Group 4 ANI Incident Archive

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Harvard class project disrupting Wikipedia via meatpuppetry on articles

Template:Resolved Template:Archive top Jehochman stumbled across this, and asked me to bring it to ANI. Please read Wikipedia:Suspected sock puppets/Shamulou first. Next, read this page on (archive link):

The Waterboarding article here, and it's RFC, and talk pages, have been a constant stream of SPAs, and confirmed sockpuppetry. We now have this evidence that a class orally agreed to take on the waterboarding article (see that Harvard page, search for "oral"), and we have such lovely gems as:

"Should we weigh in on whether Wikipedia should keep the statement "waterboarding is a form of torture"? If so, what is our position? Khoffman 19:53, 7 January 2008 (EST)"

Combined with the fact that the recorded on-Wiki at Harvard material is only part of the information (they say they are discussing the article), we have no way of knowing just how tainted the entire Talk:Waterboarding and RFC process there is (it's been incredibly, incredibly contentious and rancorous). What can or should be done here? I have no idea what to do with this page anymore and have gone out of my way to step away from it, after the waves of SPAs basically became too much to handle, and various admins began to try to organize discussions on there (Jehochman, Henrik). Lawrence Cohen 22:30, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

At Jehochman's request, I'm trying to keep an eye on it. El_C 22:35, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
According to the syllabus, this assignment is due at midnight. So maybe this will be over soon. Perhaps someone can contact the professor(s) and explain to them how the assignment has disrupted our normal working processes. Since the assignment was to "try to help resolve the dispute via the talk pages" perhaps we can suggest how the students should be graded, as well. --Akhilleus (talk) 22:37, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Found this at the assignment page here "Your group is free to coordinate your comments as little or as much as you want. You can decide to include comments on the talk page from individual group members, or from the group as a whole." (italics mine)R. Baley (talk) 22:39, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Notice there are actually six active groups. -- SEWilco (talk) 22:55, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Several of them went after other RFCs, from a quick glance. Lawrence Cohen 23:00, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
(ec) WP:BITE not. Full disclosure: Jonathan Zittrain and I were classmates long ago. As a courtesy that we should extend in any similar situation, I request that the students who were involved in this incident be warned rather than blocked. They will hopefully become ongoing contributors to Wikipedia. Nonetheless, we need full disclosure of what happened, and some sort of remedy for the mess at Talk:Waterboarding and Talk:Waterboarding/Definition (the RfC page). Jehochman Talk
Suggest Jonathan Zittrain be whacked over the head with an entire case of frozen WP:TROUT and we all move on. Raymond Arritt (talk) 22:46, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Let me get this straight, a group of Harvard law students teamed up to work on a Wikipedia article? And this is a bad thing? ˉˉanetode╦╩ 22:50, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
When they coordinate their views in class and then represent that as multiple independent positions on-wiki, then yes, that is a problem. henrik•talk 22:54, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Their coordination was not backed by malicious intent and the discussions documented on their wiki are not dissimilar from the ones encouraged on ours. Leave all the wikipolitics alone for a second and consider whether we want to encourage content contributions and thoughtful debate. If even one of those students enjoyed the experience or learned from it, then our whole free content encyclopedia concept was in some small way a success. ˉˉanetode╦╩ 23:09, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Also, the assignment is to jump in to hot-button disputes. When a group of inexperienced users arrives at a disputed page, it doesn't tend to resolve conflict, it exacerbates whatever problem already exists. --Akhilleus (talk) 23:00, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I must say I'm a little confused, it would seem to me the best way to resolve an ongoing dispute (particularly one that is 'hot-button' and has had little progress) would be to have a group of independent, rational, minds try and craft a solution that might work for everyone. Perhaps by attempting to reach rough consensus (instead of insisting that one party must be wrong or right) we took the wrong approach, but I'm not sure what the problem is proposing a solution (on the talk page mind you, no substantive edits were ever made to the main article, just some grammatical corrections). Kevparks (talk) 00:05, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Let's (since this is a talk page we can be informal) just say that it appears to be a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Wikipedia rules about sock & meat puppetry. I suppose that as lawyers they're going to have to learn about those differences. I'd really rather that they hadn't used us to practice on. I suppose it is better than waterboarding us, whether or not it's torture! htom (talk) 22:59, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Maybe it's just me, but it looks like a straight violation of meatpuppetry rules. Outside and undue influence, coordinated