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This brief study of the Spanish-language Wikipedia editor community has both a broad and more narrow focus. In general terms, it will examine conflicts between editors in Spanish-language Wikipedia, particularly when they go beyond the point of resolution between the principals involved. More narrowly, it will look at the way conflict plays out around the issue of blocking and banning users by admins. One particular area we will study more closely is Wikiquette violations. We will also examine the question of factionalization among different groups of editors, particularly in light of recent conflicts within the community. In certain places this study will also be comparative, and look at the differences and similarities between the Spanish- and English-language editor communities.1
This project has made use of three sources of information. The first consists of interviews with a small number of experienced editors on Spanish Wikipedia. A total of 12 editors were interviewed over electronic mail. The interview was in five parts and contained a total of 27 questions. Some editors were also asked follow-up questions. The second source of information is quantitative data, obtained from the log pages on both Spanish- and English-language Wikipedia, as well as from limited searches of the Wikipedia database (when more convenient than parsing log files). All this data is in the public domain. The third source is the content available on the Spanish-language Wikipedia site: this includes discussions on talk pages, the Café (WP: Café, the Spanish-language community’s Village Pump), and the administrator’s noticeboard (WP:TAB).
Lastly, this document is not meant to be a Wikipedia policy proposal, although hopefully its content will be helpful to the editor community. It is both an academic study, and something else: that is, some of the arguments here will be based on data, and a few based on speculation by the author. (The latter I hope can be justified in part by invoking WP:BB.) Any observations or comparisons made of the English- or Spanish-language editor communities, it should be noted, are not meant to be deprecatory to either. A final point: this study will undoubtedly have its errors of fact and interpretation; the noting and correction of these is welcome.
I. Spanish-language Wikipedia: A few facts and details
A number of the basic statistics related to Spanish-language Wikipedia indicate that the site has a highly-productive community of editors working on bettering and expanding the encyclopedia.
Since the beginning of 2009 it has grown at a faster rate than nearly all other comparable Wikipedias, including nearly twice as fast as the English-language site; the only one to grow more quickly has been the Russian. In terms of total articles, Italian, Polish, and Spanish are close to one another in the fourth to sixth positions respectively. Where Spanish Wikipedia still lags behind its peers is in the size of the site relative to the total population of Spanish-language speakers worldwide (this can be explained in part due to differences in internet access and computer literacy in different parts of the world). Certain quantitative (albeit not definitive) measures of article quality – percentage of articles over 2K, edits per article – also place Spanish Wikipedia near the top of comparable sites. The visibility and use of Spanish Wikipedia is also high: since the middle of 2010 it has roughly matched the German site in page views; the only sites viewed more are the English and Japanese.
In terms of the contributor population, the Spanish-language Wikipedia has not experienced the absolute decline in very-active editors that the English-language site has experienced (defined as editors with > 100 contributions per month). However, as with German and French Wikipedias, this population has experienced a recent plateau. As of May 2011 very-active editors consisted of 476 people on Spanish Wikipedia.
A more qualitative view of editor engagement can be obtained from the interview subjects. As one editor put it, “from the beginning I felt very drawn by the idea of free knowledge. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that a Community of people who do not have any other connections between them, and who are dispersed around the world, can collaborate in a disinterested way to create free content which afterwards are placed at the disposal of all humanity.” Another editor noted that “I think it can help people to understand that things can be done in a different way than they have to this point. […] This is an important question that can’t be underestimated. Wikipedia works and is sustainable, and millions of people sustain it. That has to mean something.” Yet another editor described his relationship to Wikipedia in more personal terms, as “the tenderness [cariño] one has for a person with whom you have lived for many years, who can be irritating at times but for whom who want the best and you prefer to be by their side.” Even among those with criticisms of the state of affairs in the Spanish-language community, a high level of commitment to Wikipedia and its goals is evident.
II. A brief picture of conflict resolution
One notable difference between the Spanish- and English-language communities is the attitude towards, and the use of, more formal procedures or “institutional” means of conflict resolution.
For example, the Spanish-language community has no equivalent of the English-language Arbitration Committee (WP:ARBCOM), or the additional mechanisms and policy documents created for Dispute Resolution and Mediation (WP:DR, WP:DRN, WP:M, WP:MC). The most recent such effort on Spanish-language Wikipedia was the Conflict Resolution Committee (WP:CRC) which – after much debate over the course of its existence –suspended its activities in December 2008, and was closed down by vote in April 2009. In addition, unlike the English-language site, Spanish-language Wikipedia has no official blocking or banning policies (WP:BLOCK and WP:BAN), although other policies have been translated, modified as desired, and adopted. Indeed, as we shall see, far more leeway is given to the judgment of individual admins in the area of blocks (i.e., preventing a user from editing the site for a certain period) or permanent bans (i.e., expelling a user from the community).
There are many Spanish-language editors who favor this overall approach to addressing conflicts, with its lack of formalized processes or “institutionalized” features. addressing conflicts, with its lack of formalized processes or “institutionalized” features. Problems are addressed directly by admins through the Administrator’s noticeboard (WP:TAB), or through informal mediation (WP:MI) (the latter receives a case every two weeks or so). As one admin put it, “I think that if a method for conflict resolution becomes too heavy in won’t be effective, so that to me it seems better if there are the fewer regulations in this regard. How things work currently in Wikipedia (with mediation or resolution on the [admin] noticeboard) I think is fine.”
At the same time, there are those within the editor community who are highly critical of the current arrangement, and particularly of the role of admins. The discussions of these questions, as well as the outcomes of user disputes themselves, can become highly contentious among editors, as we’ll see. To examine these issues, we’ll start by looking at a particular area of conflict: that of Wikiquette violations. Afterwards we’ll turn to the question of blocking, banning and conflict resolution more generally. Lastly, we’ll take up the issue of factionalization within the community.
III. Blocking and Wikiquette
It will be useful to start by examining a specific case from English-language Wikipedia.
In the English-language editor community, telling another editor to “fuck off” does not necessarily result in a block or ban. Such was the case in a Wikiquette complaint (WP:WQA) from June 2010. The editor who made the comment was a very-experienced contributor (more than 115,000 edits as of this moment) with a history of using highly-contentious language. His response to the Wikiquette complaint included the following: “If a fool comes to my talk page with stupid civility warnings then they ought to know what kind of a response they’re likely to get.” There were several more comments of this sort, including telling the admin who attempted to mediate that “you disgust me.”
The admin involved in the (lengthy) discussion, however, refused to issue a block, or even a warning. This was despite the intervention of various editors who appealed – even pleaded – for a block to be placed on the offending user. The admin’s approach was to patiently and persistently reason, at length, with the user in question; he also offered the following arguments against issuing a warning or block:
“Warning editors to stop making personal attacks rarely works. More often, the warning simply makes them more upset. ... Warnings are only effective with unregistered users and brand new users.”
“It is entirely possible, likely even, that [the user] will eventually be banned. However, this sort of thing takes a lot of effort, and usually drags out over weeks and months.”
“Let's all be rational, shall we? In today's Wikipedia, an editor such as [the offending user] is extremely unlikely to be blocked without even having had a single RFC/U. More like two of them, followed by an ArbCom case. Simply voicing opinions on this page is not likely to lead anywhere.”
“When you're dealing with a well-established editor, a whole different set of (unwritten) rules kick in. Those might be worth writing down somewhere...”
Editors calling for the imposition of a block took a different perspective:
“The problem is that if we allow a free card to every valued contributor to behave as s/he prefers and to bully other editors, we create a (virtual) world that becomes rapidly toxic to editors. And this is, pragmatically, not good for the encyclopedia.”
“An editor that violates one of the core policies of this project, WP:CIVIL, over and over again over a period of time despite warnings, and shows no intention of changing their behaviour, will *not* get a block? Sounds to me like there’s an admin ducking their responsibilities.”
The offending editor, in the end, was not blocked in this instance.
The reason to bring up this example is that, by way of comparison, none of this – aside from the initial offense – is likely to have transpired in the same way on Spanish-language Wikipedia. To illustrate, let’s look at a different Wikiquette case, this one from the Spanish-language community (WP:TAB/VE), from June 2011. An editor had been “talking trash” on various talk pages about his favorite soccer team, Barcelona (Barça), while deprecating (with considerable jest, it seems) Juventus and Madrid. The user had been involved in previous soccer-related debates, and in the past had had to apologize for implying that certain fellow editors exhibited a pro-Madrid bias.
