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> Sockpuppets as RFA candidates, Please enlighten the kibitzers...please...
Shalom
post Thu 29th July 2010, 2:58am
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Would someone in good standing in the Wikipedia "community" please post the following to [[Wikipedia talk:Requests for adminship]] with a hyperlink to this page for attribution?

QUOTE

==New RFA question about alternate accounts: proposed text==

I am writing on behalf of [[User:Chutznik]] a.k.a. "Shalom", who posted to Wikipedia Review. [Insert hyperlink here.]

In a recent thread, [[User:Hobit]] proposed the addition of a new standard question to [[Template:RfA]] regarding the RFA candidate's use of alternate accounts. Opposition has centered on the invasion of privacy and the lack of a need for such a question. The following proposed text and FAQ attempts to move forward on this much-needed improvement.

;Proposed text

'''4.''' The following questions ask you to disclose all significant editing you may have done outside of the account to which you are currently logged in. For the policy, see [[Wikipedia:Sock puppetry]].
:'''a.''' Have you made any edits while logged in to another account in the last 30 days? (Do not include "anonymous" edits attributed to your IP address.)
:'''b.''' Have you made at least 100 edits while logged in to another account over the entire history of Wikipedia?
:'''c.''' Have you ever been blocked for editing under any account or while you were not logged in?

;FAQ

'''Q:''' This is a solution in search of a problem.
'''A:''' Wikipedia has been burned many times by administrator candidates who did not - and were not asked to - disclose their previous or current sockpuppeting activities. Some examples:

* [[User:Jtkiefer]], [[User:Pegasus1138]] and [[User:Thygard]] were sockpuppets of one another. Together they made more than 10 requests for adminship and bureaucratship before the deception was revealed in [[Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Jtkiefer 3]].

* [[User:Henrygb]] was desysopped and banned for abusive sockpuppetry that was ongoing during his RFA.

* [[User:Runcorn]] was desysopped and banned for similar reasons.

* [[User:Robdurbar]] went on a wild spree and was desysopped. He was later discovered to be a reincarnation of [[User:Wonderfool]] and his indef-blocked sockpuppets.

* [[User:Archtransit]] passed RFA unopposed. One month later, he was desysopped and blocked as a sockpuppet of banned [[User:Dereks1x]].

* [[User:Law]] passed RFA without revealing that he previously edited as [[User:The undertow]], who was serving a nine-month ban.

* [[User:Pastor Theo]] passed RFA without revealing that he was banned as [[User:Ecoleetage]].

* [[User:Sam Blacketer]] passed RFA and was elected to serve on ArbCom without revealing that he had been desysopped as [[User:Dbiv]].

See [[WP:FIRED]] for details. In none of these cases were the RFA candidates asked to disclose their previous accounts. To paraphrase the familiar adage: "Fool us once, shame on you; fool us ten times, shame on us!"

'''Q:''' But it hasn't happened recently.
'''A:''' It happened at least once each in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. It may happen again.

'''Q.''' Too many RFA questions. Too little time.
'''A.''' The proposed question is exceeding simple to answer for most candidates. ("No.") A candidate who uses a benign alternate account can explain it in less than five minutes. Furthermore, the community has repeatedly failed to act on proposals to limit RFA questions to a reasonable number.

'''Q.''' Asking about alternate accounts invades the candidate's privacy.
'''A.''' Any candidate who is so concerned about privacy that they are unwilling to disclose alternate accounts should not seek the community's trust at RFA. Notice that the proposed wording does not require the candidate to disclose his or her IP address, no matter how many edits it has accumulated, unless it has been blocked.

'''Q.''' Have RFA candidates faced this question before?
'''A.''' [[User:Jossi]] asked RFA candidates in December 2007 the following question: "Have you used, or do you currently use any alternate accounts to edit Wikipedia?" See example: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_adminship/Cobi_2]

'''Q.''' So why not allow an individual user to ask the question as Jossi did, without adding the question to [[Template:RfA]]?
'''A.''' In order to deter candidates from avoiding scrutiny of possibly abusive alternate accounts, '''every''' candidate must be asked. If individual users ask this question, eventually they will lose interest, as Jossi did. The deficient ''status quo ante'' will resume.

'''Q.''' Dishonest RFA candidates might just lie.
'''A.''' Refer to Nsk92's astute response in the previous discussion: "I would not simply dismiss the proposal on the grounds that rogue candidates are not going to disclose the truth anyway. People have a remarkable capacity for self-deception but, when faced with a question about prior/alternate accounts directly, many of the "rogue" ones will simply decide not to apply."

