WikiEd course leads to Twitter harassment: Education, deletion and social media can be a volatile mix.
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WikiEd course leads to Twitter harassment

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By Sdkb

A Wiki Education course went awry last month when controversy over a deletion discussion spilled onto Twitter, leading to harassment of a 15-year-old editor. The course, Black Women and Popular Culture, was taught by Msia Kibona Clark. Clark, whose Wikipedia username is Mkibona, is an associate professor of African cultural and feminist studies at Howard University. As of press time, 12 out of the 24 articles linked on the course page are redlinks. One of those, about the activist organization Black Women Radicals (archive link), was nominated for deletion on December 13; it was deleted a week later, after a clear consensus formed that the group was not notable (editors also identified copyright violations and promotionalism issues).

Founders Library at Howard University

During the nomination, Clark posted on Twitter "I don't know where the Black (& allies) nerds are, but I really need support in editing & saving" the article, in a thread where she tagged the group's Twitter handle. The AfD nominator joined the Twitter conversation, identifying themselves, linking to the canvassing guideline, and stating "I am 100% not trying to erase anything cultural. I based my decisions on notability guidelines and what other editors said about the content."

Other users, including the Black Women Radicals account, responded with hostility, particularly after the editor revealed that they were 15 years old. @uchenna (Uchenna Kema) wrote "Delete your Wikipedia account and go to school". @moontomysea mockingly paraphrased their comments as "yes i erased your nigger page from wikipedia and if you talk about it the rules say we can ban you", commenting "they sure do make white fifteen year old kids bold now don't they". The Black Women Radicals account tweeted "It's a shame the ways Wikipedia (particularly its overwhelming[ly] white editors) gatekeep what is considered 'notable' enough to have a Wiki article. Most of the time, Black women's work is not considered 'notable' enough." They also shared a screenshot showing that the nominator had blocked them.

The nominator brought the matter to the Education Noticeboard, where they expressed intense distress. "I am now scared of what they will do next, if they'll follow me into other social media or even here to make attacks or potentially doxx me as an act of 'revenge'," they wrote. "Please help."

Many editors responded. Ian Ramjohn, the Senior Wikipedia Expert for WikiEd, wrote "I'm horrified at what has happened here" and communicated information about how Wikipedia operates to the group in replies on Twitter. Administrator Joe Roe pointed out that many non-Wikipedians on Twitter likely misunderstood the role of an editor to be "someone with special authority over Wikipedia content", rather than anyone who edits.

Clark explained and defended her actions in the noticeboard thread. "I initially only turned to my community on Twitter because I was frustrated, I was not being heard, and I didn't know what to do," she wrote. "I needed help getting resources and ideas for the article, as well as help navigating Wikipedia. I also needed support from my community because it is not a good feeling to feel like you're not being heard and to feel powerless to do anything about it." Regarding the nominator, she wrote "when he went on Twitter, identified himself, and continued with the tone of criticism and chastising that I had experienced on Wikipedia, I anticipated the reaction. I wish it had not happened, but it did not have to happen."

In a statement for WikiEd, LiAnna Davis (its chief programs officer and deputy director) wrote "I'm very sorry this situation has resulted in multiple people feeling harassed." However, the bulk of her statement focused on thanking Clark for her work trying to combat systemic bias on Wikipedia, reminding editors to assume good faith about her intentions in going to Twitter, and urging the community to take into account the "systemic bias in our sources" when assessing articles. Administrator Barkeep49 criticized this response, saying that WikiEd was responsible for "blasé handling of demonstrable harassment". Davis later clarified that "my post yesterday should have read 'being harassed', not 'feeling harassed'. My apologies for my poor wording choice." Discussion about WikiEd continued from there, with the harassment issues referred to WMF Trust and Safety for private handling.

African Americans are severely underrepresented among Wikipedia editors, according to a 2020 WMF survey, which found that they make up only 0.5% of American editors, despite being around 14% of the American population. There remain many content gaps in Wikipedia's coverage of Black history and culture.

The incident highlights the ongoing challenges faced by WikiEd's student editing program. Supporters argue that a few troublesome instances overshadow many quieter successes, point to its thorough training modules, and note that it helps bring in a more diverse group of editors. Detractors emphasize the disruption to the community from courses that produce problematic content and note that few students go on to make productive contributions after their course ends.

The incident also highlights the challenge of communicating Wikipedia's complex processes to unfamiliar audiences, especially in heated situations where people may be inclined to view community decisions through a political or ideological lens. Marginalized communities, in particular, may be reticent to assume good faith after having endured systemic discrimination. "The experience was hurtful for me and for my students who witnessed it," wrote Clark in the noticeboard thread.

