Requests for comment/Superprotect rights

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For a similar Rfc on the German-language Wikipedia, see de:Wikipedia:Umfragen/Superschutz and Update on de.wiki
This is a subpage; for more information, see the Requests for comments page.

Contents

Background[edit]

On 2014-08-10, the Wikimedia Foundation has added a 'superprotect' right – granted to the 'Staff' global user group – which can make pages uneditable even for administrators, hence creating a new hierarchy where administrators are no longer the most trusted users of our wikis.

The first use of 'superprotect' (on the same day) was to prevent German Wikipedia sysops from using MediaWiki:Common.js, where the mw:MediaViewer had been deactivated in a wheel war involving two admins and a WMF staffer. Like on English Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, the German Wikipedia had decided to turn off this feature by default: Wikimedia Foundation rejected the decision on 2014-08-09 and the community was discussing what to do.

Rather than put this feature back into Beta, so that users can optionally enable it if they find it beneficial, WMF has enforced its deployment of this software to all readers, with threats of desysop-ing on English Wikipedia, and now preventing this interface message from being altered by sysops on German Wikipedia.

On 2014-08-27 Wikimedia Foundation removed superprotection from the page, but left the superprotect right and the state of Media Viewer unchanged.

For more:

(Edit this summary.)


Please comment on the options below.

Comments[edit]

Freedom and working together[edit]

I have started this RFC because for many years I have run workshops where I talk about the different kinds of 'free' that Wikimedia stands for. 1) No cost : Our collaborative work is given to readers at no cost, like beer. 2) Libre : The reader can do whatever they want with it, including profit! 3) Open : And the reader can become an editor, without roadblocks or permission. And finally, 4) Free-form : The software provide building blocks, which the community decides to use, how to use, and can customise (i.e. what was 'shell requests'), and even 'abuse' them to great effect - the wiki is ours to make into a Wikipedia, or a Wikisource, or a WikiWhatver, and we collectively continually redefine what each of those things are.

Over the last year especially, but also before that, I feel guilty about that last item in my slide, because it is no longer free in that respect. We now have a hosting provider who feels they should decide how the projects should look and feel and operate and, worse, they have the right to deploy alpha quality software onto the projects to achieve that objective (and that is being generous for some of the software).

I request the removal of the 'superprotect' right, until there is consensus for it. It could be beneficial, but what good is a superprotected Common.js when all your sysops have left in disgust. If the software deployed was fit for purpose, there wouldn't be a need for superprotection of it.

While sysops editing Common.js do at times break certain features, the sysops of our wikis have often done an amazing job for 10 years, fixing problems quickly - and they are continually improving practises on their wikis. The WMF also deploy broken code onto the wikis and the community doesnt have a superprotect right to prevent that, do we? We need to work together. If there is a need to change the edit access control over these wiki pages, that should be done as an outcome of an RFC.

John Vandenberg (talk) 17:26, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

I think this usage of the superprotect right is unwanted, the foundation should not use such high-handed measures in a conflict with a large proportion of its users. However, I do think that there are other situations in which it would be appropriate. I am in particular thinking of office actions, where it is found that a valid complaint of libel or such is received by the foundation, and superprotection could be used at least temporarily to ensure that material that the foundation feels legally obliged to remove will indeed not only be removed, but also remain removed. Because of that, I would not necessarily call for the removal of superprotection rights, but just for the removal of this single superprotection usage. - Andre Engels (talk) 17:40, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

The WMF has managed with Office actions being performed as needed, for a very long time. If there is a need for a better system for managing content control for legal reasons, it should be well thought out as a replacement to the existing system, and then implemented in a well communicated manner. This new superprotect 'right' should be removed in the interim, as it is poorly thought out, and isnt for office actions. It was initially communicated as part of a to-be-established (read: vapourware) code review process. John Vandenberg (talk) 18:02, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
The code review process for site js is being tracked on bugzilla:69445. Helder 20:18, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

The worst is that it was justified as part of a future «code review process» (sic). --Ricordisamoa 17:46, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

While it's being misused to ignore community consensus on multiple projects.. --Wiki13 talk 17:48, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Andre: It wasn´t about legal issues creating superprotection rights, it was implemented by Erik to use it für a single purpose: To overrule a majority of more than 75% users in a clear vote of the german-speaking community against opt-out. This is a matter of non-communication or worse, using cold-blooded the technical opportunity to do so. Sorry to say but I fear the mutual trust with the WMF (especially the developpers) and the de:WP is deeply ruined after these actions tonight. --Gleiberg (talk) 17:52, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
And here a link to the Staff group changelog. It was added by developer Reedy to the group and was initially requested by Erik Möller. I think that right should be removed for the Staff group for the time being, until this problem is sorted out. --Wiki13 talk 18:07, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
It was added by Reedy to the global group, because the Staff group has not the needed globalgrouppermissions right to do it self, but the comment in log shows, that it was not done from it own. 84.182.115.30 19:18, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

My first thought when I saw the mail describing this new superprotect right was immediately "The WMF is going to use it to push things against community will, as they tried to do it with VE deployment and other things". Well, it wasn't just an unfounded fear, as this superprotect right has already been used to do exactly that on dewiki. I'm 100% against this superprotect right, as it clearly serves only the purpose of going against community wish (and the given reason of doing "code reviews" is purely laughable). No surprise that distrust against WMF is ever increasing. --NicoV (talk) 18:12, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

For the record; I agree with the right addition and the current usage. We as a community have twice abused privileges to site-wide functions and twice caused unnecessary wars against the WMF. The Foundstion have said if we as a community continue to abuse the privilege, they will revoke it. We continued to abuse it, ignoring what they said and so they revoked it. I see no issue. We continued to implemented hacky JavaScript against warnings and community consensus as a matter of fact therefore we do not have access to the function anymore. All seems fine. John F. Lewis (talk) 18:18, 10 August 2014 (UTC)


John, the problem here is with the WMF going on a power grab. They are supposed to be there to facilitate the work of the community (of which they're supposed to be a part in the first place). If the community has not consensually asked for something, it should not be up to the WMF to initiate any project or action on their own, other than a small set of "standing orders", dealing mostly with legal stuff. What happens is that because a few people work in the same office and meet face to face, and control the purse and the servers, they think they can do whatever they want, which shows how irresponsible and unfit for positions of responsibility a number of WMF employees are (though I do not wish to tar everyone with the same brush).
In short: it should be made very clear that the WMF are subordinate to the community, not the other way around.


I agree with John Lewis in the comment directly above this. Sooner or later people will stop challenging the Foundation when they've made specific mandates or rules, despite some being contrary to "community consensus". They could have de-sysoped the users ignoring the office actions as an alternative - but I would imagine people would be even more upset about that. I think this was their best possible way to achieve the goals given that it was becoming more and more apparent that the "community" was not going to listen. Rjd0060 (talk) 18:25, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

The special value of Wikipedia is the group of users which (have) spend their free time building something amazing. The projects have always been very community driven, and initialy WMF mainly had a facilitating role. More and more WMF is stepping away from purely facilitating and more and more into the role of making the decisions, even if this means completely ignoring community wishes. This is yet another show of the problems which arise with this change. WMF should focus on facilitating (hosting, improving software if wished) and less on everything around that. Another example is the fact that every year more money is "needed", the average donator thinks this money is given to facilitate Wikipedia, and it would otherwise seize to exist. This however, is not true, althought the costs on these issues slowly increase the increase in the money asked for yearly does not compare. In 2007/08 WMF could be run with only 3.5 million, in 2014/15 we would need 50.3 million? Last week we've lost a valued admin on the Dutch Wikipedia because the Foundation chose to go on the political tour and protest against the "Right to Forget". Please go back to the core of what Wikimedia has been in the starting days: a facilitator. Mvg, Basvb (talk) 18:43, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
You ask for two contradicting things here. You ask the foundation goes back to the core of Wikimedia; free open data with no censorship yet you say it is bad thing they protest against the 'right to forget' initiative which is, censorship. Do you want the Foundation to protest or endorse censorship? John F. Lewis (talk) 18:48, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I find it complete utter nonsense to say "it was becoming more and more apparent that the "community" was not going to listen". Why in earth should the community listen to what the Staff likes best? As far I know, Wikimedia and it's projects are collaborative, content wise and software wise (e.g. creating the software needed to run the projects). Discissions should be made by the community and not be overruled by the Staff, because they think it's better. If that's the way WMF staff likes to go, then I'll reconsider if this is the project I want to help. --Wiki13 talk 18:54, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
@Lewis: My post is not about censorship, my post is about Wikimedia turning back to its old role. I ask Wikimedia not to protest for or against anything. Censorship is never a black/white issue (It's good that child pornography is "censored", it's not good when newspapers are (completely) censored). I've not said anything about Wikimedia censoring, I've said they should not make these kind of decisions against community wishes. Mvg, Basvb (talk) 18:55, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

I essentially agree with John F. Lewis, as well. Certainly the WMF wins no sensitivity awards for how they're deploying this, but I'm not really sure what else they could do when at least some communities are making a show of deploying code to entirely break mediawiki features to spite the WMF's optional deployment of them. When talking about changes to features didn't work, "don't touch that" didn't work, and "you could lose your admin rights" didn't work, there was very little else left other than "no, seriously, now we're making it so you can't mess with that." I'm convinced that these kinds of confrontations could be headed off without software wars in the vast majority of cases if the WMF and the communities didn't send basically their least people-skilled users to the forefront of these clashes, but as long as both seem determined to let that keep happening, something had to give, and I'm pretty comfortable with it being "only those who won't break things can edit these pages that will royally screw up the entire software system/legal status of the projects/whatever if you edit them wrong." Fluffernutter (talk) 18:45, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

I'm curious why you seem to be viewing this as a "don't touch this" scenario, which is a symptom, rather than examining the underlying problem: a supplementary media viewer feature being forced upon the German Wikipedia. If a wiki community evaluates a particular piece of supplementary software and decides against it, we've traditionally accepted that consensus (e.g., one or two Wikimedia wikis opted out of making Vector the default skin). The JavaScript hacks are hacks, of course. There's now been an investment of developer, system administrator, and translator resources creating a new layer of bureaucracy rather than taking far less time to simply disable this silly extension on the German Wikipedia, as requested. --MZMcBride (talk) 19:01, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, here we get more into the realm of opinion, but my sense is that the WMF doesn't wander around writing new features because they're bored, but rather they create them to address a (perceived) need on the part of either the editing or reading communities. So all other things being equal, I tend to favor the WMF's right to say "that thing is there for a reason, please don't remove it abruptly" over a community's right to say "we hate new things and you can't tell us what to do". I would favor even more a detente in which the WMF was willing to compromise more on features and deployment schedules, and the communities didn't automatically try to disable anything the WMF put forth because raeg, but right now it seems we can't have everything. Fluffernutter (talk) 19:11, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Doesn't it make you wonder that the communities so often disagree with the Foundation if there are certain needs? Why isn't the Foundation communicating before and then mediating their new features between the wishes of the existing communities, the readers and the Foundation's own interests? Why do they use totaliterian methods to put features on projects? This is not how you treat people who spend much free time, effort and even money on the projects while getting not a single cent paid, while the Foundations consists of paid workers whose salary is generated by teh work of the volunteers. Here is something tipping the boat over. --Julius1990 (talk) 19:22, 10 August 2014 (UTC) PS: And truth be told: Why get hacks used? Because the Foundation doesn't react to the community wishes. And again the communities are the core of the project, not the Foundation.


The German Wikipedia held a community discussion. What's abrupt about them then implementing the consensus from that discussion? Again, this is a completely supplementary feature. It's not needed for reading or editing (and in fact it makes editing more difficult).
Erik has decided to take a "might makes right" approach and I'm concerned to see responsible and clueful users like yourself endorsing his actions here. What do Erik's unilateral actions on the English and German Wikipedias say about him? What does it say about the features he's forcing on users? Users should want new features. Erik shouldn't be coercing employees to try to ensure that new features are active everywhere. --MZMcBride (talk) 19:26, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Don't you think that the community would be in a better position to see what editors and readers want or need than the foundation? And if so, why do you still favor the foundation saying "This is our shiny new feature and you must have it" over the community's right to say "we dislike this feature for a reason and we'd rather do without it at the moment"? - Andre Engels (talk) 19:33, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

This seems like an unfortunate escalation on the WMF's part. Both sides have a responsibility to try to work together, but as a practical matter, the community does not answer to a single person, and the WMF staff do: it's likely that the first olive branch is going to need to come from the WMF side. Emufarmers (talk) 18:52, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Why are there two sides in the first place? Wasn't it all supposed to be one community?

If there are technical steps that help clarify what the WMF are controlling directly and what they aren't, that's helpful in my view. Taking a step back from the issue - ultimately the movement's mission supercedes community consensus on any given project. Erik has articulated pretty well why the WMF believes this feature is important for readers and why it supports the mission. I haven't heard much from the other side of the debate about why it isn't, or what alternative model of deploying new technical infrastructure might actually work. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:30, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

As an admin on my own wikiversion nl-wikipedia as well as a global sysop frankly I am a wee bit shocked to put it mildly. WMF-employees are around to help and assist. Not to interfere with admins and limit their rights they have been entrusted with by the communities. To protect without consensus and place admins aside shows no respect for the nature and essence of the wikimedia projects at all and is very detrimental to the communities as well as the project as a whole. I trust this will in the end be a singular incident that can be learnt from by people employed as helpers only. The person(s) responsible should be held accountable as well. Kind regards, MoiraMoira (talk) 19:34, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Chris Keating (The Land): [citation needed] re: "Erik has articulated pretty well why the WMF believes this feature is important for readers and why it supports the mission." :-) --MZMcBride (talk) 19:36, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Ironic is that the editors and admins active in the projects contribute much more to the goal of spreasing free knowledge than anyone else in the Foundation. The Foundation should help them doing so, not infere with them, creating tensions, unnecessary conflicts, making energy lose from working for the goals we share. Since the Foundation decided to turn from supporting the movement to ruling it, the tensions rose too much. I secretly hope press will see such actions and create some bad mood about Wikimedia affecting the donors in the end of the year. On the one hand protesting against censorship, on the other using surpressive methods on own communities ... double moral standards. --Julius1990 (talk) 19:39, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
The Foundation are not suppressing the community, much rather preventing hacks, performance killers and a small subset of users preventing a feature being active. The community is suppressing things here. John F. Lewis (talk) 20:12, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
hacks? that were normal edits. no hacks, no performance killing or such things ... and by the way; the community are the ones why people come to WP. They are the reason the developers and all the other staff gets paid! .. and the community is the critical point as WMF does not get tired to repeat; its getting smaller and smaller. ...Sicherlich Post 20:17, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Furthermore: it was not "a small subset of users". It was a majority decision after long and extended debate on de-wiki. A Foundation not respecting its communities (i.e. the ones who are actually writing the encyclopedia) is not worth much respect itself. CaAl (talk) 20:25, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I wonder; why was this Superprotect so suddenly necessary?
  • is it the first wheel war WP ist experiencing?
  • is it such a endless Editwar that it was needed? (3 reverts)
  • was de-WP not able to handle wheel wars/editwars in the past?
IMO this action, regardless if pro or con the mediaviewer, is one of the many unnesscary steps to annoy community members. ... WMF is looking for ways to find new autors; maybe learing to communitcate with the existing ones to avoid such mess would be a better first step.
...Sicherlich Post 20:06, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

I do not think it wise to share my opinion about this particular incident at this time, but I am concerned about the precedent that the deployment of this right sets, and what that means going forward. --Rschen7754 20:27, 10 August 2014 (UTC)


I'll share my opinion then. The access and usage of this page has pretty much been an AGF towards sysops and that was violated and thus taken away. The community has every right to protest the foundation, but this was technical abuse and was 100% predictable consequence. Apparently we now need review on these pages and perhaps there are other forms of review that might be implement able, but this was one of the few implementable quickly. TheDJ (talk) 22:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

+1. It is also not clear why de:wp users are complaining "Erik won't answer us" when they ... blocked him. Nor is it clear how retributive blocking will encourage the WMF to take community concerns seriously - David Gerard (talk) 20:11, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Erik, as User:Eloquence was blocked on de.wikipedia 21:16, 11. Aug. 2014], by w:de:User:Koenraad, not by "them," if the "them" refers to de users commenting above. Further, the comments above predated the block. Erik has responded on wikimedia-l, and he has begun to respond here, and he has responded as well on wikimedia-l. It is not clear if the block allows him talk page access. The block did not explicitly cut it off, but some wikis automatically cut off all access with a block. This post implies that to appeal his block, he must create a sock puppet.
  • 22:27, 12 August 2014‎ is very clear that Erik is acting in his official capacity, and formally, for the WMF. It expressed that "we would not accept a hack to disable" a feature that the WMF wants.
  • 12:26, 13 August 2014 seeks the finding of some agreement, but insists on the Foundation position standing until something else is accepted. In the first post above, Erik points to a comment by the ED:
  • 21:19, 12 August 2014. From the context and from his clear statements, Erik must be assumed to be acting with the knowledge and consent of the ED, who is, then, as she should be, fully responsible for his actions.
The block is, among other things, an expression of the independence of the de.wiki community, and that independence is critical to how WMF wikis operate. In itself, it is harmless. The rhetoric, on all sides, is not harmless. There is, however, a fundamental issue to be resolved, and, unless the WMF is prepared to strike out on its own and take over site administration (which it could legally do; advisability would be another matter) I highly recommend dropping all preconditions for resolution. The Foundation is to be commended for not unblocking Erik, just because it could. There is no emergency. Indeed, were I the ED, I'd require Erik and other employees to formally stop commenting, other than as specifically authorized and empowered to speak for the WMF. This is not a time for anything less than full and careful consideration.
The biggest structural problem is that the "community" is not clearly defined and doesn't have coherent representation. That could be addressed. It would then be possible to negotiate far more efficiently than through train-wreck discussions. One of the biggest structural problems is an assumption that the WMF represents or should represent the community. Not exactly! This flap demonstrates the gap, which is probably intrinsic. --Abd (talk) 23:26, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
75% of users rejected a flawed feature that had been implemented without consensus. This was done calmly and with plenty of time. The discussion followed a standard procedure, had a standard closure, and the admin was simply implementing consensus. There was indeed no emergency, and need to require any emergency. Portion of comment removed, see below --Enric Naval 06:02, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I removed an uncivil irrelevancy. It and my response may be read at [1]. --Abd (talk) 12:17, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
TheDJ, you have been involved in many minor scuffles around the Common.js on English Wikipedia. Those pages are carefully monitored by the community, and it doesnt take an uber-admin to sort problems :- technical prowess and respect between sysops wins the day, and bad JS is rolled back out or fixed in a timely manner in almost every case. Disabling the MediaViewer by JS is not technical abuse - it is a hack to disable a piece of software that the community has decided is not yet ready to be part of the default 'English Wikipedia' or 'German Wikipedia' experience - and the hack can be removed whenever the WMF implements the community decision by removing the software. Much of the interface of these project has been built by the community over the years. You don't remember removing functionality by editing JS? And working around bugs or effectively disabling extensions by editing JS? I do. If it only affects editors of a small community, a JavaScript user-script will do the job. When unwanted software has been deployed to readers, and the dev isnt fixing the problem, editing site JS is the best method for a sysop to deploy the overriding behaviour needed. mw:Extension:MultimediaViewer is not a part of MediaWiki. It is not core functionality, and there was no consensus for it to be deployed. What is the difference between the MediaViewer and a gadget that does almost the same thing (which does exist on Wikimedia Commons)? John Vandenberg (talk) 22:59, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Indeed John, I have no idea why the extension was installed on Commons in the first place. It seems like the usual scope creep of WMF-developed extensions; things would have been much easier if the extension had tried to do one thing rather than a thousand. Of course I had already predicted the conflict 5 months ago, but WMF always prefers crashing against walls at full speed rather than preventing early. :-) --Nemo 09:07, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
"is not a part of MediaWiki" by that argument neither is any skin anymore, because those are now all extensions. It's a software stack, and it is getting more modular by the day (as it should) that has nothing to do with what is considered to be the product that users engage with.
The problem here is not the fact that there are conflicts or changes on Common.js. The problem is that something new has happened (WMF refusing to outright bend to the will of a community [the reasons for which it has illustrated]). Confronted with this, people do not seem to be able to distinguish between the fact that just because you have the means to do something to influence that, does not make it a right and it definitely doesn't make it a good idea. It is simply pointy behavior towards the WMF at the expense of all users, registered or not with a rather critical part in every session of interaction with the entire website, especially when followed by revert warring. I have often used Common.js for many things, but almost always these change enhance and include small user groups, rather then exclude large groups and interfere with their possibility to make use of the product. And often small scripts DONT suffice, they are a big part of the reason why we have such a unmaintainable software ecosystem. All of which is historically logical but we are in the now, and a not where we were 8, 3 or even 6 months ago. I actually suspect that as soon as there has been defined a 'better' way to counter this problem, this protection level is likely to disappear again. TheDJ (talk) 14:40, 11 August 2014 (UTC)


I suggest the removal of the 'superprotect' right, until there is community consensus for it. --Steinsplitter (talk) 06:51, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

I echo Steinsplitter's suggestion. Revicomplaint? 13:04, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I ask for the removal of the 'superprotect' right, until there is consensus for it.--Demostene119 (talk) 15:42, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Of course per Steinsplitter. This is doing more harm than good. Jianhui67 talkcontribs 12:54, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
I also Support Support the abolition of 'superprotect' right. This is a community, not a dictatorship; then, WMF should respect the clearly deWiki decision about this issue. --Zerabat (discusión) 13:00, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Establish the preeminence of the mission[edit]

  1. Hopefully, WMF caused this absurd drama in the hope to generate some productive discussion: on average, users care so little about WMF software development that WMF is left completely unaided in its wandering. However this is not sustainable: Eloquence said some days ago «that the policy governing software development and deployments on our projects needs to be clarified».
  2. I can't believe WMF really cares so much about the media viewer; they're just making a point that they hold the money and the power to use it, because they were looking for a casus belli. For instance, WMF didn't even bother claiming that overriding consensus in this case was related to the strategic goals. (The Commons RfC did.)
  3. Some things can be done. Just throwing some ideas.
    • The users need to find a way to help the developers find out, early enough, when some idea doesn't fit the Wikimedia mission. How I don't know, but we can affirm the principle. This will allow cutting losses on hopeless investments, on which we share fault.
    • As a goal, not using the latest software development must not be a big deal (big features get undeployed all the time): developers must not feel their work is being wasted and the WMF must not feel it "lost" (or won) a battle. A possibility is to eliminate the battle: we could vote and establish a global policy that a wiki's consensus is enough to get any feature (i.e. extensions) disabled. Breach of the policy will be considered a violation of WMF bylaws and any on-wiki attempt to breach the policy will be reversed by using all existing on-wiki powers (and any nonviolent offline action); this will restore the traditional Wikipedia power structure.
    • In the interest of the mission, we can vote and establish a global policy that Limits to configuration changes can only be found in the mission itself. The mission can be clarified by strategic documents approved by the Wikimedia Foundation board of trustees and jointly by the community (at least by ratifying them); this will also reinforce a renewed strategic thinking. Of course there will always be a gray area, but both the WMF and the community can't childishly take decisions out of the whim of a moment.

