|OTRS Ticket To Ride
||[Mar. 31st, 2008|01:38 am]
The Journal That Speaks Truth to Wikiality
I'm holding off on making this latest entry public, for now, in order to honor the unilateral, informal truce I have with Jimmy Wales at the moment. Once it has ended, however, I may let it fly:).
Before you moan Oh shit...not more Marsden! and trot off, please read on. This is only marginally about Marsden, it's really about a flawed and potentially out of control institution. Besides, in writing this I had to fight my mild dyslexia and a mind riddled with military acronyms. For you see, instead of OTRS, I kept typing ORTS which stands for "Operational Readiness and Testing System"; A computerized diagnostic tool to aid in the maintenance of the FA-18 Hornet.
Now get ready for a trip into the Wikidom's bureaucratic bowels, 'cause
She's got an OTRS Ticket to Ride, and they don't care!
In his quasi-confessional, where Himbo openly bails on his girlfriend, he makes much mention of something called OTRS:
"I work closely with a team called "OTRS", which handles email
complaints and works hard to address concerns relating to the
biographies of living persons."
"I decided to meet Rachel Marsden in person for the first time in
early February of this year. Accordingly, three days before that
meeting, to avoid any appearance of a potential conflict of interest,
I disclosed my plans to ''OTRS'' and further disclosed that it was a
personal matter. I recused myself from any further official action
with respect to her biography."
Which begs the question for many-
In a world filled with obfuscation and confuzzled
acronyms, just WTF is this OTRS, that Jimmy Thudpucker is using as an alibi this time?
And is it contagious?
The answer is forthcoming, oh curious reader.
But first some historical background fractured fairytale style entitled:
Goodbye Office, Hello OTRS!
Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Wales, a single paid
ogre named Danny Shrek handled all those annoying complaints and other pesky troubles in an arrangement known as WP:OFFICE.
Danny Shrek was charged with doing the King's laundry and other sundry, dirty tasks, so his Wiktanic majesty could carefreely traverse the world, preach the glories of his Wikidom, collect plump preaching fees for doing so and generally live like a royal rockstar.
For his troubles, the king made Danny a Prince so he would feel important and the king would not have to pay him much. But for the ogre it was still an ungrateful job with no medical insurance.
Alas, this cheese grater soon began to take a toll on the
kingdom and on the poor ogre too, who ended up
becoming a disgruntled former employee and member of The Junior
In the meantime, some super genius wizard came up with the bright idea of supplementing a single, poorly paid ogre with a Brute Squad of unpaid volunteers. And so was born one frosty morn, ''OTRS'', which in time supplanted OFFICE and, as the prophecies foretold, completed the Unh-O-ly Trinity of Oversight, Office and OTRS.
Chapter 2: Take a number and sit down, please...
The official description reads:
OTRS refers to the people and software that organize,
handle, and respond to e-mails sent to the Wikimedia Foundation. The
WMF utilises ''Open Ticket Request System'' software to process the
e-mail that it receives. This provides an organized way for multiple
people to categorize and respond to
So, at best, it is an inefficient customer complaints department; just
leave a message, take a number and they'll get back with
you...eventually...maybe...your call is very important to us!
It effectively combines Wikipedia's love of automation with its love of amateur
Sounds mostly harmless so far, yes?
But to whom are these volunteers, hidden inside the complaints kiosks,
Did we elect them? No! Of course not! WPISNOT:DEMOCRACY PEON! BACK TO WORK (CRACK)!
''OTRS volunteers are ultimately subject to the communications
committee and, as Wikipedia editors, to the Arbitration Committee
through the normal processes of dispute resolution.''
Of course these groups are both, ultimately subject to guess
Outside of that, there is OTRS' own internal review process, which means they pretty much police themselves...nothing could possibly go wrong there...could it? But if you have a problem with an OTRS action; Please take a number and...you know the drill.
BUT WAIT! There's more!
''The confidential nature of such emails makes normal wiki-based dispute resolution processes difficult, and often impracticable in many cases.''
So OTRS volunteers may operate outside the normal, on-wiki channels of
dispute resolution should they see fit.
Like most all things in the World Of Wikicraft, OTRS can be gamed. All the moreso because it is low-key and at the foundation level. Until Jimbeau Geste had his dirty laundry aired, only a small percentage of Wikipedia's population even knew OTRS existed.
Did you know...didn't think so.
At least with OFFICE there was only one Danny to take responsibility
for the screw ups, crimes and misdemeanors, with OTRS, there's a
whole Brute Squad of lil Danny Shreks to deal with. And you always knew who Danny was, whereas Los OTRS-Bandidos are not obliged to reveal their identities, or even Pseudonoymous IDs, to anyone outside
of the Foundation (scroll down, it's in the fine print at the bottom).
are compelled not to reveal, their evidence to anyone outside of the
foundation or the ArbCom. All for the best of reasons, of course, to
protect the privacy of their complainers/informants (The WMF is very big
on privacy concerns).
Say Adios/Aurevoir/Arrivederci/Aufedersein that means Goodbye to
transparency. Transparency, please take a number and go sit over there
next to Accountability.
Is all this starting to sound a bit like a volunteer Sekret police?
Where anonymous informants can make anonymous charges to anonymous
agents acting as anonymous enforcers?
It certainly has the potential for abuse, and in the Marsden case it
clearly was misused to help Guitar Hero the first get it on and bang a groupie's gong.
And previously to suppress information on Lava lamps for nearly 2 weeks without any explanation!
"OTRS access is "not a badge". it proclaims in the official
inscription, but it seems like they really don't need no stinking