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Utilizador:Ratwar/Sandbox III

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I’ve never sat down and written something about Aristeo, though I’ve had to explain the situation to quite a few people over the last two years. I can see why, as he is still one of our top ten editors at this point, and the first person to appear on our list of ‘Requests for Administrator’. Those might die off now, as his user page was recently deleted, but his talk page still exists brandishing a warning from yours truly. The set up begs more questions than it answers, which I don’t philosophically think is a bad thing (though realistically it may be). I think it is within every person’s rights to look back over the discussions we had with Aristeo and proceed to make their own opinions; however, I’ve come to realize that the information is so scattered (and in some cases unavailable since it was on in the chatroom) that such a search doesn’t really do justice to the situation. This is my reason to post my thoughts on the situation. I’m writing this to get the thoughts to stop rattling around in my head. It is, in my opinion, the most extensive version of the events surrounding Aristeo, but it is far from unabridged. I have tried to cover most of the major incidences, in a chronological order to give people a sense of the times.

Any discussion about Aristeo first needs a true introduction to what the UESP was at the time. It was in some ways a Wild West sort of situation with very few actual rules about blocking, deleting, or protecting. Aristeo was one of the first people to really take ownership of the UESP’s policy pages by modeling them after Wikipedia, and he had a hand in creating a lot of the basics that we still use today. For example, Aristeo originally created the Community Portal, Protection Policy, and Deletion Policy. His focus on the internal development on the site is obvious from his news posts during the period. Since Oblivion’s release, Aristeo made over 40% of the news posts related to the UESP, nobody else has contributed more, and over 75% of his news posts were about the site, while all the other administrators combined make about 75% of their news posts about things external to the site. As a site, we were growing quite fast, and Aristeo’s contributions helped the site’s internal structure cope with the increasing demand. He was by no means alone in this effort, but he was probably the most influential administrator at the time. A lot of the ground work for the projects were done by the people that frequented IRC: Aristeo, Nephele, and Lurlock with Hoggwild and myself appearing later. Things weren’t always happy, and some of the cracks began to immerge during this time.

One example of this was Aristeo’s ‘Request for Bureaucrat’. Basically, there was a need to have the large amount of anonymous edits one the site checked for accuracy and style, thus it was decided in the Chat Room that we’d take a two-prong approach. The first would be to create the ‘Patroller’ position on the site, a change that I (along with others) advocated. Aristeo didn’t disagree with it, but he said that we’d need a new Bureaucrat to take care of it. Without any real prompting from others Aristeo seemed to decide that he was the best person for the job. Nobody openly disagreed with him, after all he was the most influential administrator at the time, but when he issued his RfB before laying any ground work on the Patroller position, I started believing that he was more interested in the power of being a Bureaucrat than solving the checking edits problem. This scared me, and after Nephele voted ‘oppose’, I followed suit. I still believe that Aristeo was more interested in gaining power on the wiki than implementing the Patroller position, especially from his comments after Nephele’s vote: “I'm not sure about how the patrol system would be set up. That's something to talk about.” To me that just drips with a wish for more power regardless of whether or not it was needed.

Perhaps the most confrontational (and interesting) discussion was the ‘Principles Controversy’ in the Community Portal. It was started by Wrye in response to Aristeo’s actions one a spammer’s userpage. The discussion soon branched out into a laundry list of things that Aristeo had done that had pissed off Wrye. The entire thing was a piece of what was to come. The central debate is between Wrye and Aristeo with Hoggwild, Nephele, and I filling in afterwards. Hoggwild can be seen drifting towards Aristeo’s position in her comments, while Nephele and I attempt to keep the discussion from blowing up any more than it already had. It also contained the thing that probably makes the Aristeo situation so hard to digest, namely that he wasn’t trying to be evil. This is evidenced by Wrye saying, “Well intentioned people do disagree -- and despite my criticisms of Aristeo, I firmly believe that he intends -- as I do -- to do good.”

Then during December, the UESP server had some problems, and we couldn’t edit for a few weeks. This is when problems started to fester. Aristeo and Hoggwild decided to create a new site, though it hadn’t been officially announced. I only knew about it since I put two and two together from the bits and pieces of their chat conversations. The idea really annoyed me. I thought of Aristeo and Hoggwild as friends, and felt betrayed by their plans. Instead of working to fix the problems at the UESP they decided to go cloak and dagger during the midst of night to a new site. In my opinion, it was especially treasonous since they were using the UESP’s own support resources to make their plans (and gain support to some extent). I didn’t stand them up and challenge them on these points though. I thought that once the UESP was working again, they would come back to it. I underestimated the wedge between Aristeo and Wrye on one hand and the Hoggwild and Nephele on the other.

