Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sigh. Wikipedia needs better admins. Really.

This evening an editor came to me and asked me if was an admin. I told him I wasn't, but asked him why he asked. He proceeded to tell me how he had been blocked for 96 hours for being "too argumentative" and his talk page protected in order to keep him from continuing "personal attacks". I looked at the incident. The individual in question is certainly being argumentative, but his arguments appear civil, if emphatic, and certainly are not personal attacks unless one considers a statement that "you are abusing your authority as an admin" as a personal attack. (Hint: it is not.) Furthermore, the event which apparently earned him his block was his declaration that he was going to gather evidence for an RfC. So, apparently, a group of admins blocked this individual (and substantially curtailed his ability to appeal that block by protecting his talk page) simply because he declared his intent to avail himself of Wikipedia's formal dispute resolution process.

Even if this guy really does deserve to be blocked -- and I am certainly not convinced of that -- conduct such as this just stinks. If someone says "I'm going to sue you" you do not shoot them in the knees, or hire thugs to tackle him should he make a move toward the courthouse. And yet this is basically what has been done here. What saddens me even more is that several of the parties involved here are people who I thought were reasonable admins. By blocking this guy after his declaration of intent to file an RfC, you effectively tell this guy "no, dude, you won't do that. We control you. You will do what we say, or you will leave. Get it? Good." That might not have been the intended message, but it certainly is the delivered message.

I hope this guy gets the chance to actually file his RfC, and I hope that it's not another one of those silly mutual backscratching sessions that most RfCs filed by combative but well-meaning editors turn into, where the target of the RfC gets all of his friends to pile on comments about how he's the best admin in the history of Wikipedia and the complaintant is nothing but a whiny troll who is just upset because X didn't go the way he wanted it to. Editors get upset for all sorts of reasons. Admins should try to make them less upset, not beat them up because they are upset. Nice job, guys. Now not only is the editor still upset, but now he's mad at being blocked, in his opinion unfairly, and he wants vindication.

When the hell will these people ever learn?