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Secret Mailing List Rocks Wikipedia 531

Posted by kdawson
from the transparent-in-limited-frequency-bands dept.
privatemusings writes "Wikipedians are up in arms at the revelations that respected administrators have been discussing blocking and banning editors on a secret mailing list. The tensions have spilled over throughout the 'encyclopedia anyone can edit' and news agencies are sniffing around. The Register has this fantastic writeup — read it here first." The article says that some Wikipedians believe Jimbo Wales has lost face by supporting the in-crowd of administrators and rebuking the whistle blower who leaked the existence of the secret mailing list.
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Secret Mailing List Rocks Wikipedia

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:23AM (#21569363)
    some Wikipedians believe Jimbo Wales has lost face by supporting the in-crowd of administrators and rebuking the whistle blower who leaked the existence of the secret mailing list.

    Oh, I'm sorry, were we talking about 8th grade?
    • by sethawoolley (1005201) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:29AM (#21569661) Homepage
      I'd do a mass sign-up of the secret list:

      http://lists.wikia.com/mailman/listinfo/wpcyberstalking [wikia.com]

      (as posted in another post, but up here, it'll get more coverage... here goes my karma, watch it slide!)
      • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:03AM (#21569805)
        It's not "secret" at all. Durova is infamous on wikipedia- everyone hates her and anyone that openly opposes her is getting landslide votes in the ongoing arbcom elections. Everyone knows what happened with !! and the "secret" mailing list is no secret- the arbitration committee does meet in private and they're allowed to have communication independent of the rest of wikipedia. Not only that, but this mailing list specifically is known to me and I'm not even a sysop, just some guy who's been hanging around freenode #wikipedia lately. If people would log onto IRC for 5 seconds, this wouldn't be such big news.
    • by cloricus (691063) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:33AM (#21569679)
      And who cares what 8th graders do? Seriously, this is just a bunch of useless trolls (who exist in every community) trying to present themselves as big, important, and note worthy to the world. Wikipedia works for me, I correct mistakes I see, and I add content if I see it missing and I know what goes there, beyond that there is no need for the normal person to interact further with the 'community'.

      In my opinion Wikipedia should be run like the internet; by a bunch of useless people who are so tied up in their own mess they don't ruin my day and some how out of it all we end up with a magically great resource.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And your changes are nullified by those same 8'th graders.
      • by rucs_hack (784150) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:14AM (#21569835)
        Seriously, this is just a bunch of useless trolls (who exist in every community) trying to present themselves as big, important, and note worthy to the world

        You got a citation for this?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=chevy+citation&gbv=2 [google.com]
          Buddy and I went cross-country in it. 74 hours from the western edge of Idaho to Rhode Island. Leaky valve cover gasket--took a quart of oil every 750 miles. Drove on the top half of the gas tank, never shut it off longer than it took to gas it, as there was some doubt she'd turn over from cold iron. We had paid something like $500 cash for the beast. Odometer read ~80,000 miles, but an old registration in the glove compartment revea
      • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:16AM (#21569837)
        Exactly, this story is ridiculously sensational. It's "coming apart at the seams" "rocked"... what now??!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Wikipedia works for me, I correct mistakes I see, and I add content if I see it missing and I know what goes there
        Great. Then could you go ahead and create some webcomic articles for us [slashdot.org]?
    • The way you said it was funny but what you said is true. This is extremely childish behavior, and is VERY commonplace in most online communities. The only difference is that in this case, there was a written record of it and it was discovered by the community, and the community, as a collective, actually cared. I was once the victim of an almost identical situation, this is nothing uncommon. I know quite a few people who've suffered a similar treatment. Online communities are so rife with corruption, it alm
  • Appropriate (Score:4, Funny)

    by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:26AM (#21569373) Journal
    Hrm, I just finished posting my last comment in another thread [slashdot.org], and now I'm thinking the quote would have been more appropriate here.
  • by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:33AM (#21569393) Homepage
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:CorbinSimpson/TINC [wikipedia.org]

    Amazing how it still holds today, eh?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by samkass (174571)
      It's funny this article came up today. I've been thinking about how "exclusive" Wikipedia's editing and leadership ever since yesterday, when a page I contributed to (and therefore was watching), got an edit with the following comment: "(RV: per WP:V and WP:RS)". Now, if you're trying to create a system in which people are "free" to edit and feel comfortable doing so, this sort of nonsense has to stop. It doesn't take THAT long to type in English in the comments of the English Wikipedia.