However, in this particular circumstance an offended editor posted a complaint to the Wikiquette noticeboard, accusing the Barça-fan editor of “hooligan” comments (the word is the same in the Spanish, in reference to violent soccer fans). Two admins weighed in on the issue. One particular comment was judged by both admins as a blockable offense, perhaps because it questioned the impartiality of admins as a whole. One admin stated that it was “totally inappropriate and merits a penalty [sanción],” while the other added that it was “completely out of place.” This was the comment:
“There is a lot of anti-Barça here in wikipedia, some buttons [the admin powers], presumably, are the hands of MOUADMINS [a reference to Mourinho, the Madrid coach] .., and people full of hate (Juventus hasn't qualified for European competition). Sincerely, don't waste your time and use your energies in the TAB [admin noticeboard] and RECAB [admin-recall noticeboard] is you think it’s appropriate. There is an apparent rage because of the successes of Barça…”
Within six hours of the original complaint, the editor (currently with 2,105 edits) was blocked for two weeks for this offense.
Of course, these two examples might just be a case of selective use of evidence. As we’ll see however, they are in fact somewhat illustrative. In the Spanish-language community, the highly-experienced user who issued a “fuck off” dismissal to a fellow editor almost certainly would have been blocked, if not banned. Indeed, a user with more than 27,000 edits was permanently banned recently for Wikiquette violations. Moreover, the process would not have dragged out over weeks or months, or even days for that matter. As mentioned, there is no ArbCom in the Spanish-language community.
The different approach to blocking and banning in Spanish-language Wikipedia seems to produce a greater level of satisfaction among aggrieved users seeking quick punitive measures for what they see as gross breaches of civility. However, as we shall see, it also generates considerable controversy when a highly-experienced user finds him or herself under the guillotine. In what follows we look at these issues in more detail.
Quantitative measures are one indicator of the differences between the two communities. A review of recent cases indicates that Wikiquette complaints result in blocks or bans nearly 70% of the time on the Spanish-language site. On the English-language site this number is less than 5%. The cases are also more abbreviated, as far as discussion goes, in Spanish-language Wikipedia: these were 241 words on average, whereas the English-language discussions are nearly four times as long.
As these numbers would indicate, the approach of admins is different in both communities, as are the reactions of the editor populations. Admins in English-language Wikipedia often respond with arguments like the following: “I’d recommend just ignoring the comment and moving on”; “Your trigger finger is too itchy”; “Cup of tea time all round”; and so on. Admins will also cite two guidelines related to reporting Wikiquette violations: “Avoid filing a report if: You want blocks, bans, or binding disciplinary measures to be imposed/enforced,” and “Remember that the aim of this page is to move disputes towards resolution, not to punish misbehaviour.” Or as another admin put it: “WQA is intended for mutually respectful dialog about specific incidents, not requesting blocks.”
These responses are frustrating to some editors, who seek a clear enforcement of the civility policy via blocks or bans. In one Wikiquette case an editor noted that the offending user “was given a final warning by TWO admins not even one week ago for such language of calling people names and insulting users... why is he not blocked? Can an admin please look into that? What is the purpose of final warnings if then [the user] does it again and all is done is some people in a Wikiquette thread tell him ‘dont do it again, not smart’, when he’s already got FINAL WARNING on his talk page a week ago?”
Another Wikiquette case included the following exchange:
“I hope someone does (I’m not an admin), but my biggest gripe about WP is the lackadaisical attitude about enforcing WP:NPA by the admins. ... It's really sad, because WP culture would greatly benefit from a zero-tolerance policy regarding personal attacks, such as these.”
Another editor: “I have also been disappointed in the past by the inaction of admins in the face of personal attacks. I hope this time will be different.”
The admin’s response to these two comments: “Suggestion: Do you think you two could take your difficulties with one another to mediation?”
The conclusion of the original editor who filed the complaint: “It seems only admins have this attitude of ‘let them fight it out however they like’.”
On the Spanish-language site admins handle these matters differently. Indeed, if there is anyone who has an “itchy trigger finger” around this issue, it might be the admins themselves. Unlike in the English-language community, for example, “cooling-off” blocks are routinely used, and blocks are clearly punitive. Aggrieved editors can (and do) directly request a block as part of their complaint. accompanied by a clear ultimatum to the offending user, indicating that a permanent ban will follow next time. These sorts of admin decisions are expected to be authoritative among the editor community. One recent discussion on the administrator’s noticeboard is illustrative of this perspective. One admin (with the support of others) recently noted that “the [admin] noticeboard is not for starting discussions and it’s working out well this way, unless angry and long replies becomes the fashion, precisely what we should be avoiding.” Rather, an admin “studies the conflict and acts”; those dissatisfied may post another complaint, or appeal to the admin’s talk page. This method functions, according to the aforementioned admin, “without the need for [user] replies or complaints.” Clearly some admins feel (despite the relatively succinct nature of Wikiquette cases at least) that editors are still too long-winded and argumentative, and that the process is too drawn-out. The point, in short, is to render a decision, not enter into a lengthy discussion.
In their responses to these, admins on Spanish-language Wikipedia are more stern than touchy-feely. In one case, a complaint regarding “denigrating treatment” received the following response from an admin: “No.” Another admin indicates a permanent block by simply posting the following signature: “Aeternum vale” – “Farewell forever” in Latin. Temporary blocks are also usually announced curtly and without ceremony – “two weeks to reflect,” “a month of rest,” “taken care of” – and so on. Blocks at times are accompanied by a clear ultimatum to the offending user, indicating that a permanent ban will follow next time. In cases where only a warning is issued it can also be blunt:
“there isn’t a sufficient reason to issue blocks here, but stop using wikipedia as a forum to pursue your personal differences. Do it on your talk pages, and when someone crosses the line of WP:E [Wikiquette] they will be blocked. Nonetheless, given you are veteran users, be good and careful to not do it, although the intentions are clear, and it doesn’t escape my notice, nor that of the other admins. In some moment one of you will pop a vessel, and you’ll get a good block for foreo [literally, “forum-izing,” using Wikipedia as a discussion forum], although it won’t be (I think) on this occasion.”
The three editors subject to this warning, it should be noted, were not newbies: as of this moment, they have 11.523, 16,830, and 128,746 edits respectively.
This is another side of the Wikiquette issue in the Spanish-language community: the blocking and banning of experienced editors. One way to look at this question quantitatively is to examine Wikiquette violations relative to other sorts of bans and blocks. To this end a sample of 5,000 of the most recent user-account blocks were examined on both the English and Spanish site. On the Spanish site, 5.4% of those permanently banned were for Wikiquette violations of various sorts, or about 1 in 20. What is more notable is the difference with the English site, where only 0.3% of bans were for this reason.
Also of interest is who is banned. Clearly a good number of those banned are “Wikiquette vandals” in a sense: users new to the site who joined to disrupt by harassing or insulting other editors. Their edits are few, and the profile of their contributions shows a clear focus on talk pages rather than articles. However, not all those banned fit this case.
One way to measure this is to determine who might be (or aspire to be) a more legitimate editor; to this end, a cutoff of at least 200 edits to the site prior to the Wikiquette ban was used. Percentages are less illustrative than looking at this in terms of time. Both sites appear to permanently ban one such user roughly every two-and-a-half weeks.<refHere the sample size of the blocks was increased to 1000 to get a larger span.</ref> In the Spanish-language community the median number of edits of those in this group of banned users was 392; the top five had 27,565, 9,243, 1,970, 1,887, and 1,109 edits respectively.
But the numbers, as always, only tell part of the story. The point is the impact of specific cases on the community. In Spanish-language Wikipedia arguments and protest sprout like mushrooms – across user talk pages, at the Café, and so on – when a highly-experienced user is banned by an admin. After all, the Spanish-language community of very-active editors is nearly 10 times smaller than the English-language one: as mentioned, in May 2011 it consisted of 476 users. As such, the bans of more experienced users are far less likely to go unnoticed in the editor community. This is even more the case if the admin’s decision is believed to have been arbitrary or poorly-considered.
