Advice for RfA voters

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Advice for RfA voters

Post by CrowsNest » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:07 am

In light of the RexxS debacle, and with attempts to understand and rectify the situation predictably being met with an arrogantly hostile reaction from people, many of whom don't even have the decency of admitting what actually happened, it is time to help the Wikipedians by issuing a handy advice guide containing practical tips for those looking to oppose candidates they do not want to become Administrators.

It applies to anyone, but is perhaps especially applicable to the voters who, through some idea that by working with the candidate, they somehow know them, perhaps even consider them a friend. It also gives a much needed wake-up call to those whose views of the ethics of the community is perhaps a little more naive than it should be, perhaps a little too trusting, a little too willing to assume good faith.

As RexxS has shown, in his unwise attempt to prove a point, he did just that, just not the ones he thought. The process now clearly is an exercise in doing anything and everything possible to ignore valid concerns, under the excuse of "consensus". It is now about merely securing the victory. It is now about the presumed status and image of being an Administrator.

Far more than it ever was before. Such is the benefit of a true test case like this - the demolition of previously held assumptions and theories under the weight of observable fact. People who cast themselves as the defenders of the noblest and purest ideals of Wikipedia, were thoroughly exposed as the charlatans their activities elsewhere have always pointed towards.

The general advice now is simply: Be vigilant. Be suspicious. Fight Hard. Your worst fears of the supporters aims and objectives are likely valid and justifiable. They'll often even openly admit it. You're merely an inconvenience to their aims. So make sure you represent the biggest and most uncomfortable obstacle you can be.

As such, if any of the advice in this guide gives you pause as a voter, if it makes you baulk perhaps because it is unkind or even unethical to treat those who willingly put them through what was already quite the ordeal, you need to understand and appreciate that this updated advice fully represents brand new insights into the true depths of the sort of unethical and unkind behaviour those who wish to support candidates, and the Hop Bureaucrats, are capable of. Reading it should make that obvious. If not, well, it probably means you're the reason it has been written, so fuck you.

RfA always was a bit of a slug fest. Now it is a war. Soldiers need tactics and strategies. These are them. We hope for a better reality. We act on the one we are given. For every action, there will always be a consequence.


Get personal
With arguments as weak as having met the candidate in person and him not swearing at you now considered strong, don't be afraid to give details of any negative expleriences you may have had when meeting the canddiate.

Get forensic
Since it is going to be assumed any evidence of wrong doing you bring up is going to be the only evidence that could possibly exist, and since it will be assumed you have deliberately trawled the candidate's entire contribution history to find it, then don't be afraid to do just that. And happily admit that is what you did. If you find a bucket full of examples of the same or similar issues, then you put them on the page, and dare anyone who might try to deny it, that there is not a pattern to be seen. Never assume just two or three diffs are enough to prove a pattern exists, these can and will be dismissed as isolated errors of no significance, if they're even acknowledged as wrongdoing, especially for long serving editors who should know better.

Open multiple fronts
Since a large amount of opposition that coalesces around a single issue as major as failing to adhere to one of Wikipedia's five "pillars" is no longer enough to sink even the edgiest of edge case candidates, then you really have no choice but to ensure the opposition rallies around two or even three main points. And if they are not strong points, such as directly ignoring a Pillar of Wikipedia, then don't even bother raising it.

Embrace populism
As a corollary to the above, since it is no longer the case Bureacrats can be reliably trusted to use their claimed experience and wisdom to notice, much less properly give weight to, issues that may be inherently disqualifying in the specific circumstances of a particular candidacy, but which have escaped the attention of the majority of participants, then do not waste your time furthering discussion on these dead ends. It didn't remotely matter to them that he said he wanted to work the AE board but had disagreed about the legitimacy of the rules it operates under. Similar red flags were raised about his intent to work backlogs, while not understanding or accepting basic procedural matters like how a decision is correctly appealed. This was despite extended questioning, his answers not swaying anyone interested in these specifics, indeed quite the reverse. It did not matter. So focus all your efforts on progressing debate on the two or three main issues that appear to have legs in terms of concerning multiple people, and expect Bureaucrats to only be interested in what interested the masses. Or rather, how to formulate an interpretation that secures the desired result.