      It seems like Wik
  • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:36AM (#21569399) Homepage
    A user on community.livejournal.com/ultimate_fashion is complaining that livejournal users mindyminx16 and sassykitty91 totally control the entire community over secret aim chats.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sqrt(2) (786011)
      The difference being that I don't really care about the integrity and future of Livejournal. I do care about wikipedia however, because I use it.
  • by DuncanE (35734) * on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:39AM (#21569413) Homepage
    No.. there's no secret mailing list - I checked Wikipedia and it said so. Said it was not "not notable" or something.
    • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @09:59AM (#21571593) Homepage Journal

      That was pretty funny, but you hit on a sore spot of mine: notability deletions. See, there are destructive bastards [wikipedia.org] who like to brag about the articles they've deleted [wikipedia.org] and delight in destroying Wikipedia. Because these "notability" jackboots are tolerated and you're only allowed to see the articles that meet their nebulous standards, Wikipedia is useless to me as a resource. It may cover a lot of the common information on a subject but there's a good chance all the interesting dark corners have been labeled as "cruft" and removed.

      I don't mind flame wars. There's nothing you can say to hurt my feelings. Remove my words and pretend they never existed, though, and now we've got a problem. To hell with Wikipedia and the arrogant bastards that patrol it.

  • wiki == worthless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:40AM (#21569417)
    I've got serveral area's of expertise and i could make a great contribution to wiki - but crap like this is exactly why i avoid it.

    I've encountered asshat's like this before, they never learn and never go away until you hit THEM with the ban hammer

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Basic English skills are evidently not one of your "area's of expertise".
    • Sorry? Because you don't want to edit Wikipedia its useless? Seriously? Is every other resource you don't edit useless?

      Wikipedia has many problems, but its still an enormously useful resource.
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      Uhhh good. Cause, as has been said a hundred times before, wikipedia doesn't need know-it-all "experts". The point is to summarize the basic research that anyone can do.

      If you're such a freakin' expert, go contribute out on the coal face - debate the controversies with the other experts - none of the stuff that is wanted or needed in an encyclopedia.

      • by Ed Avis (5917)
        I think when the other poster says 'expert' or 'expertise' he really means anyone with a basic knowledge of a subject and who isn't totally ignorant. Like a physics expert would be anyone with a university degree in physics. Articles on Wikipedia do need to be maintained by such 'experts' because someone who hasn't studied physics (or Chinese - or masonry - or ballet) wouldn't be able to add useful information or correct mistakes.
      • by foobsr (693224) *

        Uhhh good. Cause, as has been said a hundred times before, wikipedia doesn't need know-it-all "experts". The point is to summarize the basic research that anyone can do.

        If you're such a freakin' expert, go contribute out on the coal face - debate the controversies with the other experts - none of the stuff that is wanted or needed in an encyclopedia.

        And thus spoke our encyclopedian overlord, without any space for a different opinion left, a gem of iconic language, a miracle of precision.

        CC.

      • by gambolt (1146363) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:35AM (#21572041)
        This attitude kills so many articles. People with an academic background in a topic will work on something for months and then some punk wikipedia cultist with maybe an undergrad degree will crap all over it and scream NPOV when someone tries to repair the damage. This results in the people who normally get paid to write about the topic at hand being run off in favor of idiots.

        If you have to do research to understand what the topic even is, leave it the fuck alone.
    • by Chris Kamel (813292) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:48AM (#21569749)
      Clearly, English [angryflower.com] is not one of those areas :)
    • by FBodyJim (1136589) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @08:53AM (#21570931) Homepage Journal
      I wouldn't agree that wikipedia is worthless. Go back just a short 10 years ago, maybe even just 5 for that matter, and the "easy" way to get information about some topic was to ask your drunk uncle, or some other old fart at the family picnic. Want to know about WWII the easy way? Ask grandma/pa, want to know about Vietnam or JFK, ask mom and dad, or your uncle. Sure, you could have gone to a library, searched for some books that are hundreds of pages long, mostly filler, to get the 5 sentences of information you're looking for or you could have flipped open your dated set of encyclopedias and read what the "historians" said, which lacks the quick and easy references to related topics and in book form means that you still need to go the library to lookup the references and get any real details.