viewpoints, and so on, all entering an already contentious and overheated article RFC. Lawrence Cohen 23:02, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict)I'm still unclear as to why this is meatpuppetry/sockpuppetry. It seems the accusation was based on some misinformation, which I hope to clear up. First, these are all individuals, not clones, and no one is using a false identity. Second, no one was asked to take any position other than through the normal channels of persuasion and argument otherwise found on this site. There are two things that would give me pause were I in your position, namely the wording on the course website and our group page implying that we can post as a group and decide on a single position. Since we did not decide to coordinate our efforts as suggested by the assignment (i.e. posting as a group) the first concern is not implicated by our actual behavior. And the comment "What is our position" was written by someone new to Wikipedia before we did any actual editing. Since I had been researching Wikipedia dispute processes and policies, I made clear to the other group members that they must voice their own opinions as individuals to avoid violating these.
Keep in mind that none of the edits done before noon were by any of us, it is only a few posts under "Another attempt" that were made by group members. And yes, this assignment will be done at midnight.
I have heard some deeper, more valid concerns voiced here, namely that the very idea of a class agreeing to work on a single dispute violates Wikipedia norms in general, and that newcomers who know each other IRL are likely to agree with each other out of courtesy, or for other reasons. These are valid objections, and if these are sufficient for asking us to refrain from participating, then I would agree to cease voicing my own opinions on the matter. However, I think it more likely that law students are simply likely to share views in general, having the characteristics that brought us here to begin with, which is a separate concern, albeit one that might also invalidate our participation.
However, if these "general social norms" are what is being violated here, I would ask that the approach being taken be softened. Since it is not at all clear to me under the current circumstances that we are indeed "meatpuppets", I would ask that people stop posting things such as "Confirmed Meatpuppetry" and the like. It appears as if the accusations here are especially harsh, and might stem as much from the fact that our opinions as to a fair resolution differed as it did from objections to our behavior itself. -Lciaccio (talk) 23:03, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
The waterboarding article in particular was an especially bad selection for this ill-advised class project. The article has had a steady parade of sockpuppetry, and single purpose accounts that have been congregating there, leading to already raised temperatures and unpleasantness. The sudden appearance of another batch, at once, and with similar lockstep positioning and reasoning had about zero chance of going over well. Lawrence Cohen 23:06, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
(further comments) I am not amused by this whole mess. The Waterboarding debate has to date been very contentious, with strong opinions, heated arguments and a lot less-than-constructive comments. One should note that this article has been a near constant source of problems for a long time now. New SPAs have been showing up regularly, and multiple warnings and several blocks have had to be issued so far. The process to build consensus is just barely moving along, due to problems like this. henrik•talk 23:05, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Whatever you want to call it, this little "experiment" at our expense was extremely disruptive. Sometime within the next hour I'm going to protect the article to prevent further disruption, unless convincing arguments are made to the contrary. Raymond Arritt (talk) 23:07, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I was going to chip in for the kids but sounds like (Lciaccio above) the Harvard Lawyers can speak for themselves adequately. If they can't manage it, I'll go get some Duke Lawyers to help them out :-) Pete St.John (talk) 23:10, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Let's also keep in mind that there are six different groups from this same class working on at least five different articles. Links to the individual groups can be found here. Pairadox (talk) 23:10, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't see how protection is warranted, since none of us ever touched the article. All we did is voice our views on the talk page. -Lciaccio (talk) 23:11, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Your contribution history shows three edits to the article. So much for "none of us ever touched the article." Raymond Arritt (talk) 23:17, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, I forgot about my own minor edits. I changed:
"Representative Ted Poe stated on Glen Beck show in response to the question "Do you believe waterboarding is torture?", Poe state "I don't believe it's torture at all, I certainly don't." " to
"In response to the question "Do you believe waterboarding is torture?" on the Glen Beck show, Representative Ted Poe stated "I don't believe it's torture at all, I certainly don't."
I don't generally keep track of the edits I make to fix grammar or wording problems. And this was an attempt to fix very poor English based on my own anal nature, having nothing to do with the project. -Lciaccio (talk) 23:24, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
