Requests for comment/Global ban for Poetlister

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The following request for comments is closed. Ban: Consensus is clear that the WMF community at large wishes to implement a community ban. There were enough comments from crosswiki editors to believe this RfC was known about on enough projects to validate a global ban. In closing this, large consideration was given to all the positions of each person, no comments were disregarded.

Statement[edit]

Poetlister (talk • contribs • block • SULinfo • x-wiki • recent edits • CA)
Poetlister is a user has engaged in sockpuppeting, personality rights violations, and community manipulation across 20 accounts for six years. Stricter measures are required to keep him from significantly disrupting Wikimedia projects again. I propose that Poetlister be globally banned from editing under any account, with regular spotchecks for new socks. SJ talk | translate   13:17, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

Background

The user behind Poetlister has run various sockpuppet farms for the past six years, on Wikipedia, Wikisource, and Wikiquote. 20 active socks with roughly 30k edits among them have worked not to push an editing agenda, so much as to socially manipulate the surrounding community. While he has occasionally made constructive contributions, most of his efforts have gone into social engineering, impersonating young females, and slowly turning other community members against one another (described by some as 'character assassination') via a mix of public and private communication over many months.

Community manipulation
Personality rights violations, impersonation

In 2008, it was discovered that Poetlister had stolen the photographs of young women he knew and was continuing to use them online to identify his socks, years after the person in the photographs had called for their removal.(see 2008 RFC and [4])

Poetlister continues to use collections of sockpuppets in other communities online, and is suspected of having current undiscovered sockpuppets on en:wp and elsewhere. He is currently engaged in building a local reputation on en:wv, leading to a recent mailing-list proposal for a global ban.

Response[edit]

...

Comments[edit]

General[edit]

  • ...I have to say, the essence of editing in these projects is collaborative editing, which Poetlister is unable to display. Hence I think this proposal is a sound one. Casliber 12:36, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment Comment I guess the amazing thing is that someone who have been so prolific at manipulative socking (never mind the other issues) and has been given 2nd chances is still not categorically banned. I must say I take to take the view that established folk who have done good work should be allowed a little more leeway than the average drive by vandal. However I've been checking PL related accounts since 2008 (IIRC) and have placed a number of the blocks myself. I can see no reason not to enforce a global ban (but will watch with interest here). --Herby talk thyme 12:54, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Attempts by several WMF communities (English Wikipedia unblocked twice, Commons and English Wikiquote (2007-2008) after Wikipedia bans, and Englisih Wikisource in 2010) to allow him to edit have resulted in assisting him in his social engineering and deception. His behind the scene emails that disparage other users show that he is incapable of editing in any community. We need to make it clear that we will not tolerate any further deception and disruption by implementing a global ban. It will protect unsuspecting editor from interacting with him. FloNight 12:56, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

I see this as being three linked questions: Is a global ban for the person behind Poetlister the best step for the Wikimedia projects? Can a global ban be enforced effectively enough that it has real force and meaning? Can the "meta" community take for itself the right to determine a ban that applies to all communities in all languages?

The first question is an obvious answer for me; clearly Wikimedia is better off without this person. To the second - because Poetlister works on English projects only, its possible to achieve wide recognition and enforcement of this ban that should be as effective as any ban enforcement on a wiki ever is. Finally, is this the right role for meta? It treats meta as the sort of representative body for all the other wikis, almost an inter-project governing wiki with self-selected representatives. I don't believe meta is truly representative of Wikimedia project communities, and it's my experience that decision-making processes on meta tend to be both flawed and overly influenced by exiles or refugees from other English-language projects. So I think the answer to my third question is no. Nathan T 13:05, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

