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Welcome to Wikimedia Commons, Sfarney!

-- Wikimedia Commons Welcome (talk) 20:51, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Scientology topic ban on WikipediaEdit

Curious if you are aware of the evidence that has been sent to ArbCom and have been allowed a chance to respond to it. Wordsmith intimated to me what it concerned and it is definitely something you should be allowed to address, especially since it seems to be the primary basis for the severity of his sanction. I did insist to him that you were raising legitimate concerns about that article and my own inquiries only drive that home. From what I can tell from seeing online copies, the news articles discussing R2-45 are mostly minor mentions. The longest mention is the article in the Clearwater Sun, with less than 300 words. Second-longest is the LA Times article mention, which is just under 200 words in a nearly 5,000 word piece. After that is the article in The News-Herald, that is also less than 200 words.

All other mentions in the cited news articles are around 100 words or less with the shortest being in the Time article where there is literally just one sentence about it. Book mentions from what I can gather are similarly minor. I suspect the longest mention is the paper by Lane and Kent where roughly 700 words and two pages of the 52-page document are about R2-45. That paper is technically citations 17 and 18, but one is the French translation. Just from looking at the news article mentions I can safely say the article is badly slanted towards an anti-Scientology POV. Most quickly point out that Scientologists argue this is a joke that some people have misconstrued as serious. The article on Wikipedia does not mention this early enough or often enough. R2-45 meets the minimum GNG standard, in my opinion, but there would be a strong case for merging to another article.

Overall, I would say your concerns were completely legitimate and remain completely legitimate. I also pointed out to Wordsmith that Feoferr, one of the editors contributing to the article, is an anti-Scientology SPA to whom remedy 5.1 would more aptly apply, though he has shown no indication of looking into it. Technically, the remedy is phrased to allow sanctions against any SPA and not just those perceived to be pro-Scientology. As it is, he seemed to acknowledge in his e-mail that you are not an SPA, despite citing that remedy and the one-year topic ban being based directly on that remedy. He should bear less blame for that than the arbitrator who apparently advised him to invoke that remedy. The fact you were just given a mild advisement by Dennis Brown without any evidence in the follow-up Wordsmith acted on being after that advisement is another reason to consider this a wrongful sanction.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 22:29, 1 June 2016 (UTC)

@The Devil's Advocate: Thank you for your very civil and rational message. Backroom justice is always disappointing, but even more so among volunteers who allegedly seek free and open discussion, consensus, and information sharing. I have no opportunity to respond to anything outside those 3 forums and my user talk page, nor have I knowledge of anything else. <joke>Am I accused of plotting against the king? Or opening my egg from the wrong end?</joke> Under the ban, I cannot discuss the article with you, but I welcome your comments. Sfarney (talk) 22:57, 1 June 2016 (UTC)
We are on Commons, so your topic ban does not apply here at all. If you are saying you have no knowledge of what private evidence has been submitted to ArbCom, then I think that is important. Since Wordsmith indicates an arbitrator advised him to pursue a specific sanction after he submitted the private evidence, then it is clearly relevant and you should be allowed to respond to it. Perhaps they haven't gotten around to talking to you about it, though my experience suggests you should not hedge on that possibility.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 23:08, 1 June 2016 (UTC)
Well, it's a bit awkward. Can I say "a little birdie" told me that ArbComm bases this decision on secret evidence? I don't know what I don't know. Given the iron hand in these hearings, I cannot ask you to bring your information forward, but I do not know how I can use it. (Roddy Piper in They Live: "I knew it had to be something like this." Sfarney (talk) 23:48, 1 June 2016 (UTC)
In your appeal Wordsmith mentions that he sent private evidence to ArbCom and that an arbitrator suggested invoking the SPA remedy. On his talk page he also noted the private evidence was a significant basis for the sanction. He just made it much clearer in his e-mail that this private evidence is the reason he went with such a harsh sanction. Since you should be allowed to know all the evidence brought against you, especially if it was a deciding factor, it would be simple enough to ask for it on your appeal presuming ArbCom has not asked you about it yet.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 04:46, 2 June 2016 (UTC)
I thought I recalled your nym but could not find any shadow of your presence. I understand much more now. Sfarney (talk) 06:26, 3 June 2016 (UTC)

