Requests for comment/Wikisource administration problems

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The following request for comments is closed. Inactive RfC for over five months. No actual problem/abuse/conflict reported (except vague accusations of being a cabal, which were conclusively dismissed), no action proposed, no action needed.

RFC statement[edit]

  • Problem 1: User Poetlister is a well-known sock master who used multiple accounts on multiple wikis to gain adminship and other trusted ops. He also used multiple accounts on multiple wikis to harass others through email and to impersonate other people. He used multiple email accounts on Wikisource, among other Wikis, to commit these acts even through the Summer of 2010.
  • Problem 2: Poetlister was allowed to use a new name, Longfellow and to run for adminship. This new name was allowed to edit even though CUs on Wikisource knew that he was using multiple accounts to send harassing emails to people and also impersonating new identities. One of these CUs, John Vandenberg, had email proof 6 months before the RfA attempt that Poetlister was using multiple accounts to harass. One of the CUs, Pathoschild, had access to this information in his position of Steward as emails were forwarded to the Steward list also. No action was taken on Wiki by either individual.
  • Problem 3: When this matter was exposed, the small admin corps of Wikisource, mostly friends and real life associates of John Vandenberg and having many real life connections through Wikimeets, defended and ignored any possibility of wrong doing. One admistrator went so far as to say that any concerns were "cheap shots" and made the false claim that the Privacy Policy forbid CUs from taking action regarding Poetlister's new account. The incivility by admin continued and dismissal of any concerns were reinforced with threats of blocking.
  • Problem 4: An IP user crossed the line by pointing out the real life information of one of the admin while revealing that they were a) long term friends with another admin and too close to be objective and b) that they were a restart account hiding their own background. Regardless of the merits of the case, the admin group decided to put forth a ban proposal as seen here. When it was pointed out that a policy should be put in place to prevent both Poetlister's harassment and Proabivouac's harassment, it was met with reproof. BirgitteSB, one of the Bureaucrats involved in allowing Poetlister's sock puppet to run for adminship, said: "We do not need policies written to know what is inappropriate" and [1] "I feel detailed policies just give people who wish to violate them something to wikilawyer about". Going forward, previously incivil admin Hesperian makes a sarcastic attack with a policy found here, a poorly written one line statement that he unilaterally declares as a official policy without discussion.
  • Conclusionary analysis: it seems that a small, tight nit group of individuals operate Wikisource and do so in a manner that endangers the WMF by allowing WMF-wide problematic users to use multiple accounts to harass others. It is also problematic that any voiced concerns are met with incivility, sarcasm, and threats. It is further problematic that they are willing to unilaterally make claims about policy, refuse traditional community processes to ensure that policies are form for the best interest of the community, and operate with a unilateral mindset. When the Hesperian created policy was brought up on IRC, one user, Billinghurst, who is also a CU who allowed Poetlister's nomination to proceed forward, spoke as if he represents the community fully, using "us" and "we" to dismiss any others besides his own opinion and being unable to recognize the problem in an admin unilaterally making policy without any discussion and doing so to back up a sarcastic and incivil comment. Another user in the chat went ahead to change it properly to a proposal while the CU was unwilling to make any action towards it but produce sarcasm and incivility.

I think a discussion and responses need to be set up to shine some light on a tiny project that obviously lacks enough input to remove such problems. Ottava Rima (talk) 01:02, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]



Allowing Poetlister to edit, after losing his adminship, was a community decision (see s:Wikisource:Scriptorium/Archives/2008-09#Poetlister and s:Wikisource:Administrators/Archives/Poetlister#2008-09 vote of confidence (failed)). Poetlister's nomination as Longfellow is being discussed by the community (which is sizable enough that a Meta request for comment is unneeded) and on the crosswiki checkuser list. Ottava has already proposed votes of no confidence on every local bureaucrat and checkuser.

Ottava's allegations that the local administrators form a cabal of real-life friends are unfounded, and Ottava has provided no evidence. The accused administrators joined Wikisource separately between 2005 (when Wikisource was created) and 2010 (see s:Wikisource:Administrators/Archives#Timeline). Adminship is renewed annually by community vote, so a cabal of administrators cannot unilaterally run en-Wikisource.