  • Support I am firmly in favour of more global bans: if someone has exhausted their welcome at Wikipedia, why inflict them on other language versions of Wikipedia or on the sister projects? Some of those projects have great difficulty recruiting and retaining editors, why burden them with Wikipedia's sockpuppeting, trolling, spamming, vandalising people? It turns the sister projects from being potentially productive environments to hives of trolling and stupidity and editing solely to make a point. I believe in second chances: there are people who have left enwiki and gone on to do great work on other projects. But for people who aren't at all productive, we should probably be quicker to hand out global bans. I have no hestitation in saying that Poetlister is a perfect example of such a person. —Tom Morris (talk) 13:32, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm puzzled. In quite a few discussions I've seen of Poetlister, on the various wikis and on Wikipedia Review, it's been asserted that this is a productive user, an excellent content creator and editor, who is, with alleged reluctance, nevertheless condemned for misbehavior. Poetlister gained respect as Cato, becoming a checkuser, which certainly required positive contributions! (And there have been no charges that Poetlister caused any damage as Cato.) --Abd 16:04, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
The Cato account was extensively used in vote-stacking with other aliases at Wikiquote.[5] ~ Ningauble 00:19, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
He is only productive as long at serves the potential of what ever account he is using. When his 2010 bid for Admin fell apart he stopped improving WS [6]. In My Humble Opinion "His goals are not inline with the goals of WS or any wiki-project". JeepdaySock 15:51, 22 July 2011 (UTC)
  • It wasn't that his Admin bid fell apart; it was running strongly in favor. Rather, he was legitimately a "vanished user" at that point, and he was being outed, being forced to either lie or admit what he'd tried to keep private -- or just go away, which he did, after making an evasive comment, and after some more work on the wiki.
  • The administrators who knew his identity from the beginning, should have simply required him, privately, to withdraw the adminship request immediately, as soon as they saw it (assuming that they failed to warn him previously not to apply), or they would reveal his history. Simple. It didn't happen like that. This was a Wikisource failure just as much as it was his failure. He then correctly believed that he would not be welcome at Wikisource, so he stopped. Look at this RfC, almost entirely based on very old behavior, and those old arguments were repeated at Wikisource after the identity came out, by some of the same people who have come here to comment. He violated no policy at wikisource. (There are unsubstantiated claims that the user has elsewhere done offensive things. Given that I've seen impersonation of Poetlister -- it happened on Wikiversity two days ago, and other times --, this is possible, but questionable. And it's irrelevant to the activity of the Wikiversity account, unless somehow that account were making other behavior possible, which is preposterous.)
  • The claims about "serving the potential of whatever account" could apply to most editors, in fact, including some who are very loud in condemning Poetlister.
  • The basic issue here is really whether the WMF will be served by a "no-exceptions global ban" of Poetlister, or any other locally-positive contributor, setting a dangerous precedent, requiring enforcing this ban against local decisions, creating, it's predictable, inter-wiki conflict, substantial waste of time, and other damage. Bad Idea.
  • No harm and some benefit accrues from Poetlister editing directly on Wikiversity, given that he's known and can easily be watched. --Abd 19:48, 22 July 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately I believe that these statement misrepresent the Wikisource situation.
  • As Poetlister his behaviour was sanctioned and his admin bit was removed and a conditional return as a single user account was allowed, as Longfellow
  • As Longfellow on a bid for his admin, he lied and misrepresented facts, and that was to cover grandiose statements of himself. Then in a bid to cover his tracks it was found that he was generating new elaborate personas through socking, and trying various means to cajole and communicate with people. He has been banned from the Wikisource community for his behaviour and this is a very rare event.
  • Your characterisation of the bid and the steps that you state should have been taken clearly demonstrates that you have not read, or alternatively, not comprehended, the history at Wikisource, nor the steps undertaken.
So in summation: initially Poetlister did violate policy at Wikisource, on a return (with conditions) they again broke policy at Wikisource, despite whatever evidence you are trying to state to the contrary. If you believe that it is easy to watch the behaviour of someone like PL/LF, then my comment would be that I do not believe you understand the tools that are available, the behaviour of the person, and the amount of time that you are imposing on people to run checks.
Abd, I believe that you should keep your commentary to areas in which you have full knowledge; not run interpretations for other sites, as it is both flawed and unhelpful. billinghurst sDrewth 03:22, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
  • I responded with detail to Billinghursts's unsubstantiated claims on the Talk page. --Abd 02:08, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
Vanished users, by definition, does not allow for them to use multiple accounts. There was plenty of evidence provided that he was using at least -three- different accounts on WS to email people while pretending each of these was a different identity. A "vanished user" would not keep operating the old sock puppet accounts. Ottava Rima (talk) 15:27, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
  • I've reviewed the Wikisource events, and this statement by Ottava Rima could be more deceptive than anything I've seen from Poetlister. See [7]. I ask Ottava Rima to point to that evidence or retract the statement. --Abd 02:20, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Your personal attacks above are completely inappropriate, and your misleading statements are flat out inappropriate. Evidence to Poetlister doing such has already been the center of discussion on WS and here previously. Abd, your behavior is in violation of multiple rules. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:08, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Ottava did not provide evidence for his claim of recent impersonation (i.e., in the "vanished user" period, last year), nor did he retract. If that's inappropriate for me to note, I assume I'll be warned, and I'd be happy to answer to the community. --Abd 18:50, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose on civil-libertarian type grounds. Hard cases make bad law. I do not dispute the specific recitation of charges above. But I have severe doubts a "global ban" is the correct tool, and further, the implementation here reeks of cliquishness. It reminds me too much of recitations of how so-and-so is very bad and dangerous person, AND THUS law enforcement must have broader powers. It may be that the first target is evil indeed, but the system need protection against subsequently being abused in more political cases. I've seen too much dubious behavior on Wikipedia where "community bans" can consist of offending the wrong small group of self-important people who show up for that stuff. Kicking it up a notch, with "global bans" done by another small group of people who show up for that stuff, with zero safeguard against groupthink, strikes me as a recipe for disaster. -- Seth Finkelstein 14:05, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
    • The amount of sheer dedication that you have to devote to abusing Wikimedia projects in order for a global ban to be considered is awe-inspiring. On any other website or project this guy would have been banned years ago. The fact that we are even debating this is a testament to how incredibly patient and forgiving the Wikimedia community can be. Saying that the community shouldn't be allowed to exclude anyone, no matter how disruptive or abusive, simply because it sets a precedent is bad logic in my book. Kaldari 20:08, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
      • Look, I understand the difficulties of the civil-libertarian type argument. It's often necessary when the immediate beneficiaries are very disreputable indeed, and there are always assurances only the worst of the worst will suffer. But between what I've seen in terms of problematic bans, and the dubious benefit of the remedy here, the logic is well-grounded. Note we are not debating this because of virtue. We're debating it because it's arguably a power-grab from central authority when defied by local authority (with the best of intentions of course) -- Seth Finkelstein 23:37, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
        • You've hit the nail on the head. The originating discussion (on foundation-l?), was heavily focused on Wikiversity as a problem. Wikiversity is the only WMF wiki which allows original research, encourages discussion of topics, and which has strong traditions of academic freedom. That's disliked by some. There is no reasonable excuse of immediate "cross-wiki disruption" here, as was the case with prior global ban attempts on others. It's not mentioned in the ban proposal, and it is even implied otherwise, but this user is only editing Wikiversity; to mention that would weaken the proposal, because the tradition is strong that global locks are not done for behavior that is only affecting one wiki. No effect on other wikis from Poetlister editing Wikiversity has been alleged. The evidence makes it look like this is massive cross-wiki disruption, but that's all quite old. --Abd 00:41, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I agree with Seth. See my comment section below. --Abd 15:49, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support a ban of every single name, and a permanent ban of any unique IPs he used. His access needs to be razed, salted, burned, nuked, then napalmed. There is no possible way he should be even allowed to -look- at a WMF page, but since that would be impossible to have done we need to do the next best thing. Dozens of socks on dozens of projects, using Wiki and Wiki-email to harass, stalk, steal personal information, etc. Even doing one instance of such is too much, and he has been doing it many times over many years. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:55, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support Although I do not appear to have ever interacted with one of his known socks, the deception, continued cross-project socking, and alleged misuse of others' photos/identities is too much. fetchcomms 18:18, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Enough is enough. We need to quit wasting time on this guy and move on. Kaldari 18:57, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
    • This RfC is causing far more wasted time than would have simply watching Poetlister openly edit Wikiversity, which people do. If this passes, the likelihood of disruption increases, it does not decrease. Wikipedia falls into this trap many times, imagining that it can solve problems and prevent disruption with bans. Sometimes. Sometimes not. Sometimes bans cause increased, long-term disruption, especially with experienced users of socks. The community is much better off with such a user openly active on a small project like Wikiversity, where little harm can be done, and where, in six months or so, there have been no problems to speak of. If he's banned, he returns to socking, almost certainly. He's not socking, it's likely, as a quid pro quo for tolerance, it was promised to him in prior process. --Abd 00:56, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support - Enough. Killiondude 21:29, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support, enough of a pattern to establish that the likelihood of the user actually editing in good faith are slim. Ajraddatz (Talk) 21:41, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support - per Kaldari. --Philippe 00:19, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose: My view on Poetlister, at least at the moment, is laid out here. I'm not really comfortable with punishing people who use a known exploit. It seems like the responsibility of others to fix the exploit, if they're so concerned about it. I certainly don't see the value in going through charades such as this requests for comment; any discussion or outcome here will change nothing in practice. It's not as though there's a "take away this particular person's computer privileges" feature in the software. The suggestions that Poetlister is wasting the community's time... well, you all are voluntarily choosing to participate. Millions of users have chosen not to involve themselves with Poetlister. To me, that suggests that you're wasting—or productively using—your own time, at your own discretion. Don't go on goose-chases and then blame others for you having frittered away the afternoon, if you know what I mean. --MZMcBride 03:23, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • comment: as an aside, this line of reasoning puzzles me; we're talking about a social question, as much or more so as a technical one. It is a "known exploit" that one can irritate people by insulting them, too, but that doesn't make it good or excusable behavior! I think we're talking about what is and is not acceptable behavior on our projects, regardless of whether it's possible. -- phoebe | talk 19:04, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
    • As I said, Poetlister has proved himself time and again as being "fit for service" through votes on various projects. That suggests that his contributions aren't problematic, indeed the opposite. There's an idea here that because others have chosen to involve themselves in this affair, that it is the person in the center who's to blame. I don't particularly see that as fair. People voluntarily choose to engage with this user, or not (and the vast, vast majority of Wikimedians have not).

