Social Acceptability Of Wiki Vandalism

[on home page being deleted] Why not restore this page to its original ?

Cause I can't be bothered... I'll wait a couple of hours... You'll get bored, as most adolescents have a short attention-span, and then I will restore it... I had hoped our earlier hour long confrontation had taught you that you can't keep a good wiki down but...

Iain; I'm trying to find vulnerabilities in the Wiki software. And as you can see I've found one. If I were truly malicious, I would now go and delete a whole lot of pages using two internet accounts. But I will not. I've demonstrated that Wiki would become cumbersome to maintain if opened up to the masses; there would be a lot of malicious people to cope with, and the system would start breaking down. -- AnonymousCoward

This system has been "open to the masses" for years. It existed before you found it and it will continue after you have lost interest. If you had noble intentions, you could have downloaded your own copy of the software and run your "tests". If you wanted to discuss the security issues, I or any other member of the WikiCommunity would have been more than glad to do so. But you did not do that. You simply went rampant in a public space. This does not demonstrate any sort of quality whatsoever. If you would like to discuss what you feel is a flaw then by all means, let us discuss it. Mounting denial of service attacks on servers is not generally well-viewed and I hope that your ISP will take our emails into account. Your childish persistence and your bull-headed ignorance are insulting to this whole community. We discuss, we share, but we do not break the way you have done tonight. Your changes will be fixed within the next couple of hours and in a week or two another vandal will come along and we will do the same thing to them as we have done to you. If you wish to contribute please do so in an adult fashion. If you do not wish to contribute, please go away and leave us alone.

From the tone of your comment I understand that your earlier feeling of triumph has given away to anger and irritation. Oh well, so be it. When you create an open system, where anyone can delete anything, this is what should be expected. It is part of the system, and certainly not denial of service. It would be useful to extend the backup functionality; currently it is possible to break the system using two internet accounts. This is not unknown to you and other operators, and could (should) be fixed. -- AnonymousCoward

I bet you go arround public parks dropping litter because there are not enough park keepers to watch it all. Perhaps you could extend this to throwing stones through your neighbour's windows, because they haven't fitted toughened glass. Just because things can be done in a public place doesn't mean they should be. Would you really want [to give up - TheEditor] all your public rights and freedoms just because some people could take things too far? -- ChrisBrooking?

That's why in most civilized countries the governments have implemented laws that make littering a crime. Wiki has no rules, and therefore no rules can be enforced. Therefore the park will always be littered, especially on sundays. -- AnonymousCoward

In our cafeteria the industrial coffee machine has a tape over the main switch labelled LEAVE ON. What would happen if I switched it off. They'd be out of coffee for a while, but I couldn't be put in jail.

You are wrong that the wiki has no rules. You really do need to read more first. (I think he means rules with enforcible punishments - he is a sociopath.)

If there are rules, then why does the welcome message say: "The WikiWikiWeb works because there are no rules but there is a strong commitment from the WikiCommunity to keeping the wiki clean and nice. "

There are many contradictory statements scattered in the 16,000+ pages of this wiki. Like I said, you really do need to read more first.

So unless something is a crime it's OK? Most people also have an idea of socially acceptible behaviour. You could legally turn on your radio in the garden at 7:30am and leave it on until 11:30pm in Britain, but only people living in the worst neighbourhoods would consider doing this. You could park you car in front of your neighbour's house every day. Most people would ask permission to do this if they had a lot of guests coming one evening! You could take down all the free advertising cards in the entrance of the supermarket, or put up hundreds of silly cards. Most people don't. Get it? -- ChrisBrooking?

Who decides whether something is ok or not? That is rather a philosophical question. What is ok for you may not be ok for me. Some people think being gay is ok, and some disagree. Some people think the United States is ok, and some think it is not. Approval and dissaproval are subjective, not universal. This is why in offline communities have decided to implement systems of government, in order to to make collective agreements about what is acceptible and what is not, and to have these agreements enforced by means of the police, courts, and the army. In the absence of such agreements, there is anarchy. And in anarchy anything is in principle ok, even if some members of the anarchist community would subjectively think that this or that is not ok. -- AnonymousCoward

At this point, the AnonymousCoward shows that she would prefer a world in which right and wrong is always defined by law or rules... which in turn are always enforced by limits on behavior. She would say that it is far better to view humanity as an unlimitted source of malicious behavior. The act of sense making in the world is when systems are in place to ensure that behavior is controlled. The AnonymousCoward is comforted by a world in which she can play a role in controlling others. Thus, she punishes those who foster systems that do not control others. -- MattSimpson

You obviously don't get it, what I was trying to point out is that most people choose to behave in an acceptable way even when this is not enforced by law. -- ChrisBrooking?