--Nemo 20:17, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

@2 - I think (yes, my POV), its a personal thing. The MV is the baby of someone at the WMF and he got pissed. why else such sudden action to create the new right and use it within hours. for such a side issue what the MV is for users. ...Sicherlich Post 20:36, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

A little guideline for future new feature developments:

  1. get an idea for a new feature
  2. find out if the communities think this feature could be worth programming
  3. if so, program it
  4. make an extensive beta test on the labs
  5. actively seek community input permanently during the beta test
  6. inform the communities that you plan to change something
  7. switch the feature on on all wikis and make it opt-in for logged-in contributors (and default for readers if it is something they can use), but inform the communities that it now exists and explain them what it is for and how it is used, and have a little poll for readers to give feedback about the new feature
  8. if a decent number of active users have opted in, ask the community if they want the feature as default
  9. if so, make it default. If not, leave it as an opt-in feature, and improve it after seeking community input and continue with #3

And don't you ever skip any of the points or else the communities will react as they did already several times now. (Too bad, WMF didn't learn from the image filter mess. Too bad, really.) --თოგო (D) 20:48, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

That's the way i imagine things to work ideally. Much less possibility for confrontation, but an enforced cooperation. It would save energies on both sides. --Julius1990 (talk) 22:25, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Agree. The lack of a clear process is one of the root causes. It just compels people to impose their own personal vision of the process, and the consequent fights between different visions. --Enric Naval (talk) 06:17, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Things and the way they are used[edit]

I think we should distinguish between the superprotect right and the "de.wiki-affair".
While a superprotect right might be useful, dealing with de.wiki WMF acted like an elephant in a China shop. We spend so much time dealing with user retention just to see such those bright example of Taliban diplomacy. --Vituzzu (talk) 20:33, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

You cannot differentiate the Superprotect-Right from the way it was used in de-wp. It was developed especially for the purpose to win there an Edit-War and overrule the community decision. It was used immediately, when it was available (ironically a so called "community advocate" was chosen, to force this feature on the de-wp-Community). So let's make clear we don't talk here about an abstract right and the possible good or bad ways to use it. We talk here about a process, where a technical feature was hastily developed, to win a non-technical dispute. This is contrary to any rule how a collaborative project should handle dissents. --Magiers (talk) 21:08, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
WMF thinks it can administrate the communities, but that does not work at all. Community administration must come from within the community, otherwise the community will feel ignored/misunderstood and will run away. So, if such a right has to exist, give it to the bureaucrats, not to WMF staff. WMF staff should not have any rights, they should tell their wishes to the communities and if they think the community does something wrong, they could still communicate with them instead of simply clicking a few buttons and forget about the fact that the community still exists and still has a different opinion. You guys know that community and communicate start with the same word root? It comes from Latin communis - which means together! --თოგო (D) 21:10, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm slightly in a COI being a steward but, for example, a quick superprotection would be a lighter way to handle a wheel war until it's managed by the relevant local community (if any). On very small wikis it would be also useful to prevent "unwatched" damages. In short, it's a tool which cannot be "responsible" for its misuse. --Vituzzu (talk) 21:44, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, I'm a steward too. :p Yes, maybe we should have this, too, for such cases. --თოგო (D) 22:18, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
@თოგო: Hear hear. If any admin on any larger WMF project would use their rights in the way the WMF has "handled" the de:wiki MV affair, they would - and rightly so - almost certainly be desysoped for having abused those rights to unilaterally override community consensus. This really, really is not the way things like these should be decided. Wutsje (talk) 22:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, indeed, like I said. --თოგო (D) 22:18, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Really a WMF Office Action?[edit]

The socalled "de.wiki-affair" is IMHO more central to the superprotect rights. Reading all the logs and the discussions about the implementation of these rights make me loose my ability to assume good faith. It looks like these rights were fast implemented to give a speacial wmf-staff-member a new weapon in the MMORPG called Wikipedia. How can we ever trust the WMF again? What will be next? Right removal for critic sysops? Sysop rights for WMF-moles? Abolition of sysop-elections? I really can't see the superprotect right apart from the de.wiki-affair. A lot of trust has been destroyed between the WMF and the community through this. --Emergency doc (talk) 21:19, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Officially, it was an "WMF Edit". Now one might think that all edits made by WMF employees with their official accounts would be WMF edits, but something tells me this one was special. There is also a thing called "WMF action". I have no idea if there are any differences between WMF actions, WMF edits and Office Actions. But I really hope that next time the term "Office Edit" will be used, if only for completion. --Tinz (talk) 22:38, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
They are all paid contributions, and should be clearly marked as such. Consistency would be good. See also Requests for comment/Distinguishing Wikimedia Foundation staff accounts for official actions and personal use. John Vandenberg (talk) 00:09, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm not even convinced that this edit was really wanted by the WMF (at least the WMF Board, which normally rules all WMF staff). I see that only as a personal action by JEissfeldt (WMF) to use immediately the right that was given indirectly to him just because he was a staff member and could do that... without any policy.
Really, the WMF Board must question the intent of his "JEissfeldt (WMF)" staff member, and why he could do that when the Board was abroad in London dor Wikimania. He acted alone and abused the trust and the staff mission during a time where that staff was nearly left without active monitoring by the Board.
So now the Board must consider developing a stronger policy for its employed staff so that these rights won't be abused against a community (here the German Wikipedia community).
I see some good reasons why the staff could need that superpower, but only in cases of emergency for enforcing clear rules (and most emergencies would be for legal reasons; but in fact the role of the Staff is to ensure he will use its paid time to enfore the existing rules and not invent new ones, and take decisions by themselves against legitimate communities or possibly even against the Board intent and its communication.
The more I think about it, this was an unfortunate error to deploy the "superadmin" rights without first discussing the policy about who would be able to use it, and for which kind of mission. The simple fact of giving to all WMF staff that power was not even decided; and the Gerrit comment initially said that the new rights would be granted to no user. That change of configuration to grant this right to the WMF staff group (which are not all competent to work on all local wikis and with all communities) was abused by JEissfeldt acting selfishly against WP.DE. verdy_p (talk) 00:24, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
verdy_p, Erik has been pushing this new tool through, as a top down decision without proper code/design review (see bugzilla:69380) and enforcing Jan's actions (see https://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=MediaWiki:Common.js&action=history). John Vandenberg (talk) 00:43, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Every action in the German Wikipedia was established from a "wir" - which is German for "we" ([2] [3]), but it's not difficult to see, that behind all actions stands Eloquence, who defended the new right on the mailing list and who also enforced the Protection again, after a local admin deleted and reinstalled the site without protection ([4]). This is what worries me most about the whole affair: Apparently one man in the WMF has the power to use the technical staff on Sunday far outside any normal developing routine for an instant technical feature. And he can use a non-technical staff member (User:JEissfeldt (WMF)) outside his role as a "Community Advocate" (he will not bee seen this way now anymore in the de.wp) to enforce this feature on the community. Under the mask of a "we" there is no personal responsibility for the action declared, no explanation was given, on which policy the action was taken, how it matches the guidelines of Office actions and so on. The WMF shows here an hierarchic structure, that completely opposes the collabarotive ethics of the project and that seems to have no control mechanism, that can stop the misuse of power. And this was all about a very minor problem: How would the WMF react, if it was about a more controversial topic? --Magiers (talk) 06:32, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
The sad thing is that Jan might lose his sysop rights on his volunteer-account because of Eloquence's actions. Natuur12 (talk) 11:30, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
he was hardly active on de anyways. And he might loose it because of his action. He blocked. ...Sicherlich Post 11:40, 11 August 2014 (UTC) dont get the point of community advocate anyways; hardly active but shall tell the WMF what the community things? odd!

Abusive[edit]

The creation of superprotect and its use was abusive, and it was done by a user with a history of abusive actions in defiance of consensus and community. If the WMF had sense, they would fire the individual then lock their account so they can never edit here again. What a disaster. Ottava Rima (talk) 23:08, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Not abusive at all: the Foundation actually cares about readers as the primary stakeholders. There seems to be a lot of huffing and puffing on this page under the apparent hidden assumption that the whole project is just for editors. Barely concealed is a WMF-are-power-hungry-bully-boys attitude; there's little evidence that editing communities are willing to help the movement become more cohesive internationally and less governed by knee-jerk conservatism about technical progress. I'm concerned that editing communities have already cast themselves in the role of lead in the saddle bag, just when the movement needs to become more supple and adaptable to a fast-changing online environment. It's becoming destructive. Tony (talk) 00:15, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
The editing communities seem quite cohesive about not being convinced that MediaViewer, at version 0.2?, is ready for prime time. John Vandenberg (talk) 00:35, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
We don't insist that every article that is kept is fully "ready" either. Incremental development is a part of our nature. I would hope, that we can constructively work together and suggest improvements to the software, see how it works in the wild, and generally give changes a chance, rather than stonewall it completely. --Dschwen (talk) 06:39, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd accept this as an answer if the software, like the content, was made by amateurs. We're talking about the technical frame of one of the world's most important websites, and we're talkin about incredibly dilettantish web design that ignores the project's priorities. Rather than fire these dilettantes, as you'd expect from a top of the world company, or at least listen to the ones who know better, those responsible put on the blinders and try to hide their failure. This project is about accumulating content, and WMF is doing everything to lose the confidence of those who donate that content. --Sitacuisses (talk) 11:37, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
User:Sitacuisses, the problem with this attitude is that it misses the obvious reality of how small the foundation actually is. Linkedin for your example, a site that is ranked considerably lower than Wikipedia by access (12th rather than 6th) has 5400 employees. That is twenty (20!) times more than the foundation employs! --Dschwen (talk) 08:26, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
How many volunteers does LinkedIn have?--Hubertl (talk) 04:40, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
The dirty secret that people are now realizing is that the WMF never cared about those who donated that content and saw them as antithetical to their mission. After all, the content creators have always been treated as second class citizens who are merely there to have their hard work exploited to make a handful of power holding individuals seem great. 173.153.2.56 15:14, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
You can "care" about something and still be abusive to it. It is about time that the community stand up against this spousal abuse and seek a divorce already. If they really cared about the Pedia, about the readers, about the users, or about anything besides whatever they have going on in their own little circle, things would have been a lot different. There is too much power held by too few people, and those people are disconnected 100% from the average reader or editor. It is time to clean house. Ottava Rima (talk) 01:40, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

No Purpose[edit]

I don't understand why the Superprotect feature exists. If the WMF feels is it necessary to protect the site from its own administrators, bureaucrats and sysops, then it it should use its power over the database to remove all of the those account flags. That's what this action essentially is -- a way to state official mistrust over your site administrators. And if you cannot trust the admins, then why have them at all? BrentLaabs (talk) 00:31, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Free labor to patrol vandalism, essentially. Revent (talk) 01:33, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I believe there is a valid use case for superprotect to be used in the same way we have oversight / suppression to allow content to be hidden from administrators and we have bigdelete to stop administrators accidentally deleting the Main page. The issue is surely the protection of the specific page on de.wiki rather than how it was done. QuiteUnusual (talk) 08:05, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I have the same doubts of BrentLaabs. @QuiteUnusual: why an administrator may delete the Main page? And if there were any changes to do? We really need this Superprotection? --Umberto NURS (msg) 14:19, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
There are several historical cases of administrators attempting to delete pages with very long revision histories, including the Sandbox of the English Wikipedia. The deletion attempt caused an excessive load on the server and required intervention from the system administrators. As a consequence, administrators were limited to deleting pages with a maximum of 5,000 revisions. To delete pages with more revisions requires the bigdelete right, which only Stewards have. In addition, the MediaWiki code was changed to prevent the Main page being deleted by anyone. My point is that there are legitimate reasons for restricting administrator access - in this case to modifying some pages. However, applying this restriction should at least be discussed. QuiteUnusual (talk) 14:38, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
The difference being, of course, that the bigdelete right came in response to inadvertent technical issues from uses of administrator power. The superprotect right is targeted at intentional technical issues caused by uses of administrator power. Again, if you can't trust an administrators intentions, then you obviously have the wrong admins. BrentLaabs (talk) 18:58, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Or you have wrong expectations from admins. Btw the comparison would work with oversight: a right which is very restricted to a level above admins but, anyway, already used in an accountable manner toward the community. --Vituzzu (talk) 19:21, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

The true issue[edit]

I am personally quite satisfied with Media Viewer, and do not accept that the enWP community really made an informed consensus to disable it, and the manner in which it was disabled there was admitted to be technically incorrect. Probably it's generally realized that this particular issue was not worth making a stand over--it could best be looked at as a one-time aberration. I do not know about the consensus at the deWP, or the nature of the hack there. Possibly the consensus was strong enough and the hack good enough that the circumstances are different.

But regardless of the intrinsic merits of Media Viewer, this user right adoption show the WMF making a very broad change in policy in order to enforce one not very important decision. It was not a question of protecting the site from damage in an emergency--just a dispute over display format. I suspect most of us feel the WMF would have used this right to force the alpha version of Visual Editor on the English community, or to force Protected Changes 2 there--and will use this in the future to override the community about matters within the community's scope. Sometimes the timing of an action is sufficient to show its lack of good faith, and this user right is one of them . Having some experience in bureaucratic structures, this seems an obvious case of management or leadership trying to eliminate in a heavy handed manner all threats to its power--their typical response when their actions are wrong, and they for reasons of their own refuse to admit it. DGG (talk) 01:40, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

I'm in complete agreement with this. I too have actually been quite happy with MediaViewer and think that enWP and deWP made a poor decision in disabling it. I also believe that the Superprotect right can actually have good uses, perhaps not on the Wikipedias or even on any WMF project, but on third-party wikis sure. All of this though does not excuse the WMF's behaviour here. The creation and usage of the Superprotect right is a power grab that the Wikimedia Community should not accept. The Wikimedia Foundation should respect the decisions of the enWP and deWP communities and either disable Mediaviewer or allow those communities to disable it themselves. The Superprotect right should be disabled on all Wikimedia Foundation wikis. It may be that it could be re-enabled for some limited purposes (such as Stewards to use on lower volume wikis, as pointed out by @Vituzzu:), but this should not be done without community consensus on the matter. I would like to see @JEissfeldt (WMF): lose his sysop bit on deWP for his actions (though that is really up to the deWP community), and I would also like to see the WMF talk to @Eloquence: about possibly some more training in community engagement as he has made some questionable judgements over the past few weeks. I feel like it would do everyone a lot of good if they both offered an appology personally and if the WMF also offered one as an organisation.
I feel as though this unfortunate series of events has really blown up, and not in a good way. I'd like to see everyone take a moment to chill out and calm down. The WMF should cede to the community on this one for now, and then maybe once everyone has had a chance to catch their breath, we should all have a big discussion about the best way to handle things going forward. I'm a big fan of @Thogo:'s idea for guidelines for future new feature developments. I feel as though @Nemo: also makes some excellent points in his "Establish the preeminence of the mission". Neither Thogo's or Nemo's ideas should really be discussed until we've had a chance to calm down and be rational human beings, WMF and Community alike. Zellfaze (talk) 16:39, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd like to add that my post should not be taken as being ungrateful for Erik's contributions. He's done a lot for the community over his innumerable years here. Zellfaze (talk) 17:09, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Related events?[edit]

WP Blocks USA Congress. Brazilian "Tea Party" media attacks WP. A weakness on WP rules produces an internal confrontation. Germany x USA war spy. I suppose that the problem is out of WP. The WP database is growing fast. This is not good for the status quo forces. Please. Negotiation is necessary. Don't wars.Ixocactus (talk) 07:28, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Could you please clarify? How are these events related? PiRSquared17 (talk) 22:45, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Massive overreaction & inability to learn[edit]

What we're witnessing here is basically the VisualEditor fiasco all over again. There are certain characteristics that both situations share:

  1. The Foundation informs the communities that a certain new feature is coming to their wikis.
  2. Not many people care and the Foundation thinks its software is ready to be deployed.
  3. The software is deployed to the production wikis.
  4. The community discovers a lot of important bugs.
  5. They start a discussion to disable the software until all important bugs are fixed.
  6. Some sort of community consensus is reached.
  7. The Foundation ignores the consensus, causing a massive backslash.
  8. Shitstorm happens.
  9. The Foundation then decides to disable the tool and fixes the bugs.
  10. Repeat step 1.

As far as I remember, this is basically what happened regarding VisualEditor, TypographyRefresh, and now the MediaViewer. It is clear to me that the Foundation has a massive institutional problem with absorbing knowledge and experience, and is — at this point — unable to deploy software in a manner that wouldn't cause unnecessary drama.

Some portion of the blame is for the community to take, that's sure — that no one cares to properly beta test the software even though the Foundation and other volunteers do their best to promote and inform the communities about upcoming software changes is a problem in dire need of fixing. We have the beta cluster, we have test wikis, we have the wiki at MediaWiki.org, and we have beta features. All of this allows people to test cutting-edge software before it hits the wikis at a big scale. But we lack volunteers who are willing to do so.

There are many problems like this around the software deployment process, and we can fix them all. But not if the Foundation decides to act like a bully in the playground and disrespect the communities that are the basis of its very existence.

The situation that happened on the German Wikipedia could have been avoided if the Foundation, and @Erik above all, decided to refrain from his show of force. The way that @DaB. implemented the results of the German Wikipedia RfC was incorrect—it disabled MediaViewer for everyone instead of leaving it in an opt-in stage—but the German Wikipedia itself was in a perfect position to fix this mistake, without requiring the Foundation to interfere at any point.

What the Foundation has done is an overreaction at a massive scale. I have never before witnessed a local issue escalate to the global level so quickly. There was no need to enable 153302 on all wikis if the problem existed on the German Wikipedia only—and this fact alone shows the heavy-handedness and the recklessness of this action.

I have no doubt in my mind that Erik's action will cost the Foundation a lot of trust, and that this trust will be extremely hard to rebuild. But there are a few simple steps to take on the way of regaining this lost trust:

  1. Unprotect the German Wikipedia page MediaWiki:Common.js.
  2. Remove the superprotection level from all wikis.
  3. Kindly ask the German Wikipedia not to disable MediaViewer again.
  4. Start a proper discussion on managing site-wide JavaScript and CSS files.
  5. Start a proper discussion around deploying new software to production wikis.

All of these problems we can fix, but not until the Foundation decides to treat its own community as an equal partner, with the respect that they deserve. odder (talk) 07:46, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Regarding #2 - absolutely incorrect. I, along with many other experienced users, told them VE was not ready to be deployed. Their simplistic response? "Ah, all software has bugs!" --NeilN (talk) 18:22, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes I was another one of those editors. Of course if they had continued bug fixing until the testers said we thought it was ready there could have been minor bugs that we didn't spot. But the really big things, like it being painfully slow on anyone using last decade kit, they knew about those and either weren't going to fix or didn't fix before rollout. For MediaViewer I wasn't one of the testers, it was a complete pain for me because I do a lot of categorisation, but after my V/E experience I wasn't queueing up to volunteer to test new features. So I don't know whether it passed Quality Assurance or the other problems were sufficient to make it a net negative for everyone. WereSpielChequers (talk) 18:40, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Precedent?[edit]

Here are some ideas for new user rights : 'superblock', 'superdelete', 'supermove', ... --Ricordisamoa 08:23, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

To all intents and purposes 'superblock' already exists via the ability to globally lock accounts (and once SUL is completed it will function in an identical manner to a true global block that cannot be unblocked by a local administrator). 'superdelete' also already exists in the form of Oversight / Suppression. The only difference at the moment with 'superprotect' is it is only available to WMF staff. QuiteUnusual (talk) 08:27, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
The point is that 'super' means 'not discussed by nor granted to community members'. --Ricordisamoa 08:33, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
IMHO what is the most disturbing point here is, the superprotect right is not granted to elected users. Nobody has a problem with superdelete (oversight) and superprotect could be a normal user right for example given to the bureaucrats or the stewards. But giving it only to not elected WMF-Staff-members and using it this way is an open way to say "We don't trust our communities".--Emergency doc (talk) 08:53, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I am not disagreeing with these points at all I just wanted to add some thoughts. New rights are added frequently to support new functionality - for example the global abuse filter rights and the global rename right - and initially they aren't assigned to anyone. For global rights the Stewards typically discuss this and work out whether to add or amend a policy or just assign the rights to existing groups, etc. For local rights, the individual communities do the same. So, the fact the superprotect right is only available to staff at the moment isn't for me the issue. In theory like any other right it could be allocated to other global or local groups following community approval. My concern is rather that the implication is that this right is only permitted to staff in support of Office actions but this hasn't been made explicitly clear by any statement from the Foundation or update to the Office actions policy. I guess I am saying my problem is not the right itself, or even what it has been used for, but the lack of clarity and transparency over its use. QuiteUnusual (talk) 09:06, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Stick to the basics of decent communication to make sure that things don't escalate[edit]

Normally we grant advanced user rights to those who we trust. I can see the benefits of this tool but the people using this user right proved that they cannot be trusted so imho the user right should be revoked asap. It saddens me that this situation escalated because Erik proved to the world that he doesn’t know the basics when it comes to decent communications. He forgets that he is working with volunteers and threatening them on a mailing list is a huge red flag. Than using your powers to escalate a situation further instead of showing that you have the skills to deal with it is a why the heck is he a "VP of Engineering and Product Development" flag. Situations that ask for de-escalation should be deescalated and unfortunately protecting a page can escalate a situation even more especially when the tool is being used by the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

The communities build the Wikipmediaprojects not the WMF and the WMF should really listen to the persons who build this project. It is quite simple; Thogo already explained how you introduce a new feature. This is pretty much the basics and it worries me that the WMF doesn’t know those simple basic steps. The one thing that you must avoid is pushing your own creation and then designing a user right to defend it against those who follow the community’s wishes.