Indeed, some strongly believe that personal factors can also come into play. As one editor put it, “the moment comes when you realize that people support [a user] in relationship to the nick [the username, that is, who s/he is] and not the diff [the offending edit].” Another editor was even more pointed in denouncing what is regarded as a highly-personalized use of blocks, including against experienced editors:
“there is a caste system[.] […] The problem is that here the most valuable user is not he who produces the most [articles] or helps the most to build the encyclopedia, but rather whoever is a friend of the dominant […] camp [of admins]. And so a user who has barely created 8 or 10 articles in four years (in fact, most of them biographies of relatives) continuously spends time accusing anyone who disagrees with his/her opinions of being a troll or an imbecile, […] and thanks to belonging to a particular group […] has been the reason for the blocks of about a dozen users each of which has created 500 to 600 articles.”
These assertions could not be confirmed, but such perceptions undoubtedly affect editor behavior and relationships within the community. We will return to this question of user-admin conflicts further below.
There have been past arguments around formalizing a more tolerant or consensus-based policy when blocking or banning more experienced users in Spanish-language Wikipedia (similar to the “unwritten rules” for experienced users, mentioned above, that perhaps exists in English-language community). In one case, from February 2010, a longstanding editor proposed a process whereby the blocking of highly-experienced users would only take place though some degree of consensus – a “Blocking Review [Consulta].” His argument was as follows:
“The problem is that the use (or not) of this button [the blocking button that admins have] is left to the subjective judgment of the admin, such that – depending on which admin takes care of a request in the admin noticeboard or who notices some disruptive behavior on his own – anything from a simple warning to a complete expulsion may come down . […] I think we can all agree that the situations that produce unease are those that involve users who find themselves blocked when their commitment to the project seems very strong.”
The goal of his suggestion was to “find consensus as to whether the actions of certain users are disruptive or not, and that it not be the subjectivity of just one admin that ends up being imposed,” and thus avoid “the problem of unilateral actions that at times are not well-considered.” In a formulation echoing that of the English-language admin in the “fuck off” case discussed above, the editor adds that “it will be a rare case in which a blocked user with experience [as an editor] will ‘reform’ himself, given that if he reached the extreme point of being blocked for expressing his opinions it is unlikely that the fact that he cannot edit will lead him to consider that he was mistaken in his arguments.” Options short of blocking, he adds, might include topic or article bans.
Some of the responses to this proposal (the discussion was lengthy) are illustrative of one set of attitudes within the community:
“Blocking reviews? Sounds to me like elevating trolling to the level of a bureaucratic process.” “An admin is established on the basis of the confidence of the community, if we are going to start to question his/her actions or if a block was legitimate, what point is there to voting in an admin election.”
“No, Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy, let’s not turn it into one, please.”
“A blocking review seems to me an absurd experiment in democracy, in anarchy, in bureaucracy and various other things that threaten the first fundamental pillar: this is an encyclopedia.”
“Having admins is the least of all evils.”
In the end the proposal was not adopted by Spanish-language editors.
Explaining the differences around blocks and Wikiquette violations between the two editor communities is not entirely straightforward. At minimum it would require a closer look at a good number of specific cases. In addition, it would be useful to extend the analysis above to cases of edit wars, for example. Clearly some of this is related to the relatively unconstrained powers of admins, and the attitudes among editors that support this lack of constraints. (As mentioned, some editors undoubtedly see an advantage to this, in terms of the ability of admins to deal quickly and decisively with uncivil editors and trolls, among other problems.) A more mundane explanation for the differences would be a greater concern with decorum and civility in Spanish-speaking (particularly Latin American) cultures, compared to those of English speakers; while this can becomes something of a stereotype (held by Latin Americans in particular) it has a grain of truth to it. Another question is whether blocks due to Wikiquette violations – particularly of experienced users – appear to be tied, at least in some cases, to factionalization within the community; this is an issue we will take up a bit later. First, though, we’ll look at the issue of blocks and bans with a wider lens.
IV. Blocking and banning more generally
It might be useful to start this section with a broader perspective. This involves making a distinction between different ways of exercising power. In one model, power is held by an office (that is, a position), and is exercised (and limited) according to stated rules, formal procedures, and oversight. An illustration of this might be the role of a sports referee, for example. In an alternate model, power is held by individual people, is exercised according to the judgment and virtues of the individual, and is limited by direct negotiation. An example of this might be a parent.
Clearly no situation fits neatly into one of these two boxes: even referees can be negotiated with to a degree, and they vary according to their particular virtues and faults; meanwhile, even parents can’t always justify their decisions by saying “because I said so” or “because I’m a grownup” – they have rules they must play by, and can’t restrain or punish their children any way they like. In most environments you find a mixture of both models, and Wikipedia is no exception to this. Indeed, these two conceptions of the use of power – and debates over them – can be found in the Spanish-language community (and the English-language one too, although that’s not our main concern here). As noted above, when it comes to resolving conflicts, or the issue of blocking, some members of the community have resisted any sort of formalization or “institutionalization” of the process, compared to the mechanisms which exist in the English-language community. They have also resisted measures that limit the individual judgment and discretion exercised by admins. Others dissent from this perspective: there are advocates of clearer procedures around conflict resolution and the placing of constraints and oversight on admin powers.
To explore this, we can start with the views of editors on measures taken to formalize conflict resolution, such as the now-defunct Conflict Resolution Committee (WP:CRC). In short, the committee was largely viewed as ineffective, and came under increasing criticism. For some, was far too slow in issuing its decisions; for other editors, it became a forum for complaints by those users who hadn’t yet learned Wikipedia’s basic norms, and thus merely generated more contention. And for some admins, it was an unecessary substitute for their own powers, as we’ll see.
One editor summarized its existence as “a disaster. It never resolved anything; if anything, it augmented the conflicts. It was slow and inefficient, and it ended up in a functional stoppage two-thirds of the time. Then they would produce resolutions in one fell swoop that were poorly considered and a few scandalously contravening Wikipedia policies.” Another editor simply described it as the “Conflict Reproduction Committee.”
It is clear, however, that it was not merely an experiment in democracy. The CRC had its origins, in part, in a desire to limit and provide oversight to the power of admins. In a discussion on the associated talk pages, one supporter argued that: “What we have may be bad, but arbitrariness and clientelism are worse.” Another noted that the CRC should exist “so that it can work against arbitrariness and arrogance.” Similar views came up around the question of admin representation on the body. One editor argued during the vote that: “It shouldn’t be permitted that any admins be elected to the committee, generally the conflicts that come up are with these wikipedians [admins], who regularly behave in a guild-like [gremial] manner, the only thing left is that now their decisions will acquire a binding character.”And another: “With this option [allowing admin representation], surely the admins will be a majority on the CRC and it will be difficult for non-admin users to overturn the decision of an admin.”
Admins and their supporters of course fired back against these views. In one discussion of the CRC an admin mocked them as follows: “if there is a CRC we complain that the evil admins have created it to strengthen their dictatorship over the poor and defenseless mortals, and if there is not [any CRC] then no one can control these devils whose only goals is to bury Wikipedia.” There were users and admins who felt, as mentioned, that the existing powers admin s held were sufficient to resolve conflicts, and should not be supplanted. Thus according to one admin:
“What I have against the CRC is that it is enormously detrimental to the historically-abused figure of the admin because, simply, it takes away his authority (if not power), which is among the things we most need. […] Is it necessary to have a CRC which has as its purpose to fuel the claims of a few inexperienced users, whereby the authority conferred to admins by the community comes into question? Does it make sense to have a body within Wikipedia itself that has as its purpose officially placing a newbie with an admin face-to-face?”
She added that the existing noticeboards were far more effective: “the admin noticeboard … functions as a cannon.” Meaning it is far more quick and effective, and (one must assume) merciless as well. Another admin strongly agreed about the admin noticeboard: “Besides, it functions without delays, and with policies in hand,” given that the admins (who know the Wikipedia policies) attend to problems. Moreover, “The admins, we control one another.” In his view, the CRC was defended by those who “are looking for a ‘higher body’ to undermine the admins who ensure that the [Wikipedia] policies are carried out.”
There are thus editors who feel that more formal procedures for conflict resolution simply creates more opportunities for wikilawyering (WP:Wikilawyering), and needless disputes. It is moreover a faulty mechanism to address a problem that can be best resolved by allowing the admins to do their job, and use their powers for more direct and immediate resolution of conflicts. Others, however, believe that wikilawyering is a lesser evil to leaving conflict-related matters entirely in the hands of admins. In short, despite the criticisms (or even irrelevance) of the CRC, and the fact that it was voted to be abolished, editors are still of two minds as to how to address conflicts in Wikipedia.
