Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stuff in a box

I've had this box of stuff in my room, for quite some time. Decided it was finally time to clean it out, and either put it to better use or get rid of it. Since poking through somebody's clutter can sometimes be interesting, here's the breakdown:

  1. Plastic bag. Fry's Electronics. Empty. Useful as trash bag.
  2. Old newspaper with good editorial about supporting troops, new/old sentimentalism. Kept column, recycled rest.
  3. Plastic pencil box. Empty. Set aside for later use.
  4. Old BSA handbook. Think it was mine, before the re-issue.
  5. Old photos, looks like prom.
  6. Spanish-English pocket dictionary. Random junk and receipts.
  7. HOW TO BUY SURPLUS, from the United States Department of Defense.
  8. AC Adapter for _____???
  9. Two tickets for Mission: Impossible 3.
  10. A bunch of receipts, notes to self, old work schedule. Includes: written copy of "Zed's dead" dialogue from Pulp Fiction.
  11. Blockbuster membership card. Not mine.
  12. Dorky green/white argyle bracelet. Got it at Old Navy on going-going-gone sale for $1, IIRC.
  13. Fortune cookie fortunes. (1) You will soon gain something you have always wanted. (2) Stop looking and you will find what you seek. (3) Promote literacy. Buy a box of fortune cookies today.
  14. Coins. Lots of them.
  15. Christs card from Eric. Inspire me to change my Livewire avatar to a THWOMP.
  16. Movie ticket. Da Vinci Code.
  17. Hello Kitty coloring book and stickers (long story)
  18. Broken watch. Feminine strap, analog display. Never found out who owned it.
  19. One of those little birdy things that balances on a peg. *So cool*
  20. Bank statement. Opened but not filed.
  21. Local leisure services folder. Filled with papers relating to Eagle Court. Not my Eagle Court. Doesn't appear to be my folder.
  22. American Eagle bag. Filled with junk mail I never got around the shredding.
  23. ONE DOLLAR. Woohoo!
  24. Old newspapers. One from high school, "Elections take place." One from college, "Fields beyond repair."
  25. The Teeth of the Tiger, by Tom Clancy.
  26. Vampire Hunter D: The Stuff of Dreams, by Hideyuki Kikuchi
  27. Coin jar. Was empty, now filled with coins (item 14)
  28. Base for wireless phone. Broken. Headset nowhere in sight.
  29. Pluto plushie. Probably from Draven.
  30. CD player. Broken.
  31. Picture of old co-worker, with boyfriend. Guess I'll keep that.
  32. Movie tickets. Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter 4 (Goblet of Fire..?)
  33. Old ID card (pre-driver's license).
  34. Movie tickets: Inside Man, Kill Bill Vol. 2
  35. Original iPod case.
  37. A clothes pin?
  38. Aeropostale bag. Nearly empty. Old gel pen inside, the kind I favored in middle school.
  39. Another old bag. Looks like I cleared out my car and shoved stuff in here. (1) Old candy, ew. (2) Receipts. (3) Old writing notebook. (4) Several Eagle court programs. (5) College tuition receipt. (6) Folded heart-shaped wuv note. (7) Car number sign from mechanic. (8) Another pen.
  40. Movie ticket, Serenity.
  41. Parking permit, Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
  42. Stuffed hippo. Gift from Emerald or Lisa, I forget which.
  43. Computer speakers.
  44. Some no-name security package that came with my laptop. Never installed. Laptop was already a good deal, and it happened to be included. Meh.
  45. Windex?
  46. "Got Milk?" chocolates tin. Probably kept because I thought it was "cool."
  47. More clothespins?
  48. Six feet of mesh rope.
  49. Old AT-AT toy. Turret missing. Both legs somehow still attached, despite years in box.
  50. Disposable camera. Probably from New York trip.
  51. Trophy! (seriously)
  52. Garish tour backpack, from New York trip. Last used while camping. Mostly empty, but not quite. (1) Plastic trash bag in side pouch. (2) Two glowsticks attached to outside. (3) Camp feedback sheet. Shouldn't they have that? (4) Backup physical form. (5) Set of assorted useful sharp things, etc. (6) Complete set of Scrabble tiles, stands, and board. (7) Hat. (8) Cup.
  53. Collector's coin. Or something.
  54. About eight feet of nylon cord.
  55. Old personal organizer. Pages removed, but never refilled. Since replaced with newer ones.
  56. Old toy. Either Gobots or Transformers. Happy, if vague, memory/feeling.

And that's it! Quick trip down memory lane, one box cleaner. Truth be told, I'm probably keeping a log of this mainly so I don't feel like I'm throwing away memories.

