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By The ed17
Cynthia Ashley-Nelson
A solitary flower, photographed in memory of Cynthia

Cynthia Ashley-Nelson, who edited as "Cindamuse" on the Wikimedia projects, passed away in her sleep at the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin on 11 April.

Cynthia's death was first relayed to the movement by the Affiliations Committee, on which she served as vice-chair for one day before her death. Originally an English Wikipedian, having registered an account on the site in 2007, she wrote two good articles on the site, including one on her distant relative Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury and the 2010 book on the first US president, Washington: A Life, and made about 33,500 edits. She was nominated for administrator by Pedro in December 2013 and passed with 97 votes in support.

In the Wikimedia movement, Cynthia was appointed to the Affiliations Committee, which advises the Wikimedia Foundation on the approval of new affiliates, at the beginning of 2014. She participated with Wikipedia's Volunteer Response Team, which uses an open-source ticket request system (OTRS) to respond to email inquiries, and co-moderated the Wikimedia movement's gender gap mailing list.

In real life, Cynthia lived in the United States. Born in California, she worked in Washington as the founder and executive director of Catalyst Resource Network, whose Facebook page describes it as an organization that fights one of the remaining areas of slavery: sex trafficking and exploitation. "We're basically a modern day Underground Railroad."

Tributes to Cynthia came in from around the movement. The outgoing and incoming chairs of the Affiliations Committee wrote in a joint statement that "In the short time since January that Cindy has been with us in the Affiliations Committee, we have come to value her thoughts, passion and refreshing ideas. She was working very enthusiastically with us, and we are all saddened that we won’t have the chance to learn from all of her ideas, insights and experiences. The months we shared proved her to be a very valuable and engaged member of the committee".

Foundation board member María Sefidari wrote in the Wikimedia blog: "We would send each other long emails about movement roles and how to move forward with the movement. And as it usually happens, conversations turned from the more formal to the informal, eventually including little snippets of our every day lives, the good things that happened to us and the not so good. When we met for the first time face to face several days ago, we gave each other a big hug. ... I think our last interaction was about getting together at some moment during the conference to just hang out and talk. She had a great smile."

Tributes are being left on her English Wikipedia talk page.

In brief

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Why there is no age? How old was she when she passed away?--Mishae (talk) 03:52, 23 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]

The obituary says she was 37. It is standard NYT policy to include the ages of all individuals in a news story (provided that they consent to it, so I would guess that the reporter asked a close party for the information, if her age was not immediately available in the information about her death). --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 04:40, 23 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Adrianne Wadewitz, who we covered last week, was 37. I'm not sure how old Cynthia was. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 04:46, 23 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Cindy's death is a huge loss for women's outreach, advancement of the Wikipedia Education Program, and Wikipedia community outreach in Cascadia (the Pacific Northwest of the United States). Her organizational management expertise, so far as I know, had not yet been exercised on the Affiliations Committee but I expect that there she would have had the same ambition she had for the Seattle area. In response to the question, she was not so old that her health would have been expected to fail. She had a debilitating chronic condition which, from what she said, I thought that she managed well and which ought not to have taken her suddenly. I worked with her a bit in the context of Seattle outreach and I enjoyed the enthusiasm she had for providing administrative support for activists. It is really upsetting to lose a community colleague. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:59, 23 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • One doesn't enquire a lady's age, and Cindy was a lady. I knew she had had problems, but I thought that they were now under control. Never mind a colleague, it's upsetting to lose someone regarded as a friend, albeit a distant one. Peridon (talk) 18:00, 23 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Well, the article just says she died in her sleep so it's unwarranted to say that her death was due to some "problems". It's unclear if additional information on her cause of death will be released but, as of now, I doubt that anyone in her immediate circle will say more. Liz Read! Talk! 20:43, 23 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Terms of use

The turnout on the Terms of Use amendment looks like a record for any RfC, with 1389 !votes (1103 supporting - just below 80%). It should be clear that paid editors are over-represented in the results - voting for their paychecks - so that it looks like 90% of all Wikimedians favor at least minimal regulation of paid editing.

