Requests for comment/Intrusion into private affairs by ru.wikipedia.org checkusers

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The following request for comments is closed. No activity since February 2009; the single user who brought this matter forward can email the Ombudsman commission if they wish to pursue this matter further. Snowolf How can I help? 20:02, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

Bureaucrat and checkuser of ru.wikipedia.org ru:User:DrBug made several statements (notably here, and here) from which it follows that ru.wikipedia.org checkusers systematically abused their authority and intruded into ru.wikipedia.org users' private lives.[1] These texts probably need to be translated into English. Most recent abuses mentioned there are the intrusions into private affairs of ru:User:Lvova and ru:User:Drbug himself. I can add many more examples of such abuse and falsifications by these checkusers. Given this information, I suggest that checkuser flags are immediately removed from all ru.wikipedia.org checkusers. They are currently trying to attack :ru:User:Drbug and revoke his checkuser flag, and the situation looks pretty bad. The best remedy seems taking their checkuser privileges away and thoroughly investigating their activities. SA ru 06:53, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

I apology I can't read Russian. Could you translate some text for me to understand? (Google language tool is stupid) Sorry to request for translation.--Kwj2772 () 14:12, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
The entire text is too long. Here are some extracts from Drbug's statements:
The need of strict control over the checkusers
Every uncontrolled "secret service" risks to become completely illegal. Its agents start to make decisions based on their own confidence. Which migrates toward suspicion. The perception threshold is lost, and the person does not realize that he intrudes into somebody's life with dirty fingers. Here is a remarkably curious example in which, I believe, I can disclose information: I had a dispute regarding a validity of user block with Сайга20К, and I continued the discussion with ru:User:EvgenyGenkin. It seemed an ordinary working discussion, wasn't it? Perhaps, there were some violations of ethics or something like that, but nothing more. By the way, arbiters then used my arguments expressed in that discussion in their discussion with Lvova. BUT! Based on this discussion, ru:User:EvgenyGenkin performed a check of my account. He, however, commented: "I thought that you lost your account". I have nothing to hide. But that's a curious fact...
Another fresh example - the check of account ru:User:Lvova. Upon the request of two arbiters (both are also checkusers) the account ru:User:Lvova was checked. The base for checking was the information about an off-wikipedia connection between Lvova and ГСБ. Lvova did not violate any rules and could not be even suspected in that. But here is a more important issue. It is important that, given the information (known for example to ru:User:Kv75), it was obvious that this check would reveal many details about Lvova's private life. The check was performed exactly like that - with an investigation of many details about her IP addresses which were not needed to reveal violations. I think that it is unacceptable to perform such checks without prior discussion of how deep it is allowed to intrude into the details of a person's private life.
Here, ru:User:Drbug is referring to two episodes. In one episode, he confronted ru:User:Сайга20К regarding a peculiar blocking of a user (a separate story in which ru.wikipedia.org checkusers tried to conceal their wrong doings) and then had a discussion with ru:User:EvgenyGenkin. ru:User:EvgenyGenkin then checked Drbug's IP address without any reason, but explained this by his suspicion that somebody hacked Drbug's account. Trust me that Drbug sounded in these discussions exactly as he usually sounds; there was no reason for checking whatsover.
The second story is even more peculiar because it is based on off-wikipedia relations between the users. Checkuser ru:User:Kv75 informed checkuser ru:User:EvgenyGenkin and arbiter ru:User:Ilya Voyager that he had been invited by Drbug to visit ru:User:Lvova's apartment in Moscow, together with some other guys, where he had met Lvova's boyfriend who happened to be a person indefinitely blocked in ru.wikipedia.org. So, ru:User:Kv75, ru:User:EvgenyGenkin and ru:User:Ilya Voyager decided that since Lvova and the banned guy had a love affair in their off-Wikipedia life, this somehow presented a danger to Wikipedia. So, they asked ru:User:DR to check Lvova's IP addresses. As the result, they could easily monitor Lvova's travel from St Petersburg (her hometown) to Moscow (where her boyfriend lives) and reconstruct the history of their private relations. To make the situation, even crazier, another checkuser ru:User:wulfson indefinitely blocked Lvova because he thought that it was not appropriate for a wikipedian to live together with somebody who is banned from editing Wikipedia. Wulfson explained that the banned person exerted mind control over Lvova, which made her account a shared account.
