Participation of intellectual professions
Fri, 28 May 2010 21:57:14
1. I just had a short chat with Érik Orsenna, a member of the Académie française who "loves to learn and pass along knowledge". He's also interested in the adventure of knowledge and in the democratic processes and appreciate being able to tap into the knowledge of the five french Académies he has access to.
I asked him if he was aware of Wikipedia and of its participative nature. He did.
I asked him why the Academicians didn't participate more and share their knowledge on it.
He said that they have no time, that they're busy writing their books.
2. In parallel, I had several conversations with university Professors showing their reticence, distrust or hostility about the free encyclopedia. They discredit the articles when speaking to their students.
3. High level physicists also stay away from it. (for example most of the theoretical information about quasars comes from the 1960's. Current information on the net is frequently only available through pay-to-read sites.)
It seems that the traditional way of handling knowledge is treating it as a good, that is, a resource with a monetary value and ownership. One invests money, time and efforts to obtain it. People who made a career out of it want to recover their costs and make benefits out of it. Some like the prestige of their exclusive knowledge or the authority it confers.
A. Some feel threatened by the wikipedia model. They don't want it to succeed. They perceive it would question their role, their power and their way of earning money.
B. An expert who has synthesized after 40 years of dedicated studies most of the knowledge of his specific domain that is known to humanity will transmit it to a few persons only each year: a few dozens of students, a few dozens of other experts, and a few thousands of passionate readers who buy the vulgarization book.
Thus, knowledge is controlled, reserved, limited, slowed down. It will take decades or centuries before the best of what we know reach everybody.
The consequences if it were to change:
With wikipedia, any expert could reach and teach millions of persons. In ten or twenty years, every literate person with internet access could use an interdisciplinary, edge-cutting database of knowledge for their diary reasoning.
The knowledge and understanding of mankind could make giant leaps.
I think it is important to think how many of the intellectual profession don't collaborate and why. We should search if mechanisms involving the wikipedia and that would benefit their research are possible. We should even think economical models about knowledge that allow the profession to change, in the same way that it is happening with the free software, copyleft, Creative Commons and other alternative models.
Sat, 29 May 2010 01:16:16
I'm expressing my surprise that there are so many reticences among the intellectual professions, at least in France and Argentina where I made my little personal investigation.
I would naively expect a massive participation from them, on the supposition that they share a vocation for sharing knowledge and a passion to learn from others. And indeed some do. I have the impression, however, that they're a minority. Please correct me if I'm wrong. If it needs to be precised, I try to never communicate to impose personal convictions but to ask questions and provoke thoughts in the hope of deeper questions.
Fri, 28 May 2010 22:57:39
The traditional academic system is based upon status differences between pupils and teachers. One of the problems is the reception they get--a great many experts do not take it kindly when they are challenged by the ignorant, and get no respect for their qualifications, or even negative comments about them. But there is no way of keeping WP open and preventing them from being subjected to this. It affects not just academic experts, but experts in all sorts of fields and knowledgeable amateurs also.
Some experts can deal with it well, and a few have been known to go for years on WP without mentioning their academic status. Some have the art of explaining things to make them clear to anyone who is not willfully misunderstanding, and the patience to do it. These are the kind of people we need. Alas, the one's who cannot tolerate the fools are probably never going to be able to work effectively in a WP environment.
Sat, 29 May 2010 01:42:04
Aye, there is a group who will never really be able to fit in (I generally think of them as the "elitist" side of the academics but that isn't really the best way to describe them I think). I do think that there are a lot who aren't really engaged who could be brought in though. Other then the "elitism" group I think most of the other problems they have can at some level be overcome by showing them the opportunities and benefits. The Public Policy Initiative that the Foundation is starting sounds like a great idea to get some thoughts on how to do this (both helping to incorporate the grad and undergrad students but also the profs by showing them exactly how much it can do). In the end however we are going to have to be able to expand it to other disciplines and find good ways for us to do it on a larger (and more volunteer run) scale.
There was an interesting point that I saw a couple weeks ago (I think it was in the Initiatives State 1 report, perhaps it was just in the description on OutreachWiki). Basically it was talking about who had the most time to edit. Undergrads had the most, Grads and Professors tended to be more focused on academic papers/books for work reasons and then the Retired Professors had more time again. I think we could still get a fair amount of Grad students and active Professors but the Retired/Emeritus Professors would be another good group to try and target (and one I believe that will be less focused on by the current Initiative) I know we have some, but there are tons more out there ;).
Virgilio A. P. Machado <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sat, 29 May 2010 08:26:40
This an interesting topic which ties in very well with others that I have been discussing in this list. Noein presented part of the problem. Dr. Goodman, with whom I had the pleasure of exchanging some comments before, added some more very important information. He mentions "ignorants" and "fools". I have called them worse, but that's besides the point. What I find deplorable is the sorry state of cronyism and complicity so pervasive in several (but fortunately not all) Wikimedia projects that allows "ignorants" and "fools" to prevail. The spectacle of seeing someone with qualifications similar to those of the professors who are giving you so much grief in school is just too entertaining to pass. So is the spectacle of seeing a colleague that "cannot tolerate the fools" fail to work effectively in a WP environment. I am indeed a bit short on examples where the community has stand up to the "ignorants" and "fools", in favor of the inexperienced expert or the well meaning do gooder. I'm sorry most of you are not enough knowledgeable of the Portuguese language to ever had been able to interfere in the abuse and travesty of proper procedure (It's impossible to call that justice. It will be too offensive to what justice is) that I and others have had to endure in the Portuguese Wikipedia. At least I never notice your participation there, but records and written testimonies of the abusive behavior I mention are abundant.