See also the independent RFC into Ottava Rima, which concerns Ottava's similar accusations and behaviour on other projects. —Pathoschild 02:07:54, 03 January 2011 (UTC)

It is strange how an unrelated RfC that was deemed to be unfounded makes it into your statement. And unfounded? The large proportion of such users regularly attend the Australian meetups and I've had many IRC discussions with John, who was once a friend and someone I worked with at WS, in which he would discuss them. And to say that a group cannot exist by saying admin are reconfirmed is meaningless, as people can easily support each other.
I find it odd how Pathoschild ignores the fact that he had evidence of Poetlister using multiple accounts in addition to Longfellow at the same time and used those other accounts to send harassing emails. Wikisource does not have enough activity to deal with this matter effectively, especially when every Crat and CU was involved in the matter. Ottava Rima (talk) 02:16, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
By the way, it is obvious that many involved at Wikisource are involved with John Vandenberg in Wikimedia Australia, as he is the current head of that Chapter. John's profile. Hesperian admits to being from Australia and attends meetups (one example). Billinghurst is also from Australia. Cygnis insignis edits Western Australian content and a del-rev comment that I will not discuss the content of suggested further evidence of proximity to others that seems obvious from their long term contributions. Etc. Ottava Rima (talk) 02:33, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I do not live in Australia, and certainly never attended a wiki meetup there. The accused administrators have been reconfirmed unanimously since election (see s:Wikisource:Administrators/Archives); a "support each other" cabal has nothing to do with their continued adminship, unless every Wikisource editor who comments in confirmations is part of the cabal.
I wasn't aware of Longfellow until recently, when the controversy about his nomination came up. I was largely inactive on enwikisource since May 2010. —Pathoschild 02:39:00, 03 January 2011 (UTC)
I didn't list you above so why would you assume I meant every single person? That seems a bit silly. And as a CU, you had access to the same information John Vandenberg did as he made public statements that the matter was discussed. Billinghurst later verified that his CU emails had at least one of the emails I sent on Poetlister yet him using multiple account emails to harass was never addressed. Ottava Rima (talk) 03:02, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You do realise that Australia's about the size of the mainland US and no two of the individuals you refer to are less than 260 miles apart (several are at least 10 times that)? None of the parties you name apart from John Vandenberg were members of Wikimedia Australia as at 3 January 2011, and those that were not at that time had never been at any stage. (Disclosure: I'm a WMAu committee member, and know Hesperian in person.) Orderinchaos 08:20, 22 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


<sigh> No-one does Wikidrama like Ottava Rima. There's nothing to see here, unless you've never seen Ottava Rima stirring a pot before, or you think Proabivouac threatening to out people is anything new.

As for Wikisource issues:

  • Poetlister's latest account name is now known. His admin nom will fail. Poetlister knows it, and has ceased editing. Once things calm down, the community will discuss whether he should be banned.
  • Proabivouac has voluntarily withdrawn from Wikisource, in exchange for his proposed ban discussion not going forward.
  • Ottava Rima remains a user in good standing. In future, as always, uncivil behaviour will not be stood for, and those who contribute uncivilly may be blocked. Hesperian's block on Ottava Rima for inappropriate behaviour has been endorsed by the community as appropriate.

Hesperian 02:31, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If users who commit incivility are blocked, why were you not blocked for gross incivility and sarcasm where you made a sarcastic "official policy" page to reinforce the sarcasm? Ottava Rima (talk) 02:34, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That wasn't sarcasm. Hesperian 02:50, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Are you saying that you honestly believed this wording to be appropriate for an "official policy": "It's totally not okay"? Or that "Problem solved" and "but now I've written it down, just for you" where you unilaterally make a policy and label it official without any discussion is your belief that you can actually do that? Ottava Rima (talk) 03:00, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am saying that that was a non-sarcastic response to someone who argues that you can't ban someone for threatening to out users without a policy in place to cover it. I believed that creating a policy page would address your stated concern that when things are not written down, enforcement may be patchy. If I wrote it flippantly, it is because I consider your position absurd. Hesperian 03:15, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Don't misconstrue what I said. I said I would not support a ban unless -all- offenders of the same action are banned, stressing that I wished to see Poetlister banned too for doing the same thing. I wanted a policy put forth to ensure that Wikisource as a community does not support such people and makes it impossible for any CU, Crat, Admin, or whoever, to think it is acceptable to help such people hide their identity when applying for admin yet continuing to do such actions. Ottava Rima (talk) 04:30, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If anybody wishes to peruse this matter in full, rather than through Ottava's narrative, the salient discussions are