      I don't agree with the idea that people who go around on sock-hunts or other goose-chases, patrolling for users who may or may not be the same as other users, can then turn around and say that they're victims. The goal of Wikimedia projects is creating free educational content. If you choose to spend your time on sock-hunts and goose-chases, that's certainly your prerogative, but it isn't as though anyone forced you to. I think most people who have commented here are frustrated that their efforts have failed, but I imagine most of them could have avoided this frustration by simply not engaging. Go write an article. Go write a script. Go copy-edit a Wiktionary entry. Or go on sock-hunts. But if you do, don't complain about it. You're here voluntarily.

      There are other lingering issues, such as whether or not this RFC is simply a charade, as it has no real enforceability. And there are various suggestions of illegal behavior or wrongdoing, though that's completely outside of Wikimedia's scope. If a user is breaking the law, call the police. But nobody seems to be doing more than making rather nasty suggestions of illegal behavior on various sites.... This all seems rather silly. --MZMcBride 19:21, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

      • Votes with deception is not a true vote. Every single vote Poetlister had on his side came with a lot of socking, deception, and other things that would warrant a full ban on their own. People don't voluntarily choose to engage with Poetlister just as a buglarly victim didn't choose to have their items stolen. Poetlister goes after people constantly, stalks, harasses, and does whatever he can. He doesn't go away by just ignoring. Ignoring doesn't work, no matter how many times your hippie feel good kindergarten teacher tried to tell you that. I find it interesting how you think that we have no moral or ethical obligation to act beyond calling the police. We should have stricter standards than just criminality. Your rationale would allow every possible bad behavior to be rationalized, which is the definition of anarchy. That is just silly. Ottava Rima (talk) 21:01, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support You don't reward any institutional flaws there may be with tolerance for those who take advantage of the community at every turn. Time to tell this fellow, in no uncertain terms, that his behaviour has cost him the right to edit anywhere. Courcelles 07:50, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Meta has no jurisdiction over hundreds of projects, unless the editors of those projects were individually contacted. Sure, I don't disagree this guy has been offensive (I even got a bizzare email from him a while ago, IIRC, weird because I'd never interacted with him) but it sets a bad precedent: Meta-users get it into their head they don't like an unpopular user who nevertheless edits constructively elsewhere, gets banned without local communities being able to step up in defence. Tempodivalse [talk] 13:27, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support Forget "jurisdiction" questions. Bureaucracy aside, Poetlister has been a net negative for years--impersonation, socking, the whole shebang--and every project would be better off without him. David Fuchs 17:02, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment: Comment only, because I don't have anything against the guy, but then he might decide to have something against me if I were to "support", or perhaps see me as an ally if I were to "oppose". Let's be very clear here: sometimes the WMF needs to make decisions about individual people, and they shouldn't pass it off on "the community" (who are not, in general, people with an interest in management).

