"He went AWOL for two months, sir", the Sergent said.
Thanks to computer issues since resolved, we could not work on the blog during the crucial May and June months, a period that would be a good bet for when Wikipedia finally closes shop and the WMF staff slinks out of San Fransisco with the millions taped to their bodies. Suffice it to say, that won't happen again.
The little world of Wikipedia criticism keeps getting roiled by things; in the last month it was HRA1924, which is the collective account of a group claiming to be part of the India Against Corruption movement within India. On the Wikipedia Sucks! board one or more of them was going under the name Moneypenny (with an avatar taken from Wikipedia of Lois Maxwell as the James Bond character), after that was banned, they were using the creative title Username3 (also banned). Of course they were involved with en.Wikipedia, which has a "long-term abuse" page on the group, and a list of the sockpuppets they were using:
- Duffycharles (talk · contribs) (checkuser block, previously blocked for legal threats)
- HRA1924 (talk · contribs) (checkuser block, previously blocked for legal threats)
- Lindashiers (talk · contribs) (checkuser block, previously blocked for legal threats)
- Dkgpatel (talk · contribs) (legal threats)
- Name Defend IPA (talk · contribs) (checkuser block)
- Claus at Name Defend DE (talk · contribs) (legal threats)
- Toby at Name Defend DE (talk · contribs) (block evasion)
- Crapscourge (talk · contribs) (disruption, suspected sockpuppet of Duffycharles)
- Robofmd (talk · contribs) (suspected sockpuppet of HRA1924)
- DocVanTrang (talk · contribs) (checkuser block per Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/HRA1924)
- TrangDocVan (talk · contribs) (checkuser block per Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/HRA1924)
- Landirenzo (talk · contribs) (checkuser block per Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/HRA1924)
- AcorruptionfreeIndia (talk · contribs) (checkuser block)
- Mansjelly (talk · contribs) (block evasion, legal threats)
- TheWikiIndian (talk · contribs) (checkuser block)
- ColSodhi (talk · contribs) (legal threats)
- Rti india (talk · contribs) (checkuser block)
- Turnitinpro (talk · contribs) (checkuser block)
- Unfitlouie (talk · contribs) (checkuser block)
- X the hamster (talk · contribs) (meatpuppet, legal threats)
- Sotyam Eba Joyate (talk · contribs) (sock or meatpuppet)
- Bongchillum (talk · contribs) (disruptive IAC meatfarm account)
- SimplonSimon (talk · contribs) (meat or sock puppetry)
- Sanjay at iac (talk · contribs) (block evasion)
- Juhimukherjee (talk · contribs) (ban evasion (IAC))
- MonaPisser (talk · contribs) (checkuser block, multiple accounts, extensive proxy abuse, legal threats)
- Romana Busse (talk · contribs) (block evasion)
- Sethuramiah (talk · contribs) (using a second account to avoid scrutiny. likely IAC sock)
- PhilipRothman (talk · contribs) (block evasion)
- Prof Ravi IIT Kanpur (talk · contribs) (IAC sock)
- Not tata (talk · contribs) (meat or sock puppetry)
- Indohispano (talk · contribs) (sock or meat of IAC)
- Gollymemolly (talk · contribs) (checkuser block)
- AAP Dec 2014 (talk · contribs) (block evasion)
- LEGIA2014 (talk · contribs) (making legal threats)
- Indiaresists (talk · contribs) (block evasion: India Against Corruption)
- Livewotans (talk · contribs) (Abusing multiple accounts)
- FCBayern786 (talk · contribs) (block evasion: IAC)
- AAP ka Lawyer (talk · contribs) ((Sock puppetry; Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/HRA1924)
- Primary target is India Against Corruption but also people and political parties mentioned in the article, Indian journalists, and Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (and its related articles). Since October 2014 this has extended to articles mentioning both the words "India" and "Corruption", e.g. and , and then to articles on Indian topics which are the subject of controversies/edit wars.
- Repeated assertions that all independently published sources which do not support their claims are hoaxes or written by corrupt journalists.