The most sensitive issue still appears to be the power to block users held by admins, a point of contention that continued after the suspension of the CRC. As one editor has observed, “the WP:BLOQUEO issue [the lack of an official blocking policy] is incredible. But a consensus has never been possible, so that each admin does what they want, with all the drama that goes along with it.” Another editor noted on this issue that “I’ve disagreed with some blocks, but I didn’t intervene so as to not broaden a conflict. That is to say, a little block doesn’t do harm. To insist can lead to an expulsion, so I let it go, but I’m in disagreement with the ease with blocking that some admins have.” And an editor whose tenure on the site began after the CRC’s dissolution also noted that
“I think policy isn’t always correctly interpreted by the admins, and as such the CRC was one instance meant to resolve those cases. It’s very common to see how claims are made lightly regarding ‘sabotage’ or ‘serious breaches of wikiquette,’ when in reality they’re not. I think it’s urgent and necessary to count on official policies regarding ‘Blocking’ and ‘Harassment’, which only exist in draft form at present or as proposals.”
(Note that in Spanish-language Wikipedia, “sabotage” refers to WP:NSW – “Don’t sabotage Wikipedia to support your arguments” – the equivalent of WP: POINT on English-language Wikipedia.)
A debate in the Café from April 2009 further illustrates some of the positions taken on this question. It was titled “Is ‘Don’t Sabotage Wikipedia’ just a magic hat?” The initiator of the thread was wondering if “sabotage” (again, WP:NSW) was being used as an easy rationale or option (a “magic hat”) for blocking users with excessive zeal. The goal of the proposal raised in this discussion was “to avoid that the [sabotage] policy […] be used in an intimidating fashion in a discussion, or used to block someone who simply does something we don’t like, even though we don’t know under what policy we can block them. This isn’t fair, and it’s what’s happening right now.” The author of the post added that:
“the quick and drastic manner by which some admins determine that the aforementioned policies are being violated, and decide to apply blocks, is too strict. […] I think a ‘blocking review’ [similar to the previous proposal] should be established, in which the admins (all those who wish to participate, minus those involved in the issue at hand) would decide the appropriateness or not of the block, and that this decision be taken by consensus, given that personally […] it seems to me that in certain occasions bureaucrats display excessive zeal in the application of these policies, and they block with a speed and harshness in the imposition of exaggerated penalties.” This user might have agreed, in a sense, that the admins wield a cannon.
The response by critics of the proposal was pointed. One admin noted that “He who wishes to collaborate hewing to the rules [normas] has nothing to fear … now, those who wish to go to the edge, then they should tremble.” Another editor noted that his proposals smacked of “neoarbitrismo,” perhaps best translated as someone who builds castles in the air (the reference is to a seventeenth-century school of intellectuals in Spain noted for cooking up various grand schemes and unimplemented ideas). One editor defended the admins’ role, noting that “the admins are editors in whom we place our confidence to carry out certain needed bureaucratic actions because we trust their judgment and their knowledge of policy, actions which or not very pleasant to carry out.” Another editor was especially unfriendly to the proposal, attacking an anonymous contributor (a supporter of the proposal) in particular: “If anyone has the required functionality, I would suggest that the IP of this user be identified and that one act in response against this shameless trolling.”
There is also some important context to this proposal: the user making it had a contentious history. With little experience as an editor, he had jumped into discussions and revisions of policy documents, including of the Manual of Style and the policy regarding Fuentes Fiables (reliable sources). It’s not clear if his arguments were tendentious, but he did exhibit a certain amount of expertise. Nonetheless, he undoubtedly began to frustrate a few more experienced users (and admins). For his part, the editor had a bit of an anti-establishment or irreverent bent, and was accused at one point of “audacity” or “temerity” [osadía]. His response was to say that
“yes, temerity can be very positive, if it serves to uproot taboos, like those inflexible hierarchies in some communities, mainly the primitive ones, like in the Middle Ages. Hierarchies that go against common sense, consensus and finally the whole spirit of communion and overcoming of differences which this Free Enyclopedia project points to. :) Greetings!” The editor added links to the policies on “consensus” (WP:Consenso) and “common sense”(WP:Sentido común) for good measure.
Discussions with this editor often became very pointed. For example, one admin (with more two years tenure), when debating this editor, would repeatedly reference his list of previous blocks when making his own arguments. The phrase used (in more than one discussion) was that the editor had “not learned his lesson,” with a link provided to the user’s block history. In one case the admin also advised the editor “don’t try to give me lessons,” with a link to his own (completely empty) block history. It seems the admin was attempting to legitimize and delegitimize their respective arguments using their respective block histories, and perhaps even threaten another block. Ultimately, the admin argued that “the fact is that at this stage what you say matters between little and nothing to me,” and that “your contribution in wikipedia is more detrimental than beneficial, and nothing would be lost if you were prevented from editing in it.” The editor’s response was merely “Incredible.” Following another contribution to the debate (one pointed but not offensive it appears), the editor was permanently banned for being “insulting,” and making comments which “only serves to inflame passions, which is intolerable.” The permanent ban was lifted the next day, however.
Was this user merely a tendentious and disruptive editor, who deserved the firm hand that admins often employ? Or did he anger an influential admin, one who might have himself crossed the line as far as civility? Perceptions in the community clearly differed on the quality of the editor’s arguments and contributions, and the nature of the debate in question. Nonetheless, this did not prevent an attempted permanent ban. Moreover, experiences such as this one clearly animated the editor’s proposal to limit the power of admins, and may have influenced the negative reactions to the proposal as well.
Whatever the source of the argument, there is clearly a great deal of impatience among some editors and admins with such proposals. Meanwhile, there continues to be unease, contentiousness, frustration, and even some soul-searching about blocking and banning. Take another case: in September 2010, an editor with a total of 29,548 edits was permanently banned for sabotage (WP:NSW), which included: “repeated trolling in the Café,” “spurious complaints in the administrators’ noticeboard,” and the use of a sockpuppet to evade a block. His ban, like other similar ones, generated a great deal of controversy. He was reinstated a week later “under conditions,” and then quickly re-banned, as “there is not consensus to unblock.” (Note that there was by definition no consensus to block either, but the default was to maintain the ban.) An editor troubled by the whole affair captured one argument found among the users who objected to the harsh punishment. Writing on an admin’s talk page, he noted his problems with the use of blocking on Spanish-language Wikipedia in general:
“I don’t believe in the effectiveness of blocking, particularly when it’s used against users who, in spite of their defects, have clearly demonstrated their interest in the project. I’m firmly convinced that to be blocked will not change anyone’s opinion or attitude, and that the blocking of veteran users as a means to resolve disputes is a tool that can only produce frustration and desertion. … It’s necessary to establish a blocking policy. It seems to me that in Wikipedia in English … it is not exactly the collective of admins who makes this decision, but rather the whole community that makes the determination as to whether to ban the difficult user, in certain pages.”
This ban, however, appears to have stood. And as we’ll see, the controversy over banning experienced users – for “sabotage,” Wikiquette violations, and so on – continues, and has taken an even sharper turn more recently.
The extent of the polarization among certain editors around the role of admins blew up recently, in a dramatic case of sabotage on Spanish-language Wikipedia.
It originated in a private online forum, external to Wikipedia, called “Desbloquéame” – “Unblock me.” One the initiators of the effort described it internally as a “society in favor of wikipedian liberty and justice.” Their principal target seems to have been admins perceived as highly dictatorial and abusive of their powers, along with their allies. To build up the group, private emails were sent to editors who they believed would be sympathetic, to obtain their participation.
At the same time, this was not the only external forum in play. Its name was taken from another offsite forum, “Bloquéame” – “Block me” – in which a significant number of Spanish-language Wikipedia admins participate. In Bloquéame “the gloves are off,” in the sense it that it is made clear that Wikipedia rules about civility, assuming good faith, etc, do not apply. One critic described it (during the debate over the sabotage case) as “an external site where insults and mockery of Wikipedia users are the order of the day.” It is in fact true that on this forum the attacks on other editors have been quite ruthless (other editors are “rats,” “asslickers,” and so on).
