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BluWiki talk:Sysop

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Sysop not Welcome Wagon

I disagree that most of these tasks ought to be assigned to sysops. Sysop privs are limited to a very few exceptional actions on the wiki:

  • Delete page
  • Undelete page
  • Block user
  • Unblock user

These privs are insufficient for some of the tasks listed on The role of a sysop; for these, bureaucrats are required. For most tasks, though, no privs are required at all -- any user can assume these duties.

I suggest that an office be created of BluWiki:Helper; such a user need not have any special privs, but can be given responsibility for community formation and cohesion. Welcoming the newcomer, writing help files, petty policing of recent changes -- all can be done by any user who chooses to assume the duties.

Petty or not, it seems I'm the only one doing it - which is not an appropriate solution. --Sam Odio 19:50, 4 December 2005 (EST)

Of course, we generally wish to encourage people to assume duties by offering rewards. If we had a business model and an income stream, we might entertain the notion of cash payment -- but lacking this, we must fall back on the Old Reliables of intangibles and the promise of higher office.

In the first case, we might import barnstars and other awards and give them out to deserving users. Also, it seems reasonable that a meritorious term of service as Helper be qualification for elevation to sysop.

"Bear" 19:47, 3 December 2005 (EST)

Role or responsibility?

I apologize - I might have been thinking "responsibility" when I wrote this page. I agree, that the sysop might not do all this. But what I outlined on the previous page is what I believe are the most pressing issues, and someone needs to do them.

I doesn’t matter if the sysops organize a lower body and delegate these roles to them – that’s fine. But BluWiki should still hold the sysop responsible for their satisfactory completion.

This is similar to the way a CEO is responsible for the whole company – but (s)he might delegate the roles that fulfill the responsibility to others (CFO, CIO, etc.). --Sam Odio 11:51, 4 December 2005 (EST)

Question From Nerdvana

Sam gave me deletion rights. Does this make me a sysop? (I'm just trying to find out the degree of my role and responsibilities to BluWiki) --Nerdvana 16:07, 12 July 2006 (EDT)

I'm having a bad day. Just noticed that he did say he'd made me a sysop so I could help manage the deletion of pages. Ignore this please. :) --Nerdvana 16:09, 12 July 2006 (EDT)


I believe with additional responsibilities should come additional authority (or maybe it's the other way around?). Regardless, it seems when you assign responsibility without giving authority you have a sure recipe for failure.

In that light, I am not sure what authority is given to bureaucrats – but I think we should consider it for the next “class” sysops create. --Sam Odio 11:51, 4 December 2005 (EST)

Obviously I am not clear as to how bureaucrats and sysops differ. I wrote this page as if the Sysop was the administrative group with the most authority, and bureaurcrats were a group with slightly less authority.
After reading your section again I realized I missed your point that sysops do not have enough priviledges to fulfill all these roles, while bureaucrats do. As far as I can tell, the only thing they lack is the ability to create other sysops. Is this the case? If so, maybe we should consider taking the "Their role as it applies to Sysops" section out (and making it the responsibility of the Bureaucrats).
Regardless, if we are to expect more from a group of users we should give them additional authority as well. Your suggestion that we might create a BluWiki:Helper distinction is appropriate - though like I said I would like to at least give them some authority - even if it is just symbolic. --Sam Odio 02:58, 5 December 2005 (EST)

Nathan (talk) 03:21, 18 September 2007 (EDT)

Recent Changes Patrol

There is a certain type of content that needs no introduction: spam in all its varieties. There is also simple vandalism -- pointless scribbling and trashing of existing content. The specific issue of linkspam has been raised by Sam [1]:

We have been getting a decent amount of automated link spam...

The longer BluWiki stays up, the more people who will hear about it. Many will come to build and many will come to destroy. Whatever problem we have today will become far worse tomorrow.

WP's experience with vandalism is instructive. Along with explosive growth of real content has come increasingly numerous and vicious attacks. At one extreme are a variety of automated attacks: easy to defeat individually, but every day brings a new, demoralizing assault. At another extreme are subtle "experiments" by authors and social scientists, attempting to demonstrate that the WP community really is patrolling Recent Changes. Still another extreme is epitomized by the notorious Willy on Wheels, the technically sophisticated high-speed page move vandal. WoW has been successful in forcing changes to WP's page move policy. It seems that WoW has also been successful in causing the LA Times to shut down its wiki entirely.

