History of the lock
- 17:10, 26 June 2011A steward globally locked the account.
- 1 July 2011 Wikiversity bureaucrat notes global lock, states that the editor is requesting, presumably by email, Wikiversity delinking. (Ensuing discussion showed very strong opinions that the user would definitely be socking, cannot be trusted, etc.)
- 22:07, 2 July 2011 I requested the steward explain the lock. The steward's response was mysterious. Use of the global requests page was suggested.
- 01:35, 4 July 2011 I requested global unlock at meta. There were some bizarre comments in the discussion, such as a claim that the lock had been decided in a discussion in 2008.
- 02:41, 5 July 2011 A steward unlocked, as "out of scope," i.e., lock not based on normal lock reasons, i.e., recent cross-wiki abuse. The editor was only editing Wikiversity, and was not blocked there.
- 12:03, 8 July 2011 meta RfC/Global ban for [the editor] was started.
- 21:07, 26 July 2011 uninvolved steward closed the RfC with ban.
- 21:07, 26 July 2011 steward locked the account.
- 17:48, 29 July 2011 I requested the steward delink the Wikiversity account as suggested in the RfC, particularly on the RfC Talk page.
- 16:26, 30 July 2011 The steward declined the request, deferring to local 'crats.
I have a special interest in the independence of local wikis, and facilitated the process that led to the delinking and unban of Thekohser on Wikiversity. I had no prior interaction with this editor other than as can be seen on Wikiversity, where I argued against deletion of the editor's work on bible translation. I was not solicited to intervene (contrary to assumptions on Wikipedia Review). Once I began intervention, I received email from the editor, who has approved of my actions, including the proposal of delinking. It has been claimed that the user spreads misinformation and lies by email, with that being a reason for global ban, but my description of his history is not based on his representations, except as noted below ("He explained..." "He claims...").
Danger to Wikiversity?
It has been alleged that this editor will accumulate a history of positive contributions, then will use this to obtain advanced privileges. The positive contributions are framed as "manipulation of the community." The last example would be on Wikisource, where he had, with the private approval of bureaucrats and checkusers, established a new account, according to common practice when a user expects harassment due to old activities. No problems had appeared with that account, as can be seen in the RfA as it stood when a user raised the issue of "other accounts," he had solid support. He responded evasively. He has explained that his agreement with the bureaucrats and checkusers, who had explicitly approved his RfA, would have had them explain to the community that they knew his identity, and that it was safe to allow him to be an administrator. The agreement also provided that his identity -- and the agreement -- would be disclosed to the community at the first annual confirmation, and that it would also be disclosed if his identity came out. Almost all of this is confirmed by the email that was released by the CUs and 'crats.
It is Abd's opinion that the user seriously erred in responding evasively, that he should have either withdrawn the RfA or declined to answer, acknowledging that he'd had prior problems and that his new account was a clean start. That would have set the stage for the 'crats and CUs to make their defense, and he probably would still have passed, unless he was outed. Abd has not researched the sequencing of this, however. It is not clear how the identity of this user with that account was established, thus justifying the release of the email.
That evasive response is the only questionable action I found in examining the Wikisource affair, at the end of last year. The user contributed heavily to Wikisource, and because the user withdrew from Wikisource quickly, there was little disruption. Wikisource, then, was not harmed -- except by the loss of a positive contributor. There was, however, some level of public criticism of the 'crats and CUs for having allowed him to edit and apply for adminship. My sense is that their decision was proper and reasonable, but there was a (minor) error in allowing him to apply for adminship without his identity being disclosed. There are very strong feelings about what this user did in the past, and they should have anticipated that users would consider the secrecy deceptive.
Because he has been editing openly on Wikiversity, with no disruptive editing, with, indeed, many helpful edits, and because, were he actually dangerous, there is less danger due to his identity being known, there is practically no danger in allowing him to continue, and Wikiversity has a tradition of allowing users who have been alleged to be disruptive elsewhere to edit, as long as they do not violate local policy. This is a sound tradition, and no reason was shown that the user would actually harm Wikiversity if allowed to edit.
