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Director of Technical Operations hired; South Korean mayor sues; brief news

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By Tilman Bayer and Resident Mario

Director of Technical Operations hired

On December 23, the Wikimedia Foundation announced the hiring of C.T. Woo as its first Director of Technical Operations. Woo will be responsible for providing "a stable, secure, documented, scalable and responsive systems environment." He will also be involved in the assessment of system processes and technical infrastructure, providing failsafe and redundancy solutions, and "mentoring" the operations team.

C.T. Woo is the founding member of, a "non-profit entity with the mission to enhance the education and the enrichment of teens in the areas of business and technology through its community building website." Prior to this, he worked at SurfControl Plc., an Internet filtering company, and held various positions at Sun Microsystems. Woo had actually begun working for the Foundation on December 1; the announcement had to be delayed due to "extensive travel schedules". He is reporting to the Chief Technology Officer, Danese Cooper.

South Korean mayor sues Wikipedians for defamation

As reported by PuzzletChung, a bureaucrat from the Korean Wikipedia, the mayor of Incheon (the third-largest city of South Korea) has brought charges of defamation against up to four Korean Wikipedians. PuzzletChung writes:

According to the contributors, the prosecution is upon [mayor Song Young-gil's] own request, and is going to be over publicizing a fabricated sex scandal in the article about him and (semi-)protecting it. The text in question is merely a sum-up of various reports about the speculations eventually found to be a hoax. Non-logged-in user(s) from various IP addresses have tried to remove the whole controversy section, including not only the scandal but other arguments about him, replacing it with personal contrary comments and legal threats. The edits are consequently reverted by some users and rollbacked by one administrator. The admin, ko:User:Kys951, is also accused of being an abettor just because he is an admin.
In the South Korean legal system, criminal defamation is partially a "crime upon complaint," (친고죄/親告罪) which becomes irrelevant to be a crime when the complainant chose to withdraw the case. (Note that I'm not a specialist of law, especially in English terminology.) The police of Southeastern Incheon thought the case itself is too insignificant to be a criminal case and tried to persuade him to withdraw it, only to be declined.
Song has reportedly demanded the admin to remove the paragraph in exchange for fixing the charge, which is definitely not the way how Wikipedia works.

PuzzletChung also warned that "every bit of contribution to the project" might be open to such litigation, pointing to recent censorship efforts of the South Korean government in connection with the tensions with North Korea. Restrictive Internet laws in South Korea, where the Wikimedia Foundation used to operate a server cluster donated by Yahoo!, had been a concern in the past.


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  • The South Korean suit worries me. The country has always had a rather authoritarian set of restrictions against free speech, although usually only in regards to North Korea. However the way the laws are written, if my understanding is correct, just because this case has nothing to do with the North, does not mean that the laws are any less stacked against these four editors. On a related but separate note, I have long believed that the WMF needs to pull all their assets from South Korea, and relocate them to countries that have less restrictive laws on speech and written content. Any attempt, in the long term, to cover the current situation in the Korean peninsula in a truly neutral manner will inevitably run into issues with the South Korean government. You just wait. More and more, the South's definition of pro-North speech/content is in reality "anything that is not clearly pro-South." Sven Manguard Wha? 04:33, 29 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
    • About withdrawing assets from South Korea, read the article more carefully: South Korea, where the Wikimedia Foundation used to operate a server cluster donated by Yahoo! (emphasis mine). IIRC the Korea servers have been history for quite some time, and AFAIK WMF don't have any other assets in South Korea. --Catrope (talk) 11:14, 30 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • 31-December-2010: Charges of sexual misconduct are extremely volatile, perhaps because most people don't want to discuss publicly the actual evidence of uncomfortable topics. Hence, the unrefuted charges are often quietly accepted as possible. We've had a rough time with the Amanda Knox case trying to downplay the unfounded accusations of "s..ual assault" of her flatmate. Some editors wanted the lead to say the 2009 conviction was totally refuted on appeal with a new trial started in November 2010. (In Italy, 50% of convictions are typically overturned on appeal, but in the U.S. or UK, "guilty" is almost always final: as if they really did the crime.) There were big misperceptions at risk: it's almost as if in Italy, a verdict of "colpevole" initially means "suspected" or "maybe sorta guilty", so some editors wanted to clearly emphasize: "Despite the claims of a "sex game" (Italian: gioco erotico), investigators found no evidence of it, no sexual items in the room, no photos, no restraints, no potions, no drugs, not even Italian wine was involved in the house. The concept of such a game was completely unfounded. Famous U.S. TV producer, millionaire Donald Trump so totally opposed the conviction of Knox, he announced to boycott purchase of products from Italy." Perhaps such a total denial, total refutation of claims of sexual misconduct should be a policy in English Wikipedia, especially where unanswered rumors, or misperceptions might lead people to think it happened, despite all evidence to the contrary. One rogue editor even wrote in the lead that a distraught Knox had committed suicide ("breaking news") as a false story for Italy. We should probably study an expert translation of the Korean text, along with cultural biases (such as the U.S. or UK meaning of "guilty"), to judge how damning the accusations seemed in the mayor's article. That could also help craft a policy to over-deny claims of misconduct by publishing every aspect from WP:RS denials. Once the term "misconduct" or "assault" is used, then require the text to fully state the denials, and not allow a group of 7 editors to remove such text. -Wikid77 (talk) 09:42, 31 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]


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