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I'm very thankful Sdkb gave this subject a fair write up, at my suggestion. I am appalled by Mkibona's conduct; these violations of WP:CANVASS and WP:MEAT call for a topic ban if not an outright block and removal from WEF's program. Because the harassment involved should have been prevented by WEF, LiAnna (WikiEd)'s failure to address this matter and her passive-aggressive "I'm sorry anyone was hurt" statement after the fact should result in her removal from WEF, as well. As I've read, this isn't the first time WEF's efforts created suboptimal results for en-wp which calls into question Helaine (Wiki Ed)'s leadership. Chris Troutman (talk) 21:19, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I am a paid employee of Wiki Education, not WMF. I fundamentally disagree that the instructor in this class instigated harassment. The tweet the instructor sent requesting support is quoted above: "I don’t know where the Black (& allies) nerds are, but I really need support in editing & saving" two articles. This was not instigating harassment. The AfD nominator somehow found this tweet and responded to it. Other users on Twitter — none connected to the course or Wiki Education — did harass the AfD nominator (and I'll repeat my comment that the initial wording of my post was a mistake, not an attempt to minimize or deny the unacceptable Twitter harassment — it was harassment, and I'm glad Barkeep49 pointed that out at the time so I could clarify). But her asking for help identifying additional sources for two articles is not instigating harassment. It's also worth noting that while one article she requested help with did get deleted, the other one she asked for help for in the thread (Ratchet feminism) got some additional sourcing and is now an article. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 23:56, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It is still unacceptable to canvass votes at AfD. (t · c) buidhe 08:06, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      • The disconnect between the thread you are replying to and the actual content of your comment is jarring. The exact content of the message says nothing about AfD votes. If anything, it is a call for editors to improve an article. And if an article is clearly being worked on and improved this is usually considered a reason to keep at AfD. Nothing untowards with that suggestion in itself. JMWt (talk) 09:01, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
        It's clearly canvassing if you tweet to followers asking them to "save" an article at AfD, because it is a biased message. An unbiased message would be asking for input on a particular discussion, without specifying if you support deleting or keeping. See WP:CANVASS. (t · c) buidhe 09:40, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ok sure, show me where the tweet specifically discusses a !vote at AfD rather than trying to improve a WP article. JMWt (talk) 09:46, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  1. It seems that those running this course did not give (or did not succeed in conveying) to the students a proper grounding in WP:V, WP:RS and WP:GNG. Those policies are absolutely fundamental to writing any article on en.wp, yet the students who have commented seems to be woefully lacking in that understanding; one even suggested dding refs to press releases as evidence of notability. I count that as grave failing by the course director, and more broadly by WikiEd.
  2. A lot of the commentary refers to "harassment" by and of various parties, but none of the posts cited show any evidence of harassment. There are many critical responses, and some of those are heated or harsh ... but the harassment is normally used to describe a pattern of hostile behaviour, rather than just individual acts of hostility. This misuse of the word poisons our ability to discuss contentious issues.
  3. It seems to me to be very unlikely that a 15yo is suitably experienced to be able to assess the significance and availability of sources related to a politically-contentious topic which is not well-covered in mainstream media. I intend no criticism of the individual concerned, who I assume is diligent and well-intentioned ... but the ideal choice of person to assess such matters would be someone with a lot more experience. That is a structural problem arising from wp's fundamental policies relating to editors. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 22:42, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Regarding 3.: Looking at the AfD discussion, it appears that five other editors agreed with the nominator's concerns about the sources cited, and two of them reported having made unsuccessful efforts to find suitable sources themselves. Do you think all five lacked competence as well?
And are there concrete examples of sources that were overlooked or misjudged in this case (in particular due to the alleged incompetence issue)? Regards, HaeB (talk) 23:24, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@HaeB: I am not here to re-run the AFD debate or to find sources.
I remain concerned at the lack of expertise and experience. BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 23:51, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems that those running this course did not give (or did not succeed in conveying) to the students a proper grounding in WP:V, WP:RS and WP:GNG. Sometimes there's a gap between what's written and what people take away from what's written, but we do communicate these concepts to thousands of students each term. We could say more in our trainings, but longer, more detailed instructions don't equal better retention (cf the existence of "tldr").
Those policies are absolutely fundamental to writing any article on en.wp, yet the students who have commented seems to be woefully lacking in that understanding; one even suggested dding refs to press releases as evidence of notability. I count that as grave failing by the course director, and more broadly by WikiEd. Yes, something didn't connect here. In a conversation with Mkibona after the blow-up, she mentioned that the students why they didn't use the sources she supplied in class, for some reason. Sometimes people don't get it. But there were almost 6,000 students last term, who worked on over 6,000 articles. The vast majority did much, much better than the average brand new editor - because of the training and support we provide.
I remain concerned at the lack of expertise and experience I suspect there aren't more than 100 people who have more expertise with article creation or policy than I do. And after supporting tens of thousands of new editors over the last 7+ years, I don't believe there's anyone who has more experience working with new editors. I did my best working with the students who wrote the BWR article, I exchanged many messages with them trying to help them understand the issues of V, N and RS. That I failed goes without saying. But it wasn't for lack of either experience or expertise. Guettarda (talk) 00:22, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Guettarda: it seems to me that WikiEd has three functions here.
The first is to teach the policies. I accept your good faith assurances that WikiEd worked hard to teach that.
The second function of WikiEd should be to test students learning of key policies, and make a pass compulsory before letting them loose to add content to the 'pedia. Is there a structure for doing such tests before students start editing?
The third function of WikiEd should be to provide a structure for reviewing the quality of students' work before it is moved out of draft space or userspace, so that a) it isn't left to volunteer editors to clean up after WikiEd, and b) the students get guidance on how to resolve any problems. Does WikiEd have any process or structure for such reviews? BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 01:29, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I do not support the idea that we should test new editors any more than we should bite them. I understand all the reasons why Wiki Ed students aren't the same as the random new editor but this cuts both ways. The typical Wiki Ed student has some qualities that are better than the average new editor and some qualities that make them more challenging. We shouldn't be testing new editors and bottomline Wiki Ed students are a kind of new editor so they should not be tested. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 01:42, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I believe that the idea that new editors have to pass some test before they're allowed to edit is antithetical to the model of Wikipedia. And honestly, the only way to implement what you're asking would be to partially block - and then unblock - 6,000 accounts each term. Some of whom are experienced editors, either because they were Wikipedians before they signed up for a class that involved Wikipedia editing, or because they are taking their second or third class that includes a Wikipedia assignment.
Our current model scaffolds the assignment. They do trainings - some before they start drafting their work, some while they're doing it. They are taken through the process of evaluating an article, which is supposed to help them understand what makes a good article, and what some common problems are. They assign themselves an article to work on. They're supposed to construct a bibliography as an exercise to make them look at source quality. They draft their work in their sandboxes. They peer review each other's work using instructions about what an article should look like and a set of leading questions. A lot of instructors review their students' work before they move things to mainspace. The system isn't perfect, but working with these systems has made me a better editor, even after all this time. And to be clear - the vast majority of students aren't working on new articles, they're improving existing articles.
While it's impossible to monitor everything students do, we do monitor a lot of it. There are something like 20 different categories of notifications that the Dashboard send out regarding what students do. We're currently working on a system to use Headbomb's source quality script to monitor the kinds of sources students are adding to their drafts. (I wish there was a way to switch that on automatically for all new editors.) IIRC, something close to 20% of new editors in the active parts of the year come through Wiki Education. Each term several students take their work through GAN successfully. Lots more of the articles they expand are taken through GAN by established editors. As a volunteer I see lots of student work pop up on my Watchlist, but unlike a lot of contributions by new editors, most of the time it's not the stuff that needs to fix immediately. Guettarda (talk) 15:53, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Arbitrary break 1