And some people choose to not behave in a way that is socially acceptable. That's a fact of life, and as a community Wiki will have to deal with that.

"What is ok for you may not be ok for me"
If this place is not to your liking you are free to depart. We will not hold you here.

That's right; but what if I would consider Wiki to be an interesting sandpit for experiments? And if you don't like what I do, then what keeps you here?

"in the absence of such agreements, there is anarchy"
Not all agreements need to be codified and backed up with deadly force.

Social agreements are usually enforced, in one way or another. In the absence of a legal system, primitive societies had their system of elders, who would punish by banishing the subject, or punishing him in some other way, like death. Even on Wiki there is some form of enforcement; a complaint was sent to my provider, with the intention to modify my behaviour. It will not be long before such steps are codified, and become standard practice when someone destroys the content of your community. It is part and parcel of the evolution of the wiki community to deal with problems as they come along; and therefore to slowly codify things, and prevent similar problems in the future.

Say, I'm a member of discussion group that meets in our local pub. You come to our table (a pub is a public place), and shout loudly enough to prevent other conversation. You do this every week. Eventually, we might choose to move to a private function room. The idea that you've done a public service by demonstrating through example that people can be anti-social boors, or that the discussion group has somehow "improved" because it now has defenses against people like you is laughable. You've been anti-social. Stop trying to justify what you've done by claiming it was somehow worthwhile and valuable (to the Wiki community). It wasn't, isn't, and won't be.

Sounds like you're describing Usenet... What you describe is exactly what has happened to Usenet in the last ten years. A long time ago the Usenet was a vibrant and interesting community. Until the masses joined, and destroyed it with spam, massive volume of posting, indecent behaviour, et cetera. It is also the same thing that happens so many times to unmoderated mailing lists. And it is what will happen to Wiki, if it remains as it is, with the vulnerabilities that exist.

You call me antisocial; that is your subjective opinion of what I have done. As far as I am concerned I have done you a service :-) -- AnonymousCoward

From the dictionary:
Antisocial = Hostile to or disruptive of the established social order; marked by or engaging in behavior that violates accepted mores; engaging in vandalism and other antisocial behavior.
That pretty well sums up your behaviour.

It seems that AnonymousCoward will only be happy once we all live in some totalitarian fascist state, where any misdoing is immediately punished no matter how trivial.

"done you a service"
What service? Do you honestly, truly, believe that you are the first to point out the possibility of a wandering vandal causing damage? You need to read more Wiki history -- there have been others before, and the "service" has already been done. You have contributed nothing new.

You forgot about the pun that was intended. The smiley was there for a purpose. In truth I did what I did for my own selfish reasons, to see what would happen with Wiki if a vandal would come along. Someone suggested to me that Wiki could be implemented in a different setting, for a potentially rather large community. I tried to find out what would happen if a loser comes along and tries to break the system. Initially that was not a very successful attempt, because of the efforts of Iain, who restored the content as I was going along. But after studying the system a minute longer I found that I could permanently destroy content with a bit more effort. Thereby I proved to myself that Wiki would fall apart under a heavy stressload, under the current technical and social conditions. -- AnonymousCoward

BTW, there are arguments counter to the theory that that which had befallen UseNet will befall Wiki. Consider, for example, the implications described in TheTippingPoint, and how the self-healing aspects of a healthy society or community exists within a Wiki, by virtue of its technical structure, but which don't exist within something like UseNet or a mailing list

Wiki is not all that different from Usenet in its vulnerabilities. Usenet messages are easily cancelled. And in fact some self appointed spam cancellers cancel spam every day. It is trivial to wreck havoc on Usenet, as it is trivial to create a major nuisance on Wiki. And as time goes along, this is something that needs to be dealt with. Either technically, for example by fixing the fact that the backup and restore system is flawed. Or by implementing a code of conduct that implements sanctions if someone comes along and destroys a large part of your community. Imho it is possible to prevent what happened to Usenet from happening to Wiki. But that disaster will not be prevented by an intellectual discourse about ethics. -- AnonymousCoward

Spam cancelling is only one very small measure. There is far worse wrong with UseNet than spam.

Is spam cancelling a measure? Should it even be allowed? And if so, who will appoint the spam cancellers? Without a system whereby spam cancellers are appointed by the community, the cancellers have no mandate. Technically they are vandals. But they themselves believe they do service to the community, by preventing spam on the Usenet. Any of us could go out tomorrow, and start randomly cancelling Usenet messages of people, and this in fact happens every day. And if there would be 5 million users on Wiki, it would happen every day here too. Right now Wiki is a nice and cozy community. It is pleasant, fuzzy and warm, and people are still like-minded. I suspect that demographically the current Wiky community members are very coherent. But as it grows to millions of users, it has the potential to become just as big a mess as Usenet is today. -- AnonymousCoward

And if you'd bothered to read stuff here, you would have found we knew all this already. You're still just an anti-social irritant, no more.