Once the site’s server difficulties were fixed in early January, Aristeo decided to announce the project publicly on the UESP. The first responses were quite positive, but soon Wrye said what I had been thinking all along: “This site is a competitor”. Soon after that, Hoggwild entered the discussion and basically made a huge attack on Nephele. I thought it was totally uncalled for, and even Aristeo distanced himself from her comments. This makes me think once again that Aristeo didn’t have a problem with the UESP as much as he wanted to have total control over his own wiki. I’d also like to put some of the comments from other users in prospective. Dylnuge had never been very content with the UESP’s lack of organization finding it lacking in comparison to Wikipedia, and FMan was actually banned from Chatspike at one point in time and attacked DrPhoton over a small miscommunication based on FMan’s own misunderstandings. Their comments should not be taken as though they were innocent bystanders in the process.

I’d also like to show case that the constant bickering among the administrators was beginning to take a toll among the site’s membership. For example, my Request for Administrator, which was going on at the same time as the Wikiscrolls announcement, got three votes. That in itself isn’t very surprising, until you realize that it was open for 24 days. No RfA before or since has garnered less Votes per Day than mine. There were three causes of this decline in productivity. Very few new editors joined the community, since few people will actively join a feud, good editors were leaving the site because of the constant bickering, and several of the editors that remained used the ongoing problems to express their dislike of the UESP (this group would eventually move to Wikiscrolls).

At this point many of us figured the fight was over, Aristeo had a new site, and even if he returned, none of us felt like it would be imminent. This was totally incorrect. Aristeo continued remain active in day-to-day issues using the IRC channel, and continued to attempt to influence UESP policy in places like Lurlock’s RfA. It created plenty of friction, since Aristeo had bad mouthed the entire community in his Wikiscrolls announcement, but he seemed unwilling to part ways with us. This uneasy truce lasted until late February, when Aristeo decided to unilaterally rewrite the UESP policy on consensus. Before his rewrite, nobody had expressed any problems with the policy, which was less than two months old. I initially expressed some support for his rewrite, and I hoped to avoid a major blow up, but Wrye and Nephele soon came out against it. The ensuing discussion would eventually lead to Aristeo giving Wrye a warning for being uncivil. This move proved to be a critical point in the Aristeo saga.

For the first half of the Aristeo conflict, he had been on an equal footing with Nephele, Lurlock, Wrye, and Myself. He was an administrator, and although that position should not provide power in an argument, it practice it does. With adminiship, he could undo any action we could take against him. A new and rather unknown editor, Jadrax was the one that originally brought removing Aristeo’s admin privileges up a mere two hours after Aristeo’s warning against Wrye. Aristeo offered explanations, apologies, and promises with a bit of a nasty argument. I know that Aristeo’s strategy for victory revolved around discrediting Jadrax rather talking with the community from a combination of Check User logs and his own comments. Eventually after Nephele’s comments and my own attempt to get arbitration between the combatants, Aristeo resigned from his administrator position.

At the time, I though getting Aristeo removed from being an administrator was a huge victory, and that the shame of it would keep him away from the wiki, but I was still saddened by the lack of Arbitration. To this day, I wonder whether or not arbitration against Aristeo, and the legitimacy gained from having a true decision not influenced by what could be seen as a mob, would have kept him away. It probably wouldn’t, but then again, it might have. Even still, the de-adminship discussion showed Aristeo’s lack of support. Before the groups had been about even number in the discussion, though the Anti-Aristeo group had more Administrators and what I’d consider up-standing members of the community (and I believed we stood for the majority of the silent members of the community). That was not true in the De-adminship discussion. Every pro-Aristeo comment was either made by Aristeo or someone specifically brought in by Aristeo to support him (Magnus and Hoggwild). This decline in support was due to the move to Wikiscrolls, which moved most of his support base off the UESP.

It didn’t take long for Aristeo to try getting back into the policy driver seat. He attempted to solve the problem of a rather annoying ‘editor’ named ShakenMike. Most of the administrators just ignored it, since we were still hoping that he’d take the hint and leave. None of us wanted the fighting to continue. In fact, we hated it. The ShakenMike discussion shows this clearly. Nobody sought a fight with Aristeo, we didn’t care about the issue. Our problems with Aristeo were about the issues. After leaving that discussion unresolved, he kind of disappeared for some time. It was not to be the end of Aristeo though. Around a month later, he reappeared drudging up an old topic from around two months ago, the UESP’s policy on protecting pages.

I want to give you a little background on the next discussion. Aristeo had been advocating that the UESP unprotect a series of pages to increase openness. I believed this is related to Aristeo’s obsession with Jimbo Wales, and a commitment to allowing anyone to edit anything, whether or not it made sense. All the administrators that expressed their opinion felt that Aristeo’s proposal would leave the UESP too open to vandalism. Then Daveh created a few new months of financial records, and while he added them to the ‘Full Protection’ Category he did not Fully Protect them. Nephele acting under the belief that Daveh had meant to protect the pages, protected them. As far as I am concerned, this move doesn’t require any leap of faith. Aristeo questioned her move on IRC, while I was present. I joined the discussion with the two of them. In the end, we reluctantly told Aristeo that we both thought Nephele’s actions were fully justified and that if he really wanted to have the decision reversed, he’d have to bring it up on the Community Discussion.