Unblock-en-l going private

The unblock-en-l mailing list, dedicated as a forum of appeals for user blocking on Wikipedia, is poised to go private, following concerns over past abuse and possible privacy issues. Archives access has long been limited to subscribed users only, but now subscription will no longer be a free deal. The reasoning, as I understand it:

1) Blocked users frequently subscribe to the list instead of sending their request. Limiting subscription should make the appropriate course of action for blocked users more clear.

Recently, some trolls have subscribed to the list, and send abusive mails to users in need of unblocking.

Users who send mail to the list frequently post potentially sensitive personal information.

Following off-list discussion about privatizing the list, which was later re-hashed on-list, the subscription rules for the list have changed -- all users requesting a subscription will now require moderator approval. Unsubscribed posters are moderated, but can still post to the list.

There was some debate as to the exact criteria for subscription. Some people proposed making it an admins-only list; I opposed that, and still do, pretty strongly. People need to be able to see and watch, if they so choose, to confirm that we're not abusing what small authority we might pretend to have. I'd prefer we let in any established editor who can tie their email to an existing account in good standing. Trust isn't a magical admins-only commodity.

At the end of that debate, the rule seemed to be "use your discretion," which works, but it's a bit more wiggle room than I was hoping for. So long as that is the rule, however, I expect to be fairly loose about who can get in. Brand new accounts, no, but anybody's who's been around for awhile should be fine. That's my story, and I'll be sticking to it.

So, that brings us to the next step of this process: purging the subscription list. Over the next week or so, all currently subscribed emails will be receiving a request to confirm their ownership of an established Wikipedia account. Those who don't reply by the deadline will be unsubscribed, pending further contact.

I'm uncomfortable about any possibility of creating a shadow government, but equally uncomfortable with the trolls we've been having problems with. The people who come into this mailing list are, more often than not, new and confused, and deserve a response from somebody who has at least a little credibility and familiarity with the community.

If anybody needs a subscription approved, let me know. ;)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Holy shit! Two big stories in one day.

New ArbCom members selected

In a recent post to the wikiEN-l mailing list, Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales has announced two new appointments to the Arbitration Committee. Mackensen, a former arbitrator, will fill Dmcdevit's now-vacated seat, following Dmc's resignation earlier this week. Essjay, a long-time user who has never run for a seat, has been appointed to the shortest of three tranches.

Three admins desysopped over Brandt wheel war

Another chapter in the long and tortuous saga of Daniel Brandt's article on Wikipedia has just ignited. Following a wheel war over whether the article should remain or be deleted, Wales has desysopped Yanksox, Geni, and Freakofnurture (action log on meta). A post to AN/I followed quickly after (diff), where Wales has referred the incident to the Arbitration Committee for immediate consideration.

The three administrators were part of a wheel war, repeatedly deletion and undeleting the page while discussion was ongoing, as shown by the article's deletion log.

The ArbCom clerks have posted a case page, but no further news is yet in.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Starslip Crisis @ Wikipedia

I haven't gotten involved in any of the webcomic deletion debates, but it's pretty hard to miss them going on. Wikipedia continues, business as usual, but the webcomics blogosphere is breaking out the torches and pitchforks at an increasing pace. One case that really got my attention, though, was Kristofer Straub's little "experiment" with the Starslip Crisis article:

I started the vote to delete Starslip Crisis using a freshly-registered user with no other edits under his belt.

I also used faulty logic to initiate the discussion: I said has no Alexa data, and isn’t notable as a result. ( is just a redirect: the comic’s URL is and has an Alexa rank.)

Then I registered ten more fake users to stuff the original delete vote. This is called “sock puppetry” in Wikipedia terminology, and is frowned upon. The names of the fake users I used in the AfD are: Salby, Incredulous, Banalzebub, Hammerabbi, LKeith30, Repromancer, Expiwikist, Floxman, YothSog, and

The AfD went on, and while I think some users caught on the ruse, it was eventually was deleted as being non-notable, that bane of inclusionists the whole wiki over. Straub blogged his feat, at which point the page found its way to Deletion Review faster than a pagemove bot. The discussion, archived here, had some tidbits:
Just to throw my hat into the ring, there's a question of just who it's meant to be notable to. Using the general press as measures of notability of a subject is fine for popular subjects, but it would lead to the conclusion that Feynman diagrams are not a notable subject. On the other hand using physics literature to justify the inclusion of Feynman diagrams would perhaps be akin to using webcomics blogs to justify the inclusion of any given webcomics article. And then you've got to wonder whether a general readership actually gives a damn about either. Sockatume 20:22, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
This next one brings to mind memories of the old CVU deletion debate, started by a user who was blocked indefinitely a little over a week later:
No it doesn't mean that we endorse sockpuppetry. If a sockpuppet says to do X, and they're right, should we then deliberately not do X and hurt ourselves, just so that they don't get to be right? -Amarkov moo! 15:50, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I hadn't noticed until recently that Eloquence had commented:
Overturn. This needs to be debated without distractions and abuse.--Eloquence* 18:25, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
This seems to be getting more attention than I realized. ;)

What, then?

