Talk:Oversight policy/Archives/2009

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Warning! Please do not post any new comments on this page. This is a discussion archive first created in 2009, although the comments contained were likely posted before and after this date. See current discussion or the archives index.

Update for username hiding

The following discussion is closed: implemented.

The new suppression features include the ability to hide usernames when blocking, which has already been extensively used to hide attack names like "Joe Smith rapes and murders babies". Unlike revision oversighting, hiding names with no associated edits causes no disruption of edit histories or transparency. However, this is not technically permitted by the oversight policy, which arguably includes blockhiding.

I see no drawback to the disappearance of one-off attacks like "Billy Joe sucks Grawp's greasy microcock in his parents' basement", and various benefits like reduced motivation to create them in the first place and the removal of an attack vector that can have no positive effect on the target's enjoyment of the wiki environment. Furthermore, hiding usernames can be easily reviewed and reverted by anyone with the relevant rights.

If there are no objections, I will talk to the appropriate Foundation people about adding something to this effect:

  • Hiding of blatant attack names on automated lists and logs, where this does not disrupt edit histories.

Pathoschild 02:27:03, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

  • I agree with this idea. No problems, and attack names really don't need to be in the logs when they're talking about a Wiki*edian. GrooveDog 02:30, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Makes perfect sense to me. We've had this issue for the longest time on enwiki. Also, your second example made me spit Red Bull over my laptop! - Alison 02:38, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Full support - for both hiding with CentralAuth and hiding with hideuser blocks. There's no need to have attack accounts in user lists etc, and every reason not to.  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 03:07, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Support - Per Pathoschild's and Mike.lifeguard's rationale. There is no point to have insulting-attacking-denigrating, etc usernames on that lists. Thanks —Dferg 22:02, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Conceptually I have no issue with the suggestion, and see that it adds value, I think that the principle needs to be a little clearer. Attack names? Attack Jones, Stab stab stab, ... I would be interested in how it would be managed, locally vs. centrally, to whom would the power would be given, and the criteria that could be used to where the the black lines is to defining an attack username, or start to have double entendre, etc. Means for determining edit history? If someone just had reverted edits, or undone edits, what then? BTW whose parents' the statement is ambiguous ;-) billinghurst 03:40, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
    to follow an IRC conversation the component needed is probably something like ... 'attack' can be interpreted fairly broadly, to mean a username clearly intended to denigrate, threaten, libel, or insult someone (be they Wikimedians or real identities) —billinghurst 04:07, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
    Sounds good to me. —Pathoschild 04:14:16, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
  • I've no problem with this. Good idea. Pmlineditor  10:40, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Really all you need to say is the username breaks the already existing 3 elligable reasons for oversight. -Djsasso 12:48, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Support this enhancement/clarification. ++Lar: t/c 14:27, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Complete Support. I support hiding the vile attack usernames, and I support clarifying the policy so that everyone understands that it is permitted. FloNight 14:45, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Can we have some clarity as to what "where this does not disrupt edit histories" entails?? Naturally accounts with no contributions would be elegible, but what would happen (both technically and socially) when an account has made edits? How would the nature of the edits (revertible vandalism or constructive editing) affect this clause? Happymelon 15:16, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
    Mailer Diablo approves this message! I presume this means for usernames with no contributions. Happy-melon raises a good point about usernames with contributions, which we anticipate a possible loophole vandals might take advantage of (by just making one edit). - 15:26, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
    Accounts with edits will only disrupt edit histories if they have contributed part of the article that was kept in later revisions. Hiding the name will disrupt edit histories, because portions of the content will be from unknown accounts (we won't even know if they're from the same account). In those cases, we'd need to go the old route of renaming the account to something that doesn't contain the attack. This is a very rare situation, requiring that nobody notice the registration and that other users then make legitimate edits to the same articles the abusive user edited before they're reverted. —Pathoschild 21:39:31, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
    In virtually every instance, the edits coming from these accounts are stuff that everyone would glad to see gone, right? So I don't see an issue. The edits most likely will already be removed one way or another when the username is hidden, right? So socially, I think people will be happy that the stuff is gone. And if the vandal decides to play games with us and adds sensible stuff with an vandal attack account name, then that is still an attack and needs to be dealt with. If there are questions about this from the Community, then we can explain the situation. Most people are understanding and appreciative when someone explains to them what is going on with these nasty vandals. FloNight 15:34, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
    I must be circumspect, but suffice to say that there are people who are already "playing games" with Oversight, and will continue to do. The implications of this clause (and all the other clauses in the proposal) need to be fully expanded to ensure that everyone is on the same wavelength and that there are no grey areas that can (and will) be exploited. What will happen in the scenario where a user registers an attack username and makes constructive edits with it? Happymelon 17:01, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
    The edits could be reverted, or the account could be renamed so neither reversion nor hiding are necessary. (See also my above response, if you missed it.) —Pathoschild 18:09:01, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Support the upgrade. Some Chinese wikis have usernames insulting someone. They have yet to be hidden from the public view.--Jusjih 20:58, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
  • support, I'm surprised it's not already the case. DarkoNeko 22:47, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Full support names like these are pure harassment and vandalism and I can't think of a single legit reason to keep them showing even if they DID do a vandlistic edit or two before being locked. 22:48, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Some weeks ago I've created a proposal on to let the oversight policy be rewritten by WMF esp. concerning hiding user names. If Pathoschild can make conversation with the Foundation, it could be much easier to fulfil our wishes than with the proposal. You might mention the other issues, too. Kind regads, —DerHexer (Talk) 01:35, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Well, either way I'm in favor of Pathoschild's suggestion. --Erwin 08:53, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Surely a good idea. Barras 17:26, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose as written because it is not broad enough. The Stewards, and some enwiki oversighters, are currently hiding user names that are not only attacks on users, but also merely mild harassment, or even generic user names that attack no specific person. Some hypothetical user names that are being hidden are,