Follow-up reading. Checkuser ru:User:Kv75 reports to his buddies about Lvova's love affair here. They decide to check her IP addresses. Checkuser ru:User:Wulfson explains that people who live together with Wikipedia vandals must be banned from editing Wikipedia.
I can tell you many more stories about ru.wikipedia.org checkusers violating the rules and crafting falsifications and provocations. The bottom line is that this is a bunch of very weird people who need to be stopped before they produce even more damage by their intrusion into private lives. SA ru 15:46, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Why did ru:User:Lvova or ru:User:DrBug not appeal to ombudsman comission if they think that there is case of checkuser abuse? --66.90.109.31 17:32, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
First of all, I do not know for sure whether they appealed or not, but most likely they did not appeal. ru:User:DrBug is a highly-ranked figure in ru.wikipedia.org (bureaucrat, checkuser, founder of "Wikimedia RU") or at least was till now, so he is a politician of a sort. He started to disclose this information after the other checkusers (most of them, rule violators) decided to remove his flag and used a flashmob tactics against him. ru:User:Lvova was given a real hard time recently despite the fact she did not break any rules (there was just one minor incident). She was first de-sysoped, and then indefinitely blocked (then unblocked). But actually the problem is much broader than these two stories. Russian checkusers have been violating privacy standards on a regular basis. Their activities need to be investigated. SA ru 17:42, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
I 'm not sure that this page is the right place. If there is any violation of CU policy, affected persons must fill a complain to ombudsman comission. If ru.wiki community have no more confidence on CU, it can show it (for example thougth voting) so a steward remove CU flag. CU flag can also be removed by local Arbcom descision. --66.90.109.31 18:00, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
The problem is that 2 of Arbcom members are checkusers themselves. Obviously they would not remove themselves. As far as the community, the rule is that only the Arbcom can remove the checkusers. The community cannot resolve this issue by itself. This is why this is exactly the right place for this discussion. SA ru 18:00, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
It is really unusual in Wikipedia that the community have no rights to remove checkusers. Stewards can't remove a flag on their own initiative without community consensus.
You have said that two of Arbcom members are CU and they don't want to abstain in this case. Is there only 4 members in ru.wiki Arbcom? Do you (ru.wiki) have no reserve arbiters for such cases? 66.90.109.31 18:46, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
There are 5 members in the Committee, but I would immediately exclude three of them: the checkusers ru:User:Kv75, ru:User:EvgenyGenkin and a non-checkuser ru:User:Ilya Voyager who has a conflict of interest because he approved investigating Lvova's IPs after Kv75 told them the story about him visiting Lvova's and her boyfriend's apartment in Moscow. Two arbiters remain, and they do not have a conflict of interest, but I understand three are needed. They do not have any reserve arbiters in ru.wikipedia.org, and removal of checkusers or arbiters by a simple community vote is strictly prohibited by the rules. Only the arbitration committee can order flag removal. SA ru 19:27, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
I see this is still open. I can only comment personally that a checkuser and socalled Arbcom member on another wiki abused his privileges by checking up on users during a content dispute involving an admin that "owned" an article. I was one of the users checked without reason. I reported this to an ombudsman as abusive use in violation of privacy. Apparantly it was news to him that in the meantime it was decided, in secret, that the ombudsman can only act when identifiable information from the check is disclosed to the public. The "ombudsman" is only there as eye candy to make this corrupt organisation look accountable. 41.27.156.249 16:15, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
  • (Yawn) Nothing new here. Just another sockpuppet of an indefinitely-blocked troll from ru-wiki, spreading lies and raising fear, uncertainty and doubt here on meta. I request a sign with "Do not feed" written in large, friendly letters to be placed on this page. --Grebenkov 17:51, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
