WTF portal

So much potty-mouth, so little time.

Two weeks ago there was some nastiness over on Phabricator over the soft launch of the new WMF website, that boiled over onto the wikitech mailing list.

This is what happened.  Some German text appeared in heading of the landing page of the new site.  This is what it looked like:
The text says “Stell dir eine Welt vor, in der jeder einzelne Mensch frei an der Summe allen Wissens teilhaben kann.” Running this through Google translate gives us “Imagine a world in which every single person can freely participate in the sum of all knowledge.”

This was logged as a bug on Phabricator, but the WMF blithely closed it, saying it was a design feature, was still being worked on to include more languages, and they should read the memo, which no one could find.  Then things got ugly, and eventually someone typed “What the fuck?”, a remark that has now been removed. The bru-ha-ha boiled over onto the mailing list, where a memo was eventually produced saying in part,

“While we encourage criticism and productive comments to improve the software, comments like “What the fuck” do not contribute to the discussion and turns the discussion from respectful criticism to folks swearing at other folks.”

And this from Brian Vibber

I would advise you generally to treat wikitech-l like a professional workspace, which it is for those of us who are employees of WMF or WMDE.

If your corporate HR department would frown at you making a statement about people’s character or motivations with derogatory language, think twice about it. Treat people with respect.

The whole exchange on the phabricator bug report seems to me like swatting a gnat with a howitzer – an over-reaction on the part of the volunteers – but you have to remember the technical community had just been treated somewhat cavalierly by the WMF over the Go Fish Digital affair. (See Is something fishy at Wikipedia?)

First the concerns of the technical community were brushed off and they were told to talk nice about Go Fish, in what was most certainly a serious COI matter.  Then the WMF flat out lied to the technical community, saying there had been no private data involved when it was obvious from reading the various Phabricator tickets that WMF Legal had been involved, and that Go Fish Digital had actually signed NDA agreements exactly because they would have access to personal data.  No one said anything at the time, probably because of the potential security issues, and because Go Fish Digital still had access to the personal data at that time. But no one went to the technical community later and thanked them for standing guard on the watchtower.

So this isn’t just a matter of a volunteer trashing an employee, who is not allowed to respond in kind because of employee workplace standards.  It is one in a series of frustrations in which the technical community appears to have been routinely treated in a dismissive fashion.

But, whatever.  At this point, “What the fuck” is now pretty clearly off limits on Phabricator.

But not on Facebook.  This was just jarring.

I thought the Wikipedia Weekly Facebook group was moderated, but apparently not.  Here is the entire thread:

This is pretty misleading. It is not a skull, it is template for a portal, and the person they are mocking is respected Wikipedian Daniel Case, who I believe is using his real name here. This is the edit, adding four portal templates at once: {{portal|Bridges|Death|Disasters|Italy}}. [diff] To equate this with vandalism is irresponsible, not to mention mocking him with the edit war prediction and the lisp imitation. He and his wife have been around for a while, and they’re good people.

portal grouping

The Death Portal is a thing, and is associated with the Death Wikiproject. On the portal you can find a list of their outstanding articles and DYKs, a list of disasters and accidents from WikiNews, some charts of topics and categories to help you navigate the topic, some recent obits, and even a link to who died on this day.

The death toll for the Ponte Morandi bridge collapse now stands at 39.

If they are really so obsessed with the skull on the death portal they should replace it with the candle image [link] commonly used for deceased Wikipedians, instead of trash-talking respected Wikipedians who pitch in to help with fast-breaking events.

What is wrong with people, indeed.

This deserves a spot on the Wikipedia Potty Mouth List.

[Why are all of Aretha’s recordings of “Repect” getting taken down?…] shrug, okay here’s another

2 thoughts on “WTF portal


    I guess the site where the sum of all human knowledge is being assembled has yet to be considered a professional workplace which comes under the Code of Conduct. Though I’ve seen some editors with (WMF) in their user names occasionally at work there.

    Your opinion on whether there is an “obvious and uncontentious reason for a block here, because an editor has stepped over the line in a manner nearly all editors can see”?

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