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Lila Tretikov a Young Global Leader; Wikipediocracy blog post sparks indefinite blocks

Outgoing Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov – now a Young Global Leader in Davos

The World Economic Forum – best known for its annual meeting of some of the world's top political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland – has invited outgoing Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov to become one of its Young Global Leaders.

The Young Global Leaders programme was set up in 2004 with the US$1 million of prize money received by World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab from the Dan David Foundation. Described in Businessweek as "the most exclusive private social network in the world", the hundreds of Young Global Leaders have included actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Anderson Cooper, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Contacts between the World Economic Forum and the Wikimedia Foundation date back many years. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales was named a Young Global Leader in 2007 (as was his wife since 2012, Kate Garvey, whom he reportedly met in Davos). In 2008, the World Economic Forum named the Wikimedia Foundation a "technology pioneer", enabling it to send a representative to the Davos meeting (Florence Devouard attended in 2008, Sue Gardner in 2009).

Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, set up the Young Global Leaders programme in 2004 with his Dan David Prize money

Wales participated in various capacities in Davos over the years, including co-chairmanship of a Middle East forum in 2008, and in 2015 was a winner of the $1 million Dan David Prize. Today, he serves on the Young Global Leaders Foundation board, while WMF board member Guy Kawasaki is an "agenda contributor" at the World Economic Forum. Both Wales and Kawasaki are believed to have been among Tretikov's chief defenders in the recent leadership crisis at the Foundation.

Tretikov's nomination for the Young Global Leaders list would have occurred sometime before June 2015, given the World Economic Forum's nomination deadline for the class of 2016. Selection criteria include age (below 40 at the time of nomination) as well as "a recognized record of extraordinary achievement and a proven track record of substantial leadership experience. Typically, this means 5–15 years of outstanding professional work experience and a clear indication of playing a substantial leadership role for the rest of his or her career." The World Economic Forum list of the Young Global Leaders class of 2016, published March 16, still describes Lila Tretikov as "the Moscow-born head of the Wikimedia Foundation, the world's largest source of free knowledge".

Wikipediocracy blog post leads to indefinite user blocks on multiple Wikimedia projects

A recent blog post (removed, here is the updated version) on Wikipedia criticism site Wikipediocracy has sparked indefinite blocks of a volunteer contributor on multiple Wikimedia projects. The blog post drew attention to the fact that WayneRay, indefinitely blocked from participation in the English Wikipedia by the project's Arbitration Committee in 2012, was still a highly active contributor on Wikimedia Commons, with a history of problematic user interactions.

WayneRay provided unusually complete details of his identity on-wiki, creating and defending his own Wikipedia biography (archive), and maintaining a page with biographical information about himself on Commons (archive) that he linked on his Commons user page. A minor poet, publisher, and cultural figure in London, Ontario, he had garnered local media attention after being charged with child pornography offences and receiving a 23-month jail sentence in 2011. He was reported to have both shared and solicited child pornography online, at one point posing as a 14-year-old girl to obtain more photos.

Since publication of the Wikipediocracy blog post, volunteer administrators on Commons as well as English Wikinews, Wikisource, and Wikiquote have indefinitely blocked WayneRay. The Wikimedia Foundation's Manager of Trust & Safety, James Alexander, told the Signpost that his department is aware of the situation, and that he has been in touch with volunteer administrators on Commons.

An obvious question arising here is why an openly self-identifying user with a documented child pornography conviction was permitted to edit other Wikimedia projects, given his 2012 ArbCom block on the English Wikipedia and problematic user interactions in his edit history. It would make sense for ArbCom to forward information about problematic users to the Wikimedia Foundation, and for the Foundation then to review the relevant accounts' global contributions histories, performing WMF Office bans where appropriate. We put this question to James Alexander, who pointed out the difficulty of doing the job with limited resources:

We took over the child protection cases from ArbCom a little over a year ago or so (though parts of that transition started before that and parts lasted after). We did that at the same time as we were starting to look at the larger issue of Trust & Safety and problematic cases which the community was either overstretched, or unable to deal with for one reason or another (not through fault of their own but because of the legal and privacy complications etc.), similar to what we did when we set up the emergency@ system for threats of harm. Knowing that our bandwidth was already stretched to the maximum, one of the things we did at the time was to hire someone with Trust & Safety experience (Kalliope) to help, but unfortunately we still have significant resource constraints on what we can commit to and we still only have 2 people primarily focused on it (myself and Kalli), with the other 5 members of Support & Safety (previously Community Advocacy) committed to helping with investigations when possible.

Of course, as happens when you open up badly needed channels like that, the previously unmet demand grew enormously once people realized we were available to help. The number of global ban requests or other issues to evaluate has subsequently grown as part of this, requiring us to prioritize it somewhat brutally at times. Child protection, of course, is incredibly high on that prioritization. Other than emergency threats of harm or other highly time sensitive crises, it goes to the top of the list as soon as we get a report. However, the resource issue has prevented us from making any more methodical 'proactive' steps to look into potential cases that have not yet been brought to our attention, although this is undoubtedly something we'd love to be able to do.

In the end, as in most things, the community is still usually the first line of defense. We want to help as much as possible and to continue to increase that help as we gain more bandwidth through new resources and efficiencies. They are often best situated, however, to see when something needs to be looked at, to escalate matters when needed to our attention, and sometimes the best overall first responders (such as for most content related issues).

Ray's Wikipedia biography, which for several years contained a reference to the child pornography conviction – at times edit-warred over, then removed by Herostratus in August 2014 – has been nominated for deletion (the article had previously survived a 2006 deletion request). At the time of this writing, there is a clear consensus for deletion.

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  • The de-sysop on Commons is very disturbing. It perhaps reveals the black hole the Foundation fell into when it started making global bans for secret reasons. For clarity the comment was a perhaps rather unhelpful comment in context by globally banned user Russavia on an attempted de-sysop. There were a number of users involved in removing and re-inserting the comment in what is known as an "edit war". One of them even taunted admins by using in their edit summary "Any user may remove content from a globally banned user and suffer no penalty for doing so." This goes to the heart of an issue that has never been resolved - should good contributions by banned users be allowed to stand? And at the same time there are many on Commons and elsewhere that have deep misgivings over the Russavia ban. Discussions even took place suggesting that we should reject permission release he had solicited from third parties.
The whole thing smacks of guilt-by-association, personal animus, and silencing techniques.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 13:20, 27 March 2016 (UTC).[reply]
It looks rather worse than that. I see a not-an-admin taunting an admin not to restore conversation including votes about an issue or the non-admin will have the admin blocked. So this is really a sort of Russian law, where it isn't safe to act against a vandal unless you know who he is and that he isn't well-connected. The worst part is the implication that Commons RfA policy isn't under community control (I commented about that on their Village Pump). Wnt (talk) 17:29, 28 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]

"Limited resources"?

Year Source Revenue Expenses Asset rise Total assets
2014/2015 [1] $ 75,797,223 $ 52,596,782 $ 24,345,277 $ 77,820,298
2013/2014 [2] $ 52,465,287 $ 45,900,745 $ 8,285,897 $ 53,475,021
2012/2013 [3] $ 48,635,408 $ 35,704,796 $ 10,260,066 $ 45,189,124
2011/2012 [4] $ 38,479,665 $ 29,260,652 $ 10,736,914 $ 34,929,058
2010/2011 [5] $ 24,785,092 $ 17,889,794 $ 9,649,413 $ 24,192,144
2009/2010 [6] $ 17,979,312 $ 10,266,793 $ 6,310,964 $ 14,542,731
2008/2009 [7] $ 8,658,006 $ 5,617,236 $ 3,053,599 $ 8,231,767
2007/2008 [8] $ 5,032,981 $ 3,540,724 $ 3,519,886 $ 5,178,168
2006/2007 [9] $ 2,734,909 $ 2,077,843 $ 654,066 $ 1,658,282
2005/2006 [10] $ 1,508,039 $ 791,907 $ 736,132 $ 1,004,216
2004/2005 [11] $ 379,088 $ 177,670 $ 211,418 $ 268,084
2003/2004 [12] $ 80,129 $ 23,463 $ 56,666 $ 56,666

