While the vocal editors of English Wikipedia were busy debating the ban of admin Fram, a new user was blocked by a high-profile admin, who had an axe to grind. To support this block, another high-profile admin stepped, alleging sock-puppetry for an unused old account – the most serious offense in wikipedian terms. If nothing else, this guarantees to push out an editor.

Throughout a month, a few more – closely related – admins joined in to reject any appeals and waste time, mostly with “procedural reasons” and a few more false allegations. What started as a content debate, escalated to a complex abuse and harassment case. The Arbitration Committee observed the whole situation play out, and refused to protect the editor from the abuse and policy violations.

We also acknowledge that ArbCom has struggled to handle civility and harassment complaints in a way that adequately balances privacy against transparency, and due process to the accused against victim protection. (source: Open letter from the Arbitration Committee to the WMF Board)

The following documentation of these events show there is a great need to develop the community processes on the English Wikipedia, so incidents don’t escalate to the level, where the WMF’s intervention is necessary again.

Incident on 17 June (detailed timeline)

The harassment started when an admin - involved in a conflict with the editor - blocked him indefinitely, without a warning, in a mere 22 hours after another editor, also with a conflict of interest, accused him of “bludgeoning”. There was no trial, nor evidence of wrongdoing. The blocking admin reverted the refutal of the allegations, calling it “disruptive”.

The blocking admin was asked multiple times to justify his action, as required by the admin accountability policy. Instead, he escalated the block, revoked talk page access, and declined an unblock request on the old account, although this is prohibited for the blocking admin.

Incident on 29 June (detailed timeline)

Another checkuser admin “responded” to the unblock request by interrogating about alternative accounts. There was an inactive old account, and another for public places, also inactive. These were not used abusively (not used at all). For privacy reasons these were declared only to the Arbitration Committee. After some inquiry to the nature of the admin’s visit, he decided, the ArbCom and the policies about legitimate alt accounts, the declaration of those, and CheckUser tool use do not matter, and escalated the block.

  • 15:32, 29 June 2019 - “Since you’re so enamored of Arbcom, you can appeal to them. This is now a CU block. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 15:32, 29 June 2019 (UTC)”
  • 16:00, 29 June 2019 - “Might I ask you (1) which point was the ground for checking, and (2) how a forgotten signature mistakenly added by another account becomes inappropriate use of alternative accounts? —Aron M 16:00, 29 June 2019 (UTC)”
  • 16:21, 29 June 2019 - “You know what, I don’t even care any more. It’s no longer a CU block, and I don’t want to have anything to do with you any more. Please, no one contact me about this editor; I’ve washed my hands of it. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 16:21, 29 June 2019 (UTC)”

Mind-bogglingly, the allegations are still publicly visible, but the CheckUser block was reverted.

The full correspondence of this ongoing harassment: outline.

Comparison with German Wikipedia

Questioning or criticizing administrative actions are most likely to get an editor blocked on English Wikipedia (boomerang, as it is called). In comparison the German Wikipedia has established solutions to balance over-the-top administrative actions. (source: The Unblockables and how German Wikipedia has at least one more option )