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Meet the editors: WayneRay

By The Ghost of Christmas Past

Another in a in a series of blog posts highlighting lesser-known Wikipedia editors.

Update (April 14, 2016):

Since this post was published there have been some minor developments. The Wikipedia article about Wayne Ray was deleted as expected. A number of his images have been deleted from Wikimedia Commons, but the vast majority remain. Given the obviously questionable copyright claims of many of them, it is surprising that no one has deleted them, but that serves to show how haphazardly things are done when lead by non-expert volunteers. WayneRay was blocked on Commons and three other WMF projects but is still not globally blocked.

The Wikipedia Signpost covered the situation in their 23 March 2016 issue. They included a quote from James Alexander, the WMF’s Manager of Trust & Safety. Alexander cited “significant resource constraints” in dealing with child protection issues. In response to a comment on the Signpost piece, Alexander told the author that “WMF investigation is still ongoing, and any possible visible actions probably won’t occur until later next week”. No visible actions occurred.

Since the original blog post, almost two thousand accounts have been globally blocked for “spam” or “long-term abuse”. Wayne Ray’s account and the accounts of other editors blocked by ArbCom? Not globally blocked. Child protection seems to be a lower priority than spam protection. Wayne Ray’s Facebook accounts were removed within days of reporting. The WMF has known of this situation for three weeks now.

In August of 2012 longtime editor WayneRay was blocked on the English-language Wikipedia. Jclemens, who at that time was a member of Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee, even took the unusual step of deleting WayneRay’s user page and talk pages. Jclemens specified that the pages were not to be restored without talking to the Arbitration Committee. WayneRay didn’t protest this block, probably because he was incarcerated at the time on child pornography charges. So a job well done. Except no one bothered to see what WayneRay had been doing on other Wikimedia projects. And despite the fact that WayneRay is a convicted child pornographer, he is out of jail and happily working away on Commons (and sometimes on Wikipedia). How can that be?

Wikipedia Editor Wayne Ray

Wikipedia editor Wayne Ray
 Image: Ingelbert Lievaart II – IngeMedia
License: Public Domain

Blocked on Wikipedia, but not on Commons
You may have read some of the earlier stories here about Wikipedia editors Demiurge1000, Kintetsubuffalo, Meco, Crakkerjakk, and For An Angel. All of those users have since been blocked on Wikipedia, with the sole exception of Kintetsubuffalo, who continues to be an active editor in good standing there. Only two on the list are globally blocked, meaning they cannot participate under their screen name on any Wikimedia projects. But that means the rest on the list are blocked only on the English-language Wikipedia. They are free to work on other Wikimedia projects like Simple Wikipedia (which is often used by children) and Wikimedia Commons, where they can upload and modify images.  Meco (who admits distributing child pornography) was only globally blocked by the Wikimedia Foundation when it looked like the nice people at Commons might not be willing to block him over such a thing.

The English-language Wikipedia Arbitration Committee of unpaid volunteers no longer handles “child protection” issues. This is now handled by the WMF’s professional legal team, with reference to the WMF’s “terms of service”. This was an obvious and overdue move, but it is a great improvement. So when Demiurge1000 was finally blocked, he was globally blocked. But it appears that the editors who were previously “ARBCOM blocked” have not been retroactively globally blocked by the team that now deals with child protection issues. One cannot be sure how many editors that would be (and it’s difficult to say whether the Arbitration Committee is aware, either). Bear in mind also that we are just talking about editors on the English-language Wikipedia. What happens on the other WMF projects? Who knows?

Although globally blocking an account might seem like a serious action that must be carefully weighed against the possible harm to the project, it really isn’t. The WMF globally blocks sockpuppets of Russavia on a daily basis. There must be thousands of Russavia socks blocked by now, not to mention the occasional spammer. Globally blocking WayneRay and a few dozen more accounts would not be a big deal.

Wayne Ray, poet
WayneRay is very open about the fact that he is Wayne Ray, Canadian poet. He created an article about himself way way back in 2005. Does a Wikipedia article about Wayne Ray meet the encyclopedia’s current standard for notability? No, not at all. Will the article get deleted now? Almost certainly, but don’t worry, Ray also maintains a page about himself on Commons.

So if there’s a Wikipedia article about Wayne Ray, why doesn’t it mention his child pornography conviction? For a while, it did. There was a reliable source for it and no reason to dispute the facts of the case. But Wikipedia bloviator Herostratus came along and removed it. “It’s an OK source,” he bleated, “but I literally cannot find anything about this anywhere. Single source, provincial paper, extremely inflammatory claim, BLP. Not good enough IMO.” The article used as a source was this one. Herostratus apparently failed to find this article or this article about the 2009 charges which lead to Ray’s 2011 sentencing.