What should happen is clear; the WMF should follow a course related to communication. One of the basics is that you take those who complain seriously. You don’t always have to follow their wishes but using ad verecundiam and Ad metum, in terrorem, ad baculum instead of talking with a community in a decent way is not how you deal with situations and people who don’t know these simple things should not hold advanced user rights.

What should happen is simple:

  • The superprotect right should be disabled asap
  • Erik Moeller should beg the people to forgive him for the way he handled this
  • WMF should start respecting those who build this project
  • They should get some professional advice on how to communicate with online communities.

Those points would be a good step in the right direction. But really, we should not want those who abuse an advance right within hours to hold any advanced user right. I really hope the WMF will take the appropriate steps to make sure that they regain confidence. Natuur12 (talk) 10:52, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

I disagree. The WMF provides us with an environment to work in. If we abuse a script facility to alter or restrict that environment, then that is a breach of contract, and they are well within their right to put a halt to it. Cheers, The Jolly Bard (talk) 11:45, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
The Jolly Bard, could you please give a link where it says this would be a breach of contract (e.g. a policy)? Unless you given evidence of it I want to advise you not to use the wording "breach of contract". Also, please don't import problems you have elsewhere to Meta. If you continue you could end up blocked here for that reason. --Wiki13 talk 11:50, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
The point is, that you complain about the attitude of the WMF while you show the exact same attitude yourself (and not in some isolated case that Wutsje brought up). With the difference, that the WMF has the right to do so. You fail to understand that that's the right of the provider, and not some policy. The Jolly Bard (talk) 11:57, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, but the required link? --Horcrux92 (talk) 12:08, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
First of, your reply doesn't answer my question I have. Also, you make it personal by saying "you show the exact same attitude yourself" (an argumentum ad hominem), which is not where were talking about. I don't fail to understand "that it is the right of the provider, and not some policy), which is really not the case here. WMF can't exist if there's no community that supports it. --Wiki13 talk 12:10, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Oh my. It's in the Terms of Use which you can find below your editing window and at the bottom of every page. The Jolly Bard (talk) 12:27, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, I've read it multiple times and came to the conclusion that you probably mean the following sentence in the Terms of Use: "Posting or distributing content that contains any viruses, malware, worms, Trojan horses, malicious code, or other device that could harm our technical infrastructure or system or that of our users". I wouldn't call that small piece of JavaScript malicious code at all. If you would like to call it that you are free to do so, but I do not share that opinion at all. With that reasoning, you should disable/remove all other scripts that remove something from the interface for all users. I guess nothing will be done for these by the WMF, at least for the near future. Of course they will try to protect MediaViewer from being disabled by simply saying it's malicious code. This is too easy to say in my opinion. It's about that time for WMF to take their communities seriously and disable the extensions for the wiki's that asked for it. --Wiki13 talk 16:32, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
You didn't read or understood all, but never mind. The communities are disfunctional, so of course you aren't taken seriously. The Jolly Bard (talk) 20:04, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for a thoughtful solution presented Natuur12. I do hope the board will look into this matter, these super rights will be removed as soon as possible and the person that clearly abused them will either draw his own conclusions or have proper measures taken. This is a frightening situation for many volunteers to see develop. Kind regards. MoiraMoira (talk) 13:06, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

"They should get some professional advice on how to communicate with online communities": Communicating with the community is part of being part of it and impossible when you believe you're above it. WMF-staff should really start to make efforts to become part of the community instead of dominating it. EvilFreD (talk) 14:05, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

I see that Erik has been editing Wikipedias for at least 13 years. Difficult to argue that he isn't part of the community really. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 20:13, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

The local Admin and his/her blinkered power[edit]

Local admins have powers that are systematically allowed by the Foundation software. In many areas they have discretion on how to use that power, but their discretion has multiple limits, which begin (and always hopefully end) with their own self-restraint, but sometimes proceed to more formal restraint. Making software hacks to the common, and edit warring over them, is subject to limits. The Foundation's configuration of their staff's permission for protection just operationalizes another rather soft, if more formal, limit. You may ask, who restrains the foundation. The foundation has a governing board that is the fiduciary to its charter, and they authorize the executive power (ie, the power to execute) to executive staff, so staff answers to the board, and the only limit on the board is the fiduciary obligation to their charter. You may decide that you can do it better than the board and their staff (you may well be wiser and more adept at balancing their interests), and if that's the case, you may work your way inside, using their institutional process, to where you make their decisions in fidelity to their charter -- and then others (perhaps, even wiser) will have to make appeal to you -- or you may go outside from where their decisions, that you cannot abide, no longer have any affect over you. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:04, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Some people inside Foundation is wearing a mask of "being irreplaceable", say 10, then 100, then a million times you're irreplaceable and then you'll become. The board is dominated by definition by what is called (in historiography) "the ministerial party". Then we have some people virtually doing wtf they want, now pointing the ship towards the "social network model", now remembering in with silly rough creation of an ad hoc userright that "they can do it". --Vituzzu (talk) 13:58, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Fine. The foundation is terrible, or not. At any rate, your "party", whatever that is, is just your party, which is probably also terrible. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:08, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
OT
Dear Vituzzu, for years I have read on it.wiki that you were irrepleaceable (the ones saying it are all your friends or people that you protect), even when you were blocked and unblocked yourself, making an abuse with your powers. How can you now talk against a system that protected you and your position and your power in this community? Or simply you don't like they are giving some people more power than you? It's no good when they repay you in the same way, right Vituzzu? Now accept it and be quiet. I think there must be someone able to avoid that local chapters take the wrong way, even if all the wikipedia project is dying and all this kind of things are useless to avoid it. Vigevanese (talk) 14:34, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Unaware as usual, I actually need two clicks to use this supersupersuperpower. Btw we're dealing with a matter which is pretty more serious than rants, sorry if I'll plonk you then. --Vituzzu (talk) 16:36, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I spend some time here only in the hope people open the eyes over you. And to make some laughs. Bye again, keep your powers over a dying project. One thing for sure is true, Wikipedia is now a big company and act like that (see the case of the macaca), but this fact is little compared to the other problems. Plonk who you want. Vigevanese (talk) 16:53, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
It's sad to see such a strong obsession, I hope it doesn't actually impact your RL has it happened with too too too many of our worst LTAs. --Vituzzu (talk) 20:26, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia is more then 10 years old and wealthy, if the local chapters had taken the wrong way it would be already deceased. We are just moving toward a top down management rules and decision, (as Facebook does with its users), that can feed up several volunteers (the hearth and blood on the encyclopedia) to detriment of the quality.--Bramfab (talk) 15:03, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Local chaps are dramatically OT here and now basically they don't count at all dealing with those matters. --Vituzzu (talk) 16:36, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
@Alanscottwalker: by "ministerial party" it's usually meant those who are pretty close to an institution itself. --Vituzzu (talk) 16:36, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Dear Vituzzu, you know very well I'm not a LTA, but simply I come back sometime to have fun of you and your friends and to have some talks with my friend on IRC. As usual you have to say lies to give value to what you say. I never edited again on it.wiki, so the term LTA is wrong. I assure you that my real life is really good, last year I took a degree in Physics, in May I went to China. I think you must worry of your real life. The problem is how can this community continue to give credit to a person that says so many lies, that continue to use an insulting way of talking with the ones that have different ideas? That is unable to stop to reply, because you always want the last word?
Think about it.
On this page you are here to oppose to a really important point, but you on it.wiki make always as you want, and not only you, there are a lot, and I think you can't tell anyone they are making something wrong if you are the first that makes the same error. Now really, bye, I have to do other things. And to the others that are reading, think about what I've said. Vigevanese (talk) 01:21, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Ad hominem ?
Mahitgar (He who knows ,wants to know and and loves to keep others informed) (talk) 15:27, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Naked dictatorship is at least more honest[edit]

It's been apparent for some time that the WMF views the local communities as a problem rather than an asset when it comes to software deployment. At least this way, Erik doesn't have to say one thing and do another. Anybody want to bet that when Flow is foisted upon us, it will be done as a superprotected WMF action?Kww (talk) 17:00, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Facepalm3.svg Facepalm3.svg Facepalm3.svg Facepalm3.svg Flow. Fauzan✆ talk ✉ email 15:46, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Agreed. At least in a naked dictatorship we all know for fact exactly where we stand. TomStar81 (talk) 21:52, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Scope Creep[edit]

I am far less concerned about superprotect being used to secure JS infrastructure than I am about the potential for it to be abused within article namespaces. Client-side browser extensions could be employed to work around the JS bugs ("features") intentionally coerced by the WMF into my WP experience, but once this cat is out of the bag, there is nothing to prevent (extra-)legal processes from forcing WMF to flip the superprotect switch on a BLP in perpetuity. Notbetafive (talk) 18:06, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

That's actually a really good point I think. Zellfaze (talk) 16:50, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Which is precisely why I think so many of us are up in arms here. Decisions made in haste are often regretted later, and I do not like what Superprotection implies for the articles here one bit. Whats the point of having a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit if there's gonna be a star next to that statement on every wiki site that when click gives the legal disclaimer "except where noted."? TomStar81 (talk) 21:56, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

What really happened at German-language Wikipedia[edit]

What happened on 10 August[edit]

Things written above about what happened at German-language Wikipedia are misleading. This is what really happened:

  1. In this poll, on August 7 a community majority of 72,5% decided to change the Media Viewer settings behaviour from opt-out to opt-in.
  2. In this statement of August 9, a WMF represenative announced that WMF will not accept the outcome of the poll.
  3. A local sysop completely disabled the Media Viewer on August 10. [5]
  4. A WMF sysop re-enabled the Media Viewer by reverting this edit, which prompted a wheel war with the local sysop. [6]
  5. Another WMF sysop super-protected the page in a version resembling the state before EW. [7]
  6. The latter sysop got his user account locked by another local sysop.

All these things are now controversely discussed in the German-language community. It looks like a majority of users and admins support the actions of local sysops and disapprove the WMF actions, but there is also a considerable number voices who disapprove the actions by the local sysops, which are being reviewed now.

This just as background information, the discussion on the superprotect priviledge may be disconnected from this beforemath. --PM3 (talk) 15:45, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Adding to 1, see my comment here. This was never a matter of plain conservatism as Fluffernutter above would have it. None of this would have happened if the Foundation simply would have complied with the outcome of the poll. Like I said elsewhere: The local sysop you mentioned is not the problem, because there are always local sysops making mistakes. Thus far, local communities were able to deal with such mistakes all by themselves. (In fact, another local sysop reverted this sysop's edit immediately.) Why not leave it that way? --Tolanor (talk) 12:19, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, I missed that first revert. Surely the local community would have handled the wheelwarring sysop in an appropriate way, if it had been given the time to do so. Edit wars on the user interface are nothing new, and afaik they always ended soon and with an acceptable result.
However, there were also mistakes made by those who initiated the poll, it was poorly prepared and did not inform well about the consequces. E.g. there was no explicit hint that IP users will no longer be able to use the MV if the poll succeeds. While this is obvious for people familiar with the mediawiki UI, I guess that there were others who were not aware of this consequence of their votes. See also the comments of Perhelion here - he was convinced that the poll did not mean to disable MV for IPs. --PM3 (talk) 23:39, 13 August 2014 (UTC) see below --PM3 (talk) 01:36, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
@PM3:, thank you very much for the clear overview of what happened, with links. Very helpful to anyone trying to follow, especially those of us who do not know German.
I think your latest statement is incorrect, though -- it's my understanding that the WMF has built in an ability for users without accounts to set a preference to use (or not use, depending on the default setting) the Media Viewer, which gets stored in a browser cookie. -Pete F (talk) 00:25, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
@Peteforsyth: Uh, thanks. I read otherwise in discussions at dewiki, but I just tested it and you are right. The option to permanently enable MV is hidden at the very bottom of the MV page, but is there. Looks like the authors of the poll didn't know that either, because their proposal was to "disable the Media Viewer by default, but provide an opt-in for logged-in users; the system would follow the standard procedure for new features, which can be enabled in the settings-option 'beta features'" [8]. Beta features are not availble for non-logged-in users, right? --PM3 (talk) 01:35, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

The list of events is not complete: AFAIK the creation of superprotect right was a reaction to the likeliness that the local(de) wheel war would not have the outcome desired by WMF. This creation is a hack itself. the purpose of that hack is to maintain power whatever the base decides. The purpose of the superprotect hack is therefore plain undemocratic. therefore the situation has to be rolled back before the point of creating this SP-hack. And than the discussion and democratic decision finding process will have to decide if the idea for this hack will be converted into an optional plugin, not developed at all or whatever. As long as WMF does not roll back their SP-hack thei will have to live with another dictator like stigma. --Manorainjan (talk) 12:31, 27 September 2014 (UTC)

The really sad point is that it doesn't bother them that they have this image. After the superprotect putsch, Eric Möller continued to bully around on en:wiki ... and there is no reaction at all. And all the processes now about getting opion by the editors (the opion they want to hear) is just another trick to keep the communities calm. They don't care that they bully those away who made their product big at all ... They have a big lack of social abilities, what would be necessary to work for the movement. They have a lack of expertise on what they are doing, otherwise it is hard to understand why they again and again drive projects against the wall. And they have a lack of character or they wouldn't act like bullies on the school yard. --Julius1990 (talk) 22:53, 27 September 2014 (UTC)

de.wiki poll on Superprotect[edit]

There is a "survey" under way on de.wikipedia over superprotection, w:de:Wikipedia:Umfragen/Superschutz It's ongoing, so this report is as of 17:05, 19 August 2014 (UTC). With regard to 4 statements (translation possibly poor, please fix):

  1. The WMF is requested to remove superprotection from all pages on the German language Wikipedia, immediately.
    Yes: 649, No 102, abstention 31.
  2. The WMF is requested to remove the superprotection right from the Staff group, immediately.
    Yes: 497, No 78, abstention 33.
  3. The WMF is requested to reverse the software change(s) which introduced the superprotection right at its earliest convenience (e.g. with the next software update).
    Yes: 369, No 106, abstention 88.
  4. The WMF is requested to assign new group rights that may be used to shut out elected rights-holders (i.e. administrators, bureaucrats, checkusers, oversighters, stewards) only to user groups whose members were also elected by the local (or, where appropriate, international) community.
    Yes: 366, No 76, abstention 83.

I posted the above, but any editor may fix it if there are errors, or update it and change the report time. The lines are being drawn. --Abd (talk) 02:28, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

thanks, i edited some translations. Regards, Ca$e (talk) 18:05, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
THX as well, updated the numbers to now: --Sänger S.G (talk) 14:59, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Made some more translation fixes. Andreas JN466 09:31, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

These are enormous numbers. I don't remember a poll at dewiki which had half of this participants and approval. --PM3 (talk) 03:24, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

I believe it's the highest voter turnout ever in an on-wiki poll – with the single exception of the 2012 SOPA blackout poll on the English Wikipedia (763 vs. 104), which was heavily canvassed outside of Wikipedia, and included votes from a rather larger number of IPs and single-purpose accounts. Andreas JN466 09:53, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Provisional results from here (a more detailed analysis is in progress):

 #  Proposal   Pro   Contra Abstention Total without Abstentions Pro (%) Contra (%)
1. immediately unlock superprotected pages 664 103 32 767 87% 13%
2. no superprotect right for WMF staff 509 79 34 588 87% 13%
3. remove SP feature from software 376 108 89 484 78% 22%
4. new super rights only for elected users 374 77 86 451 83% 17%

Note that though proposal #1 says "pages", there is only one superprotected page. --PM3 (talk) 14:49, 22 August 2014 (UTC) updated after recount [9] --PM3 (talk) 22:37, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Can we evaluate the poll result over and above the mere number of participants?[edit]

Yes, we can!

It comes as no surprise that the result of this survey is quite unambiguous. However, we can gain further insight by taking our analysis beyond the mere number of votes cast.

This was a survey open to everyone. There were no constraints on who was entitled to vote. Nevertheless, we can evaluate the results of the survey by applying the standards that would have applied to a Meinungsbild [the German Wikipedia's version of a Request for Comment – the result of a Meinungsbild is considered binding in this community, and Meinungsbild participation is restricted to contributors whose work in article space fulfils certain minimum criteria], simply by weighting votes differently. First, we can single out those who would have been entitled to vote in a Meinungsbild. Second – and this is material, given previous doubts about how important the contributors in question are to our project – we can weight votes according to voters' actual project contributions as authors and in other areas. This can further be separated into (German-language) Wikipedia edits and additional edits across all other projects. (The results aren't absolutely precise, because the last day of the survey (2014/08/21) has only been partially analysed in terms of participants' edits, but this fuzziness amounts to less than 0.1%).

The results are astonishing. We only analysed the votes for the first question:

  1. As far as we can remember, there has never been a higher participation rate. Taking solely the first question, there were 664 people voting yes, 103 voting no.
  2. For those voting yes (on question 1), their total edit count for de:Wikipedia amounts to 11,441,000 edits.
  3. For those voting yes (on question 1), their total edit count across all projects amounts to 15,450,000 edits.
  4. For those voting no (on question 1), their total edit count for de:Wikipedia amounts to 952,000 edits.
  5. For those voting no (on question 1), their total edit count across all projects amounts to 1,150,000 edits.

There is an apparent disparity here, for while there were more than 6.5 times as many yes-voters as no-voters, the yes-voters' edit count is 12 to 15 times higher than the edit count of those who voted no.

The reasons are as follows:

  1. Among no-voters, more than 50% (53 vs. 50) would not have been entitled to vote in a Meinungsbild.
  2. Among no-voters, there were 10 IPs and a large number of newly registered users, but also a large number of users who registered their accounts many years ago, but have made very few edits („sleepers“?).
  3. Thus, those 53 accounts/IPs are responsible for just 26,000 edits to Wikipedia, and 38,200 edits across all projects combined.
  4. The rest of the 952,000 (Wikipedia) or 1,150,000 (all projects) edits assignable to the remaining 50 no-voters who did have voting rights reflect, with few exceptions, accounts with low edit counts.
  5. Among yes-voters, there were 571 participants with voting rights, and 93 without.
  6. The yes-voters with voting rights have contributed a total of 11,415,500 edits to Wikipedia, and 15,257,005 edits to all projects combined.
  7. Those not entitled to vote among yes-voters have contributed 25,100 edits to Wikipedia, and 195,200 edits to all projects combined.

Another noteworthy fact:

Among yes-voters, we find 98 users with advanced privileges (active or formerly active administrators, or members of the de:WP Arbitration Committee); among no-voters there are only 4. All of them, however, were at least entitled to vote.

Conclusion: The result of the Poll regarding the introduction of the MediaViewer has been ridiculed because of the allegedly small number of participants (262, of which 190 voted for deactivation). The same can of course be done with this survey, if you compare numbers here to the number of Wikipedia readers. But if you take a closer look at the edit counts, it becomes clear that the support base of this poll, as an expression of strong disagreement with the WMF decision, is the core editors who have decisively engaged in building and shaping the German-language Wikipedia (as can be shown on the basis of the edit counts).

In addition, the comments among no-voters indicate that many of them used this survey as an opportunity to express their individual negative experiences with certain administrators or the generally unfriendly working climate, by casting a protest vote.

The comments from those who abstained are also interesting. They, too, include some who did not agree with how DaB. proceeded, yet feel an urgent need to resolve the relationship between the community and the Foundation. To that extent, if things had been handled differently, they too would generally have been found among the yes-voters.

The preceding analysis used this tool. It was done by User:Hubertl and translated by User:ca$e and Andreas and reposted here from de.WP. Ca$e (talk) 09:13, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Superunprotected[edit]

The superprotect on de:mediawiki:Common.js has been removed, the page is free editable now by all dewiki admins. Thanks to Lila and Erik for this de-escalating step. --PM3 (talk) 20:48, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

  • 21:29, 27. Aug. 2014‎ Erik Moeller (Hob den Schutz von „MediaWiki:Common.js“ auf: Zur weiteren einvernehmlichen Zusammenarbeit freigegeben; siehe Wikipedia:Diskussionen mit WMF)
googletrans:(Lifted the protection of "Common.js" on: Released for further consensual cooperation, see de:Wikipedia:Diskussionen mit WMF)
  • The account is one of the spiffy new WMF accounts. The old account, Eloquence, was blocked, as part of the fracas, but that block was lifted on August 19, 2014.[10]
  • I would not assume that this is over. But at least the parties can now, so to speak, sit down and talk and seek agreement without either side trying to bludgeon the other into submission. The end result of this could be very good news for the community and the WMF, or it could all slide down the hill again, to be forgotten until the next time. Let's stand for a full and vastly and mutually empowering resolution.
  • That may take time, effort, and patience. --Abd (talk) 21:07, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Superprotect is still a Staff right. Special:GlobalGroupPermissions/staff. de.wiki Version display does not show superprotect as installed, I suspect it's been uninstalled. That takes developer access. There should be a public log somewhere of what changes are being made to the installations. I didn't see it, but the world of available data is huge and I have tunnel vision. --Abd (talk) 21:49, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't think superprotect is a module that would pop up on that version page. Afaik the feature is still enabled and could be used by the WMF staff, but if they do so they would end up in an even bigger shitstorm than the last one. They did not use it again so far, and on the other hand noone here dared to tamper with the Media Viewer settings again - it is still opt-out. The local sysop who did it on August 10 is still around (he will probably face a re-election request in January 2015) and did not change his mind; this may be one reason why the "superprotect threat" is still held up.
Someone announced yesterday to run another poll from September 9 to September 30 which will again demand that superprotect rights are revoked for all WMF staff members. I don't see much sense in re-iterating the same demands, but probably we can't stop it. Overall, people @ dewiki are getting tired of discussing this issue; especially this statement by Jimbo Wales and the followup posts have been disillusioning for many.
Now it's important how the Media Viewer consultation works out. If the developers succeed in meeting the community's requirements, this may further calm down the conflict. --PM3 (talk) 02:34, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
"disillusioning for many" - a good descitpion. lets see how many in the next time leave as there illusion busted. Its not going the be the ones who discussed and yelled. its probably the quiet ones. ...Sicherlich Post 19:18, 4 September 2014 (UTC) it's not about the mediaviewer. its about the abuse of power by WMF and a only halfhearted (if at all) apology
The second German Superprotect-poll has been canceled. --PM3 (talk) 13:44, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
This was originally the first one by Drahreg01, who changed it to an "Umfrage", the less formal variety. As this went quite successful, only again with nearly complete neglect by the WMF, to show their utter contempt for the communities, nobody was interested any mor to resuscitate the original "Meinungsbild", nobody expects any longer any compliance by the WMF to any community standards, they just play power game. So it faded away into oblivion.
Does anybody still regards the WMF as an honest partner here? They look like just a bunch of power-addicted Junta-generals, who want complete obedience by the communities. --♫ Sänger - Talk - superputsch must go 14:11, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
nobody was interested any more to resuscitate the original "Meinungsbild" - that's incorrect. There are still several users who would like to start it now, but not enough: 10 supporters are needed, but after someone announced to start it on 9 September, several supporters retracted (while others deliberately kept up their support - I informed them all). Of former ~15 supporters only 7 5 are left, so it is canceled.
"bunch of power-addicted Junta-generals" and "complete obedience" is an extremist view, not representative of the dewiki community. The current state is that superprotect is not in use, and my guess is that it will soon be replaced by another mechanism which only allows control over software rollouts. --PM3 (talk) 17:55, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it's now superputsch light, they removed superputsch from commons.js, but made clear that any implementation of the will of the german community will be met with ruthless force again, if anyone dares to act against the infinite wisdom of our beloved leaders. So it's back to model enWP: Not brutal force done, just threatened, is that any better?
And of course: Yes, it's not literally nobody, just not enough to meet the very small quorum to start a Meinungsbild, id est figuratively nobody. --♫ Sänger - Talk - superputsch must go 20:29, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

superprotect reflects the dysfunctional communication between WMF & communities[edit]

(1) I like the media viewer and think that communities are far too conservative with changes that will benefits our readers. (2) It is reasonable to discuss technical solutions for commons.js.