- Repeated references to cartels/cabals of compromised Wikipedia administrators
- Extensive use of legal threats directed at both the WMF and individual editors
- Extreme harassment both on and off-wiki, attempts at outing, demands to know the real-life identity of editors.
- In September 2014, much of this was done via accounts claiming to represent the company "Name Defend", which in turn claims to legally represent "India Against Corruption 2", but whose website was created the day before the first Name Defend account was created and is registered to the National Convenor of "India Against Corruption 2" (background here).
- Engage in off-wiki canvassing and mail list spamming via "Wikimedia India Editors Forum"/"Wikimedia XYZ editor forums", which have no connection whatsoever to the WMF or to the official Wikimedia India chapter (see and ) and via blogs and Google Groups impersonating other Wikimedia initiatives.
The other thing, somewhat related is that Auggie's Wikipedia Review was yanked by ProBoards this last week. Allegedly some of the takedown had to do with HRA1924 writing insane stuff similar to:
Hey guys -- I'm Carlos the Jackal. I'm an international terrorist and am gonna blow up the WMF office in San Fran. Just thought I'd let you know so you can stay clear of the area and avoid collateral damage.
Auggie banned them, but the board vanished anyway. The Dark Knight tried to ask the ProBoards people on their complaints forum about transparency, and it did not go well:
Is anyone here actually aware of any occasion when the abuse department has responded with anything other than a pointless form letter after deleting a forum citing Section 25(a), which of course gives them carte blanche to delete a forum for "any reason at all" (said form letter simply reminds the victim this is the case). Since the reason for my post is that I have never heard of it occurring yet, despite two pretty big forums being yanked in this fashion, and with all emails to the abuse department having been brushed off with form letters failing to give a reason, which is all anyone is after (presumably so they can take retaliatory legal action against the reporter), I would appreciate not being directed to mail the abuse department. A simple "no" would suffice as an answer, if that is the case. Or if "yes", some idea of the case in question (no identifying details needed, obviously), as I doubt it could have involved the loss of more data or the annoyance of more customers than the two cases I am aware of. If this is standard operating procedure for ProBoards, I am amazed you get any custom, and can only presume it is because your Support documentation doesn't give fair warning to customers signing up that this is how the business operates.- The Dark Knight (as "darkknightthe")
Which was responded to by Scott the ProBoards Admin:
Yes - I have been witness to this.
Since the reason for my post is that I have never heard of it occurring yet, despite two pretty big forums being yanked in this fashion, and with all emails to the abuse department having been brushed off with form letters failing to give a reason, which is all anyone is after (presumably so they can take retaliatory legal action against the reporter), I would appreciate not being directed to mail the abuse department. A simple "no" would suffice as an answer, if that is the case. Or if "yes", some idea of the case in question (no identifying details needed, obviously), as I doubt it could have involved the loss of more data or the annoyance of more customers than the two cases I am aware of. If this is standard operating procedure for ProBoards, I am amazed you get any custom, and can only presume it is because your Support documentation doesn't give fair warning to customers signing up that this is how the business operates.
Our Terms of Service are very clear on what is expected and these terms are agreed to when a forum is created. If someone chooses to not adhere, then that is their choice. And unless a forum is so egregious in their violation of the Terms of Service that deletion is inevitable, admins are notified of any infraction and given the chance to rectify it.
Your thread title speaks of transparency and yet your "first" time here and first post broaches this topic? Seems there may be more to the story.
The Dark Knight's response:
Your terms are indeed very clear - forums can be deleted for "any reason at all", so talk of egregious violations is nonsensical, particularly when no reason is given except to refer back to "any reason at all" - a customer cannot egregiously violate an open ended term, whose application is decided entirely by the enforcer, as any logician would point out. And if this is the unspoken rule, understood by people like yourself, but not the poor saps who sign up for a forum here, then it might be worth clarifying it in your support documentation and these pointless form letters, which certainly make no mention of egregious violations (of your open ended terms) as the reason for wholesale and unrecoverable deletion. It seems the only people who think these violations are so obvious and unworthy of being pointed out, are the abuse department. They might need to rethink their strategy, as due to these deletions, ProBoard's reputation is now in the toilet in the community these particular forums cater for (and happily still do, on an independent and proudly 'not ProBoards' footing). Indeed, ProBoards are being seen as complicit in preventing legal action being taken against the people who either complained or posted whatever it was that was seen to be egregious, by being so reluctant to identify reasons (because naturally, knowing the reason would identify the person or persons guilty of endangering a forum). Not that it is really possible to endanger a forum whose existence is solely at the discretion of people who think "any reason at all" is a perfectly reasonable Term of Use that any sane person would willingly sign up to in advance. They would not.