No, they haven't done any substantial changes, Lciaccio is correct in that. She did a few minor changes fixing typos, correcting grammar and other minor edits, but that isn't something we should discourage. Thanks for fixing those problems. :-) henrik•talk 23:30, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
  • It should be noted that, of the 6 groups, the waterboarding group (Group 4) appears to be the only one that caused serious disruption to Wikipedia. Group 2 should be commended for openly stating their assignment and affiliation and discussing issues appropriately on the HD formats talk page. That said, I think we should ask the professor not to assign this in the future. The potential for trouble is just too great. *** Crotalus *** 23:12, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, the behavior of Group 2 was exemplary. Had the waterboarding group behaved similarly I would have had absolutely no problems with the assignment. henrik•talk 23:32, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Why not contact the press? If we could assume that Harvard-trained lawyers were all altruistic, honorable, and on the right side of every issue this would be an innocent thing. However, the last thing we need is a class of alpha lawyers who feel that organized efforts to manipulate reference works is a legitimate tactic. There are more of us than there are of them. Let's just hack Lexis and change some Supreme Court rulings on Fair Use law to our advantage, shall we? Wikidemo (talk) 23:16, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps Wikidemo should review the Bite policy. -Lciaccio (talk) 23:32, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Gee, dodging the question like that and turning against the questioner almost think you were a lawyer or something. Oh wait... Raymond Arritt (talk) 23:34, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
There's no need for comments like that, Wikidemo and Raymond. We can't assume that new users should be instantly familiar with every bit of etiquette and culture on this site. henrik•talk 23:36, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, he/she knew enough to cite WP:BITE... Raymond Arritt (talk) 23:39, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
As an alternative suggestion - why not write a very polite e-mail to Mr (or is it Prof?) Zittrain, or whoever set the assignment, explaining what our concerns are about the project and suggesting he considers these when setting future projects - eg by encouraging students to become familiar with Wikipedia rules and avoiding off-wiki collaboration. I reckon this would do the trick just as effectively as any public fuss. As for what has happened already - well, it's over now.Hobson (talk) 23:41, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
(ec) Yes, that would be the best solution. Jehochman says he's acquainted with the prof, so maybe a personal note would be the best approach. Most of the groups weren't disruptive, so clearly it wasn't a deliberate attempt to disrupt and the prof just needs to make sure everyone knows the ground rules. Raymond Arritt (talk) 23:46, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Lciaccio isn't a new user, s/he's been around for a few years. It's surprising that s/he didn't understand that the sudden arrival of the law students at the RfC would naturally result in sock/meatpuppetry concerns, but perhaps s/he hasn't edited enough on contentious subjects. --Akhilleus (talk) 23:43, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Nope, generally I just try to fix up articles. I tried to review some disputes over the last few days to become familiar with the process, but I guess they weren't contentious enough to prepare me. -Lciaccio (talk) 00:12, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I have tried to answer every question posed to me, and I don't believe I have dodged a single one. Wikidemo's comment was not a question, but a snipe. I know in other online communities and in real life, it is proper to point out when this is happening. I didn't realize Wikipedia's etiquette and culture dictates otherwise. But perhaps I should have followed my mom's advice there; it seems a better policy to smile and ignore such comments. -Lciaccio (talk) 00:12, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
(unindent) I don't think WP:BITE applies to groups of lawyers-in-training coordinating to perform edits, however innocent their motives may be. We might as well credit them with constructive knowledge of the rules and the consequences of breaking them; after all, in their future profession ignorance of procedure is no excuse for not following it. They didn't get into Harvard by being helpless newbies. The assignment has to do with understanding how Wikipedia handles disputes. Might as well show them to the real Wikipedia, not a watered-down version. Nobody is going to suffer any real consequences here. I am half serious that we don't want to expose one of our most serious vulnerabilities to the very group best equipped to exploit it, that a small group of intelligent people acting in coordination and adept in the world of rules and argumentation can easily manipulate our articles, and thereby affect public perception. They may be idealistic now, but a few years out in the world and a more cynical lawyer would use the same techniques with bad motives. If that made the news it would be all the more salient a learning exercise. Wikidemo (talk) 00:02, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
  • (ec) These pages need checking:
From Group 1[1]
From Group 2[2]
From Group 3[3]
Group 4 is waterboarding.
From Group 5 this page
From Group 6 possibly lots of pages, this one 1st (congressman Jon Porter)