    Sj, please bring this back to the boardroom where it belongs. It's entirely unfair of you to throw this kind of problem at your volunteers. You should really be ashamed of yourself. --SB_Johnny talk 21:20, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

  • Support - My involvement in cleaning up after Poetlister has been small in comparison to many colleagues then and subsequently, and even then I could have instead welcomed and worked with a hundred new users. The loss to the individual projects and the movement as a whole in Poetlister's continued involvement is real, and should not be discounted merely because those of us who have borne it and continue to bear it do so normally in quiet, off-wiki, low-drama ways. This ban should have been done years ago, I'm afraid. James F. (talk) 23:53, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • I support a definitive ban of Poetlister, acting under any account name, from editing any site under the aegis of the Wikimedia Foundation. I have a (deserved) reputation on the En-WP ArbCom as the arbitrator least likely to vote to ban anyone without according a second and a third chances, but there comes a time when even I say enough is enough, and this is one of those times. Other than the outright vandals (and in those cases at least we know what we are dealing with), Poetlister in his various incarnations is one of the three most disruptive cross-wiki users I can identify based upon my five years of involvement with Wikipedia, and the amount of our volunteers' time he has wasted across multiple communities must be measurable by now in the many thousands of hours. I do not think it would be useful to identify too many specific instances of harm Poetlister has caused beyond those already mentioned on this page, though if I wanted to do so I could start with the En-WP RfA that failed when it would have easily passed but for the opposing !votes of at least six Runcorn socks; or the multiple e-mails I received, some from Poetlister's alter egos and others from sincere WP administrators and editors who had been fooled by him, when I was a newbie arbitrator asking me to reevaluate the Poetlister bans, which I wasted a good deal of time in doing. The off-wiki aspects of the problem, impacting multiple innocent people, make the situation even worse and in my view make a full-fledged all-site ban necessary. The only truly interesting question here is whether this ban should be imposed by consensus here on Meta or whether it should be implemented by the Foundation as an Office action. Newyorkbrad 02:08, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
    • I agree that this is the "only truly interesting question here." Harmonizing suggestion: Globally lock Poetlister, with immediate steward delinking of the account through the renaming process, with effect only on Wikiversity. If a true and enforced global ban is declared, instead, there will be significant disruptive effect, unpredictable in scope, history has demonstrated that. --Abd 15:29, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support - Perfectly legitimate office action. I'm far more interested in the ramifications of keeping the wiki and its users safe than I am voting based on vague political analogies. Enough is enough. Kansan 04:13, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
  • support: net negative. This is all. (Kansan says it well.) sonia 07:13, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
  • support: not only a net negative, but a long history of being actively harmful to other users; that should not be -- and is not -- acceptable on any Wikimedia projects, and so I support global action. I also support the message that long-term socking and social manipulation is not welcome here -- not welcome anywhere on Wikimedia servers, regardless of which particular project they are editing. Regarding various comments about process and board actions: personally I would like to see a robust, global process for making such decisions -- whether through RfCs like this one (or in the long-term) a global committee such as Millosh proposes below, and with technical backup. Direct office actions might well be a part of that, but there also needs to be a community mechanism in place to weigh allegations, consider evidence, and provide a forum for serious cross-project complaints to be made. It has to be a global process, because of issues with language and culture: people from all projects need to be comfortable with and be able to use the process. That doesn't mean the meta community decides the issue; but meta is the only central, shared, cross-platform wiki we have that is accessible to all, so is a natural place to work from. -- phoebe | talk 19:20, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Sj[edit]

@MZM: institutional failures, as you note in the email you cite, should definitely be addressed. Suggestions like those are one reason to hold an RFC like this. However: vandals "use a known exploit", and that abuse is ample grounds for a ban when used persistently. SJ talk | translate   04:20, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

Has Poetlister vandalized? :-) I replied to Phoebe a bit above. --MZMcBride 19:22, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

If a user repeatedly manipulates our communities, and has been blocked for it by different communities on multiple occasions, it seems unwise for an individual project to say "we want to rehabilitate this user" without global consultation. Unlike vandalism, the fallout from social manipulation crosses project boundaries, takes place online in non-wikimedia forums, and distracts our global community. SJ talk | translate   19:31, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

