When you are inevitably asked to talk about women in tech

Some coping strategies from Valerie Aurora, and yes I AM tired of it. This is what Valerie Aurora calls the “unicorn” problem — when instead of someone asking you about your field of expertise, they want to talk about your identity.

Example: “How does it feel to be the only woman at this conference?”


The best answer is probably not going to be something like “homicidal” or “fine until you asked me”.  Aurora has thought this though and has come up with a lot of sample answers.

I am please to see on this list the answer I came up with all on my own: “NO.”

With a little planning and foresight you too can have some socially acceptable rejoinders on hand. Here’s two, the article has more:

  • .Make a list of other people to pass requests on to….and tell people that while you don’t know much about career advice for women in tech, you’ve heard that “What Works for Women at Work” has some good tips.
  • Point out your lack of expertise. …There’s nothing about being a woman in tech that necessarily makes you an expert on how to support women in tech in general. People will often ask women in tech to do things or make statements in areas they don’t have expertise in; get used to saying “I don’t know about that,” or “I haven’t studied that.”

Of course some people may want to give “unicorn talks” or become activists.  She talks about this too; here is just one of many points:

Women are punished for advocating for women in tech. … the research shows that the careers of women and other members of marginalized groups are actually harmed if they appear to be advocating for members of their own group. Feel free to decline to do work that will harm your career. (And if you do it anyway: thank you!!!)

And no, white men do not have to spend time thinking about this shit.


Tony Ballioni: L’etat c’est moi

duck queck 49622 f. 190vIt’s official. The admins believe they can speak for the community.   Lead by TonyBallioni, a group of rogue admins has voted on an obscure talk page that a blocked user who is caught socking is now “community banned”.  “L’etat c’est moi”, says Tony, echoing Louis XIV in establishing the French absolute monarchy.  Anyone caught by checkuser — and we all know how accurate that is — will be “considered de facto banned by the Wikipedia community.”

The reasons for this, says Tony “de facto” Bannioni, is because NewYorkBrad and because too many ban requests at AN.  No links of course.  A quick scan of AN shows not even one such request in the contents, so no way to evaluate this.  New York Brad did not show up for the vote.  Maybe he didn’t get the memo–the discussion was on Village Pump (policy), not the talk page of the policy itself, and the only notification I can find was on the talk page of Wikipedia:Banning policy.  It would not be unlike Ira to lead from behind though, these days, so it’s entirely possible. But again, how can we evaluate this without a link? It’s a power play from beginning to end.

Here are the admins who did show up:

TonyBallioniJayron32  (this is not the Andreas Jayron),  Ajraddatz (the creepy meta admin), Dennis Brown, Amory (utc) (User:Amorymeltzer), Hut 8.5, GAB (User:GeneralizationsAreBad), ♠PMC♠ (User:Premeditated Chaos, currently an arbitrator), Kudpung กุดผึ้ง , Dennis BrownYamlaDirk BeetstraMalcolmxl5Mz7NyttendAgathocleaDoc James , ThryduulfNeilNBishonenBen MacDuiNick-D

Admins voting against:

Mystery admin zzuuzz:,  also BU Rob13, a current arbitrator and an actual checkuser, had some interesting and fact-based observation, and stood his ground when he was jumped on by Kudpung, Tony Bannioni, and Dirk Beetstra

There was a bit of drama when a non-admin had the gall to disagree with an admin.

Oppose Users like Slowking4 who have only evaded their block on good faith should not be considered “banned”, and a block is a preventative measure, if an evading editor doesn’t repeat the behaviour that lead to the block this is a punitive measure that doesn’t help improve the encyclopedia. This entire proposal is punitive and only serves as instruction creep. –Donald Trung (No fake news (Articles Respect mobile users. 00:18, 6 March 2018 (UTC)

A “naming violation” was immediately discovered, the poor user indefinitely blocked, but not before Tony Bannioni got in this charming and sophisticated  f-bomb.