Hesperian 03:01, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"I didn't list you above so why would you assume I meant every single person?" Let's not play that game, Ottava. Tell me explicitly. Do you consider me any of "friend and real life associate of John Vandenberg", "having many real life connections through Wikimeets", "involved with John Vandenberg in Wikimedia Australia", "proximity to... Cygnis insignis"? If you tell me which I stand accused of, I'll respond. Hesperian 03:20, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I did list you in the above grouping. The IP thought that you did have a real life connection with Cygnis based on other information, but I am going off of your relationship through WikiChapter Australia. I worked with all of you before, so I am witness to how you guys form a rather insular group. Ottava Rima (talk) 04:32, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, you haven't answered my question, but you have at least stated that I have a "relationship through WikiChapter Australia", and that, at least, I can respond to. I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of Wikimedia Australia. Hesperian 05:24, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You've have a working relationship with their president and that is enough. You've also admitted to being close friends with Cygnis. Anyone looking at Wikisource would see a tight nit group of people working together, voting together, responding to things together. I spent quite a long time working with that group, so I don't speak from lack of experience. Ottava Rima (talk) 15:39, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Meh, I asked directly, what I stood accused of, so that I could refute it without being dragged into the "Yeah, well" game. But there's no avoiding that with you, is there? Hesperian 00:01, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is a discussion, not a trial. That is stated plainly in the opening. Ottava Rima (talk) 01:19, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I answered this elsewhere, but I'm feeling a chill. Take another guess and assert it is fact: which part of problem 4 do I think relates to this approach? Cygnis insignis 16:32, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The opening statement claims "Conclusionary analysis: it seems that a small, tight nit group of individuals operate Wikisource"

There are 40 admins on en.WS and we annually review each one removing rights from any who become inactive. I have never met with any admins in meatspace outside of the one Wikimania I attended and most every en.WS admin I met there is no longer an admin. Also I do not regularly correspond nor chat with anyone from Wikimedia. I have been admin at en.WS since 2005 and was the sixth admin promoted in the English subdomain. The conclusions of the opening statement are the reverse of my experience at en.WS.--BirgitteSB 02:38, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You also did not threaten blocks or do other silly actions, so you don't really have anything to "worry" about when it comes to Poetlister. You were mentioned regarding the general tone of promoting an atmosphere where a few admin enforce their beliefs without seeking community consensus to put forth policies. As for the amount of admin - that doesn't really matter. There are three CUs and a few Crats, and one of the CU spoke for the community in IRC, which is a common trend. I will not post the logs without permission, but the unilateralism of the community is troubling. Ottava Rima (talk) 03:06, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Separate point: When this discussion is over can there be a courtesy blanking of those mentions of a discussion that has been courtesy blanked on en.WS. The point was to not advertise as the subject felt insulted by the discussion. I realize local procedures may not allow it, but I appreciate if it it could be considered.--BirgitteSB 02:44, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I am an admin on en.WS, and when I first noticed this issue, I saw various admins admitting that they had made mistakes in judgement, and Ottava Rima castigating them; for example, from Ottava Rima

That argument is completely inappropriate. You have no right to argue that there is any "outing" by revealing a guy is socking, especially when he had over 5 other accounts. It is 100% unacceptable and I am deeply shamed to even read the above. It shows a complete disregard for ethical standards and an abuse of trust in addition to being completely incivil in misstating our policies and procedures. I honestly can't believe you think the above would be acceptable.[2]

I'm not familiar with the background of the issue, but I saw WS admins accepting responsibility for their actions, and whatever valid points Ottava Rima may have had were buried under a layer of personal abuse. Since I wasn't familiar with the background of the issue, and after run-ins at Commons, prefer not to deal with Ottava Rima when possible, I didn't see any reason to get involved. I do reject point 3 as an unfactual description of events.

In point 4, when discussion was brought about banning a user who threatened to out admins, Ottava Rima insisted on using it as a platform to argue about other issues. The above quoted attack was against Hesperian; that Hesperian was a little sarcastic to Ottava Rima by this time does not surprise, annoy or offend me.