      In other words, I like to consider wikipedia my non-kid touching, molestation free drunk uncle of information, maybe, or maybe not, more accurate, but at least I can get quick answers on a lot of topics and I can see how topics are related and then just search google for more information or confirmation of the information I've found, and best of all, it doesn't even cost me a 6-pack.
  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:46AM (#21569443)
    Most of us have some idea that there is a class of people who, to a varying degree, want to be part of an "in group". To create an in group you also have to create an out group. Then you differentiate the in group and the out group, ascribe exaggerated virtue to the in group and look for scapegoats in the out group. You do this because in this way you focus power into the in group. It's essential to have secret, restricted means of communication between in group members.

    These people will of course seek to infiltrate and take over any organization perceived as having any kind of power, whether it is over ideas, money or people. That's because, after all, this is what they are after.

    It makes no difference whether it is religion, politics or an Internet encyclopedia, offer an entry for the people with psychopathic tendencies and they will come. The rant quoted in the Register article is simply typical of the breed.

    To get people to do moderation work unpaid, you have to offer them something. That something is described above -a small amount of power and the feeling of being in an in-group and privy to secret knowledge. Depressingly, what I conclude from this is that the only real answer is to pay people and have competition. Payment offers rewards to people who do not care about power or exclusivity. Competition means that disgruntled customers and competitors go elsewhere, i.e. they can escape from an abusive in group. What Wikipedia needs is a commercial model and competition. That way, the psychopaths and compulsive neurotics are unlikely to take over the shop (and the ones on the staff can waste their energy litigating, which seems to be the main way we keep psychopaths out of trouble in the English speaking world.)

    • by mpe (36238) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:17AM (#21569581)
      To get people to do moderation work unpaid, you have to offer them something. That something is described above -a small amount of power and the feeling of being in an in-group and privy to secret knowledge.

      It's more the case that people who specifically seek power are also those best kept away from it.

      Depressingly, what I conclude from this is that the only real answer is to pay people and have competition. Payment offers rewards to people who do not care about power or exclusivity.

      Except that it dosn't, people being paid can still care a great deal about power and exclusivity.
    • by Geof (153857) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:23AM (#21569631) Homepage

      I agree with most of what you say, but I believe you are mistaken about payment, and I think FOSS provides a good illustration of why.

      what I conclude from this is that the only real answer is to pay people and have competition. Payment offers rewards to people who do not care about power or exclusivity. Competition means that disgruntled customers and competitors go elsewhere, i.e. they can escape from an abusive in group.

      Once necessities have been taken care of, social status is probably the greatest motivation for people to make money. Paying contributors doesn't really change that. You are right that not all people crave power or exclusivity. But power is not the only social reward - there are other alternatives besides money. (Exclusivity is itself not a reword, only a way to achieve status.) Reputation does not have to be exclusive. Indeed it requires inclusion - you can't have a reputation all by your lonesome. And it doesn't have to involve negative power dynamics.

      Many well-regarded FOSS developers achieved their reputations without power tripping. In this they are constrained, as you suggest, by the choices of participants (the competition you cite is a particular way of achieving this) - in the case of FOSS, forking or the threat of forking constrains projects from degenerating too much. Many projects aren't exclusive either: the whole point of the exercise is to draw in participants. Linus's reputation is largely built on the number of participants in Linux, and on his ability to manage based on consent (which I believe contributes to his reputation).

      There are two kinds of gift-giving [wikipedia.org] in cultures in which it is important. In both cases, people try to incur debts by giving gifts. One kind of giving is agonistic (competitive): the objective is to give gifts to people unable to return them, thereby demonstrating dominance over them. The second kind of giving also incurs debts, but it involves exchange. Even though a return gift is given, the slate is not wiped clean - both parties remain somewhat in debt. Social bonds are formed, giving rise to community. I believe most successful FOSS involves the second kind of giving.

  • Admins have to go (Score:5, Interesting)

    by femto (459605) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:48AM (#21569455) Homepage
    To have hierarchy breaks the Wiki model, as it breeds suspicion. Even in groups with the best of intentions eventually the suspicion will be warranted if one has power over another. Unlike the real world, transgressions in wikis can be undone. In such a case it is better to rely on the sensible majority policing a malicious minority on an equal footing by weight of numbers rather giving special powers that can be abused.
  • SECRET MAILING LIST ROCKS!!
  • Truth (Score:2, Funny)

    this topics has been edited to be wikifriendly Your Overlord
  • by broward (416376)
    From earlier this year, in response to the "Wikipedia Falling Apart" rumors ...