You ought to know that I just sent some information to the Arbitration Committee regarding Wordsmith that strongly suggests he is involved regarding Scientology and should not have been taking admin action against you or anyone else in the Scientology topic area.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 00:13, 24 June 2016 (UTC)

Thank you. Though the results are always uncertain, it will not be wasted. Sfarney (talk) 00:39, 24 June 2016 (UTC)

Filing a request for arbitration was not a great idea, even though I think you have a very good case for appeal. Has ArbCom not spoken to you about your topic ban? There is no way Wordsmith's conduct here could be justified based on the evidence I sent them, but my experience has been such that I wouldn't be surprised if they don't care that its a wrongful sanction and are content doing nothing.

A public request to ArbCom would only work if you have some of the evidence I have as I think many in the community would consider it strong cause for an appeal. Going straight to the community with it might be easier, though there is always a possibility this particular gang of editors will try to force a "boomerang" regardless of how damning the evidence is against Wordsmith and other editors involved.

I still want to at least give them the chance to maybe consider doing something, so I hope you can hold off on anything further until I show you the evidence. The next few days are going to be occupying my time and ArbCom is likely to be distracted as well, so maybe on the weekend I'll share my evidence with you. None of it is personal information, though I still might just e-mail you the bulk of the proof and only leave a brief summary with some evidence on here. You will be free to decide how much of the evidence to include in any public appeal.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 22:13, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

I hear you. One thing about liberty, you can't stop a group of people from hanging themselves. I would like to see the information. Sfarney (talk) 00:30, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
Well, as I said, I do want to give them a little more time. Surely you can wait until the end of the week.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 03:21, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
I surely can. Thanks. Sfarney (talk) 04:17, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
You have to enable e-mail before I can send you the e-mail I shared with the Committee. I can't send it on the English Wikipedia either. Here are the important points I found that are public on-wiki information. Wordsmith, previously went by the username Firestorm on Wikipedia. Under that account name and still visible in Wordsmith's contributions history is him disclosing as a "possible conflict of interest" his ownership of a discussion board for Project Chanology activities in Boston. I'm not going to link to it to avoid any "outing" concerns, though I don't think it violates that policy, but on that discussion board there is a user called Thrawn who is apparently the creator of the discussion board and apparently helped organize various Project Chanology events in the Boston area through the forums.
Thrawn is the username Wordsmith used to use on Commons and one of his image uploads, that was added to the Wikipedia Project Chanology page, still lists Thrawn as the original creator. In case you are not aware, Project Chanology is an anti-Scientology activist movement started on 4chan so it would appear Wordsmith was an organizer in a movement that actively fought to bring down the Church of Scientology. They also leaked a whole bunch of Scientology documents, so that is likely what Wordsmith meant when he talked about having access to a lot of official documents of the Church.
As it concerns the reasons for your ban, it all concerns off-wiki evidence generally. Damotclese, one of the editors who you tangled with on the R2-45 article, apparently started a thread about you on a Chanology-related website as DamOTclese, with posts from years earlier strongly indicating the accounts are operated by the same person who has given out the same real name on both sites. The site where he posted was one of several sites Wordsmith mentioned in addition to the one he effectively helped run, so he was definitely aware of the site and as an anti-Scientology activist might still look at occasionally. The opening post by DamOTclese was vicious, calling you an agent of Scientology and repeatedly calling you an asshole. He also encouraged the members of the site to confront you on-wiki.
