Dishonesty at Wikipedia: “they don’t like it up ’em, sir”

An amusing story from Wikipediocracy, the Wikipedia criticism site.  A user at Wikipedia has now banned any link to Wikipediocracy from Wikipedia, by adding the site to the “spam” blacklist.  Of course Wikipediocracy is not spam; this is censorship of an external site.

Since Google privileges Wikipedia so much, this reduces traffic to Wikipediocracy and therefore reduces the number of people who are aware of the criticism site.  Which is, of course, terribly convenient to evildoers at Wikipedia, of whom there are rather a lot these days.

And why, we may ask, was it felt acceptable for Wikipedia to impose a ban on another legitimate internet site?

WO has regrettably decided to out a Wikipedia user on its pages (the link is available from its main page, and several sub-pages that link to what’s on the front page) and several en-Wikipedia users have gone on a crusade to mention this site as much as possible to push drama and in some cases to further the outing.

That’s right.  Someone in Wikipediocracy dared to mention the real name of one of the editors hiding behind a pseudonym in Wikipedia.  This is strictly forbidden in Wikipedia — where abuse is so endemic that it is unsafe to use your own name — and, apparently, Wikipedia feels that it has the right to forbid any other internet site to do it either.  Or else.

Dear me.  And I thought Wikipedia was all about sharing knowledge?

The serious point is that the people in power in Wikipedia today are unfit to hold such a role, as such impudence demonstrates.  Wikipedia is too important to the internet, and has too much power over Google ranking, to be left to the administration of fools, trolls and children.  It’s got to stop, and needs regulation now.

Yes, crowdsourcing content is a marvellous idea, and I have used it myself for translation projects.  But there is no point whatsoever in trying to “crowd-source” control of such projects.  Doing so merely allows the most determined trolls to self-select themselves as kings and lords of the project.  Rarely will such people be fit to hold such a role.  What follows will be mainly a “Lord of the Flies” experience. 

It is now time for the administrators of Wikipedia to be retired.  Instead a group of paid administrators should be introduced, with transparent, fair and adult administration. 

Until this happens, sleazy events like anonymous users banning other internet sites for daring to leak information will continue to occur.

Another Wikipedia murder

One of the pleasures of reading the Wikipediocracy forum, as I do from time to time, is to see hard evidence of what I experienced myself, that it is very dangerous for ordinary people to attempt to contribute to Wikipedia.

Today’s thread discusses a long term editor hiding behind the name “MaterialScientist”.  This post comments:

You should talk to Artem R. Oganov about his long running dispute with Materialscientist. He got indefinitely blocked, then unblocked on the condition he didn’t edit subjects of his expertise. He decided to wash his hands and walk away.

“Some time ago I entered Wikipedia using my own name, which was a mistake. Now, due to the continuing smear campaign by the user Materialscientist, I want to completely withdraw from Wikipedia both my account an any mentions of my former relations to it. Now I know the identity of the user Materialscientist, and have proofs that he does not act as an impartial editor, but instead is involved in a conflict of interest with my group. Moreover, he uses every opportunity to attack my real name …”

Dr Oganov is a professor of Geosciences at Stony Brook University, and is responsible for breakthrough discoveries in Boron science (link to New York Times article).  “MaterialScientist” is … well, someone who doesn’t care to put his name to his work.

Dr Oganov was accused of “sock-puppeting”.  The real meaning of this term is someone who uses several accounts to give the false impression of multiple people.  However in Wikipedia it gets used for anyone who someone doesn’t like who has used more than one account on the system; say, perhaps, if he has edited under his own name and then found himself the target of a vicious campaign of personal attacks designed to ruin his real-world reputation. 

The disgusting “trial” is here.  The accusation was made by “MaterialScientist”, who submitted “evidence” under his alternative account “NIMSOffice”.  Likewise it is fairly obvious that “Uncle G” is a pawn of “MaterialScientist”, rather than an unbiased bystander; using one minor account to shriek accusations, and the main account to pretend to be calm and unbiased.  I have myself been the victim of just this techniqe.