Although I really don't see any evidence of "limited resources" preventing us from doing a first-class job of child protection, if indeed we don't have the resources to protect children we should immediately cancel all Wikimanias and most travel to free up more resources for what should be a higher priority. I'm just saying. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:44, 27 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]

By the way, does anyone feel like making a new version of the bar chart above with the legend added so we don't have to tack it on the end every time? --Guy Macon (talk) 22:44, 27 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
And as I've learnt by being niggled by colour-blind readers, consider not both red and green next time. Tony (talk) 02:12, 28 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Also, please note that I have not expressed an opinion one way or the other about the issue Wnt brings up below; I am just commenting about an organization that is cash-rich and and spending more and more each year without really accomplishing much of anything crying "we would like to do more, but our resources are sooooooo limited!". This is stupid whether or not the "we would like to do more" bit is actually worth doing. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:16, 28 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Wayne Ray is not an isolated case

That Wikipediocracy blog post is very prescriptive and points out a number of things that were missed in one particular case. That's fine (and it has lead to some action on Commons) but the larger issue may have been lost in the rush to local corrective action. Wayne Ray is just one person who has been blocked by ARBCOM under similar circumstances. I am at a loss to understand why the WMF could not simply block these people on all WMF projects immediately. They globally blocked over 50 accounts yesterday as spammers or sockpuppets of User:Russavia, so it's obviously not that big a deal. @Jalexander-WMF: why can't you block these accounts right now? It would seem like a poor use of your "limited resources" to re-investigate cases already dealt with by ARBCOM. Limited Resources (talk) 16:39, 28 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]

@Jayen466: you seem to be able to get andwers from Jalexander, do you think you could ask him why the WMF cannot immediately block the small set of users who have been ARBCOM blocked? Or why they haven't been able to act on this one particular case despite knowing about the situation for over a week? Maybe you could do a follow-up piece in the next Signpost issue to show the progress of this case (bearing in mind that "child protection, of course, is incredibly high" on the priority list of the Trust & Safety department). If the two full-time and five part-time members of the Trust & Safety department aren't able to act on reports in a timely manner even when they are spoonfed the information, then this would seem to be an issue for the ED and the Board. Thanks. Limited Resources (talk) 19:59, 30 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Limited Resources, James has advised me that the WMF investigation is still ongoing, and any possible visible actions probably won't occur until later next week. Andreas JN466 22:32, 31 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you. And thanks to James for taking the time to squeeze out this tidbit of information. I look forward to answers to my questions when he has more available time. Limited Resources (talk) 15:15, 1 April 2016 (UTC)[reply]

To the contrary, this kind of initiative is unjustifiable and foolhardy. The user was making decent contributions on multiple projects until recently - projects which had not adopted the English Wikipedia's specific language about banning "identification" as pedophiles. Now to some people it is disturbing that this person possessed 60-70 images illegal in Britain and disseminated them on a Yahoo group. (note that Britain does not necessarily go by the same laws as the U.S. does, and their overall reputation on censorship lately has been anything but good) But Wikipedia will proudly allow people who have gone to jail for murder to start contributing again when they get out. It looks to me like some self-important person in the WMF has set himself up as judge, jury, executioner, doctor, and psychiatrist, deciding that they can tell from the news report about a folder of images they've never seen that this poet must be a confirmed and untreatable pedophile and hence a danger worse than a killer. Now if you people want a cause, why don't you go witch-hunting for Crips and Bloods trying to post about their organizations, then gradually work up to the Mexican Mafia, ISIS, Contras, Ukrainian far-right militias, Syrian resistance, Anonymous, U.S. Army and so forth. You'd have a better chance of protecting people (especially with the last one).