    • Billy Joe sucks Grawp's greasy microcock in his parents' basement
    • Billy Joe did WTC
    • Billy Joe abuses his admin status
    • Wikipedia admins suck

    The current use of HideUser is much broader than the proposed statement. (Also, if a vandal account has contributions, hiding the user name in logs also hides the user name on the history pages where it had contributions, but the contributions themselves remain in the history unless they are separately suppressed, so a conditional statement about contribution histories is not needed.) To reflect reality, the statement should read,

    • Hiding of vandal user names on automated lists and logs, whether due to vulgarity, harassment of project editors or attacks on the project in general

    Thatcher 17:42, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

    The whole point of this (as I see it, at least) is to draw a clear line. The examples you mention would fall on the wrong side of it, and would thus be excluded, which would be a good thing. Equally, the cases you and I agree should be covered would be, which is also a good thing. I'm not sure why your comments begin with "oppose" because everything after that actually supports drawing this line.  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 18:34, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
    Certainly, we both agree that aggressively vulgar and hostile user names should be suppressed, and it is worthwhile to expand the policy to cover that. The question is, will the stewards stop hiding user names that are only mildly annoying and harassing like "Wikipedia admins suck" and "Thatcher is a moron" and "User Thatcher is really fat" (you suppressed this one on Aug 20) if the policy is changed? If the stewards are going to continue to hide user names that are mildly annoying or harassing, then the written policy should not say "blatant attack names" which is more narrow than current practice. Or maybe the real problem is what is the definition of a "blatant attack." Thatcher 19:18, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
    If I did, then it was a mistake & should be fixed. When working at a rate of something like 1 attack username per 20s (which is probably average for such attacks), even I make mistakes (part of the reason we need more stewards and/or Global sysops). The question of whether stewards will "continue" should be asked in that light: Having a clear line would stop things from being hidden which shouldn't be with the obvious exception that people are people and thus make mistakes, as I have done in the case you mention. Such mistakes can and should be corrected wherever possible (thankfully these things are reversible, unlike old-school oversight).  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 20:56, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
    Hello Thatcher. Billinghurst raised a similar point, and after discussion we decided that an expanded version like the following would draw a clearer line. What do you think of this more specific version, which does define 'attack'?
    • Hiding of blatant attack names on automated lists and logs, where this does not disrupt edit histories. Blatant attack can be interpreted as obviously intended to denigrate, threaten, libel, insult, or harass someone.
    The disruption of edit histories does need mention; see the above discussion about it. —Pathoschild 21:40:43, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
    I suppose then my issue is with the word blatant. "User:Thatcher is a moron" is a direct attack on me, but is barely a raspberry, much less a pointed stick, and does not really deserve to be smashed with a 16-ton weight. If that is the sort of attack you mean to be suppressible, it might be better to dispense with qualifying adjective that can be interpreted differently and just say, Vandal user names, including those that attack or harass other editors, may be hidden on request. Is there such a thing as a mild or petty attack user name that would not be suppressed? Looking over the discussion I find I am in agreement with Happy melon that there needs to be more exploration of the term "blatant." It is not clear to me whether this proposed wording change is meant to expand the policy to allow all the suppressions that have been done recently, or to expand the policy partially but also to partially restrict current behavior. Thatcher 04:01, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
    The update is not meant to justify or limit past usage, but to define future usage. The term blatant distinguishes names that are obviously harassment from those that merely fit a pattern or belong to a vandal known to harass users. It does not indicate severity.
    It seems your concern is that the bounds of severity are undefined. What level of harassment and attacks do you consider acceptable? —Pathoschild 01:44:38, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
    I want you to define the bounds of severity. I'm not trying to change the policy, you are. The past policy said only that edits which revealed personal information or libel were suppressible. So "Thatcher is a pedophile" is suppressible under the old policy but "Thatcher is an asshole", "Thatcher takes it up the ass" and "Thatcher picks his nose" are not suppressible, even though they are all clearly intended to attack, harass or annoy Thatcher. Recently on Wikipedia someone suppressed en:User:ZSCOUT370 is NAPOLEON DYNAMITE which, while probably intended to annoy or harass, could not remotely be considered personal information or libel. Also suppressed was en:User:Zscout370, there's no point in blocking these unused accounts, which is just plain trolling (and 4 years old at that). Someone also suppressed en:User:Baby covered in semen, which is not an attack on any user. If it is your intention to allow suppression of any user name that is intended to harass, annoy, irritate, or troll another user, as well as user names that are offensive without attacking a specific user, then say so. Vandal user names, including but not limited to those that attack, harass or annoy other editors, may be hidden on request. Thatcher 14:22, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

