From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki


To start with (at least as far as I'm concerned) the IRC channel is an entirely different sphere from Wikipedia proper. If someone gets blocked on Wikipedia, they are not automatically banned from the IRC channel. This is for good reason, since the IRC channel is one of the first ports of call for users who have been blocked. Likewise, a person who says things or does things on the IRC channel is not blocked on Wikipedia itself. This exemplifies the fact that #wikipedia is independent from Wikipedia itself.

The IRC channel is not a service of the Wikimedia Foundation. It is a service of the Peer-Directed Projects Center (which runs Freenode). As such, channel operators are obliged first and foremost to apply Freenode policy (although I don't think their policy is very substantial).

The channel users who have operator status are usually given that access only when they are trusted and friendly members of the channel community. If they abuse their operator status, they are often immediately removed from the channel access list by one of the upper-level (level 30+) operators (there are 7 or 8 who have that ability, including Jimbo Wales). There is not the inability to desysop people which seems to have developed on Wikipedia proper.

On Wikipedia, I believe the main function of Administrators is to maintain the integrity of the encyclopedia itself, and considerations of the comfort of the community come second. By contrast, a #wikipedia channel operator's primary function is to facilitate and maintain civil and constructive conversation in the channel environment. This can include silencing users who don't add anything helpful whatsoever to the conversation, and removing users who are abusive, rude or excessively profane. Channel operators are encouraged to use their access conservatively, fairly and discreetly. Operators are discouraged from idling opped in channel, because this can be construed as some form of demonstration of power which is wholly undesirable. A channel operator is equal to all other channel users. If Wikipedia Adminship is "no big deal", then being a channel operator is even less of a deal. I therefore challenge the statement that ops are similar in privileges to a Wikipedia administrator.

If a "code of conduct" was established for channel operators, then conflicts may arise whereby the channel community demands that they take an action, but the rules do not allow it. It also raises a worrying situation where the time taken to consult such a code renders the op action pointless. The IRC channel is much faster moving than Wikipedia, and by trusting channel operators to use their common sense they are more capable of responding to changing situations. Of course, if their common sense turns out to be questionable, then they can have their access revoked immediately. If, however, some form of guideline were to be introduced, I would support one saying at the very least that channel operators are empowered to enforce a standard of civility similar to Wikiquette (I have introduced such a policy to the WikiEN-l mailing list, and some other mailing lists have adopted this policy too).