That being said, it is seriously disturbing that WMF implemented and immediately used a "superprotect" feature to overrule a community decision on a rather minor issue. This is just a ridiculous show of technocratic power and disrespect and I'm wondering whether WMF is really that oblivious about perceptions in the international community. It's certainly not a good sign that the whole thing was carried out by the deputy director of WMF & the WMF employee who is supposed to be the advocate (!) of the German-speaking community.

If anything, this shows how dysfunctional communication between WMF and the international communities is. International community advocacy in its current form does not work and the current situation hurts the entire project by alienating core users. I do not believe that most people at WMF want to send the message "we don't care about you and do not have to find solutions with you because we can simply change the software if we disagree." Unfortunately, it is hard for a community to interpret the implementation of "superprotect" in any other way. --David Ludwig (talk) 18:23, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

"That being said, it is seriously disturbing that WMF implemented and immediately used a "superprotect" feature to overrule a community decision on a rather minor issue." Its not just disturbing, its frightening. If the WMF is going to use lethal force (such as it were) against its own community members to ensure cooperation and obedience with the system when all the community sought was a redress of grievances then I have to wonder what excuse they will find to use this super tool in the future. One possible new use has already been suggested: the permanent lock down of BLP articles. I am deeply disturbed about what the presence of such a tool could ultimately do the encyclopedias and the message that such a tool wold send to editors and readers alike. I admit to working hard for Admin tools on the English Wikipedia, but never in a million years would I have considered pulling a stunt like this. This is not just poor judgement, its an inexcusable and unforgivable violation of everything we as contributors thought the Wiki-projects stood for. I'm actually giving series consideration to opening an RFC on a motion of no confidence against the WMF over this, though I'm certain that few if any would support such a drastic measure. TomStar81 (talk) 22:10, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

I think this is really aimed at the English Wikipedia[edit]

According to the schedule at [11], the English Wikipedia's ArbCom was supposed to deliver a verdict on the MediaViewer RfC today. Doing this the day before the verdict strikes me as a very pointed message claiming control rather than collaboration.

I am particularly annoyed because I agree that a better technical solution was needed for dealing with Common.js, because of the possibility that any of a thousand admin accounts could be hacked and used to put virus code into the site Javascript. But I proposed another solution, a community solution involving a delay before sandboxed changes would be put into effect. This action simply discarded that idea unread, together with anything else ArbCom might have decided.

It also clarifies that WP:OFFICE actions are not just to avoid liability, but at the pleasure of those in charge - for example, so that somebody can put a new tool on his resume. The purpose of doing development work at Wikipedia is to get a job at Google or Facebook, so Wikipedia has to be changed to look and act like Google or Facebook, even if that compromises the mission. I am open to bets on how long the developers use "superprotection" to force gadgets for those companies or others they want to be hired at into the sitewide Javascript. Nothing helps smooth the way to a job like a gift of hundreds of thousands of bits of personal information, and with the new [No] Privacy Policy I can't picture any impediment. Wnt (talk) 14:52, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Yes, you and others (not in the foundation) have stated that there needs to be more control over the common software. But your suspicion seems unfounded; that Arbcom decision was already well delayed -- the time was said, by the drafter, to be too short, and probably because the answers and metrics for answer are not readily apparent. As for the rest regarding someone's career goals, your (lack of) evidence and reasons for the charge seem without basis. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:28, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, I'll admit I may be overly suspicious here, and I'm not even sure who of. But riddle me this: why is WMF at war with two separate projects to get the same piece of unwanted software installed? Why do they take survey numbers that were always >50% unwanted and try to rework them to be "oh, it's on an upward trend toward 50%"? I should admit that I don't have extraordinary proof for an extraordinary claim... but these are extraordinary facts that need an extraordinary explanation. Wnt (talk) 17:50, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Wnt I'd say your spot on! It really looks suspicious for a particular developer (and the mind behind this is just one specific developer ) to put this out just before a ruling was to be made on Media Viewer. Free The Wiki (talk) 19:33, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm certainly in no position to guess who is behind what here. My fear is that this may not be a localized action in support of MediaViewer, but rather part of some plan to "centralize" Wikimedia administration and content development, in which case I could not blame it on just one person. Wikipedia has long suffered from the sort of paralysis of absolute conservatism (in the sense of unchangingness, not right-wing radicalism) that pervades any anarchist institution. At times this is a big problem for us, but it also means that there were things we could take for granted would go on. Wnt (talk) 21:14, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

It is in any event incredibly bad community relations, a Crimea like arrogation of power while discussions are in progress. Rich Farmbrough 16:17 12 August 2014 (GMT).

Is there any limit to the power claimed here?[edit]

In the situation in the Ukraine, I always wondered if they could simply sign away Crimea in exchange for a renewed promise of a border, or Crimea plus the East, or Crimea and the East and the South, whatever, but just have some solid border again they could mine the crap out of and have absolutely zero Russian citizens behind it. Is there any way we can do that here? I mean, imposing the Media Viewer is not an "OFFICE action" as previously explained; it's just something they want to do. My assumption, until proven otherwise, is that they have a whole long program of activities like that they just want to do, whether it is Merely Terrible Ideas like the Flow talk system, which suppresses minority comments to an endless unlabelled archive in favor of whoever can PR their thread the best, or Outright Censorship of graphic/sexual/religiously offensive images, etc. In the future I imagine them enforcing all manner of features that clearly lay down the law about which side the WMF is on for any given issue (for example, will their all-wise programmers make an interface that allows fundamentalist Christians to suppress gay content, or one which allows gays to suppress fundamentalist Christian content?) It's all their sole authority, carved out of our material. Can we establish ANY boundary anywhere, or is it truly a binary choice between one in which the would-be contributor considers WMF as just another company like Baidu or Hudong willing to redistribute his content if it advances their vision and position, and one where people actually go ahead and make something like the Usenetpedia idea I started to propose? Wnt (talk) 18:05, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

My understanding is that the only "boundaries" we get to establish exist at the pleasure of the WMF. The worst-case end-game here is that users walk away, funding and contributions dry up, and the WMF becomes insolvent and shuts down. Let's try to avoid that. Notbetafive (talk) 18:19, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Why would that be bad? To me that seems to be a quite favorable option. -- Liliana 21:01, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
It would be bad because all these wiki-things go away if that happens. You don't like what the WMF is doing? Go ahead and complain. You don't want to use the infrastructure they've provided to us? Then don't. But please recognize that some of us would like to, and undermining the WMF's decisions and community trust threatens that. Can you not? Notbetafive (talk) 00:34, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Useless - WMF does not care[edit]

Seems the discussion here is useless. Creating the new tool and using it was pretty fast. but afterwards; nothing. not the smallest reaction by WMF. ... oh not true; Erik improved the tool to secure his power. ...Sicherlich Post 20:11, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

I don't know what is happening in this case, but the usual response from the Foundation on these kind of issues is to wait for some kind of consensus to form (e.g., this RfC) and then to respond to the concluded consensus. We are also to a degree making the mistake of treating the whole Foundation as if it is one person. Erik's action is, broadly, the action of a developer or system administrator. In this position he is entitled to make whatever technical changes he sees fit. There are separate people at the Foundation responsible for community liaison. They are the ones who I would expect to listen to the concerns raised here, respond as they see fit then if necessary approach the developers to discuss if technical changes need or can be made in response to the community feedback. For all I know the different groups in the Foundation are at war with each other in dispute over the issue - but they are hardly going to come here and fight it out in public! QuiteUnusual (talk) 08:12, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
That the WMF doesn't care does not mean the rest of us do not care. As is evidenced by the amount of discussion here, this is an issue worthy of our time and attention, though what action(s) (if any) that will be taken on this remain to be seen. TomStar81 (talk) 22:13, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Distrusting the adminship means distrusting the community[edit]

Actually Jan's and Eric' action mean, imho, that the foundation ist not trusting that the DE:WP adminship is controlling each other by best practice but also the DE:WP community as a whole. Wouldn't it be more simple for the WMF to lookout for a new community if they are not happy with the community existing? --Matthiasb (talk) 22:28, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

It probably is, and that could well be what's in store. Cheers, The Jolly Bard (talk) 23:50, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Fork[edit]

As has been discussed elsewhere, the ability to fork a project is a fundamental tenet of the FOSS (and content) movement. I believe this is an option that should be put on the table in the case of our German contributors.

I am of the opinion that the WMF has ceased (if it ever did) to work with the community's best interests in mind, and therefore can no longer be relied on. Of course, right now they control the purse, and hosting a project of this size has become expensive.

However, at the next fund-raising campaign (or as soon as practical), nothing stops us, on the German or any other Wiki, from replacing the fund-raising banners with a version that directs the money to a local organisation, smaller, better thought out, and more sensibly staffed this time, that would take over those WMF functions which are absolutely necessary and useful, such as server hosting and legal consulting.

In other words, we readers decide whether to donate or not, with the community having decided previously where that money should go. There is no reason whatsoever why the WMF should have a monopoly here. They are supposed to serve the community, and if they're no longer useful, they should be let go.

Details such as trademarks and logos can be dealt with without too much trouble. It has been done before enough times (LibreOffice, IceWeasel/Firefox/Phoenix/Netscape, BSDs, etc.) that this is not really a problem.unsigned comment by 2a00:1028:83a0:291e:762f:68ff:fe2d:429e (talk) 01:23, 12 August 2014‎

Forking isn't good enough, because it doesn't really fully solve the underlying problem. The problem is that as Wikipedia keeps accumulating content, it is worth more and more, in terms of web traffic, reputation, dollars and cents to have control over. A new fork is just a new set of schemers hunting for a way to monetize that asset pool they've inherited. This is why I have suggested the admittedly bizarre but so far as I can tell practically feasible notion of distributing Wikipedia edits over Usenet and having a multitude of independent sites assemble them into articles, choosing whatever versions they like best to feature. If we can totally fragment the content creation so that no one has control over it, then we can finally beat the resource curse and turn Wikipedia back from a battleground into a scholarly collaboration. Wnt (talk) 05:09, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Any viable replacement of Wikipedia will need to be a better mouse trap. It wont surprise you that there has been a lot of discussion over the years about a distributed or federated system. Very little of those discussions is on Meta however, but there is some in Category:Distributed infrastracture. IMO the WMF is wasting their time getting more readers to their servers, free or otherwise, as the future is distributed. *That* is the challenge that the WMF needs to be preparing for: will they been part of (and leader of) the distributed system, or will they be wiped out by it? I suspect the latter. John Vandenberg (talk) 05:53, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The WMF lives to further its own assets and central power. --Nemo 06:56, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for directing me to that category --- going through it I see that in fact, my idea of distributing Wikipedia via Usenet was suggested in 2005 at User:TomLord/distributed_wikis. I am not disheartened by this, however, because I recognize that actually getting that mass of new code written will take a lot of people and a lot of time and is unlikely to occur until people see a real need. With the latest events, with two projects being ignored, surveys being ignored, code review and developer dissent being ignored, maybe that time is soon to come. The problem, of course, is that we mustn't wait until there are too few people left to get the task done when they finally are motivated to take action. Wnt (talk) 14:44, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't think a successful fork needs "a better mouse trap". Were the German language Wikipedia to fork -- which they might over this issue -- the issue would be whether enough of the core contributors, that is the few hundred who actually maintain & expand the content would join the fork. The simple fact the fork "is not Wikipedia" might be enough to attract them to it. The content can be mirrored, as it is by dozens of websites now, & as the articles at the fork were kept up to date while the Wikipedia version fell behind, the eyes -- & the funding -- would follow. IMHO I believe the German language Wikipedia is best situated to do so, having the infrastructure of DE.Wikimedia as a possible support; something like this does not exist for the English language Wikipedia. -- Llywrch (talk) 15:54, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Interestingly, they had already given this some thought back in July: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Kurier#WP-Fork_dringend_gesucht (in German).

I don't think that a fork will work (at the moment) - but what happens if you do volontary work and the boss is anoying you? - Right; you just leave sooner oder later (but don't worry, paid edditing is already prepared) ...84.133.94.252 06:06, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Fork is a loss for both parties: who goes and who stays. It's sometimes a reasonable option though it's really really really the last resort. --Vituzzu (talk) 10:20, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
What are the practicalities of forking? How much data is involved? Deltahedron (talk) 20:33, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
@Deltahedron: Depends on what you want to fork, really. The complete database of the German Wikipedia takes just a couple of gigabytes, but there will also be a huge loss of data. All user information (e-mail addresses, preferences) is controlled by the WMF and would be unavailable for a fork. Then there's all the traffic a new fork would have to deal with… in short, that's a very complicated, time- and money-consuming process. odder (talk) 21:56, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The Spanish Wikipedia has been forked at one point, tho it was in the early days, but it does show that it is feasible. Snowolf How can I help? 15:01, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

What is necessary for a successful fork?

  • A community interested in forking.
  • Appropriate hosting services/expertise (this was a volatile criteria in early days)
  • A robust software capable of storing equivalent content.
    • This is particularly important because the particular issue - Superprotect - is both presumably a part of MediaWiki forevermore and the impetus for the fork.
    • There must be a migration path/plan to the replacement software.

Anything else? (iow: let's not talk airy-fairy about this. Either this is a legitimate option, or it isn't.) - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 21:45, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

The problem is not MediaWiki and superprotect. Superprotect is just a more sophisticated protection tool, and it can be installed or not, and it can be assigned to any user group. (For example, one could have ordinary admins with regular protection, and 'crats, or some technically competent group, with superprotect.) The issue here is the relationship of the community and the WMF, not the software. I don't see a fork being adequately driven by the current situation, if it is reasonably resolved. Too much work. However, it's certainly possible, if there are enough users motivated to support it. It would not take many, a handful. It could happen if the WMF succeeds in alienating enough users. Whether or not the fork would actually be an improvement is another story. If all one does is "throw off the yoke of the oppressors," the goal of many revolutions, one will find they are replaced by a new set, per the w:Iron law of oligarchy. So to actually stand for freedom takes far more sophistication than deciding who the bad guys are. The WMF is not the problem. We are. --Abd (talk) 22:34, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
Every successful software project has one person with the final say in every decision. He makes sure that the original values are not lost or diluted, like it's happening with the WMF. The success of the enterprise relies heavily on the wisdom of that person. You need a Jimbo Wales. --Enric Naval (talk) 06:07, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
There are those who believe that every successful society has one person in charge. It's an ancient belief, but it was an aberration that managed to destroy prior tribal societies because it was more efficient at war. Societies that reject this are obviously preferentially surviving, having developed hybrid systems that use but collectively restrain individual leadership. --Abd (talk) 12:08, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

The rinse repeat cycle and the case of impotent rage[edit]

Is any of this really new? It's the same cycle. Replace superprotect rights with - image filter, AFT, VE, Office actions, trademark dispute, identification, WMF wiki rights removal, fundraising issues, chapter issues, commons issues, etc. etc. There is always some sub-standard solution to one of the hundred problems being forced upon some part of the wiki-verse. There's always a nameless, faceless crowd of readers whose interest the foundation is always extremely keen on protecting, also common to have some blame land on poor communication, poor timing. Then there are issues related to trust, which has been eroded with every iteration of this journey.

The timing is almost always conspicuously auspicious for the staff. Before holidays, weekends or conferences when these actions get taken - just enough time to let all the rage flow over and simmer down. By the time anyone concerned replies or engages, days have passed. And all the impetus and outrage has slowly died out, with half the people just tired of all the negativity of the people they agreed with in the beginning. There would only be a handful left to undermine and accept the new order of things. Rinse->Repeat. It's a vicious cycle of abuse and all these words on this page will sit with the other dozen discussions that never really change anything. The impotent rage that never really goes anywhere besides turning on itself.

I'm not sure what the people here expect. Some divine intervention to fix the problems? For the higher up to concede (till the next time)? For the board to step in and stand with the community for once? Really once, the board can stand with the community instead of being the silent pretentious voice of reason with pleas for civility and requests for working together. This will happen again many times, you and I have been here before. Theo10011 (talk) 07:31, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

And each and every time editors are quitting, and later on the the WMF is sticking their heads together to find a solution on diminishing active users only to think out just another senseless measure which in turn turns away again just more active users. It's the foundation who destroys Wikipedia, and bots and paid editors won't fix it. --Matthiasb (talk) 08:37, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
They are not worried about chasing the active users away. They don't want us. They want new users, different users, facebook users, hyperactive people, that anywhere make pictures and edit with their mobile, that add to the article, what goes through their mind at the moment, not what is written in reputable books and found out after a long and tiring reasearch. They want masses, a movement, millions of bot-articles. And they hope, the new masses will finally chase the old users away, that are questioning their godlike decisions and their godlike self-declared superpowers. You see this in every answer: "You, that have argued and voted, are only the old editors, but we care about the silent readers and the fictive new editors. So of course we stand above Your arguments and elections." Our opinions are not in the strategy focus anymore and can be ignored without consequences. In the view of the WMF, the readers are not reading the articles, because we editors have written them in a way, that is so well appreciated, that it raises multi million dollars of donations a year. The readers go on the sites because of the great software, that WMF develops. They would read anything, if it was just presented by their great software. --Magiers (talk) 11:49, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I guess they want a return to 2005. Witness the amazing article on wikipedia:rasterization (largely written in 2005) and read its talk page. Dozens of people complained about it, but nobody really wants to spend time to fix it. Why bother? Life is short and nobody's paying (for an article like that). JMP EAX (talk) 12:01, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Frankly I'm looking forward for when the WMF will implement quick tweeting of Wikipedia article snippets, so I can amuse myself with a hashtag for #wikipediocy. (Some people have something similar for cretinisms on StackOverflow that sometimes are voted up in a case of blind leading the blind leading the blind.) JMP EAX (talk) 12:06, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
But then they want blabla and not a free knowledge base. Maybe one should tell them that Wikipedia is not Facebook. --Matthiasb (talk) 12:30, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

By the way, this is worth watching to see where WMF's priorities really lie. JMP EAX (talk) 12:39, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

If what wikipediocracy.com reports is true about the diminishing number of page views, that probably explains the desperation to "modernize" the web site. Editors don't really bring the WMF any money, whereas readers are their main funding source via donations. Of course that view in the long run will kill the proverbial golden goose, but the WMF would not be the first organization to make that trade-off. They most likely have decades of monopoly or near monopoly ahead of them with the contents the fools [that's us] already provided them . JMP EAX (talk) 13:26, 12 August 2014 (UTC)


Hi Theo10011, it would be lovely if this wasnt a regular event, but it is, .. and so it goes. We have two options; fork or fight. I am here because I'd prefer to not have to fork. The crew at WMF who help with operations do a pretty decent job at providing hosting, and other stuff we dont see. As someone else said here, everyone looses if we fork. It is very disruptive. With a little fighting, perhaps every year or two, we can keep the centralised model alive until the next time.

The WMF does back down, as they did with Community Logo/Reclaim the Logo/Community Logo/Request for consultation, the Visual Editor forced rollout, and this suggests the WMF are also backing down wrt the Media Viewer & hopefully superdooperprotect too. That the people overseeing those major stuff-ups are still on the WMF board and/or donor payroll is astonishing, and while we may not like that, 'we' also prefer to get back to the task of building the content and community. John Vandenberg (talk) 15:00, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi John Vandenberg. Ya, the more things change, the more they stay the same I guess. I don't think a fork would be a right decision either. But I am also tired of seeing this pattern over and over again. Even when the WMF caves in to pressure, they just double-down for the next time. I think this doesn't concern the en.wp directly now so the response here is relatively muted.....oh well, until the next time.
I assume it's a mixture of desperation and some form of high handed apathy. Arguably, with the failure of dozens of features and projects in the last few years, which were repeatedly rejected by the community, the costs are getting higher. Wasting donor funds on projects that end up in the trash bin might make some people reconsider their path (or one hopes). Literally, millions have been wasted on projects like AFT and others, they don't work great and much of the community just doesn't warm up to these at all. I suppose that's why the leadership who comes up with these in the first place, is getting more desperate, they certainly assume they know what's right and what everyone needs.
I think we really need personnel or leadership changes at WMF. All this rage is pointless if it just sits on a page and things go on the same. Something more has to come from all this. The majority of the board is patently silent as usual, even if they weren't, most would just avoid the negativity. Far be it for any of them to ever stand with the community and criticize WMF. Lila is new to all this, but I'm not sure how hopeful anyone should be if she is being given the lay of the land by the same people who keep bringing us here. All in all, we have been here before and we seem doomed to repeat this. Theo10011 (talk) 17:11, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

In the News[edit]

de:Heise online, a popular german IT-News: "Superprotect": Wikimedia behält das letzte Wort bei Wikipedia ...Sicherlich Post 13:01, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

As I predicted on Jimbo's talk page a few hours ago... JMP EAX (talk) 13:13, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

de:Golem.de German IT-news superschutz wikimedia stiftung zwingt deutschen nutzern mediaviewer

en:TheRegister UK-IT news class war wikipedias workers revolt after bourgeois papershufflers suspend democracy

en:Slashdot US-IT news latest wikipedia uproar over superprotection

If the WMF remains entrenched waging battle against the community, it won't take long before we see CNN gleefully running a story on civil war at that weird Wikiepdia place on those newfangled interwebs. I don't even want to imagine the disruption to Wikipedia, disruption WMF contributions, and damage to the entire community, that would ensue. Alsee (talk) 08:27, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Strongly oppose, but is there anything we can do really?[edit]

I strongly oppose this superprotect right, at least for the staff. It seems too likely that it will be abused by superprotecting the interface pages to force MediaViewer (or worse, Flow) on everyone. If we entrust it to a group that is legitimately elected by the community (stewards or bureaucrats come to mind), that is another matter. I'd consider that. To those who point out that we already have super-rights, let me remind you that they are appointed by the community.

