Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wiki autonomy...or then not

Back in 2007, I adopted a Wikia wiki named WarWiki. I revived it, imported a fair bunch of articles from English Wikipedia (with attribution, naturally) and so on. Then I moved on to work on other things (such as being a Wikia janitor, but that was quite a while ago) and didn't have so much time for that wiki.

WarWiki was relatively quiet, only a couple edits per week, mostly from random anonymous users. I decided to clean the wiki up a bit, and started by disabling Wikia's Welcome Tool (HAWelcome extension); don't get me wrong, HAWelcome is very nice extension, at least from a technical point of view, but some wikis prefer to do welcomes "old-school" style — that is, to have real users welcome other users instead of bots. I find it quite annoying when the welcome bot leaves a "Hi, thanks for your edit" message to a spambot. No wiki needs any more of those!

So, I disabled Welcome Tool, deleted some old IP talk pages, and also Welcome Tool's user page and its talk page. A couple of days after this, I gave sysop rights to a couple friends of mine, as I thought that they could help me revive this wiki. What a fool I was. The next day, a Wikia staff member undeleted Welcome Tool's user page and talk page and re-enabled the Welcome Tool. So much for that wiki autonomy.

But wait! This story isn't over just yet...

After this stunt, my fellow co-administrators disabled Welcome Tool once again and re-deleted its user and talk pages. Guess what this earned us? Mass-deoppings, that's what. I lost my bureaucrat and sysop rights, and all the people I had promoted to admin status a couple days earlier lost their sysop rights. For a while, WarWiki had only one (inactive) bureaucrat and two inactive admins. All active admins had lost their rights...and for what? Hmm, that's a good question. You see, we were never told the reason! Last time I checked, there was a box on Special:UserRights labeled "Reason for change".

The above is a screenshot of Special:UserRights special page on you see the box I'm talking about? Yeah, I see it there too.

A page I had deleted earlier, related to Wikia's new "blog" feature, was also undeleted by the Wikia staff member in question. I don't feel that blogs are appropriate for every wiki, and that's exactly why I had deleted the page earlier on.

After a relatively long and painful discussion with another Wikia staff member, I got my sysop rights back — of course, after I had been suspected of "doing a subtle troll". I haven't edited WarWiki since that, because I feel that their behavior towards me was at least highly questionable, if not more.

What does this remind me of? It certainly reminds me of this blog post by Mikko Hyppönen, the Chief Research Officer of F-Secure (English Wikipedia's article on F-Secure). His blog post has a link to Michael Krigsman's Project Failures Analysis regarding Mikko's problems with Twitter; I suggest checking it out. I think this quote sums it up nicely:

[...]this situation offers a case study example of immature customer service and suggests problems with the organization’s corporate culture.

~Michael Krigsman [source]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Blogs aren't appropriate for any wiki.