    http://www.realmeme.com/roller/page/realmeme/?entry=wikipedia_meme [realmeme.com]

    Wikipedia probably entered its growth inflection point in early 2006.
    The current turmoil is due to a state change towards a declining rate of growth.
  • by ToiletDuck (57205) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:00AM (#21569505)
    This is the evidence that Durova, self-proclaimed "complex investigations specialist" used to justify banning one of Wikipedia's finest contributors. http://www.wikitruth.info/index.php?title=Durova's_Sekret_Evidence [wikitruth.info]

    Here she is on Slashdot. In what appears to be an amazing coincidence, the person she is defending here is the same person who happens to run the mailing list in question.
    http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=256781&cid=20020479 [slashdot.org]
  • People feel entitled to more control or power when they contribute more than their peers. With decentralized groups of people operating on the Internet, this is magnified even further. Teams of people like OSS
  • Great. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) * on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:03AM (#21569515) Homepage
    This is one of the reasons I created the Administrators' noticeboard [wikipedia.org]: to allow people to coordinate administration in an open and transparent manner. I always expressed concerns about the Wikipedia admins IRC channel, though it turns out this has been pretty benign. I still frown on closed list: it really goes against the spirit of Wikipedia.
    • When this list started, it was a "CyberStalking" mailing list. It was not an admin list. I got myself unsubscribed for various reasons. If it has turned into an admin list, this is very bad business.

      I should also note that there are many non-admins on that list. There are many very negative individuals, and I saw a lot of attacking of Jimbo, who was trying to sort out the cyber-stalking issues, which I should note are real and pretty serious.
    • There's only one admin I know well enough to trust, and that's Mopper. You seem like that kind of guy, too. Why don't you guys do more to try and clean out the cabal? There are many, many, many people like me, who stopped editing because there were horrible things being done by admins, and would gladly come back if we knew there was no risk of being banned for doing things like assuming good faith and being nice to people that certain other people don't like.
      • Gah! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ta bu shi da yu (687699) * on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:35AM (#21569689) Homepage
        You misunderstand - I saw adminship as a responsibility, not a privilege. I was on Wikipedia to write articles, not engage in petty Wikipolitics. I don't have the time, nor the inclination to try to reform Wikipedia. Firstly, it's not really possible. Secondly, unless you have tried dealing with the numerous trolls, nasty editors or those who are trying to convert Wikipedia into Wikicruft then you can't possibly know how hard it is to be an admin who tries to stick to core principles.

        Basically, the bottom line is: nowadays on Wikipedia you are either an admin or an editor. I tried to be both, and it sucked up all my time. It shouldn't be like that, but it is. There are systemic issues on Wikipedia, I don't know how they should be fixed, nor do I much care anymore. Unless something is done, we're going to see a lot more of this silliness. Which is sad, very sad.
    • by Sockatume (732728)
      I figure if you have a group of people working on some project, inevitably a subset of that group will be asshats and run around in little cliques looking out for eachother rather than the project itself. Of course the only way to avoid that is to install more oversight to look out for and bust this sort of nonsense, which also goes against the spirit of the project (albeit in a comparatively benign way).
  • Not a surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Apotsy (84148) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:03AM (#21569517)
    As everyone saw from the Essjay scandal [google.com], it's more important to be part of the in crowd than to be right.

    And as we've seen, the in crowd are not the ones who really contribute in the first place [aaronsw.com].

    So what are these people good for, again?

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:09AM (#21569537)
    The problem in this case is two-fold, but the cause is the same: wikipedia reaching worldwide popularity.

    First of all, wikipedia by it's nature is not supposed to have higher-ups, but an administrator group is a technical necessity. These administrators are motivated by the growing popularity of wikipedia in two ways: they gained more power ("Cmon! I'm an administrator on the english wikipedia! Wow!") or in other words, the social status of their administrator title got more important. This is bound to make the admins feel a lot more different, even if unconsciously or unwittingly. They try to protect wikipedia and overreact, get overly paranoid and lose focus of their true goal.

    The second reason they can behave wrongly is simply that the social infrastructure didn't adapt to the popularity yet. What I mean is that administrators are not distinct, named, accountable people. They edit using their administrator account (officially, even if some of them use alternative accounts in reality), they are not named people. To fix these problems there has to be a clear separation of priviledges, and clear identifiability and accountability for administrators.