To make things easy for the friendly intellectuals that usually post to this list, I'll give two examples for you to play with and have your fun:
Come on guys. Bring it on. Make my day.
Virgilio A. P. Machado (Vapmachado)
Virgilio A. P. Machado <email@example.com>
Thu, 05 Aug 2010 00:29:39
All of you that have such a keen interest, deep knowledge and great insights in matters of privacy, what is public and non-public, are cordially invited to lend some of your expertise to my humble request for comment:
Everybody else is also very much welcome. Your comment is just as important for me as that of all those that post to this list put together. Yes, I mean YOU, who were always too busy, too shy or too intimidated to voice your opinion. This is YOUR chance to be heard, to voice your opinion. Once you get started, nothing and nobody will stop you.
I regret not having a problem of planetary scope, but small is the nature of most of our daily obstacles, namely those any common mortal has to face at the Portuguese Wikipedia.
Virgilio A. P. Machado (Vapmachado)
P.S. Please don't take this message too seriously. My invitation is plain and simple: I would like to hear from you all. Here, on the page listed above, through my e-mail. Even attempts to insult me are welcome. No guaranty you'll succeed though (here I go again...)
Expertise and Wikipedia redux
Tue, 12 Oct 2011 19:35:12
This reads like a radical anti-egalitarian manifesto by some young Internet-based firebrand. Wikipedia is way cool! Universities are dead institutions walking! We'll all learn off the web! Social networks will replace campuses! You know the sort of thing:
Then I got to the end and m`y jaw dropped when I saw what the author did for a living. (Try to read the article without skipping to the end.)
So. What do we do to distinguish experts from non-experts when we no longer even have credentials as a marker of expertise? (e.g. there's not a vast reserve of commercial positions for pure philosophers.)
Thu, 14 Oct 2010 19:24:27
Let me reply in more detail. Will projects like Wikipedia affect employment in academia? Discuss.
1. One business of academia is research, i.e. the production of primary sources. But use of primary sources is forbidden in Wikipedia, so no change there.
2. Another business is teaching, and the awarding of degrees. Given the choice between a graduate of one of the better universities, and a graduate of Wikipedia, what would you choose? No change there either.
3. Some academics produce material intended for wider publication than the journals and specialised outlets - basic introductions, popular works (Russell made his money from History of Western Philosophy). Wikipedia is allowed to *use* secondary sources. But it can't *produce* them. That is also forbidden by policy - see e.g. WP:RS and the other policy 'pillars'. Wikipedia is a tertiary source. No change there either.
4. So who is Wikipedia putting out of business? There are two classes of writers for encyclopedias. These are the (rather poorly paid) recently graduated staff who compile sources, work with the specialized databases that collect together all the comprehensive information for the 'factual' articles. They are supported by administrative and clerical staff. It is this class of people that Wikipedia is putting out of a job. The other class are those who have a specialism and who write the 'high level' summaries of a whole subject, the big articles that tie the encyclopedia together. These are, or were paid somewhat more. These probably are losing out also. But you see the cost. Wikipedia is good at compiling lists and basic facts. But at articles which require a thread, a conspectus, an overall summary of a big, general, subject, it is hopeless. (As I've pointed out here a few times).
In summary, Wikipedia is hardly making a dent. Where it is making a dent, it is by cheapening the product. No win all round.
Virgilio A. P. Machado <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fri, 15 Oct 2010 00:54:37
Whoever you might be, that's one heck of a post. Congratulations.
Want to get together on Meta? I have only two more months to go on my very first block there.
Maybe we can come up with a proposal for a multilingual Wikipedia for banned users.
I wonder if Larry Sanger would like to join too.
Virgilio A. P. Machado (Vapmachado)
(a.k.a. Public enemy number one of the pt.wiki, working on his way up in Meta)
Greg Kohs and Peter Damian
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 00:05:18
After extensive discussion among the list administrators, we've enacted, for the first time, a permanent ban of a mailing list member. Greg Kohs is no longer welcome to participate on Foundation-l.
Peter Damian has also been moderated once again, and will remain on moderation for the indefinite future.
Virgilio A. P. Machado <email@example.com>
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 01:29:44
I strongly disagree with both decisions.
Virgilio A. P. Machado
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 01:49:33
on 10/17/10 8:05 PM, Austin Hair [...] wrote:
> Hi guys,
> After extensive discussion among the list administrators, we've enacted, for the first time, a permanent ban of a mailing list member. Greg Kohs is no longer welcome to participate on Foundation-l.
> Peter Damian has also been moderated once again, and will remain on moderation for the indefinite future.
