Saturday, June 21, 2008

Global sysops

This new user class has stirred up its share of controversy over the past few weeks. It seems any proposal concerning global rights and functionalities results in mass disagreement and concern relating to lingual barriers, overcentralisation of power and whathaveyou.

The global sysop, according to the proposal, will be a new user class that will enable those with the new function to effectively combat vandalism and related troubles at smaller wikis, where such administrative defence is not present or is not actively available.

Personally, I like the idea, but I think the policy attached will need to be stringent and carefully formed. Only the most trustworthy should be allowed to wield these universal buttons, with some kind of preference towards those who speak a broder range of languages; clear communication with the local users is obviously going to be important to the successfulness of the job here. I also think that larger wikis should be allowed the option of opting out, or at least making their own local policies for the use of this tool on their homeground.

However, the straw poll that is currently taking place over at Meta-Wiki's Metapub, somewhat equivalent to a village pump, is certainly not going in favour of the implementation of the global sysop; last I checked, there were more peple opposing than supporting. Most of the opposition refer to the problems concerning language differences, and also the potential for abuse.

As any new policy needs at least 80% approval, it seems very likely that this proposal is going to be rejected for now. A shame, perhaps, but maybe a proposal with similar goals that will be to more universal liking will come along at some point.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Board elections

So we're now significantly into the voting stage of the 2008 Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustee's Election. With one seat available, it's difficult to say who'll be signed to the one year term that is being offered.

I voted as soon as I could on June 1, the first day of voting, but since then, my voting and ranking of the candidates (the election is being done using a format based on the "Schulze method") has been re-shuffled a bit several times. It can be difficult to work out who one thinks would be best suited to the Board, and who would most effectively fill the position.

Judging by the candidate statements, we have a great number of the people vying for the seat pledging to bring the Board back to the community, and to involve the community more in Board affairs. While cynicism may write these promises off as bids for false ingratiation, it does seem that this is what the general Wikimedia populace want from (prospective) Trustees: greater input in Foundation and Board affairs and decisions.

We also see more candidate focus on the improving of and increased involvement in all the Wikimedia projects, rather than just the English Wikipedia. This I like - so much that I have written an essay on the subject. The day that we take attention away from en.wp and give it to the smaller projects is the day that Wikimedia and everyone associated with it takes a fundamental and highly necessary step forward. And, in my opinion, having a Board of Trustees invested in this cause is one of the first movements we need to take towards this important change.

And so what about the candidates themselves? Well, we have a very diverse and colourful cross section of the 700-odd projects of Wikimedia running for the Board, which I suppose is always a good thing, but results in me knowing very few of them at a level at which I have interacted with them prior to the election. There are 4 or 5 users running from the English Wikipedia alone, most of whom I know of from observation there. It would seem the obvious conclusion that origination from Wikimedia's largest project (by far) would lead to a certain degree of advantage vote-wise, but that remains to be seen and I'm not sure it'd be a good idea to remark more specifically on the results of the election until I'm staring at the figures on the 21st. I will say though that I would not be surprised if we end up with another English Wikipedian filling the seat; I only hope that, as I have stated before, they can overlook their home wiki and consider the welfare of the budding wikis.

There were a few candidates that caught my eye from the list of people I do know - Kurt Weber, better known as User:Kmweber, was one. Considered by some on his home wiki as a disruptor and a "troll", Weber has attracted considerable and continuing controversy for his frequently scorned antics at the "Requests for adminship" forum, the venue where new administrators are elected through community discussion, and the views he holds in regards to that process. He has also been blocked from editing on the English Wikipedia several times over the space of time he has participated there, for various reasons including incivility to fellow editors and personal attacks on others. All in all, his reputation there is not good, and the impact this poor reputation on his home wiki will surely be a complete detriment to his candidacy, especially combined with the fact that he has chosen not to answer most of the questions.

Gregory Kohs is the other highly controversial candidate. He is the operator of English Wikipedia User:Thekohser, a puppet of banned User:MyWikiBiz. Kohs was banned following the proving of allegations that he was creating Wikipedia articles for paying companies and customers at his own profit. At prices ranging up to $100, he offered his patrons the service of adding whatever content they wanted to Wikipedia through him. While MyWikiBiz was initially blocked indefinitely by Wales in the October of 2006, much controversy followed the exposure of Kohs' online enterprise and final absolution did not come for the entire affair until March 2007. His presence on the Board is therefore in the realms of the unimaginable in my humble opinion, considering above all else that he was blocked from "the Flagship" by the incumbent Chair Emeritus.

So, to sum up: we have a good range of candidates from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and home wikis, and a few of them presenting compelling cases for their candidacies. We have some controversial candidates, and we have some relatively unknown ones, and we have some from projects and languages that are currently underrepresented by the Board. All in all, 2008 has served us up yet again another interesting election!

Initial post

This is the blog of Wikimedia user "Anonymous Dissident", or Josh. I am an editor on the English Wikipedia, among other projects, and I intend to use this blog as a medium for the expression of my opinions relating to matters concerned with Wikipedia, Wikimedia, the community therein and the Foundation. If you would like to comment on any of my posts, please, feel free.

I can be contacted in a number of ways:
1. Through Windows Live Messenger (Chippi_75athotmaildotcom)
2. On IRC (AnonDiss)
3. On the "user talk" page of any of the WMF projects I actively participate on.