[EM] Electorama wiki requires login to view????

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Jun 11 15:23:15 PDT 2013

At 10:19 AM 6/11/2013, Jameson Quinn wrote:
>The electorama wiki is an important resource for communicating about 
>new methods. It allows linking to or searching for canonical 
>definitions of the methods we like to discuss here, and that many of 
>us hope to promote for real-world use. I just noticed that it has 
>been set to not display pages except to logged-in members. That is a 
>serious problem, in my opinion.
>I understand that it's not easy to deal with spam.

It is not necessary to deal with spam. The wiki can require a log-in 
to *edit* pages, and it can require registration approval for log-in.

Something has just recently changed. Looks like yesterday.

I've been viewing pages there routinely without log-in, but I confirm 
that a log-in was just required. I see that RobLa was active 
yesterday, but haven't seen a log of any changes, it might be to the 
basic configuration file, outside of the MediaWiki software itself, 
but loaded by it.

So he made massive changes with no notice or explanation.

>  But there must be a way to handle this. Do we need more volunteers 
> for the spam-fighting brigade? Should there be a separate, 
> quasi-secret URL (that is, one which is freely announced in a 
> human-readable format, but which is obfuscated from dumb spambots) 
> for editing? Or maybe some other solution I haven't thought of? I 
> don't know; but in my view, making the wiki members-only is a very bad answer.
>What do you think?

It's going to be up to RobLa, basically. I just checked 
electorama.com domain hosting. It's hidden. That's a tad strange, in 
itself. I suspect that RobLa owns the domain, and he appears to have 
been the first user with advanced privileges.

RobLa also appears to maintain this mailing list, 

>The election-methods list is maintained by Rob Lanphier.

I give a number of links in this post that you will not be able to 
check at this time without a log-in. The Rob Lanphier test above is a 
link to robla.net.


>Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info

It's the death of the wiki, if this continues. The software is 
MediaWiki. I'm an experienced MediaWiki administrator (from 
Wikiversity). I did create a MediaWiki installation, but for 
Wikiversity, I was not handling basic configuration. But I could 
learn to do it.

The last logged actions were on June 10, 2013, by RobLa. That's Rob 
Lanphier, who is also a MediaWiki developer with high privileges in 
the MediaWiki foundation family of wikis, he should know what he's doing.

His logged actions were the deletion of many user accounts. On or 
before June 10, he deleted and hid many user names.

Yes, this was a response to spam, I'm sure, but hiding all those 
accounts actually would make it harder to identify and fix spam, 
unless he did all that himself first. Deleting user accounts does not 
remove the content they added. I don't see that he deleted page spam, 
but I can't find it, not easily, because of all those accounts being 
hidden. His many logged user account changes filled up Recent Changes 
so it can't be reviewed.

Seeing all the work RobLa did, it's clear why he'd want to take some 
drastic action. However, wikis are *community projects.* I don't 
recall seeing RobLa, anywhere, asking for help. He's a bit out of 
touch with the voting systems community, as he acknowledges on his 
own site, linked above.

His contributions don't show reversions of spam in that period. 

They show almost no activity, for a long time.

Looking at Bureaucrats, I see Homunq has been active, in addition to 
RobLa. The full list of Administrators and highly privileged users is at:


Looking over what RobLa did, he appears to have tried to create an 
account called "Disabled account." But then he merged a huge list of 
registered accounts to "Anonymous."

Above, I say that he's experienced. I'm now doubting that. I don't 
know that he has actually participated in *running* a MediaWiki site 
at the administrative level. He now works for the WikiMedia Foundation.

He has high privileges, including Root, but he appears to have chosen 
a tedious procedure for handling what could have been relatively 
simple, without making the history obscure. It's a mess. I would 
wonder if it would be better to start over with a restored databased. 
That's a question, not a firm assertion.

(He's trashed some of the page edit history, as far as any of the 
spam edits are concerned. I was able to find one edit, under 
contributions for "Anonymous" That edit was reverted by another user, 
referring in the edit summary to the original user name, which, of 
course, now shows no contributions. And Anonymous, in spite of being 
the target of massive renaming, only shows a couple of edits. User 
renames are *not* a standard method for dealing with spam. Ususually 
the accounts are simply blocked.)

This is RobLa assuming that he has to do everything himself.

He doesn't.

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