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The Wikimedia Foundation has sent a formal cease and desist letter to Wiki-PR—the public relations agency accused of breaking Wikipedia policies and guidelines by creating, editing, and maintaining several thousand articles for paying clients through a sophisticated array of accounts. The Foundation's attorneys, Cooley LLP, have demanded that Wiki-PR's employees abide by the site's Terms of Use and the language of a community ban from the English Wikipedia.

Wiki-PR's attempts to obscure the nature of their Wikipedia editing through statements ("We do paid editing and not paid advocacy. We’re as boring as any other research firm.") and actions have been wide-ranging. As we reported nearly two months ago:

These revelations were quickly followed by a community ban voted on and enacted by volunteer Wikipedia editors, because Wiki-PR had "proven themselves repeatedly unable or unwilling to adhere to [Wikipedia's] basic community standards." To be unbanned, the agency would have to comply with three directives: (a) divulge a complete list of all past sock and meatpuppet accounts they have used, (b) divulge a complete list of all articles they have edited for which they have received financial benefit, and (c) pledge to edit only under transparent, disclosed accounts and to adhere as closely as they are able to all of Wikipedia’s content policies.

The letter reveals that this ban may have had little impact on Wiki-PR's operation. Since being exposed, Wiki-PR has continued to seek new clients—even while assuring the Foundation that they would comply with the ban:

The problem was so extensive that the Foundation's executive director Sue Gardner issued a statement in October, which quickly received wide-ranging press coverage, and retained the high-profile international law firm Cooley LLP to assist in investigating the incident. Cooley advertises that it has expertise in trademark, copyright, user-generated content, intellectual property, and competition law, and Signpost readers may recall that they, at the behest of the Foundation, represented Wikimedia community members Doc James (James Heilman) and Wrh2 (Ryan Holliday) when they were sued by Internet Brands for their involvement with Wikivoyage. This action ended in "victory" for the editors.

The letter garnered much attention from the press, including the Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Independent, and Mashable.

Jordan French, Wiki-PR's CEO, told news outlets that "Wiki-PR is working with the Wikimedia Foundation and its counsel to sort this out", but the Foundation's Matthew Roth was quick to clarify: "They [Wiki-PR] mischaracterize the communication we have had. The Wikimedia Foundation has communicated with Wiki-PR, but we reject any implication that we are negotiating with them ... As stated in the cease and desist letter, Wiki-PR has been banned by the Wikipedia community, and must cease editing until it fully complies with the terms and conditions outlined by the community. Because of this, if Wiki-PR wishes to continue editing, they should talk with the community."

Late surge of ArbCom nominations, then five withdrawals


I imagine I am not anyone's ideal candidate

The WMF unfortunately already knows who I am

This nomination may scare a few people

If elected, I'm not going to be a terribly active arb

I am a terrible liar

I still reflexively think of myself as a casual hobbyist puttering around a monument built by others

I have a lot of things going against me

There are two hate videos about me on YouTube, all relating to my actions on Wikipedia

I have issued over 2,500 blocks

My education will take presidence [sic] over anything wiki related

I am, by nature, a deliberative person with a minimalist bent

After a year of quietly throwing things at walls rather than spend hours fighting something on the project, I am coming back on

I promise not to block anyone on ArbCom while I'm on it

In less than a day's time, at midnight UTC start of Monday, the two-week voting period for the 11th annual election of the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee will begin. The election is being run by a group of self-selected community volunteer election coordinators, and a three-member panel—apparently called the "Electoral Commission"—to solve disputes and make decisions on unexpected problems. There are nine vacant seats on the 15-member committee, in which members have two-year terms.

As in previous ArbCom elections, the electronic interface SecurePoll will be used, with support–neutral–oppose ternary choice and the S/S+O formula. The use of this system has not yet made a difference to who is elected to the Committee compared with the more widely used binary system of percentage support among all voters (S/V).

Barely a day before the close of nominations at midnight UTC end of Tuesday 19 November, there were only 9, then 11 candidates. A late rush to nominate (one pushed the button only four minutes before the deadline) saw numbers grow to 27. As Ealdgyth wrote: "Sweet mother of all the gods—I go to the afternoon matinee of a movie ... and there are 7 more candidates!" Five of those candidates have since withdrawn, some of them writing that they had nominated only because the field had been so small. This has brought the total number of candidates back to 22, comparing with 21 last year, 17 in 2011, and 21 in 2010.