    Could you please give more specific about "spreading lies"? We are talking about Drbug's statements here, not mine. If I was factually incorrect somewhere please point out these issues. Otherwise I request that you are blocked for trolling and insulting other users. (User Grebenkov is famous in Russian Wikipedia for reporting that he writes under the influence of vodka. By the way, Grebenkov, are you sober this time?) SA ru 17:56, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
    Yes, perfect example. Thank you for supporting my point. --Grebenkov 18:04, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
    I repeat my question (not about you being sober): What kind of lies am I spreading? If you fail to answer, you should cross this statement. SA ru 18:09, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
    You should have started by notifying people here that you have been blocked in Russian WP for one year for gross violations of rules (including sockpuppetry) - and several months later, banned from editing it at all. Don't you think it would be fair to mention it? So that everyone could see why you are so busy pouring filth on Russian checkusers. Wulfson 18:31, 19 February 2009 (UTC)[2]
    Wulfson, these are peripheral issues. I did not violate any rules, and especially did not commit "sockpuppetry" violations (see footnote 1 on this page), but I do not even want to argue about that here. Let's stick to the points that I raised. ru:User:Drbug pointed out systematic rule violations by ru.wikipedia.org checkusers. I agree with him. If you disagree with him or with me on these issues, please make your statement. If you just want to tell how bad I am, perhaps my discussion page is a more appropriate place. SA ru 18:40, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
    Since Wulfson (a checkuser) is here, let me translate one of his statements regarding Lvova: "So, from the complete unity of souls to an access of an older partner and friend to the account of ruwiki admin (with Lvova's permission or, excuse me for these details, when she went to take a shower) there is just one step. Lvova denies that this step was made? How marvelous! I am ready to believe her - but let's firs ask respectable Arbcom to inquire her why about her double life - about the connection to the man whom Канопус Киля called "the king of all vandals in Wikipedia" - our press representative Lvova told us only when it was too late, and she did not have the flag? Was that her first time? And again no - about her collaboration at an external project with, again, indefinitely banned, and again, Eugene (only second) we learn from Lvova only after her request to unblock Eugene2 not without her active participation failed. I do not know about you, respectable colleagues, but to me this appears suspicious". Isn't the intrusion into private life clear from this statement? SA ru 18:59, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
    The first and foremost lie of yours is that ru:User:Drbug referred to systematic abuse of personal rights. Just to the contrary, he said that if he had known of any such abuses (he was elected checkuser at the same time that I was, in September 2006), he would have pointed to these long ago. Bye! You don't deserve any more comments. Wulfson 18:47, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
    It is true that Drbug noted that he did not observe outrageous violations, but he did describe systematic abuse by Russian checkusers, which he called a "tendency". Let me translate this... SA ru 19:05, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
    Here is what Drbug claims: "Episode two. "Consipiracy among checkusers". I will disappoint those who wants to see blood and scenes. Certainly, there are many wrong doings by checkusers, but I did not notice outrageous violations. If I noticed those I would have immediately reported them to the community (as a minimum, to Arbcom). The major problem is in the tendencies. And the tendency is that our checkusers became an organization. If three years ago the phrase "checkuser service" was perceived with irony, now it is used constantly and seriously. The tendency of increasing the checkuser rights was obvious from the very beginning. It all started with very hesitant attitude to conducting checks. An agreement of the second checkuser was required to conduct a check. Then this was gone, but checking was allowed only upon a request at ВП:ПП. Then checking without requests started, but with prior discussion among the checkusers. Then checking without discussion but with reasonable suspicion of rule violation started. Finally, now checking is done even without serious suspicion of rule violation, just when the checkuser feels that something is suspicion". The tendency described by Drbug is clear and it points out systematic intrusions into privacy, not just isolated episodes. SA ru 19:17, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
    By the way, although Drbug claims that there were no outrageous violations, in actuality there were plenty of them. Those will be reported a bit later. SA ru 19:48, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Examples of ru.wiki checkuser violation[edit]