Aristeo decided to bring this up as we had suggested. Of course, when he did so, he twisted Nephele’s words saying, “she did ask me to bring this to the attention of everyone else” which was absolutely untrue. He also said, “a couple of people wanted me to bring this to light” which as far as I can tell was untrue, and he also attempted to convey the fact that he was uninterested in the discussion, yet he had brought up the entire thing without any prompting. Wrye answered first, basically agreeing with the points that Nephele and I had stated the night before. Aristeo’s response was that pages that consisted of a simple table might contain a typo. I replied to the discussion, and I devoted most of my time to stating the long-standing consensus and then I went slightly offense, questioning his use of IRC quotes and asking the couple of people that had asked for this to be brought forward to reveal themselves. After a reply from Nephele, Aristeo critiqued our replies saying we were not addressing the issue and merely attacking him for bringing it up. Daveh then chimed in, defending his own decision, and Aristeo decided to tell Daveh how to run the wiki. After some more back and forth banter, Aristeo stated, “Ratwar and Wrye: Your responses were pretty big disappointments, but I guess I shouldn't have expected anything better.”

I took this quotation as a personal attack on Wrye and myself, as he was implying that we could not come up with a non-disappointing response. I issued Aristeo a warning for the comments, as they were personal attacks. Yes, this was a light flame, and I will not dispute that it wouldn’t have resulted in a warning for most users, but Aristeo had ceased to fall under the category of normal users some time ago. The warning was a last resort, the culmination of four months packed with disagreements. I want to make several things brutally clear about the warning: 1. It was given for a flame, a light flame, yes, but it did exist. 2. The discussion was a rehash of an old discussion, not a new one. Aristeo, as he had throughout the last four months refused to accept the consensus of the community and was preventing the site from moving forward. 3. The warning was issued for the second minor attack that Aristeo made in the discussion, not the first. 4. At the time, nobody questioned the warning. 5. It was ONLY a warning, not a block. I do not regret the action, and I believe that it has made the wiki a better place.

Aristeo disagreed with my actions, removing the warning from his own talk page. Then Nephele, who I was talking to at the time, reinstated the warning on his protected user page, confirming my decision to warn Aristeo. At this point, or perhaps before it, Aristeo removed my op status from #UESP without consulting the channel owner, Magnus. I knew he was pissed off, and although we managed to converse in a civil manor that night, the situation was tense. I was sure that he was going to vandalize the site. After he disconnected from the IRC channel, I waited for an hour before going to sleep, expecting him. Sadly, he waited for two hours before vandalizing the site using a sock puppet. For these actions, I issued the only actual block on Aristeo’s account for 24 hours. I may have over stepped administrative barriers, as the first Administrator on the scene had not taken discipline action against Aristeo’s account, but as with the warning, nobody questioned the block.

This was the end of Aristeo’s actions on the wiki portion of the UESP, but the saga was no over yet. Aristeo still retained a second in command position in #UESP, which was really the first in command due to Magnus’s inaction. This left us all in an uneasy position. For at least a month, everything went okay, but it couldn’t remain quiet forever. Aristeo brought back Hoggwild, the same user that had publicly denounced the UESP community as a half-op in the channel. This immediately caused a lot of problems as some people didn’t wish to be ‘moderated’ by someone who had admitted to hating them. I feel these complaints were warranted, so I spoke to both Magnus and Aristeo. I was able to convince them to remove her status after a few tense moments. In the process, I also spoke with Hoggwild, and we forced a few minutes of polite conversation after she was forced out. That was the last time I spoke with her. After this episode, things got quiet again. I don’t think I was that popular within the IRC channel at the time. Aristeo disliked me for my actions against him and Hoggwild.

The situation was still quite unstable, even if we weren’t setting off firecrackers. I still wanted to force Aristeo out of #UESP, since I didn’t think he had any business in there. At the time, I thought he presence in the channel was hurting the usability of the channel, and the expansion of the channel after I took over proves that in my opinion. I think other administrators shared my opinion, but that’s simply my impression. Despite this, I was not involved in the series of events that would eventually end #UESP. That honor belongs to Rpeh, who (as a new editor) made an ill advised attempt to negotiate a truce between Aristeo and Nephele. He totally failed, and set off a round of policy battles centering around ‘Sensitive Issues’ in the channel. Aristeo wished to make such conversations banned. Several people, including Rpeh, Wrye, Nephele, and myself (though I didn’t verbalize it) thought that this was unacceptable. It was with this in mind that Nephele and I made plans and took actions to create a back up channel to #UESP in case the situation got worse. As soon as Aristeo unilaterally closed #UESP, we activated #UESPwiki. The transition was quite smooth, and Aristeo would never again be a truly active member of the UESP community.

Aristeo was always a nice guy, but something seemed to be missing from his social interaction skills. He tried to apply Jimbo Whales’s ideas a bit to much, and he definitely wanted to be the big fish so to speak. I don’t hold it against him, after all he was only a teenager when all of this happened. To his credit, he was always responsive when I contacted him about copyright violations on Wikiscrolls, and he’s currently one of the staff on chatspike without any problems I’ve heard of.