The candidate guide shows that two hopefuls are sitting arbitrators (AGK and Roger Davies); one is a bureaucrat; four are not admins (Kraxler, Isarra, The Devil's Advocate, and Guerillero); six are oversighters; eight are checkusers; one is an arbitration clerk (Ks0stm); and two are former arbitration clerks (AGK and Guerillero). The candidates between them have already had 11 unsuccessful bids for election to ArbCom. Fifteen prepackaged "general" questions have been asked of each candidate, and voters are still able to pose "individual questions".

Scrutineers have technical access to the SecurePoll system allowing them to check the validity of cast ballots and to certify the final results. Scrutineers are drawn from the ranks of stewards (highly trusted Wikimedia functionaries) whose primary editing side is not the English Wikipedia. Their task typically takes from less than a day to several days after the close of voting at midnight UTC end of Sunday 8 December. The scrutineers are Mathonius (talk · contribs) (Dutch WP), Vituzzu (talk · contribs) (Italian WP), Matanya (talk · contribs) (Hebrew WP), and Tegel (talk · contribs) (Swedish WP). For their instructions, thanks must go largely to Happy-Melon, who prepared the original draft in 2011, and MBisanz.

Found under the humorous shortcut ACECANDY, the candidates have each presented statements of up to 400 words. Badmouthing the committee was in vogue, if some of these statements are anything to go by. Georgewhilliamherbert wrote: "Something has gone wrong with Wikipedia. Arbcom has not been helping." For NativeForeigner: "Arbcom case pages give frustratingly little insight into the thought process or discussion involved in reaching a decision". Arthur Rubin said: "I think some of the members of ArbCom have lost sight of the concept that the purpose of Wikipedia is to add and maintain content". Seraphimblade said: "Over recent years, I've seen ... an erosion of trust in ArbCom ..."

Some candidates decided to thrust the knife in. Kww wrote: "I've always been disturbed by Arbcom's ability to miss the point and ignore obvious implications of all issues brought before it, ... This year, I'm even more disturbed by the rack of candidates running. Some of the names here would do more damage to Wikipedia than I can conceive of." But David Gerard was the stand-out in this respect, referring to "strange and disturbing decisions of the Arbitration Committee ... We see the reputation of the English Wikipedia dragged through the mud by bad Arbitration Committee decisions. ... / intemperate decisions, inability to acknowledge gross errors, abuse of powers (including oversight) to suppress criticism of their decisions, attempts to provoke the Wikimedia Foundation to confrontation and regulatory capture by trolls has led to palpable fear in its checkusers and oversighters, dismay and disgust from Foundation and chapter staff, and unwillingness of everyday editors to deal with them in any manner."

If voters were still short of opinions about the candidates, the election is adorned by no fewer than 20 voter guides. The Lady Catherine de Burgh, for example, has stepped out of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice to represent the sorely missed views of the English aristocracy at its most haughty. AGK, she is sure, "has nice legs and looks very dashing in his kilt". David Gerard, who apparently lives in the same city as the Lady, probably "mixes in a circle and place with which I am unfamiliar ... There is also something very unsavory in his woodshed". Gamaliel "sounds like an unfortunate disease of the leg", and Seraphimblade is a "peculiar name; probably foreign".

All editors who had a registered account before 28 October, have made at least 150 mainspace edits by 1 November, and are not blocked from the English Wikipedia when voting, are encouraged to have their say in electing new members of one of the most important bodies in the Wikimedia movement.

User:Z1720User:ToBeFreeUser:SdrqazUser:MaximUser:HJ MitchellUser:FireflyUser:CabayiUser:AoidhUser:Worm That TurnedUser:WugapodesUser:Opabinia regalisUser:IznoUser:EnterpriseyUser:Donald AlburyUser:CabayiUser:BeeblebroxUser:SilkTorkUser:PrimefacUser:MoneytreesUser:L235User:GuerilleroUser:GeneralNotabilityUser:CaptainEekUser:Barkeep49User:PrimefacUser:MaximUser:L235User:BDDUser:BradvUser:CaptainEekUser:Barkeep49Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2023Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2022Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2021Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2020