'''Q.''' Honest RFA candidates should know to disclose alternate accounts without being asked.
'''A.''' Some honest RFA candidates will not be familiar with the detailed policy. Furthermore, the policy is ambiguous regarding whether disclosure at RFA is obligatory or optional.

'''Q.''' The wording of the proposed text is deficient.
'''A.''' Please feel free to improve the wording.

Thank you for your consideration. ~~~~

;Comments


I have decided not to edit Wikipedia for the foreseeable future. I decided to get involved in this instance because I feel that, if RFA kibitzers demanded a culture of honesty, I might not have suffered much of the emotional pain that still scars me two years after I suffered from vicious attacks against the thousands of hours I had invested in a futile attempt to gain the community's trust. I still have much to contribute, but I will never feel happy in the Wikipedia community again. Nevertheless, since nobody else seems ready or able to push this critical issue forward, I am providing the information needed to support this simple, much-needed reform.
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privatemusings
post Thu 29th July 2010, 3:07am
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I dunnit.
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Herschelkrustofsky
post Thu 29th July 2010, 5:24am
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You neglected to mention SlimVirgin in your rogue's gallery of socking admins. But be that as it may, I don't think this will substantially improve WP, because there are many maniacal, abusive, agenda-driven admins who, to my knowledge, do not sock. If you purge the sockers, you simply turn the field over to those others, and it doesn't seem that you shall have accomplished much.
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EricBarbour
post Thu 29th July 2010, 6:32am
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Wed 28th July 2010, 10:24pm) *
You neglected to mention SlimVirgin in your rogue's gallery of socking admins.

He forgot Shankbone.
He forgot Guy Chapman.
He forgot JoshuaZ.
He forgot Benjiboi.
He forgot Orderinchaos.
He forgot FT2.
He forgot Raul654.

The list goes on and on and on. Nobody, not even the WMF, has any idea how many admin socks there are.

QUOTE
But be that as it may, I don't think this will substantially improve WP, because there are many maniacal, abusive, agenda-driven admins who, to my knowledge, do not sock. If you purge the sockers, you simply turn the field over to those others, and it doesn't seem that you shall have accomplished much.

Agreed. A simple rule change will not fix a corrupt community.

This post has been edited by EricBarbour: Thu 29th July 2010, 6:39am
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jayvdb
post Thu 29th July 2010, 7:48am
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QUOTE(EricBarbour @ Thu 29th July 2010, 6:32am) *

QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Wed 28th July 2010, 10:24pm) *
You neglected to mention SlimVirgin in your rogue's gallery of socking admins.

He forgot Shankbone.
He forgot Guy Chapman.
He forgot JoshuaZ.
He forgot Benjiboi.
He forgot Orderinchaos.
He forgot FT2.
He forgot Raul654.

The list goes on and on and on. Nobody, not even the WMF, has any idea how many admin socks there are.


Benjiboi & Shankbone have not been admins as far as we know. I'd put Orderinchaos case in the 'meat-puppet' basket, & FT2's case is even messer. Matthew & Majorly is another one.
I haven't seen that Raul654 thread before; it seems like IRC tomfoolery to me, without any mention of any socks.

QUOTE

QUOTE
But be that as it may, I don't think this will substantially improve WP, because there are many maniacal, abusive, agenda-driven admins who, to my knowledge, do not sock. If you purge the sockers, you simply turn the field over to those others, and it doesn't seem that you shall have accomplished much.


Agreed. A simple rule change will not fix a corrupt community.

I see it as a step in the right direction. Admins who use undisclosed alt accounts are more likely to be agenda-driven. If undisclosed alt accounts are not acceptable for admins, regular editors with aspirations to be an admin will think twice about it. Some RFA candidates will still lie to hide their dirty laundry, but if their lie is written on their RFA, there will be less resistance in the community to desysoping them when the alt account is revealed.
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Somey
post Thu 29th July 2010, 8:13am
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Should this be moved out of the Annex? It seems vaguely relevant...

What if the RfA candidate has been using a sock puppet account merely to hide a fairly harmless personal obsession with, say, a particular pornstar or their favorite episode of Friends or an unusually smelly species of slime mold? Even if it's true that an RfA candidate with other "undisclosed" accounts is more likely to be agenda-driven, does this mean WP has to punish the obsessives (again, assuming they're harmless) in order to more effectively deter (and/or shame) the egregiously biased?
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Zoloft
post Thu 29th July 2010, 11:43am
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QUOTE(Somey @ Thu 29th July 2010, 8:13am) *

Should this be moved out of the Annex? It seems vaguely relevant...