Significantly, the forum is also publicly accessible to users not formally registered with it (that is, if one knows the URL, something relatively easy to obtain). As a result, everything posted there can be read by anyone, and many participants in the forum use the same usernames as on Wikipedia. Yet although publicly visible, the Bloquéame forum will also expel participants from time to time (including, at one point, the aforementioned critic). Meanwhile, the Wikipedia editors on Desbloquéame – the new forum – clearly saw Bloquéame as housing their rivals; one participant in the former described it as simply “a nest of trolls.”
The issue that eventually exploded in Spanish-language Wikipedia was a plan on Desbloquéame to defeat an editor’s candidacy in a sysop election. On the forum the participants coordinated their arguments, and discussed whether it would be possible to obtain additional votes against. It was referred to as “Operation Valkyrie” (the historical connotations need not be elaborated). Also on their list of future plans was the initiation recall elections (WP:RECAB) for certain admins. As one participant put it, “I agree with [another participant] that this is an encyclopedia and not a war, we don’t attack anyone just for the sake of doing it, we only defend ourselves. That at times we have to use its weapons and play dirty, […] but with some strategy please.”
Indeed, a smaller group hatched even more elaborate and “dirty” schemes. One included nominating an article written by a rival (the ally of an objectionable admin) to be deleted (WP:CDB), while the rival was blocked. This would hopefully ensure that when he returned and lost his temper, a Wikiquette case would be opened and he would be “put in the freezer” (blocked by an admin) for even longer. This scheme apparently went more or less according to plan. The user was in fact blocked by a zealous admin without even a Wikiquette case being posted; the “saboteurs” then opened one anyway, to try to get the block extended.
The polarization that had developed among some editors is revealed not only in these various “operations,” but also in the group’s views of admins. The various participants on Desbloquéame clearly regarded the editor standing for an admin election as already being a part of a larger camp, or faction, of closely-collaborating dictatorial users and admins (“the whole court”). It was believed that “with buttons [the admin powers] she would delete half of Wikipedia” (given her tendencies, and that of her camp). She was also seen as the Bloquéame candidate. Care had to be taken however: one participant on the forum suggested to “limit yourself to voting and don’t discuss anything, since they are capable of carrying out another repression if they lose.”
The plans to influence the admin election were discovered when screen-shots of the discussions on Desbloquéame were emailed to an admin, and then posted to Wikipedia in July 2011. They were clearly betrayed by a member of their band, although it’s not clear how. The identity of those admitted was confirmed by asking the interested party to place a particular word on their user talk page. Any suspicious parties would surely not have been allowed in, but it seems likely that they relaxed their guard admitted a mole.
However it transpired, the reaction was swift. Given that it was a private forum, several of the conspirators in Desbloquéame had used their Wikipedia usernames. Other means (some criticized them not credible) were used by admins to discover the user’s identities. Fully describing the lengthy discussions that followed on the Cafe and the Administrator’s noticeboard would be impossible here. But in the eyes of a number of admins the goal was to “remove the cancer,” to undertake “drastic measures,” against the “terrorist calendar” set up by the Desbloquéame group. Soon thereafter at least four editors were permanently banned, for violating the policies against “canvassing” (Wikipedia:Proselitismo or WP:Canvassing) and, of course, sabotage. Other editors were clearly involved (as many as 14 more), but their participation, according to the admins investigating the case, could not be conclusively proven.
The permanently banned users had edits and experience as follows:
13,516 edits, 24 months;
16,430 edits, 40 months;
7,216 edits, 20 months; and
16,683 edits, 53 months.
All easily fell into the category of very-active editors. Particularly contentious was the expulsion of the most active of these, a user who had averaged more than 500 edits a month and was well-liked. Critics maintained – including a pair of dissenting admins – that her participation had not been conclusively proven.
There was clearly some disagreement among admins regarding the whole affair. More than this, among the usernames of intended “recruits” on the screen-shots was that of at least one longstanding admin who was perceived to dissent from his peers. In another case the saboteurs hoped for the intervention of a particular admin seen as sympathetic. Admins on Spanish-language Wikipiedia are not an especially large group – it numbers 149 people at the time of writing. Any who might have been tainted by the scandal appear to have not faced any consequences for a presumed association, at least not as of yet.
To some editors the punishment also seemed far too harsh given the offense, and given the consequences of expelling four very-active editors. There were appeals for a reduction in the “sentence.” As one admin put it:
“Why am I requesting this? simply because we are assuming bad faith, and expulsion is a measure that is totally out of place given the extent of the damage. If they were users with a long trajectory [of problems] then apply the full punishment, but in this case, I don’t see harm to Wikipedia, just in the admin election, and a disregard of the sabotage policy. Norms that we accept as a community have been violated, but I think the gravity of the deed does not justify the quantity of harm to the users. My idea is that the users return and work on articles and we all leave behind these grade-school games… this is not a power play, this is an encyclopedia, and there are plenty of social networks where one can expose one’s ego so it can shine.”
Also contentious was the fact that the case had largely been “tried” on the private admin listserv; indeed, there are a number of admins who are not even members of this list. What was discussed publicly was the extent of the punishments, however. The discussion thread dedicated to this purpose advised that “Those users who are not admins, I ask that you be respectful and avoid intervening in this thread, so as to allow only those equipped to discuss and apply penalties to do their work.” During the subsequent discussion across the site, a pair of admins expressed doubts about the seemingly centralized admin control over the case. One of these (who had previously left the admin listserv) argued:
“The listserv of admins = external forums, due to its hidden nature. […] In the eyes of that list, everyone is a vandal. The closed nature of the arguments [made there] prevents me from knowing what the comments of the rest [of the admins] were. It is a shame that so few can see these wise arguments, and that they only see the consequences. It should be noted that as admins were are not very transparent… and worse, measures are being taken without knowing the full extent of the facts.”
According to another admin: “To speak of sabotaje when there is only one policy that considers what to do when things take place outside Wikipedia, is at minimum questionable. It’s the community that decides if what took place outside can be penalized and how, not the admins.”
It also appears that not only those who were against the verdict were concerned. One admin – strongly in favor of expulsions – nonetheless was worried about the process, given that it might further “the image of nepotism that has unfortunately seeped into some of the less-informed users that collaborate on this project.” He noted elsewhere that “perhaps the only victory of the ‘Desbloquéame’ group is to show the harmful consequences that the emergence of ‘Bloquéame’ could produce. I think that from this muck have come both kinds of mud, […] although the line had not been crossed until this point.”
The expulsions have held, although a door was left open to one user to appeal for readmission (the most active, whose ban was most questioned). Meanwhile, the fallout from the affair seems to have continued, given the fact that not all the participants were identified. As one admin put it, “this isn’t the last operation we will witness, because as we have seen the sabotage of the admin election was not the goal of the group, but merely another stage.” The case of one longstanding editor tied up in these events is perhaps illustrative of the ongoing controversy.
The editor in question was suspected (but never proved) of participating in the “plot,” as it has been called. Indeed, one admin noted in a discussion in the Café that “I regret that your involvement in the plot has not yet been able to be proven, as evident as it may be to those of us who have witnessed this shameful maneuver.” The editor nonetheless persisted in publicly defending the accused. In one Café post he argued that admins had also used an “external forum” – both Bloquéame and the admin mailing list – to influence or “canvass” around admin elections in the past. To demonstrate his case he referenced a post from Bloquéame made by a particular admin (let’s call him admin A). Note that this was not the first and probably not the worst “Bloquéame revelation”: it had already been revealed, for example, that participants on the forum conducted informal votes as to whether or not certain editors should stand for sysop elections (clearly another potential case of canvassing).
Nonetheless, in response to this revelation a separate admin (admin B) placed a comment titled “First and only warning” on the editor’s talk page. It said:
“You’ve been forum-izing [haciendo foro] in the Café for a while now, making accusations, assuming bad faith, and suggesting nonexistent arbitrary nonsense. Nonetheless, the conjecture and accusation of sabotage that you make with respect to [admin A] is unacceptable. Retract it immediately and abstain completely from forum-izing on the topic. If not, you will garner yourself a block of considerable duration given your long history of offenses. You have been warned.”