And then he posted again:
As for transparency, there is nothing more to this that what was outlined - to my knowledge, the abuse department has twice blown off forum owners with a form letter after a 25(a) board deletion, which pointlessly refers them back to the rule which refers board owners to their error in signing up for a service where "any reason at all" is considered a fair and reasonable, never mind legally enforceable, term of use. It is not, not from the standpoint of reasonableness. Certainly not when the reason is not given. You would be well within your rights to delete a forum for any reason at all if you really thought that commercially wise, just as board owners are well within their rights to decide your stated reason is unreasonable and merits further action. You appear to be avoiding this possibility merely by deliberately avoiding giving a reason. Hence the call for transparency. I appreciate the natural response then is to try to turn the tables and accuse the accuser, but I owe you now such courtesy, especially since I am not the owner(s) in question, thus have no say in the matter according to your own oft repeated policy here. I'm just a very interested observer, and sometime media commentator.
Which got a response from Kami:
A vast majority of Terms of Service for various services come with a clause that states either party -- the Service and the User -- is able to terminate their agreement at any time for any reason. It is a frequent part of contract writing to allow a clause that would allow one or both parties to terminate the relationship without breech of contract.
If you are under the impression that "no one" would sign up for something with these terms, then my supposition has to be that the people included in this do not read the TOS of a Service prior to registration otherwise they would not have registered.
Additionally, ProBoards clearly outlines prohibited content and uses in their TOS. I have personally received warnings to fix prohibited content, which PB is always reasonable about when the forum purpose as a whole does not countermand the terms outlined in the service agreement.
ProBoards would be foolish to arbitrarily remove forums based on unfounded accusations because it's a loss of revenue. If a forum is removed without warning, it is either a) because the warnings sent to the admin account were unheeded; or b) because the entire purpose of the forum went against, or intended to go against, the terms of service.
There are also legal ramifications to disclosing the reasons behind a termination of contract to persons who are not involved in said contract. Without the ability to verify identity, and without legal representation on behalf of the querent, ProBoards can open itself up to legal trouble if they responded to emailed demands for an explanation.
If you are under the impression, or are confident you "know" the reasons a forum is entirely removed, then you must have better contacts than I in the 12 years that I have used this service.
Finally Scott got the last word:
It is clearly obvious that you are one of those individuals who does not read terms of service or does so after the fact in an effort to justify an action you should not have done.
Our terms are quite in line with other social sites. In fact a competitor of ours has this in their terms:
"_____ Forum Hosting, may at its sole discretion, terminate any Customer and their site for any reason or no reason.
_____ Forum Hosting is not required to tell any Customer why their account was terminated."
While I can appreciate your attempt to besmudge ProBoards, blithering on with nothing constructive to say is pointless and does not belong on this Support Board - which you would know if you, again, read the rules of this board.
I'm locking this thread as it's not appropriate for this board and offers no constructive help in using the forum software (the intent of this board). If you have concerns about the process used by the Abuse Department, then I suggest you contact them via email at email@example.com
In full disclosure, I should write that I had dealings with Kami, possibly Scott, when the ProBoards version of the WS! board was trashed, and they were just as unhelpful then as now. Probably it is impossible to use ProBoards for Wikipedia work, possibly because there are links between the two.
Auggie now has a board here.
"And that's the waaay the news goes!"
This is the world we live in online, where you can't run a board criticizing a nearly-dead Internet encyclopedia project for fear of having it taken down if you don't have the cash to have your own server space. This is absolutely lame. Wikipedia is sixteen years old (which is 10,000 years in Internet time) and yet still commands such respect from the internet business community it's astounding.