Bassel Khartabil/Banner/Straw poll/Discussion

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  • I am supporting this effort, but I'd like to address the opposition voiced (so far) by Arkanosis and MZMcBride. I think your reason for opposing is legitimate, and I respect it. I think Wiki*edia should always be cautious about using its political voice in this way, and it should never become a common activity. But I do not think it should be an absolute rule; absolute neutrality is an asymptote nobody will never achieve, and it would be hubris to pretend otherwise. We should always strive for neutrality, but not at the expense of speaking up about threats to the values that bring this community together. -Pete F (talk) 22:04, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Question about context[edit]

  • Could someone add some more information about the situation? Was Bassel Khartabil sentenced as a result of his work on Wikimedia? --Yair rand (talk) 22:09, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
    There is no clear information about why he was detained, apart from vague assertions that he was spying. But his efforts as a Wikimedian, Creative Commons advocate, and general free speech advocate are a core part of his identity. Perhaps others can expand on this; that's what I know. I think any substantial expansion should happen not in this discussion, but at Free Bassel. -Pete F (talk) 00:34, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    Pete is right. His educational work may have been mistaken for something else. More discussion on that page. SJ talk  20:10, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Is it possible to know more about Bassel's contributions to Wikimedia movement? I failed to find his user account or information about his participation in any Wikimedia-related events. If his username cannot be disclosed due to whatever reasons, at least we should mention his contributions (e.g. made 5,000 edits in Arabic Wikipedia, created 100 articles in English Wikipedia about Syrian culture etc.). It would be very helpful to show that we are defending not a random guy (unfortunately not all Syrian prisoners receive this kind of attention...) but someone who made valuable contributions to Wikimedia movement — NickK (talk) 22:33, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
    I believe @Sam can provide context to that, so I'll leave it up to him to flesh out the details, if at all possible. odder (talk) 22:46, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
    I agree with NickK. We must not support a random guy, but consider supporting a fellow wikimedian. ‍‍‍‍4nn1l2 (talk) 10:36, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    I get nervous measuring people's contributions to the movement by just their edit counts. I do not personally know the details, but from the Wikimedia Blog: "He was an early and frequent, if anonymous, contributor to Arabic Wikipedia. He built and led the Creative Commons (CC) Syria project, becoming an advocate for not just CC but for Ubuntu, Wikipedia, and the free web in general. The now-former CC chief Catherine Casserly wrote in 2013 that Bassel “worked tirelessly to build knowledge of digital literacy, educating people about online media and open-source tools.” At the launch of CC’s Arabic-language CC licenses, he was credited with playing a “pivotal role” in their adoption." I hope that helps answer your question. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 16:05, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    @Varnent: That's not about measuring edit counts, that's about understanding how Bassel is related to Wikimedia movement. In my opinion, Free Bassel should have at least a sentence about Bassel's contributions to Wikimedia, and the paragraph you cited would be perfectly fine. The point is to show that we are defending Bassel not due to any political reasons, but because we would defend in a similar way any member of our community, and this must be emphasised on the landing page (which, I guess, would be Free Bassel) — NickK (talk) 07:28, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    That is a reasonable idea, and I apologize - I more meant my comment as a general comment knowing this has many people reading it - as that is one way I know people can sometimes interpret things like that - more than I meant it towards you personally. I am glad that helps answer your question, as I will admit it did for me as well, I think it is worth trying to work into the main page. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 08:15, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    Bassel was not mainly an editor, he worked on outreach, adoption, and legal issues for CC, wikipedia, and other commons initiatives [such as newpalmyra]. Most of his edits were anonymous. SJ talk  20:10, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    The bottom line seems to be that no one can show any hard facts that he actually did a major effort for Wikipedia. From the above lack of facts it seems far stretched to me to argue in support of the banner campaign that he is "one of us". Or to play the devils advocate, maybe the one that support him for other reasons found it useful to connect him to Wikipedia? Again - I hope this guy manage, but there are probably tens of thousands in the Syrian regime's jails, why single out him for support? Ulflarsen (talk) 12:27, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

Interaction w/ fundraising banners[edit]

  • How does the fundraising team feel about running a banner at that time. Isn't that the same time as the first week of the fundraiser? Bawolff (talk) 22:27, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
    Yeah, it is the first week of a campaign that's supposed to raise something like half of WMF's budget (and raises most of that in the first week). I propose that in US/CA/GB/AU/NZ, the Free Bassel campaign should target logged-in users. Logged-in users are not targeted by fundraising campaigns and I imagine are far more likely to take action to save a member of the community. Anonymous readers are already going to be pestered to the point of banner fatigue and less likely to respond positively. This is my personal suggestion, not an official response from the fundraising team. Ejegg (talk) 01:13, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    (moved comment from parallel discussion on talk page) Limiting the banner to logged-in users is a massive reduction in the audience. (Perhaps somebody else can quantify, but I think "massive" might be enough for the purposes of this discussion.) IMO the issue of Bassel's detention is vastly more important to the future of Wikipedia than money going to the already wealthy Wikimedia Foundation. I would propose that if there is a conflict for a week, given that there is a life and principles at stake with the present campaign, the fund-raising campaign should simply be delayed for a week. Either that, or (if technically feasible) the banners should alternate. -Pete F (talk) 01:24, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    Alternately, a campaign could be much more focused than a week: 1-2 days; and it could alternate w/ other banners rather than being 100% a single banner.


Participating in the poll, and its results[edit]

