Warning: long. I get into the basic structural problem, after looking more at Scibaby/Raul654.
QUOTE(Cla68 @ Mon 30th January 2012, 6:13am)
Actually, when it comes to dealing with FA-related stuff, I've never had a problem with Raul. It's the other areas where he causes problems, such as range blocking an entire university to try to shut-out a banned global warming sceptic, [...]
That was likely Scibaby. Raul did worse than that, blocking huge ranges.
The dirty little secret: Scibaby was never actually banned, to my recollection. He was blocked by Raul. Who then became chief enforcer. Lots of others helped him, but what Scibaby had done was pretty minor. The damage from the block and enforcement efforts, over the years, was far greater.
There was no attempt to engage with Scibaby, until much later, and those who would have engaged, to encourage him to restrain himself, and work within the system, were themselves blocked and banned. The involved cabal has lost a lot of power, but the community still enforces what they did. Bans become self-justifying, as we can see with the Selina situation at this moment. Selina registered an account, largely to appeal her ban. Sock puppetry! Keep her banned because of the sock puppetry! (as if. Wikipedia has come to use the term "sock puppet" in ways far from the original and common usage, in the original usage, a disclosed alternate account is not a 'sock puppet, and an anonymous account, unless it pretends to be distinct, would also not be considered a sock.)
Blocked editors are expected to behave perfectly. Ironic, eh? If you aren't blocked, you can do about anything, until and unless you are blocked. Then if you jaywalk, indef!!!! It matters not if it's harmless or helpful. WP:IAR is only for me. Not for you, troll!Scibaby (T-C-L-K-R-D)
. The user page says he's banned. However, the page refers us to Wikipedia:Long-term abuse/Scibaby
, where we are informed that he "has been considered to be de facto community-banned from Wikipedia.' That's a fancy way of saying that he was blocked and nobody unblocked. For a long time, if anyone had made noises about unblocking Scibaby, they'd have been in trouble with Raul, who was, after all, on the Arbitration Committee (a little piece of business all it's own, at least at one point, appointed by Jimbo even though not being elected, most voters could be considered to have voted against him. But that was true for all appointees, Raul was merely below the threshold for that election.)
No, there never was a ban discussion. It's quite possible that a discussion would have resulted in a ban, though. Ban for what? Sock puppetry, of course. I wasn't community banned until I completely gave up on the process, and started socking. With only good edits, self-reverted. But, hey, that's socking, the way the community defines it. That was the basis for the ban. It's circular.
Wikipedia strongly dislikes reviewing old actions, and there is a large faction that strongly assumes that old actions must have been right. Hence the substantial voting on Selina, opposing unblock.
If you are indeffed, much of this community assumes that if you are a Good Person, you will go away quietly, and make no fuss. It's catch-22. If you object, you are obviously disruptive.
What I've seen in my time of activity (serious activity started for me in 2007) is that the community got dumber and dumber, with less and less understanding of the principles that would restrain "community abuse." The old-timers who did understand that gradually left, often in disgust. So who was left?
Increasingly, people like Raul654, but many more who are not, themselves, so noxious, but who tolerate it.
After all, sure, there are some bad apples, but, hey, we are building a Hugely Important Project.
They don't understand that the Project requires, as a fundamental, neutrality, and that when you ban entire factions from participation, which certainly happens -- and certainly did happen with the Global Warming mess -- neutrality becomes impossible.
I started out as an editor primarily concerned with neutrality and with process to ensure it. I was neutral on cold fusion (actually, I was skeptical, until I read the evidence, that took months).
It's funny to see the current mention here of a WMUK editor who was funded to buy a book on, apparently, European elections, and who, from that single source, steadfastly insisted on what may be an error in it.
Once I decided I was interested in cold fusion, I bought the major works on it, spending what was, for me, a lot of money, and then I was given a recent text published by the American Chemical Socity and Oxford University Press (those famous fringe outfits), it was going for upwards of $300 at the time, $150 at Amazon -- if sellers actually had copies, it was apparently out of print for a while, the demand was so great. I studied all of the books, and they included all the skeptical works, so I knew the skeptical arguments thoroughly, the good and bad of it. I had the physics background to understand the issues.