Around this time, yet another admin (admin C) also publicly accused the same editor of being part of the plot. Admin C was highly troubled by the fact that the plot had included an attempt to recall him from his admin position. In this instance, the accused editor offered to send his private email correspondence to admin C to prove his innocence, by demonstrating he had rejected the requests of the faction to join the external forum where the plot was hatched. It is not clear whether this took place, or if admin C was convinced of the editor’s innocence. One thing was certain however: in the incriminating screen-shots, the editor’s arguments had been approved of by members of the faction, and they believed he “should not fight alone.”
Nearly a month later, the same editor opened a case on the Administrator's noticeboard (WP:TAB). He alleged Wikihounding (WP:HOUND) by admin C, who he claimed was systematically reverting a majority of his edits. The Wikihounding case was quickly declared to be spurious, and within an hour of his allegation the editor was blocked for six months. The admin who banned him (Admin A, who had posted the warning almost a month earlier) noted in announcing the block:
“considerable time has passed and you still haven’t paid attention; beyond that, you have continued with this attitude, and it’s you that harasses the other user. Given that you haven’t backed down, you continue assuming bad faith, and make a show of harassment, I’m giving you the block that was pending since that previous warning: 6 months and with the contingency of an infinite one for the smallest recurrence. Have a nice day.”
The blocked editor in question is a relatively experienced contributor: he has a total of 16,830 edits, 84% of them to articles. Was he a conscious and repeated WP:POINT violator, and a secret member of a “canvassing” faction? Or was he the target of an admin witch-hunt? Again, members of the community are likely highly divided.
It would take considerable research to unravel the lengthy background to this case, and the others. Moreover, it is difficult for a non-participant to pass judgment in a situation like this one, nor is that the objective here. What can be said is that it has clearly had a profound impact on the community. Leaving aside the bans, it seems that there are also users who have retreated from Wikipedia in despair or even disgust. One highly-critical editor has described it simply as “a place in which four strongmen [caciques] impose their judgments in a completely dictatorial fashion.” Others are surely horrified and dismayed by the actions of the “plotters.”
As far as the basic facts of the matter, it is clear that some group of editors formed an explicit faction to achieve certain goals on the site, very likely breaking Wikipedia policy in the process. It also seems evident that the faction was born of longstanding tensions and conflict – de facto factionalization – between different groups of editors, which broke in part along admin and non-admin lines. The non-admin critics strongly believe that certain admins function as arbitrary tyrants. The critics have also been previously involved, it appears, in efforts and arguments to constrain admin powers on Spanish-language Wikipedia. As we’ve seen, some editors believe these sorts of changes will improve the encyclopedia, others do not. Meanwhile, at least some admins likely feel under siege given the recent “plot,” and are responding as one might expect: with blocks and permanent bans of editors.
Is this factionalization something novel on Spanish-language Wikipedia?
According to one experienced editor,
“I think the issue of factionalization isn’t new. There have always been groups, and groups. Admins versus non-admins, Spaniards versus Argentines, etc. And now Bloquéame versus Desbloquéame or whatever those forums are called where people go to participate. But it’s not new. What there is are periods of peace where one group gets tired and leaves the rest in peace, but with time groups get reactivated because new people arrive who clash with the old, or what have you.”
Moreover, although factionalization might be the result of a lack of formalized means of conflict resolution, according to this editor, factionalization in fact provides an explanation for the lack of these means: “It isn’t an issue of being against something formal. It’s that there is a lack of impartial leaders. It’s always been this way.”
Thus for many users, leaving matters in the hands of powerful individual admins might be the least of all evils. Yet while it is widely agreed that Wikipedia is not a democracy (WP:NOES / WP:NOT), a question remains: if the exercise of power is left to the good judgment and virtues of those who hold it, what happens when the latter are potentially undermined in times of duress?
VI. By way of a conclusion
For the sake of time and space we won’t reiterate the points made above, save for one, made towards the start of this document: Spanish-language Wikipedia continues to grow and improve, and it boasts a population of highly-committed editors. However, a key question remains, one that can’t be answered here: are the sorts of conflicts the community faces merely growing pains, or are they the sort that will impede Spanish-language Wikipedia’s future progress? Can the discord that exists simply be ignored by most users? Can it be positively mitigated through a different approach to conflict resolution, and a different conception of the role of admins? Should the system be changed, or merely (some of) the people who administer it? Or is this placing the blame in the wrong place entirely? Are strong, unrestrained admins in fact Spanish-language Wikipedia’s main line of defense against a rule by trolls? Ultimately these sorts of questions can only be answered by the community itself.
- This focus differs somewhat from that of a previous post describing the direction of this research. I hope to conclude the research outlined in this post in future. As the later sections of this document will illustrate, recent events in the Spanish-language editor community provided the impetus for the shift in direction. Also I’d like to take the opportunity here to thank the staff at the Wikimedia Foundation for their support, and the interview subjects for their generous participation.
- Two of the editors requested anonymity to participate, which was granted. Although the editors were not asked their nationality in the interview (and no explicit attempt was made to obtain editors from every Spanish-speaking nation, due to reasons of scope), a review of user pages indicates that the nations of origin of the editors include (at least) Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Spain.
- Here we mean “comparable” in terms of size. The other Wikipedias used for comparison are English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, and Russian. The comparison used is the rate of new articles relative to total articles, calculated monthly. The information here and in the rest of this section is obtained or calculated from stats.wikimedia.org unless otherwise indicated.
- Interview, Elemaki; in the original, “desde el principio me sentí muy atraído por la idea del conocimiento libre. Me parece absolutamente maravilloso el hecho de que una Comunidad de personas que no tienen nada que ver entre si y que están diseminadas por todo el mundo colaboren de forma desinteresada para crear contenidos libres que posteriormente son puestos a disposición de toda la humanidad.”
- Interview, Anonymous Editor B; in the original, “Creo que puede ayudar a que la gente comprende que se pueden hacer las cosas de otra manera a la que se ha dado por hecho hasta ahora. [...] Es una cuestión importante que no se puede subestimar. Wikipedia funciona y es sostenible, y millones de personas la sostienen. Eso tiene que significar algo.”
- Interview, Magister_Mathematicae; in the original, “Es como el cariño a una persona con la que has convivido muchos años, que puede ser irritante a veces pero que le deseas lo mejor y prefieres seguir a su lado.”
- Interview, Aleposta; in the original, “Creo que si un método de resolución de conflictos se hace muy pesado no resultará efectivo, por lo que mientras menos regulaciones haya respecto a eso me parece mejor. Como funciona ahora en Wikipedia (Mediación o resolución en el Tablón) creo que está bien.”
- Details are available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikiquette_assistance/ archive86#User:Malleus_Fatuorum.
- Details are available at: http://es.wikipedia.org/w/index.php? title=Wikipedia:Tabl%C3%B3n_de_anuncios_de_los_bibliotecarios/Portal/Archivo/ Violaciones_de_etiqueta/Actual&oldid=47373909.
- In the original, “totalmente inadecuado y merece una sanción,” and “totalmente fuera de lugar.”
- In the original, “Hay mucho anticulé en wikipedia, algunos botones, presuntamente, están en manos de MOUBIBLIOS.., y gente llena de odio (la Juve no se ha clasificado para competición europea). Sinceramente, no pierdas tiempo y utiliza tu energía para TAB y RECAB si lo crees conveniente. Hay mucha presunta rabia por los éxitos del Barça...”
- Examined moving backwards in time from July 2011; 130 Wikiquette cases were reviewed from each site.
- See http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Caf%C3%A9/Portal/Archivo/Pol%C3%ADticas/2011/ 07#Sobre_el_Tabl.C3.B3n; in the original, “El tablón no es para iniciar discusiones y está resultando muy bien así, salvo que empiece a ponerse de moda la réplica airada y larga, justo lo que debemos evitar.”
- Examples here taken from the 2011 Wikiquette noticeboard archives at http://es.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Wikipedia:Tabl%C3%B3n_de_anuncios_de_los_bibliotecarios/Portal/Archivo/ Violaciones_de_etiqueta/2011.
- In the original, “no hay motivo suficiente para efectuar bloqueos, pero dejad de utilizar la wikipedia como foro donde continuar vuestras diferencias personales. Hacedlo en vuestras PU, y cuando alguien cruce la línea de WP:E, se le bloqueará. Sin embargo, como sois usuarios veteranos, ya os cuidáis bien de no hacerlo, pero las intenciones son evidentes, y no se me escapa ni a mí ni al resto de los biblios. En algún momento a alguno se le hinchará la vena y os meterá un buen bloqueo por foreo, pero no será (creo) en esta ocasión.”
