Wikipedia is a website most of us are familiar with, as it shows up on top of many internet searches. To supporters like Guy Chapman, it is a free-content encyclopaedia striving to provide verifiable, neutral, factual content. But to critics like Somey of Wikipedia Review,
This would be a laudable goal if it didn't threaten the livelihoods of so many writers, editors, and publishers of professionally-produced reference materials, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years and has never before been placed in the hands of anonymous, unaccountable amateurs, many of whom have questionable personal agendas.
On Sunday, Durova, one of over 1,000 administrators on Wikipedia, alleged a person on Wikipedia is a "sockpuppet", or a person with multiple nicknames, on a very public noticeboard, but refused to provide evidence publicly.
She said people should assume good faith and believe her negative allegation about this person. Others saw no evidence of any wrongdoing.
The question here isn't "was Durova wrong to have blocked !!", we already know the answer to that. The question here is why are we supporting a continuous failure to assume good faith, and what place does "sleuthing" have on this project? I thought we were here to write encyclopedias, not to dig up dirt on other editors
The person was eventually unblocked, but the administrator did not provide an explanation publicly.
Evidence disclosed by Giano, but censored
The administrator did e-mail Giano and others with her evidence. Giano posted it publicly, and I subsequently deleted this article. However, it has since been censored.
It would appear that in order to stay unblocked the foundation insists I do not provide "Durova evidence" for your entertainment.
And as long as some people like to pretend that our carrying out of policies against posting private emails on the wiki is an attempt "to suppress discussion" then we will continue to allow drama mongers to control the discussion of things on the site.
You've made your point, the people at Wikipedia Review now have the full details of how to evade detection in future, for which I am sure they are most grateful
Is not giving "the people at Wikipedia Review [...] the full details of how to evade detection in future" more important that the right of an individual accused of doing something bad to be presented with the evidence and given an opportunity to defend himself?
Here the question arises: is it acceptable to republish e-mails without their senders permission? [...] Durova has herself published e-mails I'd sent to her asking to be unblocked. She didn't need my permission. They're now on the web.
Why do multiple accounts matter so much?
Why does it matter so much if a person has more than one account on Wikipedia?
Guy Chapman discusses various situations. When a person discloses the use of multiple accounts, when a person uses a second account to discuss matters which would otherwise adversely affect his personal or professional life, or when an administrator creates a second account to experience how newcomers are handled, it is generally unproblematic, in Mr. Chapman's view. Mr. Chapman does consider it problematic when a user uses multiple accounts to "promote an agenda in policy debate" or evade a block or ban.
Somey of Wikipedia Review writes,
I don't condone sockpuppetry myself, but I can sort of see why people feel forced to resort to it if they're being defamed.
Questions raised and impact on the future
Questions were raised about other negative allegations this administrator had made in the past, including an allegation of harassment. Dissent on the mailing list was quashed, and many raised concerns on a website more open to free speech. Still, significant questioning of the event continues on Wikipedia itself. The discussion continues here and here.
It remains to be seen how this will impact upcoming elections, in which the administrator is running for Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee.
This story is continued here.