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User:JWSchmidt/Blog/5 April 2010

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Back on January 18 Privatemusings mentioned that he wanted to start a new Wikiversity learning project about breaching experiments. From the start, he specified that the new project would concern itself with a search for ethical breaching experiments. Concerned that there could be a low level of appreciation for what he meant by Ethical Breaching Experiments I requested a definition.

"Ethical Breaching Experiment: An experiment which causes no harm in its execution, whilst yielding results useful for the greater good, or which inspire positive change"

I think we can view the Ethical Breaching Experiments project as an ethical breaching experiment. That learning resource did not violate any written policy, guideline or rule, yet it was deleted and Privatemusings was blocked from editing because he created it. Privatemusings got the same response that Rosa Parks got by violating an unwritten rule. Rosa Parks did not violate any law, but she was arrested by over-zealous police. Privatemusings created an interesting learning resource and was blocked from editing by an over-zealous Steward. It is by means of just such "breaching experiments" that justice is slowly brought into the world. I congratulate Privatemusings for creating such a valuable learning project. It teaches us much about the power structure of Wikiversity.

The Scarlet LetterEdit

Of course, academic types asking questions is dangerous. There has never been a shortage of authorities who abuse their positions of responsibility. Scholarly questioners often attract the wrath of such authorities.

When the open letter to the Board was mentioned on the Foundation's email discussion forum it stimulated some interesting commentary. I've always enjoyed creating and providing illustrations for Wikiversity learning projects so I added a couple of illustrations to the page where the open letter had been drafted.

We think, therefore we troll.
The Wikimedia Red Flag Warning. The Scarlet Letter: Wikiversity participants Asking the Board for clarification.


Of course, Wikiversity is too serious for such illustrations so they were removed from the page. I keep forgetting that Wikiversity is a "serious" project where people who follow the rules are blocked, their questions and projects are censored while policy violators become sysops. Bad blocks and bad bans continue to be imposed by abusive sysops and the Wikiversity project is threatened with termination by people who can't be bothered to click "edit" and discuss issues and improve Wikiversity learning resources. Abusive destroyers of content find it easier to delete and block than discuss and edit. Seriously.

Related ReadingEdit

I find it interesting that this discussion shows how several Wikipedians became aware of the Ethical Breaching Experiments project back in January, but they did not go into a tizzy and start calling for deletion of the project. From the start Privatemusings made it clear that his plan for the project was that it be "a good way of organising and executing studies / tests which help the encyclopedia". Why do some Wikipedian's discuss their concerns with Wikiversity participants while others reach for the "delete" and "block" buttons before bothering to talk to people?


The Open Letter to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees has stimulated a small amount of information flow. It appears that Jimmy Wales was authorized by Sue Gardner to perform out-of-process page deletions at Wikiversity; deletion of a harmless learning project that was designed to improve Wikipedia. It appears that Jimmy Wales was authorized by Sue Gardner to block honest Wikiversity participants without warning, participants who had violated no rule or policy. It appears that Jimmy Wales was authorized by Sue Gardner to perform an emergency desysop on a Wikiversity Custodian when no emergency existed. We have been told that the Board is aware of Mr. Wales' censorship of Wikiversity but had no role in authorizing it. The Wikiversity community is intrigued by the fact that the Board has had discussions about closing Wikiversity. We assume that the Board must also have discussed the new Foundation-authorized editorial control over Wikiversity content. Discussion of the closure of Wikiversity by the Board should be a matter of public record. The Board's discussion concerning the Foundation's policy of exercising editorial control at Wikiversity should also be on the public record. Is there an honest member of the Board who will make public the discussions that have been held by the Board concerning the closure of Wikiversity? Will the Board issue a public resolution informing the community about how the Foundation will continue to exercises editorial control over Wikiversity content?