The project has four focus areas, and blocking is just one of them. Here's
the whole picture:

* Detection and prevention: Using machine learning to help flag situations
for admin review -- both text that looks like it's harassing and
aggressive, as well as modeling patterns of user interaction, like stalking
and hounding, before the situation gets out of control.

* Reporting: Building a new system to encourage editors to reach out for
help, in a way that's less chaotic and stressful than the current system.

* Evaluation: Giving admins and others tools that help them evaluate
harassment cases, and make good decisions.

* Blocking: Making it more difficult for banned users to come back.

We'll be actively working on all four areas. There aren't a ton of details
right now about exactly what we'll build, for a couple reasons. The product
manager and the analyst haven't started yet, and the research that they do
will generate a lot of new ideas and insights. Also, we're going to work
closely with the community -- talking to people with different roles and
perspectives, and making plans in collaboration with contributors who are
interested in these issues. So there's lots of work and thinking and
consulting to do.

But here's one idea that I'm personally excited about, which I think helps
to explain why we're focusing on tools:

Right now, when two people end up at AN/I, the only way to figure out whose
version of the story to believe is by looking at individual, cherrypicked
diffs. You can also look through the two editors' contributions, but if
they're both active editors and the problem has been going on for a while,
then it's very difficult to get a sense of what's going on. Sometimes it
really matters who did what first, and you have to correlate the two
contributions logs, and pay attention to timestamps.

The idea is: build a tool that helps admins (and others) follow the "story"
of this conflict. Look for the pages where the two editors have interacted,
and show a timeline that helps you see what happened first, how they
responded, and how the drama unfolded. That could reduce the time cost of
investigating and evaluating considerably, making it much easier for an
admin or mediator to get involved.

There are lots of UI questions about how that would work and what it would
look like, but I don't think it would be too difficult on the tech side.
The information is already there in the contributions; it's just difficult
to correlate by hand.

Assuming it works, that tool could have a lot of good outcomes. Admins
would be more likely to take on harassment cases, because there'd be
greater return for the time investment. It would take some of the burden
off the target, so they don't have to figure out which individual diffs
they should provide in order to make their case. Also, it would be harder
for harassers to get away with mistreating people, because they wouldn't be
able to hide behind a smokescreen of random diffs.

As folks on this thread have said, there are lots of other components to
tackling the harassment problems. There will probably be groups of admins
and others who are especially interested in helping with the reporting and
evaluation, and the Foundation could provide trainings and resources for
those groups. Making changes to the reporting system will involve a lot of
community discussions about policies and competing values. Some of those
conversations and plans will probably be led by the Foundation, and some of
them will arise naturally within the community.

For this specific team -- the Community Tech product team, working with the
community advocate -- our focus is on doing research and building tools
that will support those conversations and plans. We're not going to take
over the community's proper role in setting policy, or making decisions
about how to handle cases.

To Fæ's point, the community will determine the social and cultural
decisions about how to treat harassment cases, and our team's job is to
build software that will help to put those decisions into practice.

On Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 3:06 AM, Fæ <> wrote:

> On 27 January 2017 at 09:21, Lodewijk <> wrote:
> ...
> > Do I understand correctly that this particular initiative will focus on
> > fighting harassment, and not necessarily on preventing it? Basically in a
> > similar pattern that vandalism is fought on most wikipedia projects?
> >
> > I really hope that prevention, education and (social) training will
> become
> > a major point in the overall agenda, but I can imagine that we can't pay
> > all that from the single grant :) So I just would like to place it in the
> > proper context.
> >
> > Best,
> > Lodewijk
> +1 Spot on.
> The plan appears to hinge on blocks as the outcome. Based on cases of
> long term harassment targeted at individuals which invariably involved
> off-wiki doxxing or contacting friends and family members of their
> target, blocking Wikimedia accounts is an approach that may remove
> Wikimedia projects as a platform but does little to help reform the
> person causing harassment. I would rather see systems that include
> reaching out to the apparent harasser to help them recognize and deal
> with their anger or obsessive issues. Treating badly behaved
> individuals as the "other", without aiming for a lasting resolution,
> means we are back to the old days of telling the unfortunate
> target/victim to change their identity or grow a thicker skin as the
> on-line harassment may never stop.
> Fae
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