Battling external enemies may be a quick-and-dirty method of fostering group cohesion, but it comes at a price: WP's social atmosphere is hostile and combative; all kinds of innocent (or at worst, naïve) actions are met with snippy comments and premature sanctions. This quickly weeds out those sensitive souls who would prefer not to involve themselves in drama and contention, leaving a core group of loud, argumentative, confrontational users. By their nature, these users compete with one another on many levels; the war is eternal and omnipresent. From time to time, vendettas erupt over petty points; users with vested interests are periodically banned from the community. These banned users -- combative as they are -- do not take well to punishment and often return as the worst and most persistent vandals. Thus, the cure is not only worse than the disease; in time it exacerbates the condition.

I am firmly opposed to the institutionalization of the habit of reverting changes made by vandals and spammers. It is the obvious corrective, but as WP has shown us, it just does not work.

Obviously, though, we cannot permit the vandalism; if it is allowed, then it will increase in size, frequency, and boldness. Another control strategy must be employed. There are several alternatives. For one reason or another, all of these have been rejected by WP. We do not need to be so rigid. We can try some or all of these strategies:

  • Restrict editing to registered users. I see no practical advantage to entertaining anonymous edits. The WP position on anon editing is purely philosophical. Registration can remain free-beer-free.
  • Implement Captchas at registration time. This is a small inconvenience and excludes automated registrations.
  • Charge cash money for registered accounts. Even a very small payment will be enough to discourage all but a few users from posting completely useless material. Once a user has paid even $1.00 for his account, it is much less likely he will do something extremely short-sighted and foolish with it. In some borderline cases, we might well feel that a questionable edit becomes acceptable -- when the freight is paid.
  • Keep registration free-beer-free, but demand a credit card number at registration time. Inform new users -- prominently -- that using BluWiki in certain clearly-defined ways will incur a hefty fee.
  • Charge real money on a per-page, per-edit, or per-byte basis. People tend to use wisely what they must pay for; and the sleazy snakes whose business it is to indiscriminately flood email inboxes and search engine result pages with irrelevant nonsense do not plan to invest heavily to support their scams.
  • Modify the MediaWiki engine. This is an expensive but powerful approach. Vandalism and spam follows predictable patterns. By way of demonstration, email spam is a potent and ever-changing enemy; however, many email service providers, as well as the excellent email client Eudora, now incorporate spam filters that can be trained to reject content that has been found to follow undesirable patterns. A similar approach can be used to leverage the human effort involved in RC patrol -- when spam is detected by the human, the engine remembers the event and looks for similar patterns in future.

Obviously, I don't know everything and there must be many other solutions to the vandalism problem. I don't know which of these will be feasible, appropriate, and effective. But I am convinced that any such alternative is preferable to consuming many hours of human time and energy -- and generating, in reaction, an atmosphere of hostility and distrust.

"Bear" 19:47, 3 December 2005 (EST)

How to handle Vandals and Spammers

I agree that vandals who have created pages in the past and are “first time” offenders should not be immediately blocked.

However, if you look at the block list, all of the users / IPs that were blocked (save one, I believe) only contributed spam. And it looks like much of the spam is linking back to the same place, indicating it’s the same person / organization orchestrating it.

But it’s very possible humans aren’t spamming the page, they probably have bots installed on infected machines across the net that are doing it.

You have suggested several policies that will stop these spammers. Save modifying the mediawiki engine (which is a very good idea, I am trying to do it), I believe all these policies hurt BluWiki more than help it.

My estimate is that charging (or requiring a credit card) will reduce new user signups and contributions by around 5-10x. To me, this would be a crippling blow to BluWiki at this early stage, much better to risk blocking the occasional innocent user.

Requiring a login and using captchas might also reduce, but will not prevent this spam. It is very easy for whoever created these bots to design a script that logs them in as a user. What’s more, the human programmer / owner would only need to answer one captcha to unleash a logged-in bot on the wiki. Captcha’s are only designed to stop bots from registering en masse (in the thousands). BluWiki bot spammers don’t need thousands of logins, only one.

What’s more, these login restrictions come at a cost - complicating the contribution process. Most websurfers want to easily test & use a service before committing to it. I know I hate having to log in to try something out. I would estimate that requiring logins might reduce new users by 25% or more. Just yesterday I didn’t edit this page, and instead made this one – all because that wiki required a login. --Sam Odio 14:24, 4 December 2005 (EST)

Unfortunately, some will get through…

Regardless of the policy to prevent spammers, I imagine it won’t be 100% effective. If we don’t block these users/bots that do get through, they will continue to spam BluWiki. Are you suggesting that we just revert the edits? Any army of humans will never be able to revert all the edits from one well designed bot script

Better, in my opinion, to have a policy (and users) that revert the edits from these bots and block them from contributing again. --Sam Odio 14:24, 4 December 2005 (EST)

