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Qworty incident continues

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By Go Phightins! published another article detailing the ongoing incidents with Wikipedia user Qworty, who has identified himself as Robert Clark Young.

In the Salon article, writer Andrew Leonard comments that Qworty's edits "undermine faith" in Wikipedia. His article documents Qworty's role in the controversy involving Amanda Filipacchi's op-ed, which kindled a debate on Wikipedia sexism as it relates to categories (see Signpost coverage), where Qworty was responsible for a series of revenge edits against Filipacchi in the days after she released her op-ed. He defines these as "modifications to a Wikipedia page motivated by anger. They are acts of punishment. Such behavior is officially considered bad form by the larger Wikipedia 'community,' but given Wikipedia's commitment to anonymity and general decentralized structure, it is a practice that is very difficult to stamp out."

The piece goes on to detail how individuals affiliated with Wikipediocracy approached Leonard with research determining that they thought Young was Qworty, including Andreas Kolbe (User:Jayen466). When asked by the Signpost why he took such a keen interest in exposing Qworty, Andreas said that he wants "the public to know just what goes on under the surface of Wikipedia and how the site plays dice with people's reputations by allowing anonymous editing of biographies of living persons ... I believe the public needs to understand just what is going on in Wikipedia day after day."

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales commented on his talk page, "'For those of us who love Wikipedia, the ramifications of the Qworty saga are not comforting'. That sums it up for me." Extensive discussion has also ensued throughout Wikipedia, particularly on Wales' talk page. Another article from on the topic rhetorically asked, "How do we mobilize against an eight-headed monster that keeps ducking responsibility for unreliable information amassed by volunteers?" The article does, however, go on to say that most of Wikipedia's contributors have "good intentions".

Qworty eventually admitted to being Bob Young and has since been indefinitely blocked and site banned by the community pursuant to a discussion on the administrator's incident noticeboard. Wikipediocracy also published a detailed article.

Since publishing the article, Leonard posted a follow-up indicating his fascination with Wikipedia's policies and updating readers on the block of Qworty. In related stories, published an article indicating that until Wikipedia changes its policies on verifiability and adding information, it will remain an unreliable source, and the Salon article spurred the creation of a Wikipediocracy Wikipedia article, which was nominated for deletion and quickly kept.

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  • Three years ago Jimbo Wales declared that he wanted to ban Qworty. Now it's woulda-coulda-shoulda.
In the last year Jimbo Wales declared that he wanted to ban the editors who have turned DYK into an advertising section for Gibraltar, apparently as editors on Gibraltar's dime. When that scandal is reported in the media, it'll be time to acknowledge Wikipediocracy and engage in would-coulda-shouldas again. Kiefer.Wolfowitz 10:14, 23 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
The media already got the Gibraltar story. I doubt it will be revisited by them unless something new comes up, maybe when Fremantle issues a press release about how great it is to insert free advertising in Wikipedia. Gigs (talk) 18:25, 23 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I wish we could ban editors who post conspiracy theory bullshit to the Signpost comments section. Maybe we should try to get Wikipediocracy interested in that cause. Prioryman (talk) 09:45, 28 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I don't know about banning them, but it's the "real world" self-appointed pundits who consistently moan about WP's "unreliability" who really get my goat. For every person who's really concerned about that issue, there are millions who use WP every month and find it reliable enough for general, everyday use which is all that it's intended to be. Hell, as a dispute resolution volunteer, I certainly see the seamy underside of WP often enough, as some would put it, but it's my first stop when I want to know the basics about just about anything. We may be somewhat unreliable at times, but at least we're relevant, unlike our critics. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 17:35, 29 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]

NPR and Sue Gardner

  • Thanks for posting the NPR link - it's a nice interview with Sue and I didn't know she got hooked by following the breaking story of the Virginia Tech shooting. It's always interesting to hear how people first discover the talk pages on Wikipedia... Jane (talk) 10:28, 23 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]

"A horrible place to be"

"well-known woman in open source". Hey, there are plenty of others, such as myself, a guy, that says that Wikipedia is "a horrible place to be" at times.