Once I was banned, I saw other editors with far less knowledge try to make the article neutral, and they would typically not assert the strongest sources, nor make the necessary arguments. The editors with the knowledge to straighten out the article had been banned, leaving two kinds of editors active: clueless and ignorant (of physics) editors like Enric Naval, plus strong POV-pushers, often more generally
knowledgeable, in the direction of a self-imagined scientific orthodoxy, also mostly ignorant of the evidence, but quite sure about what conclusions should be made from it. Grad students, often, apparently. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Cold fusion is an unusual case, for it is often considered Fringe Science, but the evidence for that classification is all quite old, as to what is in peer-reviewed journals. It's really Emerging Science, because more recent sources are quite clear that this is legitimate science, albeit still widely questioned (and, by the way, still unexplained, there are major mysteries involved). Especially it is questioned by those who aren't at all familiar with the massive accumulated peer-reviewed evidence. This might be a majority of physicists
. Yet the field is currently experimental science, with only attempts by a few theoretical physicists to find theories to explain it. The experiments are not physics experiments, as such, they are usually electrochemical, with calorimetry, and they are being done by experts with those techniques. It's a mess, but a neutral article could be written.
If those who know the literature were permitted to at least suggest edits! That's what Pcarbonn was banned for, and that's what I was banned for. Not for revert warring, incivility, etc. We were banned -- as were others -- for *suggesting* edits based on reliable sources, and for explaining the situation on the Talk page.
This is the House that Jimbo built. The problem I have with Jimbo is that his vision was inadequate to deal with what anyone who knew on-line community could have predicted: problems with social structure. He could have, and he could still do it, I suspect.
He'd have to take certain risks. TANSTAAFL. The risks are illusory.
I'd probably start with measures to improve efficiency. Huge amounts of labor are wasted, without benefit. Flagged revisions should come back, possibly with some tweaks. The point would be to set up stop-loss, so that once articles reach a certain point of development, they can't get worse. More than software is needed for that, Flagged Revisions was just one element in this. Improving Recent Changes Patrol so that there isn't the massive duplicated labor of the status quo, and setting up review systems and structures, etc., so that decisions are made at the level necessary.
("Level" means that some decisions are made by a single editor, some by a very few, some by more, some by formal or informal committees, and a very few decisions are made by majority rule with a representative body that *represents, accurately, the entire editorial community,* not just the most popular faction or factions. That takes advanced voting systems. They exist. It takes structure, anathema to much of the current administrative core.)
Early on, Wikipedia made a decision to use bans to try to improve efficiency. Anyone who could be seen as causing extensive discussion was obviously damaging the project by distracting from the work.
That even makes sense ... but it was fatal to neutrality, for the only reasonably reliable guide to neutrality is genuine consensus, which you cannot get by banning factions. (If there is significant dissent to text, it is highly likely to be biased on some way, which may not be visible to the majority. Yet, as I've argued elsewhere, the majority should have the right of decision, but it also must be able to change its mind, and have efficient mechanisms for considering that. And that's a standard problem in deliberative democracy, it is quite well known how to handle it. Except on Wikipedia, which tends to ban anyone who knows how to fix the problem and tries to suggest it, or, worse, to implement it.)
Rather, process and structure should have channeled discussion into specific fora, with clear decision-making process and participation rules. The whole-community discussion model, which obviously doesn't work, was a formula for disaster, guaranteeing participation bias, since any discussion with a few hundred participants is already massively out of control.
As articles reached a certain level of quality, increased work on the topic would go into "backstory," i.e., documentation of why the article is the way it is, supported by FAQs enjoying high levels of consensus, if possible. If someone disagrees, then, the disagreement would be channeled into discussion that would be aimed at broadening consensus, at either justifying the article's condition as it is, or, sometimes, changing it.
ArbComm, in the case where I was topic banned from cold fusion, suggested that talk page discussion be refactored, to create explanations of why the article was the way it was. But it had just banned the only editor who had actually done that with other articles, and who would have gladly done it. Nobody else was so inclined, at all. It banned an editor who had constantly sought consensus with actual editing, leaving in place and untouched editors who had revert warred and otherwise been highly disruptive, including Hipocrite, most notably.
And the only reason William M. Connolley was desysopped was his egregious blocking of me during the case. He'd been far out of line before, with me and with others, and it would have been ignored.
Sorry for all these words, which boil down to "It's broken," and it's been broken for a long time. It was never truly functional, it was merely useful in certain ways. A project was built that is not designed to be efficiently maintained, but that is massive. Let it stand as a reminder not to do that again. It's a trap.