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Modification of WMF protection brought to Arbcom

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By The ed17
PCI slots

Philippe Beaudette's July 2013 application of pending changes level two (PC2) on the article Conventional PCI—an action taken under his job as the Wikimedia Foundation's Director of Community Advocacy and its rarely used office actions policy—has escalated to the Arbitration Committee after an editor upgraded it to full protection.

In this case, pending changes were applied after a DMCA takedown notice was issued to the Foundation. The notice forced the WMF to remove links to PCI's Local Bus Specifications revisions 2.1, 2.2, and 3.0, according to its official policy governing takedown notices:

English Wikipedia administrator Kww objected to the nature of the protection, since an extensive discussion determined that PC2—which requires review before edits from autoconfirmed and anonymous editors—"should not be used" on the English Wikipedia. While Kww will typically downgrade PC2-protected articles to PC1 or semi-protection, in this case he increased the level of protection (to "fully protected"—only admins can edit) to avoid PC2 from being active on an English Wikipedia article. Doing so put him into conflict with the Foundation for the second time in recent memory; in September, Kww implemented what the Foundation called "badly flawed" code blocking the VisualEditor.

In response, Beaudette wrote Kww that he "just spoke to the legal team about your actions and asked them what to do. ... We select the level of action very specifically and with a great deal of care. If you have a problem with it, you're invited to contact us prior to taking action. That's the minimum standard expected of any admin when overriding an action, much less an office action." Beaudette advised that "On any other wiki, I'd be removing your tools right now. However, on this wiki, because there is a functional Arbitration Committee, I'm going to, instead, refer this to them for them to determine what sanction to take."

As of publishing time, the Committee is voting 6–1 to admonish Kww for "for knowingly modifying a clearly designated Wikimedia Foundation Office action." The motion continues that Kww did so without "any emergency and without any form of consultation", and declines his request for a full case, as it would involve a review of an inviolable office action.

In brief

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I had to go back after skimming the section and re-read to make sure- we're really wasting (wasted) time complaining that Kww added extra protection to an article that Wikimedia wanted protected? Really? Removing the protection I could see causing a fuss over, but that's just whiny nitpicking. --PresN 01:04, 25 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Pretty obvious to me that WMF is doing a bit of payback to Kww for getting in the way of their big money VisualEditor debacle and helping to mercifully wheel that hopeless sack o' zeros-and-ones to a cul de sac to die in peace. So now it it pettily making a molehill into a mountain, one of the few things they seem to be very good at. Carrite (talk) 03:39, 25 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

This really looks like revenge. In fact, the VisualEditor is "badly flawed" itself and in my opinion it was nearly impossible to make it even worse. It brings to me the question: does the Foundation need so much power and are they using it correctly? The Banner talk 04:09, 25 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I support the Arbitration Committee and its intended objectives, but the near-unilateral decision to opt for portentous admonishment of an administrator for attempting to uphold a consensus mandate hurts my perception of the acting body's ability to adequately represent the Community's interests. This is a scenario that can be reasonably expected to elicit mixed emotions in the minds of many if not most seasoned contributors, and the degree of dissent expressed here is simply not proportional to that observation.    C M B J   05:01, 25 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

  • Looks like some "trouting" is needed. Adding a setting that consensus is against and than when this is changed treatening to remove an admins bits? Has the WMF lost its mind. Sounds like some of the staff at the WMF needs a stern warning. Yes a heads up ahead of time would have been good form. Bring it to arbcom... Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 06:30, 25 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I cannot help but wonder if there is more to this story than is made clear in this piece. I agree with the above posters that, if this is all that's going on, the Foundation (through Philippe) seems to have acted very poorly- an action going very much against community consensus (which was not necessary for any legal reason- why not use full protection to begin with?) followed by threats. If this literally is the whole story, then it's not Kww who needs "admonishment". J Milburn (talk) 10:24, 25 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

  • For the record, I don't buy into the "revenge" theory. If revenge was the motivation, I would have been desysopped by now. What I find most amusing is that people don't believe the truth: it never occurred to me that having the article at PC2 was anything but a slipup on Phillipe's part, so I set the protection level at the only legal one open to me (per WP:OFFICE, I couldn't reduce the protection, and, per WP:PROTECT, I couldn't leave it at PC2). I expected that Philippe would respond by semi-protecting the article and that would be that.—Kww(talk) 05:10, 26 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]
I agree. People should take you at your word. And I can't swallow the revenge theory either. It's perfectly in keeping with Philippe's character - and the "you exist to serve us" foundation ethos - to react to something like this with a "How dare you!!!??" What a bizarre choice for community liaison officer. So sad. So sad. The foundation is such a wasted opportunity. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 07:58, 26 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

It's sad to see such talented people who have done so much to protect the project now involved in a circular firing squad. Looking back at Philippe's talk page, I see this type of protection level has been questioned once before - it appears to have been added automatically by a bot back then - and that it was also changed a few months before that as well. I suspect that as long as the protection policy says this protection level is not supported by consensus, per RFC, the protection of this article will continue to be unstable. Who knows when the next user or bot will come along and notice the discrepancy, or what action they might chance to take. The en.WP needs a protection level that is specifically and unequivocally for WMF legal issues, and used only by the Office, whether the policy is created by consensus or by Foundation fiat. The solution to this problem should be looked for in the technical department, not in the ArbCom. —Neotarf (talk) 06:45, 28 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]


"which requires review before edits from autoconfirmed and anonymous editors"

Autoconfirmed editors can edit pages that people who are not autoconfirmed cannot. I'm sure a different meaning was intended.— Vchimpanzee · talk · contributions · 22:46, 31 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]


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