Why? Would you like to share your reasoning with the rest of us? When someone else decides that what another person has written isn't suitable for someone else's eyes - what else do you call it but censorship. The only reason words are ever banned is out of fear of the consequence of their use. Has either of these persons threatened anyone with harm? As I understand this Forum, it is for discussing all issues related to the Foundation that controls the Project we are all working on. The Community should be able to openly discuss all of the laundry that belongs to it - both clean and dirty. This way, we may not always like what we hear, but we can always trust that we are hearing it all.
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 02:37:53
--- On Mon, 18/10/10, Virgilio A. P. Machado <vam at fct.unl.pt> wrote:
> I strongly disagree with both decisions.
> Virgilio A. P. Machado
While I appreciate the situation the moderators are in, I'm afraid I disagree too -- in particular in Peter's case, whose contributions generally seem intelligent and constructive.
Greg's contributions may be provocative, but a culture that is able to tolerate provocation and dissent without losing its composure is healthier than one that cannot. That includes being able to deal with the occasional searching question from someone like Greg.
I realise the moderators' aim is to prevent disruption. And I am aware that back-and-forth discussions about putting a member in an online discussion group on moderation are one of the most tedious and unproductive types of discussions to have. It's something that can make moderating an online discussion group a truly invidious task, making the most well-meaning moderator feel their job is not appreciated.
That is not so.
But I feel compelled to point out that falling prey to groupthink(*) is often a more hazardous fate for a group than suffering disruption.
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 03:32:41
I certainly welcome Mr Kohs absence from this list. His brinkmanship is well known, he is not welcome on two projects as well and he boasted recently that there are still projects open to him. Getting rid of a troll is imho beneficial to the atmosphere.
Mr Damian uses hyperbole to the extend that you would believe there is nothing good to be found in Wikipedia. His posture as a superior mind has become increasingly boring. I hope he will consider his options and decide to tone down this rhetoric. This might make him relevant again I hope. If not tough.
So I am one to welcome the move by the list administrators and I am happy to support their action.
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 03:50:12
This list is for people who support the project, not those who are actively opposing it or criticizing in public forums in exaggerated ways. Nothing constructive or helpful is likely to be added by thekohster, and if Peter contributes something interesting and helpful it can be approved.
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 05:01:11
Fred Bauder wrote:
> This list is for people who support the project, not those who are actively opposing it or criticizing in public forums in exaggerated ways.
Please don't stupidly spout off about the purpose of this list. Or if you insist on doing so, at least have the decency to be accurate. There is absolutely no issue with dissent on this list (or on any Wikimedia mailing list). Thoughtful critics and criticism should always be welcome. The view you're putting forward is simply and unequivocally wrong.
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 05:21:09
You guys really need to get out of the echo chamber. You don't even bother to try and articulate what you are trying to accomplish with moderation any more. Obviously everyone involved has written Greg Kohs off as inherently evil, so I won't waste my time with nuance on that subject. But you might want to actually define your goalposts to prevent the predictable dramafest that will occur in the near future when someone who has not been labeled as evil begins grappling with them. The foundation-l forum obviously has a broader population than wherever the adminstrators extensively discuss these things and none are mind readers.
Robert S. Horning
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 05:34:20
On 10/17/2010 11:01 PM, MZMcBride wrote:
> Fred Bauder wrote:
>> This list is for people who support the project, not those who are actively opposing it or criticizing in public forums in exaggerated ways.
> Please don't stupidly spout off about the purpose of this list. Or if you insist on doing so, at least have the decency to be accurate. There is absolutely no issue with dissent on this list (or on any Wikimedia mailing list). Thoughtful critics and criticism should always be welcome. The view you're putting forward is simply and unequivocally wrong.
While I think this reply could have been a bit more tactful, the sentient is well founded: This list includes a fair bit of dissent and controversy over the role of the Foundation in regards to the operations of the various Wikimedia projects.... controversy that in some cases I've started in the past in various capacities. *I* have offered dissenting viewpoints on several key things in the past, so if it is those who are actively criticizing the foundation or the actions of "project leaders", perhaps I ought to be the next one banned from this list?
This is a years (nearly a decade?) old mailing list with a rich and varied history and a whole lot of participants. The degree of toleration for dissent can and ought to be a central aspect to the governance of these projects, and in fact is one of the reasons why I still participate in one degree or another on the various projects. Indeed it is when intolerance has happened is when I've seen various projects or sub-projects start to die.
On occasion there might be somebody engaging in actions that are simply so over the top that it is necessary to take some action. Without supporting or being critical of the current action, to which I don't feel I have enough information to pass judgment, I certainly hope any such action to block or restrict another person is something done with a sober mind and well thought through before the action is taken. I remember when this was completely unmoderated to a degree that would not be tolerated today simply because of spam and pure junk. If it becomes merely a pruning exercise to make more like minded people, you can count me out. Until then, at least know that there are a great many reasons why people read and contribute to this list.
-- Robert Horning
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 06:17:28
I cannot speak for the list administrators. But criticism, especially thoughtful criticism, is of course both welcome and healthy in general in our projects, and personally I would love to see more nuanced and thoughtful criticism as the basis of many more conversations about where the Foundation and projects should go.
