Critical issues presentations/Secrets and Lies: How Wikimedia's Most Clandestine Clique Are Actually a Bunch of Anonymous Amateurs

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Submission no. 80
Title of the submission

Secrets and Lies: How Wikimedia's Most Clandestine Clique Are Actually a Bunch of Anonymous Amateurs

Author of the submission
  • Tomasz Kozlowski
Country of origin

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


Governance, Policy

  • privacy policy
  • OTRS
  • oversight
  • volunteers

2016 marks the introduction of the new Wikimedia-wide access to non-public information policy and the subsequent implementation of a first-of-a-kind confidentiality agreement to be signed by all volunteers with privileged access to information.

With some of the major reform proposals falling victim to wide community opposition, however, the Wikimedia Foundation remains wholly unaware of the real life identities of users with access to some of the most delicate information it holds about Wikimedia readers and contributors; such as as real names, addresses, e-mails and phone numbers, in addition to illegal content.

Crucially, these highly privileged anonymous insiders are provided with no formal training or feedback, very little staff support, and deficient oversight, against widely accepted current practice in the non-profit and tech sectors. With some of those volunteers being under the age of majority and the Wikimedia Foundation having no public liability insurance for volunteer actions, the existing situation is prone to mishandling and is both a costly legal and public relations disaster waiting to happen.

This submission is targeted at the general Wikimedia audience, but will provide a brief explanation of the major definitions used for audience members without Wikimedia experience. It will present the major problems related to the current situation and show possible solutions and course of action, while taking into consideration anonymised real life examples from Wikimedia Commons and the OTRS system.

Quick brainstorming and discussion will be undertaken at the end of the presentation with further opinions and proposals gathered from the audience.

A presentation poster will be provided in the English language, with the text of the presentation planned to be made available in the most used languages at the conference (English, Italian, Spanish, French and German) to enable as wide a participation and understanding from the audience as possible.


Not accepted