Language side issue

We have had a flurry of non-English contributions recently and thus poses my question. Is there a language independant policy we can implement in regards to linkspam cross culurally (sp?)? I kinda agree with Bear's idea of hands off, but I personally wouldn't want bluwiki to get a reputation of it either. Chotchki 13:38, 7 December 2005 (EST)

I think the biggest problem is not first time offenders (Bear is right, they should be warned - not permanently blocked) but guys who spam the wiki with links such as these and these. That kind of stuff really gets under my skin. My goal is to prevent it without limiting legitimate access to the wiki. --Sam Odio 14:29, 7 December 2005 (EST)
Because our biggest problem comes from a number of users / IPs spamming a few URLs, I think finding instances of these URLs (and preventing these URLs from showing up in the future) should be the focus of any langauge independent linkspam / block policy. It should be possible to find and revert edits spamming these URLS regardless of the language of the page.
This, of course, doesn't deal with vandalism in a specific language - but hopefully that type of stuff can be reverted by the authors of those pages. --Sam Odio 14:48, 7 December 2005 (EST)

What BluWiki Is

I confess I find myself somewhat annoyed to be asked to work on this page. I did create it -- and, as a smaller, more basic task, BluWiki:Motto. The first page has seen neither edits nor discussion since I created it. I responded on BluWiki talk:Motto (28 Sep 2005) to a few words from Sam -- responded at length, with a rather detailed explanation of my thoughts. Well, that's what I think.

I am sorry that you were annoyed. I did not intend to ask you specifically to work on this page. I only included it in the role of a sysop because I thought it was important to you and you wanted it done. --Sam Odio 14:34, 4 December 2005 (EST)

As it happens, I'm reading a detailed history of the American West 1830-60. The United States, of course, settled these vast lands, although the French, Spanish, Mexicans, and Russians all laid claim to them first. The author makes the salient point that this was due to the power of the American strategy of colonization: one in which individual goals came first, despite quite a lot of community cooperation. This, in contrast to the Spanish and Mexican strategy, in which individual goals were subordinated to the needs of the State. The Spanish founded mission after mission in order to hold land for Spain -- and failed. Americans went west out of self-interest and ended by taking the land for the United States.

It appears to me that the American philosophy is most applicable to Sam's ideal of BluWiki; thus I proposed Wiki Homesteading and Your Wiki Homestead as possible mottoes. These still look right to me, but I don't have a vote. Nobody else has entered the debate and Sam has not continued it. I can't think what further contribution to make to the motto debate -- and failing that, I certainly don't see know what to write for a foundation document.

"Bear" 19:47, 3 December 2005 (EST)

Your Wiki Homestead is fine, let's use it. --Sam Odio 14:34, 4 December 2005 (EST)

Bear's Role

If I fired up one of my spare boxes, installed LAMP and MediaWiki on it, and ran some sort of BearWiki, then I might have quite a lot to say about who should be allowed to participate and what they might be allowed to do there. But since I have no share in ownership of BluWiki, I don't feel I have much to say about what goes on here. On the other hand, since I'm not being compensated for my time, I'm not willing to assume much in the way of regular responsibilities.

This is fine, I am not asking you to assume any regular responsibilities. I hope you aren't offended by this page - I only created it because of your observation that BluWiki needs to better define what is expected of the sysop position.
However, it appears the two of us won't be able to fulfill the responsibilities outlined on this page. Therefore, I've invited Chotchki & GraemeMcRae to join us. --Sam Odio 20:28, 4 December 2005 (EST)

I've assumed the task of deleting pages when requested. As time permits and the spirit moves, I've begun to import useful tools from WP. I'm willing to share my experiences on WP, which I feel may illuminate many challenges faced by online communities, especially those which invite mass participation.

And, I suppose -- although it hasn't yet happened -- if I notice something I truly find intolerable, I'll revert, move, or delete it. And if I saw more than a few such abominations coming from a single user, I might even go so far as to block that user on my own authority, assuming that Sam could always unblock the offender.

But right now, the things that annoy me the most are the quantities of pages in what I conceive to be the wrong namespace; most particularly the series of pages A, B, C, etc.; and if I started to act on my own authority to correct what I see as BluWiki's most pressing problems, I'd begin there. (And, if I had the power, I'd change the motto -- to almost anything -- it appears on every page and gives the wrong impression every time.)

I don't feel comfortable moving other's pages out of the public namespace until we have established a clear namespace policy. And, as of right now, I would rather not restrict all users to their own user namespace.
I guess since I don't see the motto (as far as I can tell it's not in the default stylesheet's layout) - I did not understand the urgency of changing it. I have learned it's in other skins, however, so I do understand your point. --Sam Odio 20:28, 4 December 2005 (EST)

But since this is not my thing, I restrain myself and remain merely the Janitor.

"Bear" 19:47, 3 December 2005 (EST)

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