No doubt MaterialScientist maneouvred cleverly, and played the game to win.  Bait your foe into hiding behind a false identity, use obvious socks and tempt him to respond in kind; and then accuse him of sock-puppeting with some pre-warned friends to implement a ban … nice.  

I have no doubt that Dr Oganov was very hurt by the treatment he received.  And … what kind of morons, finding that they have a world-expert on hand, issue him a  ban from editing on the topic of his expertise?!  You couldn’t make it up.

The end result was that one of the major scientists in Boron studies was forced out of Wikipedia.  And I suspect that this happens quite a lot.

Don’t contribute to Wikipedia.  The owners do not care what happens to any of the contributors, while the place is overrun with low-lifes, who will, coldly and deliberately, do you an injury while remaining anonymous themselves.

Reading what ex-Wikipedians have to say

Regular readers will know that I had a very bad experience attempting to contribute to the Mithras article on Wikipedia, when I was the target of a deliberate campaign of violence and defamation by an obvious troll operating at least two accounts, who simply wanted to own my work and push a falsehood.  It ended with a corrupt administrator blocking me on a false accusation of sock puppeting.  I disabled my account and I’ve not been back, needless to say. 

But the experience left me wondering how many other honest contributors have had the same experience.  Today I’ve been reading around the entries on the Wikipediocracy blog.  They are well-written and well thought-out. 

I’ve also spent some time reading material at the Wikipedia Review forum, which contains more of the same, and there is also a Wikipediocracy forum, much of it written by people who are obviously still bleeding from the beatings they received.  

All this makes sad reading.  Out of it emerges a picture of a cess-pit full of vipers, in which, to change metaphors, ordinary contributors are little more than meat for the grinder. 

I’ve written there a short account myself of my own evil experience of Wikipedia administration (here).

Obviously the articles on these sites are very much the work of the disillusioned ex-Wikipedians; but none the less they represent a valuable corrective to the quite misleadingly positive impression that many people have of Wikipedia.  Most people suppose that the way Wikipedia represents itself is accurate.  Even those who have enough experience to realise that this presentation is not how things actually work, and that there is endless fighting involved, nevertheless tend to suppose (as I did) that the administration is honest at least in intent.  The testimonies of the ex-Wikipedians suggest very strongly otherwise. 

It is, of course, necessary to treat all these narratives with a degree of scepticism.  All these people are exiles; and, notoriously, the exile’s perspective on his homeland is distorted by his exile.  There is an undue willingness to believe evil of the ruling faction, and an undue willingness to suppose that anyone else notices.  Memory deceives, and, without any intention to mislead, a narrative can be constructed which is unbalanced.

But that said, it is quite eye-opening to see what is said there.

Wikipediocracy: a Wikipedia-watch site

Incoming links revealed to me the existence of the Wikipediocracy site this weekend.

Our Mission: We exist to shine the light of scrutiny into the dark crevices of Wikipedia and its related projects; to examine the corruption there, along with the structural flaws; and to inoculate the unsuspecting public against the torrent of misinformation, defamation, and general nonsense that issues forth from one of the world’s most frequently visited websites, the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”

I wish them well.  Wikipedia presents itself as the encyclopedia that anyone can edit.  But a very large number of people have found themselves drawn into disputes with anonymous trolls there, and then found that Wikipedia’s processes are opaque, arbitary, unfair, administered by children and more trolls, and most of these ordinary people have been forced out or been left bruised and upset.  It’s not a safe place.  And it’s very hard to get past the puff to the reality, not least because Wikipedia policy is to hide information critical of Wikipedia. 

Inevitably the forum contains a certain amount of complaining.  People are likely to arrive here bleeding, after all.  But I have already learned of various meta- and para-wikipedia organisations, chapters, mailing lists and so forth, the existence of which is probably known to a tiny handful.  Most of those who contribute to Wikipedia will not realise that their fate will be decided, not openly, but by one of these backstairs methods.

Recommended.