Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard/November 2016 - Statement on Healthy Community Culture, Inclusivity, and Safe Spaces

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Questions about the November 2016 - Statement on Healthy Community Culture, Inclusivity, and Safe Spaces[edit]

  • How do you reconcile "anyone can edit" with safe space? A bank vault that anyone could enter would not be a very safe space to keep your money. Just a question intended to be food for thought. -- Wbm1058 (talk) 21:26, 9 December 2016 (UTC)
Good question. Could Wikimedia Foundation Board elaborate on what they mean by "safe spaces"? Iadmc (talk) 23:30, 11 December 2016 (UTC)
  • There is some tension between being completely open and having a safe space, but I'd like to state loud and clear that Wikipedia is *not* a place where "anybody can edit". Rather it is a place where "anybody who follows our rules can edit". Harassment is expressly forbidden in the Terms of Use, and totally against en:Wikipedia's pillar of Civility. We should strive to be as open as possible, but part of that has be to remove those folks who try to deny, via harassment, the ability of other editors to participate. You can't have a truly open space without removing those who would deny others the benefits of the open space.
  • There was a request about a year ago, I believe by Lightbreather, to have a space set up on en:Wikipedia that would be used by women and their allies to be able to work out articles and possible policies without the harassment and provocations that women often get on en:Wikipedia. Though I appreciate the motivation, I don't think that could possibly work on Wikipedia because it would entail strictly limiting access by many Wikipedia editors. There are other ways to do it though, e.g. there are off-Wiki sites that I consider to be "safe spaces for harassers." There are no rules on Wikipedia that prohibit folks interacting on off-Wiki sites, and perhaps we can use that for our benefit as well.
  • Perhaps the WMF could set up a plug-and-play MediaWiki site for those groups of editors who believe they need a safer space to work things out among themselves. I believe techies might say something like "MediaWiki is already totally open and only takes a bit of knowledge and time to set up. Why can't the groups set it up themselves." I'll turn that around and say "There are a lot of non-techies who have problems being harassed on Wikipedia. If it is so simple to set up, couldn't Wiki techies come up with a simple version that will work on standard sites with almost no work?" The WMF's role would be only to accept applications from large on-Wiki groups (women, minorities, etc.), and then say - if you go to site x, they will charge you about $Y per month. Once you do that, let us know and we'll set up the site within a week." The goal of course would be to integrate new material back into Wikipedia, and let the groups themselves decide whether they need a safer site. I'd also be clear that if the new site is being used to harass other Wikipedians, any links to it from Wikipedia would be removed. Just a thought.
Smallbones (talk) 16:45, 12 December 2016 (UTC)
@Smallbones: Technically, "anyone can edit" simply by pressing "edit"; unless they are blocked, of course, but even then... (say no more, obviously), or the page they are trying to edit is protected above the level they have permissions for. That is precisely the problem.
Also, I assume you mean "safe spaces for the harassed" rather than "safe spaces for harassers"...? Good idea, though.
Your PnP Wiki is interesting, too.
Iadmc (talk) 17:20, 15 December 2016 (UTC)
Unfortunately there are "safe spaces for harassers" out there. There have rules that specify that if the owner of the site doesn't like what you write, they can kick you off. They then become echo chambers of self-selected harassers, trading tips, email addresses and the like. I won't give the names of these sites, but they are clearly out there. Smallbones (talk) 19:22, 15 December 2016 (UTC)
I haven't heard of such a site, unless you're talking about some Reddit sub-forums, or maybe 4chan? It would be helpful if you weren't so evasive about what you're referring to, @Smallbones:. - Thekohser (talk) 17:03, 20 December 2016 (UTC)
Reddit or 4-chan might qualify. The website you own certainly does. Stop harassing me. Smallbones (talk) 17:31, 20 December 2016 (UTC)
There's a great example of how a "safe space" policy can be corrupted by someone to claim "harassment" when none has taken place. For the record, the rules of the site that operates under the domain that I own do not mandate that the owner can "kick off" a member if what they write is not liked. The only provision that calls for a provisional ban discusses "threats of violence or comments of a violent nature". So, once again, Smallbones is lying about the site that I help to maintain -- a site that includes Wikipedia admins and even at least one Arbitration Committee member. We don't view ourselves as "self-selected harassers", so it is a disappointment that you've drawn that false and defamatory conclusion. - Thekohser (talk) 19:08, 20 December 2016 (UTC)