In brief

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  • In regards to the education program, I've started a thread at VPM where I raise the possiblity that the WMF might have effectively supported forced paid advocacy editing. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:49, 24 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • (Re: Elections:) The community volunteers are not "self-selected"; they are selected by the community and appointed by Jimbo Wales. They aren't "apparently" called the "Electoral Commission"; they are. And I think you may have confused Electoral Commissioners for the Election Coordinators: the latter help set up the election pages and are self-selected; the former regulate the election and (I think) help scrutinise the results. AGK [•] 13:03, 24 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks, yes, confusion because of the name changes. I hadn't bargained on such grand titles as "election commissioners". Tony (talk) 13:44, 24 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
You hadn't? Surely you know Wikipedia better than that… ;-) Thanks for correcting the article. AGK [•] 17:07, 25 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • Considering that they are not universally accepted as having any place at all in the elections process, I am disappointed that the Signpost has devoted coverage to humor guides. As a guide writer myself, I've put two dozen hours into creating something that people will find useful, and that might help result in a better committee. To have the guide listed alongside guides that were written in bad faith (I won't name the ones that come to mind) is bad enough, but to have the guide listed alongside someone that just typed out a bunch of childish jokes is insulting to the amount of effort I put in to my guide. Sven Manguard Wha? 16no:29, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
    • Furthermore, I strongly maintai I have not had a woodshed since 1994 - David Gerard (talk) 19:17, 24 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
    • "Childish"? Sven, you need to stop thinking so highly of your own opinions. Several of us are enjoying the humorous guides (and having them listed alongside ours), and there's no need for you rain on others' parades. Heimstern Läufer (talk) 14:43, 26 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
        • I'm sorry (it's not in my nature to be uncharitable), but one just can't help feeling that Mr Manguard is just sore that my beautifully crafted and perceptive guide is attracting more attention than his rather dull ramblings. He needs to lighten up a little, and be more like dear, late friend Lord Beaverbrook and give the readers what they want The Lady Catherine de Burgh (talk) 08:40, 27 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • I don't want to edit this article myself, but I believe the statement you attribute to candidate Guerillero is presented here in an inadvertently misleading way, in that he was referring in it to the Audit Subcommittee (AUSC), not the Arbitration Committee itself. Newyorkbrad (talk) 04:06, 25 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
    Thanks, NYB. My apologies to Guerillero. Sentence removed. Tony (talk) 13:42, 25 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • (Re: Wikimedia Germany elections) Only 1727 members are active members and eligible to vote, the others are sustaining members only. Christoph Jackel (WMDE) (talk) 15:01, 25 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • No, there's no reason (other than curiosity) why we might need to know that. Nikkimaria (talk) 04:06, 26 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • In my opinion, that would be insensitive and rude to his family. The point is that we've lost a friend and colleague. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 18:14, 26 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
It is strange. His death is mentioned in a lot of places (several news articles, facebook posts, etc.), and none of them say why. But, I found an earlier unrelated article that indicated that he had recently been hospitalized for depression, so you can probably guess. Wincent77 (talk) 04:42, 29 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
It's inappropriate to even speculate. The sad thing is that he's gone. We should take the lead from the numerous reports, which are unconcerned with how his life ended. End of issue, I think. Tony (talk) 05:23, 29 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
@User:Wincent77, User talk:Tony1. I strongly disagree. If the cause for a Wikipedian passing is physical or accidental, and thus unrelated to Wikipedia, yes, there is nothing for us to do but to offer condolences. But if the cause is at least partially psychological, then it might have been related to Wikipedia, which means that it is likely that we, his colleagues, have failed him, by not creating a friendly enough environment to prevent this from happening. Not discussing this is to me akin to avoiding responsibility. If there's a chance that it was our system, ourselves, who contributed to this tragic event, we need to do everything in our power to avoid this happening again. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 06:00, 29 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • I am sorry to hear about the death. One of the worse ways the number of active Wikipedians can decrease. Wincent77 (talk) 04:43, 29 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]

  • I have to say the coverage of the ArbCom election is pretty shabby. If a casual reader can tell how the author feels about the candidate pool, you're doing it wrong. This looks more like an opinion piece than journalism. The long list of quotes without attribution or context probably should not be there at all, it seems to be intended to mock the candidates with cherry-picked portions of their statements deliberately presented out of context. Is there a managing editor who reviews this stuff or do you guys just print whatever gets submitted? Beeblebrox (talk) 22:24, 30 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
    • Honestly, we've covered so many ArbCom elections it's becoming hard to minimise the boredom factor. I supposed you're talking about David Gerard and the woodshed; he saw the joke. I thought the Lady's voter guide was hilarious. I have difficulty seeing whom I'd have voted for personally from this text. Tony (talk) 10:12, 1 December 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I didn't say you said anything about a specific candidate. I said the candiddate pool, which you have represented witht a long list of partial quotes and sentence fragments down the right side of the article. This list seems deliberately formulated to create a negative impression of the candidates as a whole. I don't know how you could not have realized that is what I am referring to from my previous remark. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:49, 1 December 2013 (UTC)[reply]


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