SMcCandlish

Editors, Admins and Bureaucrats Oh my!

SMcCandlish

Postby CrowsNest » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:35 am

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:SMcCandlish

Stanton McCandlish is one of the most prolific Wikipedians, most recently coming awfully close to being voted into a seat on the encyclopedia's highest dispute resolution body, ArbCom, which would be quite an achievement for anyone who isn't already an Administrator. He's probably blown any chance of that now.....

Unfortunately for Wikipedia, he's also a transphobe. He's denying it if course, but the list of established and respected Wikipedians (I know, but in their world, they are) lining up to decry him as one, is large, and the page he wrote which caused this outrage, distributed across Wikipedia by their community newsletter The Signpost, is now notable as the first and apparently only time something they've published has had to be retracted.
This column has been blanked because, in retrospect, it failed to make its intended point, while causing pain to other editors.
It has even moved Jimmy Wales to comment.....
In terms of discussing matters of our own community's editorial judgment we should use the term 'editorial judgment'. It is my firm belief that Signpost is a community effort that should serve our community's values and needs, and that there is zero reason for it ever to be 'edgy' with humor or to in any way offend anyway. I haven't read the piece in question, but in general I would say that if something is published there which is later regretted, it is worthwhile to delete it. This is a wiki, after all, and the most fundamental fact about a wiki is that it can be edited and changed.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:25, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
His response to all this criticism has largely been various forms of what he himself said here.....
Fortunately, I'm a private contractor and secretive about my clients, so .... none of you can get me fired from anywhere by pursuing off-site channels.) This whole gaggle of vengeance seekers should be ashamed; you're doing grievous harm to WP as an open venue. "Only like-minded thinkers need apply, and you'll be really, really sorry if you're not one of Us."
 — SMcCandlish   11:07, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
Pretty ironic given the substance of his piece was essentially Comply Or Fuck Off, as he explained here....
A number of ranty editors utterly missed the point. It's about Wikipedia editors engaging in language-change activism trying to push non-mainstream stylistic strangeness, including a) fake pronouns like zie and hirm, b) unusual trademark stylizations, and c) excessive honorifics. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the off-site usage or the values of those who engage in it. It's about and only about encyclopedic usage. If you want to go change WP:MOS to say "It's okay to exactly mimic the appearance of logos, to write of Jesus and Mohammad with "Our Lord" and "Peace Be Upon Him" before and after (respectively) their names, to inject made-up pronoun shenanigans like ze and xir into our articles", well, good luck with that. Never going to happen.  — SMcCandlish 17:55, 28 February 2019 (UTC)
Couched as a Manual of Style issue, the fighting over which was previously his most notable contribution to Wikipedia and the reason why he has never been seen as Administrator material (even though he's really no worse than what they already have), it really isn't, something which the majority seem to have realised.

On his Wikipedia page, this guy says he is a "Web developer, IT consultant, nonfiction author, civil liberties activist and nonprofit executive, as well as amateur pocket billiards (pool) instructor, former online news editor, policy analyst, archivist, independent publisher, and also an amateur artist, among other things."

I'm putting his details here, because Wikipedia in its wisdom doesn't let Google index stuff like this, which means that even though the guy has a pretty big online footprint, it doesn't cover this aspect of his life. Who knows, maybe his client list is exclusively transphobic, and his civil rights and non-profit roles have limitations to their generosity of spirit, but I'm guessing they won't be and don't.

Interestingly, on his Twitter, https://mobile.twitter.com/smccandlish, he seems to be begging for work as recently as February 14th, two weeks before this was even published. I guess that would explain why he doesn't fear anyone alerting any of clients, he probably doesn't have any to contact.
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Re: SMcCandlish

Postby Anyone » Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:27 am

CrowsNest wrote:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:SMcCandlish
Interestingly, on his Twitter, https://mobile.twitter.com/smccandlish, he seems to be begging for work as recently as February 14th, two weeks before this was even published. I guess that would explain why he doesn't fear anyone alerting any of clients, he probably doesn't have any to contact.