Another thing amusing to me is that I first came to this page on December 9 to leave a comment of support for Nemo's opinion. I made no mention of or reference to Smallbones. Then on December 12, Smallbones arrives. In short time, he makes an oblique insult about a website that I help maintain. Then he ignorantly blathers that he feels like I am harassing him! - Thekohser (talk) 17:47, 22 December 2016 (UTC)

Comments about the November 2016 - Statement on Healthy Community Culture, Inclusivity, and Safe Spaces[edit]

Long overdue[edit]

  • Endorse the actions taken by the Wikimedia Foundation Board in providing this mandate. Thank you for your leadership. And thank you to the people who have supported diversity as a necessary component of open source collaboration for so long without such a mandate. —Neotarf (talk) 17:29, 9 December 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse per Neotarf Smallbones (talk) 17:15, 12 December 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse per Neotarf also Iadmc (talk) 17:31, 15 December 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse and waiting... ... for further actions to complement this excellent statement. I commit myself to continue supporting openness and diversity, to eliminate -or at least point out and reduce as much as possible- harassment, to promote inclusivity and nurture a healthier culture of discourse and a safe environment for users, as I have been doing until today. I do expect, however, to see a focused strategy from Wikimedia Foundation to most of its actions and activities, openly put down and implemented. I expect that the values promoted by this excellent statement, will be translated in specific actions for each and every activity led or supported by Wikimedia Foundation. Waiting to hear from you WMF. --FocalPoint (talk) 14:37, 31 December 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse and hopeful When we chose the theme of "Inclusivity" for WikiConUSA/WikiConSoCal (aka WikiConference North America), we believed WMF was truly supportive of outreach and inclusivity. It has been a very tough 2016 discovering how alienating working with WMF and wikipedia volunteers can be. But Katherine Maher's keynote on Inclusivity and the partner organizations we are working with give us renewed hope that in 2017 we will see lots of new momentum. Here in WikiSoCal we are working to build extremely engaging, meaningful and inclusive volunteer programs. The first WikiConSoCal will be held Oct 6-9, 2017 in the incredible museum district of San Diego's Balboa Park - like a cultural Disneyland with 17 different museums and attractions. Everyone is invited - every age group, every ability level, every cultural background - and Codes of Conduct (with Safe Spaces) will be part of the public places we will be meeting. Please save the date and signup for the (off wiki) WikiSoCal meetup group if you want updates! We hope to see hundreds of volunteers (past, present and future) convening together to (re)connect, (re)build rapport and figure out how to build Open Knowledge volunteer projects filled with more kindness and consideration. We are striving to bring the outside perspectives from all over the world into engaging and meaningful stewardship of the knowledge online. We want to make it possible for anyone to participate without feeling that our time, energy, expertise and goodwill is being ignored or wasted. We in WikiSoCal are currently outsiders, amongst the alienated, hoping to resynchronize our shared missions sometime very soon. If you, reading this now, would like to encourage us, know more and share your insights, please let me know. DrMel (talk) 23:22, 1 January 2017 (UTC)

General comments about WMF[edit]