As for the languages issue, #wikipedia was the original IRC channel, corresponding to the original Wikipedia, the English Wikipedia. This has resulted in English becoming its primary language. However, this is not to say that only English is allowed in the channel. As IRC channels says, the channel has no official language and people can - and do - speak other languages in the channel (just not very frequently). The current Wikimedia server error message refers people to the #Wikipedia channel. In the next couple of weeks, I will be designing a new error message page which will incorporate several major languages. Each different language can refer people to that language's Wikipedia IRC channel. I am unsure whether the English message should direct people to #wikipedia or #en.wikipedia though, because for all other languages that can't be put on the error message, English is probably the main fallback language so #wikipedia may be more appropriate. - Mark Ryan 05:44, 20 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for your comments, let's address one topic at a time:
In one aspect, since the Wikimedia designated channels are held on freenode, they are indeed independent. On the other hand, however, since the error message that Wikipedia provides when there is a hardware failure directs to this channel, it is given a certain amount of connectivity. If #wikipedia were an independant group of Wikipedians who had decided to get together and discuss Wikipedian issues (the original idea), then there would be absolutely no issue. The issue comes into play whe Wikipedia, instead of providing their own, trustworthy, support, it provides support through freenode's chat network. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, freenode is not opposed to holding the channels and consequently, Wikipedia has no reason to found their own support network. However, seeing that the channel is linked by the official error page, among other official pages in Wikimedia, Wikipedians should take it upon themselves to mantain it up to expectations. That is, they should be able to know their limits, and the operators -for their own sake- should be able to know what they should and are permitted to enforce.
If it is indeed so easy to remove a #wikipedia operator from his position, perhaps the practice should be more often employed. In the log, unfortunately prohibited from being published ( if you want it, no questions asked), there are to say the least moving actions by the operators and it is evident that nothing is done to reprimand them. Firstly, it is not fair to expect the operator to know what is acceptable and how senseful his common sense is without the presence of documented guidelines and secondly, without such a document, it is unrealistic for a user to know when his "rights" (according to the to-be-established guidelines) have been violated.
I believe that a certain percentage of the operators of #wikipedia have indeed corrupted. I have observed, and been a victim of, users being kicked because the operator was -and said so himself- "annoyed" by the comments of another user. To cite another example, it is not uncommon for an operator to provide as the reason for banishing a user along the lines of "don't mess with me". Not only are these extremely subjective, but they are also, quite frankly, extremely immature and rediculous. It is hard to expell a user for profanity, for example, if the operator himself is or has been more profane than the user. But then again, why should he not be profane? Nobody told him he couldn't be profane and nobody told him that it was his job to kick people that were.
As far as the code of conduct creating conflicts, and taking too long to consult the code, I doubt this. The code should be very short, similar to the Wikiquette, and it should make general sense. To cite a real life example, in the United States, a driver is limited by hundreds, if not thousands, of laws. Nevertheless, he is likely to not know a single one. He avoids breaking them by just driving the way he se's others drive, by employing common sense, and most of the time he stays ticket free. On the other hand, when he does break a law, the police officer is armed with the pre-established laws and is able to charge him of a crime. Let's say he was speeding, he knew he was speeding because there were many signs that indicated to him what the accepted speed was, and the officer knew that he had a reasonable claim because there is a law that prohibits citizens from driving at faster speeds than the previously set limits. If there were no speed limit signs and no laws that prohibited disobeying them than the man would have no idea he was supposed to drive at a certain speed and the COP would have to rely on his personal judgement to decide whether or not his speed was reasonable, leaving the driver feeling horribly injusticed. Such is the case with the Wikimedia designated freenode channels. And currently, since there are no rules to enforce or follow, the operators are unfairly left to make subjective judgements and the other users are unfairly left to make guesses and test the circumstances of the channel.
In regards to the new error message, that will be a great improvement. Minor that it might be, however, I would recommend that the error message applied to en.wikipedia specifically (that is, the one showed to users of be lead to #en.wikipedia while the fallback message (for those Wikipedias that are not provided with a native language error message), reasonably in English , directs to #wikipedia and they can, if desired, be redirected from there.--Orgullomoore 07:06, 20 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I cannot agree that the channel isn't as fine as wikipedia already, but, I give extreme lesbian support to a short and concise written set of guidelines for behaviour, as long as they do not remove the fun from the channels. Also, I think we should suggest people read the freenode channel guidelines, especially ops. Even something as simple as having your messages set to "unfiltered" (people not identified with nickserv can message you this way) and asking people to act better in private will contribute to channel sanity, because it removes unneccessary scroll from the main channel. Additionally, I would like to see use of the channel modes that allow us to set a limit, after which additionaly users will be sent to an overflow channel, such as #wikipedia-overflow. This would be nice to keep the channel usable during downtime. Currently, we get 100-200 extra users any time there's an extended downtime. These newcomers enter and ask questions like "is the wiki down?". While this is annoying, why should we expect them to know any better? They weren't told not to do it, and they probably didn't even notice the "Status" item in the topic. --Phroziac (talk) 04:03, 20 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Chanop Taunting[edit]

