In a surprising development, one of Wikipedia's most persistent critics was briefly unblocked last week and allowed to edit alongside other contributors, primarily to comment on the talk page of the article about himself. With the intervention of Jimbo Wales, this change of affairs held up for a few days amid controversy, until Wales reversed the action after his decision was called a mistake by the critic himself.
The critic in question is Daniel Brandt, who for more than a year has been pointing to various flaws he perceives in Wikipedia, ranging from plagiarism to the anonymity of editors. Originally focused on attempts to get the article about himself deleted, Brandt later played a role in the Seigenthaler incident and began criticizing Wikipedia on many points. His critiques of anonymity found expression in galleries of Wikipedia editors posted to his Wikipedia-Watch website, including the purported real names of many pseudonymous editors along with photographs and hometowns.
Brandt edited with the account User:Daniel Brandt as early as October 2005, not long after the article about him was first created. This account had been blocked indefinitely since April 2006, after some previous blocks of shorter duration. Brandt occasionally edited from IP addresses thereafter, either in connection with his ongoing criticism of Wikipedia generally, or to raise complaints specifically about his Wikipedia article. He was unblocked on 18 April, 2007, although apparently some technical issues made unblocking difficult and it took a few hours to sort out before Brandt could edit normally. In explaining the unblocking, Wales said "he asked nicely, we are talking about a productive way forward in the future, it has been more than a year".
The discussion between Wales and Brandt had arisen after Brandt sought to have his block lifted, first by making a request to the Arbitration Committee, and then appealing to Wales. A number of editors strongly opposed the unblocking, charging that Brandt was responsible for "outing" and harassment in publishing the Wikipedia-Watch galleries and other information identifying editors. Meanwhile, a number of other people supported or at least accepted Wales's decision. Only a few days before, a discussion on the community sanction noticeboard had largely favored a "community ban".
Brandt, meanwhile, did make a few edits to Talk:Daniel Brandt, but wrote to the mailing list criticizing Wales for not deleting the article and saying, "I feel that Jimmy Wales made the wrong decision when he unbanned me a couple of days ago." Responding to this comment, Wales then reblocked Brandt's account.
The outcome left things much like they were a year-and-a-half ago, except for the fact that the article Brandt wants deleted has grown considerably in length. One of Brandt's earliest edits, in debating with SlimVirgin (who had created the initial article about him), said, "Please ban me. I didn't want to be here in the first place."