... or: when things get crazy and you have to draw a line
I still remember my first steps on it.wiktionary ... 16th of June 2004, yes, exactly three years ago – the first term I edited was lunedì (Monday). The almost only user that was seen online in these days was Paulo. He wanted to pull up the project, but shortly after he saw that I took things seriously he went away.
On 30th August 2004 the idea of an universal Wiktionary was born – thanks to Gerard Meijssen who then created articles of languages with loads of templates in there – well... the whole story would be too much now, but thanks to some misunderstandings and a following very long skype conversation today we have OmegaWiki.
The Italian wiktionary was always subject to loads of spam. So at a certain stage, I don't remember exactly when, I became adminship ... well the only one then working there was me, so I was the only one who could have done some clean-up.
Well the spam load got more and more and it became almost impossible for me to do good work there ... so I started to ask for help ... some registered, became admins, went away. Again I went ahead alone. If it was not for the pywikipediabot I would not have been able to add so many entries to it.wikipedia since always the main work on it was to keep it clean from spam.
Last year then I became Bureaucrat ... well I was not really present anymore, but I cared about a very particular user group that before that started to edit it.wiktionary – most of them teens, great and wonderful young people dedicating their free time to free projects. I am not naming them one by one here, because I could forget someone and I don't want to do this.
Now many of you will ask themselves why I did not immediately leave Wiktionary when I was working on OmegaWiki (time ago called Ultimate Wiktionary and then WiktionaryZ). Well ... it is a bit like with a baby ... you feed it, see it grow and then it goes, but in some way there is still part of your life connected to it.
But back to our very particular user group: they are most of all teens, partly very young, but dedicated ... and they did good. Of course not always, but it's a wiki, right? So you do what you can when you can. I admire them – they did great work. They gave part of their live to the project. A good group of them became admins – they came while others who today claim to be the only ones to be able to give rules to the project then were present, but did not care at all when I said: hey guys, I can't deal with all that anymore, I need help. No, I will never again allow people to say that the youth of this country is no good – they are great! You just need to trust them to do good and they will do it. They put their heart in it.
Now today I was called through my discussion page on OmegaWiki since someone asked for the desysop of one of the admins. He was accused of being not active, not cleaning up spam and copyviolations ... ok, so I went to the chat (yes, I have the log, but anyway it is not relevant for me anymore ... so: it doesn't make a difference to publish it). So I asked for several things, most of them not really so tragic, but a desysop to one of the most valuable people at the time he joined ... well, that was something to really talk about.
Now what I learnt is that some wikipedians (well, yes, the one asking for desysop is quite new to wiktionary) assume that when you become and admin you assume the responsibility to regularly clean up the wiki ... well I would say: this is perceived completely wrong. If the admins were paid and had to sign a contract, well then this is a different thing, but they are not – they DONATE their free time. Ok, then I got the following as the reason for "desysop": ... ma di aver lasciato wikizionario senza policy, senza controllo copyviol, senza importare decine di lemmi da altri progetti... (but to have left Wiktionary without policy, without checking copyviol, whtout importing tens of lemmas from other projects) .... UHMMMMMM ....
Is there a contract where it is written down that who is elected Admin (well, ok, Sysop) or Bureaucrat has to do this and otherwise he gets desysoped? That is plain stupid – against any sense of collaborative projects, against any sense of humanity. Another nice sentence I got in these answers was (fairly at the beginning): " invasa di bambini che giocavano, può bastare come spiegazione?" (invaded by kids who were playing, isn't this enough of an explanation?)
I can't believe it ... well maybe these teens were not perfect, but they did their best, nobody is perfect. I would very much like to remind some poeople of what the Wikimedia Foundation aims to do: provide free knowledge to all people in the world in their language.
Now does this stop with the contents or are we here as well to transmit what Free Content, Free Software, Wikis and Collaborative Projects are to people, young and old, who are new to it. Also this is a kind of education, of giving knowledge – this is social knowledge. Well it seems that some do not like to invest in their future ... because instead of starting a desysop procedure this person could have talked to them, explaining them and if the explanation would have been logic enough they probably would have agreed and co-operated. But now? How can people feel good to work in such an environment? Does this really reflect the community spirit? I would clearly say: no.
I am not willing to co-operate in future on it.wiktionary since obviously under these circumstances I cannot be of any help. Therefore I resign from my being Bureaucrat and Sysop on the Italian Wiktionary. It is sad and part of my life is in that project ... I don't want to see it die ... it would be too much. So: I am not going to go back there ... well with two exeptions, one of which is: just my user page will contain a link to this article and to the place where people can find me if they want to talk to me – that's all.
One word to the new Amdins and Bureaucrats: according to what I learnt from the chat today it seems you signed for some kind of a contract by being elected Admin or Bureaucrat. I will have a look in one years time and hopefully you will all be there happily doing what you are expected to do ... well: it is a responsibility you took according to your new policies ... so the project is waiting for you – people are expecting you to do your job now.
There would be so much more to say .... please, if you work on other projects: don't follow this example – it destroys the community. We need to build community, bring over the spirit of free projects, of all free projects. The teens of today will be among the best editors of tomorrow. Never consider a kid, even a 5 year old, to be too young to do something – they are all well able, if they have an interest and they want to do. Trust them to do good. They need it – they are our very own future.
And to the editors who worked on it.wiktionary during my short period ... well during the last three years: thank you so much for your efforts and help – and a very special thanks to our young ones – I find it really special that you dedicate your free time to free projects ... like I already said: you are our future and the day will come, if it is not already here, that we will learn from you.
Thanks for your attention. And yes, of course: you will always find me on the Neapolitan Wikipedia but mainly working on the connection of various free projects in order to maximise results with the donations in time people give us. Yes, we must value each minute highly.