When Ray was no longer incarcerated, he returned to Wikipedia. He created a new account, WayneScottRay. It is likely that no one ever told him why he was blocked, and he did not seem to understand what had happened, although he was clear that he wanted to keep working on his biography. That account was promptly blocked. So he created another account with a less obvious name, Haiku Tea. It only took six months for Wikipedia editors to figure out that it was him. The first clue should have been that the only person interested in Wayne Ray’s Wikipedia entry is Wayne Ray.

As recently as October 2015, Wayne Ray was editing Wikipedia from a public library in London, Ontario. Ray mentions that he only has “2 hours a day on the Library Internet”. The IP address of the library was blocked for a month when this was discovered. That block expired in November.

WayneRay, Commons editor
WayneRay is active on Wikimedia Commons. He appears to regard Commons as a personal web host. He has uploaded hundreds of scans of images apparently taken by family members. His claim of copyright on those images is questionable at best, but so long as he keeps sorting botanical images into the correct categories, it is unlikely that anyone on Commons will ever do anything about it. He has also uploaded many scans of his own photos, collages, and poetry. There’s nothing wrong with pictures of young, partially-clothed Boy Scouts playing in mud or having a little fun with their Quartermaster, but it would probably be safest to delete them before some news reporter notices that the image that has been illustrating your article on Scouts Canada since 2007 was taken by a man with a conviction for child pornography.

Aside from his work with images on Commons, WayneRay also enjoys interacting with other users. Here is a sampling:
I would like to create a usable category or gallery for your photos, please up load more or contact me at [email redacted] WayneRay (talk) 23:56, 19 September 2008 (UTC) WayneRay”
Dang you are beautiful, any more photos? WayneRay (talk) 19:10, 8 October 2008 (UTC)WayneRay”
HI, can you send me photos or upload photos of the family nudity you keep talking about on your Summary I would like to compare them to Canadian family nudists, [email redacted] WayneRay (talk) 14:42, 27 February 2009 (UTC)”
Do you have any more photos you can upload of yourself and if you need any help with anything on Wikimedia let me know, just here to help WayneRay (talk) 00:25, 15 January 2009 (UTC)WayneRay”
I just found your User photos in images without categories and placed them in Category:Images of Users and I must say you are a most beautiful woman. I would like to see more photos of you if you don’t mind. Send them to [email redacted] Danke WayneRay (talk) 19:29, 18 February 2009 (UTC)”
You are so beautiful, Please contact me for more photos WayneRay (talk) 03:26, 18 April 2009 (UTC)”

Painted door

Image: Darwin Bell
License: CC BY 2.0

The images Ray refers to in the first example have all been deleted, but we can see from the logs that they were named “My penis as a child”, “Preteen penis 3” and similar. Even if we didn’t know anything about Wayne Ray, his comments are inappropriate. Asking users — especially young-looking users — to email him more pictures goes beyond inappropriate. WayneRay has never been blocked on Commons.

All of those examples are from before Wayne Ray’s conviction. You might think that after being incarcerated and possibly living under release or parole conditions, he is being much more careful now. Well, he isn’t. On March 14 2016, referring to a drawing of an anime character naked but clutching her clothing to her chest, WayneRay commented “This is a beutiful (sic) anime drawing.File:I saw my naked in my dream.png Do you have any more. It is my hobby”. Wikipedia describes that anime character as “a vagrant schoolgirl”. It is probably not a good idea to be soliciting images of naked schoolgirls, even if they are only drawings, when you have a prior child pornography conviction.

Many of WayneRay’s Commons uploads credit something called the “Windfield Photographic Collection” and include a contact mailing address. This is very unusual for Commons. It is not clear why no one on Commons has removed such obvious self-promotion. Perhaps after he’s blocked, someone can do that.

The bigger picture
Although WayneRay was noticed and blocked on Wikipedia in 2012, it appears that there was no follow through. It wouldn’t have been hard to look through his uploads on Commons or discover that he had been inappropriately interacting with users there. But because no one bothered to do that, WayneRay has been active on Commons since his release. And when the WMF took over child protection issues, they didn’t go through the editors who had already been blocked by the Arbitration Committee and block them globally. So you have editors like WayneRay who are blocked on one WMF project but welcome to work on any other. This seems like an obvious failing in any kind of serious child protection scheme. It has been noted before, but not with such a blantant example as WayneRay. Perhaps this will be enough for the WMF to act.