No project has stated what you assert, Sj, as to rehabilitation. Wikipedia may think of activity on other wikis as rehab, but that's not how I see Poetlister on WV, he's a positive contributor, as he was elsewhere, recently. "Social manipulation," boiled down with regard to anything recent, amounts to user making heavy positive contributions. "Social manipulation" violates no policy, and the alleged problem behavior has benefited content. The recent blocks of this user have entirely been for "status offenses," i.e., that the user was Poetlister, not that his "manipulations" had done any actual harm. In the case of Wikisource, Poetlister had disclosed his identity to checkusers, per policy. As to anything recent, there are unsubstantiated charges about Poetlister, coming from Wikipedia Review and other unreliable sources like that, all irrelevant, and all about things over which we have no control. It is very clear that some people really dislike him, and things that he did years ago were reprehensible, which he's openly admitted. But "rehab" is not our business. On Wikiversity, education and educational resources are. No credible claim has been made here that Poetlister being allowed to edit WV under that account name has caused or will cause any harm to anyone, and, were he as dangerous as claimed, preventing him from openly editing there would make it far more difficult to identify socks. It's crazy. --Abd 18:56, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Abd[edit]

  • I have reviewed many of the prior discussions of this user, and the user's actions have long been framed within an old story about his supposed motivations, and descriptions of his behavior are exaggerated in line with this story.
False accusation of identity theft, oft-repeated. An image is not an identity, unless it identifies the person. Indeed, there was a problem because it did not personally identify the portrayed subject (and thus a friend of the subject requesting take-down was ignored).Sj changed "identity theft" to "impersonation." I wonder: is it an offense to be a "female impersonator." If so, why? --Abd 03:56, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Legitimate request for return with new username portrayed as an offense. Users who have "vanished" or been banned not uncommonly are allowed to return under a new name, by disclosure of the name to functionaries. Poetlister was following standard policy, in making the disclosure and request, yet this is now portrayed as "manipulation." That Longfellow was Poetlister was the only current offense demonstrated on Wikisource, and this was over six months ago.
Disruptive RfC here, filed early this year, is linked as if evidence of recent Poetlister misbehavior. There are users who have long, with apparent fanatic devotion, attempted to ban Poetlister. See what is linked above as Meta RFC at that time, and, note, there have been no substantial developments since that RfC, other than a mailing list discussion of the nature of, "Ain't it awful that he's allowed to edit on a WMF project?"
Old problems are cited as if recent. Whether or not Poetlister has socked recently on a project is relevant to that project. A widespread pattern of socking could raise cross-wiki issues, although a global lock, the only present way of enforcing a global ban, will encourage socking, far from preventing it. If Poetlister is allowed to continue collaborative, open editing on Wikiversity, he is then far more identifiable though global checkuser. (Recently confirmed socking on multiple wikis, or the likelihood of the same, is a legitimate basis for global checkuser.) Otherwise his activities become obscure. The Ole Holm account's last edit was March, 2010. There was no allegation that the edits of Ole Holm were actually disruptive, in themselves, beyond being block evasion, and Ole Holm was efficiently handled on Wikipedia.
Ban will create a need to enforce, causing disruption instead of preventing it. Blocks are simple, and block evasion is, indeed, an offense of a kind. However, treating blocks as rigid bans creates an enforcement industry, with long-term waste of time, and can create interwiki conflicts.
Is Poetlister currently socking? Determining that, by neutral checkuser, would be helpful, and community response can then be fact-based. He socked in the past, that is not denied by anyone.
We are allowing the defamation of a user. w:WP:RBI is a rational response to socking, breaking down and encouraging more socking when the reverts and blocks defame the user. It is not defamation to assert that an edit is block evasion and revert it on that basis, nor to block a sock on that basis (if the identification is accurate). It is defamation to file RfCs like this, with exaggerated charges, all without any necessity to protect the wikis and the wiki community. I'd suggest retracting the "identity theft" charge, in particular. It's blatantly false and inflammatory.
It is the nature of discussions like this that some users comment quickly, assuming charges are true. Highly motivated users, with established agendas, are also more likely to comment, amplifying initial impressions and thus leading to quick majorities for banning. A close of this RfC should very carefully consider the arguments and evidence. A close based on mere majority will be disruptive.
If Poetlister is doing harm by editing Wikiversity, there is a ready, relatively non-disruptive remedy, a complaint there, up to a possible Community Review there, filed by responsible users, which could be any WMF editor. If Poetlister is banned on Wikiversity, based on community consensus there, there is no other wiki with recent Poetlister activity, to my knowledge, so a lock would be moot (i.e., who is going to complain?) New socks would then be routinely blocked there. If he is merely globally locked, then he may create socks there without violating Wikiversity policy, by disclosing them to the Wikiversity community, or even possibly without disclosure (he's under no special obligation to disclose there). The practice of leaving decisions with local import to the local communities is sound.
A ban proposal for Poetlister on Wikiversity, absent evidence of disruptive editing there would be disruptive, in my opinion, leading to no ban conclusion worthy of the wasted time. However, it would be due process that doesn't cause the problems that this meta RfC can cause. However, a CR there could, instead, create an obligation to disclose local socks, publicly or privately, a compromise position that would facilitate protection of the community from repetition of old behavior.
The WMF may formally declare a ban, which the individual wikis would be bound to respect. It would be a huge precedent, though, exposing the Foundation to legal risks. Does the WMF really want to become a court, with, then, legal responsibility to avoid malfeasance?
  • Because of the long history, there is an accumulated pile of oft-repeated charges, necessitating much longer response than I'd prefer. --Abd 15:49, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  • @Millosh. Thanks for the considerations about global locking. I think you have misunderstood the situation of Poetlister and Wikiversity. There has been no misbehavior there, no attempt to block, no complaints, even, except one resource created by him, a bible translation project, was proposed for deletion, closed as no-consensus. The RfD was reopened by Sj just before filing this RfC, so it looks like harassment to me, even though I don't think that was Sj's intention, he simply does not understand how Wikiversity works. --Abd 14:12, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • @BirgitteSB. Thanks for the clarification. I notice that Longfellow was not blocked by you for disruption at en.ws, but rather because the account was considered by you "abandoned," while Poetlister was editing, presumably as Poetlister at Wikiversity. The problem is that the block of Longfellow was interpreted here as evidence of misbehavior at en.ws, when the cause was something different. It's not clear to me why en.ws should care that an editor is editing elsewhere under a different SUL, particularly if the identification is open, as it was. But if there was email abuse, which is difficult for us mere mortals to verify, blocking accounts used disruptively for email is common practice. Was there such abuse for the Longfellow account? Where is a discussion of email abuse allegations on en.ws? --Abd 14:12, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • @BirgitteSB. I'm sorry if there was a misunderstanding, Birgitte. I didn't "summarize" your comment, per se, but referred to the reason you gave for blocking Longfellow, was that interpretation incorrect? To me, it seems that you are disagreeing with what I didn't say. I did not, for example, claim that your block was improper, only that the reason seemed unclear to me, which could certainly be my fault. I did ask some questions, which you are free to disregard. Just asking! In particular, I'd think that a restriction to editing with only one account would apply to the wiki setting that restriction, not to other wikis, unless this is explicit, and such a restriction (on behavior on other wikis) would create cross-wiki issues, wouldn't it? An agreed restriction to editing with one SUL account made on the coordinating wiki could be appropriate, but only as a quid pro quo for not globally banning. We'd need to allow Poetlister to comment here, eh? Otherwise it would be like demanding that a butterfly stop flapping its wings so we can pin it to the board. --Abd 19:38, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