The worst harasser of users is WMF. --Nemo 20:48, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Nemo I think that you are right. File talk:Harassment Survey 2015 - Results Report.pdf --Ανώνυμος Βικιπαιδιστής (talk) 01:55, 11 January 2017 (UTC)
That has not been my experience. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 20:50, 8 December 2016 (UTC)
Ultimately the worst harassers on Wikipedia are those who see harassment and do nothing about it, or even support the harassers. Smallbones (talk) 15:44, 12 December 2016 (UTC) BTW, I'm not referring to Sydney or the WMF here. The WMF may be slow, but they are not ignoring the problem. Smallbones (talk) 18:50, 14 December 2016 (UTC)
Exactly Nemo. Sydney Poore/FloNight and Smallbones see here how we're being had by the Support and Safety Department: and it's not just ignoring, it's downright backing the harasser. Kalliope - the author of the report FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! - not only did not stop an offline harassment attack that happened before her eyes, the entire S&S team backed the user who harassed me (who happens to be sysop and a dozen other titles on the WM projects and Greek Wikipedia) and offered a ridiculous email of "consolation" to me in return (I've uploaded a screenshot to Commons: the Greek community challenged me to produce the decision and there was no public announcement after a "court-like procedure (sic) was applied. I had no choice but to disclose the email in screenshot format to prove that I did not make the wording up). Want to hear something even more outrageous??? Kalliope had the nerve to thank (!!!) the harasser (User:Geraki) for his input to production of the Harassment survey slideSHOW! (pun most certainly intended)--Saintfevrier (talk) 09:37, 11 January 2017 (UTC)

In a very real way, the Board of WMF trustees harasses the co-founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, every time it labels and promotes Jimmy Wales as "Wikipedia founder" or "the founder of Wikipedia". It's honestly a form of gaslight bullying against Dr. Sanger. I have numerous other things I could say about the culture of Wikipedia and about how the Safe Space policy is being used as a form of taunting, but I'd rather get a good night's sleep at this time. As I think about how VisualEditor was forced on our community, and I remember the Superprotect fiasco, I agree with Nemo, above. - Thekohser (talk) 04:06, 9 December 2016 (UTC)

I warned about this over two years ago when the arbitration committee declined the case the misnamed "Civility" case. At that time I said of the arbitration committee, " seems they lack the vision to see a way forward. The alternative is for the WMF to impose their own solution, and we have already seen their finesse in that area with Virtual Editor and Mediaviewer." It is extremely unsettling to read in this declined case an arbitrator state that contemptuous and disparaging terms for blacks, women, and LGBT people, "were being used for rhetoric purposes, for effect", and could not be regarded as demeaning.
Since that time, the most objectionable usability issues of the Media Viewer have been overcome, and the Visual Editor has gone from being a disaster to being an indispensable tool for getting newbies up to speed quickly, but no one has figured out how to align Wikipedia with the organizations it wants to partner with, that have 30-odd years of experience with Title IX and hostile workplace regulations. Maybe it is time for a formal re-evaluation of the composition and role of the arbitration committee. —Neotarf (talk) 19:04, 9 December 2016 (UTC)
As a personal opinion, and that is clearly all it is, maybe the optimal way to go here is to have either a page at each WMF entity, maybe if so desired redirects to a page on meta, where individuals can raise concerns and maybe get some attention from one or more WMF staff whose job includes dealing with such matters? That might ultimately be seen as being a second or third step in the process, but it might help resolve lasting problems and possibly systemic ones. John Carter (talk) 17:01, 14 December 2016 (UTC)
@John Carter: having a standard reporting system that everybody knows about would be a very good first step. It doesn't work to go to page x and write something up, only to be told to go to page y, repeat, now go to page z. That's the worst thing that could happen and I do think that it happens fairly often now. I don't think the initial report should necessarily be public, however. BTW, I'd recommend the first report under the current system should be an e-mail to the Community Engagement Department (I'll find the right name and e-mail in a bit - Maggie Dennis @Mdennis (WMF):).
I do think that in many cases of very low level harassment the regular procedures should be used, i.e. talk on article or user talk pages, contact an admin, perhaps even ANI and ArbCom (with some reservations).
I would recommend that a new procedure be set up to
  • Send a report by email to a trained academic or professional (I'll call them TAP) employed by WMF
  • TAP could advise on the proper resources (on-Wiki and off) for the reporter to use
  • TAP could contact the alleged harasser and help work out a solution, or just let the harasser know that there is a problem and what might happen if it continues.
  • TAP could work with the Community Affairs Dept, and ArbCom as a fact gatherer/neutral observer in cases where WMF office actions or ArbCom actions are foreseen.
  • (for discussion only at this point) TAP could take emergency actions, where needed for temporary blocking of accounts, interaction bans, etc. This might be controversial given that TAP should be a neutral observer and dispenser of info most of the time. But some cases will be obvious, some need quick action, and the last thing we want to do is tell somebody who reports harassment is "Thanks for reporting this, but there's nothing I can do directly. You need to try processes x, y, and z which will take you 6 months on average."
  • Being a trained academic or professional, TAP should come up with their own set of procedures (to be approved by the Executive Director), and train WMF staff and communities how effective harassment prevention works.
Smallbones (talk) 18:37, 14 December 2016 (UTC)
Every time you have a conversation with WMF staff about harassment, it seems very evident there are a number of WMF employees who do not know what a standard harassment training for new hires looks like, and that this is not part of the WMF onboarding for new people. Much of what has been proposed to combat harassment is long term, and depends on long budget cycles, but staff training could happen now without waiting for community consultation. Lila answered this back in June 2015.[1] It looks like she did intend to budget for this, and she probably did so. —Neotarf (talk) 02:52, 29 January 2017 (UTC)

