detests being ignored, it will agree on that, massively, when it disagrees on nearly everything else. When Jimbo descended from the heavens and started blocking uses, on en.wikiversity, desysopping a local 'crat who unblocked (per local policy!), and deleting pages, an RfC was started on meta to remove his Founder tools. It was mostly ignored, Wikiversity is a small community and most users didn't understand what was happening and stayed out of it, the proposal was losing by about 2:1. Then Jimbo went to Commons and started deleting pornography. It started a firestorm, and the ratio fliped in the RfC, running about 3:1 for removal when Jimbo, smelling the coffee, caved and had the Founder toolset redefined to allow him, for the most part, to observe things but not to have a special privilege to change them.
The WMF did not learn from this. So, recently, the German Wikipedia voted to have the MediaViewer be opt-in rather than opt-out. Was that important? I don't know and I don't care, I've seen arguments both ways, but the vote was clearly supermajority to change it. The WMF apparently ignored this, so a de.wikipedia sysop put a script in the MediaWiki control page common.js, that disabled the MediaViewer. As an emergency measure, the WMF developers created a new "superprotect" tool that allows them to protect any page such that only Staff can edit it. Since the de.wiki sysop was subject to community oversight, and since any de.wiki sysop could undo that change without creating an "international incident," it was very clear that this was an assertion of overriding WMF control.
There was a poll on de.wiki, with over 600 users supporting the removal of superprotection, about a 90% vote, and an RfC on meta, running heavily the same way, and now a letter to the WMF strongly recommending removal of this overcontrolling tool, with over 500 signatures and counting.
Demanding control over the users is not the way to build a wiki project. It fails. Yes, the WMF has legal control and responsibility, but it will also, by hybrid Free Association/Traditional Corporation principles (as will be described elsewhere on this wiki, it should never run away from or try to control the community, except as legally required.
September 17, 2014
Offwiki is closed for editing. Wil's Main Page comment:
- Offwiki is going offline.
- Offwiki will remain in read-only mode until I get around to pushing some critical updates to this site that will better serve compelling discussions about onwiki issues. I doubt anyone will care, since no one edits anything here anymore anyways. While you're waiting for 2.0, feel free to gloat, crack wise, and/or chortle with glee at my expense. After all, the ideals behind this site may have only been illusions, and sometimes even I have to laugh at my latest windmill tilting exploits. Let's face it; despite society's rhetoric to the contrary, there are great reasons to simply not bother. Watching other people try something and fail miserably is really funny, and most of us don't like getting laughed at. Unfortunately for those who would rather see Offwiki go away, I'm almost always down for a good laugh at myself.
- I can't promise that I will ever update this site, much less within a timeline, but I can tip you off to this: unless circumstances change, as time wears on it won't become any less likely, because lots of people found something they wanted here. I've kept the best stuff they left here for others to consider until Offwiki 2.0 can bring them back to life. Feel free to look around.
- As Hitler once said, a army that refuses to surrender can never be defeated. Finishing his Wikipedia biography is on my todo list right below updating this site, but so far everything's been coming up Adolf.
- With all sincerity, best wishes to everyone who contributed to Offwiki 1.0, and while we're waiting for me to get back on task, let's take a moment to remember to treat each other with kindness. See you on the other side of 2.0.
- -wʃʃʍ- 06:21, 17 September 2014 (UTC)
Last edit was by Jim-Siduri, with , 09:00, 12 September 2014. The last activity in Recent Changes, retrieved today:
- 17 September 2014
- 06:21 Main Page (diff | hist) . . (+1,210) . . Wllm (Talk | contribs) (Signs off for the time being.)
- 12 September 2014
- 20:01 (Deletion log) . . Wllm (Talk | contribs) deleted page Wikiproject-OpStopSuicide (While I support suicide prevention in every way possible, it isn't best addressed on this site, as it is completely off-topic.)
- 19:59 (Block log) . . Wllm (Talk | contribs) blocked Jim-Siduri (Talk | contribs) with an expiry time of indefinite (account creation disabled, email disabled) (Repeated offenses of off-topic content)
- 19:58 User talk:Jim-Siduri (diff | hist) . . (+332) . . Wllm (Talk | contribs) (Notification that Jim will be blocked until he discusses content with Wil)
- 09:00 User:Jim-Siduri (diff | hist) . . (+227) . . Jim-Siduri (Talk | contribs) (→Siduri Project Provisional Plan: WikiProject-OpStopASuicide)
My analysis: Wil was essentially clueless as to how to run a wiki. His user page still says:
- I happen to be the person who set up the site here, but I immediately gave it away to the users. Please, help us make your site better. -wʃʃʍ- 12:38, 5 July 2014 (PDT)
As soon as Wil did not understand what was happening, he took the wiki back. Had he actually given it away, and even if he remained as a trustee, he'd have consulted the users before making any of a whole series of blunders. Further, he then attempted to hide what he was doing. In Wil's behavior there were a series of red flags, if he ever cares to actually take responsibility, instead of just saying that he does. Hiding behavior is never a good sign.
He set it up so that he could not learn. He rejected those who actually might have helped him, and befriended those who were actually enemies of his project. In this last incident, Jim-Siduri is definitely a "difficult user." He's started to work on Wikiversity, and he's not blocked yet, but Wikiversity is far more tolerant than Wil Sinclair. On Wikiversity, the page that Wil deleted would have been moved to user space (unless it actually violated policy instead of being merely off-topic).
Further, if an admin warns a user, they do it on the User talk page. I showed that to Wil. He considered it harassment of the user. Instead, he warned users somewhere else, with no evidence that they actually read the warning, then blocked when they violated it. Very-clueless-Wikipedian of him. Or he blocked, in my case, without warning, suppressing the block log.
I find it hilarious that he wants to work on the biography of Adolf Hitler, and quotes what he quotes.
More seriously, however, his partner made somewhat similar mistakes dealing with the Wikipedia community: the entire WMF depends on trusting the community, and she demonstrated that the community was not trusted. She thought she was running a software company. Her idea of Bold Leadership was to force the customers to use a new product. And she thought of the customers as the readers of Wikipedia, whereas the mission statement of the WMF is to empower the community to create the projects.