But really, is there anything that we can do here? WMF can and has defied the community multiple times, so an RFC is unlikely to do anything. There is always the possibility of forking the site, but many thousands of editors would need to go along with that for it to have any effect. That's unlikely since many people will be opposed to such a drastic action.

Of course, it the developers were part of the community and could be sanctioned by community processes in the event that they cause disruption, then we would see fewer forced software changes. --Jakob (talk) 14:54, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Do we have enough levels of hierarchy now?[edit]

Enough hierarchy? sorry for bad spacing, my first diagram
  • Presently we have volunteer editors who make amateur edits adding potentially incorrect or libelous information. Supposedly this is their fault, however...
  • Despite clear opposition from many people an "experiment" in "Pending Changes" has been forced on some pages; in some projects (perhaps as "Flagged Revisions"), many pages. So there is an uberclass of users called "Reviewers" who say yea or nay to those edits. I have never and will never gotten a straight answer as to whether a Reviewer can be liable for passing an edit that looks superficially OK, if in fact it is faulty. But I assume so.
  • If a Reviewer has a pattern of faulty reviews, he is to be removed by an Admin who can take his rights away. So I assume that if the Reviewer is not stopped from putting out such a pattern of libel, one could blame and sue the Admin who said he was OK.
  • Now the Admins are subject to Bureaucrats, under something of the same deal...
  • And the Bureaucrats to Stewards ... (or do I have that backwards?)
  • And the Stewards to WMF Employees with their super-blocks and super-protects...
  • And the WMF Employees to ..... I don't even know. Is it this new "executive director" or someone else who has the job veto over them?
  • And those to the Board of Trustees.

Now I should ask:

  • how many levels of intermediate power and management have I left out due to an unfamiliarity with advanced permissions and WMF structure?
  • how many levels do we need to have before Wikipedia is no longer regarded as a user controlled site, where individuals make edits on their own responsibility, and instead regarded as a hierarchical publishing company with some unpaid interns whose work is welcomed when it is consistent with the editorial goals the company management is trying to advance? Wnt (talk) 15:26, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Template editor, researcher, "two hatter", IP editor, newbie, outcast, auto-confirmed, respected editor, troll, content creator, gnome... not all parts of the caste system are technical.
  • But I don't think these are primarily content issues. I think the mistake is to assume that WMF holds (or should hold) the whip hand in terms of software, style, programmes, etc.. The primary purpose of the WMF is to do things that we need a legally constituted entity to do. Be accountable for donations, take service of legal papers, enter into contracts (for equipment, services, and matters of common good). Naturally there is good sense in using paid volunteers (or external contractors and suppliers) rather than unpaid volunteers for certain tasks. What those tasks are, who does them, and what "authority" they have varies from time to time, depending on external and internal factors, and what volunteer resource is available. There is no mechanism in play for deciding this other than management whim. Certainly there is broad consensus that we need a legal team and a financial team, though even this is worth looking at in the long term. Trouble is the money is there, there is a legal requirement that a certain percentage be spent, and the temptation to acquire more staff is very strong (especially as many of the past "trendy" programmes were demonstrably not effective). Building a corporate hierarchy gives people a sense of their own importance (I used the phrase "God complex" elsewhere) - especially with titles such as "head of" and "director of" floating around. This is especially damaging in working with a community many of whose members are more experienced, more highly qualified and more vocal than the staff (and if we consider collectively rather than individually, the imbalance is even greater). We need to fundamentally re-build the community-foundation interface from the ground up. Rich Farmbrough 15:50 12 August 2014 (GMT).
It is perhaps closer to describe it as an anarchy (wiki), with an overlay of netocracy (media) :) Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:32, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Just a thought[edit]

(I apologize for creating a new section for this thought, but I didn't see a good spot in one of the existing sections to state the following.)

  1. The Foundation has been concerned about declining numbers of new editors, & has tried different things to reverse this trend.
  2. There will always be an unlimited number of undesirable volunteers who are eager to contribute; these consist of -- but are not limited to -- cranks, incompetents, trolls & PR flacks.
  3. The manner that first Visual Editor, then Media Viewer, & now superprotection, have been implemented, will lead to loss of established & productive editors, while further discourage new editors.

In other words the most likely outcome of all this will not be one or more forks, but a loss of contributors. It takes work to research, write & constructively review content -- as well as the endless administrivia tasks. No one has to do any of it, but there are competent people who do despite lack of pay or individual recognition. (Not to mention coping with the endless supply of cranks, incompetents, trolls, & PR flacks.) But as the Foundation increasingly acts with all the tact & empathy of a for-profit corporation, the number of competent volunteers willing to contribute decreases. Per chance to decrease as far as none. -- Llywrch (talk) 16:15, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

I think they don't really care if the number of editors drop to zero in the next second. They have enough mind share and brand recognition that will ensure them income for decades to come, even though the content can in theory be easily forked. And I'm not entirely original in this thought [12]. JMP EAX (talk) 18:52, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
In practical terms, as long as Wikipedia has lotsa Google juice, there will probably always be enough sycophants who would benefit from the promoting whatever they want to promote (ranging from crazy nationalism to pure commercial self-interest) so the number of editors will not drop to zero. And the most astute of them kiss the wikiprinciples in public pretty much like Jimbo kissed the monkey selfie at Wikimania. JMP EAX (talk) 18:56, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

WMF choice to enable MediaViewer is maybe right, but way of doing so is not right[edit]

Root of problem is that local sysops had (until now) unlimited power in MediaWiki namespace or more precisely, in all namespaces on wikiproject they are working on. WMF had similarly unlimited power over mediawiki software and LocalSettings.php is grey area, WMF admins would edit it on request of community or on order from WMF.

Community have control over content and WMF over servers, meaning that WMF can edit LocalSettings.php almost without knowledge of users/community, just seeing changes post factum. What is clear is:

  • WMF controlling content would be wrong.
  • WMF controlling global privacy policies and overall design (wiki colors, logos) is right.
  • Community controlling servers would be irresponsible.
  • Community controlling content and localizing projects to some extent is right.
  • Forcing not good enough use cases (VisualEditor) or visual goodies (MediaViewer) on large communities, having in mind increasing number of edits from mobile phones is grey area.
    • It is either visionary and bold move if that will enable and lure hundreds and thousands of new quality editors to Wikimedia projects, or
    • It is incredibly shortsighted move if these changes will lure only more hits/traffic and larger number of vandalisms, with added benefit of annoying, displeasing, frustrating and antagonizing actual quality users/communities.

I'm not sure is MediaViewer visionary or incredibly shortsighted move, but I'm 100% sure that Superprotect_rights in MediaWiki namespace is not kind or free or open move. I'm fully aware that this is design choice similar to much hated VisualEditor, but way of doing this does not feel right to me. WMF obviously can do that, and maybe it is right choice to enable MediaViewer as default. But question here is should that be done in this way? I cannot recall seeing idea of forking whole wikipedia on some existing language having more than 30 millions of speakers on meta. Or "threats (from WMF) of desysop-ing on English Wikipedia". To me, that speaks volumes for itself. Uninstalling Superprotect_rights from Wikimedia servers would send different message - that WMF is here to enable users/community to make Wikimedia projects better, even if we are blind to see what is good for us. If after that MediaViewer gets disabled by default on some project, WMF could try to reason with that community. For some reasonable period of time. And if no consensus happen, if WMF would still be 100% sure that MediaViewer should be enabled by default on that project, they should include code in LocalSettings.php: e.g. $wgHatedMediaViewer = On; :) and make impossible or near impossible for local sysops to circumvent it. Is that PITA? Yes, it is. :) But WMF should have such patience with its users. Or at least, I think it should have. SpeedyGonsales (talk) 16:17, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

That would create previous state of illusion that community have some choice of localizing projects to some extent, and WMF would really keep important mediwiki/UI design in their hands without antagonizing users. Again, is that PITA? Yes, it still is. :) But WMF should have such patience with its users. SpeedyGonsales (talk) 16:32, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

It's time users realize their limitations. We cannot program the website by consensus and keep it up to date. It should be enough that a user can opt-out. Smallbones (talk) 21:03, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

If you can't don't do it. Consensus is the central point of the fourth item in Jimbos declaration of principles, which to my knowledge wasn't revoked so far. This is crucial for many of us editors why we are producing content. Without content no funds and no money for the WMF workers. If the foundation is not able to maintain the Website by consensus it (the WMF) should go away. Right now I really think it should. --Matthiasb (talk) 09:36, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Coordinated vacations[edit]

I have volunteered at the English Wikipedia for 8 years as an edit and an admin. I worked those entire 8 years in a system where consensus determined our content and how it was displayed.

I cannot speak to the motives of "superprotect" other than it seems like a superpower that has no community representation. If it is used to enforce OFFICE matters and legal issues I will not object.

However if it is used to override the community consensus on how the encyclopedia should be presented then that is an editorial decision which belongs to consensus.

If the foundation begins to make fiat decisions about how the encyclopedia should be presented to the users then I think it only reasonable that those who created that content and that formatting in a consensus based system should be miffed.

I would start by taking every Monday off, and encouraging anyone who is upset with this to do the same. Then if that does not get a response Mon-Tue, then Mon-Wed... lets see how the project does when its volunteers are offended and decide to let those who care about Wikipedia less have a go at it for a few days uninterrupted.

The foundation provides the technical means and the community provides the content. The media viewer is part of the content because it decides how things are presented to the final viewer. This is my personal stance and I will do it even if I do it alone. Chillum (talk) 16:38, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Although most of above comment is correct and to the point, I see coordinated vacations of users/editors/community = variation of strike = power play with WMF.
As free encyclopedia is higher purpose than reality check of WMF, power play with WMF is not a good idea. But having 50, 500 or 5.000 users calmly posting their opinions with arguments against this decision - something like Gandhi against British crown - that is wiki way, and that is only good way. I repeat, decision of WMF regarding MediaViewer is maybe visionary, but realization of that decision is poor. SpeedyGonsales (talk) 17:29, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Much of the above comment is based on an idiosyncratic use of the word "editorial." Which just goes to show how difficult communication can be, not to mention decision making. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:58, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

And now?[edit]

Two days have passed but still there are no official statements from the Foundation or the Board. What are they planning? Leaving de.wiki's commons.js superprotect forever? Ignoring the issue unrealistic hoping everyone will forget about it? What if this rfc will express a clear-cut consensus to unsuperprotect de.wiki's commons.js? We (stewards) have, according to a policy from the Board, to implement consensus. Then we will have to unprocted the js. And then what will happen next? Some staffer will remove us? Eloquence will create a super-super-protection? The board will amend stewards' policy from current Stewards are users with complete access to the wiki interface on all Wikimedia wikis, including the ability to change any and all user rights and groups. They are tasked with technical implementation of community consensus to Stewards are users with a large access to the wiki interface on all Wikimedia wikis, including the ability to change most of user rights and groups. They are tasked with technical implementation of community consensus until it doesn't contrast with WMF's employees wishes. Setting apart from my sarcasm I'm depicting a scenario which is not so far in the future. --Vituzzu (talk) 20:37, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

The page Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard is described as "the Board of Trustees' noticeboard [...] a message board for discussing issues related to Wikimedia Foundation governance and policies, and related Board work". Deltahedron (talk) 20:48, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
That's the loudest "incident" for months or years. Its outcry is told to be heard even in Antarctica. --Vituzzu (talk) 20:52, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
+1 -jkbx- (talk) 21:44, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

I doubt any of what you are describing is going to happen Vituzzu. Not this time at least. I don't doubt that stewards might one day find themselves at a crossroads between the community and foundation, but it won't be on this one (at least I hope). It's disappointing that a clear decision is not being made here, but this really isn't such a contentious issue for WMF to stick on, one would hope. I really hope saner and more mature heads will prevail and erik doesn't escalate the situation further, this is already turning in to a game of chicken with the community about who backs down first. Theo10011 (talk) 08:39, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Germans are determined (sometimes even way too much), I'm pretty sure they won't put up with such an undetermined state. Anyway at time of candidacy we accept a policy which makes us follow consensus. --Vituzzu (talk) 13:52, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Boycott is the only answer[edit]

If all you admins want to get the WMF to bend to your will, there is really only one thing you can do- stop maintaining Wikipedia. Stop deleting newly created nonsense articles, stop reverting vandalism, stop closing AfDs, RfCs, etc, stop responding on ANI, AN, and other administrative noticeboards, stop blocking vandalism-only accounts, and stop working on any of the other administrative backlogs. If you did that, Wikipedia would quickly fill up with crap and descend into complete chaos and the WMF would have to back down. Doing anything else is a waste of everyone's time. Cla68 (talk) 05:22, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Basically, 'we' and 'them' share the same goals. I oppose strongly Erik's actions, and i hope many fellow wikipedians will protest as well, but please refrain from actions that may damage our articles. This is an encyclopedia project: based on words. --MBq (talk) 06:15, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Info: got some official response on LilaTretikov's, Eloquence's, and Katherine's talk pages. --MBq (talk) 06:22, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
should we be greatfull that the WMF finally answers? Or is answering on theire private talkpages and not here just a different way to show disrespect? Dunno ...Sicherlich Post 08:33, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
It just harms our communities if we stop maintaining Wikipedia. If it's what you want, maybe you never really liked the project. Starting a "war" with the WMF is not a solution. I'm waiting for a more peaceful solution from the WMF side, what it could be, I have no idea, but I hope that there will be one, and the sooner, the better. --Stryn (talk) 14:11, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
We build something beautiful and we should not damage that because someone behaved himself like a jackass. Natuur12 (talk) 14:32, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
If boycotts, blocks, (given/removing) user rights, blackouts, and everything else is used, than only as the most last tool anyone should use, if everything else has been tried... There is a lot of distrust, but we need to start a open dialogue in what both the foundation and the community are present. Let us not forget we are all on the same ship, what we need to do now is go all to the caboose (kitchen), start sitting around the table, take something to eat and drink, and discuss the situation with an open attitude. Nobody benefits from boycotts, blocks, blackouts, etc, then we all loose! I have the impression that what Lila has said, is that the current problems between the community and the WMF are acknowledged and improvements are needed. That seems to me a first step in the right direction and I think we should be open to have a dialogue to solve the current situation and prevent this from happening again in the future. Romaine (talk) 14:55, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
That is true, Romaine. But based on what I've read, there is a growing worry that the next major software change to come (most likely replacing Talk pages with Flow) will be just as broken as Visual Editor & Media Viewer, but put in place using Superprotect. Talking about our options now demonstrates there is a limit to we volunteer's patience. Otherwise, it's not hard to imagine what will happen next: volunteers will find work-arounds for it -- most likely replacing Talk pages with other sub-pages (e.g. "Topic/NewTalkPage"). Then the WMF, insisting they need user feedback, will respond by denying the ability to create subpages. And on & on until the WMF starts to wonder why edits have suddenly fallen off dramatically while former Wikipedians wish things hadn't gotten this bad. (And I would rather stage some form of a boycott before resorting to a fork, & participate in a productive dialogue about improving matters before either of those.) -- Llywrch (talk) 15:59, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Flow will be much worse since there is no opt-out.--Ymblanter (talk) 18:18, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
If boycott is the only answer I really wonder what the question is. I'm willing to assume good faith toward both the community and the foundation. I firmly believe that both parties' intent is improving Wikimedia projects. The clash seems to be about where to set the priorities and a communication problem around that. The foundation needs more insight into the workflows and priorities of the editor community, and the editor community needs to broaden their horizon beyond editing and toward the millions or readers (which incidentally are potential future contributors!). Mediawiki is dated and it shows. If we are not careful and improve the reader experience there are plenty of projects ready to step in and syphon readers from us. And with that we'd loose our most important channel for recruiting new contributors. If there should be any call to action it should be to work together more, not to boycot or even sabotage the project. --Dschwen (talk) 19:30, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I think DGG below explains what the question is: can the Foundation work with the volunteers at each project without treating them with contempt & arrogance? (Which I suspect is an outgrowth of the old Sysadmin tendency to protect the computers from incompetent end users.) As for updating MediaWiki, there is something to be said about keeping an interface stable: one thing I like about UNIX & UNIX-like operating systems is that a command I learned back in 1992 works much the same way now 20 years later, unlike MS Windows where each iteration requires me to figure out a complete new menu from scratch. -- Llywrch (talk) 17:59, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

Comment by TheDJ[edit]

Since the community members of several of our projects seem to be intent on being so vocal on this problem, I would like it noted to my community, that I'm truly upset as well. I cannot support the editor community and these wide sweeping statements that some of the members are making.

Now it is very unusual for me to make a post like this and complain in this manner, but I think it is starting to become important that I highlight some of these things.

Because of all this, over the past 2 days I have:

  1. Considered handing in my sysop bits on en.wp and commons since I cannot support the editing communities claim to control and influence over the software platform to which they have entitled themselves.
  2. Considered handing in my software review rights for MediaWiki, since as a volunteer dev I no longer feel that the volunteer editors are handling in the best interest of the movement at large where it comes to the software platform. That means that there would be no reason for me to believe that the contributions enable us to fulfil the mission as I know it.
  3. Considered proposing to fork MediaWiki. Due to the stranglehold by its communities, I no longer trust that the WMF has the capacity to create the software in a method that is beneficial to the long term goals of the movement. Perhaps it's time to remove the influence of the Wikimedia communities and place the idiosyncratic use cases that Wikimedia Foundation tends to implement for it’s users, outside of the MediaWiki platform. Maybe two better pieces of software will be able to come out of that.
  4. Considered not participating in discussions that have anything to do with this, since it makes me unhappy
  5. Stop helping people who ask for my assistance.
  6. Considered subscribing to wikimedia-l, which I find to be a toxic environment that I usually tend to avoid.

Now I tend to have a rather high tolerance against these kinds of conflicts and I have not actually done of any of those things, but the fact that I have considered them at all is, I can tell you, rather unusual for me. But most of all having to think about it has cost me an enormous amount of time, that I could have spent in better ways.

I still believe in our movement in the broadest sense (those who have interacted with me know I often use 'we' in this broad movement sense). The Foundation has made many mistakes, but I have seen the progress just as much. I stand behind the words that I left on Jimmy's talk page a few weeks ago: (See end of section). But for what happened since, resulting in the introduction of superprotect and all this conflict, I can only conclude that the community is being immature and doing this mostly out of spite. I cannot support that. I'll just happily keep churning along doing what I do, convinced that a resolution will be found, but please remember that there are other people, other communities and other good faith actors that are getting hurt over this pointy behavior. Volunteer dev, En.wp and Commons admin. TheDJ (talk) 15:49, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

You're right that most of the "solutions" proposed have been counterproductive. This is the way of all politics - the problems are identified easily, the solutions... another matter. However, I would suggest that within point 3, the part about forks, I have favored not a simple fork to some new authority, but the development of a new structure that prevents any centralized authority, i.e. what I call "Usenetpedia" (and I've recently found out I'm not even the first here to propose that; see the link at the top of the page). If we can generate a system whereby there are many independent authorities about what is the best version for the reader to choose between, and no one has a unilateral power to delete what someone else has said, then by competition they will check one another's dishonesties and obsessions, and then the reader can select the best of all. But for such a solution to succeed it must indeed have developers behind it, not just editors; this is not a demographic contest, but a contest between ideals of central authority and community cooperation. Wnt (talk) 20:21, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
@Wnt:, you may be interested in Ward Cunningham's latest project: a distributed Wiki engine called Federated Wiki. It may be the next step in the evolution of an Open Source Encyclopedia on the Internet. -- Llywrch (talk) 15:43, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I saw that a couple of years ago. The problem with that is that it's not actually distributed - it's "federated", as in a federation of sovereign states. What that means is that individual people would be signing up for an account at someplace like Amazon AWS, setting up their particular wiki, which is housed right there. Already you have three levels of hierarchy: the country where the server is, the right of Amazon to terminate the wiki at any time for any reason whether they want to tell you what it is or not, the unlimited right of the Wiki owner to control whatever is added to his site. And there's really very little incentive for anyone to support this wiki structure financially, except those who expect control as their quid pro quo. Plus, as I recall The Federated Wiki has its own crude, non-Mediawiki structure that hardcodes some things (like sections) I'd rather not see hardcoded. So I really don't see it as a good option.
Contrast that with Usenet, which up front grants you access to post things to thousands of different sites all over the world, which are very hard for any one entity to censor. And Usenet (i.e. the companies that offer it) has a huge reason to support a Wiki encyclopedia --- it has a real need for clear and outstanding purpose, for people to see a flagship product that they know and value, a loss leader to draw in new readership, a demonstration of technical versatility. At least for now, Usenet needs Usenetpedia even more than Wikipedia does. I just wish I knew a way to convince some people who matter of that, the people who are actually ready to do all of these wonderful things. Wnt (talk) 23:05, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

Comment by Apteva[edit]

I would hope that WMF will see this barrage of comments and reverse their position. But the real problem was in giving WMF a staff of 100 instead of the 4 that I recommended. And those hundred staff have simply looked for something to do to feel useful. And in doing so have put their foot into their mouth, and all the way down their throat. What WMF did is the common error of confusing WM with MW. It is Media Wiki that makes global changes to all of the wikis that no one has any control over, not WM. To not defer to local consensus is a very serious problem. And for WMF to threaten desysoping anyone? Out of the question. Who is an admin is solely and only up to local community consensus, and never ever can be over taken by WMF - not for any reason. Apteva (talk) 16:20, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Any superprotect rights can only be granted to Stewards. And no superprotect action can be taken without community discussion and community decision (Stewards never make any decisions, they only act on decisions of the community). WMF needs to completely avoid making any content or conduct decisions, and needs to leave that entirely up to the community. Yes WMF can take our content and publish CDs and books, no WMF can not make decisions about what the wiki looks like. Yes they can buy hardware and bandwidth and do outreach. But no WMF staff can ever edit any content page as a staff edit (other than of course all of the WMF wiki). Apteva (talk) 18:11, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Monopoly[edit]

I've been editors for many years now, but this page got me thinking. Sometime, somehow, someone got his Eureka moment: Wikipedia is monopolizing the open knowledge with virtually no competition (good luck on searching "wikipedia competition")1. It has become the de facto place, the expected #1 search result, to find information about any topic on earth. That's why the staff acted with no regard to the userbase. Jimbo at the State of the Wiki 2014 has essentially suggested that if you don't like with the way Wikipedia is handled right now, fork off! The new editors will keep coming (in diverse community such as en.wp, not necessarily in other languages). The encyclopedia has enough content and replenish rate as it is right now, and forking is so 2002 and there are so many disadvantages of doing it that is already displayed in this thread, for a project to literally follow the step of es.wp's fork, ... unless, of course, that multiple projects joined in the boat and there's some means to support a multi-lingual exodus.