General comments about harassment and safe spaces[edit]

It's taken a while for me to understand the reason for all this "safe space" stuff. I think it's tied to the phenomenon of "social media". As I'm not generally an early adopter of that, still using a 2G phone and having never signed up for Facebook or Twitter, it's a bit of an unfamiliar issue. The cover story of the November 7 issue of Time on teen depression and anxiety lends some insight. I'd hate to think there might be girls feeling the need to cut their wrists because of their Wikipedia experiences. I've experienced just a tiny bit of this (see the message posted on my talk page when I requested to become an administrator. It's not hard to imagine the effect of this on someone who receives messages like this on a regular basis. It was suggested here that this initiative was based on a flawed survey. I think comparing this to scientific surveys such as presidential election polls misses the point. You survey to determine whether the problem exists. As long as the problem exists, you should try solutions to address it. Even if your survey finds only one percent of users are effected, that would still be one percent too many. Wbm1058 (talk) 20:21, 9 December 2016 (UTC)

There are several related reasons why this may have come up now. Certainly there have been many media stories on harassment on social media, so the WMF probably realized that what they were hearing last year about Wikipedia was not an aberration or just a few complainers. Even Melania Trump has stated that social media harassment prevention will be a priority issue during her time a US First Lady. There are related issues including the likelihood that there are state sponsored groups that go around harassing people, planting false stories, and even trying to influence other countries' elections. See, e.g. Trolls from Olgino on en:Wiki.
re:"Even if your survey finds only one percent of users" I'd guess (and it's just a guess) that it might be 20% of our editors have a serious problem with this about 20% of the time. That's serious enough for a large scale serious response. But it might also affect something like 30%-60% of our potential articles (again just a guess). That's systematic bias inserted by exactly the wrong people, and something that we obviously have to address. Smallbones (talk) 17:35, 12 December 2016 (UTC)

Claim about 70% of women being harassed fails verification[edit]

In this statement, the Wikimedia Foundation claims 70% of women on the Internet have experienced harassment. Supporting this is a citation to a Pew study, but I have found no evidence within the study of the 70% figure. Looking through every page, there doesn't appear to be any figure even representing a close approximation of that claim. Not to mention, on the final page of the study it seems to indicate that there were more men in their sample that experienced harassment than women. Among young adults ages 18-24 there were more women who experienced harassment, but this was a very slight amount. Only occurrences of a 70% figure in the study do not refer to gender. It could be the mistake is because 70% of young adults ages 18-24 are said to experience harassment in a paragraph about young adults, which is right above the paragraph for young women. I don't see how any reading of the numbers supports the claim about 70% of women experiencing harassment online. Unless the Foundation cited the wrong study and didn't notice, it would appear this figure is an error.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 07:12, 24 December 2016 (UTC)