But I do note that Austin didn't specify the reasons that Kohs was banned, so I don't think that it's particularly useful to raise fearful scenarios. In the last few years that I have been actively participating in Foundation-l, I've found it quite lenient not only towards critics but also towards troublesome posters, even trolls. So I doubt that Kohs' critical views towards the projects contributed to his banning; there are plenty of other ways that someone can become unwelcome in a community, including harassment of other members of that community. I don't know what the specific situation in this case was that triggered this action at this time, but I trust our list administrators to make thoughtful decisions based on a long history.
Mon, 18 Oct 2010 16:40:06
If it pleases the moderators, might we know on what basis Greg was banned and Peter indefinitely muzzled?
Mon, 19 Oct 2010 03:24:06
On Sun, Oct 17, 2010 at 11:50 PM, Fred Bauder [...] wrote:
> This list is for people who support the project, not those who are actively opposing it or criticizing in public forums in exaggerated ways. Nothing constructive or helpful is likely to be added by thekohster
Wow, I don't know. On the one hand, you're right, the list should be for people who support the project (*). On the other hand, this ban appears to possibly be in retaliation for Greg's whistleblowing with regard to the Q2 Consulting contract, and it seems to me that that action *was* constructive, in that it points out the lack of an important policy, even if it ultimately turns out that no actual wrongdoing took place.
Maybe it was the right decision (**), but even so, the timing was horrible (***).
(*) Including those who support the project but believe that major changes ought to be made.
(**) I'm not sure if Greg falls into "those who support the project but believe that major changes ought to be made" or not.
(***) See http://www.examiner.com/wiki-edits-in-national/wikimedia-foundation-director-admits-to-sweetheart-contracts , which was published after the ban was announced, but which describes an IRC conversation which took place before the ban was announced.
Mon, 19 Oct 2010 16:30:17
On reflection, I guess I (I, not the Foundation), envision our public mailing lists as being for all who are involved and interested, casually or intensely, as well as for observers are simply monitoring our on-going discussions, and who may, from time to time, wish to comment or initiate topics.
The difficulty arises with trollish and disruptive behavior and bad faith grading into malice. With respect to malice, keep in mind that a person engaged in a campaign intending to harm may have and use substantive issues for that purpose.
Bottom line, it's a judgment call, and not easily done, or defended.
Mon, 19 Oct 2010 17:35:07
On Mon, Oct 18, 2010 at 6:40 PM, Nathan [...] wrote:
> If it pleases the moderators, might we know on what basis Greg was banned and Peter indefinitely muzzled?
Greg Kohs was banned for the same reason that he's been on moderation for the better part of the past year—namely, that he was completely unable to keep his contributions civil, and caused more flamewars than constructive discussion.
Peter Damian is only on moderation, and we'll follow our usual policy of letting through anything that could be considered even marginally acceptable. We really are very liberal about this—otherwise you wouldn't have heard from Mr. Kohs at all in the past six months.
I'm sure that my saying this won't convince anyone who's currently defending him, but nothing about the decision to ban Greg Kohs was retaliatory. I'll also (not for the first time) remind everyone that neither the Wikimedia Foundation Board, nor its staff, nor any chapter or other organizational body has any say in the administration of this list.
I hope that clears up all of the questions asked in this thread so far.
Mon, 20 Oct 2010 02:47:14
It is not about defending anyone but about the fact that the "I know bannable when I see it" theory of moderation is unconstructive and leads to dramafests. The next ban is the one that will likely cause a real flame war.
I suspect *more* people would be on moderation if any sort of objective criteria were being used. The lack of explanation over this bothers me so much because I suspect that you *can't* explain it. It seems to be the sort of gut-shot that hasn't been thought through. Moderate more people based on real criteria, rather than how you feel about them.
Virgilio A. P. Machado <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mon, 20 Oct 2010 04:44:19
I agree with you. You raised some very good points.
Virgilio A. P. Machado
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 12:58:06
Let's see what we've got here:
A "Board" that appears answerable only to some god; an "Executive Director" who answers only to this "Board"; a group of "Moderators" who claim (with a straight face) that they are "independent", but whose "moderations" are clearly designed to keep the first two in a favorable light; and, dead last, you have the people who, not so ironically, create the substance of the thing that makes the first three possible. This setup sounds achingly familiar. And, like all similar setups throughout history, is set up to fail.
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 15:07:43
On Sun, Oct 17, 2010 at 9:49 PM, Marc Riddell [...] wrote:
> As I understand this Forum, it is for discussing all issues related to the Foundation that controls the Project we are all working on. The Community should be able to openly discuss all of the laundry that belongs to it - both clean and dirty.
It should, and regularly does...
Robert Horning writes:
> This is a years (nearly a decade?) old mailing list with a rich and varied history and a whole lot of participants. The degree of toleration for dissent can and ought to be a central aspect to the governance of these projects, and in fact is one of the reasons why I still participate in one degree or another on the various projects.
Nearly a decade! Yes, this is also one of the reasons I am proud to be a wikimedian. So I assume that moderation here is not from intolerance of dissent. Discussions or dissent about contracts, jobs and any Foundation policies are historically on-topic.
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 16:05:11
I don't want to go further off-topic, but I'd like to make a small correction:
Le mercredi 20 octobre 2010 à 08:58 -0400, Marc Riddell a écrit:
> Let's see what we've got here:
> A "Board" that appears answerable only to some god
No. The Board is ultimately answerable to the community.