His conclusions are wrong. I have never met any of my fellow admins, and do not communicate with them off-wiki. Had I seen reasonable concerns being dismissed, I would have responded. What I saw was something that everyone agreed was poorly handled, and Ottava Rima abusing people because they dared to believe that in light of what they knew at the time that what they did wasn't completely unreasonable. If Ottava Rima had been asking for a recall on the CUs and bureaucrats involved, he didn't not go about it the right way; if he wanted policy to change going forward, he didn't handle that in a productive way. This diff from Spangineer offers an example of how a proposal for doing this different could be offered in the future, and you'll note the responses[3],[4] to that were polite and productive.--Prosfilaes 04:30, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Accepting responsibility would be giving up your access to CU after abusing the community's trust. John Vandenberg repeatedly suggested that though he had information Longfellow/Poetlister was using at least two other accounts to email harass people through Wikisource that he did not block any of them and that this was the correct set of actions. I am confused by Prosfilaea's straw man about not being connected to the others as that comment was directed to the group that tried to claim that there were no problems.
By the way, Prosfilaeas, how can you claim people admitted that there were improprieties with comments like: "It's easy to sit here after the fact and fire cheap shots" or "Sending emails from the 'old' account is not clearly 'socking' or 'abuse', nor does it invalidate someones attempt to re-establish themselves under a new identity." It would seem that Poetlister using multiple accounts at the same time on Wikisource while pretending to have new real life identities -and- harassing users in those emails would be a major problem. This is something that John Vandenberg did not accept then or now. Ottava Rima (talk) 04:38, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Any confusion is understandable. The comment is a muddied retelling, the sequence of events, the action or inaction, and the users in question are blended to a new synthesis. This could be because the user is "not familiar with the background of the issue", and are themselves muddled about who did what. The consequence is that the low points, associated with the unnamed, becomes attributed to those named. I hope the user takes the time to clarify their summary. Cygnis insignis 05:39, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't know what this comment is about. If you have a specific error, point it out. I've reread it, and I stand by it, especially as it's mostly what I saw when I read the threads. As an uninvolved admin, who is not a personal friend of John Vandenberg, I felt and I feel that Ottava Rima was not making a case worthy of being called a case; that no matter how broad and unconnected the set of admins were, Ottava Rima's actions were unlikely to produce results he was going to happy with.--Prosfilaes 06:52, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You can accept responsibility in a lot of ways, without giving up your position. I never said that they admitted to improprieties. I said they admitted "that they had made mistakes in judgement". Again, had you stated your problem and desired outcome calmly, they would have been responded to in that way. You start tossing out "That argument is completely inappropriate. You have no right to argue ... I am deeply shamed to even read the above. It shows a complete disregard for ethical standards..." and you've exceeded the bounds of rational discussion. At that point, the abuse obscures any points you might have, and thus your opponent's argument wins if it's not prima facie absurd.--Prosfilaes 06:53, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"your problem and desired outcome calmly" I did and I continue to be one of the few calm people here. The accusations and nastiness have come from a small group of admin from the beginning who negatively characterized anyone who dare speak on the matter. It is really troubling to see such actions. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:49, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That argument is completely inappropriate. You have no right to argue to that the accusations and nastiness come from others. It is 100% unacceptable and I am deeply shamed to even read the above. It shows a complete disregard for ethical standards in addition to being completely incivil in misstating our policies and procedures. I honestly can't believe you think the above would be acceptable.--Prosfilaes 18:25, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"You have no right to argue to that the accusations and nastiness come from others" I have copied and pasted many lines that are completely unacceptable. Your denial of that is troubling and why Wikisource has a major administrator problem. My quotes don't contain personal attacks and incivility, but the bad faith of multiple administrators, outright personal attacks, nasty sarcasm and the rest is really problematic. Instead of fixing it, you are hiding from it and pretending it doesn't happen. That is not acting responsibly. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:02, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ottava Rima, you do not have the right to define "civil" and "acceptable" globally. They are subjective; you can talk about what you feel is civil and acceptable, but you can't speak globally, and I think it pretty clear that you aren't speaking for the community in this case. You said "I have been 100% polite and civil"[5]. In a multicultural group like Wikimedia, you can't know that you haven't behaved in ways that are clearly impolite in the culture of one of the listeners. Even in a monocultural group, when people start saying that you're being a dick, it's pure hubris not to consider that you're acting in a way that's they legitimately consider impolite and uncivil. I see no evidence that you have ever considered that you might be uncivil and unpolite.--Prosfilaes 20:47, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"do not have the right to define "civil" and "acceptable" globally" Then neither do you. There are objective standards, and accusing others of "pot shots" and making sarcastic comments are under those. I discussed these specifics with other people, and work on courses analyzing civility in general. I find it odd how you say I haven't considered myself unpolite when it you aren't considering the statements by others unpolite. After all, this is an RfC on them, not me, and your comments can be seen as deflecting. On Wikisource, Blocking Policy makes it clear that Administrators are held to a higher standard, so that incivility is -never- acceptable. Why is it that you ignore that, verifying that there is a problematic culture where admin are not held responsible for their damaging actions? Ottava Rima (talk) 21:09, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Accusing others of "pot shots" is a way of saying their "argument is inappropriate", and equivalent in civility to that statement. I have weighted their statements, and considered them on the whole not impolite. Admins should not be held responsible for the results of their actions; they should be held to the same standards of the real world and held responsible when their actions are negligent or willfully malicious and have bad effects. And again, in the real world, those admins get a chance to assert a defense to the claim of negligence, and without being abused for it. "I am deeply shamed to even read the above" is ridicule or abuse, not argument. Courts also try to give everyone enough time, and avoid tight scheduling especially over holidays like New Year's Day, as everyone may not be present or devoting as much time to the issue as they should. It may be surprising to you, but adding to a specific complaint the claim that the entire justice system (such as it is in this case) is in conspiracy against you tends to reduce the desire of the justice system to work with you to achieve justice.--Prosfilaes 00:53, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Accusing others of "pot shots" is a way of saying their "argument is inappropriate"," A highly derogatory way, you mean. Derogatory remarks and attacks on users is not acceptable behavior for an admin. Why would you think it is?
"Admins should not be held responsible for the results of their actions" Apparently you hold a unique view and disagree with set Wikisource policy that says "It goes without saying that administrators themselves should remain civil and respectful (and keep a cool head) during conflicts with other users." Why is it that you think this policy should not be respected? Administrators get to be abusive and nastily incivil but those who are polite, civil, and point out problematic behavior can be bullied and blocked without just cause? That doesn't seem appropriate at all. It is that mentality that was the basis for this RfC and why Wikisource is in serious trouble - it has an admin corps that is isolated, disrespectful of others, and hiding from dealing with abuse in an appropriate manner. You don't own Wikisource, so why act like you do? It is obvious that this mentality has led to the almost re-adminship of one of the most notorious harassers of WMF history without the admin corps blinking an eye nor an apology from all involved. The only appropriate response is not to continue in such a manner but to feel ashamed that you are an admin at a place that has other admin acting that way. Ottava Rima (talk) 01:18, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, you may be drunk because there was no logic behind your response.[6]Pathoschild 18:37:19, 03 January 2011 (UTC)
That was a private PM based on Billinghursts absurd claims over and over that were nothing less than hateful. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:02, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A private message?! Cygnis insignis 19:13, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In IRC, yes. I asked Billinghurst if he was intoxicated because his attacks and inability to not discuss the matter in a civil and appropriate manner were completely unlike how he normally is. Other admin there were able to easily recognize the problem and address the issue without acting in the manner he did. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:39, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I make ya a wager. If heard you say that then it must be your shout. Cygnis insignis 20:15, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, for example