My take on the MV issue: in the heart of the arguments I echo Pete_F's remarks that there's a collision of assumption; the established users2 think that it's quite disruptive (and assumed the same would apply to new users and/or anonymous ones), while WMF on the other hand quite thought more about the latter at the expense of the former, because of the aforementioned revelation. Initially I'm quite content turning off the MV from my preference, and would expect other old timers to do just that, instead of turning it off for everybody, because I can't speak on behalf of the latter community, since obviously I know and have been involved much more than the casual readers, but with this debacle, I felt that they way WMF (Erik and Florin) handles the matter simply unbecomingly and untimely (when a lot of editors just coming back from Wikimania). As for the Superprotect rights, too hasty, and too many argument against it = no.

In short: 1) don't be a dick, 2) work with the critics, 3) listen to the voices, not the numbers. If you have any doubt, look again at our monarch's Statement of principles#4

1 Baidu Baike and Hudong surpassed (Chinese) Wikipedia, but those are Chinese language only, and their contents are copyrighted. Google Knowledge Graph still relies on Wikipedias for most part
2 de.wp's 200 people voting, many of whom I believe are admins, should say something

Bennylin 22:08, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

„It was only 190”. A reminder as to what a Community actually is[edit]

I just posted this onto the talk pages of both Lila and Erik:

Dear Lila and Erik,

I’m writing this to clarify why the “Superprotect-affair” is such an important matter for us Wikipedians, for the local communities, and probably for the future of Wikimedia in general. In many of the Wikimedia staff’s writing on the matter, I have found the argument that only 190 users in effect voted for the proposal that the MediaViewer be opted in rather than has to be opted out individually. Okay, let’s look at the numbers: 190 users pro, 72 against, 19 neutral. That makes some 300 users participating in the poll, as opposed to (as Erik pointed out) several thousands or even millions who are potentially affected by the decision. That does sound like a ridiculously small number.

And it is. The problem is: This is the community. Well, not exactly: The community of the German (as in German, the language) Wikipedia consists of maybe some 1000 people. These are the people who very regularly edit articles and take part in discussions and talks, and therefore know each other, at least by nick name. Of these 1000 people, maybe half or less participate in polls regularly. They elect sysops, vote for featured and good articles, discuss proposals for deletion. Since not every one of these some 500 users is interested in every poll, it’s fair to say that 300 is a pretty average number of participants in a poll.

I think this needs to be stressed: Only about 1000 people form the community of the German Wikipedia (the third largest one), and only about 300 to 500 take part in important decisions the community wants to make by poll. Wikipedia is a village. (Or maybe more like a Greek polis.) Of course, there are a lot of other people involved: Those who only write articles without taking part in discussions. Those who contribute one article and never return (like PR employees writing their company’s entry). Those who irregularly correct a spelling mistake when they see one. But all of this would not work without the community. These people do the basic work of Wikipedia: Wikify entries, check facts, delete vandalism, check the copyright status of media and texts, delete rubbish, and so on and so forth. Most of them also write a lot of the articles, mostly with a high quality status, some featured. Because featured articles and their like don’t stem from people who don’t feel committed to Wikipedia and care for it. You have to invest months of reading, thinking, and actual writing to complete only one featured article.

And this is the point: Even though what I call the community is not the whole of Wikipedia, it is these people who really care for it. It is these people who spend hours a day revising articles or discussing bread, or quarrelling over some stupid software feature. They only do this because they think it is important. And they are the only ones: The readers certainly don’t think some bread or, for that matter, some software feature is important. But the Wikipedians, the community, care on a whole other level: They spend hours of their day and have spent years of their life contributing to this odd online “encyclopedia”. They feel their life is somehow connected to it.

The Wikimedia Foundation often talks about the so-called Wikimedia or Wikipedia “movement”. That’s right: There is a movement. But even though Wikipedia is one of the most important sites on the internet with hundreds of millions of readers, the “movement” behind it consists only of these few people: the community. Each year, only a few hundred people attend the “WikiCon”, the largest meeting of German-speaking Wikipedians. Here you see them gathered again: The community, the village – the people who voted against the MediaViewer. These 300 people are the community. Wherever else you might look for it, you will not find it there.

Now, I realize that these people are, especially in a group (and they always come as a group), often very annoying. Online crowds look horrible from the outside (and not that much better from the inside). You can’t handle them, can’t organize them, and never get them to do what you want them to. But the beauty of Wikipedia is that you don’t have to. Wikipedia works without centralized governance. Communities have thus far been self-organized, and it worked. They voted their own sysops, made their own notability criteria, decided themselves whether they wanted their Wikipedia to opt in or opt out of an ill-conceived software feature.

But centralized, coercive governance is exactly what you want to introduce here. You don’t trust the communities. A Wikipedia poll always comes along with arguments and arguing, with mile-long texts written to convince others, with pro and con. And pro won this time. Now, you could have said to yourselves, “Well, they have decided. So what is the rationale behind this decision? What exactly do they want? What is their critique? How can we handle this?” Instead, you said, “What a bunch of idiots. Always against everything new. Conservative to the core. And it’s only 190 people anyway. Some ridiculous nerds not wanting us to meddle with their toy. We can’t give in to that, can we?”

The sad thing about the whole situation is that it is so wholly unnecessary. It would have been so easy to prevent it. Again: What we wanted was a better MediaViewer, not its complete abolishment. If you would have read what our actual arguments were, you would have seen that there’s no real problem. We did not say the Foundation was not allowed to introduce software changes. We did not say it wouldn’t maybe be better to have a new MediaViewer, better arranged than the old Commons sites. If you would’ve just listened and taken us seriously, none of this would have happened.

Now, at least, you should take the communities seriously. Even though what they’re doing looks quarrelsome, ridiculous, and messy, it works. What’s more: It would not work without them. So you better stop trying to coerce us with newly invented superpowers, and start talking to us again. Otherwise Wikipedia cannot work. It is much too complicated, messy, and great to be governed solely from a bureau in San Francisco. --Tolanor (talk) 18:10, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Additionally, I would like to stress the following fact: If you continuously harass the community, you will run into problems very quickly. More and more community members will leave Wikipedia out of frustration. When the core users have been chased away, who will write new articles? Who will improve existing ones? Who will fight vandalism, copyright violations, and whatnot? If the site is left unattended, it will soon become an unreliable mess. The general public will start to lose faith in Wikipedia and look for alternatives. As a side effect, donations will start to dry up. After a while there won't be any donations because nobody wants to spend money on something unreliable. And in the end it's those donations that pay your salaries and finance your nice offices. --voyager (talk) 06:55, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Rather than an exodus I expect a lower overall participation, especially in decisional processes, weakening the "soul" of our projects. --Vituzzu (talk) 12:36, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
That last paragraph is an empty threat, but obnoxious as a threat, nonetheless. First, there is no continuous harassment, there is wide discretion in many matters. Second, Users do not maintain the sites, nor build the sites to cause people to donate money. We should (and most of us do) write prose, edit prose, write definitions, collect books, sources, quotes or images, revert vandalism, delete copyright violations, and add cites because it is intrinsically a good thing, not because we want power or rewards for ourselves. Third, donors are probably attracted to sharing free knowledge, as an intrinsically good thing, not because there are a bunch of users they may or may not agree with. The "soul" of the projects is sharing human knowledge is a good thing; people change, technology changes, organizations change, but that soul lives on. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:54, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Souls are vulnerable to corruption, and power corrupts. Once given the ability to 'superprotect', will Foundation people dare to resort even to ordinary 'Office Actions' when they worry they could be liable for the risk that some admin won't go along with them? Once given the power to impose any software 'feature' they want, whether the editors and users approve of it or not, will they really impose good features, or those that serve some agenda they feel externally compelled to implement? You say sharing knowledge is a good thing but the project is already so corrupted that absolutely an absolutely top-notch dedicated editor like User:Fae can be subjected to years of sanctions on en.wikipedia for a single edit that correctly and with proper sourcing mentioned an actress's previous work in the porn industry. Bear in mind: to those in power LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF EDITS contributing to the sum of all human knowledge are LESS IMPORTANT than providing one piece of information that someone with power finds inconvenient. You ever hear the chant "this is what democracy looks like"? Well this is what hierarchical power looks like. And with superprotection, with no real promised limit on its use, Wikipedia becomes yet more hierarchical and yet more corrupted than it was. Wnt (talk) 20:19, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
You say individual souls are corrupt. You say the EnWiki community is corrupt. You say the WMF is corrupt. Well, despite your Calvinism, we will try to muddle through, sinners that we are -- your inconsistent calls for tyranny by some majority, notwithstanding. Alanscottwalker (talk) 22:00, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Alright, let's take a step back and take a look at the sordid theory of editing an encyclopedia anyone can edit versus editing in a hierarchical environment, from the bottom of the hierarchy. Why don't many people like Wikipedia? Well, suppose you're the average naive new user; you make an edit and some asshole reverts it. Maybe it offends their POV, maybe they don't think we ought to cover "stuff like that", who knows, maybe you were even wrong, point is, you've wasted your time. But in an even-steven environment, who knows, someone might revert the revert and you'd be golden, so in the end it's only (roughly) half wasted time, the power of your side versus their side in a drunkard's walk. But now --- enter the first level of the hierarchy, now perhaps a Pending Changes Reviewer. Now he has the power to revert you and nobody on your lowly level can revert it. So now you're dealing with a "filter", a censor, someone who takes your output and narrows it down. But hey, he's not going to revert everything, there's always a chance he agreed with you and you didn't waste your time anyway. At which point, enter the second asshole. Whoever is right above him in the chain of command, maybe an admin, might decide that even though he passed it, it's still wrong. And the guy has to think something's wrong, otherwise why does he exist? And his verdict doesn't just affect the one post he sees - he will threaten to revoke the reviewer's rights if he passes more stuff like that. So he has more power (obviously) than the person beneath him, using that power as a lever to increase his impact to everything the second person looks at. Now if you keep adding level after level of hierarchy, what do you get? An unlimited number of assholes imposing restrictions that tear down the work of that single sad editor at the bottom. And through the magic of mathematical exponentiation, that unlimited number of assholes adds to a finite sum. If the person on each level supervises (and cows) three subordinates, the sum of all their numbers 1 + 1/3 + 1/9 + 1/27 ... is only 50% more actual assholes than it takes to have just one person looking over your shoulder - yet they can stack an infinite number of edicts into that space! (Up to the limit where 1/N would be fractional people, that is) This is why we should be more than a little skeptical of yet another step added to the hierarchy, especially when there is already not even a promise to keep its effect out of article space. Wnt (talk) 22:44, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
As a result of this interesting analysis, I realised that en:Divergence to zero was missing from en.wp, and have just added it. So some good has come out of the whole sorry affair. Deltahedron (talk) 11:38, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
Let's skeptically look at it without what you call hierarchy: publish work; revert; republish; obliterate with other work; revert; publish work; revert; republish; obliterate with other work; revert;. . . and repeat without end, infinitely, as you say. That's surely a system of situational assholishness to the nth degree :) Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:26, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

"Media viewer" as such is not the problem.[edit]

The actual issue of enabling or not enabling this particular extension is equivocal; the community is apparently divided, and personally , I cannot see that it makes much difference which way we decide, and am a little puzzled that others feel so strongly about it. I can even understand there would be advantage in having this uniform across the various WPs.

The actual issue is the continuing display of contempt and arrogance that senior people at the Foundation apparently feel for the editing community. It was very clear that, regardless of the merits, the attempt to force this by central action was bitterly resented, it was very clear that some of the staff were acting beyond the accepted limits of their authority by misuse of "OFFICE", and the very thing that would be guaranteed to escalate the conflict was to use a disputed case as an occasion to institutionalize such central actions. As it was becoming clear that the arb case at enWP would lead to very definite condemnation of such unilateral foundation action by some of the most respected (and generally conservative) people at that WP, the WMF chose that time to make their position harder. Taking something which could be otherwise treated as a one time aberration, and erecting a permanent principle to justify it, shows that they no only absolutely insist on getting their way regardless of the community in this case, but are deliberate determined to do so in the future.

When iI joined WP, I also joined the nascent Citizendium. I left that project after it became clear that its founder was determined to use his power to suppress dissent (In this case, not only by authorizing the ownership of articles to his favorites, but by insisting I remove a opinion objecting to his from my talk page; others left for similar reasons.). I have worked under such direction--it's a fact of the formal institutionalized world, but people only do so because they expect to be paid for it. But I have no intention of leaving this project until a better one comes along, and at least for the enWP I see no such prospects. I look for a board statement, I hope that they do not show the closure of ranks around a majority position to make it unanimous that they did with the Image Filter. We do have the advantage of a new director, who now has the opportunity to show that she has her own views and can actually direct the paid staff in a positive direction. (And if not, were I Jimmy, I would make one final use of his reserved power. This is the sort of occasion for which it still exists: to preserve the projects as a basically volunteer endeavor.) DGG (talk) 16:40, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

The Board already showed that the ranks got closed. --Julius1990 (talk) 16:47, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
It's great that they're going to test more ... question is, are they going to listen to the results? The most immediate problem WMF has right now is credibility. You can't come out and argue with a straight face that >50% of users surveyed saying that a tool isn't useful is an endorsement of using it or an "upward trend". You can't overrule two projects and say you're listening to the users. There may come a time when they will have a reason to wish they still had the credibility they've lost. Wnt (talk) 20:10, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Speaking of credibility, your comment's characterizations appear not credible. The "survey" it appears you are referring to was 56% useful, 35% not useful, 15,436 respondents. Unless, you are saying readers are not users. Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:46, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Alanscottwalker The one I listed at [13] (merely extracting some links with data from the Case page) was [14], which answers "Is this media viewer useful for viewing images and learning about them?" with 36% "yes", 54% "no", 10% "not sure", 6,617 respondents. The crux of the argument here is If you have a different survey you really should have posted it there and we might have come closer to agreement; instead you mentioned evidence to contradict my response which was a one-vote alteration in the RfC count, which I then granted. Please link to the survey you mention and I will consider it. But I'll say in advance that if what you're doing is lumping in the results from wikis in other languages (I remember someone said something about a ?Hungarian dataset), I don't think that's really valid, because (for example) easy access to a Commons description page typically written in English may be less important to them than it is to us. Wnt (talk) 06:38, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
What a big fucking joke. Originally I intended to re-join the editor community (after like 6 years or so), but no thanks. That the Foundation now thinks they're allowed to override community consensus does not mean well for the future. 84.153.24.235 04:32, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

Our time and goodwill is ours to give, the Foundation's to lose[edit]

To me this has become less about the implementation of a particular piece of software, but the lack of respect if not outright contempt the board has shown to the community. The board speaks of having to act in order to maintain the position of Wikipedia as a "top-5 website", without asking themselves how the site became a top 5 website in the first place? May I suggest that it became so because of content, and that this content was created because users found the right mix of tools and culture to be willing to give of themselves. A great part of the wikimedia culture, though not much articulated, is egalitarianism, that all are welcome to edit, that all are equally valued for their contributions, and that all have a voice in how and in which direction the community should go, and from this consensus is built. However what superprotect tells us is that not all are equal, that there exist those who stand above us and rule us, that there is a Great Helmsman and his minions who will guide the ship to where they desire and that those of us who disagree with the direction can either like it or lump it. Well as Wikitravel found to their cost, volunteers give their time and goodwill out of affection and love of a project and if that is destroyed, well there goes your free work force.--KTo288 (talk) 01:50, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

The WMF is the organization that determines the terms of use, so whatever good will you have needs to be based on that fact. Alanscottwalker (talk) 11:45, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
The WMF legally sets the TOS, yes, but the TOS does not set our "good will." Many of us predate the TOS, and a TOS is not worth the paper it isn't written on, if it is unenforceable. The WMF has the legal authority to shut the sites down, freeze them, block any account, remove any content, or, for that matter, add any content the Foundation chooses, subject only to requirements of law. It may install or uninstall any software. That does not make any of this wise or prudent, nor does it necessarily implement the formal mission and vision statements that have been approved by the WMF.
Legally, again, the WMF can disregard its own mission and vision statements, and any user may decide to go away or to fork, or, more to the point, perhaps, any combination of users may decide to go away and fork. Or users may simply become discouraged and drift away, as many have.
There is a basic fact of human social psychology which may have been overlooked by some. If we have tasted freedom, we will, by default, strongly resist any reduction of it, we will "avoid domination." This cuts both ways, and, indeed, it cuts many ways. The community (more accurately, some empowered segment of the community) sometimes acts to impose restrictions on users, who often do not take well to it, and act accordingly, and we may be puzzled by this. Don't they understand that we want the best for the project?
WMF staff dislike being restricted by what some have called the "tyranny of the majority." Nobody wants their freedom of action removed, and people, given no ready alternative, will use the power we have to maintain that freedom.
Developmentally, avoiding domination sets in about the same time as puberty, sometimes before. A wise parent does not oppose it by force, except where immediate safety issues require, but recognizes the necessity of this stage; the time has passed for domination through force; if parents attempts this with a teenager, we may seem to succeed for a time, but eventually the child will break free, and that, in itself, can cause damage. Some literally don't survive. This is the point where parents sanely rely on natural consequences and demonstrate negotiation skills. Try to force a kid to "do the right thing," and they will dig in their heels. (Often, they will pretend to comply, but, outside of parental control, they won't.) Sit back and support them or let them be, they will find the right thing, if they have been prepared. As a parent of many, I am constantly surprised by what my kids find. They surpass me, and that is the human design.
Now, the user community is not "children" (generally), and the WMF is not our parents. However, avoiding domination is a human behavioral trait that anyone seeking voluntary cooperation must understand. It is a survival trait, and survival traits are not necessarily "optional."
As many have pointed out, the issue here is not the Media Viewer. Look at the developing numbers in the superprotection survey on de.wikipdia. Far more users want superprotection removed than consider the time unripe for the Media Viewer. Many have written, explicitly, we like the Media Viewer, but don't cram it down our throats.
The issue is also not superprotection itself. There is no serious opposition to the WMF having the control that it must have, for strong legal reasons, so the issue is not a challenge to the power of the WMF, per se.
Rather, the issue cuts to the fundamental mission of the WMF and its relationship to the communities that it was created to empower and support. This is a test of the community and the WMF, an opportunity. This could bring out the best in all camps; it is already obvious that it is bringing out the worst: blame, arrogance, anger, attempts to force and coerce, intransigence, ridicule of what's "wrong," and all this is typical for survival response. --Abd (talk) 15:27, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Your opening statement that the terms of use are meaningless shows that you are being unreasonable and unreasoning. Their mission statement certainly is fulfilled by them by developing and deploying free software. As for your wish to go to some way it was back in "the good old days" shows that your comments are both immature and based on a faulty fantasy, that there was a good old days. Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:48, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
To be clear, I did not say that the TOS was "meaningless," but that if it was unenforceable it was worthless. The mission statement is not "fulfilled" by developing software, that is, rather, one means of supporting the mission, and not the most central. Nor did I express a wish to go back to "the good old days," nor anything like that, so, I'm left wondering at how someone can so thoroughly misread a source. --Abd (talk) 00:38, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
The TOS is what we agree to every time we press save. We adhere to it in good faith and there cannot be good will without good faith. As the development and deployment of software is within their mission, they are acting to fulfill it. You appeal to time before the TOS, so it looks like you want to go backwards. Alanscottwalker (talk) 01:13, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
No, and this is entirely off-topic. The TOS -- which I just reread in its entirety -- has nothing to do with this RfC, nor do the user's comments about my reasonableness or maturity. --Abd (talk) 03:07, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
Of course the TOS does, it is an example of the WMF making policy for all its projects and all its users. (On the other matter, my comments did not do that, it was your comments that I critiqued). Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:37, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

Restrict superpowers to MediaWiki namespace only?[edit]

I understand that WMF staff needs a tool to make sure that the mediawiki software can be developped without irritation through single communities. On the other hand the various local communities need a guarantee that WMF staff will not use their superpowers on any article content issues. I wonder if it would make sense to restrict the superprotect right to the Mediawiki namespace. Schmelzle (talk) 10:35, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

If that be the case then the question becomes "Who watches the Watchmen"? Obviously they will not watch themselves, so we would need a designated group to ensure that there is not abuse of the tool. TomStar81 (talk) 22:29, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

The Wikimedia project is different from every other website[edit]

When you look at Wikipedia, the reason why it has so many volunteers, is because it derives its power from the community, and is non-profit. There aren't banner ads everywhere, and Wikipedia isn't forced to cater to special interests or to whatever is popular. The WMF doesn't care about that, and they have decided to treat Wikipedia as a for-profit organization. I expect that eventually, there will be ads. Do not expect me to stay here, when you lose your entire community of editors. You will turn Cluebot on high, destroying tons of editor's contributions. Vandalism will increase substantially. Any contributions that aren't obviously vandalism will stay, and Wikipedia will regress into an era of POV editing. Every non English Wikipedia will be even worse, however, as their growth will stagnate from a lack of dedicated participants. Please don't implement "superprotect", unless you want widespread hatred to perpetuate throughout the Wikimedia project. 123chess456 (talk) 14:58, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

Creeping elitism[edit]

This whole matter surrounding superprotect fits into a pattern I've been worried about for some time.

