By The Ghost of Christmas Past
Another in a in a series of blog posts highlighting lesser-known Wikipedia editors.
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?
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)”
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.
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)