Abuse on Wikipedia

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.


In countries where it is more dangerous for L.G.B.T. individuals to be open about their identities, harassment on Wikipedia can be particularly virulent. Once, an administrator on a Wikipedia page blocked an editor simply because that person’s username suggested that the editor could be gay, said Rachel Wexelbaum, a Wikipedian who works to improve L.G.B.T. content on the website. Eventually, she said, Wikimedia’s Trust and Safety Team got involved, and the administrator was blocked for those actions.

In some spaces, the environment for L.G.B.T. users has improved. Amir Sarabadani, a 25-year-old Iranian software developer with Wikimedia Foundation’s chapter in Germany, said that in his 12 years of editing Persian-language Wikipedia, users were often hostile while editing articles related to homosexuality.

About six years ago, Mr. Sarabadani started talking openly about being gay in conversations with other Wikipedians. He said other editors often accused him of having a “homosexual agenda,” and anonymous users posted lewd images of male genitals on his userpage.

But Mr. Sarabadani, who left Tehran for Berlin two years ago, said he thought his work as an administrator on Persian-language Wikipedia had made the community of editors there less tolerant of abuse.

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