This:

https://www.facebook.com/stanton.mccand ... 0283646890

And .. Web developer & usability specialist, online PR consultant, sysadmin, volunteer CCO/Communications Dir. for the CryptoRights Foundation, author, pool player, &c

The guy doesn't have a single client. Same with so many other Wiki losers, too.
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Re: SMcCandlish

Postby CrowsNest » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:07 pm

Seems like Stanton is either 50, or is close to it.

The theory that Wikipedia is dominated by old white straight men more interested in excluding minorities and holding on to what they see as traditional values, rather than including them and embracing progress, seems to be holding well.
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Re: SMcCandlish

Postby CrowsNest » Wed Mar 06, 2019 4:40 am

:lol:
Forced "apologies" are bogus anyway. They're a form of theatre from public relations, and are not actual apologies, but a type of public shaming. WP doesn't do that; if the community considers someone to have transgressed against our policies and to not have learned from it, we institute a block or ban.  — SMcCandlish 08:07, 4 March 2019 (UTC)
An easy position to take for someone whose default position seem to be that if the majority agree with him, they are reflecting policy, but if not, they are mistaken, or worse.

If he genuinely cares what the community thinks and what policy says, if he wrote this offensive essay for internal consumption only, then he'd be perfectly willing to show genuine contrition for clearly having offended a large portion of the community, who quite rightly take the policy backed view that Wikipedia's internal opinion pieces are to be constrained by a desire not to be seen to denigrate or marginalize existing or future editors (a belief that Wikipedia should allow "xie" etc, not yet being considered as evidence of rank incompetence and thus instantly block-worthy).

I repeat, if he genuinely cares what the community thinks and what policy says, he and his supporters would not be so cravenly seeking the protection of a policy ("Wikipedia is not censored") that unambiguously has nothing to do with their internal essays, it is a policy that protects their reader facing content from deletion if it offends some people (since that is what a genuinely neutral reference work will inevitably do on a whole host of controversial topic areas).

Wikipedia policy affords editors the right to challenge the idea vaccines cause autism in the content, it does not afford the right to use Wikipedia as a blog to mock those who think they do. It is no accident that Stanton's supporters are citing the precedent of Guy Chapman's offensive essay surviving under "no consensus", since it does just that.

Quite why there is so much dispute as to what Stanton really intended to achieve, therefore whether a retraction and genuine apology is in order, baffles me. He has said quite plainly that he meant to offend, he meant this piece as edgy humor, having seen his attempts to present the same arguments in a dry and factual way, fail to convince.

Faced with a situation where his opponents are evidently not being blocked despite apparently never learning from his attempts to educate them as to how they are so wrong in policy, he reached for a tactic well understood in Wikipedia. If a dry factual argument doesn't work, try to anger your opponent so they can be removed on behavioural grounds, or make engagement so unpleasant they voluntarily withdraw. Being dehumanized is unpleasant, to say the least.

Stanton isn't surprised many people are outraged by his essay, it is precisely the effect he was going for. Anyone who is outraged by it, is in his view either clueless about policy, or is on Wikipedia for purposes of activism. He wants those people blocked. This was the tool to achieve that. A litmus test, if you will.

His attempt to seek the protection of a perceived right to be edgy, as a way to escape internal regulation, is particularly galling given how clear he has been that he believes anyone coming to Wikipedia just to register their disapproval (an inalienable right under Free Speech, which is why Wikipedia is NOT an exercise in it, by policy) are simply ignorable, because they are clearly either activists who have been whipped up into a frenzy by canvassing, or people with no established record of editing Wikipedia therefore are not capable of absorbing the complicated Wikipedia specific concepts he is speaking about.
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Re: SMcCandlish

Postby CrowsNest » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:57 am

Predictably, both the Wikipedia newsletter's editor and sub-editor responsible for bringing Stanton's transphobia to the masses, have resigned, and the decision to retract has been ratified by the community...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia ... -28/Humour