    Admins should be compelled to do their actions with their real names attached to it, not behind nicknames. No non-administrator wikipedia contribution should take place on their admin accounts. They should be editing using a non-priviledged account. The regular account of admin personnel should not necessarily be revealed, but admins should be verifying each other's work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The second reason they can behave wrongly is simply that the social infrastructure didn't adapt to the popularity yet. What I mean is that administrators are not distinct, named, accountable people.

      You've hit the nail upon the head I think. Let us not forget John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. [penny-arcade.com]

      Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad.

      A corollary to the theory if I may;

      Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience + Authority = Complete Dick.

      You give people anonymity and power, and they will be

  • by eMago (267564) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:09AM (#21569539) Homepage
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy [wikipedia.org]
    "Bureaucracy happens. If bureaucracy happens, power rises. Power corrupts."
    It has always been like this, will always be like this ...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:48AM (#21569959)
      "All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted."
      --Missionaria Protectiva, Text QIV (decto)
  • It seems an odd emphasis to call it a "secret" mailing list. It wasn't public, but does that make it sinister? Surely administrators are allowed to communicate with each other without making their emails public?

    Some Register journalists seem to have a grudge against Wikipedia and take every opportunity to run it down -- and if you think I'm a Wikipedian acolyte, I just casually, anonymously, edit articles as I come across errors. I've had a few busybodies revert my edits, declaring them "vandalism", so I'

    • by nigham (792777)
      Ideally, the entirety of the process that leads to any decision relating to Wikipedia should be visible to the users.

      A few private e-mails I do not have a problem with. What could be a problem is if this happens on a large scale equivalent to this alleged "secret mailing list". An obvious problem is that a policy of an organized group is misrepresented as the multiple, independent actions of multiple individuals.

      Lets say a user was banned (or his edits rejected, whatever) a hundred times by different
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nugneant (553683)

      It seems an odd emphasis to call it a "secret" mailing list. It wasn't public, but does that make it sinister? Surely administrators are allowed to communicate with each other without making their emails public?

      Jimbo Wales Slashdot sockpuppet found :)

      One has to wonder just what is so vastly important and controversial that an administrator cannot communicate it on site for fear of the dreaded Vandals and Sockpuppets (they're everywhere oh god!!) - gasp - reading it.

      Some Register journalists seem to

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656)
        ... conspiracy bullshit

        Actually, that was my point.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JoshuaZ (1134087)

        One has to wonder just what is so vastly important and controversial that an administrator cannot communicate it on site for fear of the dreaded Vandals and Sockpuppets (they're everywhere oh god!!) - gasp - reading it.

        Speaking as a Wikipedia admin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JoshuaZ [wikipedia.org] we deal with sensitive information all the time. For example, we communicate with people about articles they are concerned with (a convicted criminal really might not want to edit Wikipedia but might want to communicate that the article about him is wrong. Or simply a controversial person). Sometimes information related to Wikipedians or other peoples privacy is also relevant. And in fact there are some very dedicated trolls who have a

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
          I was going to down mod you, but I couldn't think of one that was appropriate.

          Writing a justification of why you tend to take down users based on your suspicions is not a good way to gain credibility. You admit you act with flimsy evidence, but then you say, "Oh but we're doing it for the good of the whole, and you'd agree with us if only you could be trusted to know what we know."

          Frankly it's horseshit, and I'm not surprised people are raising hell about it. It shows you have authority without oversight, a
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:15AM (#21569577) Journal
    They're hurting Wikipedia more than the petty vandals they're trying to stop, even bad guys with admin rights. :-(

    It's one thing to contribute and have someone occasionally wreck thing up -- that can be repaired easily. It's a whole other thing to feel like you're contributing to admins with this mindset. Regaining confidence in the leadership isn't done in a similar fashion by a click of a button.

    Alright, now I'm waiting to hear what Jimbo Wales will do to stop this behavior. Surely that can is a reasonable expectation?
  • by brit74 (831798) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:27AM (#21569645)
    I'm sorry, but with so many whack-jobs in the world, it doesn't surprise me in the least that some people are banned from wikipedia. It's been one of the enduring complaints about wikipedia that anyone can edit it - editing existing content, removing real information, and adding their dumb ideas to the encyclopedia. I'm sure some people are ridiculously tenacious about adding bad information to the pages, and think that the rest of the world is wrong about Autism/ Bigfoot/ the Kennedy Assassination/ psychics/ global warming/ whatever. Not to mention all the publicity that occurred when the IPs tracing back to politician's offices or large corporations were caught changing pages to make their opponents look bad / make themselves look good. It doesn't surprise me that some wikipedia higher-ups feel like some particular users are like bulls in their china shop, and rather than running behind them trying to clean up the mess, think it's simply easier and better to ban certain people.