What if the RfA candidate has been using a sock puppet account merely to hide a fairly harmless personal obsession with, say, a particular pornstar or their favorite episode of Friends or an unusually smelly species of slime mold? Even if it's true that an RfA candidate with other "undisclosed" accounts is more likely to be agenda-driven, does this mean WP has to punish the obsessives (again, assuming they're harmless) in order to more effectively deter (and/or shame) the egregiously biased?

I'm of two minds. Maybe three.

One, you're right that an obscure subject is probably a harmless reason to sock.
Two, it is a COI, and probably indicates ownership.
Three, maybe just showing the account to an Arb would suffice...

/Fiddler on The Roof "...but on the other hand!"
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Theanima
post Thu 29th July 2010, 12:19pm
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It's a completely pointless question. Anyone who has anything to hide won't suddenly reveal it at RFA, and to everyone else it's a waste of time question. RFA already has three solid questions, and does not need anymore.
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Moulton
post Thu 29th July 2010, 2:23pm
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Thu 29th July 2010, 1:24am) *
You neglected to mention SlimVirgin in your rogue's gallery of socking admins.

She's mentioned here.
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Shalom
post Thu 29th July 2010, 5:13pm
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Privatemusings: Thank you.

Beeblebrox, as to why I won't edit Wikipedia myself: I refuse to participate in a community of people who do not demand a minimum standard of honesty. However, I saw an opportunity to influence the community toward this higher standard of honesty. I vowed after my block in February never to return, and though I've said that before to no avail, this time I've held up for six months so far. I worked hard to earn my wiki-freedom, and I won't throw it away (but maybe already I have thrown it away?).

WereSpielChequers: Other policies don't relate to personal identity. If an admin turns out to be incompetent, you deal with it. RFC, mentoring, etc., ArbCom as a last resort. If an admin turns out to be a banned user, you can't really get around that by saying, "Okay, but with mentoring he can improve his behavior." Even if you don't believe in "banned means banned," the large majority of RFA kibitzers would never knowingly support a candidate who is banned on another user account.

Aiken, Theanima: Read my FAQ again:

"'''Q.''' Dishonest RFA candidates might just lie.
'''A.''' Refer to Nsk92's astute response in the previous discussion: "I would not simply dismiss the proposal on the grounds that rogue candidates are not going to disclose the truth anyway. People have a remarkable capacity for self-deception but, when faced with a question about prior/alternate accounts directly, many of the "rogue" ones will simply decide not to apply."

I believe this is correct. The example cited by Nsk92, viz. Fys/Dbiv/Sam Blacketer, is sneaky and evasive but would not lie directly. For all your concern about a few minutes of each candidate's time to answer this fundamentally important question, you think nothing of wasting hours upon hours of volunteer time to clean up dramatic messes caused by sockpuppet admins. You forget how time-consuming these cases have been. A minute of prevention can save a week of drama.


To the Wikipedia "community":

I consider that you have abdicated the moral high ground of enforcing Wikipedia's "policy" regarding RFA candidate disclosure. The written policy contradicts itself (see WT:SOCK currently), and even if it clearly required disclosure, the lack of any enforcement mechanism such as the one I proposed renders the policy completely worthless. There are no safeguards to prevent or deter abuse of the most important information resource on the Internet (despite its myriad flaws) - a source which I use sometimes at work to lookup French-English translations that I cannot find more conveniently by other methods.

I have not edited for six months. I have vowed never to return. But if I do return, I will start over and I will not disclose that I ever had a previous identity. You will not ask me at RFA, and I will pass RFA uneventfully, and I will be a good administrator like you all know I am capable. You can do nothing to stop me. Or you can institute a question like I was proposing, and I will not engage in such activities, and I will not consider running for adminship. The choice is yours.

Yes, this is an empty threat. I have much better things to do with my time than edit Wikipedia in the vain hope of achieving an adminship status that I don't even want. But the concept is important.

I am deeply hurt, to be honest. I responded to accusations against me by going the honest route, and rehabilitating my own reputation - or trying to. Others like Smee/Cirt and Fys/Sam Blacketer tried the dishonest, evasive route. I failed. The dishonest folks succeeded. My attempt to put forward a proposal to demand a minimum standard of honesty has been shot down.

Why should I want to participate in a site which doesn't enforce a minimum standard of honesty, unless I would choose to act dishonestly myself? I guess it's only a game, not a serious academic endeavor. In games, it's okay to cheat.