  • Question: Will this be decided by simple majority (50%+1), or a supermajority (66% or 70% or 75% or something)? --Jakob (talk) aka Jakec 16:32, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    There's no definitive answer to your question, Jakec. Speaking for myself, I have the close of the poll marked on my calendar; if the level of support then looks like it does now (in favor of support, but not overwhelmingly, and with minimal participation), I will be changing my vote from support to oppose. -Pete F (talk) 18:57, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
To Pete F: It is of course up to you to decide how to vote, but changing your wote that way seems strange, to say the least. If you believe it is right to use Wikipedia for this, then I accept you voting for a banner. But changing to no due to low participation and an almost even outcome? Ulflarsen (talk) 19:55, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Ulflarsen, since there is no clear standard for what is a decisive outcome, I may adjust my vote accordingly. In a situation where there is clear consensus for the banner, I would support the banner. That's my preferred outcome, knowing what I know now. But if there is substantial opposition, or of very few Wikimedians have chosen to participate, I see that as a situation where we should not run a banner. We still have a few days before I (or anyone) has to make a final decision, so I don't want to get too speculative about it. -Pete F (talk) 21:41, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
  • 26 November is a holiday in the United States. I posted support in advance of this opening because I am not sure I will be around on this holiday. Many other Wikipedia contributors in the United States may be gone for the next few days. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:02, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I think members of the WMF Board of Trustees should refrain from taking part in the poll due to a conflict of interest. The BoT is the body that runs the WMF and, thus, Wikipedia.--Aschmidt (talk) 23:36, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    That's not a conflict of interest. That's like saying that the Wikimedia community have a COI here, as they edit Wikipedia, and manage things like the CentralNotice... Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 02:35, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
  • As the list of Wikipedias show, the number of votes here is representing an extremely tiny part of the many that are active users (some 300 thousand) or just registered (some 50+ millions). All the same this vote try to change the course of Wikipedia from being about free knowledge, to start campaigning for individuals. I find it most troubling that such a huge change in the aim of the project can be decided by so few, in such a short time (just a few days). Not looking at the other arguments, I believe that this argument alone would invalidate the banner campaign. Ulflarsen (talk) 10:28, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
    • Repeatedly appealing to numbers and percentages, red herrings, moving the goalposts and raising the bar, and arguing based on time are all incapable of "invalidating" anything. Viriditas (talk) 11:04, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
  • To Viriditas: If I understand you right it would make no difference if there instead of 150 for and 80 against, the numbers was 15 for banner and 8 against? Interesting. Ulflarsen (talk) 12:03, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
  • So far there are around 150 votes for running a banner and 90 against, a total of around 240 votes. If we can rely on the numbers at list of Wikipedias there are at least 300 thousand active users (contributors) to various language versions of Wikipedia. It means that less than one in thousand active users have voted. So, with less than one in thousand of our active community we are about to change our position on running campaign banners for causes outside Wikipedia. I see several grave questions regarding this and I believe it says a lot of how little basis such a hasty call for a banner has in the wider community. Ulflarsen (talk) 14:33, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Ulflarsen. This is too hasty a decision for such a monumental change. I really think that the Board of Trustees should be involved in the decision-making, not just a tiny sample of those Wikipedians that gather here in the few days that this straw poll is open. There simply cannot be such a haste to do anything that will alter permanently the basic concept of an encyclopedia. --Pxos (talk) 18:11, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

On politics and precedents[edit]