    You can't simultaneously complain that wikipedia is vulnerable to edits by ignorant/malicious/troll/pro-spin users, and complain that wikipedia takes action against those users by identifying them and banning them.

    In this case, one of the higher-ups banned a user who seems to be a productive contributor - which is essentially an abuse of power. But, I fail to see how the "secret mailing list" is controversial.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      I'm sorry, but with so many whack-jobs in the world, it doesn't surprise me in the least that some people are banned from wikipedia


      That's irrelevant. The problem isn't that they're banning people. The problem is that they've set themselves up as an elite group, outside the normal wikipedia democratic processes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Teancum (67324)
      The reasons this is controversial is not so much the use of the mailing list as a means to discuss the various topics and even to talk about individual users, but how the list users were using this list to form "official" policy and to make decisions about some users away from public forums that had lasting and even detrimental consequences.

      Both of these activities are things on Wikipedia should have been done in a much more public place, and technically have "official" pages on Wikipedia where they are sup
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by makomk (752139)
      The reason the secret mailing list is controversial is that the admin used said mailing list to avoid scrutiny of the ban. Basically, she posted a message about it, checked for objections, then banned the user and stated she'd done it on the basis of secret evidence that she couldn't disclose but that several high-ups had looked over it and it was solid. Of course, the evidence was actually her paranoia and the fact that the editor was "too good". No-one could do anything about it, though, because the evide
  • he'd have posted it to Wikileaks.
  • Since the first group sites came into existence, part of the process has involved a 'good old boys' secret list that runs in the background.

    I don't care if you want to use as examples the Apple Support Forums, /., or Better Homes & Gardens, there is A L W A Y S a group of buddies who deem themselves special and above the unwashed masses. They spend their days hanging out on their own 'invisible' list, laughing at newbies, scorning the newest know-it-alls and patting each other on the back as they sur
  • Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:40AM (#21569713)

    The Register has this fantastic writeup
    That's a laugh.

    The Register hates Wikipedia and at every opportunity seeks to spin the tiniest thing into major news that is negative about Wikipedia.

    I don't know why they do this, penis envy?
    • Re:Say what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:30AM (#21569897)
      More specifically Andrew Orlowski (Register editor) hates wikipedia. Actually he hates anything that becomes popular on the internet but that is besides the point. This article is not by the troll king himself so might be a good read.

      On a side note have you noticed that Orlowski articles on El Reg never have commenting enabled. I'm sure the man himself would say it is to prevent the site being overwhelmed with flames by people who don't like him or his views. I think it is just because it would look bad for his spurious opinion pieces to be torn apart on the site for all to see.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jugalator (259273)
      To be fair, this isn't specific about Wikipedia; it's the general tone of The Register. I've seen the same with Apple, Microsoft, or Linux. I don't think it's anything in specific to special demographies or services from what I've seen. Having said that, I still use to find articles on The Register to have grains of truth in them, although they have a preference to do write-ups of the kind that bring them attention.
  • From TFA: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nugneant (553683) <c45kyew02@ s n e a k e m a il.com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:45AM (#21569735) Homepage Journal

    "I've never seen the Wikipedia community as angry as they are with this one," says Charles Ainsworth, a Japan-based editor who's contributed more feature articles to the site than all but six other writers.


    Editor falsifying his entire life to give more weight to his editorial views? "Eh well he was protecting himself from stalkers".

    Mods discussing mod stuff off-site (granted, completely counter to the notion of transparency that Wikis serve to enable)? "HOLY SHIT YOU HAVE UNLEASHED THE FUCKING FURY YOU ASSHOLES".

    Strange group, this Wikipedia. I go there for information on my favorite Pokemon, but for anything serious, I'd much rather google <seriousthing> -wikipedia
  • I guarantee that wherever there is an on-line community, you will find sub-groups within that community who want to discuss things away from the masses. Just like real-life, then?
  • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:30AM (#21569893)
    I have no idea what but the Reg has a hardon for sensationalist stories about Wikipedia. It's hard to understand the obsession but obsess they do with one story after another predicting its doom, or exposing "corruption", or inaccuracies etc. In particular a month doesn't seem to pass without Andrew Orlowski bitching about the service in some way or another.