It is impossible to block evade in good faith, as this is explicitly against one of the strongest community consensuses, and ignoring it is essentially saying “Fuck you” to the community. TonyBallioni (talk) 00:34, 6 March 2018 (UTC)

No, Tony, it is not saying “fuck you” to “the community”, as interpreted by power-hungry admins, it is saying “fuck you” to that idiot control freak Dirk Beetstra who “de facto-ed” him in order to enforce his own personal interpretation of “fair use” without so much as a talk page discussion.

You only have to go down the page a little further to see this Beetstra once again ignoring the fair use section of the policy he cites, and the obvious frustration of the user who has to deal with him.

But if you think Beetstra goes all anal in the above discussion, check out the way he has been obsessing over these SPI investigations since at least 2011. Heaven forbid some guy is still writing articles and even about to win an editing contest, must block, block, block and use syssop tools to win this petty fair-use argument.

  • “Edits (also of possible missed accounts) need to be rigorously flushed down the drain”
  • “previous socks were editing to participate in competitions”
  • “Starts to quack loud. I am considering to pull the trigger.”
  • “nuke everything they have done on en.wikipedia – their edits are their trophies.”
  • “Maybe I am getting paranoid. Two new editors by Special:AbuseFilter/643,”
  • @Bbb23: Thanks, I’ve nuked/reverted as much as possible per WP:DENY. Guess it is waiting now for new socks.”
  • Obvious sock. Blocked, tagged and contributions wiped where possible per WP:DENY.
  • “They have access to a couple of ranges. The underlying IPs have an own filter (639) set to block I am quite aware of where the master is. It has a few false positives, but some characteristics are too telling). On new accounts it is more difficult (filter 643).”
  • “Behaviour starts to quack. Unfortunately ACTRIAL is conflicting, but I think ACTRIAL is more important.”
  • “It is clear from the tupe of edits and his style of writing on talkpages. See also edit filters 639 and 643. “

Ha ha, two abuse filters?  Kumioko only rated one.

These guys also seem to come from the patroller community and really invested in transferring the patroller workload onto Articles for Creation–work they do not intend to do themselves, but to get someone else to do.  What a novel idea — take editors who are good at writing articles and instead of having them, you know, write more articles, get them to waste their time reviewing articles submitted by users who are not good at writing articles.

“Bagged and tagged.” Ugh.

So here’s the final policy change:

“Editors who are found to have engaged in sockpuppetry on at least two occasions after an initial indefinite block, for any reason, are effectively banned by the Wikipedia community.”


And they’re going back to the grave-dancing block templates–the ones that are propagated by search engines.

I’m going to go ahead and say they will be ineffectively banned. They can’t really believe that will keep people from socking.

Although you never know.  It looks like user agent’s data is already available to checkusers.

But then who would they get to win their contests?
Après moi, le déluge.

YouTube vs. Wikipedia

The Ides of March: Caesar experiences organized vandalism.

I’m just going to put this out there even though this tempest in a teapot is pretty much over, without having hit the Wikimedia mailing list at all. Everything was played out over social media, and I have to say that our ED came out looking more professional and more well-prepared than theirs.

Besides, it gives me a chance to use this Ides of March Caesar stabbing image.

The most definitive story was done by Slate yesterday,

“Pointing to slides that displayed YouTube videos purveying conspiracies about the moon landing and chemtrails, Wojcicki said the company will begin displaying “information cues” drawn from Wikipedia alongside such clips. The cues come in the form of little blocks of text directly below the video. To determine which videos require such a counterweight, Wojcicki said, YouTube will draw on Wikipedia’s own list of well-known conspiracy theories. She noted that YouTube could expand on that list over time.

“This was all news to the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that administers the volunteer-edited Wikipedia. “We were not given advance notice of this announcement,” the foundation said in a statement Wednesday, adding that there is no formal partnership between it and YouTube. While it did not explicitly object to YouTube using its content in this way, the nonprofit stressed that it relies on donors and unpaid editors, and that it “does not control content or make editorial decisions about information that is included on Wikipedia….”

“In other words, an $800 billion company—arguably the world’s most important information source—is outsourcing the job of combatting (sic) misinformation on its platform to a nonprofit built on free labor. And it didn’t bother to tell them.”

