Thursday, June 12, 2008

Comparing a threat to the accusation of canvassing

Someone posted a comment to my blog post, "Wikipedia Review, reviewed" that raised some issues I thought should be addressed. They wrote:

Filll, it's puzzling to me that you continue to bring up Cla's supposed threat. I read what he said, and in isolation it could be read as a threat, but in the context of that thread it was clearly not. Furthermore, Cla clearly indicated it was not a threat and apologized for his wording. What else can he do? You're in the same situation with the canvassing charge - you are clearly frustrated that others keep bringing that up weeks after your apology. But then, you're doing the same thing with Cla, refusing to accept his apology. Why are others expected to accept your apology and move on, even as you continue to raise Cla's so-called attack long after he's apologized?

There are a number of things that I disagree with in this comment. The first is, my cutting and pasting a webaddress to a subsection of a webpage rather than to the webpage itself by accident is a little bit different from repeating a threat over and over and over and over, explicitly, in a variety of different ways.

Cla68 was asked and asked and asked repeatedly what he meant. Cla68 either just repeated the threat in different words, or made the threat more egregious, or sometimes Cla68 did not even answer the requests for clarification. A couple of times Cla68 did sort of half-retract the threat, but then immediately followed it up with further threats. Finally after a few days, Cla68 published a sort of vague, half-hearted alleged "apology" that is open to interpretation in a number of ways. Cla68 was clearly very reluctant to retract his threat, and still is reluctant to make it clear that he is not threatening anyone and did not intend to threaten anyone and will not threaten anyone in a similar fashion in the future. At least one admin has scrambled his password and left Wikipedia because of Cla68's threats. Cla68 has not yet made it clear that he resolves to avoid any further efforts at coercion or extortion. Cla68 has not made it clear that he will drop his own personal efforts to take "justice" into his own hands and to punish those who he deems to be evil-doers, like those in the Intelligent Design Wikiproject or those who are working on the global warming articles or those involved in any number of other topics. In all of these cases, Cla68 has indicated that he intends to step in to mete out whatever punishment he personally decides should be delivered. Cla68 needs to distance himself from all these sorts of statements and pledge never to make these kinds of statements ever again.

There is a slight difference between threatening people's lives and livelihoods, and possibly by accident creating the impression I was campaigning for an RfA vote in one direction or another, in a poll for a position that is supposedly no big deal, right?

Contrast Cla68's half-response several days later, which might still be interpreted as a pending threat, to my immediate communication of the details of my mistake to Arbcomm, within a few minutes of learning of it. I also published a public apology about a day later. There is a slight difference between a few minutes and a few days, right?

I made an accident, for which I apologized. Cla68 made no accident. Cla68 defended his statement, over and over and over. That is a slight different, right?

What else can Cla68 do? Well Cla68 can, even at this late date, come clean and fully apologize and make it very clear that he will no longer threaten others in the manner he has clearly been doing over and over. He can turn over a new leaf. He can distance himself from the troublemakers at Wikipedia Review, and avoid the temptation to go over there to brag to them about some "ass that he kicked" at Wikipedia, or otherwise gloat in some similarly unseemly fashion, or to engage in other forms of unproductive discussions at Wikipedia Review. That might present him in a better light. Cla68 can acknowledge that he went to the press at least twice in the last few months to sew the seeds of discord and attack other editors and organizations, and resolve to never do it again. Cla68 can apologize to those he hurt with his statements in the press, and make a public pledge that he will not repeat this.

I have not complained about people not accepting my apology. I do complain that people have not read it accurately or misinterpreted it, and I have corrected them for this when it happened.

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