  • No politics for Wikipedia, ever. If you create a precedent, you open the floodgates and won't be able to ever close them again. From a legal point of view, you establish a case to which you can then return to, whenever a new case is submitted (case law).--Monozigote (talk) 11:33, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    To Monozigote: Wikimedia's stated mission, "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally" IS already political. In many parts of the world, such as Syria currently, transparent and free information can be seen as harmful to the ruling regime. This is exactly the case that has endangered Bassel, not exclusively because of his Wikipedia activity, but inclusive of it as part of his efforts for free culture in Syria. Asserting Wikipedia as apolitical is a position of privilege, that we wish everyone had. --Barrythrew (talk) 23:17, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Regarding this issue, I have voted against, but I also think that even a vote ending up with supporting it should only be one of many opinions on it and not the final. Most of our contributors do not participate in such votes and from the beginning we did not sign up to any other kind of activism than building a freely available encyclopedia. I believe that one of the reasons for this working is that we have such a narrow scope, it means we can gather old and young, people who believe and atheists, left and right etc. If we start to change this, however worthy the cause may look, then we may end up with an endless stream of petitions that want to use Wikipedia for something it was not created for. Ulflarsen (talk) 23:45, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
    This specific issue is proposed because it is so closely related to our shared values and community, not because it is generically regarded as "an important issue." I am confident that an issue that does not have such strong connections would not generate much popular support. However, I agree with you that a poll on Meta Wiki only goes so far to establish consensus. If individual wikis object to running the banner, I believe that is a position that should be respected. I would leave it to local wikis to determine what is the proper process for determining that kind of consensus. -Pete F (talk) 00:29, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    Do observe that my opposition to this banner is not due the situation the person is in, I do not doubt it is serious and that he can need the support he can get. But Wikipedia is not created for supporting any other worthy cause than free knowledge. If we start with supporting one case I am afraid that we quickly will see a number of similar cases. We all have various ways in which we can try to support causes we feel should be advanced, be it political parties, labor organisations, religious communities etc. This means there is almost no end to the means for that. On the other side there is one Wikipedia, and the basis is its user community. If we add the fights about what good causes we should support, then I think we give our small and fragile community a challenge it simply do not need, and never was designed for. Ulflarsen (talk) 01:24, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    By supporting each other we support free knowledge. We are supporting a person, which is not the same as supporting a political party or religious group. I do not see a contradiction with our goals and I hope / do not think the number of similar cases will be large. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 02:29, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    I agree with James - I'm not saying a single word against Syria. I just would like to see the release of a free knowledge activist.--Muzammil (talk) 07:17, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    We are not supporting just a random good cause, we are considering supporting a fellow wikimedian, an established member of the community. 4nn1l2 (talk) 10:42, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
    Again, I hope this poor guy manage, but if we start to do this, there will soon be other "fellow wikimedians" in similar bad (or worse) situations. And if we don't get him released? Are we going to run a weekly banner? And while I do support this guy (but do not want Wikipedia to be used as a campaign tool) then I am sure there are others that do not, maybe a lot of our contributors and readers. So Wikipedia goes from trying to be a source of free knowledge to the next campaign site, as if we did not have a lot of them already. What about the poor Wikimedian that is in jail in Canada, when are we going to campaign for her? Or the poor Wikimedia family in Eritrea (parents and kids) - all in jail? And how can you know if these two examples I just mentioned is real, or fake, or real arrests, but not Wikimedians? Or real Wikimedians in arrest, but not for contributing to Wikipedia, but for burglary and more...? Again, if start on this road, there is no end. Ulflarsen (talk) 12:36, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Possible outcome: Wikipedia seen as taking side in the conflict in Syra. As seen from the article about Bassel Khartabil he is under detention by the Syrian government. If we run a banner we may be seen as against that government, by those who support it. Whether one like it or not, Russia, several countries in the Middle East, possibly also China and others support Syria. For them this guy is probably seen as a criminal. So, what ever good intentions about this campaign, Wikipedia may be seen as taking sides in this conflict and some would possibly also see Wikipedia as lining up with "The West". Again, I am against the Assad regime and I support the Syrian people's right to live free and in peace, but Wikipedia is not the place to work for that. Ulflarsen (talk) 19:33, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
@Ulflarsen: the WMF is working closely with other more expert human rights campaigners on this, and I'm sure they are predicting outcomes and trying to decide the best action. I would also underline than, even if I understand the people who ask for a "neutrality" of Wikipedia, I also think, and I hope nobody will be offended, the is naive to think that there is such thing as neutrality, especially in cases like this. ISIS is destroying Palmyra and other ancient cities, we are for preservation and dissemination of human knowledge: this is a political stance on his own. We believe in free culture, sharing, consensus, constructive criticism, collective intelligence, access to knowledge. All of these are very, very political opinions. There is no neutrality: we are all biased. ISIS or Assad or whatever fundamentalism won't like us less if we put a banner. Also, as I said elsewhere: How could we ask for money with the banners when we are not using the power that was bestowed upon us by the very same spirit, love and courage that is condemning Bassel to death? Aubrey (talk) 23:10, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
To Aubrey As you mention there are a number of organisations that have this as their field and we should leave it to them. And however much you hope for the contrary, I can assure you that someone will be offend by this banner, simply because quite a few nations and people support the current Syrian regime headed by Assad. And this is not about me supporting Assad, on the contrary, in this conflict IS is a minor problem, the killer is the Assad regime, well supported by Russia. I totally agree that it is not possible to be neutral, but this is about what Wikipedia is designed for. If you use your vacuum cleaner to empty your washbasin you will have a bad result - no vacuum cleaner and no empty wash basin - its as simple as that. We can and should ask for money as we do what people expect us to do - build a free encyclopedia. If they want to support people innocents tortured by tyrants they give their money to Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and so on. Ulflarsen (talk) 01:00, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Hi, Ulflarsen. The Wikimedia Foundation declared, in a mail in Wikimedia-l, that they are already collaborating with these orgs. I understand that someone will be offendedd by the banner, but someone is already offended by countless articles we have, by the very fact we exists, by the notion of "access to knowledge" and "freedom of expression". I understand many concerns in using a Wikipedia banner, but I stand by my position that Wikipedia is, by itself, a political act, and that neutrality is a myth. I'm a librarian and we have some of the same issues, but in the end we always have to make a choice: you don't store instructions on how you build bombs in the kids section, for example. You don't invite KKK spokepersons for public speeches with families. In Wikipedia, we have notability criteria, which imply a selection, which imply a choice. Isn't this NOT neutra? NPOV is a great rule for writing an encyclopedia, but writing a collaborative encyclopedia is not neutral, it's a choice. A choice of which implies values of freedome, democracy, importance of free knowledge, etc. In this case, a member of our community is held band condemned to death by a political regime that despise all these values. I think this is enough to repeat actions that we had in the past (think about the blackout). I encourage all who DON'T support the banners to find other good arguments, because I really think this one is flawed. We would all benefit from better arguments :-) Aubrey (talk) 11:10, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Just for the completeness of the context, I am not aware of offended complaints about the FreeBassel Day, which was held on the same subject, and spending the same name of the same free Wikipedia. That was advocacy. Now that there is a life at risk, it sounds a bit... strange that things have changed so much in the meanwhile, because what actually has changed for sure, is that we now are seriously worried about Bassel's life. Which regime put it at risk makes no difference: of course there are countries in which one wouldn't expect similar things to happen, but that's all, we ask Assad to save Bassel's life just like we would ask anyone else to do it, and Bassel's life happens to be in Assad's hands.