The result of the discussion was: Keep and Blank . This was a lengthy discussion with input from many editors. At least half of the editors would like the page to be deleted, while a substantial fraction prefer to keep it. In the middle there are those who would keep the page blanked as it is now. What is clear is that the humor page was not very funny, and it offended many editors. This was not an appropriate page for the Signpost, because the page generated bad will between editors. Moreover, some topics are not appropriate for humor in the context of a professional work environment, even an online one. The issue of how to deal with pronouns on Wikipedia could be discussed seriously and thoughtfully. This page did not do that. Jehochman Talk 15:20, 7 March 2019 (UTC)
The version hosted as Stanton's personal wikiblog has been retained, on the obviously flawed basis that there is somehow more leeway for Wikipedians to offend each other individually with their opinions, than via their community newsletter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia ... andlish/It

The result of the discussion was: keep . Users are typically given leeway to express opinions in their user space even if they are disagreeable to other editors. There are boundaries of acceptability and user space content that crosses them can be deleted, but the consensus of the discussion is that SMcCandlish hasn't crossed them in this case. (Note that this close is independent of the close for the related Signpost article, and the guidelines and norms for project space are different from those for user space.) RL0919 (talk) 20:56, 7 March 2019 (UTC)
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Re: SMcCandlish

Postby CrowsNest » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:10 am

In the aftermath, Stanton seemingly confirmed what were obviously his motives and intentions, including aiming to intentionally ignore criticism on the grounds it is all illegitimate or mistaken.

It seems obvious that even with all these revisions, caveats and attempted explanations and self-justifications, there's no way in hell that a significant proportion of the trans community would not still absolutely justifiably feel offended and excluded by Stanton's "opinions" on their pronoun choices and how it affects Wikipedia.

It is so obvious this is primarily about identity politics for him, the references to proper language being merely a flag of convenience, because saying what he really wants to say would absolutely make sure this was elevated into a real world controversy, not just something he use to campaign about on Wikipedia and then hide behind and compartmentalize it within Wikipedia's walls.
Whether to keep this
The MfD to try to forcibly censor this has concluded as keep (the other MfD, to delete the version published in Wikipedia Signpost, concluded to keep but blank-out that one, so it's only visible in page history; the community has a more direct interest in editorial control over its e-newspaper than in muzzling userspace essays). A related pair of ANIs when nowhere, and the resulting RfArb case appears to have been declined (there are 10 active Arbs, and 10 have already responded, 3 to accept, 5 to decline, plus 2 abstain as prior participants in the MfD, = 10; the only way the case could proceed is if all 3 inactive Arbs re-activated and voted accept, or several Arbs switched to that vote before the closure tag is put on the case request). Since the immediate political struggle over thought-policing in userspace has ended, I will disclose that I've been considering, the entire time, speedily deleting this page ({{db-user}}) after the MfD concluded. I had predicted both MfD outcomes early on (and agreed with blanking the Signpost version), on the technicalities of what userspace and projectspace are and how they differ, and what WP:MFD traditionally permits in them and why. (Also predicted the ANI and RfArb outcomes, for that matter.)

The essay was never intended to be offensive, of course, in either version or venue. It just makes a point about people trying to non-neutrally inject non-standard English stylization into our material, in Wikipedia's own voice, whether it be for commercial, egotistical, religious, or socio-political aims. But it offended some people anyway. I won't stand for being censored, but I don't mind self-redacting under my own power when I get the impression I should.

However, I've worked the material over a bit to make its point clearer, to remove "trigger phrases" that had seemed to tie it more closely to TG/NB use of "neo-pronouns" than was actually intended, to work-in several other people's jokes (Silence of the Lambs, The Addams Family), etc. It's rather different from the Signpost version now. This essay, in any version, certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with mis-gendering transwomen as he, or opposing the now-standardized use of singular they, or even criticizing neo-pronoun use in anyone's private life. It's all about and only about various "editors" trying to get Wikipedia to use fake words, strange epithets, over-stylization of monickers, and other non-encyclopedic monkeying with the language to push one agenda or another; neologistic pronoun inventions are just one example.

