Talk:Community health initiative/Examples of harassment on English-language Wikipedia

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  • Types and sources of threats from “Privacy, Anonymity, and Perceived Risk in Open Collaboration: A Study of Tor Users and Wikipedians”, by Andrea Forte, Rachel Greenstadt, and Nazanin Andalibi. PDF An academic survey of some of Wikipedia's elite users.
Types of threats that users worried about were 1) surveillance by unknown persons that might lead to their edits being linked to their real life identity, 2) loss of employment and other opportunities, based on observations of other users’ experiences, 3) fear of physical safety, rape threats, death threats, danger to family, 4) harassment and intimidation 5) loss of professional reputation if someone goes on a vendetta against them. The sources of threats were seen to be governments and businesses, whose interests might not be the same as the encyclopedia, and private individuals, both insiders and outsiders, as well as organized groups. What they were afraid of, because they saw happening to other people, was threats, doxing, fake information, being beaten up, or having their heads photoshopped onto porn. Threats could come from other project members, including those in positions of responsibility.

GorillaWarfare also happens to be a young woman who is open about her name and gender on Wikipedia. GorillaWarfare is Molly White. Molly gave me permission to tell her story here today. Molly is a software engineer who also loves to rescue cats, and encourage women in tech. She’s a real live person with a job, interests, skills, and accomplishments. She’s also the target of repeated harassment because of her involvement with Wikipedia.

She’s been targeted by people who disagree with the calls she’s made as an administrator. She’s been targeted for her physical appearance. She’s also been targeted for no apparent other reason than she is an editor who openly identifies as a woman. Molly has been harassed on Wikipedia and off. Posts have been made implying that she was elected to her leadership roles because of her appearance, because of a sexual involvement with other Wikimedians, or because she has tongue piercings. Recently she told me she was greeted by a message on a talk page on-wiki, by someone saying she was a “homosexual Jew-tard who deserves to be shot dead”.

While these posts are reverted on Wikimedia, the harassment continues across the internet. She’s been doxed. Her private Facebook account has been posted to 4chan, Encyclopedia Dramatica, and Reddit. People have dug into her relatives’ Facebook pages with fewer privacy settings than hers. They’ve shared photos of Molly to various websites, photoshopping her face onto lewd images, and they’ve taken a photo of her with her baby niece, and captioned it with racial slurs. They’ve added data to these images, to make sure that they’re some of the first results you see when you search for her name or user name. A slew of Twitter accounts have been created to harass her, commenting on her physical appearance, her weight, her family, her sexual preferences. Calling these “comments” is actually a bit of a euphemism, they’re pretty terrible. And of course, when reported, Twitter decided they were not in fact abuse.

Occasionally when the harassment is pretty bad, it begins to affect her offline as well. Molly worked on an arbitration case involving Gamergate. She stopped answering calls from unknown numbers. She told me that she goes so far as to impose privacy protections on her friends as well, who are often not as concerned about these kinds of things, for example, recently asking someone to take down an image that had been geo-tagged on Instagram from her apartment. She no longer believes that privacy on the web can be real, and has become very cautious about anything that she says on the internet. She feels that everything that she does will be viewed through the lens of people who already believe that she’s a terrible person.


  • The other openly female arbitrator, with at least 10 years experience in the movement, in March, then in July. — —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Neotarf (talk) April 28, 2017