I felt harassed. People were insulting me for my age and accusing me of being racist. wizzito | say hello! 01:34, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
BrownHairedGirl, how do you not see this as harassment? It is a vile personal attack, and when such behaviour is repeated by multiple accounts, it is harassment. They have not had the grace to delete it; the tweet is still live on Twitter. W. Tell DCCXLVI (talk to me!/c) 03:05, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Wilhelm Tell DCCXLVI: I see that tweet as a cry of frustration from members of a community who face obstacles and worse at every turn, and have now faced yet another setback.
As I wrote above at more length, I think it is thoroughly wrong for someone as young as 15 to be taking the lead on removing content from an encyclopedia. I am saddened but unsurprised to see that the response to that complaint is determined offence-taking.
There is plenty of documentation on the structural and institutional barriers which African Americans face when trying to tell their story. An older person might have more awareness of this, and understand where the complaint is coming from, but there is no sign of any such awareness in wizzito. Instead, when faced with African American people having difficulties in telling their story, wizzito and a few others are trying to make the white guys the victims in a dispute about how to tell African American history. That is a very bad place to be.
I stress that I am not suggesting that wizzito is racist. My point is more subtle: that wizzito is unaware of how actions which wizito perceives to be reasonable look very different to people who have spent a lifetime on the receiving end of often-violent prejudice and pervasive discrimination. It feeds into the longer experience of discrimination and invisible barriers, and some of the people who have been on the receiving end of that can be blunt in how they express themselves.
African Americans are woefully under-represented on wikipedia, and African American history is under-represented in our articles. That is a systemic failure of WP:NPOV. This attempt to remedy it has not gone at all well for anyone involved, and we need to do a lot better. But if the takeaway from this is that nasty black people monstered poor white person, then we will have inverted the societal reality and erected even higher barriers to African American participation on en.wp.
What I would like to see coming out of this is for all the editors involved to collaborate on writing encyclopedic articles on these topics. Both wizzito and Clark could learn a lot from that.
And more broadly, I contrast the pile-on to delete this article with the outcomes at AFD for the sports topics which attract the young white males who dominate wikipedia. The notability rules have been rigged by that dominant demographic to give an automatic free pass at AFD to hundreds of thousands of sports biogs which fail GNG, while subjecting topics such as African American women's activism to a much higher standard. This has gotten so extreme that my research found a few month ago that bout half of all biographies of people born since the 1930s were of sportspeople. That is a massive, systemic imbalance.
Wizzito did not create that double-standard, but I do hope that there is some way in which the community can reflect on how this double standard has created a form of structural discrimination which understandably infuriates people interested in the topics which face these structural barriers. The talk pages of WP:WikiProject Women in Red contain many many long discussions of how those barriers seriously impede their work. BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 03:59, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The 15-year-old has demonstrated more expertise in reliable sourcing than the freaking Ph.D. So maybe it's the professor that lacks maturity and who shouldn't be editing Wikipedia. The ageism shown in your comments is incredible. Schierbecker (talk) 04:14, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I fully agree regarding the NSPORTS issue but I think it is problematic to say that wizito should not be nominating articles like this for deletion when as far as we know his decision was the correct one. Further, there was no "determined offence-taking"; wizito was harassed (see the discussion at WP:EDUN) and we cannot blame the victim for their harassment, and we definitely cannot blame them for it on their basis of their ethnicity and gender. BilledMammal (talk) 04:32, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"There is plenty of documentation on the structural and institutional barriers which African Americans face when trying to tell their story. An older person might have more awareness of this, and understand where the complaint is coming from" I find this a bit ironic. From all I've seen, heard and read, in the US at least, while perhaps the average 15 year old has less understanding of such things than the average 25 year old or 35 year old, I expect the average 55 year old actually has less understanding than the average 15 year old. Nil Einne (talk) 20:12, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I note that Mkibona herself has said on Twitter that she found the experience emotionally taxing. When the very person who started the chain of events and who is surrounded online by like-minded people on her side herself feels emotionally taxed, it is by her own definition harassment when her followers go after an editor who cares about WP guidelines and accuse them of racism of the sickest kind (and, in one case, even paedophilia). I note also that Mkibona has put out several tweets talking about her problems with Wikipedia's processes, but not a single one asking her followers to not harass or to stop harassing the editor. Indeed, in response to Mkibona's thread, BWR themselves plainly ignored V, N, and RS, and went after the editor, painting them as some sort of villain, and continued to be passive-aggressive in their tweets to Ian Ramjohn from WikiEd. W. Tell DCCXLVI (talk to me!