Frankly, I don't like handing any kind of victory to il-liberal, censorious, in loco parentis browbeaters. They don't deserve it. But TG/NB people don't deserve to feel mocked. I don't think this page mocks them, and I don't think that it should give any impression that it does, after these revisions, but I (really obviously) can't read minds. I don't care one whit whether language-change activists are offended, though; their unencyclopedic activities are among the actual targets of the essay. They're a WP:SOAPBOX faction – primarily of privileged, white, cis-gendered, hetero, alt-left busybodies with an untoward, fetishizing fandom toward TG/NB people and various other minorities with whom they share precious little actual life experience (just patronizing and creepily proprietary sympathy), and about whom they grossly over-generalize. It's a weird form of objectification, combined with paternalistic/maternalistic "we speak for you" bullshit, and a thick dollop of "outrage addiction" on top. Too many TG/NB people themselves say these activists are terrible "allies", and they give progressivism in general a bad name. Their "you must use xe if someone wants to you" foibles are basically linguistically impossible (inflectional morphology of a language does not change in response to politicized pressure), and is obnoxious, unreasonabale, and self-righteous enough that it provides a huge target for the alt-right to shoot at – targets that the activists don't wear but which are stuck on the backs of actual TG/NB people, who in the vast majority of cases are generally fine with sensitive use of she, he, or singular they, especially in writing they don't control. Advancing the activists' off-site agenda on Wikipedia is a WP:NOTHERE activity that's inimical to the encyclopedia's neutrality and its ability to communicate clearly, and a wrongheaded misuse of this site to "take a stand" over a rather manufactured pseudo-issue. It's publicly masturbatory thrashing in response to real politics that they can't do anything about. Try getting some actual legislators back in office instead of lecturing your neighbors on how to write about your other neighbors. Every time you do the latter, you drive someone a little rightward just to get the fuck away from you.

So: how much enabling of these activistic twits is an increase in TG/NB "right to never feel offended" comfort worth? Re-cast, how much is it worth to stick it to NOTHERE language "reformers" (in an essay that's not really all that good), if TG/NB people felt (possibly still, despite revision, feel) targeted by the material? Just phrasing the question differently politicizes the answer.

So I'm going to sit on the decision for a while.  — SMcCandlish 23:19, 7 March 2019 (UTC)
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Re: SMcCandlish

Postby CrowsNest » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:29 am

As Guy Macon has helpfully pointed out in his unique way......
Streisand effect
As I correctly predicted, had Headbomb and Fæ had simply ignored the page, it would have had comparatively few readers (most people who get the signpost notifications don't bother reading the subpages), but by attempting to remove that which they found offensive, they triggered the Streisand effect and insured that before this is over tens of thousands of people will have read the page. On the Internet, attempts at censorship almost always backfire, generate a ton of free publicity, and result in the material being reproduced on dozens of websites and in hundreds of online discussions. See AACS encryption key controversy for another example of attempted censorship having the opposite effect. --Guy Macon (talk) 16:53, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

....

Headbomb and Fæ were quite clear that they thought that the content was hurtful to transgendered people. A point which, BTW, I never disputed. The were also crystal clear about wanting to remove the content so that these individuals would not see it and thus be harmed. Nowhere did anyone arguing for deletion even hint that they wanted it widely disseminated.
..... --Guy Macon (talk) 05:43, 8 March 2019 (UTC)
... if Stanton really didn't want to maximally offend the most amount of people, if he didn't want to hurt a single trans person, he would have voluntarily deleted the offensive essay as soon as, if not before, it hit the newsletter, rather than do what he has just admitted was his approach, merely thinking about retracting but deciding not to because he was loathe to "hand any kind of victory to il-liberal, censorious, in loco parentis browbeaters".