To save a life should be more important than to save a point in a discussion on a wiki. Imho. --g (talk) 11:28, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
To Aubrey I have participated since 2004 and this seems a rather clear break with what we have done up to now, that we may be seen to side with the "The West" is not a small deal in my opinion. And don't get me wrong, I am totally against Assad (and I am a reserve officer in the Norwegian navy, supportive of our armed forces, NATO and our alliance with the US), but this is not the place to flash that. Then there is the "next case". If we start with this we should not be surprised if we get new requestst for banners. What about the russian guy held by the fascists in Ukraine? How can we decline to support him? Or how do we wet the cases, knowing which is "real" or not? And who gets to decide what are "good" cases and "bad" cases? Or what about South-Sudan? What is the use of trying to spread Wikipedia to the third world, if the kids are dead? The number of similar cases - or cases that can connect us in some way - are unlimited. However, our time is not, and while I write her I can not write on Wikipedia. If we start with this we risk using loads of time by the voluntary contributors time to vote and argue over something they never signed up to, not a good idea, to say the least... Ulflarsen (talk) 12:30, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
@Ulflarsen: The russian guy held by the fascists in Ukraine, really? I am Ukrainian and I am not aware of any fascists in Ukraine who hold Russian guys and sentence them to death. However, I am aware what it means when a Wikimedian is killed: last year I have written three obituaries about fellow Wikimedians who were killed in Ukraine, and it is definitely something I would want to do again. The case of death sentence is very different from all other cases you mentioned: that imaginary Russian guy would be liberated at some point, however, a death sentence is a point of non-return, and if we can do something to prevent this we should do it — NickK (talk) 23:34, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
To NickK The "russian guy" is a fake, and if you read my posting I would assume that you easily spotted it, right after I write about the problem sorting out which cases are real and which cases are fake. And I notice that you stay away from mentioning South-Sudan, not to say the climate conference in Paris. What use do we have of Wikipedia if the planet heats up? Again - I am happy for anyone supporting this guy in Syria and the right way to do that is through Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch or similar organisations, that is their field of work, Wikipedia has its own: Free knowledge. Ulflarsen (talk) 00:21, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, here we have a clearly real case, and we have a clear way to act: in such cases high public attention may be decisive as it usually is for political prisoners. At the same time, there is a Russian guy who is fake and war in South Sudan where there is nothing Wikimedians can do. For the climate conference in Paris Wikimedians definitely can do something, that is, write articles about climate change. Ukrainian Wikipedia already has a collaboration project about this, and you can definitely join as well: for example, en:2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference has no Norwegian version. So yes, Wikimedia should react to the climate conference either, but in a different way — NickK (talk) 13:16, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
To NickK: A clear case? From what I read above no one seems to be able to show that this guy is indeed "one of us" as others state, one states that he has contributed anonymously, but if that is enough then we can look forward to a lot of banners. You may think that Wikimedians can not do anything about South-Sudan, others may have a different opinion, a banner on Wikipedia will awaken the world. Same for the climate conference in Paris, the supporters will say that writing articles on Wikipedia is not enough, banners is the thing, and so on. If you check at the bottom of this discussion page there is already a proposal for how we shall handle the next banner cases. Ulflarsen (talk) 14:20, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Are there anybody who has a third voice? I want to make my protesting voice against human right violation heard, but I am not sure the banner is the best way to do it. If we have a third option, I hope it listed on the voting statement. How about to send a letter to Syrian government to reconsider and to other countries to support our efforts with tons of signatures of Wikipedians? --Ryuch (talk) 00:21, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
If you want to support him then there is a number of organisations like Human Rights Watch, they have articles about his case. Amnesty also has a page about his case. Both are organisations with long experience in working with human rights violations and with a wide network. Ulflarsen (talk) 01:08, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
  • This is not an "ordinary" case of those that Amnesty Intl deals with every day. And this is not an "ordinary" threat to the freedom of Wikipedia like the ones we are unfortunately becoming used to. This is a case of a life in danger, and it is the life of a Wikipedian. Trying to be rational, there are a few things that made me vote the way I did:
    1. An encyclopedia cannot be more important than a human life. If there is anything we can do to save a life, I believe that we should do anything we can. I don't know whether the banner would be useful or not, I know that we have to try it, and to try it at our best. Whatever the cost. Because of a principle and because Bassel is a Colleague of ours; and I'm not used to be friends with anyone only when it's funny, we are friends in the good and we are friends in the bad. Let's be Bassel's friends, there's plenty of time in the future to be pure, innocent and uncontaminated, but only for those who will be there, in the future.
    2. In the past, when requested by police Authorities, en.wiki left aside the policies, violated dozens of principles and rules, but en.wiki did all what was useful to save a life. It was later considered the right thing to do. And the owner of the life in danger had got nothing to do with WP, he/she was a complete stranger to the WikiWorld. Now it's heavily different. Our brother Bassel is in danger. It could have happened to anyone of us.
    3. If we don't react with strength and energy, any user in any part of the world could be potentially at risk of being made a victim of dictatorships or of similar threats. Our strength is made of words, it can be a banner. It could be a black-out, all the site could be obscured for a while. We have very little that we really can do, a banner is nothing more than a banner, but it is a message from Wikipedia, and if its price was all the prestige that was put together here in 15 years, I would pay it twice if this can help. With strength, with energy, with a beating heart. Being passive in this case could be dangerous for other users too.
Let's be together, let's be together with Bassel. Please. --g (talk) 02:24, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
If you want to save human lives, why don't we run a banner for South-Sudan? Or Burundi? Or whatever place where people get killed? And they probably read Wikipedia there too. Regarding saving this poor guy, anyone that knows a fragment about the regime in Syria knows they don't care about a banner on Wikipedia, they have already killed hundreds of thousands, for them killing him is like smashing a flie. So if we run this banner, supported by a tiny minority of contributors, it will anyway not mean anthing, for him. But for us it most probably will, as we will by hundreds of millions be seen as "siding with the west" and there may not be long before the next worthy case for a banner comes along. Why don't we run a banner during the climate conference in Paris for example? Is't climate change a "matter of life and death"? Ulflarsen (talk) 12:40, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I would like to encourage the opposers to study the history of encyclopedia creation and the publication of knowledge made available to the general public. They will discover that for centuries, it has always been a radical, political act of the highest importance. For anyone who still believes that the neutral act of compiling information is any way equivalent to a neutral political position, then I'm afraid you don't know your history. By choosing to be part of his project you've become soldiers in the only war that matters, the war against the human imagination. There is no safe haven from this war, as it is not fought with weapons or with the body, but with ideas. Viriditas (talk) 07:02, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
..."against the human imagination"????????? --Daniele Pugliesi (talk) 12:15, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
In a war against the imagination, which side do you think Wikipedia is on? "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge...." Viriditas (talk) 16:34, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
To Viriditas Regarding the radical nature of Wikipedia I totally agree. But that is not an argument for changing what we have done until now, that is use this site for writing and sharing free knowledge. So we don't do ads, we don't do banners, we do free knowledge. That should be more than enough. Ulflarsen (talk) 12:50, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Corporate social responsibility is required in a socially connected, global economy. In this new world, silence implies complicity.[1] Viriditas (talk) 16:59, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Exactly – that is why so many people are dedicated to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is showing a massive social responsibility by making all this knowledge free to all and with as much attention to neutral content as possible. The effect on the situation for people in dire situation all over the world cannot be overestimated, and to risk this position for a single cause, however heartbreaking this must be, is a mistake. --Savfisk (talk) 18:09, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Free people everywhere are at risk. We live in perilous times, and there is no greater cause than to support the life of a single individual who best represents what we are about and where we want to go in the future. It is the moral imperative and responsibility of every human being to reject oppression and tyranny. Throughout history there are those who stood on the sidelines and wished to make deals with their captors, to surrender to intolerance, to bargain with darkness. You have to make a personal choice where to draw the line. History shows that the vast majority make the wrong choice. Viriditas (talk) 21:46, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