I'm inclined to believe the Foundation, for the most part, believe they care about the community. I could be wrong — grim thought — but that's my sense (based on observation rather than principle, since I'm an adherent of never assume rather than assume good faith).

However, from the early history of wikimedia I see two damaging attitudes toward contributors — not only within the Foundation, but broadly across the movement.

  • unwillingness to trust contributors.
I'm not talking about blindly trusting, but about judging, based on accumulated evidence, how likely someone is to be trustworthy (in various senses — like, trustworthy in intention, trustworthy in judgement, trustworthy in expertise). There is a subtle implication behind "assume good faith" that one shouldn't even try to judge who is most worthy of trust (at least in regard to intention). That's a subtly corrosive attitude. I may have an atypical view of how much can be done to make informed community decisions about trust, since I spend most of my time these days at en.wn, where the entire project infrastructure is tuned to maximize our ability to judge contributor's trustworthiness. It's actually not a digression to note, a few years ago when Jimmy Wales dropped by en.wn and we were trying to explain our infrastructure to him, at first he seemed to have trouble realizing how much responsibility we confer on reviewers, and then when he did figure it out, he seemed to think we were insane. (Not that we necessarily aren't insane, but idealism, which is a sort of insanity, is part of what makes wikis function.)
  • expecting skills to be brought in from outside.
Historically there have been three ways for contributors to gain skills they didn't have when they arrived. There are training sessions, but that's clumsy. Help pages, but that's a terrible way to do it; there's a good reason why "RTFM" and "when all else fails, read the instructions" are cliches. The most important way contributors learn is by directly editing the wiki markup, and thus seeing examples of how things are done. The Foundation has failed to recognize the importance of this, and so, in trying to address the problem of people who come to the projects who find basic editing burdensome, they've perpetrated Visual Editor which destroys the single most successful path by which contributors have learned to become more expert than they were. (Btw, macroscopic evidence suggests to me this "problem" has never been a significant obstacle to successful wikis, though it does provide a very conveinent excuse to avoid tangling with other, substantial problems; reminiscent of the fictional voter fraud US Republicans use to justify voter-suppression measures.)
The recent introduction of Lua is another case in point, as it essentially excludes contributors who don't have programming training from elsewhere, and thus promotes a high priesthood of programmers. (I use Lua, yes, and reluctantly JavaScript — but I do have outside programming experience.) This is why the tools I've been putting all my effort into for several years now are meant to allow ordinary contributors to write interactive wiki pages, and thus semi-automated assistants such as wizards, entirely using wiki markup, thus preserving that continuous path to gradually learn to do things by seeing what other editors have done.

--Pi zero (talk) 14:53, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

I think the introduction of Lua was one of the more successful recent introductions. There are a few reasons for this: It impacted few people- only a small number of people do serious work in templates, it used existing open source technology- this meant there were fewer bugs than with the less mature software developed in house. It made peoples lives easier- template coding is ugly and hard, Lua is much nicer, it was something the communities had been calling for- a nicer way to code templates has been high on the wish list for a long time. I would disagree about Lua excluding contributors, simple templates can still be used, but getting to grips with all the subtle features of the template syntax is harder than learning Lua. --Salix alba (talk) 13:48, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
I also think Lua was generally a success. The most important thing about it is that it was driven by fairly directly responding to the editors, rather than as a fiat or an effort to copy somebody else. I learned this language entirely on Wikipedia, had never even heard of Lua before it was about to be brought in. True, 99% of what I've written never gets used, but I don't expect otherwise; it's an underlying reason why I feel like the WMF people are too assertive that whatever they develop has to be used, because the truth is, the whole Web is littered with software ideas nobody adopted. Wnt (talk) 16:59, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
To clarify my position. Lua addresses a severe problem with templates. Templates do have the property, which Lua does not, that a user progressing by the continuous path I have described can slowly learn about them, and move from elementary wiki markup into simple templating and then more advanced templating. Templating has problems, especially when over-used due to lack of other ways to accomplish complex purposes, but it is all within the purview of wiki markup. Templates were relied upon overly heavily, because other means were not provided for things people wanted to do. Lua is now the only way (short of JavaScript) to mitigate the problems created by the clumsiness of templates, and therefore unsurprisingly Lua has, indeed, been a "success", enjoying its position as the only alternative to something worse. However, those problems could have been mitigated by other means that would have preserved the continuous path for user self-advancement; and instead, out of available options the one chosen moves about as far away from the continuous path, and thus as close to the elitist path, as could be arranged. --Pi zero (talk) 18:04, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
Well to clarify my position, I think that Lua can be learned by user self-advancement. I mean, I must have learned 2/3 of everything I know about the language from frequent stops at [15]; most of the rest from web searches and user discussions - I only really remember learning about metatables from the Lua.org documentation. I wasn't a CS major. I think many users can follow the same path productively, and I think that Lua programming, together with Javascript, creates a tentative bridge that links the hardcore developer community with the rest of us. The key thing about Lua development is that people have turned down the idea sometimes mooted to start creating more advanced features only certain users are allowed to make use of; it remains possible for any user to start a Lua module to do what they are interested in, with the measures to lock down security having been done in advance for the whole language interface. There are a few small ways it could have been done better, but it is vastly superior to some other recent ideas like Wikidata, that starts with some developers in charge of every possibility and nobody can do anything with it they didn't plan for first. Wnt (talk) 22:56, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
It is certainly possible to teach oneself programming. Although I've got academic training in CS, I'd been programming for years before I got to college. And, I too learned a significant fraction of what I know about Lua from that page. The Lua extension does have the properties, though, that  (1) you don't see the code in the pages you would otherwise edit, and  (2) its syntax is essentially unrelated to that of wiki markup, with a great deal of syntactic overhead. Yes, doing the same things with templates has a lot of clumsy overhead, that's the problem Lua addresses; it'd be possible to use a much, much leaner syntax and embed it in wiki markup, though.
I do find it interesting that folks have reacted here against my criticism of Lua (granting, my criticism is of the choice in the wiki context of Lua instead of some more intergrated approach), but I'm not hearing folks clamoring to defend VE. --Pi zero (talk) 12:49, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
I think that your idea of coming up with a new syntax that implements a programming language within a wiki page is interesting, but difficult - I think it would be interesting to see what you could come up with. But my experience is that w:Jinja was remarkably confusing for me to try to actually use, despite its apparent simplicity; I'm not sure if you're picturing something like that or some whole new idea. It's an open opportunity for someone to do some good innovation but I don't think it will be easy. Wnt (talk) 14:26, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
I've dabbled in this a bit, within the limitations I'm working under (i.e., no wiki extensions). The result, to which I conservatively add when I find something else that can be done in a particulary succinct way, is n:Template:Evalx. The example on the /doc page isn't interesting; the fun stuff involves parsing wiki markup. --Pi zero (talk) 17:13, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
You should explain what you mean by that, preferably on that doc page. My closest existing equivalent for your example on the doc page on en.wikipedia is {{#invoke:LuaCall|main|value=abcd|start=2|end=3|string.sub(value,start,end)}} (but I really ought to think up some syntax to send literals directly). -- Oh, found your documentation at n:Module:Wnlisp. That's pretty cool! But it'll take a learning curve... :) Wnt (talk) 17:59, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
My hope, of course, is that users pick up what they need of it from examples of its use.
You're right, there should be a more "interesting" example in the template doc. I've got one practical example on hand... [done] --Pi zero (talk) 18:36, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
I note that the introduction of Lua wasn't being asked for by the editors; we wanted "a faster horse" in the form of Extension:StringFunctions, which were later integrated into ParserFunctions but disabled on WMF wikis. Lua (or something like it) was insisted on by WMF people. But I too consider Scribunto a successful launch of a successful feature, both from my perspective as a user and as one of the WMF developers working on the project. BJorsch (WMF) (talk) 13:37, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
I do not (again) disagree that it was a successful launch, in the sense of being welcomed by the existing contributor base. I suggest rather that it is not the only sort of feature that might have been used to accomplish the purpose, and that in contrast to some alternatives it tends to further retard an important contributor self-advancement path. --Pi zero (talk) 17:51, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Why is such a crucial RfC seemingly kept off attention at other projects than de:?[edit]

In a project, which essentially works from bottom up there should be far greater legitimace be given to community decisions on local level and to localy admins who are clearly linked and responsible to them. The worldwide and cross-project leadership should always stem from sum of all local needs and opinions, not the opposite way from top down. From my point of view the decisions of de: community and their adminship is completely legitimate and in no case in violation of any basic principles of Wikipedia or any legal principles of "outer world", therefore I see no legitimacy in WMF counteraction (in fact enacting such a top-down dirigism in matters of purely technical taste is openly contrary to spirit of our collaboration and absolutely no justificiation for attempts to legalize the concept of Supeprotection.

I wonder such an crucial and far reaching matter is given proper attention only at de: and here at mete (I have seen no headers inviting to RfC anywhere at en:, nor at my home cs: etc.). Post a global invitation please...

Anyway I have to express my long standing discontent with the way technical novelties in interface are introduced and forced even onto those users who do not appreciate them. SW developers are profoudly shaping the look of our project, often to annoyance of regular users without being sufficiently directly responsible to them. At the present, SW developers and community ranks are dangerously estranged, IMO we need to strengthen mutual ties and communication. Thing need to be discussed and fully developed prior to being implemented, not to be handled post factum and in a directive manner from "supreme command". I share Pi zero's objections above (that the push on introduction of Visual Editor and other recent visual "enhancements" as default interface deprives us of the most efficient way in which newbies could master functioning of wiki): In fact in allowing for this manner of technical development we have effectively allowed our right hand to amputate our left hand...

We should continue in the way that makes Wikipedia distinctive from other projects and websites. We are strong because we are different. If the WMF and SW developers try to emulate whatever other popular site interface and methods of operations, it would be a way to hell.--Miaow Miaow (talk) 16:18, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

Thank you. That is. And - we could really need some help from other projects - so try to do something in the cs:... bye -jkbx- (an internetcafe + vacation sock of -jkb-) 19:59, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
To answer the question, this is not being "kept off" of other projects. Rather, there is, at this point, a relatively simple issue that could possibly be resolved with only this small train wreck, and what is happening at de.wiki, plus some similar issues brewing on en.wiki. There is, as yet, no clear need to have a larger train wreck. On the other hand, any user can notify other wikis of this discussion. Any sysop can create a site message on the other wikis, if it's considered that important.
My hope is that the WMF heads this off by dealing with it powerfully, which will not involve threats or pushing any more disruptive buttons. A deeper understanding of the relationship between the WMF and the community is needed. It can really be what we want, we are not limited to what it "is."
Indeed, the WMF has the right -- and responsibility -- of decision on certain matters, but it acts as advised by the community. That's "advised," not controlled, but ... if you want to keep an advisor, make sure that the advisor knows they are respected. As advised, then, the WMF leads the community, and the sign of leadership is that the community follows. If force is required, that's not leadership, it's something else. So how does the WMF lead without controlling? It's easily said, at least: be advised by the community, it will tell us what it needs and what it will follow. Community advice is not a vote, rather, it is wisdom and experience. Votes will follow that, ultimately, just not always at first. Some patience, some back and forth, it can take time, but the result, genuine consensus, is self-enforcing. --Abd (talk) 20:31, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, there is no simple way to integrate our worldwide community in ongoing issues. Worse than the foundations' severe external communication deficit, there seems to be no internal corrective system for the CEO's decisions, as the board itself decided to morph from a community-grounded think-tank to a bunch of shapeless yes-men. Wonder if a redesign of the statutory WMF structure would enable it to handle problems like this in a more professional manner. --MBq (talk) 20:48, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
Probably not. My tentative analysis: the WMF hired an Executive Director who, no surprise, had very little wiki experience. She may be an excellent executive, but will need sound advice, and she wasn't getting it from the Staff, which has, as is common with Staff at nonprofits, its own agenda. It's going to take her some time to sort this, I expect. On her talk page here, she professed puzzlement at what was happening. In fact, anyone who understands how the community works would not be puzzled by what is coming down, so she simply does not yet understand, that's all. She thought it was her job to have the WMF promote the interests of the millions of readers. Maybe, that could be part of it, but not at the expense of the core mission, damaging the engine that truly runs the wikis, without which the WMF would need a lot more money.
The WMF exists to "engage and empower" the community, not the other way around. --Abd (talk) 21:06, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

WMF was (and is?) putting a lot of energie into diversity. But when it comes to diversity they panic?! .oO ...Sicherlich Post 09:17, 19 August 2014 (UTC) and I'm not even sure that de would really have left the MV offline. Probably some time given they would have put it back online anyways. Maybe even at the same day. The WMF-Superman was not needed therefore at all

Four legs good, two legs better?[edit]

Understanding that there occasionally may be differing views between WMF and Authors on how to handle things, i believe the formerly available methods for problem resolution are sufficient. Nobody questions the authority of WMF on issues violating our principles, however the origin of this incident was the introduction of a software feature. A voluntary project like wikipedia is crucially dependent on a fair and equal interaction. Superprotect does not fulfill these criteria. As the standard pay/no pay-reward system for cooperation in business does not apply here, the authors must be treated with respect at eye level. Additionally, every additional hierarchy level creates more inequality, which decreases the motivation of volunteers in a cooperative, commons-based system. The drop in edits and article creation in the german language wikipedia is already quite visible. Please take this feature back, regardless of the media viewer debate. And please adhere to your own rules, office action does not mention anything in the direction of superprotect. Best regards, --Ghilt (talk) 10:45, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Who decided to install & use SP?[edit]

Hi, I have some questions that I don't see previously answered:

  1. Who decided to install and use en:WP:Superprotect? Was ist Erik alone? Or who was allowed to take part in that decision? Was Jimmy involved? Is there a transparent documentation about making the decision?
  2. Why was SP needed to subdue the German language Wikipedia, while in enwiki ist was regarded sufficient to threaten one admin? --Trofobi (talk) 17:52, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
The history is recounted above, I believe, but it's clear that Erik was acting as a WMF employee, with support from top WMF management (and he is almost "top," himself). That does not necessarily mean that every word he wrote was vetted or authorized, we don't know yet. It seems unlikely. There has been no comment from Wales, AFAIK.
It's an error to focus on Erik and to scapegoat him. How to handle this long-term (on the WMF side) is properly a WMF organizational decision, and we hope that it is handled with care and a deepened understanding.
It is also an error to assume that the goal was to "subdue" de.wiki. Rather, Erik and others obviously believed that MediaView was "good" and that it was "necessary" to make it opt-out (i.e., installed by default), and, further, in organizations like the WMF, a kind of impatience can develop. Those highly involved, such as staff, may come to believe that they know better than others. It may even be true, at least in some ways.
However, there are other considerations, particularly in an organization that depends heavily on volunteer labor. A sign of powerful leadership will be that people follow. If one must coerce compliance, something is missing, and that should be obvious. It looks to me like the main "missing" here was patience, as well as a recognition that there can be useful points of view other than one's own, or even something shared by staff. Negotiating consensus famously takes time, but those with buttons to push may try to take short-cuts.
In a nonprofit, the Executive Director may be surrounded by staff, which will present and advise from a staff point of view. This can become isolated from the community, this is by no means unique to the WMF. I've seen major damage done in nonprofits from this phenomenon, all created with the best of intentions.
Here, superprotect was developed in a rush to handle the specific situation. It's not necessarily a bad idea, by itself. However, in context, it was coercive. All in a good cause, of course. I'm expecting that cooler heads will prevail, most likely at the WMF. If not, this may get truly "interesting."
There are those here who want to allow the WMF time to reflect and respond, and especially the Executive Director, who is travelling. I sympathize, but then some try to get others to immediately stop commenting. Bad Idea. People will comment, and attempting to stop it makes them more determined, not less. This RfC is serving a clear function, expressing community consensus (which is quite visible here, through the usual wiki noise.)
This is a fundamental difference between the WMF and the community: there is no central control for the community, someone who can decide: stop now. I do notice that Staff comment has been thin, everywhere, and I'm suspecting that there was, indeed, an instruction to Staff to "Shut Up Now, You are Only Making Things Worse." Silence will not resolve the problem, but at least it won't make it worse!
Resolution on this (as to the WMF position) should come from the top, from the ED, and that's what I expect. It should be confirmed by the Board. I am not prejudging what the resolution will be, though I certainly have ideas. The community consensus is totally clear on superprotection, though, as used. See the RfC on de.wikipedia, which is summarized here at #Update on de.wiki. --Abd (talk) 21:17, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
Thank you, Abd, but I am not interested in speculations, have already read too many. The facts are relevant for many people who try to understand how decisionmaking among the WMF executives is put into practice. And therefore it is also relevant if this process is kept secret or not. --Trofobi (talk) 11:59, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Thank you @RöntgenTechniker:1 for this link stating "13:47, 10 August 2014 Reedy (talk | contribs) changed group permissions for Special:GlobalUsers/Staff. Added superprotect; Removed (none) (Grant staff "superprotect" right per Robla/Erik request)" according which User:RobLa-WMF and User:Eloquence gave him the order. As Rob Lanphier is reporting to Erik Möller, this still doesn't explain which other executives did Erik involve in his decision, or none? --Trofobi (talk) 11:59, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Simple protections[edit]

Since anyone here is looking at the SP from his/her own personal point of view, I hope you don't mind if I add another "personal" perspective. No "if"s in history, okay, but I was just reflecting that if SP was enabled along with the desysopping threat in the infamous days of it.wiki's strike, actions on js and css scripts would have brought us to a binary scenario:

  • either those scripts had not been preliminarily super-protected, so our admins could handle them, our (trusted) admins would have done what they actually did, and we would now be without any admins (since almost all of them took part in the protest)
  • or they had been preliminarily super-protected, and now we would find ourselves without any user (admins included) from Italy, because our protest would not have changed the course of the events as it did.

That one was a really exceptional case, extraordinary, unlikely to happen again to it.wiki or to other Projects. I know this, I know this very well. But it was among the possibilities, and it happened. And you know this, in turn: that it happened.
The first reflection that comes to my mind, therefore, is that there are possibilities by which a single Project could legitimately need direct action whenever it's extremely urgent to act; it.wiki's case happened in the Western World, guess how many possibilities there are that a similar need might affect Projects based somewhere else, since the WikiWorld is much wider than the Western one, and it has to cope with many different contexts. We hope not, of course, but we have to consider all the possibilities.
So, I am pretty much against preliminary protections if they are meant to generally and generically (and for theoretical reasons only, just to be complete) block access to even critical parts of the software. Not only because I don't want to think to it.wiki as a privileged Project which enjoyed opportunities that would be denied to other sister Projects; but also because an eventual mis-use of the super-protection could be seen from outside like a powerful mean of vertical control, and one of the few things I know is that it never was conceived as such.
This said, I'm not against SPs as a whole: there are cases in which the superprotection actually might be useful in order to effectively protect the Projects and the work we put in them. The fact is that, by now, I can only think of specific, singular, episodic, and hopefully temporary (just like any other "ordinary" protection) situations and combinations of circumstances which could justify similar measures. In case Wikipedia or any other Project is at risk, undoubtedly WMF needs to enforce immediately all those cautious measures that could keep the WikiWorld safe. And, sometimes, it could eventually be necessary to prevent admins to act against the general interest: just think to the French case, in which an admin was forced to corrupt contents under a military threat, and try to imagine what would have happened if they had arrested all the local admins. This is far from being impossible for smaller wikis with their main interests and grounds within certain states. So, there are contexts in which a super-protection would be needed along with the desysopping.
Maybe the MediaViewer affair is not one of those contexts. Or maybe yes. But it will not be this page to tell us. Here I can read of forks, of a distance from the Foundation, of a distance OF the Foundation, while I'm trying to avoid reading forgettable comments and I have to smell bad tones used to express strong positions opposing each other with mere strength; I wonder if there really is a point to reach with such a debate. I believe to be neutral and objective if I describe it as a really bad moment for all of us. I therefore think that we should make something to superprotect ourselves from the risk of suffering again from similar pains.
I can't restrain myself from considering that this is the second time in a few months that the Community receives an effective input for a severe division, and the other time too it came from staff. Of course we have a staff (and I am personally filled with enthusiasm that the Project I saw starting with a dozen two-lines articles is now hiring people, I wouldn't have bet I would have ever seen it, and it's fantastic) and we have it to help us, and it is their job to produce and to plan, to promote and to install whatever might help us to work with better tools and in a better outward appearance. But there is something, imvho, that no one is allowed to do and it is to put the Community at risk of division. No one. And I mean no one. No one at any level. Wikipedia as well as the other Projects are made by a single worldwide spread Community, which gave life to local or otherwise characterized Communities that work together and the Projects themselves have a meaning only until they represent the product of that single worldwide spread Community. Which is a complex and multicultural Community, and it's dangerous (and a bit offensive) to deal with it without an appropriate attention to the special quality of this special interlocutor. That no one is allowed to try to part. Thus, I regret I feel I have to say that the first measure to be enabled for our general protection, imvho, might regard... manners. Just like when it was proposed to adopt proprietary formats in Projects that live on free knowledge in free software, today too it was a mistake, an irritating mistake that could have been avoided if only one had given a minute of his/her attention to what we are and how we work. Had this attention been given, one could have discovered that we are used to discuss about everything, especially when we are talking about important changes, and we share common principles. I don't think we like bureaucracy, it rather seems to me that we only want to help to take better decisions and usually we patiently refine any single word we publish in the articles and in the policies in the aim of making it perfect. So, if you know which are our imperfections, you might perhaps avoid solicitating them. Believe it or not, this Community is as enormous as sensitive, and certain quick "shortcuts" - whatever the reason - might create serious troubles. Read above, but attentively, this time, if you don't trust me. The offensive part of the whole, as I can see it, is that there isn't a better place in the Net to propose a good idea. Because we have so many precious heads here around, and we have so many open minds in our Communities, that if you really have a good idea to present, well... we simply won't reject it. Why should we? See, once upon a time time there was a guy who had a terribly good idea, to make a free encyclopedia, and we all are here because we all admitted it was a terribly good idea. So why impose something that could be decided together? The only difference is that when we decide together, that decision is a decision of ours too. While now it's only the decision of someone somewhere with some power to enforce something some way. Do you have a good idea? Propose it and prepare yourself to accept related comments about what you think is a good idea. Was it a good idea? Everybody would have accepted it with eagerness.
Let's all forget this unhealthy moment and start again, this is my humble proposal. Present a draft of policy (policy) to the Community and have reasonable comments allowed to enrich it with the best this Community can think of, or leave it as it is now if it is already perfect. Is it? (I believe not, as said before, I'd leave it as a security tool for extraordinary purposes, which is not the case of the MW) And please confirm that sysops are trusted users who allow Projects to stand up and that we all watch at them with gratitude, whatever the Project in which they give their unpaid and precious time. This is, in my personal vision, something that really protects the Projects and the harmony in the Community; and when this harmony will be again a shared valuable principle, certain immoderate attitudes will then deserve certain tones we have read today.
We are in the middle of the realm of the gift economy; I would find it somehow funny that we get caught in certain obsessions of growth and number of users which would better belong to contemporary market economy. We already have millions and millions and millions of articles, rather I think we need to convert them into millions and millions and millions of good articles so that our readers can really and substancially benefit of our work; for this we need users who can work on them, and this is not a matter of how many users we have, because knowledge and stats follow different curves. Let's slow down a bit on certain innovative dogmas, protect the quality of our contents instead, this is the only thing we have to "sell" and we don't rely on showcases to improve this quality. And protect our readers, too: when in doubt concentrate on contents; also because every time we did it we grew. This proofed to be a constant.
Times will come when appearance will justify these tones (from any side), who knows when (and if), by now please let's start working together again, which is something we know better than all this pointless fuss --g (talk) 00:57, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Why isn't Common.js superprotected on en.wikipedia?[edit]

The focus of all the concerns is the javascript on Common.js, whether from "bad hacks" by good faith admins, or (admittedly in my opinion only) the potential for some Syrian hacker to break into a disused admin account and add malicious code that directly or indirectly uses a zero-day hack to compromise the computers of naive readers. I would have preferred someone invent a means of requiring code review, but at least superprotection could stop these things. Yet I still don't see anything in the log or revision history about en.wikipedia's Common.js being superprotected. It is still vulnerable as ever! So it's like we get everything bad out of superprotect - the community rancor, the people who might have more claim to sue WMF if their computers do get hacked because of someone compromising the script, since they are now "able" to prevent it and have clear and absolute editorial control over the content of the page - yet we get no actual protection out of the deal. What's the story with this passive aggressive "we control it so we don't actually have to control it"? Wnt (talk) 14:46, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Because super-protect is obviously not aimed at the mythical black hat admins that you are so afraid of... JMP EAX (talk)
1 admin + 1 keylogger = 1 black hat admin. Wnt (talk) 12:38, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
@Wnt: As far as I can see, this was implimented like full protection may be on enwiki in cases of edit wars, and not at this stage to prevent black hats from taking over, although that may occur in the future. In fact, as common.js controls what everyone sees, it is one of the worse places for an edit war to take place, as it puts increased strain on the servers etc. Mdann52 (talk) 14:37, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Superprotect is Superfluous![edit]

Adding another level of hierarchy to the software is not the answer to any of the current problems of Wikimedia projects.

