Monday, April 09, 2007


A disagreement that means more than it seems

I found out about this Request for Adminship far too late to participate, but there are some dynamics that need pointing out. The person under consideration is Danny, former Wikimedia employee.

When this discussion/vote was closed, I counted 256 support votes, 118 oppose votes, and 9 neutral. A broad and deep collection of Wikipedians who have expressed different and conflicting opinions support his candidacy; I don't see any sign that one specific faction is attempting to exert its will over the rest of Wikipedia.

Perhaps the most bizarre support vote is:
In response to the rapid blocking of new users, Spammmer have an MO just like vandals. If we can block vandals for one or two edits (I know a lot of admins do this) if it fits a known vandalism pattern. Those involved anti-spam do the same thing. we see a lot of CIO and just pain spammers that wont listen to us or policy. Knowing these patterns we tend to act differntly if the case follows that of a spammer and not of a good user. (we also see countless companies promoting themselves on wikipedia also).

Nowhere in Danny's statement, does he raise the issue of vandals or spammers -- either for or against. No one asked him questions about these two groups. I'm unaware that Danny has ever made fighting these two groups a priority -- or has spoken against it.

The names of those opposed seem to break into two groups. One consists of a number of people I know little about, and I can't help but suspect are the usual malcontents who oppose anyone who's been associated with Wikipedia for a long time. The other group consists of an identifiable faction within Wikipedia, and a significant number of people who changed their votes as a result of the arguments of this group.

This latter group has been articulate, and sincere, in their belief that despite their best efforts their opinions do not matter as much as other Wikipedians; I think their opposition is more of a expression that they feel excluded from the decision-making than specific criticisms of Danny. Whether or not there is any factual basis for their belief, unless an effort is made to address this and make them feel a vital part of the project, their disaffection will end up harming the project. (Yes, I have been deliberately vague about their identities. I don't see any point in naming names.)

If I remember the rules correctly, Danny needs 75% support to regain the Admin bit; unless a number of the oppose votes are discarded for one reason or another (or the deciding Admin decides to ignore all of the rules and not tally the votes), it looks as if he'll get only 68% -- just missing the cutoff and fail in this. I think it would be reckless to discard opposing votes that because, by my count, too many of the support votes are simply "me too" votes: a statement which consists of little more than a username and the word "support".

The result is going to disappoint someone very greatly.


Update: The Bureaucrats made their decision; at least they admitted that people would be disappointed.

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The 'crats' discussion is the sort of discourse you just don't see on Wikipedia these days. I shall be using it as a personal good example for the future.
Agreed. The situation would have been far worse had they not discussed the matter where everyone could see. Openness always benefits Wikipedia.

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