We do not know whether the support for Bassel may be of any significance. Similarly we do not know the power of the free knowledge for people around the world in dire situations. But we do risk the long term credibility and maybe even the stability of the project if the focus changes. --Savfisk (talk) 23:14, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Die englischsprachige Version des vorgeschlagenen Banners beginnt mit den beiden Wörtern Wikipedia volunteer. Damit wird der Eindruck erweckt, dass Khartabil wegen seiner Mitarbeit an Wikipedia inhaftiert wurde. Zum einen wird er damit von Wikipedia vereinnahmt, zum anderen auf Wikipedia reduziert. Wenn sich in der Zukunft erweist, dass er aufgrund ganz anderer Anschuldigungen inhaftiert wurde, wird das sowohl auf Wikipedia als auch auf Khartabil zurückfallen. Je mehr ich darüber nachdenke, desto unwahrscheinlicher kommt es mir vor, dass ein Zusammenhang zwischen Wikipedia und der Inhaftierung bestehen soll. Khartabil hat in der Anfangszeit der arabischen Wikipedia - also einige Zeit vor dem syrischen Bürgerkrieg - anonym zu Wikipedia beigetragen. Wenn das Regime ein Exempel gegen Wikipedia statuieren will, würde man sich einen bedeutenden Wikiautoren aussuchen, der unter Klarnamen auftritt, als exzellent gewählte Artikel erstellt hat, Admin ist, auf Wikicons Vorträge hält oder für die WMF auftritt. Khartabils vielfältige, bemerkenswerten und öffentlichkeitswirksamen Leistungen liegen ausserhalb von Wikipedia/Wikimedia. Auch seine Frau hat sich mit der Meldung über Khartabils Verurteilung nicht an wikipedia.org, wikimedia.org, ein Blog, irc oder Mailingliste von Wikimedia/Wikipedia gewandt, sondern dies auf Facebook veröffentlicht. Seine Freunde und Familie sehen ihn also nicht als Wikipediapersönlichkeit. Eine Centralnotice hätte eine große Öffentlichkeitswirksamkeit, wenn sich dann herausstellt, dass die angedeutete Verbindung von Khartabil und Wikipedia garnicht besteht, schadet das dem Ansehen sowohl von Wikipedia als auch Khartabil. Wikipedia ist ein internationales Projekt, die Sitenotice würde also auch in Russland erscheinen. Ist es wirklich im Interesse von Khartabil Putin zu verärgern, der als Verbündeter des syrischen Regimes auf dieses einwirken könnte? Dass Öffentlichkeit den Verfolgten von Unrechtsregimen eher schadet, wurde schon gesagt, sinnvoller erscheint es, Briefe an die Botschaft zu schreiben. Auch wird mit dem Banner ein Präzedenzfall geschaffen. Es gibt zahlreiche Konflikte auf der Welt mit hunderten Toten am Tag, darunter immer wieder auch engagierte Wikipediaautoren. Sollen die alle Banner bekommen und wenn ja, welche: die Regimetreuen oder die Freiheitskämpfer/Terroristen? --° (Gradzeichen)
    This is a thoughtful comment. I don't have an answer for it, but will translate: SJ talk  20:10, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    The English-language version of the proposed banner starts with the two words Wikipedia volunteer. This gives the impression that Khartabil was imprisoned for his collaboration on Wikipedia. On the one hand, this means that Wikipedia appropriates his efforts; on the other hand, it reduces them to Wikipedia. If in the future, it turns out he was detained because of completely different reasons, this will reflect poorly both on Wikipedia and on Khartabil. The more I think about it, the less likely it seems to me that a relationship exists between Wikipedia and the imprisonment. Khartabil contributed anonymously to Wikipedia in the early days of the Arabic Wikipedia - some time before the Syrian civil war. If the regime wants to set an example with regard to Wikipedia, you would choose an important Wiki contributor, who writes under his real name, has created featured articles, is an admin, holds Wikicon lectures or represents WMF. Khartabil's diverse, remarkable and effective public services are outside of Wikipedia / Wikimedia. His wife posted the messages about Khartabil's conviction not to wikipedia.org, wikimedia.org, a Wikimedia/Wikipedia blog, IRC chat or mailing list, but on Facebook. So his friends and family do not see him as a Wikipedia personality. A Central Notice would have a very high public profile; if it then turns out that the indicated connection between Khartabil and Wikipedia doesn't exist, it damages the reputation of both Wikipedia and Khartabil. Wikipedia is an international project: the SiteNotice would therefore also appear in Russia. Is it really in Khartabil's interest to anger Putin, who, as an ally of the Syrian regime, might influence their decision-making? It has already been said that publicity is more likely to do harm to those persecuted by unjust regimes; it seems more sensible to write letters to the embassy. A banner will also set a precedent. There are many conflicts in the world with hundreds of people killed each day, including time and again committed Wikipedia authors. Should they all get banners, and if so, which ones: those loyal to the regime or the freedom fighters / terrorists? I've made some small edits to this translation. [2] --Andreas JN466 08:46, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
    The only reason we are discussing a banner is because everything you've mentioned has already been tried. Please read the links to the history. I'm sure thousands of letters have already been sent, that's what groups like AI and others do in the first place. We are clearly beyond the writing letters stage. Viriditas (talk) 20:25, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    To Viriditas: He raise a number of other arguments, one important even for those who believe strongly that this banner should be run is that it may even harm him. Another important argument is: What will be the next cause asking for a banner, and the next, and the next? I can not see that you address any of the two. Ulflarsen (talk) 20:34, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    Thank you. I addressed the factual nature of his comment (letter campaigns have occurred and continue to occur) and ignored what I viewed as fallacies (appeal to consequences, fear, slippery slope, etc.). By way of analogy, it is said that in industrialized societies, the most dangerous places are in the home, the automobile, and in the hospital. Should we all, therefore, sleep outside our homes in the yard, refuse to drive a car, and avoid hospitals? Viriditas (talk) 20:56, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    To Viriditas: If I understand you correctly there is no risk of harming this guy by running this banner campaign? And this is the only banner campaign we will run, there will not be another one next month, and the month after that, and so on? Or to put it more concrete: I am very concerned about the development in South Sudan. People are on the verge of dying, by running a banner we could make the world understand how serious the situation is there. How can we say no to running such a campaign, after we have run this one? Ulflarsen (talk) 21:18, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    To Ulflarsen: I can't speak on the precedent set for future actions, but so far publicity and visibility for Bassel's situation has had positive effects for him. He has been transferred to better jails, and given visitation rights to his wife, Noura, up until his recent relocation. We can't know for sure what outcome the banner campaign would have, but I can say with certainty that doing it would be in accordance with Bassel's wishes in these circumstances. --Barrythrew (talk) 23:27, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Ulflarsen, I have nothing against those who suffer and die in South Sudan. Nothing. And I have nothing against those who die every day in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as in the middle of our Western towns, where another war is fought against mafia (and its political alter ego), poverty, cancer, and another amount of reasons that someone else decided you have to test on your own flesh and at your sole cost. There is plenty of good reasons to get angry in these times we are living. But, rest assured, as tragic as they can be, they cannot be the subject of our banners, because here we deal with free knowledge. As long as something regards free knowledge, then it deserves our utmost attention. And when it's not a matter of freedom on the Internet, we have no title at all to use our name for that. Ancient Romans said: dura lex, sed lex, hard law, but law.
The fact is that free knowledge can exist only in a free web. These two freedoms cannot live one without the other: without a free web you can't have a free knowledge, and without a free knowledge, you can't have a free web. So, from our side of the barricade, we are making the free knowledge; but we need a free web. And the free web is made of all those contributions and works made by people working in WP, as well as in other Projects. They are not sister Projects, to us, we leave this definition for the ones in the WMF's family. But the other Projects are close relatives of ours, just the same. And we were glad they were so close to us when we were fighting against SOPA, or for the FoP, or for the other very few causes we decided to stand for. We were glad, then, when the Web was united as one, to our convenience. Now it's our moment to prove that we are still part of that "one" Web united for freedom. Gradzeichen is right: Bassel isn't one of our most prolific contributors, at least with this user account. I thought we all knew this. Nevertheless, right or wrong it might be, Bassel is wherever described as involved with Wikipedia, and now everywhere they are saying he is a Wikipedian. Maybe he contributed anonymously, who knows, we also shouldn't exclude this possibility. For certain, there is a better evidence that he works with CC, with GNU, with PHP, with Firefox, with Linux (if I well remember), this is to say that he works for the same free web that we need and we wish to have our sons inheriting from us. Yes, you and me may have longer and more substantial wikipedian careers, that's true, but the little he has done in our Projects, the very little he has done, already, is at least a support, and he wants to be here. He put great care in letting us know he is with us. And that should be enough for us, because here we don't discriminate on the basis of the editcountitis. He is a man working for the free web, this is enough to entitle us to consider him a friend of our Movement, or should I say, a close relative. A dear relative. And a user.
