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The following request for comments is closed. Proposal withdrawn by requestor.

Hello all, this RfC contains a proposal related to username suppression under the new technical reality of SUL. This proposal is translate-able to ensure maximum potential for cross-wiki input, and will be advertised to all local oversighters as well as generally across Wikimedia. After discussion has completed, it may be closed by an uninvolved user and the results will be implemented. Please translate the proposal as needed.


All usernames are now global after SUL finalization, making username suppression on individual wikis obsolete. However, because suppressed usernames often appear in edit summaries across projects, there is no way of making this task fully global for either stewards to perform or local oversighters to help with through access to global rights. As such, the creation of a list to coordinate global efforts makes the most sense.

Proposal: Oversight-l[edit]

Create the oversight-l mailing list, and subscribe consenting stewards and local oversighters to it. The list would be primarily for coordinating global username suppression, specifically for stewards to contact local oversighters en mass to request suppression of edit summaries related to globally suppressed usernames, and for local oversighters to contact stewards to globally suppress abusive usernames in accordance with OS criteria #4.

This list would not be intended for general discussion or advice, but this could happen as well. This list would not be archived.


  • Support as nominator. This mailing list will hopefully increase cross-wiki coordination, and is the best possible option due to the technical impossibility of centralizing username suppression. I'm not particularly happy about being added to another mailing list, but I feel as though this is the best solution. Any other ideas are welcome of course. Ajraddatz (talk) 00:13, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • I assume the list would not be archived? --Rschen7754 00:22, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
    Yes, it would not be archived. Ajraddatz (talk) 00:23, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • I doubt that such a ML would achieve much. Is there any estimation of how often stewards "contact local oversighters en mass to request suppression of edit summaries related to globally suppressed usernames"? From my experience, maybe twice a year? "Local oversighters" can already "contact stewards to globally suppress abusive usernames" easily via OTRS (or IRC). --MF-W 00:24, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
    Yes, and that is the problem. It is my hope that a mailing list for easy communication would increase the overall cooperation happening on the issue. Ajraddatz (talk) 00:26, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
    "Stewards don't need to contact many local Oversighters at once that often, and that is the problem", or "Oversighters can already contact stewards easily, and that is the problem"? --MF-W 11:29, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
    Stewards and local oversighters don't communicate as much as they should, and that is the problem. Over the last week, I count 9 cases where this list would have been useful for contacting local OS for hiding edit summaries and 3 where it would be useful for local OS to contact stewards for global suppression, whereas communication only happened in 3-4 of those cases. Still much better than in the past, but there's room to build on it. Ajraddatz (talk) 17:17, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • With everybody on the same list, most will receive mails for messages they are probably not related with. Perhaps, we just need a coordination page. For instance, creating links to easily contact oversighters is something easy to be done and can be helpful: Send mail to Stewards, send mail to PT WP OS, send mail to ES WP OS, send mail to EN WP OS and so on...—Teles «Talk to me ˱C L @ S˲» 01:20, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I noticed that we have a local policy page. Perhaps this page could be updated (or adapted) and advertised more prominently? Mike VTalk 01:54, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
That page should be updated; I'll give it a go at some point. @Teles While it is true that most cases will target just a few wikis, I still feel like a centralized list is easier than sending off however many emails to however many lists as required. In the same way that the CU list can be directed to specific projects through listing them in the topic, I feel like the same could be done here. "Username suppression on enwiki, commons, meta, zhwiki" for example. Plus, if people see others cooperating with these cross-wiki cases maybe they'd be more inclined to themselves? I have nothing to substantiate that of course, but it could lead to a diffusion of knowledge of the appropriate process. Ajraddatz (talk) 02:04, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Not a lot has changed from when I created the page (around 2013), except zhwiki now has oversighters. --Rschen7754 06:17, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
@Ajraddatz, I'd venture to say that the Checkuser-L mailing list is only moderately successful in obtaining cross-wiki cooperation. One of the reasons is the local variations in policy, something that might also apply to suppression. Risker (talk) 01:45, 5 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support. If used in that fashion, it would certainly improve the cooperation. Furthermore, all subscribers are supposed to be members of the same work group (those with oversight rights); so I don't see any potential risk on it. RadiX 04:24, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • I'm willing to support any new policy that will enforce a global perpective before any suppresing action on a username. It is not unusual for a random word in one language to be offensive in another. Without global perpective good faithed contributors could find themselves victims of an oversensitive oversighter or an oversensitive community. E.g.: Some time ago in el.wiki a user from it.wiki using the name "Dasyproctos" (possibly a refernce of this cute animal w:Common agouti) which is derived from greek dasys (thick) and proctos (anus, which is still used in greek in formal-medical context, so it's not really offensive) got indef block for a while for having an offensive username [1],w:el:Βικιπαίδεια:Σημειωματάριο διαχειριστών/Αρχείο 2014/4#Απαράδεκτο όνομα χρήστη. Given that since sysops were allowed to change the visibility of a revision, in that wiki, the tool is overused, it can be assumed that if local oversight rights existed, such a username could easily had been suppresed, without beeing neither really ofensive nor abusive. So I think it's imperative that a global perpective is always given before any such local action.—Ah3kal (talk) 08:48, 4 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • Some historical commentary here. First, there is already an Oversight-L list. It was originally intended for oversight requests from ALL projects. The reality is that it was almost never used by any project other than enwiki, and in May 2010 it was officially turned into the Enwiki oversighter's discussion mailing list. By that time, several of the wikis that had oversighters had already set up OTRS "lists" to receive requests so that they could more easily be tracked and would be accessible to only oversighters within their own communities; one of the key reasons for this separation was to limit the number of people who had access to non-public personal information and other suppressible material on projects other than their own. (This remains a valid point for any information that appears only on one project.) All of the archives for the current (enwiki) Oversight-L mailing list were deleted years ago, and it has been a non-archiving list ever since. I don't think it would be a big issue for enwiki oversighters to move to a mailing list named Oversight-en-L or whatever the current naming scheme is, thus freeing up the more "global" listname, and I would be willing to work with others to advocate such a move if there is widespread agreement that a global list should be created again.