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 06:30:44
No further text
Virgilio A. P. Machado <email@example.com>
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 17:29:06
Very good. I subscribe to everything you wrote and I'll second any proposal you or anyone else makes in that direction.
Virgilio A. P. Machado
At 07:30 20-10-2010, (Mike Dupont) wrote: (This post could not be found on the list)
>From what I have seen about Greg Kohs is that he does have some interesting points to make, but I do see that he is jumping to conclusions and does seem to have a biased viewpoint.
>People want to make their own decisions and have enough information to do that. We don't want to have important information deleted away because it is uncomfortable.
>Banning him makes it less likely for him to be heard, and these interesting points which are worth considering are not heard my many people : this is depriving people of critical information, that is not fair to the people involved.
>Just look at this article for example, it is quite interesting and well written, and why should it not be visible to everyone on the list.
>Deleting and banning people who say things that are not comfortable, that does make you look balanced and trustworthy.
>The Wikimedia foundation should be able to stand up to such accusations without resorting to gagging people, it just gives more credit to the people being gagged and makes people wonder if there is any merit in what they say.
>This brings up my favorite subject of unneeded deletions versions needed ones.
>Of course there is material that should be deleted that is hateful, Spam etc, lets call that evil content.
>But the articles that i wrote and my friends wrote that were deleted did not fall into that category, they might have been just bad or not notable.
>We have had a constant struggle to keep our articles from being deleted in a manner that we consider unfair. Additionally, the bad content is lost and falls into the same category as evil content.
>Also there should be more transparency on deleted material on the Wikipedia itself, there is a lot of information that is being deleted and gone forever without proper process or review.
>In my eyes there is a connection between the two topics, the banning of people and the deleting of information. Both are depriving people from information that they want and need in an unfair manner.
>Instead of articles about obscure events, things, and old places in Kosovo you have a wikipedia full of the latest information about every television show, is that what you really want?
>I think there should be room for things in places that are not not notable because they are not part of mainstream pop culture, we also need to support the underdogs of Wikipedia even if they are not mainstream, Mr Kohs definitely has something to say and I would like like to hear it. And the Kosovars have something to say even if the Serbs don't want to hear it. The Albanians have something to say even if the Greeks don't want to hear it, etc. There are many cases of people from Kosovo and Albania driven out of Wikipedia and depriving the project of important information because they are not able to get started and the contributions are so far way from the dominating political viewpoint of the opposite side that they don't even get a chance to be heard.
>We need to make a way for these people to be heard and to moderate the conflicts better, that will make Wikipedia stronger and more robust.
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 17:49:53
Greg has a long, unmitigated and unambiguous record of trolling, spamming, harassment, and abuse. Revoking his access to WMF resources in yet another instance was entirely correct and appropriate, although arguably it should have happened much sooner and more consistently. As Fred pointed out here just a few days ago, most recently, Greg openly solicited bids from "web manipulators" whom he intends to pay to post pre-written negative comments to news stories about Wikipedia, with a very clearly stated motive to drive traffic to his revenue-generating sites.
Thanks to the list mods for making the call. I appreciate that people seek for our organization and our projects to aspire to such a high standard of ethical behavior that even clearly unethical and profit-driven behavior and trolling is seen by some to fall within the tolerable norm, as long as it occasionally draws attention to issues that may merit discussion, no matter how much time and energy is wasted, and how much shit is thrown. That's not a principle that has ever applied to Wikimedia projects, however. If you miss Greg, you know where to find him, and I'm sure he'll return here frequently with throwaway email accounts as well.
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation
Virgilio A. P. Machado <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 18:16:34
Marc, (Marc Riddell, Wed, 20 Oct 2010 12:58:06)
I agree with you. I would rephrase your statement as the present setup is not sustainable. You can only fool some of the people some of the time... There are many bells ringing, many whistles blowing, lots of lights going on and off. It is foolish not to give them a second thought and make amends while there still time and opportunity. Sometime down the line it will be too late. We're making a sincere and honest effort here. The last thing we want to say is "I told you so," but the audience keeps on screaming "Kill! Kill!" Its hard to hear anything else over the crowd roar.
Virgilio A. P. Machado
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 18:40:29
You are very right, Virgilio. The body of work, of the Project, is quite salvageable; as well as ultimately sustainable. But it is quite clear that the present management doesn't have the slightest clue, nor apparently, the vaguest interest in learning, how to work with people, beyond their own hubris-driven circle. That's where the change needs to begin if sustainable is the goal.
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 19:25:10
I disagree; the project is internally very tolerant of criticism. It's not tolerant of abuse.
Kohs is both a critic and abusive.
His criticism includes disagreeing on commercial / paid editing, use for promotional purposes, and management style of the project; he has contrarian but discussion-worthy points there. They have been and will undoubtedly continue to be discussed. It also includes a contrarian internal audit approach, which I feel has been somewhat sensationalistic but at least indicated we had someone who was paying attention to details I for one don't have time to.
I won't go into details on his abuse, other than to note that he got blocked and banned off the projects repeatedly and has been moderated and criticized for abusive behavior on the mailing lists repeatedly and over a multiyear period.