/c) 04:27, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was astonished to read that you (User:Wizzito) went to twitter to try to explain what you were doing on Wikipedia. It would never occur to me to try to explain the workings of Wikipedia to people who aren't in it. "The first rule of fight club is you do not talk about fight club." One would have to expect that they wouldn't understand what we are doing, why we are doing it, or how we are doing it. If all you got were nasty comments like the one linked to above, you must have been dealing with an exceptionally restrained and forgiving audience. And look, they even said you were bold -- how could you not be grateful for that? Bruce leverett (talk) 00:34, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree, Bruce. I have looked at all the tweets I can find in this storm, and I was surprised by the mildness of the snark. In the corners of Twitter where I follow mainstream European politics, the tone of discourse routinely includes a lot of stuff which is way more robust than this.
Wizzito's action in going to Twitter, identifying themself as a kid, and then trying to school actual academics was at best utterly crass. It's easy to see how some black people would regard that as deeply offensive and patronising, and I would expect a much much harsher response than about half-a-dozen snarky tweets.
I assume that Wizzito was in no way aware of how badly that would come across, and had no ill intent. But that lack of awareness is a function of the lack of experience at the core of this saga. If we did not have 15yos making decisions on deletion, we would not have one of those 15yos making a foolish foray onto twitter, foolishly outing themselves, and then kicking off a whole child protection drama over a small dose of mild snark. BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 01:11, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Bruce leverett, you said I was astonished to read that you... went to twitter to try to explain what you were doing on Wikipedia. It would never occur to me to try to explain the workings of Wikipedia to people who aren't in it. I would agree, but that is not the situation here. Wizzito did not tweet to random people complaining about the deletion discussion, but to Mkibona, who was (and still is, apparently) a Wikipedia editor and WikiEd course instructor. While it is true that one would not expect a non-editor or a brand-new editor to understand what we are doing, why we are doing it, or how we are doing it, one would expect someone who has made editing Wikipedia a part of their profession to do so, especially at WikiEd where they make their students do it too. As for And look, they even said you were bold -- how could you not be grateful for that?... I sincerely hope that was in jest, and that you do not actually suggest our editors should be grateful for receiving personal attacks. W. Tell DCCXLVI (talk to me!/c) 11:39, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, the observation about "bold" was intended to be comic relief. Bruce leverett (talk) 14:21, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah, okay. Even so, it doesn't seem to be in good taste, but that's just my opinion. W. Tell DCCXLVI (talk to me!/c) 14:41, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Such actions by Mkibona and BWR are actively harmful to the very causes they seek to support. We desperately need editors like them, with their lived experiences, to help bridge Wikipedia's knowledge gaps. But when they refuse to understand core guidelines and, on top of that, disrupt our environment of collaboration, coverage of those communities suffers. Speaking from experience, it feels difficult and very lonely to edit in niche non-Anglosphere topics, doing one's best to stick to guidelines (amid all the lack of RS, spotty coverage, lack of verifiability and copyright violations) while everyone else around you in your niche keep getting reverted, blocked and banned for failing to understand those guidelines despite repeated attempts to teach and warn. W. Tell DCCXLVI (talk to me!/c) 04:28, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Second, I think there are some who have a strict, rules-based attitude to the notability guidelines which can sometimes get backs up, to the extent that it can feel like a small number of editors are ganging up on another group to get content removed in a deliberate and systematic way that underlines the unwelcome attitude that in general keeps away that minority and/or unrepresented group from en.wp. One needs to have a thick skin to rewrite and recreate articles that have been to AfD, my guess is that many who feel like they have been bruised by the process never bother.