R. Baley (talk) 23:25, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Jehochman Talk pours everyone a cup of tea and hands out AGF-flavored scones. These are students. We hope they have learned something—that online communities do not like being experimented upon. If you wish to learn about us, participate sincerely, observe and even write about what you see; but do not provoke conflicts or violate social norms by conducting breaching experiments. I hope to speak with the professor and give him some ideas how to conduct this exercise in the future in a way that will avoid disruption. Happy editing, all, Jehochman Talk 00:00, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Tell him that next time, when his students arrive bearing gasoline... They should, out of courtesy, not add it to any of our very largest bonfires. Avruchtalk 00:09, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

tl;dr, but will try to read in a second here. Just wanted to throw in my voice that I don't see anything wrong with this situation, whatsoever. These students are still individuals, and simply because they're a group in the real world doesn't make them meatpuppets. What would the difference be if they were all Wikipedians who first discussed something on one talk page, then went to another, larger discussion? I imagine real-life collaboration with fellow Wikipedians to be something that will only increase, and will be to Wikipedia's benefit. Treat these individuals just as you would any other Wikipedian, and lets not assume meatpupetry every time a project is taken up off-wiki. -- Ned Scott 00:11, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Suspensions. Since a number of people here are recognizing that there has not been outright malice or sockpuppetry, is there a call to undo the five suspensions? I'm obviously biased here, but that seems excessive under the current circumstances. -Lciaccio (talk) 00:15, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Link to thread posted to WikiEn-L. Avruchtalk 00:22, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
  • (ec) I already requested that the students who were involved in this incident be warned rather than blocked. Lciaccio, when one person who holds a certain belief finds a few friends who agree, and gets them all to create accounts and stack one of our discussions without any sort of disclosure, that's a problem. If five people want to join Wikipedia, great, but they should edit independently, or they should disclose the relationship. As remedies, I propose that the No Canvassing template be added to Talk:Waterboarding and Talk:Waterboarding/Definition, and that the comments of the parties involved here be noted to say that they were acting in collusion. Jehochman Talk 00:25, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
    • All their accounts are currently suspended. And, once again, what you are alleging never happened. We all went into this without an opinion on the matter. -Lciaccio (talk) 00:40, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
(ec) I've always thought meatpuppetry was when you found people to support your view for a specific reason, for a gain of some sort. This sounds more like individuals developing a micro-consensus, then presenting those arguments to a larger group. Considering they were not perviously involved in these disputes, they'll actually more likely to give an honest, neutral, response to the discussions. -- Ned Scott 00:43, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Another thought, after reading even more about this, browsing the assessment pages, and seeing what was actually done.. It seems to be that it is the regular Wikipedians that have ownership issues. Nothing bad has happened, there is no actual break in policy, and as such we are in no place to ask them to stop or to stop them by force. Monitor the situation if you wish, but do so fairly and with an open mind. It doesn't matter if these were heated debates or not, anyone at any time is welcome to become involved. We don't own the articles, nor do we own the debates. -- Ned Scott 00:30, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Ned, this set up warning bells for many users because one editor already was caught up by Checkusers for abusing multiple accounts to sock puppet a certain position in the debates and RFC, and very aggressively at that. There is a very, very aggressive SPA account active on those talk pages who went out of his way to insist that the confirmed sockpuppeter was misrepresented, and that editors at his university were all just doing a school project (UPenn, in that case). Then mere days later, these new Harvard users all showed up, at once, with relatively the same shared positioning. A multiple of new accounts all moving in force together, when this article has this ongoing SPA/trolling/sockpuppetry problem: how was this supposed to look and be read? As far as ownership, I challenge that. If some users (not sure who you were implying there) wanted to play ownership of that article, it certainly wouldn't be the handful that are trying to constantly get more people to look at the cesspool it's been turned into. Lawrence Cohen 00:39, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
So they still didn't do anything wrong, but had unfortunate timing and an unfortunate target article? Shame on them... -- Ned Scott 00:42, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, they waded into a snakepit with no idea of what they were getting into. For a professor to ask students to edit Wikipedia is not necessarily problematic (we had no problem with the minor edits on Day 1 of the assignment); to explicitly send them straight off to dispute resolution — one of the nastiest aspects of our community — was irresponsible. It's irresponsible because it puts the students in an unfair position where both their actions and motives will be questioned, and they will be mistaken for sockpuppets. It's not fair to Wikipedia either; we were trying to judge consensus among Wikipedians, and single-purpose accounts only impede that process. *** Crotalus *** 00:46, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Some of their suggestions are very good. For newbies, they're doing pretty darn good. -- Ned Scott 00:50, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I well understand the reasons that the opinions of new users should be given less weight, especially considering the risk of canvassing and sockpuppets present in single-purpose accounts. But does their lack of editing history make their views of so little weight that the mere act of posting them to a discussion page is grounds for suspension?-Lciaccio (talk) 00:56, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Only group 4 was disruptive, as far as I can tell. The others, 2 in particular, did fairly well. The problem is: what happens if this sort of assignment were to catch on? We can handle one class, but what if there were 100 of them? Even if 5/6 of the groups behave themselves, that still leaves 1/6 causing disruption, and multiply that by all the potential classes out there and we've got a real problem. *** Crotalus *** 00:54, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't think that would become a real problem. Remember, this is all being documented for their assignment, and causing intentional disruption is a good way to fail that assignment. By it's very nature, we're guaranteed that these situations will be reviewed by other people, and are far less likely to go unnoticed than some disruptions we've had. I actually hope this does catch on, and that they (while likely learning ways to help avoid the panic) do more projects like this in the future. -- Ned Scott 01:00, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Sure we do. As the collective community (or members of it) that compose Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation, we do indeed own the articles as long as they are on Wikipedia. Of course, all of our contributors become part of that community (unless they remove themselves by their actions). WP:OWN is aimed at individual action, not collective, and WP:CANVASS and policies on meatpuppetry reflect the community consensus on these types of activities. Avruchtalk 00:38, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
The community welcomes these editors with open arms. It is specific individuals that have the OWNership issues. -- Ned Scott 00:44, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm very surprised that (as I noticed from the discussion above), we don't have an article on Constructive knowledge, an important legal concept. Maybe some of these editors would be interested in writing that? *** Crotalus *** 00:43, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Frankly, I'm inclined to mostly side with the students and professor. I think the one thing that some of them did wrong was not be up front about their assignment. Other than that, I don't see any good evidence they were coordinating to promote a particular POV or intended to be disruptive. If the parameters of the assignment included that they should be making their own decisions, following our policies, and not intentionally disrupting Wikipedia, I don't see how having a few fresh, knowledgeable, and intelligent editors hurts anything.

