News and notes

News and notes

Administrative bots and proposed abuse filter draw comment

Drawing discussion this week are a request for comment regarding administrative bots, and a discussion regarding a proposed MediaWiki extension that could allow administrators to add specific restrictions against actions made on-wiki.

A request for comment is currently ongoing regarding the use of administrative bots. Bot accounts have historically been denied adminship in most cases, even where the task is relatively non-controversial. As a result, some administrators have resorted to running automated bots on their main account, where they can access the administrative tools. Discussion centers mainly around what process should be used to approve such bots as a community.

Another discussion centers around a new, powerful extension (AbuseFilter) that could allow administrators to add specific restrictions regarding specific types of edits, page moves or other actions; these restrictions range from denying the user the right to make such edits, to blocking the user in obvious cases of vandalism. The actions could be different based on edit count, account age, and other variables relating to the user making the action in question.

Arbitration Committee updates

After vacating a controversial case last week (see archived story), the Arbitration Committee issued a final report on the matter on July 4. It reads:

The Committee has decided to issue a Final Report on the Orangemarlin case, now resolved without formal proceedings by a voluntary mentoring agreement. What is said here is on the basis of an exhaustive review of all discussions relevant to the handling of the matter. It takes into account feedback from observers on our ArbCom mailing list.

This report supersedes earlier statements.

(1) Role of FT2

It was always an unlikely explanation that FT2, who is known for his careful and thorough work on and for Wikipedia, had wittingly gone outside and deliberately flouted our standard procedures. Part of the blame lies on email discussion as a way to get work done. The Committee takes collective responsibility for what occurred. Inferences that have been made, adverse to FT2's reputation for care, are simply not well founded.

(2) Handling of matters in private and public

We want to clarify the nature of two types of ArbCom "paths" - ways of handling matters, that are not the usual cases held in the Wikipedia: namespace. These are

(a) Summary actions (such as are often applied to serious sockpuppetry investigations); (b) Privately-held cases.

We do not hold cases under (b) that are handled under the terms of (a). That would be the kind of "secret trial" that has been alleged. We do not hold such private cases without the participation of the parties. Orangemarlin was handled directly under (a).

We shall make it a rule not to have such matters tracked this way in future, but the core of the problem can be said to lie in this point: trying to specify a completely rule-based system here failed us.

Meanwhile, a request for comment on the Committee and its role has received an unprecedented 650KB of discussion, and nearly 2,000 edits.


Also this week:
  • From the editor
  • Wikimedia 2009 plan
  • Defamation suit dismissed
  • WikiWorld
  • News and notes
  • In the news
  • Dispatches
  • Features and admins
  • Technology report
  • Arbitration report

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