DRV overturned the AfD result; a subsequent discussion again deleted and redirected the article to Blank Label Comics. Straub has since made another post on the subject -- he's certainly gotten my attention, on this one, and I think he brings up some very good points.

On the other hand, I take away some different lessons, from this incident. The biggest lesson for me is: we really need to get on top of figuring out what the hell "notability" means. Everybody's got their own pet definition, and in some ways that's good, it keeps things interesting, and it keeps people thinking. In other ways, it's bad -- most obviously, we wind up in gaffes like this where our mission simply isn't clear.

But one hypothetical I'd like to point out is this: suppose that instead of a webcomic, somebody had tried this on an article like Martin Luther King, Jr. -- it just wouldn't work, and there's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. When it comes to core subjects, the notability is so obvious as to be a nearly laughable question. All this talk about verifiability and reliable sources? The reason you're able to get away with sockfarms on webcomic AfDs is because they simply don't compare to the true core of an encyclopedia.

As Straub said, and I have a feeling he gets this point, and maybe even the problem, even better than I or most of us do:
However, in Wikipedia’s defense, there’s no real way to judge notability in an arena like this. A lot of people would say Wikipedia is non-notable because it’s user-edited and unreliable. But let’s face it, most webcomics aren’t trying to show up in Wikipedia because they think people need to be able to research their work. They want to be there because it’s neato. And that’s as good a reason as any to delete them. But how do you tell which is which?? I don’t know. They have their work cut out for them.
On the other hand, Wikipedia isn't paper, and I'm not a big fan of intentionally pissing people off when they're not otherwise doing any harm. The right answers to these questions will be discovered in time.

In the meantime, we return you to your regularly scheduled programming: Nidoran♂

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Who am I?

Where to begin?

I often wonder where we're all going, what we're all doing. I don't feel lost -- I know exactly where I am, but I don't know quite where I'm headed, or how I'll get there. I keep having this urge to think contemplative thoughts, but I don't know what over, or why.

It probably means I'm missing something. But what?

There's definitely more than a few niches for me. Currently, I'm a student at a community college, more than likely transferring after the Summer term; one school's accepted me, waiting on news from two others. I'm hoping for Chico. I used to be an active member at the Livewire Peer Support Forums. Prior to that, I was active for awhile at the Nuklear Power forums (home of 8-bit Theatre), and was (I guess?) an early member of the Avariel forums that branched off from there. I have some good friends, but truth be told, I'm more the sort of person to socialize in smaller circles. I am very happily involved with a lady. Consider myself politically moderate -- I love and hate both parties. At one point, I considered trying my hand in political columns.

In the last year, I became an administrator at a website you're probably more familiar with: Wikipedia. I seem to have made some small name for myself, there, and I've been mostly content with some simple tasks -- cleaning up after a steady stream of vandals, helping others navigate the intricate syntax and network that a wiki of that size becomes, reviewing and granting unblock requests, mediating disputes and helping out with random tasks where I can. I like to think I've done some good.

How silly to think, I'm probably half-inspired to blog here, because of all the SEO-bloggers that keep showing up on my Google Alerts. Handy system, that.

Majoring in computer science. What I really want to do, though, is writing, either novels or films -- keep telling myself that programming is something I'll be able to do to earn bready money, while trying to break through. Realistically, I never will fool somebody into paying me to write, but it'll be a fun hobby to try and see. And so, I have a Plan B that'll probably become a full time profession.

Career aptitude testing was always fun. I was the student where the counselor would always stop and say, "Hmm... that is truly ambiguous," to, before handing tests like the MBTI back.
Took a few others, too, but don't remember the names; they all said the same thing, "do anything you want, we can't figure you out."

That seems to be a pattern. I've always been a bit of a contradiction. Not in that savvy, intellectual way -- in the really annoying, self-defeating sort of way. I'm no genius, but I'm pretty smart. What I lack, most often, is ambition, or perhaps focus is a better word. Determination. I can dream big, but I don't think I have the personality to reach and achieve.

Maybe I'll prove myself wrong. Wouldn't that be something?

That's the trouble with tribbles.

Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I, now? Where am I going? These are some deep questions, and maybe those are the ones I need to be asking myself. The words we use to describe ourselves and the world around us all say a lot about the sorts of people we are.

Make a plan and stick to it. Sounds so easy in the abstract; one way or another, I find myself getting distracted with little things, "in the moment," and I lose sight of my plan, of the big picture.

And yet, the big picture is made up of details. Every time.