Wikipediocracy weighed in with the common observation that this could lead to a whole lot of new vandalism.

And here are a few more random threads about Wojcicki’s further YouTube remarks, especially one that YouTube had discovered its identity as a library.

Lolz, and many of them.

+ are curated for quality.
+ aren’t filled with rubbish.
+ aren’t based upon advertising.
+ don’t track what you browse.
+ aren’t part of a mega-corporation.
+ don’t capture and collate personal data.

Et cetera.

The Bloomberg headlineYouTube to Work With Wikipedia to Curb Conspiracy Theories” proved inaccurate as Katherine Maher did not seem too thrilled when she found out about it.

“I couldn’t say; this was something they did independent of us.”

Yup, and Wikipedia doesn’t get the donations from this scraping either, that they need for their business model.

More thread about the Verge article.

The best comment so far was that YouTube should link to Snopes instead.  Debunking is what they do.

And finally there was an official announcement from Wikimedia, issued appropriately enough on Twitter.


Kudpung in 2012

The “hasten-the-day” crowd will be pleased.

The new ACTRIAL report is out, and it does not look good for newbies, but then again, when did anything ever look good for newbies.

ACTRIAL also has a murky past, having first been proposed in 2011 as the brainchild of someone named Kudpung.

Article wizard

So what is actrial?

“The Autoconfirmed article creation trial (also known as ‘ACTRIAL’) is a six-month trial that ran on the English Wikipedia from September 14, 2017 to March 14, 2018. During the trial, article creation was limited to users with autoconfirmed status (at least ten edits and at least four days since registration).”

For existing users, there is no change, but when new users and sockpuppets attempt to create a new article, they are directed to an article creation “wizard”, which will step them through a bazillion questions before spitting them out into the failing Articles for Creation project.  Some wizard.

New page patrol

And the result? According to the Post-trial Research Report:

  • There was a decrease in new junk articles to be deleted.
  • New articles were shifted from Wikipedia itself to draft space, shifting the backlog from new page patrol to the already overworked AfC. The current AfC backlog is 2,404 total.

No word on whether there is a corresponding decrease in good articles created.  Maybe writing new articles is not a priority.

Articles for Creation project

“This shift of content creation from the article to the Draft namespace is worrisome. Previous research has shown that the AfC process is not as collaborative as creating content in the article namespace. It’s problematic if Wikipedia derails contributions by new users into a space where collaboration does not happen, leaving the newcomer to figure everything out on their own.”

There is also this:

“We end up deleting a lot of drafts just because they don’t have enough citations, even if the basic article is solid and has potential to improve.”


So I guess now that the trial is over, the newbies can all go create articles now, just in time for Women’s History Month.

Uncommon Women: coloring book goes commercial

The UnCommon Women Colouring Book of 2017 can be downloaded free from Commons.  Katherine Maher is on Page 5.


Funding for a new 2018 UnCommon Women Colouring Book is being crowdsourced here, at Indiegogo. The funds are basically to pay the artist, the same cartoonist  who did the 2017 series, who goes by the name “Rori!”.

I don’t know about anyone else but this doesn’t seem quite right to me.  I donate my time to open source, so why are these people suddenly asking for money. On the other hand artists should be paid for their work, and it does look like the project will be funded.  No word on which women will be included in the new book, but it will have an open source license.

pi t shirt1Actually, since it’s Pi Day (3.14), how about a nice free Historical Women in STEM coloring book from energy.gov.


The art isn’t too bad, it’s by Cort Kreer, a graphic designer for the department of energy. Cortney Kreer’s home page is here.

cort greer graphic designer
Cort Greer

The women are

WomenInSTEM2017-coloringbook (2)_0WomenInSTEM2017-coloringbook (2)_0-2WomenInSTEM2017-coloringbook (2)_0-3WomenInSTEM2017-coloringbook (2)_0-4WomenInSTEM2017-coloringbook (2)_0-5WomenInSTEM2017-coloringbook (2)_0-6WomenInSTEM2017-coloringbook (2)_0-7WomenInSTEM2017-coloringbook (2)_0-8

Community Health group releases ANI survey

Back in February, WMF employee Caroline Sinders posted to the community health noticeboard that “We are super keen to release our findings” on the ANI (Administrators’ Noticeboard/Incident) survey. This is the same Caroline Sinders whose recent conference presentation featured the “c-bomb” on a powerpoint slide.  Yup, that’s who the WMF has got working on “community health”.