P.S. Note that the WMF of today would proudly ban Allen Ginsberg from any form of participation in any project, without even a second thought. Is that something to be proud of? Wnt (talk) 17:50, 28 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]

  • Wnt, your comment prompts many worrying questions. But here is a less worrying question. Why do you think Britain and the law in Britain have anything to do with the Wayne Ray issue? MPS1992 (talk) 20:40, 28 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
@MPS1992: Because the article linked indirectly above called him a London poet. (to be sure, there are crazier jurisdictions - I'm not sure if the WMF would also blindly ban any named editor convicted of possessing materials deemed "child porn" for depicting adult women whose breasts are too small and hence incite pedophilic desires, but until there's a test case there's no telling!) Wnt (talk) 20:52, 28 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
There is more than one place called London in the world. The article linked also had plenty of other rather "large" clues. MPS1992 (talk) 20:59, 28 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I'm sorry, if somebody calls their town London and situates it on the bloody Thames, and their paper writes the London Arts Festival and so forth without the slightest qualification, that's a level of deception that ordinary people can't be expected to be looking out for. :) Wnt (talk) 21:37, 28 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Wayne Ray went to jail for child pornography offences after pleading guilty to two of the charges. That alone should be enough to warrant removing him from any WMF project where he might interact with minors. To do otherwises seems grossly irresponsible, if not outright negligent. The WMF has known about this situation since the publication of the blog post a week ago, although perhaps they were already aware of this user. I find it surprising that they have not acted already. Limited resources is an excuse that can only be stretched so far when there are two fulltime employees and five others assisting. Limited Resources (talk) 00:01, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
This is an interesting issue. Assume for the sake of argument that an individual pled guilty to a charge of first degree murder, served his time, and then resumed editing Wikipedia. To keep things simple, let's assume this was all in the US. Would that mean that we should remove him from any WMF project where he might interact with future murder victims? Getting closer to what Wikipediocracy talks about in this case (as usual I have no idea how reliable the report is) would it matter if our imaginary murderer used Wikipedia to lure his victims to their death? What if, after his release, he continued to do things on Wikipedia that could only be explained as attempts to lure more victims? What if the court had, as a condition of parole, forbidden any Wikipedia editing? Would it be our job to enforce the court's decision? --Guy Macon (talk) 01:01, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
No. Yes. Yes. Ok, sure. Sorry, are using Wikipedia to lure victims in this case or is this simply a parole condition? If it is the latter, then no, it isn't Wikipedia's job (although I would hope that the WMF was monitoring their edits for signs of luring, given the made-up history). If it is the former, then the WMF has a responsibility to block the imaginary user for the safety of other users, regardless of any parole conditions imposed by the court. In the non-imaginary case at hand, we have a person convicted of child pornography charges who has demonstrated a pattern of inappropriate interections with other users, some of whom appear to be young. Knowing this, do you think that the WMF has a responsibility to globally ban Wayne Ray, for the safety of other users? Limited Resources (talk) 02:59, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
@Guy Macon: let me pose some questions for you as well. How old do you think the model is in this image uploaded by Wayne Ray? Do you think she give her permission for it to be shared on the internet? Is there any evidence that she did? Do you think she give her permission for it to be re-used, including commercially? Is there any evidence that she did? Limited Resources (talk) 03:29, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I am not going to look at that image, because I never knowingly look at pictures where I believe that there is a high probability of someone's privacy being violated. I will not by my actions become part of the problem. I am assuming that it isn't in a public place, so my view is that the subject of the photo must give permission and we must have affirmative evidence of that permission.
So it looks like you are saying that in cases where there is a reason to believe that an individual will harm minors on Wikipedia they should be banned. If so, I agree. Previously you wrote "Wayne Ray went to jail for child pornography offences after pleading guilty to two of the charges. That alone should be enough to warrant removing him from any WMF project where he might interact with minors." biut you replied "No" when I asked "Assume for the sake of argument that an individual pled guilty to a charge of first degree murder, served his time, and then resumed editing Wikipedia. Would that mean that we should remove him from any WMF project where he might interact with future murder victims?" So is your answer really different for child pornographers vs. murderers? Or am I misunderstanding you? --Guy Macon (talk) 06:37, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
