Every hero becomes a bore at last. -Emerson
Two aphorisms. Here is the first piece, from Twitter:
Don’t grieve because reality isn’t what you thought it was. Don’t cry because your heroes were hollow and complicit. Be grateful the truth is out. Now you have choices.
When the pain of things staying the same is greater than the fear of change, things change. It is up to you and me to make change happen.
This tweet, picked out of Katherine’s Twitter feed, is about the MIT/Joi Ito/Jeffrey Epstein scandal, as well as Lawrence Lessig’s inexcusable defense of Ito (but not the underage girls who were sex-trafficked) (Lessig’s eccentric campaign for president was endorsed by Jimmy Wales), but it strikes a chord, about leaders, about choosing allies, about Framgate of course, and ultimately about trust, misplaced or otherwise.
How do you stop harassment without re-victimizing the harassed? Some things can only take place in private. So how are those decisions made, and who decides? Ultimately, without safeguards and review processes, it all boils down to trust. We are asked to trust decision-making that takes place in the dark, but who can you trust?
Arbcom? Trust & Safety? Or is it too early to place hope in the Strategy process, which represents a much broader swath of The Community than the band of brigands that has taken over Wikipedia’s inner city, and turned it into a rock-throwing slum.
The second piece, from Sucks:
So Fram is the kind of person, who attacks new products in their infancy, instead of helping out? The kind of person, who demotivates good-willing, hard-working contributors by criticizing the early issues, that are part of any new project, and unavoidable? Anybody who nurtured a project into adolescence knows this is part of the process, and respects the hard work behind what’s been achieved. It seems he has no such experience, and does not know what it takes to make it work.
This is about the new Fram bogpost on Wikipediocrazy. “Wikidata: Melania Trump was a ‘former sex worker and porn star’”. Quite obviously Fram does not understand what is going on with WikiData and is trying to turn back the clock to a day when WikiData didn’t exist. It was kind of weird though for Wikipediocracy to publish the thing after the Fram arbcom case started, and before it was closed. But this is not just about Fram, although Fram may be the most obvious example right now. It is about the way users are treated, the way that the inevitable problems that always surface are to be solved.
This huge philosophical difference, I think, can go a long way to explaining some of the WMF other controversial moves, for instance the Brill Lyle ban. Bril Lyle was also hugely critical of startup programs, not offering constructive criticism, but just trashing people who were trying something new, without much in terms of analysis or suggestions for the future.
And in the end, an organization that doesn’t try new programs and new ways of reaching people is going to die from lack of new blood. The old blood of course may try to find ways to keep its entrenched privilege and whatever small perks they have managed to hoard — the smaller the perk, the more cutthroat the competition. But if Wikimedia doesn’t find a way to give these new voices some breathing room, and figure out how to onboard them without taking casualties, they will eventually grind to a halt just from attrition, failure to adapt to changing circumstances, and reputational damage among those who are best placed and most inclined to lend their expertise.
No one yet seems to have pointed out the irony of Fram handling problems by getting rid of the person he disagreed with vs. T&S handling the Fram problem by getting rid of Fram.
And the arbitration committee has once again proved it is incapable of solving any of Wikipedia’s problems. This time they are about to deprecate the word “harassment“, which is an actual policy with a clear definition.
Because the word “harassment” spans a wide variety of types of behavior, and because this word as used off-wiki can carry serious legal and human-resources overtones, at times it may be better to describe allegedly problematic on-wiki behavior such as “wikihounding” with more specific terminology.
What kind of arbspeak is that? And “Overtones”? They don’t want to police civility, which is an actual pillar, but they will police “tone”? Oooh it’s a Wikipedia article, : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_policing The category is relevance fallacies.
And they don’t say what kind of “more specific terminology” might be best utilized to protect their friends, and insulate them from the consequences of their “allegedly problematic” bullying. May I suggest “fluffy bunnies”.
And since this is your paper doll and coloring connection, here is your fluffy bunny mask, so you too can pretend to be an arbcom hat-collector and protect your
harassing, er, “more specific terminology” friends. It’s not too early to start planning that Halloween costume!