We have a prior example, Thekohser, who was blocked on Wikiversity by Jimbo Wales, using his Founder tools. That was followed up by a global lock, by the lifting of the lock with a steward going around to all the wikis and blocking directly to allow local decisions, some wikis unblocking, and then another steward relocking with no explanation except "global ban." Abd initiated discussion of this on Wikiversity, and, ultimately, SBJ closed the discussion with a comment that a ban should require consensus, not unban. The consensus for unban was 3/4 (and the same result was ultimately obtained at Wikibooks. At that point, there was some substantial opinion that "defying a steward" would bring down fire and brimstone, but not only did that not happen, the current locking steward noted on response to my request that 'crats may reverse the effect. It is within local autonomy to do so.
It may be argued that there should be a discussion. Given the history of discussions of this user, we can expect, if there is, say, a Community Review on this issue, there will be many drop-in votes to ban. The user is extremely unpopular, on other wikis. On Wikiversity, he's been completely cooperative and non-disruptive. Wikiversity should avoid this discussion. Rather, if he is delinked, and if a problem develops, any custodian could block. Given the history, I would watch this user carefully, warning him if necessary and requesting custodian action if it seems needed. I do not expect problems.
A ban discussion here is not ordinarily begun without a local user going through normal process of warning the user, requesting custodian action, etc., and banning a user who isn't even blocked is very unusual. That's why I'm willing to suggest initial action without discussion to release the effect of the lock. That effect can easily be replaced by any custodian, with more precision (including blocking email if necessary), using the block tool.
He claims that he has no socks on Wikiversity. SUL automatically creates accounts if a user merely reads a local wiki, there might be some accidental account creations. However, his stated intention is to only edit Wikiversity with a single account, the named one to be delinked. He may have legitimate accounts on other wikis. He had one on Wikisource, for example, and he may have gone through the same process elsewhere. I have not asked him about accounts on other wikis, but, in spite of all the attention, in spite of stewards being quite aware of him, in spite of his having open edits as the user here, making global checkuser much easier, nothing has been reported.
Contacting the editor
The editor currently is currently unblocked on Wikiversity, though he cannot edit because of the lock. He can use email, and will send email on request, through the WV interface, if anything needs verification. Generally whatever is done with this user should be open, excepting only a simple request for user name change, as might often be done privately. In this case, the name would be changed back, which keeps the identity clear and avoids the kind of issues that arose at Wikisource. The private request is only to avoid unnecessary disruption in the absence of local problems, to restore the status quo ante.
The move against this user was initiated and pushed largely by functionaries, including arbitrators from Wikipedia, who are applying Wikipedia-like standards to the situation. The original offenses alleged (which have been admitted by the user) were in connection with Wikipedia. However, he did also, in 2008, sock on Wikiquote, where he had a 'crat account, and was a checkuser, plus he had an additional administrative account, and at least one other sock, and he multiply voted. However, what I've noticed in all the polls I checked was that his votes did not change the outcome. It's mysterious, in fact, why he bothered to do this. Nevertheless, it would be wise to follow his participation in polls.
This user will, from prior history, contribute valuable work to Wikiversity, making some level of monitoring worthwhile. As a highly experienced user (and checkuser), what will prevent him from socking is the existence of a voluntary agreement, with clear consequences for violation, but no real restriction in the agreement itself. If Wikiversity protects him from harassment, he is unlikely to betray the trust. If he does, however (as those calling for his absolute ban have claimed), history shows that his departure will not be disruptive as to his actions, he's been, in effect, cooperative, letting go easily, not attacking the communities rejecting him.
Most important here, though, is the principle of not allowing a user to be sanctioned or harassed, if the user is not disruptive. This has been, and should continue to be, very important to Wikiversity.