On Sat, 30 Jan 2016, Trillium Corsage wrote:

30.01.2016, 14:03, "Maggie Dennis" <email clipped>:

The pictures may not be the individuals at all; they may be pornographic
pictures of others that are misattributed. And sometimes the attribution is
not to a real name, but to their usernames. In all cases, the intent seems
to be to humiliate and hurt the target. Sometimes the goal seems to be to
drive them away.

That was the story of Lightbreather, a English Wiipedia editor that self-identified as female. She ran afoul of some other editor that (IIRC, I'm confident this is basically correct) that labeled some images on a porn site as being her (they were labeled "Lightbreather"). The outcome (GET THIS!) was that she (Lightbreather!) was formally banned by Arbcom for complaining about it at Wikipedia. They said she was "outing" the culprit by calling attention to his off-wiki activities.
Horrendous I know and tends to shows that Arbcom and the rest of Enwiki 
administrative structure genuinely have a problem with women, which they are 
often alleged to (i.e. in Gamergate and all that).

Trillium Corsage

Unfortunately you memory is not quite correct regarding Lightbreather.
She was not banned for complaining about being harassed, she was banned for repeated and persistent breaches of behavioural policies on Wikipedia, repeated breaches of topic bans related to gun control, ownership of articles, revert and edit warring, casting aspersions, causing disruption to make a point and, partictularly, outing attempting to out another editor (on and off Wikipedia) - despite being explicitly warned (more than once) that she must not do that.

The full decision can be read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Lightbreather#Final_decision

She was, very unfortunately and completely unacceptably, harassed off-wiki by two individuals during the case (so far as I am aware, independently). One of those individuals was banned as soon as we (arbcom) were made aware of the harassment as there was a clear and direct link to a Wikipedia user.

There was not a direct link between the other harasser and any Wikipedia user, and so ArbCom, the English Wikipedia functionaries team and the Foundation spent a lot of time and effort investigating who the harasser was. This investigation produced an indirect link (with iirc at least four intermediate steps) to a specific Wikipedia editor, but there was no consensus that the link was strong enough to take action - although there was universal agreement that the perpertrator should be banned if identified.

Basically there were three possibilities - 1. the Wikipedia editor and the harasser were the same person. 2. the Wikipedia editor was being framed. 3. the harassment was linked to the Wikipedia editor entirely coincidentally. Only in the case of 1 would action against the Wikipedia editor be justified, but the evidence was not strong enough to be sure this was the case. However bad the harassment is, it is important to remember that alleged perpretrators are still innocent until proven otherwise.

After the case (1-2 months later I think) more evidence was found that bypassed the weakest link in the previous chain. After more investigation it was found that this link, while still indirect, was sufficient to connect the harassment to the Wikipedia editor and they were swiftly banned.

Far from punishing Lightbreather for complaining about being harassed, Arbcom, Functionaries and the Foundation all offered her as much support as they were able to deal with the effects of the harassment, to identify her harasser and to take what real-world action she could against that person. Unfortunately, as the law in most jurisdictions is years or even decades behind the times when it comes to harassment, there is all too often very little that can be done through legal channels. In Lightbreather's case, I believe that Lightbreather, her harasser, the WMF and the external website on which she was harassed are all based in different jurisdictions which only makes things even more complicated.

It thus really does not suprise me that the survey respondents report the effectiveness of legal action so poorly.


Chris McKenna


The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes,
but with the heart

Antoine de Saint Exupery

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