As many of our admins and functionaries are well aware, both the Wikimedia
sites, and the internet architecture as a whole, favour anonymity and
protection of privacy over the ability to track individuals.  When a user
is technically proficient in hiding themselves, platforms and even law
enforcement can have little luck in determining who or where they are.
Anonymity has great benefits, but also can allow great abuses.

There are of course "easy" solutions that would involve changes to our site
accessibility - for instance, requiring secondary identification, such as
social media accounts or verified emails.  However, those are decisions
that the community as a whole needs to discuss, and not something I or my
department can change unilaterally. That said, improving Wikimedia's
blocking tools and detection methods is an area where some progress can be

One of the benefits that this Inspire campaign can provide is open
discussion and consideration of new approaches.

Pax, I am disheartened to see how some of the IdeaLabs are being used to
belittle this problem, and am working over the weekend to keep at least the
worst instances of abuse and hate-speech off of the pages :(


On Sun, Jun 5, 2016 at 9:48 AM, Pine W <> wrote:

> Hi Pax and Pete,
> It sounds like part of the issue in this case may be that may we need more
> effective tools for dealing with troublemakers who are banned but continue
> to return and cause problems. I'm wondering if Patrick Early can comment on
> what efforts WMF is making in terms of dealing with persistent block
> evasion.
> Pine
> On Jun 5, 2016 07:13, "Pax Ahimsa Gethen" <>
> wrote:
>> I am defining harassment primarily as personal attacks, not merely
>> disputes (even strongly-worded disagreement) over content.
>> Some examples of what I consider harassment:
>> - Vandalizing an editor's user or talk page (hence my Inspire proposal:
>> )
>> - Making derogatory comments about an editor's gender, sex, race,
>> ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or (dis)ability
>> - Posting personal information about an editor that was gathered off-Wiki
>> - Evading bans with IP-hopping to do any of the above.
>> These actions not only cause "net harm to community health," they cause
>> unnecessary, avoidable harm to specific individuals, and discourage
>> marginalized people from participating in the project.
>> - Pax
>> On 6/5/16 5:09 AM, Pine W wrote:
>>> Hi Pax,
>>> I agree that blaming the victim is an unsatisfactory resolution.
>>> On the other hand, defining what is meant by "incivility" and
>>> "harassment"
>>> can be very tricky. Just because there is a strong disagreement doesn't
>>> imply that people are being uncivil, and we cannot expect that no one
>>> will
>>> ever lose his or her temper when provoked. Similarly, a pattern of
>>> disagreement doesn't necessarily imply harassment, and the presumption of
>>> good faith is rebuttable which means that questioning the motives of
>>> others
>>> is occasionally OK.
>>> So, as Sumana once said, we have a tricky situation with regards to
>>> balancing free speech with hospitality.
>>> I think there are situations in which behavior is egregious enough that
>>> it
>>> is a net harm to community health and cannot be excused. For example,
>>> comments that demean someone on the basis of race, gender, age,
>>> nationality, or religious or political beliefs, are generally out of
>>> bounds.
>>> I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts about how we should define
>>> harassment, and how we should seek to reduce the frequency of it on
>>> Wikimedia sites.
>>> Thank you for speaking up.
>>> Pine
>>> On Jun 4, 2016 19:15, "Pax Ahimsa Gethen" <>
>>> wrote:
>>> Hi all, I'm Pax aka Funcrunch [1]. I've been a Wikipedian since 2008, but
>>>> this is my first post to this mailing list. (I've been reading list
>>>> messages on the archives page occasionally for the last several months.)
>>>> I'm writing because of a concern I have about the community's attitude
>>>> toward harassment on Wikipedia. I got a Wikinotice about this month's
>>>> Inspire Campaign, which specifically asks: "What ideas do you have that
>>>> can
>>>> help prevent and generally address cases of harassment?" [2] As a
>>>> victim of
>>>> several of the harassing behaviors mentioned as examples - " name
>>>> calling,
>>>> threats, discrimination, stalking, and impersonation" - I was
>>>> encouraged to
>>>> see that this problem was (hopefully) being taken seriously by the
>>>> Foundation, and submitted a proposal.
>>>> Looking at the other proposals submitted, I soon noticed that the most
>>>> popular "ideas" on the list included complaints of "political
>>>> correctness"
>>>> and suggesting we shouldn't be so sensitive [3], and that we should just
>>>> get some sleep and exercise and reconsider why we're so offended. [4]
>>>> (That
>>>> first "idea" has since been recategorized by a WMF staffer to remove it
>>>> from the current campaign.)
>>>> It really bothers me that a campaign specifically designed to combat
>>>> harassment - which is a very serious and real problem for people of
>>>> marginalized identities like myself [5]- is being co-opted by people
>>>> saying
>>>> things like " Harassment doesn't cause actual damage," " The existence
>>>> of
>>>> harassment is an opportunity to improve ourselves further through
>>>> self-discipline," and " Harassment on Wikimedia has been exaggerated." I
>>>> suggest that people who honestly believe this, but are willing to accept
>>>> that they might be wrong, read a recent essay about online harassment by
>>>> Anil Dash: "The Immortal Myths About Online Abuse." [6]
>>>> I'm not "looking to be offended," and I'm not trying to "censor" people
>>>> who simply disagree with me. I'm trying to help build an encyclopedia,
>>>> without being harassed by block-evading stalkers hurling hate speech my
>>>> way. The existing tools and policies are *not* sufficient to deal with
>>>> this. That's (what I thought was) the point of this Inspire campaign,
>>>> not
>>>> complaining about censorship and " crybullying."
>>>> I've posted a much shorter version of this concern on the Inspire
>>>> Campaign
>>>> talk page [7], so feel free to weigh in there instead of here on the
>>>> list
>>>> if that's more appropriate. Thank you for reading.
>>>> - Pax, aka Funcrunch
>>>> [1]
>>>> [2]
>>>> [3]
>>>> !
>>>> [4]
>>>> [5] Queer, trans, and black, in my case.
>>>> [6]
>>>> [7]
>> --
>> Pax Ahimsa Gethen | |
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Patrick Earley
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Wikimedia Foundation
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