At this point it is informative to realise it is basic Wikipedia policy that the community is not meant to be a battleground and it's servers are not meant to be used as a venue where Great Wrongs are righted. anything and everything they do is meant to be respectful, consensus driven and focused on the mission, which is writing an encyclopedia through a mass collaboration of a diverse set of volunteers.

Macon's belief that the way harm should have been minimised here was to just ignore the fact Stanton's offensive essay was distributed in the community newsletter and hope nobody read it, is of course ridiculous, but hey, Macon be Macon.
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Re: SMcCandlish

Postby CrowsNest » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:28 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?ti ... andlish/It

Unsurprisingly, the Wikipediots want no part of addressing the absurd situation Stanton's essay has created. It is deemed too offensive for the SignPost, which must mean it violates user space policy, because the wording of that closure absolutely matches the WP:UPNOT policy, which forbids hosting anything that is "likely to bring the project into disrepute, or which is likely to give widespread offense".

And yet somehow the smaller local consensus of the MfD on the actual essay, is enough to overrule the bigger consensus of the SignPost MfD and the crystal clear user space policy. The smaller MfD closure doesn't contain anything that could easily be matched to any policy, and didn't address the obvious falsities in what the keep side said (such as this idea that somehow WP:NOT CENSORED applies to userspace).

Stanton is a stickler for policy. What would his explanation for this paradox be? Other than what seems to be his explanation whenever people don't do what he thinks policy says they should - they're mistaken.
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Re: SMcCandlish

Postby CrowsNest » Tue May 07, 2019 1:32 am

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?ti ... _against_Fæ

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?ti ... of_nowhere

Stanton is continuing his campaign against the idea trans people deserve respect, moving it from article space to the Wikipedia community itself, jumping into a feud between Guy Macon and Fae to claim a ruling that Macon being told to either a) avoid Fae entirely, or b) if he must interact with him, use their preferred pronoun "they", is somehow not a simple statement of actual Wikipedia policy, but invention of new policy. With a straight face (and without declaring his own history of transphobia, which hardly makes him a neutral observer), he says.......
A game is being played here, of using WP's internal community as a language-change advocacy experiment, leveraging fear of being character-assassinated as "transphobic" to marionette the results.
This is a particular strong claim (referring to "they")......
no editor (admin bit or not) has any business telling another editor that if A doesn't use B's preferred exact variant of widely disputed use of English that A is blockable for it. Nothing in DE or NPA policy suggests such a thing, and if you proposed to add something that did, the community wouldn't accept it.  — SMcCandlish  02:37, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
The only game being played here, is this rather obviously false idea that deliberately misgendering a Wikipedia editor who says their pronoun is "they", would not be interpreted as "Abusive, defamatory, or derogatory phrases based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity", therefore a personal attack (NPA), or the idea that if you kept doing it, this would not be an example of a "Campaign to drive away productive contributors", therefore disruptive editing (DE).

Ordinary editors would have been put back in their box by the Administration for playing games like this long before now. Why are they refusing to censure Stanton for this clear and obvious example of abusing Wikipedia for campaigning, soapboxing, and treating it as a battleground? If Stanton doesn't like Wikipedia policy, there are other parts of the internet where he can give voice to his transphobia and conspiracy theories about these shadowy cabals of language changers. He stays on Wikipedia, precisely because he still wants to campaign using the articles, as well as flaming the volunteers.
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Re: SMcCandlish

Postby CrowsNest » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:18 pm

Sometimes you just have to laugh at how these people never seem to have a clue what's going on in their own house.....
Sure, but in English, "it" is not an acceptable gender-neutral pronoun. Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 15:07, 7 June 2019 (UTC)

For the record, "they" would be the proper gender-neutral pronoun in English. "It" refers to inanimate objects, so folks may take offense to that. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 20:44, 7 June 2019 (UTC)
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