One of the proposed rules states that chanops cannot kick someone who is annoying them or saying 'don't mess with me'. I think I oppose this, as we as chanops kick users who are annoying to the room, or being dicks to other users, so why not kick users being dicks to us? Also, under this someone could find a loophole to just taunt the chanops and not get anything happening back, I think this works as a guideline, but not an airtight policy. en:User:Redwolf24 22:45, 20 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is exactly why we should get together and form a policy. You are sure that it is perfectly fine for you to kick people because they annoy you while others may consider this unfair. As an operator, you have special priveleges that allow you personally to expell someone from a channel. If someone is annoyed or is "dicked" by another user, he can ask you to kick that person and you will use your judgement, ideally unbiased, to decide whether or not this is the correct thing to do. On the other hand, when someone offends or annoys you directly, you feel a certain personal grudge and incentive to avenge your feelings. If you are truly offended by what a channel user says to/about you, I would propose that you have 2 options:
  1. The command "/IGNORE nick" allows you to ignore (hide) comments by a given user. This may be the least ideal since it is your job to serve the rest of the community, and for this you would need to know what the user is saying to the community, he may be annoying/offending them as well.
  2. Another option would be asking another channel operator not involved in the conflict (you all are not scarce) to resolve the conflict, something like the arbitrary commitee, with the exception that I would not suggest a formal commitee or a formal vote, you would simply ask a second (or perhaps even third) opinion of someone you trust. This would prevent, or at least inhibit unilateral arguments.
In any case, thes are only my ideas and I, of course, am not going to propose (nor impose) a guide that I wrote myself by myself. The more people that propose rules, the more neutral the code will be. --Orgullomoore 03:45, 21 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The first one is totally impractical. The second one is a better idea but some chanops just dont want to get involved. Redwolf24 03:53, 21 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I can't imagine why a chanop would not want to help out. However, I cannot reiterate enough that any other solutions are very welcome, that's what the section (currently abandoned) is for.--Orgullomoore 05:15, 21 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As a long-time (and, in my own opinion, fair) channel operator in relatively busy chatrooms on a different network, I must mention that operators (and/or half-operators) ignoring users should absolutely not be an option. For one because you'll be ignoring the problem rather than mending it, and also because users might abuse this ignore by breaking (unwritten) rules without the fear of you noticing them doing it. Channel operators are keepers of the peace in a channel, and to me personally, a person is never eligible for a ban unless he makes himself a public nuisance. Kicks are only warnings, and no more than that. Finally, I'd like to ask the channel operators of #wikipedia to read the Freenode philosophy if they haven't already. -- 08:55, 23 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I'd just like to briefly note that this page was created by a person who goes by the nick Orgullomoore on freenode and who's sole purpose in creating this page was retribution because I kick/banned him on the channel. I'm not about to break the rules by posting logs here so I have no real proof of this, however anyone who was on #wikipedia that night will vouch that my block was warranted. Jtkiefer 01:27, 21 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'd like to back that brief note up by rendering it false. It's true, I was kicked/banned by you, and you were very rude to me, however, this would be a rather ineffective attempt at retribution. If I wanted to lower to that level, I could vandalize your wiki page, start rumors, etc. etc. Contrarily, I would like to establish rules that would prohibit you, as well as anyone else, from treating users in sucha a disrespectful manner and kicking/banning for such rediculous reasons.

Essjay kickbanned him too. Redwolf24

Confirmed. He also banned me and among his reasons were "Don't mess with me" and "You just didn't learn, did you?" I expressed joy when he announced that he would soon depart and this, according to him, was banworthy. I should hope that the liberty to express one's opinions is among those granted in the document.--Orgullomoore 04:50, 21 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Most, if not all of the ideas presented here are awful. Raul654 04:28, 21 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You were trolling in IRC, and you were kicked for it. You obviously didn't learn, because you came right back and did the same again. Thus, you were banned. The fact that other users and ops did not get involved is not evidence of a flaw in the system, it is evidence of the fact that your actions in the channel were inappropriate and that you were validly kicked. When a user is unjustifiably kicked in the channel, others are quick to chastise the op for abusing their powers. If the individual was unjustly banned, then another op will quickly remove the ban. If an op accesses thier powers with the obvious intention to kick a user, and other users object, they state thier objections. If a pattern towards this appears in a given op, then their op status is removed.
The simple fact is, that did not happen on the night in question. Why? Because others in the channel were annoyed by your actions, and supported the decision to kick you. Rather than creating vendetta pages on Meta, perhaps you should reconsider your actions and learn from them. Had I not kicked you, other ops would have. The simple reality of the situation is that I happened to be the one to do it. My op and admin records reveal, to those who have been around long enough to be aware of them, or who bother to check up on the people they're complaining about, an extremely patient and welcoming individual. Had you engaged in disruptive actions on Wikipedia similar to those you engaged in in the IRC channel, you would have been blocked. Had you returned from that block to taunt the administration and further disrupt the site, you would have been banned. It is simply a much shorter process in IRC than it is onsite, as IRC is real-time.
Finally, considering that private messages are, as the name suggests, private, you have no way of knowing who did and did not support my actions, or who I consulted before kicking/banning you. Many thanks to the individuals who were consulted and offered advice, and to those who initiated contact to offer thier opinions. -- Essjay · Talk 21:59, 22 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]