I can be grateful I'm blocked on meta at the moment, because I'd be awfully tempted to comment on Ottava's latest.
He's spouting nonsense on a proposal to create an XML import group
a rather arcane piece of business. He only has experience with transwiki import, a simple and relatively safe process, because it only can import stuff, the way the wikis are set, from specified WMF wikis. XML import is highly dangerous, but Ottava's arguments that it's not needed are way off.
I ran into a situation where XML import would have done the trick nicely. And I proposed that it be enabled, on Wikiversity. But then I realized just how effing dangerous that tool can be. It should not be available to ordinary administrators. It imports edits, as they are, using user names, as they are, from a file that can be manipulated by the uploader. It could create hundreds of pages in one import. It could add many edits that would look just like they were made by a user, that the user did not make. These edits would then appear in the contributions of that editor, looking the same as any ordinary contributions. Trivial to do. I don't know, however, if all the individual changes are logged, or if the upload is logged as a single event. If the former, it is *slightly* less dangerous, but could still take a mountain of work by a privileged user to undo.
I think this tool (import/upload) is limited to developers, and for quite good reason. But Ottava's "You Are Wrong! You Are Completely Unqualified! There are No Arguments that Can Be Made! " style obscures that issue.
And it gets worse on the Talk page considering Global bans at meta.
The proposals for global bans are highly dangerous to the independence of the individual WMF wikis. It makes meta in to a governing structure for the wikis, moving away from the original, and well-understood, coordinating role for meta. In any case, Ottava is highly exercised to prevent any exceptions from being made, by local wikis, even if a 'crat is involved, to a ban declared at meta, for Poetlister. And he argues in typical Ottava style against anyone who questions the wisdom of this prohibition.
As often happens, Ottava starts out with some semblance of sanity
, but even here he can be seen to have missed the point. Nobody is asking for Poetlister to be "unbanned," i.e., for the account to be unlocked. All that is under discussion is whether or not local communities can defeat the operation of the lock, as they can -- without controversy -- the global blacklist or global blocks, essentially may they "opt out" of the global decision, consciously. Ottava really wants to prohibit this.
Seth Finklestein comes in with a civil-libertarian argument, and so Ottava is off and running.
civil libertarians do not support such individuals as Poetlister and [I] gave reasons why. There is a lot of information visible on multiple Wikis of dozens of simultaneous accounts operating off of different identifies from multiple Wikis for the goal of gaining personal information on others. This was happening while applying for admin rights and other such things. The sheer amount of socking, identify theft, etc. has already been made public. How can you need more than that? [[User:Ottava Rima|Ottava Rima]] ([[user talk:Ottava Rima|talk]]) 00:28, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
I've asked Ottava for evidence of the "gaining personal information" claim, which relates to Ottava's charges that Poetlister abused checkuser (as Cato). Given that there is lots of contrary evidence on this, that the checkuser abuse claim was not found in the meta RfC, my question is reasonable, I think. In any case, this is vintage Ottava, a series of sound-bite claims designed to make his "opponent" look as bad as possible. In this case by defaming someone he thinks the opponent is supporting, which isn't the case here.
*goal of gaining personal information
... a vague claim, involving mind-reading. Hey don't we all like to obtain "personal information" in one way or another?
Yes, Poetlister certainly did a lot of that, it's undeniable. But ... when was the last time? And if socks are partitioned by wiki, what, exactly, is the harm? His old socking involved lots of stuff that was beyond the pale, though sometimes it was actually harmless; if he did harm with votestacking on Wikiquote, for example, it wasn't obvious, I reviewed many of those examples. All he was doing, it looks like, was creating uncontroversial votes, perhaps to inflate the appearance of a second centrist account, well-aligned with the community. Reprehensible, yes, but not as reprehensible as attempts to overturn consensus with socking! Really, just laziness, is how I'd describe it. I'll have to remember this trick, though. Cool. Just don't do anything to be suspected until after checkuser data expires, and be careful to avoid time correlation. If I ever decide to take a sock to admin, this would be a great way to do it. But I could do it better. Follow the voting of a number of established editors, instead of your own. Just rubber-stamp them with a few acronym comments, you know, "per BigTimeUser, plus [[WP:XYZ]]." Whatever. Efficient. How to Make Friends and Influence People. Agree with them.
And if anyone asks you, noticing a pattern, you say, "Why, of course! I follow BigTimeUser's contributions and check out what he says. This guy really knows his stuff! Got a problem with that?" If you are lucky, they will checkuser you and BigTimeUser. Friends for life, you will be. He knows you and he were falsely accused.
That's a crime, you know. Poetlister did some, ah, unfortunate stuff, reprehensible -- and apologized for it, taking a real-world risk by doing so. But identity theft he did not do. It's possible it's been done to him, there is some stuff floating around in wikihistory that was probably an imposter pretending to be him. That's identity theft. Pretending to be another real person. Not creating a fantasy identity and "fooling" people into believing you. His use of an image without the permission of the person photographed, that was quite possibly a civil tort, but was not identity theft because he did not pretend to be her, the real person. There is no way he could have been prosecuted for identity theft. So this comment by Ottava (which has also been made by many people much more responsible than Ottava) is libel. And who cares? Not those watching and guarding the WMF against hosting libel, eh? (To be sure, Poetlister probably has not made a formal complaint. If he did, and this stuff was left up, he'd have a cause of action at law *against the WMF,* which certainly has deeper pockets than poor Ottava.)All this stuff happened years ago.
There are no claims backed by any credible evidence that Poetlister's harmless contributions at Wikiversity are harming anyone. The most cogent claim would be that his ability to use email there allows him to then send "deceptive emails," though those emails would all be identified as coming from ... Poetlister. And he could do that anyway, it can't be stopped, if he's willing to create socks. In fact, the implementation of the global ban is through a global lock, which does not shut off email. In other words, all that the lock actually does is to prevent him from openly editing as Poetlister, thus leaving an IP trail for checkuser. If he were really dangerous, one would want him to be openly editing in a place where no harm is done. So that his IP would be visible. He's skilled, and probably has taken precautions -- he was a checkuser, after all -- but all it takes is one slip. If he's doing anything reprehensible.
It gets worse.