Indefinite appointments give unlimited tenure to academics, which must be one of the few positive uses of the adjective. The cut-down form – indeff, turned into the verb indeffed – carries the weight of a life-sentence for those whose editorial rights to work on a Wiki site (e.g. Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wikiversity) have been suspended indefinitely. The indeffed are protagonists for idiosyncratic causes and prone to “editwarring” to ensure theirs is the last word on a subject. These “vandals” who disrupt the proper editing process have their access blocked after three infringements of the Wiki code of practice. Some recalcitrants then resort to “sockpuppetry” (taking on a false identity) to mask their renewed activity on a Wiki site. But if the admin(istrator) is alert to “suspicious socks”, the vandal Wiki-editor will continue to be indeffed. Wikimedia, the peak Wiki body, is currently debating whether global bans could be used to keep indeffed hands off Wiki sites everywhere. As the world’s exemplar of collaboration, Wikipedia can do without rogue volunteers exploiting their editorial power to manipulate the wording of pages written by others – lest the inputs of those with more expertise, or at least fewer axes to grind, are devalued.
Written by Emeritus Professor Pam Peters, researcher with Macquarie University’s Centre for Language Sciences, and author of the Cambridge Guide to Australian English Usage (2007)

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