JMWt (talk) 06:10, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Regarding my thoughts on the canvasser, I pretty much agree with Wilhelm Tell DCCXLVI and BilledMammal that the canvasser was pretty much complicit (and even supportive) of the harassment and abuse of the victim. Firestar464 (talk) 06:34, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Arbitrary break 2

It is only 'american politics' in the sense that almost everything could be considered American politics. It only becomes contentious when people start having heated edit wars about the contents: in the situation described there is no dispute about the facts on the deleted page whatsoever. Black Women Radicals as an organisation exists, their activities are well-known and can be described. There's absolutely nothing for which the guidelines you erroneously link to are in any sense relevant. JMWt (talk) 09:56, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess I don't know how to explain to you what I am trying to say here. jp×g 11:00, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And anyway, the fact remains that systems exist. If a student creates pages that are total garbage either a) nobody notices because it doesn't matter or b) eventually it is edited or removed by the community as a whole. I don't believe in the main the WikiEd pages or edits are garbage, so I don't really understand why people here seem so keen on being critical. As always, if you don't like the pages that they produce, then either focus on another area or improve them yourself.JMWt (talk) 17:00, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Arbitrary break 3

  • @BrownHairedGirl: Er, it is the first one linked and quoted in the special report; saying "come to Wikipedia because they're not listening to me", when referring to the AfD that was started by the user and leaving out any reference to Wikipedia policy, is deliberately misleading people so that they go on a warpath against someone innocent, whether they understand that's what they're doing or not. In comments above I can see you have been consistently trying to deny the convener and her twitter army have done anything wrong, so I would question your judgment, too. Kingsif (talk) 01:18, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Kingsif: the special report does not contain any quote of the words "come to Wikipedia because they're not listening to me". If you want to invent a quote by putting quote marks around a phrase which is not present in the original, please have the decency to refrain from casting any aspersions on anyone else's judgement.
    So I ask again: please link to the tweet(s) or other posts in which you claim the course convenor deliberately riled up her followers against them (i.e. against wizzito).
    At this stage it looks like you prefer fabrication to verifiable evidence. However, I am still open to evidence in support of your extreme claim -- if you choose to actually provide it, and if you are willing and able to distinguish between a) the words written by someone else, and b) your interpretation of those words.
    I also note that you appear not to understand the word "deliberately". Merriam Webster defines it as "with full awareness of what one is doing : in a way that is intended or planned". wikt:Deliberately sys "Done on purpose; intentional". However you write that they were "deliberately misleading people so that they go on a warpath against someone innocent, whether they understand that's what they're doing or not". That is self-contradictory: if they were not aware of doing that, they were by definition not doing it with intent and not doing it on purpose, so they were not deliberately doing it.
    That's the problem with this sort of discussion on Wikipedia. There is always a risk of the discussion being disrupted (as this one has) by someone such as Kingsif who cannot or will not i) quote accurately; b) distinguish between words written and their interpretation of those words; iii) cannot use simple dictionary terms without contradicting themselves ... and yet who is ready to rudely disparage the judgement of others. BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 03:22, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • @BrownHairedGirl: As mentioned, the first quote from the special report: During the [AfD] nomination, Clark posted on Twitter [linked] "I don't know where the Black (& allies) nerds are, but I really need support in editing & saving" the article - that is just as I described it, no? It's being deliberately obtuse to take my offhand summary extremely literally so you can continue to hound someone. Stand down, it seems like you have hijacked this discussion to try to defend the indefensible actions of the convener, repeat policy breaking and going to social media when they don't get their way, and to rag on everyone who criticizes them. The tweet was a deliberate act, the omission of context and implication of racism and unfairness was a deliberate act - the tweet and its intentions were deliberate even if they didn't understand how far it would go - don't try to school me. Writing three paragraphs with no other content or purpose than effectively calling me a disruptive idiot breaks WP:CIVIL, so I suggest you don't engage further, BHG. Kingsif (talk) 03:29, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Kingsif: wow!!!!
    Let's unpick that.
    In your post of 01:18, you wrote:

    the first one linked and quoted in the special report; saying "come to Wikipedia because they're not listening to me", when

    Now at 03:29 you write

    m the special report: During the [AfD] nomination, Clark posted on Twitter [linked] "I don't know where the Black (& allies) nerds are, but I really need support in editing & saving"