- Of the 5000 blocks, IP blocks and those for reasons of username violations or vandalism were excluded, to focus on the more stable community of editors.
- This number is relatively arbitrary, although it is twice the amount required to be able to vote in an admin election.
- Interview, Anonymous Editor B; in the original, “ya llega un momento en que te das cuenta de que la gente apoya en función del nick, no del diff.”
- Interview, Anonymous Editor A; in the original, “existe un sistema de castas[.] [...] El problema es que aquí no es más valioso el que produce más o ayuda más a crear la enciclopedia, sino aquel que es amigo del bando [...] dominante. Así, un usuario que apenas ha creado 8 o 10 artículos en cuatro años, [...] continuamente se la pasa acusando de troll o imbécil a cualquiera que discrepe de sus opiniones, [y] por pertenecer a cierto grupo […] ha sido la causa del bloqueo de una docena de usuarios que cada uno a creado 500 o 600 artículos.”
- In the original, “El problema es que la utilización de dicho botón o no queda al arbitrio de la subjetividad del bibliotecario de turno de forma que dependiendo de cual sea el biblio que atiende una solicitud en el TAB o que detecta por su cuenta un comportamiento disruptivo le puede caer desde un simple apercibimiento hasta una expulsión definitiva[.] […] Creo que todos podemos coincidir en que las situaciones que generan malestar son las que afectan a usuarios que se ven bloqueados cuando su compromiso con el proyecto parece bastante fuerte.”
- In the original, “consensuar si las actitudes de ciertos usuarios son disruptivas o no y no que sea la subjetividad de un sólo Bibliotecario la que al final se imponga,” and “el problema de acciones unilaterales a veces no muy acertadas.”
- In the original, “Raro va a ser el caso en el que un usuario con experiencia bloqueado se va a ‘reformar’ ya que si llegó al extremo de ser bloqueado por expresar sus opiniones dificilmente el hecho de no poder editar le va a llevar a reflexionar que estaba errado en sus argumentos.”
- In the original, “¿Consultas de bloqueo? Me suena a elevar el troleo a la categoría de proceso burocrático.”
- In the original, “[U]n bibliotecario se instaura en base a la confianza de la comunidad, si vamos a comenzar a cuestionar sus acciones o si fue procedente o no un bloqueo, que sentido tendría votar para una CAB.”
- In the original, “No, Wikipedia no es una burocracia, no la convirtamos en ello, por favor.”
- In the original, “Una consulta de bloqueo me parecería un absurdo experimento de democracia, de anarquía, de burocracia y de algunas cuantas cosas más que atentan contra el primer pilar fundamental: Esto es una enciclopedia.”
- In the original, “[T]ener biblios es el menor de todos los males.”
- Some of the relevant discussions can be found at: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Wikipedia:Caf%C3%A9/Portal/Archivo/Pol%C3%ADticas/2006/11#WP:CRC; http:/ /es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Votaciones/2006/ Creaci%C3%B3n_del_Comit%C3%A9_de_resoluci%C3%B3n_de_conflictos; http:/ /es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Votaciones/2008/Reformas_al_CRC; http:/ /es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Votaciones/2008/ Sobre_el_mantenimiento,_disoluci%C3%B3n_o_suspensi%C3%B3n_temporal_del_Comit%C3%A 9_de_Resoluci%C3%B3n_de_Conflictos; http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Votaciones/2009/ Sobre_la_disoluci%C3%B3n_del_Comit%C3%A9_de_Resoluci%C3%B3n_de_Conflictos; and http:// es.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:CRC.
- Interview, Anonymous Editor B; in the original, “un desastre. Nunca resolvió nada; si acaso, acrecentó los conflictos. Era lento e ineficaz, y entraba en bloqueo operativo cada dos por tres. Luego sacaban resoluciones de golpe que estaban muy poco trabajadas y algunas iban escandalosamente en contra de las políticas de Wikipedia.”
- Interview, Lucien_LeGrey; in the original, “Comité de Reproducción de Conflictos.”
- In the original, “Lo que tenemos puede ser malo, pero la arbitrariedad y el clientelismo es peor.”
- In the original, “para que sirva contra la arbitrariedad y la prepotencia.”
- In the original, “No se debería permitir que se elija para el comité a ningún bibliotecario, generalmente los conflictos se presentan es con estos wikipedistas, quienen regularmente se comportan de forma gremial, solo bastaría que además sus decisiones adquieran carácter vinculante[.]”
- In the original, “Con esta opción, seguramente los bibliotecarios serán mayoría en el CRC y será dificil que los usuarios no biblios puedan revertir una desición de un biblio.”
- In the original, “si hay CRC nos quejamos de que los malvhados vivlios lo han creado para aumentar su dictadura sobre los pobres e indefensos mortales, si no lo hay nadie puede controlar a esos diablos cuya única finalidad es hundir Wikipedia.”
- In the original, “Lo que yo tengo contra el CRC es que perjudica enormemente a la ya muy vapuleada históricamente figura del bibliotecario porque, sencillamente, le quita autoridad (que no poder), que es aquello de lo que más necesitado está. [...] ¿es necesario un CRC que tiene como función dar pábulo a las reclamaciones de unos usuarios inexpertos y que facilita de esa manera que la autoridad conferida a los bibliotecarios por la comunidad quede en entredicho? ¿Tiene sentido un órgano dentro de la propia Wikipedia que tenga como función el carear de forma oficial a un novato con un bibliotecario?”
- In the original, “el Tablón de Bibliotecarios … funciona como un cañón.”
- In the original, “Además se realiza sin demoras y con las políticas en la mano,” “Los bibliotecarios nos controlamos los unos a los otros,” and “buscan que un ‘ente superior’desautorice a los biblios que hacen que las políticas se cumplan.”
- Interview, Anonymous Editor B; in the original, “Lo de WP:BLOQUEO es increíble. Pero nunca se pudo llegar a un consenso, con lo que cada biblio hace lo que quiere, con todo el drama que eso genera.”
- Interview, Ciberprofe; in the original, “Estuve en desacuerdos con algunos bloqueos, pero no quise intervenir para no agrandar un conflicto. Es decir un bloqueo pequeño no hace daño. Insistir puede llevar a expulsión así que dejo pasar, pero estoy en desacuerdo con esa facilidad para bloquear que tienen algunos biblios.”
- Interview, Jaontiveros; in the original, “Considero que la interpretación de las políticas no siempre se hace de forma correcta por los bibliotecarios y que por tanto el CRC era una instancia para dirimir estos casos. Es muy común ver como se hacen denuncias a la ligera por "sabotaje" o "graves faltas a la etiqueta", cuando en realidad no lo son. Considero que es urgente y necesario contar con las políticas oficiales de "Bloqueo" y "Acoso", las cuales sólo existen en borrador o como propuestas.”
- See http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Caf%C3%A9/Portal/Archivo/Pol%C3%ADticas/2009/ 04#.C2.BF.22No_sabotees_Wikipedia.22_es_la_galera_de_un_mago.3F.
- In the original, “para evitar que la política […] no se utilice como argumento intimidatorio en una discusión, o para bloquear a quien simplemente hace algo que no nos gusta, aunque no sepamos por qué política lo podemos bloquear. Eso no es justo y es lo que está sucediendo actualmente.”
- In the original, “la velocidad y drasticidad con que algunos bibliotecarios estiman que se están violando las políticas antes nombradas y deciden aplicar bloqueos es demasiado estricta. … creo que se debería instaurar una ‘consulta de bloqueo’ … en la que los bibliotecarios (todos los que deseen intervenir en la misma, salvo que sean parte implicada) decidieran la conveniencia o no del bloqueo, y que esta decisión se tomase por consenso, ya que personalmente ... me parece que en algunas ocasiones los burocratas pecan de excesivo celo en la aplicación de estas políticas y bloquean con una velocidad y una dureza en la imposición de sanciones exageradas.”
- In the original, “Quien desea colaborar señido a las normas, no tiene nada de qué temer... ahora, los que quieren ir al margen, entonces deben temblar.”