    Personally I think they do it because it's a cheap way to fill column inches and to push a few buttons on readers who recognize it for the invaluable service it is.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:36AM (#21569923)
    It's funny and tragic. And by far not limited to Wikipedia. Try your average club and you'll see exactly the same development. Hell, try anything where some people who have nothing in common but the goal at hand aggregate.

    First, you'll see people form groups. Then you'll see (some) groups trying to gain power. No matter how petty (and in Wikipedia's case it's anything but petty. People have replaced Google with Wikipedia as a source for good links).

    Generally, you'll have two kinds of groups in every assembly of human beings. Those that want to push the cause along and those that want to control it. The latter will most certainly claim they belong to the first group (often even to themselves), but in general they would do anything to aggregate more power, no matter whether the group moves anywhere anymore.

    With power and the lust for it comes paranoia. Because the knave thinks the way he is, they start seeing usurpators who want to control the group anywhere. So they become secretive and paranoid. Anyone who is "good" (as in, is actually pushing the cause ahead and keeps things moving) will be seen as a threat, because he will invariably be liked by those who're also in for the cause. Someone who is liked has peer backing, and that could threaten the power base of this group. So he will be mobbed until he leaves.

    What's finally left is a dead hulk. Everyone who wanted to move the cause along will have left, what's left is the power hungry group and some tagalongs and posers who present no danger to said group, but who are also not getting the cause anywhere. They're just in for the "experience" and the fame of being "there" and being part of it. Because if they would actually start pushing ahead, they would be seen as a threat to the power group and removed.

    Sad, really. But if you can't get rid of such power whores, you'll end up with a dead project.
  • The WikiClique (Score:5, Informative)

    by dtobias (262347) <dan@tobias.name> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @06:58AM (#21570217) Homepage
    There is a clique in Wikipedia that has tried [wikipedia.org] to [wikipedia.org] censor [wikipedia.org] links to sites [wikipediareview.com] they [encycloped...matica.com] think [antisocialmedia.net] are "evil". Some people don't [wikipedia.org] like [wikipedia.org] this.
  • by joeszilagyi (635484) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @09:20AM (#21571145)
    See the "Criticism of Wikipedia" [wikipedia.org] article, where admin "Jossi" is suppressing mention with troll Chip Berlet's assistance of the Register article. Sadly, to get the real story, you need to read external sources such as:

    * http://www.wikipediareview.com/ [wikipediareview.com]
    * http://www.wikitruth.info/ [wikitruth.info]

    "On-Wiki" they are already in spin control. The best thing about the secret mail list is that it is hosted on Wikia.com servers, the private for-profit company owned by Jimbo Wales, which is legally supposed to be seperate from registered charity the Wikimedia Foundation. Various people have already informed the IRS.

  • the editorial staff of any large collaboration will suffer the same trevails and useless insider versus outsider drama and cliques and power plays

    but of course, the haters will come out of the woodwork trumpeting this scandal as a reason why wikipedia is wrong

    this does in fact besmirch wikipedia in general, but it doesn't count as a reason to find wikipedia inferior in quality, as it is a problem that all encyclopedias or any publication with large editorial staff and the drama that comes with

    so holding this scandal against wikipedia uniquely is not valid

    "context"

    it's a valuable concept
  • by Suddenly_Dead (656421) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:17PM (#21573593)
    ... that no one invited me to the super secret treehouse mailing list. :(
  • Fallout (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hackus (159037) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @06:05PM (#21579013) Homepage
    If true the fallout is very damaging from this.

    As the saying goes, and is confirmed here in black and white so to speak, Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    The very idea that a small group of people control this information basically makes these people a propaganda machine, not unlike NAZI Germany.

    They simple have more advanced tools at their disposal.

    I must admit I was not aware how the Wiki manages itself internally.

    But clearly, there has to be a more public review of the process and these individuals cannot be trusted to police themselves.

    Even a 75 minute ban is unacceptable. Given the remarks by the power structure, I am inclined to believe that this will only continue to become worse without:

    1) A complete review of the policies in public used by the admins.

    2) A restructuring of the decision making process to include public debate and review. I mean after all, we are talking about book or reference information, much of which doesn't change over time.

    Edits made should be suitable for public or peer review and this process should be open, in similair fashion to edit made to software projects, which anyone can join a list to observe or participate.

    -Hack

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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