As a former administrator on the Wikipedia project, at one time, I thought Wikipedia was a great project.
I no longer believe that today.
Below in my bio, I'm pasting my original goodbye message to the project. I've had a few interactions since, mostly on the wikien-l mailing list. Since then, and since exposing some of Wikipedia's problems, certain high-up mentalities in the group have decided that I'm to be "silenced"; my posts are now "moderated" and mysteriously don't show up to the mailing list at all.
In the coming weeks, however long it takes me to go through the problems I see, I'll be posting my analyses of why Wikipedia has failed to this blog. I hope you'll come and read, I hope you'll enjoy, and I hope that insightful comments, rather than the standard flaming which is the trademark of Wikipedia "personalities", are the responses I receive.
Sincerely, Parker Peters
------- Hi everyone, To those I've known at Wikipedia and worked well with, thanks for the good times. I used to believe in Wikipedia. It was worth a lot to me, it was fun, it was good to work on articles.
But I'm quitting. It's sad to say, I know, and even sadder that due to my reasons for quitting, I can't trust leaving a goodbye message on my user page or mailing from my normal account. But for the things I am about to say, I know that several admins and possibly those higher up in the project would ban me just for saying it. I know this message may never reach this list either, but I'm at least going to try. I'm doing it this way because someday, I might want to come back, and I'd like to be able to come back under the same username I left.
I'm quitting wikipedia because I don't like what I've seen too many admins become. Self-righteous, arrogant, self-centered, conceited... jerks.
I've seen too many admins who believe that our civility policies only apply to the normal editors. Too many admins whose first course is to insult a new user in order to see if they get a "reaction" so that they can spank the new user for talking back to an admin.
I've seen too many admins block accounts for infinite duration on flimsy evidence or mere whim.
I've seen admins block accounts with the reason of "name..", and then block another account for the reason that it was a "suspected sockpuppet" - of the offensive username block.
I've seen more accusations thrown around of someone being a "sockpuppet" of another user. Time and again, I looked through the edits, and I didn't see it. Instead, what I saw were users who were systematically hounded until they finally broke down and broke the civility rules, and then as an afterthought someone came up and said "oh, it doesn't matter, they were a sockpuppet of X anyways", thereby removing all culpability on the part of the abusive users who had spent time hounding and abusing the newbie to the point of cussing or vandalizing.
I've seen the way accusations of "sockpuppet" have become a way of life in content disputes, and I've see how the admins on wikipedia do absolutely nothing about it. Too many despicable pov warriors spend their time accusing anyone they disagree with on one article or another of being a "sockpuppet", and never does a CheckUser come back innocent. The one time I ever saw CU come back inconclusive, the admin blocked them for being a sockpuppet anyways, claiming they had "proof" in the form of edit summaries, which is to say that the user was editing on the same article where the admin's friends had previously harassed someone.
I saw a thread earlier today which I thought was monstrous - a user whose talk page was locked for "unblock template abuse", whose only crime or "abuse" of the template was removing the template after the blocking admin consistently and maliciously removed it. This thread was stopped by the assertion of David Gerard that the person who started the thread was "Enviroknot." I don't give a damn who started the thread, if the question is valid, the question is valid. I looked at the user in question, and I see plenty of problems with the way it was handled, and at least two admins who deserve at the least a stern censure and at the most, de-adminning for abusive behavior. We NEED users to bring these problems up. We NEED to cull the herd of abusive administrators.
But there's no way in hell I can say that with my normal username, because David's terms are clear: the usage of the term "sockpuppet" stops all rational discussion, and anyone disagreeing with David gets banned.
Anyone who says that there are abusive administrators out there, or speaks out against a specific one they've had a run-in with? The cry of "Rouge Admin lololol lets see how can I pwn this noob today, take that and stop annoying the admins" is the cry that goes out, not "that sounds serious, I'll take a look."
We are too arrogant. I've seen Jimbo use the excuse of "well troll X doesn't like it so they are doing right" or "well you must be correct because the wikipediareview crowd doesn't like you" as a way to justify bad behavior in the wikimedia IRC room and even on this list. I've seen countless times where good users are attacked for speaking up and saying this same thing: We, the overwhelming number of admins on the project, are too arrogant. Too self-centered.
We spend too much time "defending" wikipedia and not enough time bringing new users into the fold, being polite, being nice. Teaching them about policies, about the manual of style. Editing alongside them. Admins are supposed to be "just another editor with a few extra buttons", but too many admins today get drunk on that power. They insist that normal editors are "beneath" them, that they should be able to own articles and give their friends a hand up when content disputes arise. If you're friends with an admin, rest assured that your buddies will call someone a name, get one called back, and then ask you to punish the other guy for "incivility." And you'll do it, too, without a moment's hesitation, simply because you have the power to do it.
I've sat in the IRC channel watching a user come in to ask for help only to be rebuffed, attacked, insulted, and finally booted because "no new user could ever find the IRC chat room, they are obviously a sockpuppet of some disruptive user." I sat by silently because I knew if I spoke out, they'd just boot me too for being "disruptive."
And you know what? I'm tired of it. Our articles are suffering because even the good edits of supposed "sockpuppets" are being reverted by overly-zealous admins who believe that they have to hunt for every edit made by someone they think is banned - even if it's just a typo fix - and revert it. Yes, I have watched this in action. I have watched admins put obvious page-tagging edits like an insertion of "joe is a fag" back because the user who reverted the vandalism was someone deemed a "sockpuppet" by our completely erroneous and pointless system.
The Wiki is broken. It's not the vandals who broke it. Those we could handle. It's not the edit warriors who broke it. Those we can handle.
WE, the admins of wikipedia, broke it. We broke it by being stuck-up jerks. We broke it by thinking we are better than normal editors, by getting full of ourselves.
And every one of the admins on wikipedia, myself included, has been guilty of it at one point. Some are more guilty than others. Some are jerks 100% of the time. Some have become so obsessed with their pet sockpuppet, be it Enviroknot, Freestylefrappe, Willy on Wheels, Entmoots, Pigsonthewing, JarlaxleArtemis, Karmafist, Lir, PoolGuy, or whatever else their pet sockpuppet of the week is that they are no longer useful.
Some never should have passed RFA to start with. Some deliberately gamed the system and pulled support from a specific interest group to get passed, then turned around and started immediately abusing their power to help the interest group and haven't stopped since. Some are likely sockpuppets of serial edit warriors.
Some are just insane.
And some of us just are human, and fail to appreciate that, and fall victim to power tripping behavior. I think that the admin behavior which made this list moderation-default falls under that. But that's another of those things that is "not up for discussion."
Too many things are not open for discussion. Too many of the verboten topics center around people who are on power trips, or were at the time they took some action. Too many times admins seeking to consolidate their power bases or trading favors with other admins have stood up for improper, abusive behavior.
So, I'm out. As long as the cult of adminship reigns here, wikipedia's not going to improve. New articles may come and edits might be made eventually, but the state of wikipedia, our accuracy, our reliability, WILL fail as long as admins are allowed to champion abusive users or be abusive themselves and simply get away with it time and again, rubber stamped by secret evidence and higher-ups who are more interested in their own power than making a better encyclopedia.
Jimbo, this might as well be an open letter to you too. None of the rest of these spineless yes-men will ever say these things to your face. Hell, I couldn't at the last meetup, because I was so afraid that you or Danny or one of the other high-ups would note down my username and ban me. That's the atmosphere you've cultivated.