Open source requires more open communication from top to bottom. I like this ShoutWiki page: Open company test. Has Wikipedia ever taken this test? Especially this part of the test: "Open Communication / Open Community: Are you able to communicate with other users and with the developers of the product? There are many venues where this communication can occur: mailing lists, discussion forums, blogs (both employee author and customer authored) or wikis." We only have Meta-Wiki as our means of open communication between average editors and the Wikimedia Foundation board and staff. But hardly anyone uses Meta-Wiki for long since few want to check the Meta watchlist after awhile. So little is followed up on. Meta-Wiki should be moved to English Wikipedia or the Commons. Both have far larger numbers of international users with user pages, that regularly check the associated watchlist.

The Qworty incident shows another reason why Wikipedia can be "a horrible place to be". Also, sockpuppets are so easy to create. That compounds the problem of biased editors getting away with harassment and biased editing for so long.

God forbid you get caught in the cross-hairs of tag teams of biased editors. Especially tag teams that also have new sockpuppets moving in and out of the team over months. I can see why women run away from this chaos. Men may put up with it longer since Wikipedia often has a male locker room culture, fraternities of tag-team editors, and hazing rituals. So men are more acculturated to it.

Most sockpuppets would be so easy to get rid of. Just require that all registrations require an email address. That would get rid of a lot of sockpuppets. Especially if questionable accounts get sent verification emails now and then that require a response. That would weed out a significant number of sockpuppets. You could still be anonymous with an alias name on your Wikipedia email account. That is what I do. But imagine trying to maintain and verify many email accounts for sockpuppets. I could go on and on with ideas to make Wikipedia more welcoming and open. --Timeshifter (talk) 23:22, 23 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]

I absolutely agree that registration procedures need to be severely tightened, at a minimum. Anonymous IP editing similarly needs to be ditched. The Qworty affair is just one episode of an infinite series until Wikipedia gets serious about implementing protocols to ensure editorial accountability. Until then, we'll just keep chasing our tails with sockpuppet barrages, concealed POV editing, and mass vandalism. Carrite (talk) 03:42, 25 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I was a happy IP editor for a year before I dared to trust the sign-up procedure on Wikipedia. I was worried they would spam me with email. I rarely sign up for websites and I am very disappointed when I see that museum websites for example will only release their public domain images to logged in users. I strongly disagree that IP editors should be banned. Our anti-vandalism tooling is getting so good, that people who really want to do harm are signing up like Quorty did. Jane (talk) 06:45, 25 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Anonymous, registered, and bot edits. By percentage.
I definitely do not think IP editing should be eliminated. It is a balancing act on English Wikipedia, one done brilliantly overall, between anarchy, productivity, creativity, and efficiency. The total number of edits by both registered and anonymous users (not counting bots) has remained high, though it has been dropping gradually since 2007 when Wikipedia still had the "new thing" buzz in the media. See the chart to the right. That is the latest info I could find anywhere that breaks down the edits between anonymous, registered, and bot edits. Only article edits are counted, not talk pages, etc.. If registered users are required to provide an email address, they should be informed that they will not be spammed, that their email address will not be shared with anybody, and that they can use email accounts with alias names. --Timeshifter (talk) 22:37, 25 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Blaming IPs for the action of a non-IP editor such as Qworty makes little sense to me. The truth is that pseudonymous accounts are more anonymous than many IPs - almost all of which give information as to where you are and many give info as to your employer or broadband supplier. As Citizendium showed it is difficult to be more restrictive than us and still be successful, and whilst we could encourage people to disclose their own name, after recent events in France I'd not recommend it. We could commission some research to see if there was a marked difference in vandalism levels between the 30% of accounts that don't set an email address and the 70% who do. But even if this confirmed the theory that vandals who create their accounts don't supply an email address, the likelihood is that if we required all accounts to verify an email address we'd lose those goodfaith editors who don't supply an email for fear of being spammed and we'd acquire the email addresses of badfaith editors who just do the minimum needed to create an account.... The trick is to be more restrictive in a way that would exclude badfaith editors and not exclude goodfaith editors. ϢereSpielChequers 07:09, 26 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]


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