Thank you for pointing this out, TDA. I note that this is not the first time that the Wikimedia Foundation has attempted to bolster a policy action by using false information as a crutch. I don't understand why a charity that hopes to spread "knowledge" does this so frequently. - Thekohser (talk) 15:01, 1 January 2017 (UTC)

While this change by User:GVarnum-WMF does correct the error it also adds a new source that is a bit of a problem. The Pew study was a scientific survey carried out by a respected non-profit organization, but this new source is a survey exclusively targeting women done by a marketing firm that was commissioned by an Internet security company and seemingly timed for release on International Women's Day for extra publicity. It is not something to be put on the same level as the Pew study even if we could examine the differences in methodology (we can't) and the obvious promotional nature makes it of questionable reliability. Seems to me this is being used just because, in combination with the Pew study, it suggests women receive disproportionately greater harassment as opposed to the nearly equal or disproportionately lower levels the Pew study shows. I would also note it is not regional data. The Pew study looks at Americans, while the Norton survey looks at Australians.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 00:49, 11 January 2017 (UTC)

I don't see any basis for objecting to this report. Linking to two YouTubes that say basically that a press release *is a commercial* and *a commercial is a lie*? Not at all. Not the same thing. Organizations--governmental, non-governmental and commercial--put out press releases all the time, and simply having a press release is not a sign of veracity. Likewise, a report is not invalidated just because it is released on a particular day. Special days, whether International Women's Day, World Malaria Day, or Banned Books Week are simply to raise awareness for a particular neglected subject, and have nothing to do with the reliability of a study. If you regard a topic as important, why would you not release it on a day that might give it more publicity? And if the study wanted to find out about women, why on earth would they not interview women? And why object based on the nationalities involved? The Wikimedia movement is global. For more on this particular study, the Guardian had a piece on it a while back.[1]
One way of judging a study is by whether it is repeatable. As we start to see more and more studies on this topic, some patterns start to emerge. One that I have noted is that women are subjected to more toxic forms of harassment.[2][3] Another interesting thing came out in a more recent survey, is that men and women define harassment differently.[4] So when you are trying to measure harassment, whose definition do you use? If anything, I would say that based on my own experience and observations, these numbers are way low, because of survivor bias.
But all of this is horseshoes and hand grenades: the board is not concerned with a lot of nuance about classification of harassment, they only want to know if it is harming their business model. Clearly, it is. —Neotarf (talk) 01:38, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
The YouTube videos are meant for levity. It is self-evident the press release is a promotional effort and the survey is done by a marketing firm. Nothing about such a survey screams "reliable study" because it is used for the sole purpose of advertising the company's services or showing how they're a good and humanitarian company. The Guardian is not a scholarly publication, but an openly partisan outlet and partisan media outlets will report anything that supports their ideology even if it has no academic validity or just because it gets them clicks. Never mind none of that changes the fact it doesn't even include men in the survey so comparing the figures in that survey to the Pew study is extremely deceptive.
While that Data Society report is more credible, the group seems based on its staff and donors to have a more progressive or feminist slant to it. This seems to show in the subjective statement about "more serious harassment" being experienced by women that you cite, although they too suggest no difference in how many men and women experience harassment unlike the current Foundation statement. Lastly, citing that ridiculous "cyber violence" report that has been rejected by pretty much everyone for good reason does not help. I have a problem with the attempt to distort the subject by constantly trying to make it a women's issue as opposed to just an everyone issue as the research indicates. When you dedicate your focus to one group, the group not getting the focus tends to suffer for it. Really, it feels as if the WMF does this so they look good on the gender gap and less because they care about the underlying problem as a whole.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 05:11, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