- In the original, “los bibliotecarios son editores en los que depositamos la confianza de ejecutar ciertas acciones burocráticas necesarias porque confiamos en su criterio y conocimiento de las políticas, acciones que no son muy agradables de llevar a cabo.”
- In the original, “Si alguien dispone de la funcionalidad correspondiente, sugeriría que se identifique la IP del usuario y se obre en consecuencia contra este trollismo descarado.”
- For what follows, see http://es.wikipedia.org/w/index.php? title=Wikipedia_discusi%C3%B3n:Manual_de_estilo&oldid=25997858.
- In the original, “sí, la osadía puede ser muy positiva, si sirve para desarraigar tabús, como las jerarquías inflexibles de algunas comunidades, principalmente las primitivas, como las del medioevo. Jerarquías … que van encontra del sentido común, del consenso y en fin de todo el espíritu de comunión y superación de diferencias al que apunta este proyecto de Enciclopedia Libre. :) saluditos!”
- See http://es.wikipedia.org/w/index.php? title=Wikipedia_discusi%C3%B3n:Manual_de_estilo&oldid=25997858 and http://es.wikipedia.org/w/ index.php?title=Wikipedia_discusi%C3%B3n:Fuentes_fiables&oldid=29361142. In the original, “parece que no escarmienta,” “No parece que hayas escarmentado aún,” and “no me des a mí lecciones.”
- In the original, “En realidad lo que digas me importa a estas alturas entre poco y nada” and “tu contribución a wikipedia es más perjudicial que beneficiosa, y no se perdería nada si se te impidiera editar en ella.”
- In the original, “solo sirve para calentar los ánimos, lo cual es intolerable.”
- In the original, "Sabotaje: Reiterado troleo en el café. Denuncias espurias en el Tablon de bibliotecarios. Uso del títere Thanos para eludir bloqueos y reforzar la campaña de sabotaje."
- See http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usuario_discusi%C3%B3n:RoyFocker/Abr-Jun_2011. In the original, “yo no creo en la eficacia del bloqueo, en particular cuando se usa contra usuarios que, a pesar de sus defectos, han demostrado sobradamente su interés por el proyecto. Estoy firmemente convencido que ser bloqueado no va a hacer cambiar a nadie de opinión ni de actitud, y de que el bloqueo a usuarios veteranos como medio de resolver disputas es una herramienta que sólo puede crear frustración y abandono. ... Es necesario establecer una política de bloqueo. Me parece que en la Wikipedia en inglés … no es precisamente el colectivo de bibliotecarios quien toma la resolución, sino que es la comunidad entera quien toma la determinación de banear en cierto tipo de páginas al usuario conflictivo.”
- The details on this controversy can be found at: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Wikipedia:Café/Portal/Archivo/Políticas/2011/07; http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Wikipedia:Tablón_de_anuncios_de_los_bibliotecarios/Portal/Archivo/Miscelánea/2011/07; http://www.flickr.com/photos/margretch/sets/72157627133472921/with/5964972453/; http:// www.flickr.com/photos/65581873@N08/sets/72157627257540534/; and http://www.flickr.com/photos/ 65581873@N08/sets/72157627257752198/.
- In the original, “sociedad en pro de la justicia y libertad wikipédica.”
- In the original, “un sitio externo donde los insultos y la mofa a usuarios en Wikipedia están a la orden del día.”
- This recently-instituted facility is not available on English-language Wikipedia, and was instituted last year, apparently on the initiative of admin critics.
- In the original, “Concuerdo con [another participant] que esto es una enciclopedia y no una guerra, nosotros no atacamos a nadie por el hecho de hacerlo, solamente nos defendemos. Que a veces tenemos que usar sus armas y jugar sucio, […] pero con estrategia por favor.”
- It seems that one of the participants consistently argued against violating the policy regarding canvassing, but was banned nonetheless.
- In the original, “¿Porque estoy pidiendo esto?, simplemente que estamos presumiendo de mala fe y la expulsión es una medida totalmente fuera de sitio para tal valoración del daño. Si fueran usuarios con vasta trayectoria aplica el castigo total, pero en este caso, no noto un daño sobre Wikipedia, sólo sobre la votación de CAB y menoscabo de la política de sabotaje. Han violado normas que aceptamos como comunidad, pero creo que la gravedad del hecho no justifica la cantidad del mal producido a los usuarios. Mi idea es que los usuarios retornen y trabajen en artículos y todos nos dejemos de niñerías de curso de primaria... esto no es un juego de poder, es una enciclopedia, y existen bastantes redes sociales donde sacar el ego a relucir.”
- In the original, “Los usuarios que no son bibliotecarios, les pido ser respetuosos y evitar intervenir en este hilo, permitiendo así que los únicos facultados para discutir y aplicar sanciones hagan su trabajo.”
- In the original, “La lista de bibliotecarios = foros externos por el ocultismo. […] todos son vándalos a los ojos de la lista. Lo cerrado de los argumentos me impiden saber cómo fueron los comentarios del resto. Lástima que pocos puedan ver los sabios argumentos, y que solo vea las consecuencias. Se nota que como administradores somos poco transparentes... y peor aún, estamos tomando medidas sin conocer la totalidad de los hechos.”
- In the original, “la imagen de nepotismo que desgraciadamente ha calado en parte de los usuarios menos informados que colaboran en este proyecto.”
- In this original, “Quizás, la única victoria del grupo del ‘desbloquéame’ sea evidenciar las nefastas consecuencias que podía producir la aparición del ‘bloquéame’. Creo que de esos barros han venido estos lodos, […] aunque la línea de lo permisible no se había cruzado hasta ahora [.]”
- In the original, “ésta no sea la última operación a la que asistimos, porque por lo que puede verse el sabotaje de la CAB no era la meta del grupo, sino simplemente una etapa más.”
- The details on this situation can be found at: http://es.wikipedia.org/w/index.php? title=Usuario_discusi%C3%B3n:Elemaki#Primera_y_.C3.BAnica_advertencia; http://es.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Wikipedia:Tabl%C3%B3n_de_anuncios_de_los_bibliotecarios/Portal/Archivo/Miscel%C3%A1nea/ 2011/07#Acusaciones_infundadas_y_violaci.C3.B3n_de_PBF_por_parte_de_usuario_3coma14; and http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Tabl%C3%B3n_de_anuncios_de_los_bibliotecarios/Portal/ Archivo/Miscel%C3%A1nea/Actual#Acoso_.28Wikihounding.29.
- In the original, “lamento que no se haya podido demostrar tu implicación en el complot, por muy evidente que sea para todos los que hemos asistido a esta sonrojante maniobra.”
- In the original, “Llevas ya bastante tiempo haciendo foro en el café y en el TAB, acusando, presumiendo mala fe y sugiriendo arbitrariedades inexistentes. Sin embargo, la conjetura y acusación de sabotaje que haces sobre [admin A] es inaceptable. Retráctate de inmediato y abstente por completo de continuar con el foreo al respecto. De lo contrario, te ganarás un bloqueo de considerable duración dado tu amplio historial de faltas. Advertido quedas.”
- In the original, “ya ha pasado bastante tiempo y no has atendido; lejos de eso, has continuado con esa actitud y eres tú quien acosa al usuario. En tanto no te has retractado, sigues presumiendo mala fe y haces gala de acoso, te doy el bloqueo que estaba pendiente desde la aquella advertencia: 6 meses y bajo prevención de un infinite ante la más ínfima reincidencia. Que tengas buen día.”
- Interestingly, he was also the editor that proposed the original “Blocking Review” mentioned above.
- Spanish-language Wikipedia editor, personal communication. In the original, “un lugar en el que cuatro caciques imponen su criterio de forma totalmente dictatorial.”
- Interview, Anonymous Editor B; in the original, “Creo que el tema de la faccionalización no es nuevo. Siempre ha habido grupos y grupos. Biblios vs no biblios, españoles vs argentinos, etc. Y ahora Bloquéame vs Desbloquéame o como se llamen esos foros a los que va a participar la gente. Pero no es nuevo. Lo que hay son periodos de paz cuando algún grupo se cansa y deja en paz a los demás, pero con el tiempo se reactivan grupos porque va llegando gente nueva que choca con la vieja, o lo que sea.”
- Interview, Anonymous Editor B; in the original, “No es nada en contra de algo formal. Es que faltan líderes imparciales. Siempre ha sido así.”