During the course of that thread another member of the site seized on your last name to accuse you of being some known high-level Scientology official who has the same last name. Your first names are completely different and the poster even mentioned that in the same brief post. Said post was made days before Wordsmith topic-banned you and Wordsmith's later comments about the evidence strongly pointed to it being this very poorly-based allegation about your identity. In an e-mail to me, Wordsmith strongly indicated that he was persuaded to topic-ban you by an allegation or belief of you being this Church official.
Obviously, I can't know if his allegation was based on that forum post, but it seems like far too much of a coincidence and that means you were essentially banned from Scientology articles for a year by an anti-Scientology activist who was basing his decision off an anonymous and obscenely speculative forum post in a thread started by one of your wiki opponents to encourage a dogpile attack by angry channers. ArbCom is familiar with this evidence, but have so far done nothing regarding either Wordsmith or Damotclese. Possibly relevant and not mentioned to ArbCom as I saw it later, is this post here on Damotclese's page and there are some interesting details in the user's history indicative of tag-teaming. Again, if you want the full info I sent ArbCom enable your e-mail.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 02:46, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for that. I don't know how to enable email. Suggestion? Sfarney (talk) 21:02, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
It's in your preferences next to your username. Go down to e-mail options and check the box to enable e-mail.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 01:06, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
Got it. It was enabled long ago, just never confirmed. I will confirm tonight. Sfarney (talk) 19:32, 12 July 2016 (UTC) -- Enabled now. Sfarney (talk) 17:49, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
I sent you a copy of the e-mail just now. While I think what I have mentioned here on your talk page would be reasonable to include in any public appeal, you should be careful about citing additional details from the e-mail. Linking Wikipedia accounts to off-site accounts, even if they are both anonymous accounts using the same pseudonym, has been branded outing in the past. The info about Damotclese includes his real name and though he did use it on-wiki previously that is also a sketchy area. Should you wish to file an appeal based on this info you may want to clear it with an admin you trust first.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 02:50, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
Heh! I don't trust any of the admins -- or anyone else, either. But migosh, man, that is one heck of a letter. I trust it totally, of course, but I will also verify. ;-)
My appeal has fact enough without the letter. And the letter is already as far as it can go -- I cannot push it further by re-arguing the facts therein. I will say only that the letter is relevant, speaks for itself, and should be considered. Thanks for this. Sfarney (talk) 05:56, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
You didn't have to notify me that you sent me an e-mail. I received a notification that you sent one, but I hadn't said anything yet because it didn't seem to go through and I was waiting to see if it would. For some reason, though I received a notification that you sent me an e-mail, it didn't come into my inbox and it wasn't in my spam folder either.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 00:39, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
Okay, I saw the e-mail after you resent it.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 03:42, 16 July 2016 (UTC)