Now, no one here is fooling anyone else: I personally would rather focus his definition on the common engagement into the free web, which is always a matter of volunteering. But our interest into his fate is completely and legitimately in scope.
This tragic story happens in the middle of the planetary crisis, and I understand very clearly that it is quite obvious to suspect that taking a stand - de facto - against Assad, could be read as a choice between an American-European front and an opposite wider scheme. But this cannot be an argument: if Bassel was detained by Assad's enemies, we wouldn't have abandoned him to his destiny only because we would have chosen the other side. I believe, instead, that we would have felt in ourselves the same worried feelings whoever the ruler. Assad detains Bassel, we have to call on Assad, that's all, we can't go beyond this point, we must call on the one who has Bassel's future into his hands. This can't be of any evidence, when seen from outside: Bassel self-defines himself as a secularist-communist-anarchist, it would be quite eccentric to consider him as somehow representing the Western world. He doesn't represent me, with his ideas, neither; but he is a free mind working for a free web, for the same free web in which we have to build our free knowledge, and the free men on the web, and their Projects, must be united as one. Even if we eventually disagree with them. We are not with the West, we are not against the West, we are for free Web. And with Voltaire.
In a desperate situation like this is, there isn't a price I wouldn't pay to give it a try. I'm not optimistic, though, the latest news make me terribly think that as soon as the military pressure will become stronger, political prisoners who cannot be negotiated for political revenues will suddenly become nothing more than a ballast that has to be thrown down asap. There is no concrete perspective that an action of ours can have any positive effects. But I know that if we don't, at least, try, only the bad part of the thought has a chance... --g (talk) 23:30, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
To g: You may not be able to connect the dots between Wikipedia and millions of other worthy cases, but rest assured there are legions of people with a cause that will do it. This is a case for Amnesty, HRW and its like, Wikipedia does free knowledge, case closed. Working on that is no mean feat. Ulflarsen (talk) 00:28, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
Case reopened. Without people like Bassel Khartabil, free knowledge is meaningless. We are not discussing millions of other causes, we are discussing one cause, and that cause is the cause of all free people everywhere. Nations rise and fall, governments come in and out of power, and culture ebbs and flows, but the ideas Khartabil is imprisoned for remain alive in all of us here, right now. You have chosen to stand on the sidelines of history, to let the oppressed suffer in their forced silence. That is your choice. But history has been very unkind to those who choose that path. "Free knowledge" doesn't exist in a political vacuum. "Free knowledge" cannot replicate itself if the mind and body are imprisoned. "Free knowledge" compels freedom itself, which can bring down a country, just as small drops of rain can form a torrent of water that can erode an entire mountain. This is why people like Khartabil are imprisoned, and why the free knowledge that put him there can also release him. Viriditas (talk) 07:10, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
To Viriditas: You write as follows: "You have chosen to stand on the sidelines of history, to let the oppressed suffer in their forced silence." What do you know about that? Did I ever say that I did not support this poor man? What knowledge do you have of me possibly being engaged in other ways to support him? But your choice seems clear from what you write, you want to use Wikipedia for something it was not designed for, and you do not even care to discuss the possible implications (my various examples of other worthy causes that will petition for being run as banners due to this). Once more, I hope this guy survive, but it is a case for Amnesty, not Wikipedia. Ulflarsen (talk) 09:54, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
AI has already worked on the problem. No large problem is ever solved by one org, it's always a collaborative, group effort. And your argument, "it's not our problem, let someone else deal with it", is not very supportive. Your claim that showing support for a free knowledge activist goes beyond the scope of a free knowledge org does not make very much sense either. Perhaps in your case this is a cultural issue, perhaps not. For example, China did not even have a good Samaritan law in their country until 2013, making it difficult to come to the aid of people needing help. By contrast, in other countries, the idea of ignoring an injured person is anathema to everything they know, whereas in countries that lack these laws it's a form of self-preservation. Viriditas (talk) 10:09, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
To Viriditas: There are a number of organisations that work for people in such situations, AI only one of them, but regarding free knowledge, Wikipedia is in a special position. I register that you choose to evade my repeated question about what you - and others - fighting for us to run this banner - will say when the next "good cause" that requires a banner comes up. Ulflarsen (talk) 10:39, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
If I am in the middle of the sea with my tiny boat and I meet a desperate man whose boat has sunk, and there is very little time before he dies, I pick him on board; and I believe that Viriditas too, would do the same. Ulflarsen calls the navy: it's their duty, in the end ;-) --g (talk) 10:52, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
In this case you (representing Wikipedia) are a satellite passing over the poor guy, your space vessel is just not designed for that kind of tasks. Besides that, as a seaman for many years I know my duties in saving people at sea. Again I register that instead of discussing the possible path this banner campaign may lay for similar petitions for Wikipedia to support this or that cause (more or less related to Wikipedia and free knowledge) one choose to ignore it. Is that question so difficult to answer? I guess so... Ulflarsen (talk) 11:01, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
Ulflarsen, I realize now that my example seemed personally fit, and I sincerely apologize, I didn't mean at all to escalate to a personal level (you had wrote above you are a seaman, but I didn't remember it, I was thinking to the Mediterranean tragedy, really). Sorry for my mistake --g (talk) 11:50, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
Appealing to the future and crystal ball scenarios is a distraction. Please deal with the current situation only, thanks. Viriditas (talk) 11:07, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
To Viriditas: In most other situations in life one has to view the consequences a given act will have on other similar situations. And you do not have to look further than to the next section, where another user ask if we should establish guidelines for how to treat such situations. You may try to disqualify the argument about possible similar petitions for banners and I hope you are right, that this is the only one we will have, but we shall soon see if this indeed is a single event, or the start of Wikipedia being engaged in running banners for various good causes. Ulflarsen (talk) 11:31, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
The possible path of this campaign might include some costs. It's true. My point is that if we are told that our campaign could help in a desperate situation, okay, if it was for me alone, I would pay those costs. Because WP is important, but in my scheme it can't be more important than a human life. Someone would say that we would get completely discredited, true; but others might say that this is a special videogame and not really much more than that, in the end. Whatever the truth, all the work I made in these Projects, all the thoughts and all the emotions, and passions i put in them, is at your disposal if this can help. This is the point. If it wasn't about desperation I might have said the same things Ulflarsen says, but this is desperation, this desperation regards a Colleague of ours in our fight for a free web, the question is merely: can we help? --g (talk) 11:50, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
To g: You write that "in my scheme it can't be more important than a human life". Well, in South-Sudan you have tens of thousands of human lifes, using your (and others argument) we should also support them with banners. But you may turn that down as you write "this desperation regards a Colleague of ours". If you see the discussion above about his contribution to Wikipedia, well, nobody seems to know, in Wikipedia we call that reference needed. And then, does a banner make any difference? Aside from that it may result in Assads henchmen decide that just kill him, according to the article about him the campaign has been going on since 2012, some 30+ human rights organisations (the pro, that has as their task to work with this) has appealed for him and the last secure info about him seems to be October 3 this year. Ulflarsen (talk) 12:37, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