Although Drbug claimed that there were no outrageous violations, but described a tendency for a systematic increase of privacy rights abuse, in actuality there were many pretty outrageous violations which will be described below. SA ru 20:03, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Checkusers conspire to conceal sockpuppet identity in exchange for apology[edit]

This story dates back to August, 2006. The full account can be found here. In short, the checkusers discovered that ru:User:Vald used a sockpuppet ru:User:Kavel to participate in voting at the articles for deletion page. Then, they decided to conceal this result from the community and agreed that if Vald apologizes to ru:User:Роман Беккер (the author of the article nominated for deletion) they would not report the sockpuppet. Following this agreement, ru:User:DaeX lied to the public that no intersection had been found. (He used a 1-month log life as an excuse, but did not tell that Kavel had been actually checked much earlier than he claimed.) However, something went wrong with the parties' agreement, and the truth was revealed. The checkusers were not punished for lying, but Vald's sysop flag was taken away (some time later returned). Correct me if I am wrong, but I think it was proven that Drbug and Wulfson were involved in that conspiracy. SA ru 20:03, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

According to ru:User:Роман Беккер, Drbug was they key figure in the checkuser conspiracy and resisted the hardest to revealing the results of the check to the community. SA ru 01:34, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
ru:User:Роман Беккер (called Rombik at that time) also confirmed that he had an agreement with Wulfson that the check results would not be revealed if Vald behaved well after the episode. SA ru 01:48, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Kavel's identity was revealed not by any of the checkusers, but by ru:User:MaxSem who most likely received this information from ru:User:Роман Беккер. SA ru 01:38, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Wind checks a user because it has the same name as a user at an external wiki-project[edit]

As clear from this page, checkuser ru:User:Wind conducted a check of a newly registered user ru:User:WikiSysop (this user did not make any edits at all) simply because this name looked suspicious. The same name was used by Yaroslav Zolotarev, the inventor of Siberian language, at his wiki-project "Wikislavia". Since Zolotorev was considered an enemy of ru.wiki, Wind decided that it would be a good idea to subject the newly registered user to surveillance. SA ru 14:16, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Wulfson accuses Winterheart in computer crime, but fails to present any evidence[edit]

In June, 2008, checkuser ru:User:Wulfson confronted ru:User:Winterheart and accused him in vandalism using "some kind of trojan" program (i.e., a computer crime). Wulfson's accusation placed on Winterheart's discussion page were made in an insulting tone:

"Warning
In order to avoid further damage to ru.wiki, I am warning you that I have collected enough evidence to accuse you in the following:
  • in 2007-2008 you initiated and conducted broad-range war of edits in multiple articles in ru.wiki against user 75.138.68.170 currently known as ru:User:Уважаемый аноним.
  • starting April 16, 2008 and till now to assure anonymity in the edits war and to mislead the community you used some kind of trojan program. Lately with the help of the same program, besides reverting the articles to some base state, mass vandalism is being conducted in the users' discussion pages.
  • as the result of using the named program, damage has been done already to ru.wiki operation, caused by the necessity to remove the consequences of its activity. Certain number of neutral users became involved in the war of edits who believe that they are reverting the edits of an anonymous user.
  • you systematically violated the rules ВП:ЧНЯВ, ВП:ВОЙ, ВП:3О, ВП:ВЕЖ, ВП:НО, ВП:КС.
I am warning:
  • if, starting from now, I learn that in the articles which you converted into a battlefield even a single edit is made similar to those trojan edits described above, you will be immediately indefinetely banned even if you contest my actions.
  • it is in your best interest that you stay away from those articles because you did not demonstrate an intention to conduct constructive discussion about their content, and now each of your new edit will be considered in connection with your past actions.
  • I am not going to discuss anything with you regarding this issue. Preliminary materials confirming my accusations have been prepared and can be shown upon the request of any independent observer.
wulfson 11:34, 29 июня 2008 (UTC)"