I also don't see how WP:CANVASS applies, since there isn't any solid evidence presented that the intent was to votestack. This whole thing feels a little too hostile to newbies who don't get started under our terms, IMO (WP:BITE). Sχeptomaniacχαιρετε 00:49, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

certainly they are votestaking, in the sense of conspiring to promote a favored view:

"Do we want, though, to make a suggestion about the multiple graphs right away in the first posting? My only thought is that we might want to have several options to lay out, possibly even with pros and cons. Or that we devise a plan for sequencing our mediation, based on what we believe the reactions may be. " (group 2) What can be clearer--they are planning to systematically present their group position though individual contributions in such a way as to have the best tactical results. sure, one can plan to present a cross-examination in such a way--it's legitimate legal strategy; they have their rules; we have ours. They either didn't bother to inform themselves of our requirements for ethical participation-- or decided to ignore them. Whichever it is, it doesn't look good. I know what grade I'd give this group DGG (talk) 01:01, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

I suggest we forgive any transgressions as long as they report back that Wikipedians take neutrality and integrity of articles very seriously. Good writers + good thinkers = good citizens, usually, and the plan was slightly misguided but not ill of motive. Also move to ask the professor to extend the assignment deadline a day and award extra credit for anyone writing an article on constructive knowledge. Wikidemo (talk) 00:56, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I think they took neutrality and integrity into account well enough, but didn't take into account the strong desire for transparency you find in many here. A lack of transparency is often interpreted as an intent to hide something around here. Sχeptomaniacχαιρετε 01:03, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Their plan was incompetent--would they practice in a jurisdiction and not bother to read its rules? DGG (talk) 01:04, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Their plan wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad at all. It was panic and bad timing, which no one can fairly be blamed with, that caused the initial disruption. Now that it's cleared up, I see no issue with their actual behavior, nor did they actually break our rules. -- Ned Scott 01:12, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm still unclear on how this "disrupted" the discussion. It seems to me as if the only actual disruption was the accusation of meatpuppetry itself. -Lciaccio (talk) 01:21, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Can we close this and move on? Quite apart from the class assignment, I'm now aware of what a mess the Waterboarding article is. It came off protection just recently and the edit warring has started right back up. Editors there are begging for it to be protected so that things can be worked out, and I'm inclined to agree with them. Raymond Arritt (talk) 01:08, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

