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All Ur 28bytes R belong to us


By the Masked Maggot

It’s been an interesting week in Wikiland, and in Wikipediocracy country too!

It all started several weeks ago during the ARBCOM elections. Early on, there were some seriously odd characters running for the seats, and not many others. Several folks on the Wikipediocracy forums suggested that “one of us” should run, and it turns out that one did, though we didn’t know it at the time. Not only did he run, but he won, and won with the most support of any of the candidates.

About a week and a half ago, our superb team of investigators figured out who 28bytes is in “real life”. His identity (or “dox”, though it wasn’t really his dox) appeared on the public forum briefly, but was taken out of sight for a while at his request. He briefly considered “coming out” here on our blog, but decided that doing so on WP would be the better approach. The investigative team then began to suspect that he was also an insider here on Wikipediocracy as well, and what do ya know… they were right again.



As you can imagine, some of us were annoyed, some amused, some angry, most surprised. Some of the Wikipedians seem a bit shocked that we have a “super secret forum” where we review blog posts before publishing them (the horrors!), and of course the wheels of the Wikipedia drama machine are spinning away, though that’s not news, is it?

All we can say to those of our readers who aren’t Wikipedians: wikidrama is as contagious as flu and as addictive as a bad soap opera or reality show. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

We wish you all a happy New Year: we know it’s going to be a good one now that we’ve taken the first step towards taking over Wikipedia!



Editor’s epilogue: as of 22:37 (UTC) Sunday afternoon, 28bytes has resigned his Arbcom seat. Now the world will never know whether he was a Wikipediocracy mole who had penetrated the inner sanctum of Wikipedia, or vice versa, or simply a Rorschach test upon which frenzied partisans of both camps chose to project their most deeply felt paranoid fantasies. When the smoke clears, we will probably find a lesson here about the pitfalls of pseudonymous activity on the web. Was 28bytes/Mason a consummate gamer and black-hearted covert operative, or a nice guy with the best of intentions who found himself reviled by factions of both the organizations he was (discreetly) trying to assist? I’m inclined to think he was the latter. It would have been fun to learn the answers.  — HK


Image credits:  Flickr/garryknight, Flickr/Sam Howzit ~ licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

This blog post has been approved by the Wikipediocracy Super Secret Blog Post Review Forum.




10 comments to All Ur 28bytes R belong to us

  • I agree that he was probably a nice guy with the best intentions. Unfortunately, in this situation “probably” isn’t a strong enough assurance. When somebody presents a security risk, you don’t give them access to sensitive information, such as Wikipedia’s Checkuser and Oversight tools, and ArbCom’s confidential communications. I don’t know any corporate IT department that would give somebody access to sensitive data after it was proven that they had made deceptive disclosures about their affiliations and conflicts of interest.

    • Do you know of any corporate IT departments that would give somebody access to sensitive data after it was proven that they were a complete idiot?

    • Radiant Orchid

      Yes, we wouldn’t want yet another leak of the incredibly secure ArbCom mailing list, would we?

      Better to trust that pseudonymous editors aren’t security risks because they have identified themselves to the WMF. The WMF doesn’t require them to be vetted for basic security concerns. The WMF doesn’t train them in information security best practices. The WMF doesn’t verify that they are who they say they are. And, as Greg points out, some of those people have demonstrated that they probably shouldn’t be trusted with access to personal information. Sounds like a great system.

      • I agree with your concerns, but that’s another problem. There is a flaw in having amateurs handles some of the issues that are sent to ArbCom. Wikipedia could do much better in that regard.

        • Radiant Orchid

          Jehochman, you said that it would be a security risk to allow 28bytes access to the ArbCom mailing list, but that list is far from being secure. 28bytes actually presents less of a security risk than some other Arbs since his identity and affiliations are now public.

          I suspect it is the affiliation with this site that troubles you, not any plausible “security risk” that comes from “deceptive disclosures” and “conflicts of interest”. In case you hadn’t noticed, those are par for the course with WP admins, as we have seen time and time again. 28bytes is no worse than most and probably better than some. The norm on WP seems to be that having a conflict of interest is fine, so long as no one finds out.

  • Hersch

    Early yesterday, Jimbo left a message on 28bytes’ talk page, in which he proposed a “community vote to re-confirm” 28bytes’ Arbcom membership. Although I initially dismissed it as a standard CYA move by Jimbo, I have had a change of heart. I see no downside to letting things play out in exactly this way. It would naturally become a referendum of sorts on Wikipediocracy, which is exactly what Wikipedia needs. Mr. Bytes would not need to campaign; he could just sit back and let nature take its course. Any Wikipedian who is not already acutely aware of Wikipediocracy could take the opportunity to peruse the site. If Mr. Bytes loses, then Wikipedia is not ready for reform and he did the right thing by resigning. If he wins — then maybe Wikipedia is ready for reform.

  • neved

    Jehochman, one of the first articles you wrote under your current account was this boring advertisement PSC Inc. Could you please disclose your conflict of interest?

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