    Each time you put the words in quote marks, indicating that the words are taken verbatim from the original.
    But those two quotes are completely different. Your 01:18 quite is a complete fake: despite being quote marks, it is not a quote. It is your interpretation of what was written, but you do not acknowledge it as your interpretation, you present it as a quote.
    I expect that a civil editor would apologise for that misrepresentation, and apologise for your comments about my judgement based on your misrepresentation of the source. But instead of having the basic decency to apologise for your own misconduct, you chose to :
    1. falsely accuse me of having hijacked this discussion to try to defend the indefensible actions of the convener. I have not "hijacked" anything, and believe that you and some others had radically misunderstood (and/or misrepresented) the actions of the convener.
    2. still provide precisely zero evidence in support of your 21:47 claim that the course convenor deliberately riled up her followers against them. In her actual words, she asked others to edit the article, and did not express any antagonism.
    3. Post a templated warning[1] on my talk page accusing me of a personal attack and civility violation for having objected to your personal attack on me and for dissecting your misrepresentations and misquoting.
    Shame on you. BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 04:41, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • As a separate note, I have yet to see anyone link the Education noticeboard discussion and the convener's disgusting victim-blaming there, where she says the twitter harassment wasn't real and the perpetrators she rallied aren't in the wrong because they have 'been silenced before', saying that the harassed user is trying to shift the narrative and shouldn't have started a twitter discussion (which they didn't) if they didn't want to be harassed (which should never be an inevitability of trying to engage). Not a user I would want to engage with, and their activist goals aren't for Wikipedia. Kingsif (talk) 01:40, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I will say that towards the end of every school term, I do run into some students who seem to think that their grade is dependent on getting their draft article out of their sandbox and into the main space of the project, which is almost always premature, but when I have brought it to the attention of WikiEd instructors, like Ian, they have always reached out to the student and moved the page back into User space, I have found them consistently helpful and considerate in guiding students and they make themselves incredibly accessible and available to them when they have questions. At times, when I have suspected a problem, I can see in the page log that the instructor has already addressed it.
As for harassment, as someone who was doxxed repeatedly during the Gamergate period, I sympathize with our young editor. Not only have I been doxxed but once I randomly criticized a TV show host on Twitter who ReTweeted my message and I saw all hell rain down on my account. It's no fun to be attacked. So I can empathize but also say that I think it was a bad decision to go on to social media, enter into a discussion where your actions are being criticized and you are clearly not wanted and try to correct the readers. It was naive to think your "feedback" would be welcome. I think it would be akin to going into a local sports bar and telling the occupants why their team sucks. And I think the decision to engage and to reveal personal information about oneself does show a casualness about social media communities that is a sign of youth. Liz Read! Talk! 00:08, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And we have NO idea, absolutely none, of what goes on in the teaching about writing and editing on Wikipedia - really? Ha. We can see the teaching modules, we can read all the advice essays, we interact with students who have been left floundering by their teachers. It's a shambles, it is, because as an editor (what does your adminship have to do with this) who has had to intervene on more than one occasion and follows most new courses as a precaution, I know that student editors may have the same skills as other new editors but they: are not integrated into a community to get feedback from experienced editors; at least some feel they have been given the authority to OWN articles they have been assigned; and, without wanting to stay on Wikipedia very long, they have no desire to improve. Their editing skills may not be technically worse, but the way they are introduced to Wikipedia is inherently non-collaborative, and I don't think there is any way for WikiEd to fix that. Having conveners that are either never on Wikipedia to help or who attack Wikipedia when their course isn't treated like god, is not helping its legitimacy at all. Kingsif (talk) 01:18, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Having further researched aspects of this story, there are various other aspects that are troubling to me. First, the narrative would have us believe that there is a 15 year old editor that is so active on the WikiEd noticeboard that they are actively and regularly critiquing class edits in real time and is seeking to make dramatic changes soon after certain classes finish via AfD nominations. Second, this same 15 year old appears to be so engaged and enraged by something (exactly what, I'm not sure) that they go looking on twitter for further engagement relating to a deleted page. It isn't for me to make a judgement about the specific twitter engagement, but it is surely factual that if the AfD-nominator had not gone looking for a continued discussion on twitter then the likelihood is that nothing would have happened to them personally. In general, I think it is troubling when one self-identified young person