Administrator goes rogue, is blocked

Robdurbar's admin-enabled account went on a brief rampage on Thursday morning, deleting and then vandalising the Main Page, deleting articles, and indefinitely blocking well-known Wikipedians including Jimbo Wales. Editors could not remember another time when an admin went on a vandalism spree, and a debate opened over whether the response (an emergency desysopping after 17 minutes) was speedy or delayed.


Robdurbar created his account on 6 July, 2005 and was granted admin status after a request which concluded with 48 supports and 3 opposes (2 neutral) on 12 August, 2006. On 3 March this year he announced he was leaving, although he would continue to edit occasionally. He declared that "I'd rather start anew" rather than use his existing account for future edits. Other than blocking himself as an accident, his block log was clean.


On Thursday 19 April, Robdurbar returned, firstly to delete an empty article. The vandalism spree began when he unprotected Cheese at 09:57. He then deleted three established articles before deleting the Main Page at 10:01. At 10:04 he recreated Main Page with a nonsense word. When Riana reverted at 10:07, Robdurbar again vandalised the page to say "DO what you will". He was blocked by Lostintherush and then started blocking accounts in good standing, including Lostintherush and Riana, and then unblocked himself to again vandalise the Main Page with the message "how long can i keep this up". After further blocks, at 10:14 Steward Jon Harald Søby (flagged down first by Peter Isotalo) desysopped him via Meta-Wiki.

The overall toll of the 17 minutes was ten good standing accounts given indefinite blocks, five established articles deleted, the Main Page deleted three times (and left unprotected for some minutes during which anonymous users vandalised it), and Robdurbar unblocking himself three times. All vandalism and inappropriate admin actions were swiftly reversed.


With Robdurbar not giving an explanation for his actions, some users wondered whether his account had been hijacked. In response to a request, Checkuser Mackensen said "I see nothing obvious to suggest that the account was compromised", and others noted that among the targets for Robdurbar's blocks were people he has had disputes with. A Request for arbitration to confirm the desysopping was filed and attracted six arbitrators who all agreed to the desysop without hearing a full case. Arbitration Committee Clerks decided that a majority of active arbitrators (which would mean seven) would be needed to decide the issue.

Later, contributors from Wiktionary commented that a similar situation had happened on that project when Wonderfool twice blocked all admins and deleted their Main Page in September 2005. In August 2006, Dangherous went on an identical rampage. On this second occasion, with Stewards unavailable (some were at Wikimania), a developer had to perform the desysopping and revealed via CheckUser that Dangherous was actually a sockpuppet of Wonderfool who worked his way up to adminship once again. A second request for CheckUser tried to find whether Wonderfool was related to Robdurbar, and has shown that Robdurbar is really one of Wonderfool's sockpuppets.

Possible changes

In discussion on Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents, Carcharoth asked "is it good or bad that it took 17 minutes to deal with this?" HighInBC commented that the incident showed the "whole emergency de-adminning system works". Robdurbar's actions led to discussion of whether administrators should retain the ability to unblock themselves. Jesse Viviano made a novel suggestion that admins should be able to sacrifice their own sysop status and desysop another admin, in order to allow for debate on which of them should be resysopped.

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Robdurbar's logs actually show him blocking Secretlondon and Raul654 before getting Lost and myself. – Riana 06:42, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think that's the biggest issue here :P ~ Giggy! Talk (reply here) 06:47, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Nah, just for the sake of accurate reporting :) – Riana 06:50, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Yes he went for me first. I've not actually had a dispute with him unless a difference of opinion over chav and charver count. He was very into those articles.. Secretlondon 03:45, 25 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

" Jesse Viviano made a novel suggestion" - please include a link to this novel suggestion and similar discussions in the future. WP:BTW...-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  07:00, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Stewards at Wikimania

The thing about all stewards being at Wikimania in the Wiktionary case is wrong. Not all stewards were there (I know I wasn't ), I think "only" about 1/3 went. Anyways, the fact that there were no stewards available at the time was probably a lucky shot. And nowadays, there are more stewards than there were then, plus that the new tool (!steward) helps making stewards aware of any problems. At that time we may not have had 24/7 coverage, but I daresay we do now. (Also, stewards are Wikimedia geeks deluxe, we spend way too much time on Wikimedia projects. ) Jon Harald Søby 13:37, 24 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

A strange Wiki-rampage..

Was this administrator's account hacked or something? What's going on? --Wassermann 05:29, 26 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

According to the checkuser, no. However, that doesn't preclude the possibility that he accidentally left himself logged in on a public computer, and someone else took advantage of the situation. Sam Blacketer 08:13, 26 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
In that case, it will be highly improbable that the person taking advantage shall target some of the users who were familiar with Robdurbar. --Bhadani (talk) 16:22, 26 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

In-built system

The rampage was contained swiftly is remarkable and all involved to manage the position deserves applause of the community. However, we will have to think over an in-built system to avoid repetition of such a case in future though I am not able to think of a way to formulate any such system. Perhaps such an incidence has happened for the first time. and it is really shocking. --Bhadani (talk) 16:18, 26 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Continuing with other admins

On 7 April, the main page was deleted using the accounts of User:AndyZ, User:Eagle 101, User:Jiang, User:Conscious and User:Marine 69-71. It seems to be a case of hacked passwords --SE16 19:16, 7 May 2007 (UTC)[reply]

There's obviously going to be a big Signpost story about this. Sam Blacketer 19:51, 7 May 2007 (UTC) (E15)[reply]



Sweet?! This dude went vandalising all over Wikipedia last month! And more recently, something grotesque happened! Chef Clover MyTalk 23:15, 8 May 2007 (UTC)[reply]
How did nobody see this coming? "Nothing else matters" 14:57, 20 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]


And people muse about the "good ol times" when anyone and everyone could get admin powers after a few days. L3X1 (distant write) 12:59, 12 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]

L3X1, good ol' Wikipedia story. Enjoyer of World💬 22:24, 17 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]


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