Sunday, June 29, 2008

How to spot a cabal

Logo of the English WikipediaImage via Wikipedia(This used to be in my user space, for a few hours... I had it tagged as an "essay")

The term "cabal" gets thrown around a fair bit in these parts (the english wikipedia). Sometimes in fun (see WP:LOC ) and sometimes not.

This essay is concerned with the latter kind. Because after all, what could possibly be wrong with the BRC?

The easiest way to detect a cabal is by the actions of those you think are members.
* If it seems that they always rush to each other's defense...
* If it seems like there is a "siege mentality"...
* If they offer defense for behavioural issues along the lines of "we are engaged in important work here" or "why are you saying these things", or "you're a proponent of X"...
* If they attack anyone "outside" their circle for raising issues...
* If they get angry if people observe they may be a cabal...
* If they deny the existence of the putative cabal...

...those are all bad signs.

In the course of normal events in collaborative projects, especially this one, it's natural to form working friendships with other editors, and even ask them to come in when you are in a spot where another set of eyes might be helpful. That's not cabalism, it's defending each other and is to be encouraged. There is a danger that this can slide down a slippery slope.

We should all be vigilant against that sort of sliding.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court rules in favor of gun ownership rights

The US Supreme Court building in Washington.Image via WikipediaThe Supreme Court of the US have struck down a District of Columbia law absolutely prohibiting gun ownership or possession within the district. I have to admit I am surprised by this. I had expected the DC law to be validated. But this is, in my view, a good ruling.

It's broader than many expected... the Supremes tend to rule as narrowly as possible, so many were expecting the court to rule on some narrow interpretation. But Justice Scalia, writing the majority opinion, said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted. (quoted from Yahoo's report).

That's a strong affirmation of the interpretation that "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." means individual rights, not army rights... For a long time, the meaning of "well regulated militia" has been in dispute, not least because the language has changed... militia then meant every able bodied male, and regulated didn't mean subject to regulation.

I expect that I will be in the minority among my viewing audience in being happy about this.

That's OK.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

New privacy policy?

Erik Möller talking about wikipediaWikimedia projects (copyrighted
logos used under fair use)
Image via Flickr
The board of the Wikimedia Foundation is going to vote fairly soon on a new privacy policy. A draft of it has been placed on meta for comment.

The board often moves slowly on matters like this, but not this time, so if you are interested, you may want to comment.

Note that the foundational principle of allowing anonymous editing remains.

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