By the way, since I edited via proxy (thanks again, PM!) there's no trail when I end up getting checkusered for the nth time again. I win. You all lose. The end.
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Theanima
post Thu 29th July 2010, 6:51pm
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QUOTE(Shalom @ Thu 29th July 2010, 6:13pm) *

Aiken, Theanima: Read my FAQ again:

"'''Q.''' Dishonest RFA candidates might just lie.
'''A.''' Refer to Nsk92's astute response in the previous discussion: "I would not simply dismiss the proposal on the grounds that rogue candidates are not going to disclose the truth anyway. People have a remarkable capacity for self-deception but, when faced with a question about prior/alternate accounts directly, many of the "rogue" ones will simply decide not to apply."

I believe this is correct. The example cited by Nsk92, viz. Fys/Dbiv/Sam Blacketer, is sneaky and evasive but would not lie directly. For all your concern about a few minutes of each candidate's time to answer this fundamentally important question, you think nothing of wasting hours upon hours of volunteer time to clean up dramatic messes caused by sockpuppet admins. You forget how time-consuming these cases have been. A minute of prevention can save a week of drama.


I don't believe it is. OK, they may not lie but they won't answer honestly. Someone like Sam Blacketer's goal was to regain adminship. They are not going to be put off by a question like that. So, I repeat, it's pointless. It serves only as a very minor safeguard. But someone determined to gain adminship, with a dodgy past, just won't care.

Believe me, they are not going to see the question and think "Oh my, I'm going to have to reveal everything now! My secret plan will be foiled!"
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Shalom
post Fri 30th July 2010, 12:39am
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QUOTE(Theanima @ Thu 29th July 2010, 2:51pm) *

QUOTE(Shalom @ Thu 29th July 2010, 6:13pm) *

Aiken, Theanima: Read my FAQ again:

"'''Q.''' Dishonest RFA candidates might just lie.
'''A.''' Refer to Nsk92's astute response in the previous discussion: "I would not simply dismiss the proposal on the grounds that rogue candidates are not going to disclose the truth anyway. People have a remarkable capacity for self-deception but, when faced with a question about prior/alternate accounts directly, many of the "rogue" ones will simply decide not to apply."

I believe this is correct. The example cited by Nsk92, viz. Fys/Dbiv/Sam Blacketer, is sneaky and evasive but would not lie directly. For all your concern about a few minutes of each candidate's time to answer this fundamentally important question, you think nothing of wasting hours upon hours of volunteer time to clean up dramatic messes caused by sockpuppet admins. You forget how time-consuming these cases have been. A minute of prevention can save a week of drama.


I don't believe it is. OK, they may not lie but they won't answer honestly. Someone like Sam Blacketer's goal was to regain adminship. They are not going to be put off by a question like that. So, I repeat, it's pointless. It serves only as a very minor safeguard. But someone determined to gain adminship, with a dodgy past, just won't care.

Believe me, they are not going to see the question and think "Oh my, I'm going to have to reveal everything now! My secret plan will be foiled!"

You misunderstand human nature. Some people will lie and cheat and think nothing of it. Other people take a more nuanced approach to honesty. They might evade and obfuscate, but they will not make false statements when asked a specific, unavoidable question.

I feel that Wikipedia policy, as currently written and enforced, would discourage me from taking a "clean start" and becoming an admin, but does not absolutely prohibit it (the way it prohibits, say, 3RR violations). After my second RFA, I requested feedback from the community on a user subpage of mine (since deleted). I wrote that I could start over and gain adminship faster, but "I consider it dishonest." Those were my exact words: "I consider it dishonest." (Maybe "it" was "that.") This was before anyone wrote about "avoiding scrutiny" (WP:SCRUTINY) - which was written into WP:SOCK in November 2007 IIRC. I was so far ahead of my time that even today, nobody "considers it honest" to expect RFA candidates to disclose any prior accounts. Nobody cares. I could have gained adminship within policy and I didn't choose to do that - but I can still gain adminship within policy if I'm willing to be a little dishonest.

I draw the line at outright false statements. I would not say "no" to a question regarding my prior accounts if the answer was "yes." I am far too honest to do that. But if nobody asks, then the policy is "don't ask, don't tell." The mistake was that I did tell. It's a mistake nobody will make again.
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Milton Roe
post Fri 30th July 2010, 12:53am
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QUOTE(Shalom @ Thu 29th July 2010, 5:39pm) *

You misunderstand human nature. Some people will lie and cheat and think nothing of it. Other people take a more nuanced approach to honesty. They might evade and obfuscate, but they will not make false statements when asked a specific, unavoidable question.