The result were due March 1, but where were they? The survey was included in the annual plan, “Objective 1:…survey the participants at the Administrator’s Noticeboard for Incidents on their experience”, and there was even a signup page; …ah, there it is, a list of links intuitively placed on the talk page of the signup page.  And the results are here:

What about gender?

Almost 80% of participants identify as male.

So first things first, what about gender data? Here are the participants in the survey:

1 – Male (79.41%)
2 – Female (11.76%)
3 – Non-binary / third gender (0.74%)
4 – Prefer not to say (8.09%)

And that’s the last gender data you’re going to get out of them.  Do women think ANI  less fair than men do?  Are women less likely to get a fair response from the process than men?

Crickets.  You know they have the data.  They’re just not going to give it out. So what is new with the WMF.


So here are some other conclusions from the survey.

From the summary statement:

  • Only 27% of respondents indicated they were satisfied with the way that AN/I cases are handled.
  • 52.99% have specifically avoided making a report on ANI because they were afraid it would not be handled appropriately.

From the full survey data:

  • Almost 90% of survey participants have not been admonished or sanctioned as a result of being involved in an incident that was reported to AN/I in the last 12 months.
  • Almost half of respondents said that discussions on AN/I are “almost never” or “rarely” focused and neutral.
  • Almost half of respondents believe that AN/I reports of personal attacks are handled poorly. Less than 10% of respondents felt they are handled very well.
  • Almost two-fifths of participants reported they had avoided reporting an incident or taking part in a discussion on AN/I in the last 12 months, because they were afraid of retributions of any kind.
Have you avoided reporting one or more incidents to AN/I in the last 12 months, because you did not think it would be handled appropriately there?

> If you did not select “no” above, why did you think those incidents would not be handled appropriately?
participants (n) = 62
response buckets[a] = 83

74 participants (54.41%) did not enter a response for this question

1 – Avoiding drama (8.06%)
2 – Complex issues (12.90%)
3 – Toxicity (12.90%)
4 – Civility issues / threats (6.45%)
5 – Biased participants (9.68%)
6 – Defensive cliques (19.35%)
7 – Admin confidence (3.23%)
8 – Certain users protected (4.84%)
9 – Boomerang effect (12.90%)
10 – Easier to ignore the problem (8.06%)
11 – Ineffective / inconsistent (8.06%)
12 – No chance of action (8.06%)
13 – Bad past experience (6.45%)
14 – Too difficult / too much scrutiny (3.23%)
15 – Better options (6.45%)
16 – Other / meta (3.23%)

Well, that was depressing. What about the quantitative data analysis page?

  • Admins: in the last year there have been 322 unique admins involved in the ANI cases.
  • Boomerang: out of a total 3,083 cases, the reporter was blocked in 483 cases.
  • Newbies beware: 1,256 users have reported cases, the average age of their accounts is 6.29 years

China shuts down “Feminist Voices”

UPDATE: And,….Xi is now “president for life”.

Can’t figure out what is going on here.

Everyone knows Wikipedia is blocked in China, and the Chinese Wikipedia is written by expats and Taiwanese, maybe a few from Hong Kong — not sure how that works with Hong Kong part of China now.

China has just shut down the group “Feminist Voices”, and on the day after International Women’s Day.  According to this Twitter thread, the #MeToo hashtag is censored as well, and this has something to do with China’s strongman Xi Jinping.

“At the time of suspension, Feminist Voices had over 172,000 views and over 180,000 followers.”

There is a WaPo article about Xi Jinping, and how his authoritarianism depends on suppressing women — if you can get past their paywall, lately they’re even more aggressive than the NYT.

NPR talks about #MeToo.

China did the same thing last year, only before International Women’s Day.