Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why we have a strong Anonymity policy

Actually, we just think it is a wise principle in general, but this reported problem of threats and harassment being directed at Wikipedia editors and admins tends to support our decision.
Some of the administrators in charge of editing Wikipedia pages have admitted that they have become greatly concerned about online privacy due to receiving threats whenever they moderate pages about controversial topics. The admissions were made to researchers of Drexel University in Philadelphia, US, who were carrying out research into how and why internet users protect their privacy while working on collaborative projects online.

The researchers interviewed 23 individuals, including several Wikipedia editors, and discovered that users who work on collaborative projects often receive threats from governments, groups of people and other individuals that are substantial enough to make the users fear for the safety and reputation of themselves and their families.

The extent of the abuse is so bad that many Wikipedia editors now have to use the Tor anonymity network to disguise their IP addresses, because otherwise people who mean them harm trace their IPs and threaten them with violence.

Pervasive threats of harrassment, rape and death

"We were surprised to learn how pervasive and dire the threat was perceived to be among people with central roles (like employees of the Wikimedia Foundation) and permissions like blocking editors or protecting pages (like administrators chosen by the community)," the researchers wrote in their paper.

One female Wikipedia administrator reported that "the fear of harassment, of real, of stalking and things like that, is quite substantial. At least among administrators I know, especially women", while another individual, who started working for Wikipedia as a teenager, said: "It's a lot of emotional work, and I remember being like 13 and getting a lot of rape threats and death threats, and that was when I was doing administrative work."

The Wikipedia editors reported that threats were made to both male and female editors, and that the threats sadly often came from other editors on the project, who had a conflict with the content that was either allowed to be published, or taken off pages for various reason. Threats became more intense if the editors were holding central positions as administrators or members of the arbitration committee, who were given the final say on content.
No one involved with Infogalactic is known to anyone outside the project except for the Lead Designer. We plan to keep it that way. Only the members of the Star Council will have access to the real identities behind the various handles, as there is no reason anyone else needs to know them.

Even if a Galaxian turns out to be a problem, we'll just cut off their editing access. We certainly won't doxx them or ID them, as has happened to Wikipedians in the past, unless they are using Infogalactic to engage in criminal activity.

1 comment:

  1. Have you solved the issue regarding real names being revealed and started approving accounts again? Haven't seen a confirmation email yet.