P. "I saw various admins admitting that they had made mistakes in judgement, and Ottava Rima castigating them; for example, from Ottava Rima" [quotes a reply to Hesperian]
O. "how can you claim people admitted that there were improprieties with comments like ..." [quotes Hesperian]

Which is the way I read it too. The outline continues, naming no other party,

P. "What I saw was something that everyone agreed was poorly handled"

Anyone familiar with events would understand what the "something" is, and it was nothing Hesperian had any involvement in. I hope you appreciate how this may be misleading. It is "an unfactual description of events", for the reasons I outlined, though I strongly agree that O was disrupting the outcome he demanded. O did in fact propose a vote of confidence on CUs and crats, not "if", then began with negotiating with the same individuals. Excuse me if this is picky, I think it important to be accurate for when this comes up again. Cygnis insignis 07:37, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As you will.--Prosfilaes 20:47, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've just now read W:Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Ottava_Rima_restrictions, particularly "his contentions that other editors were acting as meatpuppets for each other in opposition to him" and "his apparent inability or unwillingness to recognize and correct the behavior that led to his ban"; both those characteristics stand out here.--Prosfilaes 20:47, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If you read the case, then you would have seen that the two users voted the same way in over 200 AfDs, backed each other up on hundreds of pages, and there was witnesses of them collaborating on IRC. That is the definition of meatpuppetry and the suspicious behavior even led to them being Check Usered to ensure they were not sockpuppets. Ottava Rima (talk) 01:12, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Jack Merridew[edit]

Does Meta have a Boomerang? <irony> an item largely associated with Australia ;) </irony>. Seriously, this is Ottava's due. G'day, mates. Jack Merridew 07:15, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


My overall opinion of your accusations is that you have taken a very one-dimensional perspective of only those facts that interest you, and which you seem to wish to repackage. You only choose to hear what you want to hear, not necessarily what is being said to you, then you seem to fill up a conversation with something between hyperbole and rhetoric, yet everyone else has to watch their p's and q's with you. You simply don't know all the facts.

