[Home]WikiMindWipe

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One of the GreatChallengesToWikis

A WikiMindWipe (for the purpose of this discussion) occurs when a contributor to a wiki deletes their signed comments using the RemoveIdentity reworking. (The official definition at Wiki:WikiMindWipe is broader, but less interesting).

A WikiMindWipe is one way to assert the RightToVanish - there are a range of possible motivations: for example, a former contributor who can not or will not participate further does not want to leave their contributions open to attack without being there to defend them. See RightToVanish for more motivations.

Symptoms:

Consequences:

Examples:

Treatments:

First response procedures are open for discussion. See below.

References: Wiki:WikiMindWipe, Wiki:WikiMindWipeDiscussion, Wiki:WikiMindWipeRepair, Wiki:WikiMindWipeRealityCheck, Wiki:WikiSuicide

See also WikiMindWipeDiscussion


Incident Reports

Well, there goes another one on WikiWiki. See Wiki:TomLeylan.

Again a disgruntled former participant and again mostly ThreadMode pages.

I just deleted my comments that were talking to myself. I almost feel guilty instigating the wipe, but I just can't be bothered to be threatened like this all the time. If someone takes an argument over the nature of linguistics and semantics as somehow personal then there's nothing I can do about it. If it wasn't on that issue, sooner or later they'd likely blow up at some vehement argument. So, whatever. I moved his secretive minor edits from Wiki:RecentEdits to Wiki:RecentChanges. -- SunirShah

I think this demonstrates that we need to flush out Treatment more, especially first response procedures. Using Wiki:RecentEdits to hide the WikiMindWipe is an interesting change that was obviously not possible before Wiki:MinorEdit was introduced. -- JasonYip


i have no experience with WikiMindWipe firsthand, but i tend to believe strongly in the "moral rights" of authors. if they said it, they should be able to unsay it as far as technologically possible. The good of the wiki seems to be outweighed by this consideration. That being said, if what they said was particularly important, i could see justification for undoing their removal. However, i wouldn't consider mere conversation to come under this heading; maybe if they had given specifications for something that a team of people was subsequently building. -- BayleShanks

That isn't how moral rights work. Once something has been said, it cannot be unsaid ever except through a universal lack of will to remember it in the LongNow. This is not 1984; you cannot rewrite history. Moral rights allow one to control how one's work is used after it is created, but that doesn't mean an author can unmake her work. It still can be quoted by anyone, and eventually even reproduced after her rights lapse. Cryptonauts call this non-repudiation, but it's really much deeper than that. Once you've published something, it's public. There's no going back. -- SunirShah

Quite. You can't unpublish something. A book can go out of print, but you can bet some musty shop on Charing Cross Road will have a copy. (You can of course buy up all the copies you can find...) Looking at contributions as letters to a newspaper again, you can retract what you've said in a later edition, but what you wrote first time around is already out there.

seems to me this is a necessity created by the technology, rather than an human-directed ideal. certainly there is no way to physically stop anyone on the wiki from keeping an archive and using it to restore content from a WikiMindWipe. this doesn't imply that it is a desirable thing to encourage, however (although it may be; that is exactly what we are discussing). the ability to unsay something is kind of ridiculous with books, because as you say, you can't reach out and alter the text on books owned by someone else. but it is technologically feasible to alter the text that you posted on a wiki (although you can't touch archives that may have been made).

so i guess (although i don't quite believe in these sort of rights) that people have a "natural right" to "take back" most things (although yes, i think its fair to quote them later on to hold them to their word), and that this natural right has up till now been repressed by practical necessity. however, with wikis, that necessity is gone, and so the "right" should take precedence. i don't think this "right" is so important that it should allow someone to take back a contract or some valuable technical contribution (or anything else that is valuable enough that it could be held as "ransom"), but it is important enough to alter a conversation.

in less legalistic terms, it seems sort of french revolution-ish to imagine someone who is erasing a comment of theirs from a whiteboard and then someone else puts it back up, saying, "i will not allow that to be erased for the sake of the Whiteboard". why make the WikiMindWiper? feel uncomfortable simply for the convenience of others, or, worse, for the sake of a virtual WikiMind??

perhaps we should honor the writers of contributions rather than greedily snatching up the contributions themselves into the public domain (although i am the same person who believes copyrights should expire in 10 years :) ). If their contributions were so important, someone else can duplicate them later on with new wording. i don't think continuity is precious enough to justify making someone uncomfortable.

That being said, what is really the difference between duplicating something in new wording and putting it back up verbatim, but anonymous? beats me. were i ever to flee some sort of medium, i would just take out my name. but given the non-critical nature of damage done, why the need to make an issue of it? if someone feels so strongly that their stuff should go, let it go. it's not plans for a matter compiler or anything. its conversation.

-- BayleShanks

Once again, they aren't necessarily exerting copyright. If they were, you could still quote what they said. It's not the technology that makes it impossible, but the universe. You can't go back in time. Once you've published it, it's out of your control. Someone could record it and reuse it. The real question is why would you want to revert the wipe? That would only cause more conflict. Copyright is only social convention, and the only reason to allow someone absolute control of their writing is for social reasons. Therefore, the situation really calls for a CommunitySolution. If someone wants to go, let them; but if you want to go, go peaceably. Why exacerbate the conflict? -- SunirShah


Another Example?

On a site that I frequent, An online community small enough and local enough that most users actually know each other in the MeatSpace, a member exercised their RightToLeave and deleted their account after a series of arguments. The site does not offer the right to vanish by virtue of a UseRealNames policy and the fact that comments cannot be edited or deleted by a user and are rarely deleted by a moderator (the only exceptions being things like hate-speech or liable). The individual originally posted under the UserName of 'First-Initial Last-Name'. Upon returning from their SelfImposedExil?, they created a new account with the username 'First-Name Last-Initial', effectively devorcing their old contributions from their online persona. Whether this was an intentional move or was necessitated by problems reinstating their old account, I have no idea. Im wondering if this could be considered a case of MindWipe?, or if this example is a whole-nother animal altogether... Hopefully it will facilitate ForgiveAndForget. I'd be interested to read your insights!

--MikeMcGregor


Discussion

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