Proposed Guidelines for Evaluation and Impact[edit]

PROPOSAL

Instead of an ad hoc "straw poll" about a banner message supporting Bassel Khartabil, could we make this an opportunity to set some guidelines to help guide our thinking on this case, and future cases? This would help answer legitimate concerns about this creating an undesirable precedent or opening the floodgates for an array of causes in Wikipedia banners.

These are the basic questions I've been wrestling with in my head. Only after crafting the list and systematically checking each of the items was I able to change my mind from "oppose" to "lean support," and I welcome community thoughts on this.

To me, every single item needs to be satisfied before advocacy is considered in the movement:

  1. Relevance/connection - Is the person a Wikimedian, the cause core to our mission or closely aligned to our community?
  2. Notability/severity - Is this of high enough concern or urgency that the community take up this cause?
  3. Time - Have we had enough time and perspective to determine support for this person or cause?
  4. Peer evaluation - Have our peers in the free culture or online knowledge space given prominence or credence to this person or case?
  5. Verifiability - Are all the conditions of supporting the cause verifiable and from reliable sources?
  6. Impact - What kind of realistic impact would our advocacy have in effecting change, and how does it affect the Wikimedia community reputation?

These kind of guidelines will help steer us on this particular situation and with hard cases in the future. Many of these should feel familiar – they are patterned off of our own standards of NOR, V, RS and RECENTISM.

To me, here's how each of these look in this case:

  1. Relevance/connection - He has been a Wikipedia and Commons contributor, and very active in Creative Commons, Mozilla and the free culture community
  2. Notability/severity - This is a high profile case in relation to Syria and historical preservation and the case has apparently turned more serious with reports of a death sentence
  3. Time - The case has been active since 2012 with EU Parliament referring to it in 2013/2014 and the United Nations WGAD in 2015.
  4. Peer evaluation - Some folks who have lent their voice to this cause: Creative Commons, Joi Ito, Lawrence Lessig, Rebecca MacKinnon, European Parliament, United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Human Rights Watch. All are reputable and respected voices.
  5. Verifiability - There seem to be enough verifiable information from NGOs, human rights groups and news outlets to verify Bassel's situation
  6. Impact - There is no doubt putting a banner up will get a lot of attention to this relatively under-reported case. The likelihood that this would affect the the plight of Bassel? Hard to tell, considering the Syrian regime has not responded much to international pressure. Others have noted that each time Wikipedia's advocacy power is used, it risks diluting the effect it will have in the future. This last item is the toughest one to gauge.

(Full disclosure: at the recent WikiconferenceUSA, I used my keynote talk [3] to mention #FreeBassel and encouraged people to highlight his case. That was my own personal platform. Asking all of Wikipedia to host a banner message is a very different situation). Thanks should go to the discussants in the Facebook group Wikipedia Weekly for helping to refine this idea. I welcome thoughts and discussion on this. -- Fuzheado (talk) 10:12, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

  • This is of course good questions and the answer is: Amnesty International. Or to say it this way, if we want to use Wikipedia for such campaigns - if we ever can agree on what we should campaign for - then we surely need to use the next fundraiser, and probably the one after that, for building a group of specialists in such matters, this is nothing that should be left to crowdsourcing. Ulflarsen (talk) 10:43, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
    1) I think it could be better to move this proposal to a separate page (leaving a link here, of course) - I believe that sooner or later we would have had to deal with these questions, now it's a good moment, but the discussion deserves its own space, imho, otherwise the Bassel's case could become a parameter and this wouldn't be correct for a general discussion.
    2) Once again, I have to disagree with Ulflarsen (but I won't get used to these differences, one day or the other we'll finally find our common points ;-) Here I disagree with this concept of crowdsourcing as a negative issue. Wikipedia, and Wikimedia, and all what comes from these contexts, is built on crowdsourcing. We never needed "specialists" to built the core of our common feelings and spirit. We just questioned ourselves about what to do, we always found in ourselves the answers we needed. Discussing, of course, because we are different, we have different scents of sensitivity, we come from different cultures and social ancestries, but this is what makes magic everything here: that we can find in ourselves, simply, directly, sincerely, what binds us together and lets us build together against all odds. So, specialists might be useful to find a way to obtain what we decided we want to obtain. And what will be the object of the assertive side of our engagement, and what won't be it, is a decision that must come from the widest consensus among the Community members. We don't need a specialist to tell us what we believe in ;-) --g (talk) 12:38, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
To g: I do agree that we don't need specialists to tell us what to believe in, but if we go down this road we would need a group of specialists to sort out and work with this. If you don't believe me, try ask Amnesty, HRW and the others that have worked with this for decades. Ulflarsen (talk) 13:19, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
we did not ask amnesty or eff for SOPA blackout. this community needs to stand for something on it's own. the delusion that it is apolitical is harmful to the wiki. Slowking4 (talk) 14:36, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
To Slowking4: I was against that too (the SOPA blackout) and for good reasons as this banner proposal show. This community already stands for something and that is building an online encyclopedia, free for all, which is more than enough. Ulflarsen (talk) 14:57, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
good, so we will consistently disagree. i think you are willfully ignorant of the inherent political position of the encyclopedic project. knowledge production and dissemination will be controversial among those who seek to monopolize the means of intellectual capital. our mission statement and actions are a threat to that monopoly. this project does not and cannot stand apart from the political world, but as unelected educators to the world. Slowking4 (talk) 15:07, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
To Slowking4: Its clear to me that this project has influence, but if we go from creating and updating articles we may meet some severe problems with both our contributors and readers, and for what reason? All those organisations already exist where people can participate in campaigns for this country in need or that person in prison. As the article about this poor guys says clearly, its some 30+ organisations petitioning for him. No use for us to be number 31, we should keep to our core task, simply producing freely available knowledge to as many as possible. Ulflarsen (talk) 15:28, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
yes, making a statement says more about WP than the subject. "you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." you have a quaint vision of the "core task". Slowking4 (talk) 15:57, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
To Slowking4: I think I am not alone in "having a quaint vision of the core task" as you put it. I have never seen Wikipedia trying to reach out for new contributors with anything but the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, should that be changed now with the extension "-as long as you don't support Assad, Saudi-Arabia, Russia, Iran or others..."? And again - I am against the Assad regime, but I do not believe Wikipedia is the place for that. Ulflarsen (talk) 16:45, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
No matter what the outcome of the poll on the banner is, I changed my userpage already. Lotje (talk) 16:56, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