  • re problem 1. Correct, and that is a matter that is being addressed, and as you state it is WMF wide. At this point in time there are no restrictions placed upon the person by WMF, nor the stewards (the accounts is not locked or globally blocked [7] [8]. Others have covered that matter in detail.
  • re problem 2. Pathoschild has addressed this matter.
  • re problem 3. I have never met John, I have spoken to him once on the telephone for less than 3 minutes about a matter unconnected with anything administrative. At best an acquaintance through WMF with whom I communicate, and helped me to learn the ropes of Wikisource and wikis in general, for which I am very thankful for his giving me the time and guidance, and I would happily sit down and share a coffee with him. Is that a problem? Is that evil or wrong? I don't think so. FWIW I have attended one wikimeet when a person from WMF in US came to Australia, and I wanted to hear her speak. And do you know what? I really shouldn't have to explain or defend an attendance at WMF function or related function, that should be seen as a good thing. Sheesh! To your collapsing of the rest of the discussion to that format, I would discount that as an inadequate summation, more like a selective trimming of components to suit an argument.
  • re problem 4. Are you proposing that we now start to codify morals, respect, truth-telling, etc. There is a policy that has some blackletter law, though we all know that it is not a complete document to govern the operations of a wiki, and we start to use our knowledge of cultural aspects and our life-learning of morals, respect, etc., and, dare I say, common-sense and experience of the existing values of the community.
  • re your conclusion. We actually do have a community, and one that actually tries to cooperate, to be welcoming, compassionate, understanding, helpful, and productive, and one that tries not to import wikidramas. I see that as a good thing, and would hope that all WMF sites are trying for that style of community. And do you know what? When I said something about "we the community would address the issue" that is exactly what I meant, and if you look, the community has started to address the matter, and we aren't in drama about it. We will calmly and politely work to a resolution to true and tried community processes.
Personally, I see you appear within a community, or in an IRC, dragging in your collective umbrage or issue of the day and strew it about like burley on the water, and it seems you have an expectation that we should all be jiggling around to your issue, at your timetable. In answer, no. We will attempt to follow a due process, provide natural justice to those who need it, and progress deliberately.

As mentioned we do have the occasional tiff, there is no perfection, and being humans we exhibit normal behaviours, and these include lapses, mistakes and slips, all factors in human reliability and human error. The task is to not deny human error or to be blind to it, or even to blame when an error is made but to look to improve. We try to work with all people. billinghurst sDrewth 10:50, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You claim I have expectations about an issue. If that is so, I ask you to allow me to post up our IRC conversation. It contains proof that I merely put up a link, asked if it was appropriate, then you started pontificating about the "we of Wikisource" and speaking for the community. One admin present dealt with the inappropriate behavior while you continued to go on and on without provocation. I had to ask you in PM if you were drunk because there was no logic behind your response. Ottava Rima (talk) 15:44, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That is totally unacceptable. I cast no aspersions at your character and you stoop, stoop so low. I would like this to stand and let people see the real you and how you stoop to pure vileness when the desperate premise of your argument is challenged or disregarded. billinghurst sDrewth 15:53, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"I cast no aspersions at you character" while saying " let your vileness be seen here". I haven't stooped anywhere nor been incivil. All I asked was for the same treatment. Your comments as with the comments of others have long crossed the line of what is acceptable. Don't you see how extreme and nasty your claims are? I have been over backwards being polite yet you haven't had a second thought in being nasty. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:47, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

John Vandenberg[edit]

To my knowledge I have not met any English Wikisource sysop, past or present. The people that I met at meetups in Melbourne (during 2007 and 2008) are typically recorded in the wiki pages about the meetup, or emails distributed to the public wikimediaau-l mailing list. I doubt I have met any Wikisource sysop on any of the other Wikisource projects, but haven't checked this.

With regards to the current Poetlister situation, as I knew that there were emails sent by Poetlister using false email addresses, I have not been attentive enough over course of the last year to the developing Poetlister problem, and should have done more to preempt and prevent this, or ensure it was better understood by more stewards and checkusers.

With regards to the broader concerns that the English Wikisource community can't deal with this, that decision should be made after the community has had a chance to do so. The English Wikisource community hasn't previously developed many policies because we don't regularly see these types of problem on Wikisource, so they are typically dealt with on a case by case basis. As this is now a recurring problem on Wikisource, I am confident that the English Wikisource community will undertake to resolve this current situation and ensure that it can't happen again.

I would also welcome any steward decision that the Poetlister problem now warrants a global ban, which would remove the need for the community to develop policy to deal with this special case.

