Brandt unblock

Wales unblocks Brandt, then reverses himself

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."

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Is it appropriate to link to a page that allegedly contains private information about Wikipedians? Isn't it against policy to link to attack sites? – Quadell (talk) (random) 14:51, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
As noted in the story, the pages with personal information have apparently been taken down. Discussion on Wikipedia talk:Attack sites and elsewhere indicates that there's no consensus in support of a policy to ban links. As a journalistic matter, I judged that a link would be helpful to the reader (who may want to know more about the substance and style of the criticisms that have made Brandt so unwelcome, but which the story could only mention briefly). In terms of keeping a neutral, objective story and avoiding value judgments about either side, a link seemed appropriate. I'm open to hearing arguments against these reasons. --Michael Snow 16:41, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

WW is linked at the DB article as indeed was the HiveMind page till it was withdrawn. A good decision to include, IMO, SqueakBox 16:47, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

There is absolutely no guarantee that Brandt will not restore his information about the identity of Wikipedians who are trying to remain anonymous. Certainly, he was still posting on another site about his speculation about an administrator's name and location, after being unblocked, and as far as I know, his own site still has some extremely inappropriate attacks on Wikipedians. It is quite true that Wikipedia:Attack sites is not policy, and that there has been resistance to it on the talk page. Nevertheless, I have removed the link in accordance with the following two rulings from the MONGO ArbCom case:
  • "Links to attack sites may be removed by any user; such removals are exempt from 3RR. Deliberately linking to an attack site may be grounds for blocking." See #Links to attack sites
  • "A website that engages in the practice of publishing private information concerning the identities of Wikipedia participants will be regarded as an attack site whose pages should not be linked to from Wikipedia pages under any circumstances." See #Outing sites as attack sites
I recall some time ago that Brandt said that if his biography was deleted, he would take down the page about ordinary users who had written about him, but would not take down the page which gave names, photos, and contact details of administrators (even those who had never had any involvement with him or his article). I see no reason to feel confident that the site will not be put back, as nothing that he has written since taking it down indicated that he now realized that it was wrong to violate people's privacy this way (quite the contrary, in fact), and frankly, I am not prepared to take that risk on behalf of others. Musical Linguist 18:44, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Now if you had put this before removing the link the problem would have been solved. When dealing with good faith users reasonable requests are much more appropriate than unnecessary and seemingly angry block threats which unnecessarily create antagonism when we are all volunteers here trying to do our best, SqueakBox 18:49, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
I was actually in the middle of composing the message here when you reverted my removal. In addition, I do not think there was anything in that message that you were not aware of, as you have been quite vocal at Wikipedia talk:Attack sites. The block threat was perfectly reasonable in your case, as you are familiar with the ArbCom ruling, and have vehemently protested against making it into a policy. I would not, of course, have threatened a new user with a block, unless it was a single purpose account that was created in order to link to harassment sites. I can hardly think you were unaware that linking to that site causes people to feel threatened, endangered, and distressed. You have taken part in a lot of discussion about this issue.
I'm sure all of the people who feel that not having some of their fellow editors feeling threatened, endangered, and distressed is more important than not having non-essential links censored would agree that it is better to remove the link first, and then spend ten minutes composing an explanation. With regard to your comment on my talk page about my not having been "discreet", I quite agree. You made it impossible for me to be discreet. I have on numerous occasions, quietly removed a link to some site that might place others in danger, and have then sent a discreet and friendly e-mail to the innocent user who had placed it there in the first place. Such incidents always ended amicably. Unfortunately, when someone knowingly reverts the removal of a link to such a site twice, in full knowledge of the MONGO ArbCom ruling, that person makes the situation a lot worse than the kind of users I've been able to deal with discreetly.
Finally, I'd like to point out that when the ArbCom makes a ruling, we don't need consensus from the community. The resistance at the Wikipedia talk:Attack sites is irrelevant. I did not remove the links based on DennyColt's essay. I would have removed them if DennyColt had never appeared at Wikipedia. Musical Linguist 19:18, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
It wasnt me who created the link in the first place and nor have I ever seen WW described as an attack site; your comments would be relevant to WR or ED but WW is still linked on the Brandt article as was the Hive Mind page until I removed it as a 404 the otehr day. Arbcom interpret policy they do not make it. I reverted a second time because instead of commenting here you used anti-vandal technology, encouragiong other editors to check my contribs by identifying me as a "bad user". I think you can hardly accuse me of linking to attack sites nor of knowing that WW is now to be considered an attack site therefore the message was entirely inappropriate and completel;y contrasting to your claim to want to be discreet (which blocking me would not be as my activity re DB issues is monitored by others on WR). Basically you seem to be assuming bad faith re me because I oppose the BADSITES policy. Now that may not have been your intention but it is how it came across to me. I'll remove the WW from DB, SqueakBox 19:30, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
SqueakBox, I'll answer more fully on your talk page. Musical Linguist 22:12, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
I'll look forward to that and am opening to have a discussion on the subject. I really have no issues with this link not being in the article, SqueakBox 22:17, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

At the time this discussion was started, I didn't have a strong opinion either way; now that the pages are back up, I think it's clear that the links should stay out of the article. Ral315 » 04:46, 26 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I agree that the links should stay out. Not that all the private information is accurate... Until recently, I was one of the hive mind administrators, and Brandt continued to claim I lived in New York City despite that never having been true, and my user page now clearly noting that I am in Atlanta. Superm401 - Talk 10:34, 10 February 2008 (UTC)[reply]


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