To what end/Impact[edit]

I see some interesting points for and against. This is certainly a tragic situation, yet I look at it with far more cynicism than what I read. I am wondering about the impact that is being perceived this banner will have, for which we are having this discussion and debating our neutrality. We have had banners for the most trivial of reasons - contests, grants, research, meetups (I personally attest to being over exposed to the "Wikipedia Asian month" banner hundreds of times this month). Are we over-estimating the reach of the banners? If the banner would bring to attention or have any noticeable impact that could save someone's life - I would be all for it, as would most Wikipedians - there is not even a question. But the political situation as it stands is far far bleaker. We can join the chorus of organizations like Mozilla, EFF, Creative commons, along with 30 other human rights organizations, EU, UN and possible the US gov - but really what impact do we expect to have? I don't believe Syrian government could be influenced or remotely cares for the world's opinion at the moment. It's an abject reality. We risk our neutrality, not to mention opening us up for future advocacy and activism. That is the sad truth of it all. But, there is always that tiny sliver of hope, random as it may be that something gets through. I guess its a trade-off between the two. Theo10011 (talk) 21:19, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

@ Theo10011, you state: I don't believe Syrian government could be influenced or remotely cares for the world's opinion at the moment. IMO the people needing to know what is going on, till now are not aware of Bassel Khartabil. I do believe there is goodness in every person, so maybe, very maybe, someone out there will take a deeper look into this. One never knows and one should never give up hope. Sincerely. Lotje (talk) 10:31, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Question about the Representation of this Poll[edit]

I agreed that this issue is urgent and, from a humanity perspective, it is a tragedy. However, this poll was said to "...assess whether the global Wikimedia community finds itself in favour or against...". In contrast, the current working translations only include a few European languages, not a single Asian languages, not a single mid-east languages, which means many other Wikimedia community has not been fully aware of this issue, especially considering the short time for noticing and poll. How can anyone believe these results can represent the "global wikimedia community"? It was known that people from diverse background may have different point of view for the same issue, not to mention when it is related to politics. We do need to always keep in mind the NPOV policy of Wikipedia and there is a reason for it to exist. And keep making Wikipedia as a good encyclopedia is our ultimate goal.--人神之间 (talk) 21:25, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

About the "global" representation, it has always been a problem that certain local Communities are more present than others in our discussions, and there are many reasons for this unbalanced presence. Most active Communities are those in which someone regularly follows the common areas like meta, the mailing lists, the blog, ..., and then refers to his local Community what he has read, informing them of what is going on. If locally no one does it (and there might be a language problem too, English is not necessarily well known in all the countries), no one in certain projects will ever know that certain things are being discussed. Critical calls are sent everywhere via bot, trough the embassies, and this happened in this case too. maybe somewhere the message wasn't promptly translated, who knows. But, however, "global" here has always meant the complex of those who take part into the processes, it has never meant all the possible contributions to the discussion, and as a matter of fact each and every decision has always been taken on the basis of the consensus reached among those who were actually present. And it can't be different. Whatever the reason, we have to read who was there to discuss and we cannot figure - in particular - how the absents would have talked or voted. After trying to push information into the local projects with the massmessage function, there is not really more than that to do. Then, it's a mere matter of "who is present", as it has always been.
In this particular case, urgency makes it more evident that we ought to ensure a deeper communication, but there might be reasons that we don't know if that communication doesn't reach all the users or doesn't catch their attention. It's true, indeed, that when I translated these pages into Italian, the translation template said that translation into Italian wasn't a priority (a technical notice which unfortunately sounds quite discriminatory for those who happen to read it); well, imho, in the future we should perhaps use that template with better care and in presence of really true reasons for forbidding or discouraging volunteers from translating. I translated it just the same, evidently, but maybe someone is less bold/unfair than me and obeyed to that indication. Anyway, those who are present decide, and are the Global Community that we may read expressing itself. --g (talk) 23:03, 29 November 2015 (UTC)


Given the license[edit]

I assume that I may quote from these opinions as expressed here and on the straw poll itself. Thanks, GerardM (talk) 17:09, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Next steps[edit]

Now that the straw poll is closed, the support votes sit at 62.45%, with 158 support, 95 opposes. By most measures, this would not pass the threshold for consensus or a supermajority. Who's following up, and what's next? -- Fuzheado (talk) 22:51, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

We are awaiting a Steward to assess and close the poll. As for other ideas, the discussion is open on that. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 23:10, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

A poll was arranged with great fanfare over all projects. What happens now? Anyone know when this will be decided? If Mr Stewart is on holiday, when can we expect him to be back? Ulflarsen (talk) 17:00, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

see --g (talk) 17:16, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

Comments (after polling closed)[edit]

I'm creating this section for those who were unable to vote, but would like to give their feedback. I myself will say that I was unaware of this situation, and believe a banner might be helpful. I am sure others might like to give opinions and feedback here as well.
SecretName101 (talk) 22:28, 19 December 2015 (UTC)

@SecretName101: We now know that Bassel was murdered shortly after the community decided not to show this banner. odder (talk) 17:41, 16 August 2017 (UTC)