Thursday, July 17, 2008

BADSITES marches on

The loudest battle no one cares about.

Despite the community's clear and longstanding rejection of BADSITES as policy, some editors continue wield it or its cousins in debates, often seeking to discredit others in ways which may or may not make any apparent sense to the casual observer. The continued promotion of a siege mentality is, in my opinion, disruptive to progress on more important issues.

Yes, we should take steps to protect users who are harassed and victimized. When I'm able to, I try to do so. No, that does not mean I or any other Wikipedian should be obliged to support a divisive and jingoistic political agenda apparently based in anger and bitterness.

When users fail to unconditionally support a BADSITES siege, for whatever reason, they're often labelled "trolls." If site management doesn't support the siege, it's toted as evidence the site has been "taken over" by "troll enablers." For those who missed it, the line is quickly drawn between "us" (fighting evil BADSITES) and "them" (trolls and their sympathizers), with no room left for the subtle distinctions inherent in human relations.

I can understand why some people have come to view the situation that way, but they should know that they're also marginalizing their own position by painting with such wide brushes so often. Sorry to say, but not all users are just going to flop over and agree with everything a given editor says, especially when much of it is based in vague or secret evidence apparently discussed only in echo chambers.

All too often, the "them" in an "us vs. them" scenario does everyone involved a great disservice by playing along with the siege. The resulting squabbles can be quite discrediting to all involved. If we just saw a bit less of that, things might actually calm down. Sometimes the best response is no response.

For most of us, the project continues on without missing a beat. Remember that encyclopedia we're supposed to be working on?

Abuse on-wiki is actionable on-wiki. In extreme cases, off-wiki abuse with on-wiki effects may be actionable on-wiki. Absent evidence of such abuse, I fail to see how merely having an account on a given website could ever be considered inherently abusive and actionable on-wiki.

In short: let's talk about abuse, not siege.


Alison said...

Hear, hear. The voice of sanity yet again, Luna.

(and point taken about 'silence'. Mea culpa)

Anonymous said...

<3 You're still the voice of reason :)

I am still wondering what the hell is going on with the wiki community.

It looks like, in some people minds, the site is sieged by hordes of trolls, discussing on IRC and on internet forums. The only kosher communication should be the wiki or the officially sanctioned mailing lists.

Yes, some bad stuff happened on WR, and there are some people I wouldn't drink a cup of tea with there (in fact, many of the regulars since there's a bitter atmosphere I don't like on the forum).

But newsflash, there are a lot of trolls and idiots on wiki too, and we can't do much more against them that against the trolls and idiots on the immediate surroundings of the BAD SITES.

It's easy to paint everything in white (us) and black (them), but all this us vs. them mentality is just maintaining a (needed?) level of hurted feelings, and the underlying idea that anyone speaking to THEM is therefore collaborating (as in wartime collaboration) with the enemy is disgusting.

I don't participate on WR because I feel the rant/information ratio is too low, but I try not to paint everyone with the same brush. I don't like the way some people (probably on both "sides") constantly poison the well.

That reminds me I haven't looked at "Teh ANI thread" since yesterday when I went berserk... Not sure I will...

PS: Much love Allie <3

Dr Zen said...

Well, it's not you, is it? You'd possibly sing a different tune if it was.