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RFC: Urgent review of Arabic Wikipedia state of affairs and administration
This is an RFC for urgent review of the way the Arabic Wikipedia is being run from content, policy and administration perspectives. The state of the Wiki is in an utter mess, with no more than three users forming a cartel around what is supposed to be a credible, open and neutral community effort.
This is a discussion of what is really the seriously worrying state of the Arabic WikiPedia, with a background case and recent interactions. I call here for the global stewards to intervene and the matter to be escalated appropriately to the board of trustees, if need be.
The current state of the Arabic Wikipedia ويكيبيديا العربية raises serious questions and concerns in a number of areas. Below is a summary:
- Every single edit, to most any article, is filtered: this is irrespective of the editor's contributions or reputation. More seriously, approvals are monopolised by two admins who are in complete cahoot with each other (more on this next)
- Administrative abuse: two users, namely سامي_الرحيلي and باسم across the entire ويكيبيديا العربية dominate not only the pages but also more seriously drive the Wikipedia to their own agenda, irrespective of consensus or evidence. This has in a recent interaction of mine lead to a major conflict, which was simply not resolved, even when escalated. This is one example Ahmed Al-Alousi Discussion relating to recovery of عبد الرحمن الآلوسي (Entry 63). False reasons were sighted for the deletion and refusal to recover the page, on top of retaliatory bans in front of hard evidence to the contrary. Another example of such open and arrogant abuse can be found here
- Suspect acquisition of sysop privileges: at lease one of the above mentioned sysops, namely سامي_الرحيلي has been credited with over 3,000 edits 'all of which' are due to direct robotic translation of English Wikipedia articles into stem articles in the Arabic Wiki.
- Monopoly: the two sysadmins سامي_الرحيلي and باسم as well as another have developed a cartel, effectively running the Arabic Wikipedia and preventing others from contributing material which does not meet with their approval, irrespective of quality or authority. When questioned, their response are dogmatic and hide behind supposed policies. The review page of the Arabic Wikipedia has become nothing short of a junk yard.
- Escalation: despite directly escalating this matter, it never got reviewed or even had any feedback given as to what was going on. Repeated chasing of the matting fell on deaf ears.
Below is a sample of the first escalation:
From: Dr. Ahmed Al-Alousi <email@example.com>
Date: 7 May 2016 at 23:54
Subject: Major dispute with Arabic Wikepedia Admins and request for arbitration
I trust this message finds you well.
I need to bring up matter of the utmost importance regarding behaviour of the admins community on the Arabic version of Wikipedia.
Flagrant abuse of privileges by certain admin and editing individuals are guaranteeing monopoly and fervour, resulting in both poor content and utter bias. This is backed up by supporting evidence.
Attempts to resolve matters peacefully have failed, culminating in my exclusion and ban from the pages, having been a member since 2009. Discussions on the Wikipedia pages went in vicious cycle, with the involved individuals simply ignoring any counter arguments, instead resorting to their (misplaced) admin privileges to enforce a ban.
I should be extremely grateful for your assistance in bringing this matter to arbitration and to the attention of the board of trustees, if necessary, for a binding resolution.
I would like the opportunity to lay my evidence, arguments and grievance bare in front of a neutral panel, versus the dogmatic, biased and highly suspect Arabic Wikipedia admin "community". The admins concerned go by the name of "سامي_الرحيلي" and "باسم".
I wish to call their evidence and conduct in the matter of the deletion and restoration of "عبد الرحمن الآلوسي"'s page into question, in an arbitration forum. Needless to say, I would also like my full access to the Arabic Wikipedia restored, as well as those particular admins' wider behaviour and admin privileges to be be brought into scrutiny, with a view to having these privileges removed. This is mainly due to repeated flagrant abuses not only against my person, but also the wider other and an alarming pattern of acting on suspect feedback from editors - "Mohammed hajeer" in my case.
Ahmed (Ph.D., M.Phil, B.Sc.(hons), MIET, MBCS)
And here is the first response, with subsequent e-mails simply going unanswered:
James Alexander <firstname.lastname@example.org>
to Patrick, me
Apologies for us not getting back to you sooner, it was the weekend here. We're reviewing the complaint you sent earlier and will get back to you as soon as we can with our thoughts and further steps. I should also let you know, early on, that in general we don't usually get directly involved in on-wiki issues (even when they're bad) because the community as a whole is often the best to handle them. Because of that our first recommendation, if local process is not working (which is the first step), is usually to open a Request for Comment on Meta-Wiki where the global Wikimedia community is able to discuss the concerns and try to help come to a resolution (including the ability of the global Stewards to enforce that resolution).
That said, we will indeed still review and get back to you as soon as possible.
I've dropped Katy, Sarah and Maggie (whose on vacation) to BCC to save their mailbox. Patrick (copied in) and I are from the Support & Safety team and will review it internally.
Trust & Safety
The above background casts a shadow not only on the Arabic Wikipedia, but also upon the very foundations upon which this project and whole effort. Namely:
- Anti-democracy and monopolistic practices: besides this being a contradiction in terms, i.e. Wikipedia being and open and inclusive community effort, the lack of governance and seeming unwillingness of the trustees is taking the Arabic Wikipedia in a harmful and discriminatory direction. The ability of such an alarmingly low number of people (three, to be exact), to cease the platform and drive it to their own means and agenda cannot be acceptable practice by any means
- Low quality, biased content: the predominant feature of the Arabic Wikipedia is that of very low quality content. The point mentioned above about monopoly is ensuring that quality remains low for the foreseeable future
- No drive for change: with the advent of these practices, the project is now deadlocked in a situation where there is no drive for change
- Suspect credibility: of both information, administration and stewardship
- Governance: there doesn't appear to be a drive here for governance to be applied to the Arabic Wikipedia, inline with other locales, such as English. The interaction sighted above in Background section above is one example
- Retaliatory actions: in a typical manifestation of bullying and dictatorial practices, the manner in which admins are treating those with different, even opposing view has lead many editors to seek to appease the administration or not to complain in the first place. In my particular case, the escalating row saw me being banned without citation of valid reasons, and the ban being increased in a flagrant abuse of administrative trust. As I write these lines, I remain curious as to what sort of retaliation this RFC is going to get me and, given the seeming lack of willingness of the global trustees to intervene, where all of this is going to lead. It is really anybody's guess what the wider implications for Wikipedia and the community at large really are
- Concerns raised herein are not only voiced by myself, but numerous others. That said, there is a collective and conspiring effort to conceal such concerns and active attempts to somehow differentiate the Arabic Wikipedia in terms of policies from other Wikipedia project. One such concern can be seen here and here If this is the general consensus of the trustees, then the public has a right to know and for the these practices to be fully disclosed to the Internet citizenship, so that appropriate struggle and decent against these practices can gather force.
Conclusion and call
To conclude, I propose the following actions:
- To call into question the entire state of the Arabic Wikipedia from a content, administration and direction perspective
- To examine the case cited in the Background section above as both a formal complaint and request for formal review of current administration, with a view to curtailing of admin rights and direct interim oversight of the global stewards
- To make an open call for election of new administration with the clear direction of establishing the Arabic Wikipedia as a reliable, credible and neutral source of encyclopedic material
- To apply the same rules governing the English version of Wikipedia as regards editors, edits and protection
- To put in place clear guidance and code of conduct for the administration
- To ensure that no single group of individuals has the means to monopolise the community space in this shameful manner