At the very least, the instructor should have his grade knocked down for not doing enough research about the assignment he was giving, not providing his students with the tools needed (links to relevant WP policies), and failure to consider the impact of this assignment on Wikipedia itself. Bad teacher, no donut! Pairadox (talk) 01:10, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
Hardly. Their impact has been mostly positive, rather it's the over-reactions of experienced editors that are causing the disturbance. I strongly encourage them to do this again, but for their own sake, try to avoid freaking out the natives. -- Ned Scott 01:22, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
it's positive in the sense that now we are aware of the effect that there can be from groups plotting off-WP to affect our editing, and they've been transparent enough to give us actual examples of how such a group operates and thinks. I would personally deal with it here by deleting all discussions on the affected pages from the point they became involved. I've cited one example of a literal plot, and there have been others mentioned above. It will be a useful ethics lesson to all. Careless teacher, careless students. But then, i am not from harvard, so I wont make jokes about it. DGG (talk) 01:32, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
If you want to be a fool and disregard their good advice and neutral insight, go ahead. Off-wiki collaboration does not equal evil plotting. -- Ned Scott 01:41, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry, that was a lot more harsh that I meant. I understand why you feel it was manipulative, but disagree that it actually was. -- Ned Scott 01:55, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Alleged meatpuppet speaks out

I resent the implication that this was meatpuppetry or that we conspired to vote-stack or to disrupt the normal workings of wikipedia. At all times our intention was to put forth a good faith effort to resolve the current dispute. Because the page was (as has been noted) something of a mess, we felt that the best way to do this would be to first discuss our impressions of the arguments that had come before, and what sort of compromise could be reached. We saw requests for valid sources of a dispute about whether waterboarding is torture. We saw that those sources had been offered and largely ignored. We pointed to the most obvious instance of this ignored offering, and suggested a fairly neutral solution. Because we are separate and distinct people, we posted our opinions separately and distinctly. It was never our intention to inflate our authority by doing this, but only that it be given exactly the weight that one experienced user and several new users' opinions should be given. We encouraged and anticipated comment by other wikipedians, and were perfectly prepared to be outnumbered. The reaction I've seen by wikipedians has been appalling, and has certainly curbed my desire to express my view in any future dispute. I acknowledge one fair point from our various detractors: it may have been a better idea to declare our group project outright. We discussed it, and the reason we decided against it was because we wanted to avoid distraction from the actual issue under dispute. I see that this has happened anyway, and I regret that. Lastly, (though the posting of this comment will render it redundant,) I just wanted to let lciaccio know that as far as I know none of our accounts were actually suspended. Vhettinger (talk) 01:37, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Outside view

I am of absolutely no consequence to this discussion, but the concern I see among the "regular" Wikipedians here is one of transparency. Had the participants announced their presence and intentions, as one group apparently did, I would imagine this would have been a non-issue. Gladys J Cortez 01:42, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Bingo. Give that lady a cigar. And with that, I'm gonna close this thing. Back to work, folks. Raymond Arritt (talk) 01:53, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
I concur with Gladys here, and Ned Scott above, re -outside groups bringing micro-consensus to the table, not premeditated COllusion of the MeatPuppetry variety. Asserting athat all the groups were homogeneous of opinion seems fatuous at best. I'm not thrilled about the potential for abuse, but here we've got Jehochman saying he can, essentially, vouch for the professor's intent being non-malicious, and a group of students who were open. It's entirely possible the level of candor was open to interpretation, and if we get 30 Harvard eggheads as regular editors, good on us, it'll help balance out the flat earthers. (SAT vocab and pithy references? you bet. got to look best when the bean-town brains show up.) ThuranX (talk) 01:57, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

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