I got the e-mail of your draft appeal and have some thoughts I will send you.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 15:52, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

The most recent draft appeal you sent me looks good. I do think you should mention the thread started by Damotclese and the specific allegation about your identity made in that thread simply because that appears to be where Wordsmith got the absurd notion that you were some Scientology operative. You don't have to link to the thread itself, just note that ArbCom has a link to the thread. As far as a public or private appeal, a public request for ArbCom involvement with this additional evidence is more likely to go through simply because they would not be able to ignore community concerns. You may also consider posting this diff to acknowledge Wordsmith previously disclosed a possible COI regarding Chanology. Alternatively you can simply mention that he did disclose a possible COI and not link the diff, but note the disclosure is public and the diff has already been given to the Committee. I leave it to you whether you do it publicly or privately and whether you take it the community or not. Every instance has its benefits and drawbacks.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 14:08, 22 July 2016 (UTC)

Those are excellent, and I will certainly do that. Thanks.
I do not understand how I could have a public appeal at this point. The rules are too bloody mysterious, and nobody wants to write them down. Suggestions? Sfarney (talk) 15:03, 22 July 2016 (UTC)
In your opinion, could the document you have in hand appear in a public appeal? Sfarney (talk) 16:25, 22 July 2016 (UTC)
The most recent draft you sent would be perfectly acceptable in a public appeal. I would say that the reason for your troubles in that ArbCom appeal is that you made it a case request about the general dispute rather than a narrow appeal of your topic ban alone and that is seen less favorably. Any public appeal should be focused only on matters directly relevant to your topic ban. What you provided in your draft qualifies. Should you pursue a public appeal I think a requests for arbitration is not the right place for it.
You could theoretically make a case out of these circumstances given the behavior of Damotclese seeming to validate concerns about tag-teaming, but that approach comes with more risk. A full ArbCom case could end up being used to legitimize your topic ban or even increase your sanctions, even as it potentially could also get many of the anti-Scientology actors sanctioned including Wordsmith. Going to the community does not carry the same potential for action against opponents, but it does carry a risk of your sanctions being increased. Doing it privately carries the least amount of risk for increased sanctions, but it also has less potential for a favorable outcome as there is no risk for ArbCom in simply rejecting the evidence. Rejecting the evidence would be harder for them in the event it was available to the community.
One option to consider is filing a request for amendment. Aside from a private appeal, this has the least amount of risk for escalating sanctions because requests for amendment rarely lead to full cases and it makes the evidence available to the community without allowing the potential for a boomerang lynch mob. That ability to have people in the community see what played out and express their opinions is significant as it can influence the Committee yet it also does not put your fate at the whims of the mob.
Really it comes down to how you want to see this turn out. If you want to be able to edit on Scientology topics again then a full ArbCom case is probably not the route for you because there is a very strong chance ArbCom will find a way to uphold your topic ban even if they take action against Wordsmith for imposing it and sanction many of the anti-Scientology editors. Should you pursue a community appeal and it is unsuccessful that can still be bumped up to ArbCom level. Were you more interested in simply addressing the POV-pushing and misconduct by others then an ArbCom case could be made out of your appeal by including the role Damotclese played in your topic ban. Any mention of his conduct in an appeal could have him held accountable for his behavior, however, whether it was a case request or not. Pursuing a request for amendment would be the option that does the most to minimize the risk of further sanctions against you and to maximize the chances of success in your appeal.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 02:16, 23 July 2016 (UTC)
I didn't want you to be intimidated by this or think a public appeal couldn't work. Personally, I do think a public appeal is your best chance of getting ArbCom to review your case fairly. My experience with privately talking to ArbCom is that they tend to give you the silent treatment even on appeals unless you plead guilty and throw yourself on the mercy of the court. A request for amendment would have the benefit of putting public pressure on them to act and greatly minimizes the risk of any boomerang attempt. Honestly, I would be less concerned if you had only launched the one community appeal rather than requesting an ArbCom case after that.
Perhaps the best way for you to do this is to focus on points 3 and 4 in the last draft appeal you sent me, with the additions and modifications I suggested, and limit the other stuff to a brief summary linking to the community appeal where Wordsmith acknowledged the invalidity of both the SPA claim and the private evidence claim. That is because points 1 and 2 mostly rehash your previous appeals and could be used to claim "forum-shopping" or abuse of the appeal system. So long as your appeal focuses on new arguments and new evidence, it should be easy for you to avoid that claim and going through request for amendment doesn't give your opponents any real room to push for escalating sanctions.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 18:00, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

I understand why you would want to do everything via e-mail, but I try my best to avoid direct e-mailing so I use the site e-mail user function. Unfortunately, recently I have been having some serious problems with it in that I have not been receiving copies of e-mails I send out so this makes it difficult for me to keep track of my conversations. Let me see if I can figure out what is going on with it.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 23:53, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

Should you be doing a public appeal then I leave to you whether you note my help. My involvement could be raised as an issue or it might not. If you do a public appeal and are concerned my involvement could be a distraction you can privately send ArbCom the evidence I sent you then mention simply that you sent ArbCom more detailed evidence regarding your appeal without naming me at all. That also helps you cover your bases to insure everyone knows ArbCom has the evidence.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 23:02, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
My personal policy is always to give credit where credit is due, as it is in this case. I had heard of Anonymous before, but not Chanology, and hadn't a clue I should be looking for it or anything related to it. I am staggered to learn the daggers are really out and waving around in this arena. On carefully weighing all issues, I agree with your suggestion for a Request for modification of sanction. Sending another draft in a few minutes or hours. Sfarney (talk) 23:46, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
Rats, still 1318 words. Got to cut another 300. Be another day or two. Sfarney (talk) 00:34, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
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