@Sj. As a Wikiversitan, my home wiki now, I want Poetlister's participation because I've looked at the last incident, on Wikisource, as well as prior incidents, and have concluded that the sum of Poetlister's contributions, for years, outweigh, by far, the problems at the end, and the problems at the end were entirely (or almost entirely) a result of the anonymity, i.e., undisclosed socking. My goal is not "rehabilitation," that's insulting, it's a common Wikipedia trope. Poetlister is not anonymous at Wikiversity, and, paradoxically, a global lock would force him to become anonymous if he wishes to continue. The WMF is much safer, if there is a continued problem, with him openly editing one of the wikis. He is a highly experienced user, as an administrator and as a checkuser, again, the main problem then was the socking, not what he actually did in that capacity as to content. I conclude that Wikiversity will be lucky to have his continued participation, even if he eventually flames out as some fear. I doubt that will happen, and there has been no evidence presented here of recent socking. In any case, the risk of his Wikiversity editing (which hasn't been shown here, at all, it's pure speculation that Something Bad Will Happen) is up to the Wikiversity community, not to users who collect on meta because ?

I think it's obvious to most by now that I would not tolerate Poetlister abuse at Wikiversity, whether I'm admin there or not. I know how to get quick and effective custodian attention, and a steward here if for some reason the locals are asleep. There are many WV users who are quite aware of the history, we will not allow the user, with his history, to get away with monkey business. My sense, though, is that he doesn't even want to. He appreciates the refuge. If he wants trouble, he'll make it elsewhere, and, I'll remind everyone, if that's what he wants, there is no way to stop it short of a WMF injunction. Ever see one of those? --Abd 22:07, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

From what Sj is saying elsewhere, his reference to "disruptive social engineers" is to me, specifically, and to anyone who seeks to improve WMF structure through what he defines as disruption. This is truly unfortunate, coming from a WMF Board member, the WMF should be looking for new ideas, not trying to stop people from presenting them, or demonstrating them with harmless experiments.Above comment by --Abd 22:22, 10 July 2011 (UTC), split off from rest of comment by insertion from Sj, below.

That comment refers to the subject of this ban, known as a social engineer, not to you. SJ talk | translate   04:12, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, Sj, for the clarification. Poetlister is not a social engineer. I am, it's been a major focus of mine for thirty years. --Abd 05:21, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

He cites edits to my Talk page as this sort of misuse when the significance of that is far less than clear. If anyone was harmed, it was only Poetlister and me (the "Rachel Brown" account name is a reference to Poetlister history). The "Apprentice" SPA account is unknown, anonymous. Not a disruptive edit, but, was this Poetlister? I'm certainly not exercised enough to request checkuser, but anyone could. I don't think it matters, in fact, which is why I'm not asking. But I'm considering engaging Poetlister with a community agreement to avoid all socking on Wikiversity, with amnesty for anything past, especially something harmless like Apprentice. Not done yet. Would be kind of moot if he's globally locked, eh? --Abd 22:22, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