There are internal critics, and will always and necessarily be external critics. To be an internal critic, one must both be interested in sticking around inside (Kohs was) and willing to abide by reasonable internal behavior standards. At the very least, Greg was pushing the envelope or borderline on the latter.
If that behavior is a defining factor of your interaction with the community - and Greg was rarely able to suppress it for long - then at some point the community has a right to redraw the line of who's inside and who's outside.
Greg can continue his critical functions and policy discussions just fine from an external position. I am sure he will. I encourage that, to the degree that contrarianness and having a critic willing to look at programs and budgets is useful. I always have read what he's written, on that basis.
-george william herbert
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 19:32:22
On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 12:05 PM, Guillaume Paumier [...] wrote:
> No. The Board is ultimately answerable to the community.
How so? The community's vote for the board is only advisory.
In the long run, the board is answerable to the donors. But even then, there are millions stashed away which could keep the foundation running for a while even if no one donated a penny.
Ban and moderate
Virgilio A. P. Machado <email@example.com>
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 01:23:16
Three days after the announcement made by Austin Hair on behalf of this list administrators, which also includes Ral315 and AlexandrDmitri, that Greg Kohs was banned and Peter Damian moderated, this much has been accomplished by about 41 posts on that subject:
1) Austin Hair, Ral315, and AlexandrDmitri continue to be the list administrators;
2) Greg Kohs is still banned and Peter Damian moderated;
3) Five members posted supporting the list administrators decision;
4) Nine members posted against or questioning the list administrators decision;
5) Greg Kohs has been accused of and/or called (after being banned = unable to self defense)
5.1) brinkmanship, boasting, troll, by Gerard Meijssen
5.2) actively opposing [the project], criticizing in public forums in exaggerated ways, not adding anything constructive or helpeful, trollish and disruptive behavior, bad faith, malice, engaged in a campaign intending to harm, have and use substantive issues [to harm], by Fred Bauder
5.3) completely unable to keep his contributions civil, causing more flamewars than constructive discussion, by Austin Hair, list administrators reasons to ban
5.4) having a long, unmitigated and unambiguous record of trolling, spamming, harassment, and abuse, openly soliciting bids from "web manipulators" whom he intends to pay to post pre-written negative comments to news stories about Wikipedia, with a very clearly stated motive to drive traffic to his revenue-generating sites, clearly unethical and profit-driven behavior and trolling, wasting much time and energy, throwing much shit [of and at others], returning here frequently with throwaway email accounts, by Erik Moeller, Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation
5.5) being abusive, somewhat sensationalistic, unwilling to abide by reasonable internal behavior standards, that behavior being a defining factor of his interaction with the list, rarely being able to suppress it for long, by George Herbert
5.6) and associated with troublesome, trolls, and harassment, by phoebe ayers
6) Peter Damian has been accused of and/or called (after being moderated = self defense not guaranteed)
6.1) making you believe there is nothing good to be found in Wikipedia, posturing as a superior mind, boring, not toning down his retoric, not relevant, by Gerard Meijssen
6.2) actively opposing [the project], criticizing in public forums in exaggerated ways, not always contributing something constructive and helpeful, trollish and disruptive behavior, bad faith, malice, engaged in a campaign intending to harm, have and use substantive issues [to harm], by Fred Bauder
6.3) not always posting something that is even marginally acceptable, by Austin Hair, list administrators reasons to moderate
6.4) and associated with troublesome, and trolls, by phoebe ayers
Sixteen hours after the ban and moderation, the 19th post was off-topic. Three and a half hours later, by the 25th post the discussion got off-topic for good staying that way, until someone change the topic title. Of 41 posts, 18 (including the last 17) were off-topic.
Half an hour after the 19th post that would eventually send the discussion off-topic for good, another topic was open. It added a total of 19 posts, six of them by the list member that started it. It generated one post questioning the list administrators decision to moderate Peter Damian, and three supporting the list administrators decision to ban Greg Kohs. Furthermore,
7) Greg Kohs (after being banned = unable to self defense) was accused of campaigning against Wikipedia, having a big anti campaign in progress, being disingenuous and having bad faith, by Fred Bauder
8) Greg Kohs and his publications off-list were accused of being/having (after Greg Kohs being banned = unable to self defense)
8.1) sheer number of inaccuracies and misportrayals, by Michael Peel
8.2) full of misinformation, erroneously blaming the WMF for content issues, simultaneously arguing two sides of an issue, flat out false or outdated, troll, by Ryan Kaldari
8.3) continual attacks on the content don't appear to consistent and give the appearance (to me based on my view) of attacking the WMF because he has a personal axe to grind, Posting long screeds attacking the content providing nature while ignoring the fact that WMF is legally a host, not using a productive method for encouraging positive change, Continually railing on and on about these cases of pornography, plagiarism and libel just are ignoring, He doesn't feel like he's addressing systematic problems with the user created culture but attacking to attack, faulting the community (which it feels like) for not dealing with these problems on specific pages, attacking your average contributor, It feels like he's not attacking the WMF but the base of people like you and me, can't try to make positive change, won't fork, gives the appearance of trying to take down a project, by Laura Hale
9) Peter Damian (after being moderated = self defense not guaranteed) was accused of bad talk, by Fred Bauder
10) Peter Damian and his publications off-list were accused of being/having (after Peter Damian being moderated = self defense not guaranteed)
10.1) exaggerating, going beyhond negative comments, by Fred Bauder
10.2) blog complaining about moderation being itself moderated by him, by Ryan Kaldari
There seems to be nothing unusual or particularly remarkable in this case when compared with what can be seen on this list or in many Wikimedia projects. Hopefully this may be useful to others, helping them understand what to expect and how things work and are done and dealt with here.