This in fact insinuates that the WMF regards any lowly employee as standing above all the volunteer editors and elected admin roles, reflecting this now in the software to avoid cumbersome discussions with the commoners.

Wikimedia projects, in fact, have a general hierarchy and elitism problem. It becomes increasingly difficult for new editors to participate, because of admins and long-term contributors blindly following their established rules.

I've met someone having written an article about the "Technical Dutch Open Source Event", a FOSS conference, which apparently got rejected more than once, reasons: lack of sources, personal involvement of the author. In the case of open source projects it is normally easy to achieve a neutral point of view even if the first version is written by a project member, because in most cases there is plenty of information available, which could be incorporated in the new article by the critics themselves. Unfortunately it is more likely that they simply reject it as "POV" (another sign of elitism: excessive use of abbreviations and expressions comprehensible only for the wiki-establishment), while plenty of articles about private companies exist unchallenged, which suspiciously look as if written by marketing folks – those meet the formal criteria, of course.

If you ask for help as a beginner, you are more likely to be told which rules your work doesn't yet respect rather than getting real help in improving aforementioned work.

Experienced contributors and admins reviewing a great number of edits too often revert changes as a whole instead of specifically addressing the problems they see. Beginners receive a nice welcome on their user discussison page, but are scared away shortly after that, when their first edits are torn apart by a know-it-all.

It's not lack of time alone what keeps me from contributing more to Wikipedia, it's also a certain hostile atmosphere and buereaucratic attitude of the people in charge.

Wikipedia already is too buereaucratic, and the WMF makes it worse. --CHF (talk) 06:22, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Board of WMF wants absolute dictatorial power. Read your own five basic rules well and rethink. This superprotection is supercontradictory  Klaas|Z4␟V:  09:09, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
I think that VisualEditor is still not good enough to be on by default, and MediaViewer should be on by default only on mobile phones, but not on desktop. At least not in current severely lacking version. Both VisualEditor and MediaViewer are fine ideas, but their current realization/implementation is lacking polish (VisualEditor) / features (MediaViewer). Forcing these unpolished products on community is making WMF look like certain software manufacturer which put out to wide audience crap like W. Vista. We all know how that debacle played out. Why Wikimedia is going through similar pains, that really worries me. SpeedyGonsales (talk) 20:31, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Category:Living people?[edit]

Does anyone see the parallel between the superprotect controversy and the now largely forgotten minor controversy about the en wiki Category:Living people?

Shortly after the Category:Living people was introduced, apparently in early 2006, it was nominated for deletion. The deletion discussion[16] - in which the majority of editors seemed to say it should be deleted - was cut short with the outcome of "kept per edict of Jimbo Wales". Jimbo removed the entire discussion and then went on record saying:[17]

Let me be clear about this. This category is desperately needed and is not optional. I am willing to impose it from top down if necessary. [emphasis per original]

And so the category was kept, apparently contrary to what the community wanted.

I'm not arguing here one way or the other regarding superprotection, but whoever says that the WMF should never override what the community wants should consider this example too. FWIW, back then I intensely disliked what Jimbo did, but with time I've come to understand why it made sense. GregorB (talk) 11:26, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

There is no such category in French or German Wikipedia and both work fine without it. Desperately needed? Ridiculous. NNW (talk) 15:00, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
My guess is that Jimbo was concerned about litigation, in the wake of the Seigenthaler incident. That's why WP:BLP was created. The situation created a moral hazard: community does the editing, yet the WMF potentially gets sued, so the community could afford to be nonchalant. One cannot just assume that the community and the WMF have the same interests, or that what the community says should always prevail. GregorB (talk) 21:44, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
But the WMF should convince with arguemnts not force. When they are not able to do so, then the wrong people are in the WMF. Quite simpel. If Jimbo can just put such athing through with a "basta" instead of convincing, it shows his lack of ability, leadership and character. --Julius1990 (talk) 21:56, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Very good point. This is why I disliked what he did: he apparently did not bother providing a reasonably argued explanation of his position. The same is lacking in the case of superprotect. And this is a kind of moral hazard too: why would I bother explaining, when I'm able to force the outcome? The WMF should not go there, even when they're right (in fact, especially when they're right), and yes, this is their failure. GregorB (talk) 09:51, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
The category "Living people" was named "w:de:Kategorie:Lebende Person and had been deleted after a rather irregular deletion process (within half an hour). However, NNW, there are at least 3 different usages of such a category which can be exercised using CatScan and/or other tools without this category, but it is harder and more complicated to do so. Lately had been some informal talk to to recreate that category because of deleting it was simply a bad decision. (It should be noted, that otherwise the German Wikipedia category system is very different from that in the English Wikipedia or elsewhere.) --Matthiasb (talk) 10:14, 21 September 2014 (UTC) @NordNordWest: --Matthiasb (talk) 10:17, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
How about Petition to Jimbo too.--KTo288 (talk) 00:59, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
I think that the aggressive push for "BLP" in 2007, such as the Badlydrawnjeff case before ArbCom, marked the turning point between the rapidly growing and idealistic Wikipedia we knew before and the fading and declining echo we see now. It's not that biographies should be bad, of course, but it was license to skew content for moralistic reasons, taken at times to fanatical excess (you should see what they are putting Fae through for once linking a former porn actress's video from her article when she wanted it to go away, no matter it was a top Google result). Meanwhile, editors still play unfavorites, and articles like w:Qworty or w:Rupert Sheldrake are badly skewed against their subjects, showcasing minor negative material while discarding outright information about the authors that is seen as self-serving. Everyone knows about it, nobody can stop it. The license to skew content becomes a license to play PR "reputation repair" games and for others to push their own agendas. Only straight inclusionism, same standard from anything had the potential to grant a genuine peace. So I would say Wikipedia is still very much paying for that past mistake. Wnt (talk) 21:28, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

some reason to leave !?[edit]

As not so new user with some 90.000 edits i am quite unsure how to proceed further. At one side i am still willing to contribute, at the other side there are some things that make me rethink this opinion. Mostly they are: the nearly absolutely missing support for longtime contributors (I do not want wo be put at one level with IP users without any merits at all), and more and more the crazy politics of WMF. As they started paying for alot of things I do not consider as core tasks of a encyclopedia, i stopped funding WP. Some years I spent even holidays creating or translating articles. Now I am rather thinking, if I should spend hours of my lifetime for WP or not...There is a substancial need for repentance and return to the basic principles of wikipedia on the side of WMF, else they may loose the older, experienced users like me but gain only self promoters etc. and readers-only.- Andy king50 (talk) 20:30, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

I have some 30.000 edits and I loved the wiki interface. The Media Viewer prevents me from editing instead of helping me. And the WMF is not hearing our complaints. This makes me increasingly sick and annoyed. The WMF is supposed to help in the writing of the encyclopedia. The WMF is supposed to take over the legal and technical aspects, and give us.more freedom to edit more and better. The WMF has lost its original purpose, and it only seems to be getting worse....... please pay attention to our complaints. Unpaid volunteers were the ones who made this encyclopedia possible in the first place and the ones who kept from being destroyed by vandalism and enthropy. Don't make the mistake of dumping those who raised you to.the top. --Enric Naval (talk) 19:08, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
I have this page on my watchlist but don't follow all the change. I just read Enric's comment by chance. It matches my feelings pretty well. --MF-W 19:30, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
For me it was the mathematics, but the net effect is the same. The opinion of the WMF Board chair is relevant here: All of this is going to require change, change that might not be acceptable to some of you. I hope that all of you will be a part of this next step in our evolution. But I understand that if you decide to take a wiki-break, that might be the way things have to be. Even so, you have to let the Foundation do its work and allow us all to take that next step when needed. I can only hope that your break is temporary, and that you will return when the time is right. [18] As far as I'm concerned, there is always a way forward, but it doesn't necessarily involve editing Wikipedia. Deltahedron (talk) 19:37, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Erasing autonomy? No, thanks![edit]

My opinion is: each Wikimedia project should kept right to own specific way, as long as that way doesn't break general rules, and yes, I mean five pillars. Every exctensions, especially extension of rights for "the 'Staff' global user group", are not welcome. I'll cite this: "Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security". And this case is even not about security, is just about change the way of viewing files just "we like to do this that way". What for? To show that "we have the power, your opinion is doesn't matter"? Lajsikonik (talk) 10:21, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

While agreeing about the importance of local autonomy, I'd point out it's broader than the "five pillars", which are only for Wikipedia (in fact, the first pillar says so explicitly). --Pi zero (talk) 11:35, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Revoking these decisions is not enough[edit]

If the decisions on enforcing the superprotect and the Media Viewer were the first authoritarian and inacceptable ones by the Wikimedia Foundation, I would only insist on revoking them. However, this is not the case. It is because of some earlier ones that I practically stopped my contributions.

There had been a blocking of the downloads of Wikimedia Commons files by bots, even if these were very limited (eg. about 10 pictures over a period of several hours) and needed to improve the projects contents. This was removed later, but the fact that it was introduced and maintained for some time, clearly and without a convincing reason violating the promise that the WMF projects info should be free, is deeply disturbing. (I can understand a block on mass downloading that can slam the WMF servers, but this definitely was not the case.)

There had been also a discussion whether the wikitext of the WMF projects should be freely available to third parties at all. The decision untimately was to keep it available. However, the very fact that an opinion that squarely contradicts the WMF promise of projects information freedom was discussed at length is even more disturbing.

There might also have been more like these, which I didn't noticed. Please feel welcome to list such ones.

Such events show that an influent party within WMF does not consider the Foundation to be bound to its promise - the promise that inspired the WMF projects volunteers, and made them provide a vast amount of quality work for free. That this party considers the contents of the WMF projects de facto a property of the Foundation, and believes that it can do whatever they fancy with this info and to the projects.

I believe that as long as the people who form this lobby can take part in the WMF decisions, the promise of the Foundation about the projects freedom will never be safe. That the introducing of new decisions amounting to the theft of all the work done by the Wikipedia etc. volunteers is likely, maybe even inevitable.

The only action that can prevent such a development is excluding from WMF all people who introduced, supported or defended such decisions, and taking a decision that bars them from participating in WMF, including running for electable positions, for a period of at least ten years. For myself, I can clearly tell that this alone is not sufficient, but is mandatory in restoring my trust that my contributions will not be walled away and in effect stolen.

If such an excluding is not done in a short time, I would consider the WMF projects in danger of being stolen from the community that created them, and will consider taking steps towards forking these projects. And I will work to ensure that the authority behind the fork is legally bound to never limit them in violation of the spirit of its freedom promise, and to automatically mark the people who suggest such limitations as ineligible for participation in or influence over the authority decisions.

-- Григор Гачев (talk) 12:16, 12 September 2014 (UTC)


Are staff people above volunteers?[edit]

As a long-term contributor on the Malagasy Wikipedia and Wiktionary, I consider superprotect right as an attempt to counter local community decision by allowing no one but the staff to edit the page having this characteristic. I have almost the same opinion as users who commented against that user right.

As far as I know, the Wikimedia foundation role is to provide people a place to work together to share knowledge. So far it has provided tools to ease us achieve that; and so far local communities, through administrators, were given freedom to change (more or less) the interface as they see fit. But what I see today is that Wikimedia developers are trying to take away that «freedom». This is tragic. As soon as it will be implemented, it will be very tempting for the rest of the staff to implement other «super» rights such as «superdelete», «superblock», «superpromote», «superdemote», etc.

In the last two years, tons of new tools and features have been implemented. However because of unacceptable bugs in the software, conservative communities have decided to disable them by default, which is not very appreciated by the WM engineering team, who in response executed their threat in implementing the controversial superprotection right, to supposedly avoid a protection war with local admins.

In my opinion, the choice to (de)activate features is up, and only up to the community, the community who voluntarily shares its knowledge to the rest of the world, for free. Staff members who act against the community, especially in this way, should not belong to the staff. Jagwar grrr... 13:30, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

No to Superprotect right[edit]

I do not think superprotect right is the right thing to have. When you have a tool, you tend to find ways to use it. I expect things to be handled with discussion and already established guidelines. I do not support creating this right. —Veeven (talk) 13:00, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

The will of the community should be respected[edit]

The will of the community should be respected: therefore NO to superprotect rights. I'm also against Media Viewer as default - it is not really useful - and would propose to remove it (as default) from the Quechua Wikipedia. -- AlimanRuna (talk) 13:37, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Failure to take communities in confidance[edit]

If any WMF staff/team is doing new feature development, I have been first to give barnstar and encouragement. Still I do not support arbitrary dead lines to justify lack of tact in taking communities in confidance. If one needs a trial and bug reports from experienced users and projects fix certain hours in a month for those couple of hours or edits even make a new software compulsory request for bug reports improve your software.

Whole maths of WMF team collapses probably since they do not take in to account likely bug fixing and enhancement requirements communities will be asking, or the whole drama is to creat a new mathematical show ? Most probablly the second case wont be there I believe them as such. But whole dram is tactless. And tactlessness is being justified with use of unjustifiable power drama.

My free advise to WMF be tactfull with positive attitude, avoid drama most important get read of notion that one can keep doing backstage management to engineer communities, that simply certainly wont work. Engineers can engineer software and not communities. For tactfull application one needs 'you aptitude' and interestinglly all wikipedias lack an artical on 'you aptitude' and WMF lacks faith in 'you aptitude'.

Hope tea cup storms will subside and right sense prevails.

Mahitgar (He who knows ,wants to know and and loves to keep others informed) (talk) 15:48, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

No "superprotect"![edit]

I think this is an insult to the community of wikis, and I feel like this is going against the "community-in-charge" atmosphere here. --AmaryllisGardener talk 20:09, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Please act like God[edit]

As in — you have created this [wiki-]world. You gave us your Five pillars law. Now, please let us mortals deal with it, without meddling with our affairs. Your "law" is sufficiently clear; we will be able to give it appropriate reading; from now on, your only job is to make sure the "world" won't collapse on us. -- Wesha (talk) 21:45, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

No superprotect privilege[edit]

In short, there shouldn't be anything like "superprotect" unless the five pillars is broken. I can see from the above comments that it is an idea shared by many. --William915 (talk) 13:20, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

No[edit]

The original intent was giving as much self-government to the subprojects as possible, excluded breaking the five pillars and really a few basic assumptions. Superprotect is not conforming to this idea, it establishes a right which must not exist (content override for the WMF against the community). --grin 08:28, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps[edit]

At first I was furious over superprotect but after a while I must admit that it sort of makes sense. In some cases a lawsuit can be targeting WMF over content at one of the projects, but at the same time some of the admins at that project refuse to cooperate. In those cases it could be better to have something like superprotect as the alternative would be to desysop every rogue admin. So far it seems reasonable. In the case of dewiki the core problem is that it wasn't a dispute over content but over functionality, and in the specific case it has more to do with lack of communication about the functionality than the functionality itself. It was clearly a dispute where WMF had a major interest in a specific outcome, and that outcome was supported by use of superprotect. I don't think that use either merit the further use of superprotect or should be used as an argument against it, it was a breach of conduct no matter if it was done with superprotect or had been done with ordinary protect.

I would say use the superprotect but give the projects an option to vote for their own "superusers", or in lack of local rights holders make some global superheroes. That said I think those superusers should work in close cooperation with OTRS-members, and perhaps especially with the legal team, those are trhe people that need some kind of superprotect.

Seems pretty obvious right? Its not. If we have such superusers that can edit, and then block an article from everyone, that user is in a very awkward position if (s)he is the target for a lawsuit. Only solution I can see is that two or more users either claims the right or do the operation together. — Jeblad 15. sep. 2014 kl. 14:59 (CEST)

The irresistible force has met the immovable object[edit]

A wise man from the United States once elegantly summed up the problem with freedom by opining that, "Either we believe in freedom of speech and expression for those whose opinions are opposite ours our we do not believe in it at all." That philosophy is in part what has guided the various Wiki-related encyclopedias here for years, but is now jeopardized by those who feel that the system must be protected from itself for the sake of the creating a safer, more secure, and more readily accessible encyclopedia for the masses. This is unacceptable, as the project is and remains dependent upon the contributors for survival. Just as a house divided against itself can not stand, so to does a project that stands against its ideals set itself up to fail.

Look back to our birth, to the glory years of editor participation and encyclopedic expansion. What was it that made the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit so attractive to us? It was the idea of editing a site that would accept us as participants for a goal regardless of our editorial status. With the closing of the English Wikipedia's anon-related creation rights I foresaw the coming changes, and successfully predicted that the foundation would one day turn what had been an open neighborhood into a gated community, where the goal would not be to work for what was best for the encyclopedia as a whole but to single out and protect that which resided inside the gated community at the expense of the mission statement. It appears that we have finally hit that point.

Mario Savio once said, "There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!" This is now where we find ourselves, and since we are the gears upon which the projects rely for the bulk of the work we are in a fine position to bring the machine to stop. Unless we are free to edit, unless the five pillars and the established polices and guidelines are allowed to be the lights which guide us in our actions on the Wiki-related project sites, there will be no further editing, no further participation, no further creation of the articles here. And without the community, the project will eventually suffocate and die.

Do not become a prisoner to your lust for power. Swallow the pills of pride and listen to the voices here that petition for a redress of grievances before its too late. We can fix this, together, hand in hand, but only if both sides are willing to listen to and learn from each other. TomStar81 (talk) 21:11, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Luckily commons/en.wp/de.wp etc etc etc isn't gated and poisonous and lusting for power at all. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 07:29, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

Really?[edit]

I have traced back the problem to the original roots on how this Superprotect is introduced, and have to say that if WMF would like the community to remain free and loyal, WMF should not be intervened on implementing features when there's a consensus against it on, let's say, autoconfirmed user. As a user, I did not find that the Media Viewer is more useful than the original file page, which describes more clearly on the caption, copyright status and other things.

If the Superprotect is created to prevent the administrator from editing the page, especially user interface, then Wikipedia shouldn't be called itself a free encyclopedia, since after all it was controlled by the bureaucratic individuals at the top of the game, and not what Wikipedia (or any Wikimedia projects) is trying to promote itself. It may be Gratis, but not free. --171.96.36.5 12:48, 17 September 2014 (UTC)

Proposing to close discussion[edit]

No end date was proposed for this discussion, and it led to an open letter to WMF, with no other aspect of an end point. The heat has gone, and so has additional commentary, so I propose that the discussion be closed unless there is a specific other end point that needs to be an output or an outcome.  — billinghurst sDrewth 23:09, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

The WMF has indeed done nothing to regain it's lost reputation, that they tossed away with their putsch against the communities. I don't see any interest in the communities by those, who did this, I fail to see any change in behaviour by those, who did this misdeeds, I fail to see any recognition by the WMF about their status as mainly servants of the communities, to phrase in in a german proverb: Bei denen ist Hopfen und Malz verloren (they are a lost case). --♫ Sänger - Talk - superputsch must go 09:16, 1 October 2014 (UTC)
As discussed on talk page, there are above several actionable items which can be put up for a further RfC on a specific decision. Closing this page would only lead to further fragmentation of the discussion: related community pages see a continued activity and I see no hints of a decreased heat. Just because it doesn't sizzle, it doesn't mean the steel isn't hot. --Nemo 17:30, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

New MediaViewer RfC[edit]

en:Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)#Media Viewer RfC Question 1 & 2 (shortcut en:WP:VPR#rfc 5D8BCA2) --Trofobi (talk) 07:32, 12 October 2014 (UTC)