One of our basic misunderstandings seems to be about what constitutes "good participation". I see negligible value in his contributions to Wikiversity, having read through them, yet you wish to fight for them and claim Wikiversity would be lucky to have them. I know WV is still a small project, and a hundred edits are better than none. In this case, from my perspective, the lack of clarity about the user's standing on that project and others is a counterbalancing negative - the amount of ambient community effort required to make that possible would be significant. SJ talk | translate   04:12, 11 July 2011 dated and indented by Abd 05:21, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
That's not a "misunderstanding," it's a difference of opinion. Poetlister is doing biblical translation on Wikiversity, which Sj is attempting to get deleted, arguing that it's inferior to a Wikisource project of biblical translation, which would be, if true, beside the point. The Wikisource project is a single-result project, requiring consensus, which is academically inferior, on general principles, to the multivalent Wikiversity approach. (I'm surprise that the Wikisource project, which involves original research, is even allowed, but that's Wikisource business.) Consider Poetlister's work on Wikiversity to be a student's research project, as an exercise, and other students may work together with him with no pressure to develop a single text, but rather to explore the text and develop deeper understanding. For at least a little of what I've seen, Poetlister's translation was superior, in my opinion. So? Wikiversity is sometimes a learn-by-doing student-self-help project (but it also hosts more formal "educational resources," i.e., developed supplemental materials with "authority" of some kind.) Sj has done some work attempting to gain more academic participation in Wikiversity. I don't think he realizes the implications of working with academia, they expect full academic freedom as well as protection from harassment. Can Wikiversity become a safe place for academia in the WMF family? Not with efforts like this RfC, which attempt to control Wikiversity from the outside, with Wikipedia assumptions and practice. --Abd 05:21, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Those two users (Rachel Brown and Apprentice) were not Poetlister, Abd. It was someone else who has been banned from English Wikipedia since 2006. --Bsadowski1 22:39, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, B. Assuming you are correct, that edit being cited here was used as innuendo, against both Poetlister and me. Not good. Sad, indeed. --Abd 22:48, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, Bsadowski. My mistake - I assumed they were PL as well. SJ talk | translate   04:12, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Uh, "as well"? Who else assumed they were PL? I sure didn't! How many other users have seen disruption like this, which was actually targeting Poetlister, and assumed it was him? --Abd 05:21, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Kaldari[edit]

  • Suggesting that Wikiversity is capable of policing disruptive editors is a joke. The admins on Wikiversity consider disruption and sockpuppeting to be acceptable as long as you call it "research". Kaldari 19:02, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
    Wikipedia's ArbCom says it's an "island of banned users". – Adrignola talk 01:20, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
    Insert rage of non-English Wikipedia users who complain that enwiki isn't the only Wikipedia. ;-) Killiondude 03:22, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

Clarification by BirgitteSB[edit]

There are inaccuracies on this page about Longfellow and en.Wikisource. Longfellow was allowed to edit en.WS with that account instead of the Poetlister account under the presumption that it was the only active account being used. First it was discovered that abandoned accounts were being used to email en.WS editors and misrepresent the identities of PL associated accounts, history of editing, and the understandings of en.WS b'crat/CUs. This led to the recognition of misbehavior elsewhere and altogether proved that the judgement of bcrat/CUs had not only been poor but failed due diligence. After a few weeks the Longfellow account had ceased editing and I was confident that a different SUL account was being used on another WMF wiki, so I blocked the Longfellow account as abandoned. All the abandoned accounts of this person are blocked on en.WS due to complaints of the email function of abandoned accounts being used deceptively. I indicated at the time that further response to the situation on en.WS needed to come from the active WMF SUL account and to make an update to the list of socks which had been provided in the past to comply with the historical agreement. Neither of these actions were taken. en.WS did not waste much more time or energy discussing this person who neglected to respond transparently. The above is meant to clarify misunderstandings regarding the Longfellow account. I do not mean to mislead anyone that this was the entirety of the situation at en.WS, as it was not. However these are the particulars of the Longfellow account being blocked. Believe me or not, I am not interested in the futility of debating those that imagine I would misdirect them.--BirgitteSB 03:52, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for that concise clarification, Birgitte, very helpful. I regret any confusion, and updated the timeline. SJ talk | translate   04:13, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

@ABD Your summary of my statement is incorrect. I don't wish to direct the dramafest to anywhere that appears to be settled without such attention. So you either decide whether to believe that I was convinced of another account which you cannot verify on my word, or else you can ask wv:User:Poetlister which account they were editing with at the time of the Longfellow block. We both have several years worth of editing and interpersonal interaction documented on WMF wikis and past performance is the best predicted of future behavior. If their answer turns out to be at odds with my testimony, you have plenty of material at hand to judge which of us to believe. I don't understand why you doubt me that the conditions of editing after 2008 included a restriction to one account. The existing accounts were blocked back then waiting for them to declare which account they wanted as the one account. When the email issue was first discovered these were all re-blocked with the new disable email feature along with some more recent SUL accounts that en.WS had been unaware of before the drama. SUL hadn't existed in 2008 but I interpreted the consensus to cover one account per WM. The Longfellow account was treated no different than the other abandoned accounts excepting that it was not blocked as part of a batch and I left the account able to edit it's own talkpage. No one suggested that this had been a poorly judged block during my annual confirmation as admin and bcrat and only the blockee disputed it at the time, although they failed to detail what exactly they disputed when I followed up. They simply chose to search for sympathy by emails complaining of the block rather than to forthrightly and transparently protest any errors they might have perceived on my part. I put up the unblock template myself to ensure others reviewed my actions after the emails went around. Please refrain from attributing any further details to me other than those which I have actually written, so that I might absent myself from this discussion. --BirgitteSB 17:07, 9 July 2011 (UTC) @ABD I am glad to understand that you are not claiming my block of the Longfellow account was improper--BirgitteSB

Millosh[edit]

It's obvious that Poetlister has made serious problems on four Wikimedia wikis (so far, en.wp, en.wv, en.wq and en.ws). If this discussion is about any local block, I wouldn't participate as it would be obviously to me that such person should be blocked -- not to make more troubles. --Millosh 12:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

However, we are talking here about global block for a localized user. If such person creates problems on four particular wikis -- all of them written in one language -- my question is: Why do we need global block? What's the reason behind the need for global block, instead of four separate blocks? --Millosh 12:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

