Thursday, December 27, 2007

#wikimedia-ops going private

For those who aren't familiar with Wikimedia IRC on freenode, #wikimedia-ops is described in meta-wiki's channel listings as a place to "Contact Wikimedia channel operators for assistance." In practice, this generally means people will come and ask for help keeping people out of a channel, or help getting people into a channel -- setting and releasing channel bans is the name of the game. Other business includes sporadic discussion of troublesome users or policy matters which affect multiple channels. Each channel is operated independently, for the most part; but there are still cross-cutting concerns.

Many channel operators from various Wikimedia channels idle in #wikimedia-ops; they're set apart from other users by having a voice (+v). Recently, I saw a "regular" user asked to leave the channel because they had no "current business" being in there. I was not aware of such a policy existing, and argued that anything to that effect would be a flawed idea. I was told by several people that the channel needs to be "private" because we don't want trolls listening in on our discussions of how to deal with them; this does seem to be a legitimate concern, but I asked why anyone would consider having private discussion in a public channel anyone can join at any time. I was told that the channel is private, and that people are allowed to join only so that they can appeal channel bans and such. When I asked whose idea this was, I got a bunch of circular logic.

As with the blanket prohibition on public logging, it seems that it was always "someone else's idea" all along. Wonderful how people can make decisions without any risk of accountability, this way.

Now, this bothers me: the assumption appears to be that non-ops are bothersome twits who will only get in the way, and who have no business caring -- much less seeing -- how these channels are run. Governance issues are important to everyone in a channel or group of channels; it strikes me as malevolent or corrupt to suggest that regular users have no right to participate or opine in such matters.

Certainly there is some need for privacy, but that need does not include every discussion, every decision, by any means. As I said in the discussion on IRC, "I'd rather we not take care of private affairs in the public channel, nor public affairs in a private one."


Update 2007-12-29: From the #wikimedia-ops topic, today: "seanw would prefer it if people were not removed from this channel for idling..." Seems the group contact(s) have spoken on the issue.


llywrch said...

Wow. Just when I think that I might be wrong about the "bunker mentality" some Wikipedians exhibit -- I'm presented with another example of it.

Sometimes I wonder if, under the present attidues and patterns of thought, I could still be a useful contributor, let alone become an Admin.


AGK said...

General thoughts on your Blog: very thoughtful and interesting, I'll be reading from now on! ;) --AGK