I am mostly offline at the moment due to holidays, but will periodically check in here and Wikisource. John Vandenberg 08:14, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Charles Matthews[edit]

I would not believe a word Poetlister says, given my past history with him. I have seen sister projects make fools of themselves over him in the past; and I do not support the idea of allowing him to edit Wikisource. (Some may say that I made a fool of myself over him way back when, and may be overcompensating. Not so: all I did was to observe that checkusers disagreed - I have written extensively on the circumstances on another occasion.)

Therefore I dissent from what has gone on; as I have dissented in the past from the soft line applied to other disruptive editors from WP being allowed to edit WS. That said, I also have some background with Ottava Rima on Wikipedia. I don't see that the allegations are justified in the form put. I find it possible to dissent from other admins without ceasing to assume their good faith; I found it possible to disagree with The Kohser being allowed to edit WS without accusing anybody of anything.

Since Ottava Rima and I have got on well enough in the past, I'm quite happy to act as a broker here in trying to sort things out. Charles Matthews 12:44, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Excellent idea. I hope that Ottava Rima will work with you. Ottava Rima reached out to me last night to talk but I don't have adequate time at the moment to give it the attention that the situation deserves. FloNight 13:06, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


It seems that for any comment by any person that Ottava Rima feels that they have an allowance for a rebuttal of that opinion; this is there opinion or their statement, and they should be allowed the space to make their comment. I certainly would appreciate if he was able to hold onto his edits for a period of time to let a broader discussion develop, some reflective time, and then follow up with a response in a series of hours. billinghurst sDrewth 07:37, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Billinghurst, Meta RfC is used as a neutral discussion board without any major implications. As I pointed out, it was impossible to have any discussion on Wikisource about these matters without threats by admin and other problematic behavior. This opens it up to a larger and more neutral community and forces those users who discuss and not turn to such tactics. Ottava Rima (talk) 15:41, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I completely understand that, however, it is also not a Spanish inquisition where you come along and believe that you can and should rebut the statement and argument of each user. At this point it seems less of a discussion and more like someone trying to prosecute a case. Have a look at the edit count. Let the statements be made. billinghurst sDrewth 15:51, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Discussions are all about responding to other user's points. The definition of discussion requires such. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:48, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The events of the past week on enWS have held a certain fascination (much like that of the titular trainwreck). So far I've resisted commenting, but I have attempted to follow the various threads of argument - widely distributed across various parts of enWS including the Talk Pages of those involved and now here. Despite the best attempts of Ottava to explicate the reasons for initiating this RFC, I still don't understand why this discussion is taking place on Meta. However, now that we're here I will add my comments.

  • It is my belief that there were errors of judgement on the part of the 'crats and CU's with respect to Longfellow's candidacy for Admin. These errors have been acknowledged by those involved. I do not believe that these errors are equivalent to grievous harm to the enWS project or community and until I see otherwise I continue to have faith in the ability of the 'crats and CU's to continue to perform these tasks for enWS in an appropriate manner.
  • In the end, Longfellow self-nominated for Admin. When real life allowed me time to have a look at his editing history I found a range of valuable gnome work including category maintenance and welcoming new users. However, I did not see the need for the admin tools. In the end, the revelation of the previous socking took over the discussion and the result was unanimous oppose. I am now concerned - having seen some of Longfellow's previous behaviour - that some of the welcomes accorded may well have been to further socks. I don't know what can be done to investigate this possibility and therefore leave this to the CU's to decide what action to take.
  • The enWS community's decision about what to do with Longfellow's ordinary editing privileges is yet to be discussed. This discussion needs to be initiated within the next couple of days with input invited from the wider enWS community. This means that the lead paragraphs in the enWS RFC must be worded with extreme care. I am happy to be involved in assisting with this if it is needed, just let me know.
  • It is also my belief that there were errors of judgement on the part of Hesperian and Ottava Rima. Somewhere in the discussions of the past week I have been made aware that there is a past history between them. However, they are both enWS contributors whose contributions I respect. The block placed on Ottava may well have been justified - I am not privy to all the information around it - but Hesperian should have asked another (non-involved) admin to place it. In the end, it is Ottava's response and reaction to this block (along with that of another editor who was stirring the pot) that has led us here to an RFC on meta. This is where, I believe, Ottava's error of judgement lies.
  • Ottava has a valid point with respect to the lack of documented policies on enWS. I know that as a small WMF community one of the charms is that we don't need a lot of policy documents. However, when a situation arises that falls outside of the policies we do have, then we must look at what is deficient in our policy documents. Remember that all a policy document does is provide guidance to those who must administer that policy. It should seldom be prescriptive but always descriptive. While we're at it, the Help documents need updating, re-writing and adding to.