Virgilio A. P. Machado
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 02:03:44
Wow! I see a fantastic candidate to revive the List Summary Service here :) Applied to every topic, this would be a very useful service.
Yaroslav M. Blanter
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 07:19:50
If you are counting votes, please count mine for moderation.
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 07:54:16
Seriously, this list is commonly referred to as "troll-l" and lots of chapter people refuse to even look at it. Pulling it out of the mire might make it even slightly useful again.
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 12:27:10
Who want's a list that's slightly useful?
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 12:49:53
People who appreciate an upgrade from totally useless... obviously...
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 13:14:25
To what "use" are you talking about, Gerard; groupthink-l?
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 13:27:31
Your answer appears to have fallen prey to the fallacy of the excluded middle.
The problem is how to arrest the evaporative cooling effect:
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 14:11:02
> To what "use" are you talking about, Gerard; groupthink-l?
> Marc Riddell
This is a public list for discussion of matters which concern and affect the Wikimedia Foundation. It is open to supporters and critics of our projects; to novices and old hands.
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 14:50:00
On 22/10/2010 08:54, David Gerard wrote:
> On 22 October 2010 08:19, Yaroslav M. Blanter [...] wrote:
>> If you are counting votes, please count mine for moderation.
Are you both asking to be put on moderation or to be banned>
> Seriously, this list is commonly referred to as "troll-l" and lots of chapter people refuse to even look at it. Pulling it out of the mire might make it even slightly useful again.
Has troll become the new Nazi?
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 15:34:15
> on 10/22/10 10:11 AM, Fred Bauder [...] wrote:
> This is a public list for discussion of matters which concern and affect the Wikimedia Foundation. It is open to supporters and critics of our projects; to novices and old hands.
I am listening, and do hear what you are saying, Fred. But banishment from something, whether it be from a working project or a country, means that person is being openly, or even surreptitiously, destructive of the body, the substance, of the project or country, not merely being critical of it. Has either of these persons, Greg or Peter, been destructive of the substance of the Project: the body of the Encyclopedia? And could we please stop the disingenuousness of calling what is clearly censorship, "moderation"?
And, when someone's constant (and seemingly only) answer to anyone who doesn't agree with them is to call them a name - like "troll", the accusation should bounce right back to the accuser. In psychology it's called "projection".
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 16:02:44
On Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 5:34 PM, Marc Riddell [...] wrote:
> I am listening, and do hear what you are saying, Fred. But banishment from something, whether it be from a working project or a country, means that person is being openly, or even surreptitiously, destructive of the body, the substance, of the project or country, not merely being critical of it. Has either of these persons, Greg or Peter, been destructive of the substance of the Project: the body of the Encyclopedia?
That is, in fact, exactly what we, the list administrators, finally concluded.
A minor correction, however: it was his contribution to the mailing list we were assessing, not to Wikipedia or any other project. (Though, given that he's been banned from at least two of them, that would have been a much easier case to make.)
Greg Kohs went beyond being merely critical (which is welcome, and even encouraged) to the point of being antisocial and counterproductive. He did so to such an extent that it was actively preventing civil discourse.
> And could we please stop the disingenuousness of calling what is clearly censorship, "moderation"?
Moderation is the technical term for it, and and you can call it "censorship" if you like, but your term carries an obvious bias.
I've been taking time out of my day to regularly log into the list administration interface to make sure nobody's posts were unnecessarily delayed, and I personally haven't rejected a single one from Peter Damian so far. I expect that we'll probably take him off moderation soon, if only to relieve the burden on the administrators.
> And, when someone's constant (and seemingly only) answer to anyone who doesn't agree with them is to call them a name - like "troll", the accusation should bounce right back to the accuser. In psychology it's called "projection".
The funny thing about projection, of course, is that it's so easy to call it out as recursive.
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 16:27:33
+1 from me too.
I would also like to add that labeling someone a troll doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't provide good criticism, it's just that he presents it in the most time consuming and destructive way possible. I am personally interested in some of the criticism Kohs put forward, but I am against his tactics.
We had a troll on ar.wp who was pretty similar in tactics, it took months of debate about freedom and censorship etc. and a few good editors actually quitting before we banned him. And it took a few more months of sock-puppeting for him to actually give up, and looking back at this humongous waste of the time for all parties involved, I wonder if the couple of points he was making were even worth it, we do have people who are capable of presenting criticism in a civil manner, so it's not about 'opinion'. I believe WP:POINT and WP:GAME should apply to any medium we are trying to constructively work together.