    (For reference, the current wording is "Hiding of blatant attack names on automated lists and logs, where this does not disrupt edit histories. A blatant attack is one obviously intended to denigrate, threaten, libel, insult, or harass someone".)

    As I previously explained, the wording already addresses this. Only names which blatantly attack someone could be hidden; for example, "Thatcher is an asshole" is an attack. Neither "Zscout370, there's no point in blocking these unused accounts" nor "Baby covered in semen" are blatant attacks; they do not "denigrate, threaten, libel, insult, or harass someone". Is your specific concern with the inclusion of the word harass? I don't equate trolling with harassment, but it can certainly be changed if it's ambiguous. —Pathoschild 22:44:23, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

    You've changed the policy without discussion to include a criterion allowing any username to be hidden, so I assume you no longer mind the more restrictive criterion discussed here. —Pathoschild 01:54:05, 02 November 2009 (UTC)
    <--I object to using suppression so broadly. But I also respect and accept consensus. Username suppression is currently being used in the manner I have described. The accounts I named above ("Baby covered in semen", "Zscout370, there's no point in blocking these unused accounts"), are suppressed, even though they do not meet your definition of an attack. Shall I make my point by showing you all the user names that have been suppressed by yourself, other stewards, and enwiki oversighters, that do not meet your definition of blatant attack, given above? We also have bureaucrats doing mass renames of vandal accounts to "Renamed user XXX" and then asking for the rename log to be suppressed. (If a name is not suppressible then neither is the rename log entry, and vice versa.) It is obvious to me that the consensus among people who actually have access to this function is that broadly suppressing vandal user names is acceptable. You may revert the policy or change the wording any way you want, but if you make the policy more restrictive than my broad version, then someone will have to ride herd on the dozens of people who are currently using this tool in a more liberal manner. Are you prepared to enforce the policy you wish to set? Thatcher 18:29, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
    Yes; this policy is strictly enforced. Previous steward usage was more liberal only because it was not clear whether the oversight policy applied to blockhiding; stewards stopped suppressing names before this discussion even began, until a policy is defined. Users who deliberately violate this policy will lose their access as described in the Removal of access section. —Pathoschild 20:07:52, 02 November 2009 (UTC)
I was confused because the standard you proposed is more restrictive than your own recent practice. Of the last 100 suppressions recorded in the enwiki suppression log, for example, less than half meet the standard you have proposed, by my estimate. (I do not mean to single you out as many other oversighters are currently using a very liberal standard, you are the one who raised the issue.) When I originally noted my opposition because the current practice is much more liberal than the proposed new standard, it would have been so much simpler if you had said "Previous steward usage was more liberal only because it was not clear whether the oversight policy applied to blockhiding; stewards stopped suppressing names before this discussion even began, until a policy is defined" because then I would have better understood the purpose of the proposal. Or, when I pointed out "Baby covered in semen" and "Zscout370, there's no point in blocking these unused accounts", if you had said, "Those may have been suppressed but we are having second thoughts, that what this discussion is about," then I would have understood where you were coming from. I have not understood your purpose until now. A policy of hiding attack accounts, where attack means "harass and annoy registered contributors" (along with revealing personal info, which is already covered, of course) is very close to what I have been suggesting for some time on enwiki, and I can certainly live with the small difference in scope. Thatcher 20:34, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
My understanding is this is a collective "Whoops, we shouldn't be so liberal". Do you want past suppressions undone if they don't fall under the standard discussed above?  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 20:43, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
That is a lower priority for me than getting our ducks in order going forward. There are a lot more useful things we could be doing with our time. I would not object to people reversing the suppressions but I would not volunteer to do it either, unless there was a strong demand for it. Thatcher 20:52, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

After discussing with Cary (Volunteer Coordinator), I've updated the policy accordingly. —Pathoschild 00:14:57, 04 November 2009 (UTC)

I'm content with that. Thatcher 02:07, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Criterion #2

The following discussion is closed: Implemented

At present criterion #2 states that oversight/suppression is possible "when the subject has specifically asked for the information to be removed from the history, the case is clear, and there is no editorial reason to keep the revision".