I can imagine the next reasons:

  1. Strong punishment is wanted. -- This reason is absolutely irrelevant. The purpose of blocks is not to punish anyone, but to allow to others to work without problematic users. Four separate blocks would do the same, without imposing Wikimedia-wide block. --Millosh 12:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  2. Disruptive behavior on four wikis is enough for global [b]lock. -- I don't think so. Although it is obvious that user is problematic, I would like to hear more rational reasoning than promoting disruptive behavior on four wikis as serious technical issue. --Millosh 12:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  3. Message to other disruptive users should be sent. -- I could agree if I would know the precise content of the message. --Millosh 12:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  4. Some communities are not capable to remove disruptive users from their projects. -- That's not the reason for global [b]lock. That's the reason for dealing with particular project/community. --Millosh 12:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  5. Any other reason? Willing to know. --Millosh 12:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

Second and equally serious problem is related to the jurisdiction. Meta community doesn't have jurisdiction over other projects. Imposing global [b]locks from one place creates serious problems by one community and without a proper method verified by the community or the Board is the right path for creation serious problems:

  • One person could be disruptive on a particular set of projects, but could be more than useful on one or more other projects. That person could, actually, be very important part of one community and having them [b]locked globally, we could make serious damage to one or more small communities. --Millosh 12:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Besides that, some larger communities won't agree with this. De facto opt-out blocking could be serious Wikimedia-wide issue if not agreed previously. --Millosh 12:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
    There is a way to override a global block locally via a loophole in the software, as demonstrated by Wikinews in the Thekohser's case: just rename the account and rename it back. In general I don't agree with global banning though. Meta sees itself competent to make decisions for hundreds of users on other projects? I can see a backlash against that. In Thekohser's case there was some of that at Wikinews and later Wikisource, and ended up with the global ban being rescinded (?). Tempodivalse [talk] 13:20, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
    I've commented on the situation with Thekohser at Talk This is a good example of how global banning without the support of the local wikis is a Bad Idea. --Abd 15:19, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Millosh, the reason I see is not one of your four, but
5. Users who demonstrate the ability to subvert communities, creating respected profiles and working neutrally or positively for a long time, before later causing widespread social disruption, should be kept out of the projects rather than continually waiting for the social disruption to occur.
Other comments - This is not about punishing anyone, just protection from predictable future disruption. I don't have any animosity towards Poetlister - he's just a bored guy who seems to enjoy using Wikimedia projects for his social games. But he's long ago stopped contributing anything of significant use to the projects, and spends his time here (as on other projects online) developing baseline reputation, then playing other people in the community off against one another. Since we have four previous instances to look at, just on our own projects, we can predict the outcome. I don't think we need to be any more lenient with this sort of misuse of our community time and resources than we are with the more aggressive trolls and vandals.
A message to other disruptive social-engineers and hoaxers should also be sent. I am open to your thoughts on how to frame that message. I would say: "Wikimedia is hostile to abuse of our radical openness. While that openness leaves us vulnerable to social engineering, we correct for that where we can. That means that we are allergic to vandals, sockpuppets and meatpuppets; and that we go out of our way to discourage participation by those who exploit these vulnerabilities." <-- currently we are clear about saying this to vandals; less so to puppeteers.
SJ talk | translate   19:16, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I agree with the message as you worded. I mean, it is strong enough to be good enough reason. --Millosh 21:41, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
The only serious issue now is jurisdiction. Are you still on stewards-l? Without GRC, DRC or Global ArbCom, the most reasonable thing which stewards could do is to find a developer who would implement wikisets for locks and create set similar to the one for global sysops (without self-sustainable projects and with opt-out option for others) and to impose global [b]locks there. (Which I suggested to stewards. I didn't know, actually, that it is not possible to create wikisets for locks.) --Millosh 21:41, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
The other option is to finish with creation of GRC, for example. I am almost sure that any kind of strong body -- as GRC is intended -- won't pass vote inside of the community. And as I said a couple of years ago, I think that it is Board's responsibility to formalize it. You are elected by the community, you don't want to be the final arbitration body and the only way to normalize the situation is to declare new global policy and implement it. I really don't see why it's so hard. --Millosh 21:41, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm no longer on stewards-l, no. I like your idea of wiki-sets. I would add that the self-sustaining or opt-out wikis should have a page where these global actions are posted (so you get a local notification on your wiki that a user has been globally [b]locked, with a link to the discussion). Yes, a GRC can be set up by the Board; I reopened that RFC to solicit suggestions and help refine its definition. SJ talk | translate   04:12, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
linking is helpful ;) GRC RFC -- phoebe | talk 19:31, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Bug report for partial global blocks / connection between CentralAuth and wikisets: 29811. --Millosh 12:43, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Billinghurst[edit]

  • Ban I have wasted enough breath and time as a CU for Wikisource dealing with the shite from the duplicitous ways of Poetlister/Longfellow/today's name. I can reiterate all that discussion here, or you can read it at Wikisource, or my preferred option is that we just get on and do it. In short, their lies and deceit well outdo any good work they undertake. Goodbye and good riddance. billinghurst sDrewth 18:59, 22 July 2011 (UTC)
Comment to those who say that meta is not the right forum, and unable to enforce, then please identify the right forum so that we can get on and have a proper discussion. If no proper forum exists, then we kick it to the stewards or the board. It simply needs a resolution. billinghurst sDrewth 19:05, 22 July 2011 (UTC)