Get medieval
Since it is no longer a valid assumption that in close calls the Bureaucrats will pay attention either to the latter stage trends or the views of neutrals, then you really have no choice but to pile on, and keep piling on. We now know that in "exceptional cases" (like the candidate being a long serving editor), Bureaucrats are perfectly prepared to open a discussion about the merits of their RfA even if it finished as low as 59% (and crucially, not before but after obviously illegitimate votes have been ignored). You will never know how much punishment is enough, the Bureaucrats will certainly stay absolutely silent, so if the candidate doesn't surrender, do everything you can to attract every last oppose, and make sure every doubter and even those offering qualified support, reconsiders their vote. Because you now know for sure that their supporters will do this, and bizarrely even this will be viewed as being favourable to the candidate. Never assume you have done enough, in part because the need to keep piling on now matters right down to the last second - RexxS actually finished on 63.9%, but unsurprisingly the Bureaucrats were much happier trying to sell the figure of 64.1%, thereby not caring that last final support was lodged at the very same time the page was being protected for closure. Or worse, they don't even realise they are standing behind clearly manipulated figures. Easy to dismiss when it only affects 0.2%, as many have argued. But the sad truth of RexxS' result is that his true level of finish line support, which was already 1% lower than the widely understood discretionary zone, is arguably still 2% lower than that, and would be if it were not for the subsequent procedural manipulation by the Bureaucrats, seeking as they did to not discount a single supporter, and discount every possible oppose they thought they could get away with, not just the clearly illegitimate ones, before they even sat down to pretend like they were interested in sensibly weighing the remainder. There really is only one way to avoid this eventuality, namely the ceaseless and comprehensive demolition of an intransigent candidate and the desperate acts of their cravenly partisan support base who have expressed no intent or desire to engage seriously with the process.

Expect the unexpected
We now know that the Bureaucrats are quite happy to even drag someone who withdraws once the final tally is known, back into contention, simply to give themselves something to do, or worse, enact an outcome already agreed amongst themselves. So keep monitoring and reacting to the bitter end. You really do need to cover all bases, because not even the absurd sight of how and why they dragged RexxS over the line is seemingly enough to persuade his supporters they were the ones acting dishonorably and going against the core tenets of Wikipedia. It is hard to understate the disreputable manner of RexxS' promotion to Admin. He accepted a joke nomination statement, he openly admitted he had no real need or desire for the tools, just a desire to know if the community trusted him and agreed with the premise that RfA is No Big Deal. And when they made it clear through the answer what they thought of that, both the size of opposition and what they said, once it was clear even he had underestimated how poorly he was seen by a significant proportion of the community, as he happily admitted, some way, some how, he was promoted. Largely for reasons entirely at odds with his own candidacy. If you cannot think of a worse way to be promoted, one more likely to ensure the candidate is distrusted and his RfA becomes a source of ongoing division and discord, you should trust your instincts - expect any and all dirty tricks that implies, and act accordingly.

Play the men, not the man
Since it can no longer be assumed that what the candidate says and does has primacy over what the supporters think, then be mindful you're there to oppose both the candidate and his supporters. If the supporters say something that contradicts the candidate, point it out, and keep pointing it out, until one of three things actually happens - either the candidate issues a correction or denial of his support, the supporters concede their error, or it is painfully obvious to even the most time poor Bureaucrat that something very weird is going on (so when they fix it, the fix is clear and obvious). This applies most importantly to any and all promises, and and all views of policy and philosophy, and any statements of intent regarding what Administrator work they intent to focus on.

Don't ask questions
Since the answers to questions are no longer viewed through an unbiased lens by Bureaucrats, or even with a very high expectation that an RfA candidate should already be minimally competent, and indeed given the right to ask questions is being nakedly abused by supporters not remotely interested in the answers but are just trying to act as some form of campaign manager or media advisor, then stop giving candidates this easy opportunity to earn undeserved support. Do not even assume a question where the candidate has to hold their hands up and admit they screwed up and have to issue an implausible promise never to repeat it, will at all damage their candidacy. Assume the opposite in fact. Put any and all concerns in your vote, and test the candidate's actual ethics and judgement. If he happily sits back and lets supporter lie for him, even if they contradict his own stated view and wishes in the very RfA, and he still says nothing, then you know what he's all about. And now you know to make sure to reaffirm your opposition because of it.

Leave everything on the field
Since now you have seen that anything you say after their event is going to be characterised as the butthurt whining of a few malcontents simply unhappy they didn't win, and since you will be cast as having had bad faith motives before, during and after the RfA, up to and including conspiracy, and nobody, not least Administrators (because they'll often be the ones doing it) will step in and ensure decorum and the wiki way, then proceed on the assumption (arguably always the case) that RfA outcomes are irreversible. No appeals, no take backs, no do-overs. Assume every effort will be made to simply shut it all down, nothing to see here style. Assume it will be considered no barrier even that the people shutting it down are the people who 'won'. So make sure you leave nothing to chance, leave nothing unsaid, put it all on that page, every last observation and objection, either against the candidate or procedural queries, questions and complaints. On no account assume that even Bureaucrats will be above lying to your face in an attempt to justify what happened, in the aftermath. If you lose, then walking away really is the only sensible reaction. Sensible people would even consider walking away from Wikipedia entirely, given how starkly the aftermath will reveal the reality of how Wikipedia really works.

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