Wikipedia administrator and editor has been banned from Wikipedia amongst criticism of the foundation

The recent conversation about censorship is now applying to what's happening over at Wikipedia too.


The culture of banning users and excluding contributors seems to spill over from the corporate world of social media giants to open, collaborative communities, like the Wikimedia Foundation, one of whose assets is Wikipedia.

A veteran Wikipedia administrator and editor Fram has been banned for one year, T.D. Adler [@tdadler] announced on Twitter.

It's not exactly a new phenomenon – and in the past, as the case of Adler himself shows, such bans had the undertones of ideologically-motivated decisions.

Namely, Adler, a contributor to the well-known conservative website Breitbart, was in 2017 banned from Wikipedia for “off-site harassment” – related to a controversial GamerGate article on Wikipedia, the world's biggest online encyclopedia.

But then, as appears to be the case now, Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) was so short on details that it prompted accusations of a lack of transparency. A serious accusation, in fact, given the proclaimed nature of the organization, and the expectation of its many contributors.

At the same time, the case of Fram was something of a first: the Wikimedia Foundation was involved for the first time directly in banning an admin only from Wikipedia.

Since the Wikimedia Foundation initially provided an explanation of the process by which it bans admins and editors – but not the actual reason in this case, there was speculation as to what violation Fram may have committed, including that it had to do with an exchange with an editor over the usage of “preferred gender-neutral pronouns.”

However, Adler pointed out in his series of tweets, Fram has also had several disagreements with the Foundation over their previous decisions, concerning technical choices. He was also involved in an online altercation with a candidate for the ArbCom, which is said to have turned “very ugly.”

On Tuesday, Fram made an announcement, pinpointing the reason for his banning as this edit on Wikipedia.

If true, it would mean that in addition to struggling with transparency, the Foundation also has issues with democracy, i.e., with accepting criticism.

All this has apparently left the community of Wikipedia admins and editors perplexed and angry, and considering a “strike” or blocking of Foundation accounts as a form of protest.


Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]
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