OK. So, where do we go from here? This is not the time for anyone to fall on their sword or for more hand-wringing and shouts of mea culpa. I think it is time to start to seek resolutions to the following:

  1. Longfellow's status as a member of the enWS community;
  2. The on-going working relationship between Hesperian and Ottava;
  3. What the 'crats and CU's can apply from both the Longfellow situation and the spiralling out-of-control debates that this RFC is part of;
  4. Which policies and help-pages need writing; and
  5. Whether the enWS community can move forwards stronger and more united in its purpose to be a library of PD works that can supply impeccable sourcing to the other WMF projects.

My comments have ended up much longer than I intended. However, I hope they are taken in the spirit in which they are intended and that is moving forward and away from the wreck. Beeswaxcandle 08:28, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  1. A discussion regarding this was proposed at 00:00, 31 December 2010, I expect that will happen.
  2. The on-going working relationship between Ottava and the rest of the community is being discussed everywhere, there are a number of existing resolutions on that and there is probably no need for a new one. "Somewhere in the discussions of the past week ... past history between them.", I don't remember reading those mutterings. Who proposed that occurred or would be significant if it had? If anyone thinks that needs a resolution then they should add or link to the relevant section at WS:AN.

I can't comment on how 'we can seek a resolution' on the rest of the points, though they are fine ideas and sentiments. Users should add to current discussions in the relevant place I suppose. Cygnis insignis 11:24, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Longfellow account[edit]

As of right now, Poetlister's Longfellow account is not blocked. This is an account used simultaneously while at least two other accounts (User:Poetlister and User:Bedivere) were used by Poetlister in which he 1) email harassed people through Wikisource email function and 2) impersonated a woman that he could not possibly be, directing people to what appears to be a hacked email account. The user has a history of using multiple accounts to harass and to protect his "clean" account from criticism. At the very minimum, it would seem necessary for a CU to check the accounts used and block all in addition to any others found.

I also question why this information was not passed to the global CU list, as I sent information to both John and Pathoschild in addition to the Steward list with explicit statements in IRC about the activity. This is a user that routinely harassed people, used many accounts to trick others, and impersonated real life people who the individual is not in order to trick others. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:13, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gutter tactics in falsely besmirching reputations Mr Ottava Rima[edit]

Mr Ottava Rima, you have now snidely and maliciously repeated multiple slurs (above) about me that are so laughably ridiculous, completely pathetic and without any factual basis, and may more reflect poor judgment or poor decision-making on your behalf. You are yet again wrong, and have neither the guts to admit it nor to apologise for your behaviour, though that would seem to be becoming habitual practice for you on WMF sites, and expecting any common decency from you seems to now beyond all hope. Your history is there for the world to see, and it is not a pretty picture, but it is a sad indictment.

Your characterisation of the IRC situation is totally baseless. We don't have to jump just because of your umbrage issue of the day. It is so sad. billinghurst sDrewth 00:48, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Gutter tactics" is derogatory and inappropriate. "snidely" and "maliciously" are also inappropriate. I never made any derogatory comments or "slurs". It should be obvious that I have been civil and, as you keep proving with each post, that you wont extend the courtesy of doing the same. Also, I find it odd how you wont let me post up the IRC conversation and then continue to say that I demand people to "jump" when I merely posted a link. I never forced anyone to do anything, yet you calm to hostile instantaneous metamorphoses isn't really becoming. I don't understand how you think that your approach, attacks, inflammatory commentary, and outright hostility helps in any way or shines positively on Wikisource. Ottava Rima (talk) 01:10, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proposal to freeze this RfC[edit]

On the Requests for comment the statement about the purpose of these requests is

I believe that the request at this time is either unwarranted or premature.

  • I do not see that this is a dispute on Meta, and
  • It would not seem to meet the "other" WMF wiki criteria of success or otherwise

There has been no third party agreement or supporting statement for this proposal, and at this point in time of the 64 previous statements, 25 come from the proponent (40%), which would hardly seem to be the means to foster a request for hearing people's comments.

Going to the lesser option, I would propose that this proposal be frozen pending Wikisource being able to actually get to address the initial issues. billinghurst sDrewth 04:52, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This RfC is just a discussion without any process or binding results, so how can you "freeze" it? And I felt that the Wikisource discussion was not successful so I moved it here as tradition. Did you look at past RfCs by chance? Ottava Rima (talk) 04:55, 4 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]