Ah, yes. Legal counsel. happy.gif
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A Horse With No Name
post Fri 30th July 2010, 1:29am
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QUOTE

* [[User:Law]] passed RFA without revealing that he previously edited as [[User:The undertow]], who was serving a nine-month ban.


Let's also not forget that he was nominated for RfA by Alex Sawczynec, aka GlassCobra, who was well aware that he was nominating a "sockpuppet" for adminship. Arbcom briefly revoked Alec's adminship, but quietly restored it four months later. And for the record, at least three arbitrators were aware of the deception and half of Arbcom stubbornly refused to answer whether they were aware of what transpired.

QUOTE
* [[User:Pastor Theo]] passed RFA without revealing that he was banned as [[User:Ecoleetage]].


Yes, congratulations to the Wikipedia "community" for failing to ask the most blatantly obvious question imaginable: why in the world is a clergyman spending his free time writing Wikipedia articles about thoroughbred horse racing? Do those people actually read what is written? And for the record, arbitrator Rlvese actively encouraged this RfA -- not bad for someone who brags about his ability to spot Medal of Honor phonies, eh? wink.gif

Funny, but why was there no mention of Chzz, who openly socked in his own RfA, then lied about it, but is still actively editing Wikipedia?
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Shalom
post Fri 30th July 2010, 2:07am
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QUOTE(A Horse With No Name @ Thu 29th July 2010, 9:29pm) *

QUOTE

* [[User:Law]] passed RFA without revealing that he previously edited as [[User:The undertow]], who was serving a nine-month ban.


Let's also not forget that he was nominated for RfA by Alex Sawczynec, aka GlassCobra, who was well aware that he was nominating a "sockpuppet" for adminship. Arbcom briefly revoked Alec's adminship, but quietly restored it four months later. And for the record, at least three arbitrators were aware of the deception and half of Arbcom stubbornly refused to answer whether they were aware of what transpired.

QUOTE
* [[User:Pastor Theo]] passed RFA without revealing that he was banned as [[User:Ecoleetage]].


Yes, congratulations to the Wikipedia "community" for failing to ask the most blatantly obvious question imaginable: why in the world is a clergyman spending his free time writing Wikipedia articles about thoroughbred horse racing? Do those people actually read what is written? And for the record, arbitrator Rlvese actively encouraged this RfA -- not bad for someone who brags about his ability to spot Medal of Honor phonies, eh? wink.gif

Funny, but why was there no mention of Chzz, who openly socked in his own RfA, then lied about it, but is still actively editing Wikipedia?

As I drafted my opening post, I wrote the sentence "This is not an exhastive list" (of adminsocks). Then I deleted it because it sounded nitpicky, and "Some examples" suggested the existence of other examples. I wouldn't have thought that WR kibitzers would fixate on my failure to mention certain adminsocks - and still not express direct support for my proposed new question at RFA.
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A Horse With No Name
post Fri 30th July 2010, 2:24am
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QUOTE(Shalom @ Thu 29th July 2010, 10:07pm) *
I wouldn't have thought that WR kibitzers would fixate on my failure to mention certain adminsocks - and still not express direct support for my proposed new question at RFA.


Try not to think -- it is known to cause headaches. ermm.gif

Chzz's socking was extraordinary because his socking was exposed while his RfA was still in progress, and because the "community" openly condoned his shenanigans by not blocking his sorry ass. You may recall that Jonny Delanoy came over here from the mothership to say that Chzz should not have been blocked despite his blatant violation of WP:SOCK.
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Shalom
post Fri 30th July 2010, 11:19am
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Horsey, how would you have answered my proposed question if you were asked at RFA/Pastor Theo?
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A Horse With No Name
post Sun 1st August 2010, 11:30am
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QUOTE(Shalom @ Fri 30th July 2010, 7:19am) *

Horsey, how would you have answered my proposed question if you were asked at RFA/Pastor Theo?


Simple! I would have answered it in the same way that all RfA candidates answer thorny questions: by lying! wink.gif
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Theanima
post Sun 1st August 2010, 11:55am
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QUOTE(A Horse With No Name @ Sun 1st August 2010, 12:30pm) *

QUOTE(Shalom @ Fri 30th July 2010, 7:19am) *

Horsey, how would you have answered my proposed question if you were asked at RFA/Pastor Theo?


Simple! I would have answered it in the same way that all RfA candidates answer thorny questions: by lying! wink.gif


I think this demonstrates the point I and numerous others were making. People will lie to get where they want. Shalom, you may be honest but others aren't. This is why such a question won't work. As Hiberniantears (T-C-L-K-R-D) says, "RfA candidates lie routinely on all questions".
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