Fram incident on the English Wikipedia

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On June 10, 2019 the Trust and Safety Team of the Wikimedia Foundation banned a Wikipedia admin named "Fram" from the English Wikipedia for one year. They also removed Fram's administrator status on the English Wikipedia.[1] People on and outside Wikipedia have talked about this a lot.

The Wikimedia Foundation did not say right away what Fram did that made them want to punish Fram. They said they couldn't tell because they were worried about someone's privacy. They did not say whose. Fram said the Wikimedia Foundation had sent Fram one warning about breaking the English Wikipedia's rules about being polite and another warning telling Fram to stay away from another person called Laura.[2]

An article in the magazine BuzzFeed News said the Fram incident meant Wikipedia had stopped being neutral. Some people were worried that the Wikimedia Foundation might make Wikipedia biased by choosing what kind of person they allow to make changes to Wikipedia.[3]

Another article in Slate Magazine called this incident a constitutional crisis at Wikipedia. Many in the English Wikipedia community thought that the English Wikipedia was in charge of its own website. They thought it was unfair that the Wikimedia Foundation could choose what was allowed on the English Wikipedia.[4]

A Breitbart report by T.D. Adler said that the Foundation is probably trying to change the "toxic" culture at Wikipedia. Wikipedia has been criticized for the fact that many more men than women write on Wikipedia. This is called a gender gap. Some people believe that this gender gap encourages people to be rude to each other and harass each other on Wikipedia.[5]

As a protest, 21 English Wikipedia admins decided to resign[source?]. Others discussed whether Fram should be unbanned by another admin. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, asked them to wait until the Foundation's executive director, Katherine Maher, and the Foundation's Board of Trustees had a chance to decide what to do. On June 11 2019 at 7:39 p.m., an administrator called Floquenbeam unblocked Fram.[6] On June 12 at 12:32 a.m., the Foundation re-blocked Fram[6] and desysopped Floquenbeam, which means they took away Floquenbeam's admin powers and access.[7] Later on June 12 at 7:20 am, an administrator called Bishonen unblocked Fram again[6] and made Floquenbeam an admin again.[7] This banning and unbanning made some people worried, because when two more admins go back and forth and undo each other's actions, it doesn't help Wikipedia grow. This is called "wheel warring" on the English Wikipedia.

Background[change | change source]

Wikipedia was founded in January 2001 by Jimmy Wales. In 2003, Jimmy Wales gave control of Wikipedia to the Wikipedia Foundation, which was formed as an umbrella group for all Wikipedias and other wiki-projects. Wales kept the tools that allow him to control content on all wiki-projects just in case he wants to use them.

Most of the time, the English Wikipedia has run its own website with the help of admins, users who are given software tools that allow them to delete content and sanction (punish) people they think are bad for the website. The Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, called ArbCom, was made to be a court of last resort to deal with situations that cause so much public disagreement on the English Wikipedia that regular admins either can't or shouldn't solve them. Before this, the Wikimedia Foundation only banned Wikipedians in rare cases involving child protection, threats of suicide, threats of violence, or legal matters.

The Wikimedia Foundation now has the same job as corporate social networks such as YouTube and Twitter. They are fighting some of the most loyal Wikipedia volunteers who are sometimes involved in a toxic environment. Joseph Bernstein of BuzzFeed News said: "The Wikimedia Foundation said that it had 'leveled the ban to maintain respect and civility on the platform. Uncivil behavior, including harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism, is against our Terms of Use, which are applicable to anyone who edits on our projects'" [8]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "User rights log: Fram". Meta-Wiki.
  2. "Community response to the Wikimedia Foundation's ban of Fram". English Wikipedia. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  3. Elamin Abdelmahmoud (June 28, 2019). "Morning Update: The Culture War Comes For Us All Eventually". Buzzfeed.
  4. Harrison, Stephen (July 2, 2019). "Wikipedia's "Constitutional Crisis" Pits Community Against Foundation".
  5. T.D. Adler (June 28, 2019). "Wikipedia Editors Revolt over Site's Ban of Veteran Administrator". Breitbart.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Block log: Fram". Wikipedia.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "User rights log: Floquenbeam". Meta-Wiki.
  8. Joseph Bernstein (June 27, 2019). "The Culture War Has Finally Come for Wikipedia". BuzzFeed News.