Intellectual discourse, or observable sociological behaviour? George Kelling put his theory into practice for the New York Transit Authority in the mid-1980s as a consultant. It had a major effect on lowering crime rates and making New York City more civilized. You need to do more research, you are only showing your ignorance here, and your "new discoveries" are nothing new at all. -- EricScheid

George Kelling has an interesting theory about community based policing. But he does not advocate the absence of rules. He does not advocate the absence of policing. He does not advocate to leave flaws unfixed. The limited self-healing properties of Wiki fulfill part of George Kelling's broken window theory. Because problems are fixed by the community, and a pleasant environment is created, there will be less problems of vandalism. But that result is also self limiting, because as a certain threshhold of users is exceeded, and the demographics of the community start changing, there will be more trouble in the form of vandals, crackers and losers. Wiki currently does not provide a way to cope with this problem. -- AnonymousCoward

No-one is advocating a lack of rules, that is only a strawman argument by you, perhaps to mitigate your own guilt. In fact there are many rules, conventions, and forms of social policing in effect on this site (eg. don't DisagreeByDeleting), and some of the effects are quite subtle. For example, I notice how you are now signing your comments (albeit with AnonymousCoward), which is something that this community taught you to do (by the simple practice of others signing your posts for you). There is no armed police force standing behind you that forced you to do so, yet you did nonetheless.

That there are unanswered questions in the world is nothing new. Unfortunately the questions you raise are also nothing new. All this has been debated before, and by people that actually respect the existing rules, and each other.

"as a certain threshhold of users is exceeded, [therefore] the demographics of the community start changing"
Please substantiate that an increase in numbers always leads to a change in demographics.

"the demographics of the community start changing [therefore] there will be more trouble in the form of vandals, crackers and losers."
Please explain how a change in demographics leads to more vandals, without resorting to a self-referential argument (eg. more vandals leads to more vandals). The demographics/focus of this wiki has shifted many times (most recently entertaining itself with spoken languages), and each time it has in the past it wasn't overrun with vandals.

"Wiki currently does not provide a way to cope with this problem."
Wrong. WardsWiki has coped in the past with changing demographics. For example, the divisive and heated debates over Christianity was moved off to WhyClublet in a WikiEmigration. There are other coping mechanisms too.

You need to read much more about wiki. ShuHaRi
Ho hum. Another poser trying to act cool because s/he can damage something, and trying to RetCon his/her actions as something good. Saw it years ago on BBS systems where the defense was "it was only to get a rise out of people". It's a silly hacker wannabe, probably with some kewl warez n1ck like 3l33t hax0r l0rd D00m. <snicker>
"Good?... Bad?... I'm the guy with the gun." -- BruceCampbell (from ArmyOfDarkness?)
The interesting thing of this whole exchange is that the AnonymousCoward mentioned here has left us and has either become a contributing member of our wiki society or has gotten bored with us. Either way, we win. ~SeanOleary
[Some slight edits done to cover slightly drunken contributor]

Just discovered Wikis and I am already putting my 2 cents up for posterity, or 'till someone decides to take it out. The whole debate about security and pointless [vandalism] -- would you or I ever consider creating an e-commerce site with credit card information in a Wiki? I think not. Would we try to make a commercial site advertising a real product? I seriously doubt [it]. From where I stand -- I flunked philosophy, incidentally; they wanted me to quote Plato, I insisted on saying "I think" -- SO back to where I was rambling...from where I stand I see a Wiki as an open collaborative medium of intelligent exchanges. If I wanted to publish a thesis I'd make a normal site. If I wanted to keep a diary, I'd make a blog. The reason I am here is that I have something to say, something to share, something to talk about. And this lets me write what I feel, what I want to say. Sure I can delete everything here; sure there is no security, [but] would you seriously want to provide security for stuff you scribble in the sand by the sea shore?

This is a place for intelligent adults to interact and for us to take a step forward in our own evolution perhaps. I am waiting for the day and age when crimes are not supressed by coercion, where you don't have to post anonymously, where you don't break in not because we will hurt you, but because you have grown a conscience and because it doesn't help anyone anyway.

Actually, everything you said is echoed somewhere on this Wiki. The bit about writing in the sand by the sea has been used a number of times, even by me own bad self. Welcome to Wiki, Please Be Nice. Oh, and if you aren't nice we'll hunt you down and get Guido and Luigi to break your legs.
The openness of a Wiki adds the "I am needed" social factor to community members, which is much more communal than "I have a key". - DeanGoodmanson
See: WhyWikiWorks

Contrast: WikiNeedsTrustMetrics


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