So you're trying to make a point about the clickbait manipulative properties of press releases by linking to an article about a press release from Entertainment Software Association? That's pretty funny, TDA. As the article you link to points out, in 2015 the U.N. took their report offline for two weeks to update the footnotes. The current report is the updated one. And the report you object to because it interviewed women was a followup to a previous report that interviewed men. Since you seem to be interested in the gaming industry, though, you may also be interested in a more recent research report “Acting like a Tough Guy: Violent-Sexist Video Games, Identification with Game Characters, Masculine Beliefs, & Empathy for Female Violence Victims” and related topics on google scholar.
The most serious research statistic may turn out to be not how many people experience harassment, but how many people witness it, because it gives permission for other people to do the same thing, and creates a toxic buzzsaw culture that is very hard to turn around. I don't think the WMF "looks good" on the gender gap at all, in fact they have had several years of very negative publicity, but it is to their credit that they are taking steps to turn it around, and model that for the rest of the industry.
For those who still aren't sure about the idea of inclusion, there isn't really much I can say, except to point to the ED's October 2016 speech on Privacy and Harassment on the Internet, which I highly recommend. I would also point to recent research by Andrea Forte et al that is specifically about Wikipedia: “Privacy, Anonymity, and Perceived Risk in Open Collaboration: A Study of Tor Users and Wikipedians”. (Business Insider article with text, and Wikimedia Research Showcase on YouTube, which for some reason is blocked by a spam filter https://youtu(DOT)be/nmrlu5qTgyA?t=1978 , also a transcript on my blog). It is a shame that users cannot discuss a topic that is of such critical importance to Wikipedia openly, but have to do it anonymously through a survey. —Neotarf (talk) 20:28, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
I certainly considered what you said about the "Cyber-violence report" before I posted that, which is why I had already looked over the citations before posting it and saw the exact same issues remain. That could be the old version, it could be that their fixes were woefully inadequate, or it could just be that they never did get around to fixing the report. Also, that Ars Technica piece is plainly about more than the ESA press release, so please don't engage in such transparently dishonest attacks. My issues with that cyberviolence report, I would like to add, are entirely due to its embarrassingly terrible scholarship rather than who they interviewed for it as well as some of its rather Orwellian suggestions. Nothing else you said really has anything to do with the topic of the Foundation's continuing misrepresentation of research on online harassment, but I will say Maher's speech is a perfect example of the problem I see with how harassment is being made into a gender issue on Wikipedia. At no point in her speech does she ever say men get this same treatment or that it can affect all editors. Men are not mentioned in any respect at all, even though it was not a gender-focused event.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 01:04, 17 January 2017 (UTC)
Not really, TDA, I don't see any duplicate footnotes or referencing to "Wikipedia", and the old report is now a dead link. You can hardly expect a United Nations report to be tailored to please a video game trade association. —Neotarf (talk) 02:52, 29 January 2017 (UTC)
I can only presume you haven't read any of the criticism of that awful report, even though I linked some right here such as the Medium piece analyzing the citations. Not a single issue identified is fixed in the link you provided. All the same issues remain. Period.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 06:35, 29 January 2017 (UTC)


So what?[edit]

This is a well-meaning statement. As has been pointed out, Wikipedia remains open to harassers of all stripes. I'd like to know what thought the legal department has given to investigating and filing charges against long-term abusers. Out of all the vandals there are a number of persons who continually disrupt Wikipedia no matter how many times we block their sockpuppets. Many of these ne'er-do-wells repeatedly attack the editors and admins they blame for Wikipedia enforcing rules against bad conduct. I'm guessing that a few well-publicized prosecutions against these vandals would send a message. So, at what point will WMF put some spine behind its words? Chris Troutman (talk) 02:28, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Dead link[edit]

The reference to the 2016 study is now a dead link. Suggest replacing or updating with this internet archive link: here. @GVarnum-WMF and Qgil-WMF: as still-active contributors/employees who edited the document. Carcharoth (talk) 15:26, 3 July 2019 (UTC)

Sure replaced. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:15, 3 July 2019 (UTC)