I don't feel I'm immune, but I do feel there should be a presumption
against long-term contributors being checked, unless there are serious
grounds to suspect abuse.
But I am not complaining about the check against me. I'm complaining
about the check against the other two. I have their permission to
Lar was (he said) contacted privately by Mackan79 and was asked to
perform a check on Wikitumnus and Crum375, on the grounds that they
appeared to be sockpuppets.
Mackan79 is an editor who has been trying to cause me problems for
about 12-18 months, ever since Dmcdevit blocked him for 3RR and he
blamed me, both for the block in the first place, and for not
persuading Dmcdevit to unblock him. I assume that his interest in Crum
derived from his interest in me, and that the involvement of
Wikitumnus was to give him and Lar a back door into a check of Crum.
The only "evidence" Lar had of a relationship between Wiktumnus and
Crum was that Wikitumnus had ONCE reverted vandalism from Crum's talk
page in November 2007 -- four months before Mackan asked Lar for a
check. Here is the diff of the "evidence"http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=...oldid=172790134
Here is Mackan79 four months later, in March 2008, saying that
Wikitumnus appears to be another user.http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=...oldid=192350698
It was on this basis that Lar performed a check of Wikitumnus a few
days later at Mackan's request, later telling Wikitumnus and other
checkusers and ArbCom members that there were grounds to believe that
Wikitumnus was Crum. This is a clear fishing expedition, because there
is *nothing* about that diff that would give rise to a suspicion of
sockpuppetry. Wikitumnus had never edited the same articles as Crum,
had never voted with him, had never supported him, had never shown up
on noticeboards to comment on him, or anything else.
Personally, I have no problem with allowing checkuser to be used for
fishing *so long as the policy makes clear that it may be so used*
because then editors can arrange to use open or closed proxies if they
don't want their real IPs to become known during random checks. What I
object to is the policy saying one thing, and checkusers doing
When Lar performed his check of Wikitumnus, he discovered that it was
an established editor who is well known to Lar, and who had abandoned
their original account for various reasons. He knew *for certain* that
this person was not Crum375. Yet he went on to peform the check of
Crum anyway. If you want to say that, once he had checked Crum, he had
reason to check me, then fine. Ignore the check of me. But his check
of Wikitumnus was made on the flimsiest of grounds. And his check of
Crum was made *on no grounds whatsoever*. That the request was made by
a known troublemaker makes things even worse, but even if you ignore
that too, you are left with two checks performed for no reason.
Lar compounded the error by telling his wife the real identity of
Wikitumnus. Lar's wife is another Wikipedian, not someone Wikitumnus
has had any contact with, and also not someone Wikitumnus would choose
to reveal their identity to. Wiktumnus was extremely upset about that
although not one serious enough that the Ombudsman Commission wanted
to act on.
The result is that Wikitumnus felt they had to abandon their account.
I recall an absolute storm when Durova blocked !!, an established
editor who had abandoned his original account, but who felt his
identity was compromised by the block. That is exactly the situation
we have here -- an established editor with a new account is checked
for no reason, and as a result feels unable to continue with the
account in case their identity leaks out.
The question is why Lar is allowed simply to ignore the checkuser
policy, and why, when he does, other checkusers support him in that.
If there is no peer pressure on checkusers to conform to the policy,
and there is no Ombudsman who can look at checkuser policy violations,
the only protection we have is ArbCom. But (I believe) all ArbCom
members have checkuser and are on the checkuser mailing list, so they
could have acted against Lar when the issue was raised there (at my
request, among others), but they didn't. They're therefore unlikely to
act when it's brought before them in another venue.
The bottom line is that editors are left with no realistic way to
complain about a violation of the checkuser policy, which means that
it may as well not exist.