Fandom Bans 2 Wookieepedia Admins for 'Bullying and Intimidation'

Illustration for article titled Fandom Bans 2 Wookieepedia Admins for 'Bullying and Intimidation'
Image: Fandom

Fandom, the host of Wookieepedia and countless other fan wikis, has announced the ban of two longtime admins from the fan-run Star Wars wiki after several complaints from other admins accused the pair of a campaign of “bullying and intimidation.” In addition, the admins of Wookieepedia have finally spoken out.

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As we’ve reported, the announcement comes after Wookieepedia found itself the subject of controversy after staging a vote on whether to continue using the birth names of trans people—a practice known as “deadnaming”—who have contributed to the Star Wars franchise instead of their actual names. Fandom stepped in and stopped the vote, decreeing that deadnaming people was against the site’s Terms of Use. Now, editors “Darth Culator” and “Toprawa and Ralltiir” have been stripped of their powers and globally banned from Fandom.com entirely.

Why the escalation? Once Fandom intervened, it seems other Wookieepedia admins used the opportunity to bring other issues to the host’s attention. Fandom Director of Community Safety Tim Quievryn issued a statement on Wookieepedia’s forums earlier today.

“Fandom demoted from Wookieepedia adminship—and then globally banned—two users: Darth Culator & Toprawa and Ralltiir. While Fandom does not typically talk about blocks with third parties, we feel it is important to explain this decision to the Wookieepedia community due to how this decision came about and the impact it will have on Wookieepedia moving forward,” it said in part. “Over the last week, Wookieepedia has been part of a larger social media conversation that has resurfaced a number of concerns regarding how the community was being managed. A wide range of individuals—wiki editors and former wiki editors included—informed us that both users have been contributing to a long-simmering culture of bullying and intimidation on our platform. Multiple examples of those users acting in a counterproductive and offensive way were reported to us. After reviewing these conversations, we decided to take necessary action.”

While the official Wookieepedia accounts had been silent on the matter since March 27—including not responding to our request for comment on our original story—today the Twitter account posted this.

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“As administrators of Wookieepedia, we offer an apology to Robin Pronovost for the pain that they have endured throughout the last several weeks as a result of the debate over deadnaming on Wookieepedia. Robin, we are truly sorry. We have reached out to them in order to try to understand how we can help heal the wounds our actions have caused,” it reads in part. “Over two weeks ago, a voting forum was created on Wookieepedia by an editor whose sincere intention was to remove deadnames from wiki articles and update our policies to reflect that. The process we use to update policy is a community forum and vote to ensure all our editors are welcome to share their opinions in a civil manner. The editor who created the forum was attempting to enact much-needed change and did nothing wrong. We failed to take into account the human aspect of this conversation and the people who would be hurt by it. For this, we apologize to the transgender community.”

It’s painfully true that Wookieepedia “failed to take into account the human aspect of this conversation” with many involved sticking to their guns that this is just how the site functioned and if it didn’t, things would turn to chaos.

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The statement continued: “Today, with the support of a number of our admins, Fandom removed two administrators from Wookieepedia for creating a culture of intimidation. As for the rest of us admins, several of whom are members of the LGBTQ+ community, we are committed to change. Our goal is a renewed commitment to inclusion, and the belief that together we are strong and together we can grow. We know we have work to do to live up to that goal. We are committed to listening and learning, and we welcome any input from the Star Wars community on how we can further improve.”

While it might have helped things in the long run if Fandom had a more prominent role in running the day-to-day of the fan wikis, it’s good to see them taking decisive and quick action now and to hear these words from the remaining administrators.

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Quievryn continued, “We are committed to working with the Wookieepedia admins and the community at large to ensure these values are upheld. I do want to encourage you, as a community, that Star Wars belongs to you as much as it does to any admin or any staff member. You are empowered to be a voice of positive change as much as any other editor reading this. Participate in civil but honest discussions about other changes you want to see on Wookieepedia to build a positive culture.”

We’ll report more on this story as it develops.

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Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.

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