hangs around on a noticeboard looking to critique the WP edits of other young people. Even if this isn't a direct effort to remove content that they disapprove of, it is surely not something particularly constructive for them to be doing. I'm not sure it is something particularly useful for anyone to be doing to be honest, and to me this is an important part of the whole affair. Finally, having reviewed the work of the class in question, I think on the whole the edits are solid, so I really can't see why this is said to be an example of WikiEd somehow failing beyond repair. Again, I fundamentally disagree that any of the pages should have been deleted by the AfD process. JMWt (talk) 07:03, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I personally don't find it very hard to believe that a 15-year-old could be an involved Wikipedia editor. I mean, you can look at their contributions if you really want to -- this information isn't being hidden from anyone. The deletion isn't entirely on the nominator, either: there were five other people (perhaps of ages you consider more acceptable) who !voted to delete as well, and an administrator who closed it. jp×g 08:48, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Believe what you like. If you think it is normal and healthy for a 15 year old to make many hundreds of daily edits, including admonishments and engagements on other editors talkpages, and for that person to get so far into the weeds on en.wp that they're a regular feature on a noticeboard and in taking pages to AfD, then you have a different definition of the words to me. JMWt (talk) 09:08, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, no, I think anybody who edits Wikipedia is a little fucked in the head, but it's not like adults are the only ones capable of being bonkers enough to edit an encyclopedia for fun. I'm a bizarre nerd now, and I was also a bizarre nerd when I was 15. jp×g 09:35, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That may or may not be the case, that doesn't mean we have to support the behaviour when it appears to be contributing to the general sense that there is a form of systematic bias acting against editors who wish to include subjects that are deemed unworthy by a different 15 year old. I accept that the AfD process was followed but the result was wrong. JMWt (talk) 09:38, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@JMWt: please retract this comment. As well as a personal attack against a specific individual, it also insinuates mental illness (that a person is "[not] normal [or] healthy") among a large number of people in our community, who are or have been child editors, including myself. — Bilorv (talk) 17:58, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have to agree with Bilorv's request - JMWt, your comment is way off-base in a general sense, and uncivil (and just incorrect, on top) in an individual sense. Nosebagbear (talk) 09:37, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
JMWt your continued harrasment is dispicable and needs to stop. Aircorn (talk) 10:33, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is a fucking shitshow. Therapyisgood (talk) 02:47, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Finally, having reviewed the work of the class in question, I think on the whole the edits are solid, so I really can't see why this is said to be an example of WikiEd somehow failing beyond repair. Again, I fundamentally disagree that any of the pages should have been deleted by the AfD process.
Unless you were watching all the new pages/drafts as they came out of the class, your impression is very strongly biased towards the minority of contributions that are visible to non-admins. You could not have seen the copyvios or the content of the now-deleted articles, for example. Issues with the class were brought up much earlier here, apparently leading to a conversation between WikiEd and the instructor. Evidently the extra guidance was not enough to prevent the Twitter shitshow (why didn't the instructor reach out to the same WikiEd people who assisted her earlier and ask for help navigating the redirect/AfD processes? This avenue was clearly available).
As for whether any of the articles should've been deleted via AfD...why should WikiEd contributions be protected from normal collaborative editing? Like others said above, the edit summary about OR/claims to notability was entirely routine and appropriate, a standard AfD situated around WP:NORG was held, and a consensus was achieved that SIGCOV in multiple independent, secondary reliable sources could not be found to support GNG. It's not like no one looked; Ian directly asked BWR on Twitter to send him links to coverage they said they had garnered. I don't know if they ever followed up on that, but the article remains deleted so I would guess these sources were largely mere mentions rather than SIGCOV. JoelleJay (talk) 02:13, 3 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@JoelleJay: I had forgotten about that. No, I never heard from anyone. Guettarda (talk) 03:50, 3 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Having read through all the above, and having viewed the deleted content, I'd like to simply observe that, personally, I see nothing special about the deleted article - it's typical of many that are deleted every week for being either non-notable or promotional, and which come from all corners of the globe and on all forms of interest or minority groups. It's unfortunate that behind the editing activities there lay, off-wiki, a small number of somewhat zealous people who were encouraged to help save that article, but went about it in quite the wrong way. It seems unfortunate that the AfD nominator appears to have tried to defend their position on social media too. This is never a good idea, whichever standpoint on an article one takes. I would make the following observations:

  • Prior to its AfD, the article had already been been deleted twice for copyright violations (a key policy we take extremely seriously and that all course tutors would be expected to make clear)
  • Based on their AfD History, the nominator (with over 8,000 edits over the last 13 months) can hardly be accused of having a habit of targeting deletion discussions on related topics. They have average AfD stats (67% success rate) that are similar to many who stand and pass at WP:RFA, though they could be better.
  • The AfD nominator gave a far more detailed and better deletion rationale than we often see at AfD, finishing with the following line: "And before anyone comments that this AfD is meant as an erasure of black people or accuses me of erasing minorities, I am not. I am simply stating that the article does not fit notability standards, in my opinion."
  • The AfD Nomination garnered 5 deletes (including one from an administrator) and one 'keep'. There did not seem to be any evidence of outside involvement in the AfD itself, nor anyone coming in new to try to help 'save' the article with additional sources.
  • One experienced user who voted 'delete' (and whose userpage says "I enjoy focusing on BLPs for women and non-binary people, both underrepresented categories on WP.") commented that " It looks as if the instructor of the course is canvassing on Twitter"
  • It appears the AfD Nominator then took to Twitter, perhaps to defend or explain themselves, but I have not looked in detail at off-wiki evidence.
  • Unusually, the nominator then returned to AfD to report that they felt they were being harassed. They also reported the incident to WP:EDUN (see here)
  • To me, the deleted article seemed typical of so many that are created by well-meaning groups out of enthusiasm or commitment for their interest area, but which unfortunately fail to meet WP:NCORP at this time, being based upon mostly insider sources, brief mentions or interviews. It could simply be WP:TOOSOON for this organisation, formed in 2020.
  • No editor should have to face unpleasant off-wiki communications for their routine contributions here. And all contributors and course leaders should encourage participants to engage on wiki to improve articles so that they can be welcomed as a part of the editing community, rather than as outsiders who might then feel aggrieved at how things operate here.
  • Apart from regretting that they tried to engage on Twitter to explain their editing stance, I am personally impressed to see a 15 yr old editor with autism handle this AfD nomination and its subsequent fallout with such maturity and calmness. There are many 'grown ups' that would not fare so well.
  • Having personally adopted (mentored) an elderly professor and a high school student on Wikipedia, I found they came across equally as competent and as mature as one other. It was a surprise when I discovered the younger person's age. We have some incredible young editors who contribute to Wikipedia, and it saddens me the attitude that some above have taken when they see intelligent young people making worthwhile policy-based contributions to this encyclopaedia - possibly using their time during periods of prolonged lockdown to help maintain this encyclopaedia.

Declaration: I'm white, middle-class, European, and old enough to feel suitably experienced to be able to assess the significance of cited sources in articles. OK, I might just have voted 'weak keep' at AfD myself, but more to help add a small voice to highlight some of the content imbalance that we do see here on Wikipedia than because of any inherent notability of this young organisation, wherever in the world it is based (something that wasn't even stated in the article) Nick Moyes (talk) 22:55, 5 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


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