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 17:29:58
I support the list admins in making this assessment. I dont think it is very productive to then discuss every assessment on this list. So if we agree that moderation might be necessary under certain circumstances, if we agree what circumstances those are and who should be the list admins (or at least there are no major objections of >33% of the members of this list), then I suggest we leave it with that.
These circumstances have been discussed several times on this list, but if you need to discuss something, please stick to those abstract circumstances, and dont go into specific cases. I think that might actually carry some value for the future.
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 19:03:35
Although I am not privy to all of Mr. Koh's engagements with the community, he has certainly made himself notorious for polemical disruption over various Wikimedia projects and forums. Allegations of censorship are misplaced. He will, without a doubt, continue to blog about Wikimedia and interested members can relay anything worthy of being read without the kerfuffle.
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 20:25:39
Austin Hair, you have very recently publicly stated: "Greg Kohs went beyond being merely critical (which is welcome, and even encouraged) to the point of being antisocial and counterproductive."
This is in follow-up to calling him "completely unable" to keep contributions "civil".
In the past, David Gerard has insinuated that he is a "dick" on the list you moderate. Phoebe Ayers has hinted that "harassment" may be a problem of his. Neither member of the list has been publicly rebuked by any on your moderating team, though their insinuations are offensive to us.
However, you were asked privately, and Samuel Klein as well, to please point out what has been uncivil (and now "antisocial") about any of the last five of Kohs' posts to the Foundation-l mailing list. You have failed to respond to that question. Samuel has failed to respond to that question.
So, I ask here, what has been uncivil or antisocial about any of the most recent five of Kohs' posts to Foundation-l?
This should take no more than 3 or 4 minutes of your time. You refuse to take that time, yet you find the time to label Kohs "antisocial" (which is really quite comical, considering his expansive list of friends on Facebook).
How many hours have already been wasted on Foundation-l, thanks to your recent judgment? How many more hours will be wasted as we move forward with the next steps? (You don't really think this is "over", do you? Kohs will likely return with sockpuppets on the mailing list. He is relentless when prodded.) Or, you could just admit that you've made a mistake, apologize, and then we all move on. He's already gotten bored with Wikisource, Wikibooks, and Wikiversity, where he's been unblocked -- and yet given excellent free content before he faded off.
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 20:56:58
On Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 8:34 AM, Marc Riddell [...] wrote:
> Has either of these persons, Greg or Peter, been destructive of the substance of the Project: the body of the Encyclopedia?
Yes, in my opinion.
Both were banned from English language Wikipedia and (I believe) other projects, for content and behavioral reasons.
-george william herbert
Fri, 22 Oct 2010 21:21:30
What content reasons was I banned for? 'Behavioural reasons' - I admit have a short temper. Apologies. I have tried to keep my temper here. You are free to look at my posts. In any case, I am closing this account now. I am sorry this has caused so much disturbance.
With every kind wish,
Fri, 23 Oct 2010 01:15:29
I would think the people who think this list is useless have already unsubscribed.
Can't please everyone.
Fri, 23 Oct 2010 01:42:54
On 10/22/2010 09:27 AM, Muhammad Yahia wrote:
> I wonder if the couple of points he was making were even worth it, we do have people who are capable of presenting criticism in a civil manner, so it's not about 'opinion'. I believe WP:POINT and WP:GAME should apply to any medium we are trying to constructively work together.
I found this part of your email especially compelling. There is no lack of people on our public email lists with a variety of opinions, and have no hesitation in sharing them, who don't otherwise engage in abusive or disruptive behavior.
Fri, 23 Oct 2010 02:49:37
On Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 9:15 PM, Anthony [...] wrote:
> I would think the people who think this list is useless have already unsubscribed.
I'm still here. I stay subscribed for the lulz.
Fri, 23 Oct 2010 04:04:33
On Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 6:42 PM, Cary Bass [...] wrote:
> > On 10/22/2010 09:27 AM, Muhammad Yahia wrote:
> > I wonder if the couple of points he was making were even worth it, we do have people who are capable of presenting criticism in a civil manner, so it's not about 'opinion'. I believe WP:POINT and WP:GAME should apply to any medium we are trying to constructively work together.
> I found this part of your email especially compelling. There is no lack of people on our public email lists with a variety of opinions, and have no hesitation in sharing them, who don't otherwise engage in abusive or disruptive behavior.
I didn't mean to imply otherwise Cary, I was just alluding to the fact that those people exist, on wiki or on mailing list, as opposed to what he is doing.
Survey about recent ban
Mon, 25 Oct 2010 17:32:06
Just for your information, Houston Navarro has been moderated for being Greg Kohs.
Pro tip: bcc'ing a bunch of list subscribers with a fake "[Foundation-l]" subject isn't very sneaky, particularly when the return-path header says "[...] at [...]."
Greg, the sooner you grow up, the happier the world will be.
Forwarded message ----------
From: Houston Navarro [...]
Date: Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 5:57 PM
Subject: [Foundation-l] Survey about recent ban
What is your opinion about the Foundation-l mailing list moderators' action to ban Gregory Kohs from all mailing list activity? Cast your vote:
Password = Austin
Kwan Ting Chan
Mon, 25 Oct 2010 20:47:37
That's why the message didn't filter to the appropriate folder in my email client! :D