It has been the practice for a long time, that potentially libelous information is removed on sight. The majority of potentially libelous material seems to be removed without a formal request from the subject, who in most cases may not even be aware at the time.

This has been the case long enough that it doesn't seem contentious - if there's likely or clearly libelous material then at present, any user routinely requests oversight, and any oversighter will remove it (or may remove it unasked), without waiting to see if the subject will make a "specific request".

This policy wording seems out of sync with accepted practice. The latter seems the better of the two; the wording seems to restrict and contradict best practice which is that as a community, potentially libelous material should be removed quickly, without waiting for a formal complaint by the subject a month down the line. Would people feel okay asking the Foundation to amend it as follows:

2. Removal of potentially libellous information either: a) on the advice of Wikimedia Foundation counsel or b) when the subject has specifically asked for the information to be removed from the history, the case is clear, and there is no editorial reason to keep the revision.

Note this does not change the criteria for oversighting; it just means we don't have to wait for a "specific request" by the subject, to do so. FT2 (Talk | email) 17:03, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

  • This change would be more like the real world is. I guess there are some users who don't know about oversight and are unhappy to see this. But without request can't the oversighters do anything. This would surely be a good change. Furthermore, I think that it is from time to time the case that such libel info get removed without request. At all, I think this is a good change. I would be happy to see a change this way. --Barras 17:26, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Support Support -- Avi 17:30, 5 November 2009 (UTC) (EnWiki OS)
  • I've actually been thinking about that statement for a long time, as usual the policies lag behind the reality and we should bring them in line or enforce what we have. Similar to the above discussion about hideuser the status quo makes the most sense, it would be silly to leave blatantly libelous statements on the wiki for what could amount to hours,days or longer. It should be removed as soon as possible. There is no reason for most of our oversighters to basically be braking the policies on a regular basis by doing what is right: Support Support change as stated above to bring in line with already common,understood process. Jamesofur 18:14, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
  • This what I've been doing all along. I know libel when I see it, negative accusations unsupported by any reliable source, and think Mike Godwin has enough work to do. Fred Bauder 18:32, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
  • I would support this. Especially since most oversighters I see do this already anyways. -Djsasso 19:51, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Yeah, this one is really clearly a case of the page lagging behind the practice. I doubt anyone sane would advocate leaving libel that's been found until the subject requests removal.  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 03:35, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Support, it just good common sense.--Peterdownunder 11:59, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Might there be a better description than "potentially libellous"? We have a problem translating it into german language. Does this mean insulting or´defamatory? (I have to add that, in de-WP, we take the policy very serious and I don't oversight things that are not asked for by the subject.)--Sargoth 12:45, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
+ --Nolispanmo 12:54, 6 November 2009 (UTC) [support for above comment [1]]
Sargoth: I think insulting or defamatory is a good way to say it (especially defamatory) the wiktionary definition may help Jamesofur 18:39, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
  • supportDerHexer (Talk) 18:42, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
  • support --Complex 20:03, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
  • support --Nolispanmo 21:38, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
  • supportYourEyesOnly 16:27, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
  • per the arguments above, support. --თოგო (D) 17:42, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Support - per above. Potentially libelous information or defamation towards somebody should be removed without waiting for a request. Thanks, —Dferg (disputatio) 18:24, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Support - --Lucien leGrey (m · es) 22:15, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

How will this go on now? Since two weeks nobody added a statement; all added statements support the change. Who will or is able to decide that? Kind regards, —DerHexer (Talk) 11:26, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

I think someone need to contact the board. --Barras 14:46, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
I contacted Cary to see what the next step should be. I'm sure there is a board email but for some reason I couldn't find it right away... I'm sure he'll be able to point me the right direction. Jamesofur 15:30, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Comment Comment This is a useful change to the policy and I can attest that would be no objection from the foundation. bastique demandez! 22:33, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

<- Given the unanimous support above, lack of discussion for the past couple weeks and Cary's statement I went ahead and made the change [here] Jamesofur 22:45, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Good work, J. Chiming in late, but I support this change, it's what I've been doing all along anyway. Thanks everyone. ++Lar: t/c 12:44, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Ditto. -- Avi 16:33, 1 December 2009 (UTC)