Winterheart denied conducting any anonymous vandalism. Wulfson failed to present any evidence for his accusations. Then, ru:User:Serebr attempted to file a suit against Wulfson in the arbiration committee. He sent his request by e-mail to arbiter ru:User:NBS, but NBS (Wulfson's buddy) never published it (this text was published here). Instead, in retaliation Serebr was indefinetely blocked in ru.wikipedia.org. Winterheart also attempted to file a suit regarding this issue, but his suit was thrown out by the arbitration committee. One of the checkusers privately told Serebr that Wulfson never had any evidence against Winterheart, and all the accusations were made up. SA ru 18:35, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

DR investigates Serebr's wiki-mail usage[edit]

This is a fairly recent episode. ru:User:Serebr was indefinitely blocked in ru.wikipedia.org (not for violating any rules, but rather for bad moderation of external wiki-sites and blogs; can you believe!), but his wiki-mail function remained. So, he used his wiki-mail for sending messages to other users, including checkusers and arbiters. Although Serebr was blocked, could edit only his Discussion page and obviously was harmless to the project, checkuser ru:User:DR nonetheless conducted the check of Serebr's account which revealed, among other personal things, the number of e-mails Serebr sent to other users. DR immediately published this information in Wikipedia. After Serebr complained that privacy of his mail correspondence was violated (it is unlawful in Russia to intrude into mail correspondence), the arbitration committee (i.e., ru:User:Kv75 (checkuser), ru:User:EvgenyGenkin (checkuser), ru:User:Ilya Voyager and ru:User:Александр Сигачёв) concluded that DR was absolutely right, and it was Serebr who violated the rules by hinting that DR might have broken mail privacy laws. SA ru 20:35, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Some time later he gave away his checkuser flag after the other checkusers accused him of not fitting their team, breaking corporate discipline and possible connections with a vandal (Lvova's boyfriend).
  2. Here Wulfson is trying to smear SA_ru. However, he is not telling the whole story. In actuality, SA_ru was a very productive author in ru.wikipedia.org. He authored such articles as Pancake, Bolshevik, Pseudologia fantastica, Censorship, Telegraph message, Reach and surpass, Puzzle, Tetra Classic, Russian bureaucracy, Privatization in Russia, Seva Galkin, Toothbrush, Pseudohistory, Populism, Cult of personality, Enemy of people, Olga Borisovna Lepeshinskaya, Ulcer, Amputation, Brezhnev's automobile collection, Eltsin's fall from the bridge, Nose-picking, Toiltet paper, Self-portrait, Sobering-up station, Détente, Facial composite, Communist construction, American dream, Political prostitute, Scratching, Rutskoy's suitcases with compromising materials, Nina Gulicheva, Money psychology, Khruschev's visit of avangardist exhibition, State propaganda in Russia, Putin's dog, Hopscotch, Stance, Revolutionary situation, Witness, Sam Bruk gallery and many others. The conflict of SA_ru with Russian sysops is rooted in the old Russian tradition to censor everything that deviates from ideological dogmas. For example an attempt to write an article about illegal income of Russian bureaucrats evoked an extremely aggressive response from ru.wikipedia.org censors. ru:User:Wulfson was among the ones who voted for deletion. A similar situation repeated when the censors wanted to delete the article "State propaganda in Russia"; Wulfson voted for deletion again. SA_ru was indeed blocked in ru.wikipedia.org - not for rule violation, but for making fun of his opponents at external web resources. The accusations in sock-puppetry are completely false. SA_ru indeed used several accounts in ru.wikipedia.org. By switching the accounts he did not to violate any rules, but rather hinted the checkusers (namely, Wulfson) that he did not appreciate intrusions in his privacy ("много будешь знать, скоро состаришься", "любопытной Варваре нос оторвали"). Wulfson and other checkusers conducted multiple checks of SA_ru's IP addresses, in most cases for fake reasons. Moreover, after SA_ru was blocked in ru.wikipedia.org, but continued to make fun of his opponents, the checkusers (Wulfson was among them again) falsely accused SA_ru of vandalism using sockpuppets. (None of these false sockpuppets attributed to SA_ru intersected with his IP addresses; and according to the information leaks from the checkusers they worked from quite distant geographical locations. Their style did not really match SA_ru's style either.) SA_ru looks at all the smear attempts (including the ones on this page) with irony. Nothing can stop the free speech.