(Originally published on: Mar 21, 2016)

14 comments to Meet the editors: WayneRay

  • Eagle

    Thank you for this blog post. It shows that both the professional and volunteer staff in charge of moderating Wikipedia Commons fails to address the serious problems of such an photo/video archive. When Wikipedia first started, photos were uploaded in conjunction with the editing of articles. Later, the creation of Wikipedia Commons as a separate project with a separate hierarchy of administrators resulted in far less scrutiny of its operations. The goal of Wikipedia Commons is to collect as many images as possible, even if it means washing the copyrights through flickr.

    It would be interesting to see what portion of WMF resources are devoted to Commons.

  • Tim Davenport/Carrite/Randy from Boise

    I’ve drawn criticism for my position that the child protection issue on English-Wikipedia is greatly exaggerated — that while there are creeps in the world, it makes for an objectively poor trolling ground for real life abuse of juvenile victims. Commons, on the other hand, being graphically oriented and constructed around user-generated content, is a whole different story. THAT is a high risk venue.

    Excellent piece here. I’m not sure whether the bio meets GNG or not — the publication list is extensive enough that I suspect it probably does. I’m sure somebody will haul it to AfD shortly.

  • Mike C

    “Perhaps this will be enough for the WMF to act.”

    Well they haven’t yet. Have they been informed that Wikicommons play host to a man convicted for possessing and distributing child pornography? A man who “at one time posed as a 14-year-old girl to obtain more photos..”
    ( http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2011/10/19/18850516.html )

    I’m sure the creator of Wikicommons, Erik Möller, would be horrified if he knew they were harboring convicted pedophiles. Or perhaps not.
    ( http://mashable.com/2008/05/08/erik-moeller-pedophilia/#vjkZ.3irSsqQ )

    Do the WMF even prohibit those with such prior convictions? The meta page on child protection policy seems to be still at the “proposal” stage, and has been since 2010.
    ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Child_protection )

    Ugh. Excellent post. But ugh.

  • The Master

    Commons is a great place for the likes of Wayne the Pedo. A site full of enablers allowing him to solicit people for kiddie porn. When is the WMF going to wake up and deal with this?

  • Reaction by Wikipedians to the facts in this article so far is confused and ineffective.

  • Peter Piper

    Most of those creepy solicitations are still public, and the user has continued to upload a variety of images that are questionable at best. What’s the appropriate way to complain about this kind of user? I can’t find anything under Help which would indicate the best course of action.

    I find the comments here that “no one is doing anything” rather odd. Do something about it yourself if you know how.

    • Radiant Orchid

      How delightfully naive. Knowing what should be done and being able to get it done are two entirely different things. Let’s just say that it would be counterproductive for anyone who isn’t part of the Commons in-crowd to attempt this.

    • Alison Cassidy

      Sadly, as Radiant Orchid indicates, it’s not that easy to “do the right thing” on Wikimedia Commons – even as an admin. The site is pretty-much locked down to a handful of individuals and any actions performed (blocks, deletions, etc) would likely be contested and reverted. Yes, even if relating to a convicted child pornographer. That’s how Commons works.

  • Blythwood

    Thank you for writing this. I agree with The Master’s comment on the forum – I think WMF could have faced some very interesting legal consequences not fully banning this guy, and it would be nice to see some statement that older cases like this are going to be re-examined.

    Allowing global profiles to still be enabled for banned users was also a real mistake. When I looked on his Wikipedia user page you’d never see a hint that this person has been banned from English-language Wikipedia.

  • lr

    Perhaps naively, I hadn’t appreciated how much porn was in the Commons. I was rather sickened – and shaken – to learn that there is a category apparently of children engaged in sexual acts. I didn’t look to see what it contained, because I don’t really to explain myself to the local police.

    It seems to me that it is hard to justify large numbers of pornographic images on the commons, and it is impossible to justify this category, even if it contains images that are not actually as described. Someone at the WMF surely needs to pull their finger out and take some action on images in the commons.

  • Pokéfan95

    Hello, thanks for posting this blog. I have news to you all, there is a proposal regarding WayneRay’s global ban on all Wikimedia projects. See https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Requests_for_comment/Global_ban_for_WayneRay

  • Pokéfan95

    And finally, he is globally banned by the WMF (and also community banned).