With the previous lack of regulation, paid editing was one of those stories that just kept coming up. Every 3 months or so, there was another paid editing scandal. Can you imagine these stories being repeated with the addendum "paid editing is not currently regulated by Wikipedia even though 90% of the community wants it to be regulated." That would simply be unacceptable. Pete Forsyth may find the requirement that paid editors disclose their paid edits to be too complicated or confusing, but I'm sure that that the community can come up with simple regulation that anybody can understand, if we put our minds to it. Smallbones(smalltalk) 03:59, 24 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Smallbones, that has to be one of the most insulting things I've ever seen on Wikipedia: that half of all editors who oppose the proposed change to the TOU in its current format are paid editors voting for their paychecks. Please stop making such unfounded allegations. A huge proportion of the "support" participants in that so-called vote made it obvious in their comments that the did not understand the proposal and/or did not, in fact, support what was being proposed. Indeed, you don't support what is being proposed either, based on your own comments in the Signpost. I also put you to strict proof to show that half of the people who openly opposed the proposed amendment are paid editors; oh wait, that would undoubtedly require you to provide non-public personal information about editors. Instead, I believe you should withdraw that offensive statement. Risker (talk) 01:46, 25 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
No insult intended. You've said that "We are all paid editors," even going so far as to accuse me of being a paid editor. So don't you think that it is logical that paid editors would vote against a proposal to regulate paid editing? If I'd meant to insult them, I would have compared them to turkeys voting against Thanksgiving. But I don't think they are turkeys, just people trying to protect their paychecks. That's the most natural thing in the world to do. Smallbones(smalltalk) 03:10, 25 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
No, you've cast aspersons on hundreds of editors from multiple projects. You've equated those who oppose the enactment of a terribly worded, unenforceable proposal to a group of people you've publicly reviled. If anything, you've exactly proved the point of what is wrong with this TOU amendment: you're painting everyone who opposes the proposal as written with the same brush. I could quite easily support my position that everyone gains a benefit by editing (by the initial definition of paid editing, any kind of benefit was "payment"), whereas you are completely incapable of illustrating that half of the people who oppose the proposed amendment are earning a living editing Wikipedia. Simply put, there are probably fewer than 50 people who make enough edits on this project to to turn it into a livelihood (as opposed to pocket change), and I'm quite certain the majority of those who edit that much are doing it for reasons that have nothing to do with financial gain. Risker (talk) 04:27, 25 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
I must correct you, I don't revile paid editors, rather it is paid editing that I revile. It is tearing down a wonderful structure that has been built up by many volunteers, that provides good information to whoever has access to the internet. If that information is poisoned, and people can't trust us, then the whole structure may collapse.
The situation reminds me of a news story from a couple of decades ago. After the fall of the Soviet Union people started cutting down and selling copper cable from high power electrical transmission systems (nominally still in use), forcing even more people out of work. I don't revile those folks who cut down the cable - they were doing what they had to do to survive. I did hate the fact that the transmission systems were being destroyed. It just seemed like there must be a pretty simple enforcement system that would stop the destruction. Everybody likely knew who was buying the cable - these folks could be stopped fairly simply if anybody took the obvious steps. Similarly, most people likely knew who was cutting the cable and where to post just a couple policemen to stop folks from cutting more. So the system was messed up, but the parts of the system that led to the destruction of the cable could easily be fixed. The actual folks who cut the cable, in my mind, were less responsible than the authorities who couldn't be bothered to take a few minimal steps. That's my reading in any case.
As far as the ToU change being "unenforceable" let's put that to rest right now. It's usually very clear who benefits from an ad being put in one of our articles- it's the company whose products are being advertised! Now if they don't require disclosure, they are facing a slam-dunk law suit against them by the WMF, along with the usual public shaming in the press, and a possible action by the FTC (once all the info comes out in the press and in the court). No reputable company will take that risk, and the revenue for paid editors will dry up. Smallbones(smalltalk) 10:18, 25 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]


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