    It occurs to me that there are a few issues here. The first is how many situations we're encountering where global suppression of a username is currently being applied. The second is whether global suppression of a username is always desirable; there are usernames that would get suppressed on some projects but not others because of specific linguistic issues. Another is whether it is more desirable to allow stewards to make these changes directly on all wikis on a global basis; the results may be variable because some of the 18 or so projects with oversighters don't have any policy against stewards acting, and others might be strongly opposed to steward actions of any kind except in genuine emergencies. [Of note, Enwiki historically has done more suppressions in a year than all of the rest of the projects combined, including steward actions. It's not clear to me that SUL has changed that.] So I have to wonder how much of this is based on challenges stewards are having on just a few projects, and whether another solution might be found if the issues are only between stewards and those few projects. At the end of the day, there are oversighters on fewer than 20 projects, so stewards are going to have to address issues on the other several hundred. Finally, I'm not persuaded that it's helpful to be sending out emails to roughly 100 people every time a username is suppressed, and a local oversighter is needed to address one or more local issues. I'd like to know how often this is happening, which projects, and what the result has been so far. Risker (talk) 01:36, 5 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks for the historical context. I was told there was an oversight-l list already, but I couldn't find it on the mailing list page. The name wouldn't be important, it could be oversight-global-l given that os-l is being used. A couple of points before moving on to the core of what you're saying:
  • I'm not sure that there would be cases where local suppression is required but not global suppression, given that the current access to nonpublic info policy only recognizes the global policy as a basis for suppression. Then again, I'm not sure why that is the case. Given the quasi-private status of suppressed material, it seems that suppression would be an area that could tolerate even more local policy variety than CheckUser.
  • Stewards can, and do, perform local hideuser blocks as part of a global username suppression due to a bug. Policy has also changed over the years, and permits us using oversight on projects with local oversighters in cross-wiki cases, so we could in theory clean up the local edit summaries as well. However, policy also requires that we notify individual communities after doing so, so there is really no benefit to going over the heads of the locals since we need to contact them either way. I was a local oversighter before I was a steward; I understand the concern with us stepping in for no good reason :-)
As to whether the emails to 100s of people is justified; possibly not. Looking over the suppression log here, most of the suppressed usernames apply only to one or two projects, so it wouldn't be hard to individually contact locals in those cases. I'll need to compile more in-depth information, though. In hindsight, this discussion would have been better done in a more general setting, with the question being "what should/could we do to improve cooperation in this area". Ajraddatz (talk) 19:23, 5 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose Oppose This seems to be a solution looking for a problem. If this were a problem and we were to have a mailing list with traffic, I fear that the signal to noise ratio for the individual oversighter would be too high and consequently ignored. --Millbart (talk) 12:19, 6 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • I think that we've got this covered with our onwiki email form, which points to our OTRS queue stewards@wikimedia.org. Everyone can send us requests to that queue and we can decide to honor them or not if they're within policy. Maybe what it'd be helpful is that, whenever a local oversighter applies hideuser, we could see it centraly via a special page, the same as the global rename queue, so we could decide if expand the suppression to a global level. I asked for that feature in Phabricator (can't find the ticket number now, sorry), and I was told that such feature would require a lot of work, so it was decided instead to add further information in the block form to advice oversighters to contact the stewards if they think the username is globally-suppressable. Maybe we should encourage more stewards to join the OTRS queue and inform users that such a queue exist for this (and others) purpose. Best regards, —MarcoAurelio 09:48, 6 June 2016 (UTC)[reply]
    A special page would be good, or maybe an IRC bot. Adding more info to the block form might be a good idea to look into as well. Ajraddatz (talk) 08:18, 7 June 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • What would really help would be if every wiki with oversighters had either a mailing list or OTRS queue. Right now, when we need to contact an oversighter on another wiki to get something harassed (I remember an incident where a LTA spammed a bunch of private info on many big wikis), and there is no list or queue, we have to guess who is the most active or who will respond first. This is highly inefficient. --Rschen7754 07:31, 7 June 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • Thanks both MA and Rschen for your thoughts on this (as well as everyone else), I think I agree now that an oversight mailing list wouldn't be the best solution there. I'll leave this open for a little longer for brainstorming purposes, but eventually withdraw it on the proposed outcome I had when making the thing. Ajraddatz (talk) 08:18, 7 June 2016 (UTC)[reply]