You are not mistaken. My answer really is different for child pornographers and murderers (unless those are your hypthetical murderers who "lure" people through Wikipedia). I am not suggesting that we discriminate against people who have been to prison. I am suggesting we discriminate against people who are likely to pose a risk to other users and to be especially cautious if those users are younger users. As for the image, we have no affirmative evidence of permission, but that isn't a requirement for Commons, so it's clearly not a problem. Limited Resources (talk) 14:38, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I'd like a Commons admin to look over this image (and others) and decide about it. Obviously posting child porn to Commons would be a far more significant concern than some story you found in a newspaper, but someone has to figure out if that ever happened. A story like this should be cause for this sort of investigation - but this sort of investigation should have been the first thing that happened, because our need to keep illegal content off the server is far more pressing than our need to get rid of the one person in a thousand with a charge like this in their past who actually gives out enough information for us to know that. Wnt (talk) 13:48, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Your thoughts seem disordered. Limited Resources (talk) 14:44, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
There is nothing wrong with Wnt's thoughts. Do you want to have a reasoned discussion or do you want to troll? --Guy Macon (talk) 20:04, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
When you posted it I contacted a Commons admin about it and he has now gotten rid of it. I understand that there is contradiction here --- my political position is that nothing should be obscene, coupled with important social safeguards to minimize victimization by means other than censorship. However, my Wikipedia position is that I don't want to take chances with our site if there is any significant worry about the legality. Ordinarily the image you cited would not seem like a serious worry (i.e. because the upload was labeled as a collage from an art show, and assuming good faith would imply it is both authorized and legal; also because it only showed breasts, which affects one of the legal tests if I remember correctly), but it is true that when the uploader has been prosecuted this way that the worry can seem more serious. But there is a difference between suspicion and guilt, investigation and punishment, between worrying about the legality of our images and worrying about whether we have all just the right kind of people among our thousands of anonymous users. And there are many users we worry about a bit. It is a bit complicated and at times even a little muddy but I'm trying to go by the principle I see here.
And so an aspect of this is that what annoys me is that you're trying to do the right thing the wrong way. When you see this person has been uploading since 2012, it's a great thing that you looked at his pictures and found something to question. But that should be the very first thing people do, and that way, if someone is problematic you figure it out AND clean up the actual problem, versus first arguing about the person in the abstract, which I think is much less reliable, and not looking to see if there's something on the servers to actually worry about until later. I feel like if the WMF is going to take global action, it shouldn't be left up to people arguing in the talk page for a minor newsletter to make the call on something like this. Wnt (talk) 22:57, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, someone should have gone through these uploads to find anything questionable and dealt with it. Perhaps in 2012 when he was ARBCOM blocked here? That obviously didn't happen. Perhaps when he was blocked on Commons almost a week ago? That didn't happen either (although a couple of the specific images mentioned in the blog post quickly disappeared). @Jalexander-WMF: - will someone do this when the account is globally blocked, or are your resources too limited? Limited Resources (talk) 23:34, 29 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I would also like to know why this was not done. If the answer is really limited resources, please respond to the section above this where I argue that the WMF has more than enough resources to do this. --Guy Macon (talk) 23:52, 30 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • @Jalexander-WMF: Following on from this article and the wikipediocracy blog, I spent a little time in the darker reaches of the Commons that I didn't appreciate existed before. I would like to discuss the cat under E in this screenshot (to be clear, the problem is the cat title, no images are seen in the screenshot). JMWt (talk) 10:40, 1 April 2016 (UTC)[reply]


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