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Jimmy Wales in: The Dictator and I

Wikipedian of the Year runs wiki organisation funded by an authoritarian regime


By Andreas Kolbe


[To view or participate in a forum discussion on this topic, please click here.]

The other day an obscure news article caught my eye online: Wikipedia founder to visit Kazakhstan in 2013. Underneath one of Jimmy Wales’ favourite pictures of himself – the one where he is wearing a blue business shirt, nonchalantly leaning against a wall, his famous blue eyes smiling at the reader – the text said, “Wikipedia founder is expected to visit Kazakhstan in 2013, according to Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, founder of WikiBilim Foundation [an NGO to develop the Kazakh Wikipedia].” A little further below, the article said that the project to expand the Kazakh Wikipedia was supported by Karim Massimov, until recently the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, and today President Nazarbaev’s chief of staff.

This piqued my curiosity. Supported by whom? Expanding the various language versions of Wikipedia is not usually a task performed with government support, least of all support from the sort of government Kazakhstan has.

An authoritarian regime

Kazakhstan, oil-rich and the worldwide leader in natural uranium production, is ruled by Nursultan Nazarbaev, a Soviet politburo veteran who has been president of Kazakhstan for as long as the nation has existed (1991). He was already its president when it was still a Soviet republic: he has been in power since 1990. A 2007 constitutional amendment made Nazarbaev personally exempt from any term limits, enabling him to remain President for life. He won his most recent term extension in April 2011, running against token opposition and winning 95% of the vote in an election deemed unfair by international observers.

His presidency has been criticised for human rights abuses and the curtailment of press freedoms, including attempts to control

…continue reading Jimmy Wales in: The Dictator and I

Meet the editors (follow up on For An Angel)

By Delicious Carbuncle Another in a in a series of blog posts highlighting lesser-known Wikipedia editors.

Four weeks ago I wrote on this blog that an active Wikipedia editor (User:For An Angel) was a self-declared pro-pedophilia advocate and made the case that they were still advocating pedophilia, although somewhat more subtly than with their past account. When that blog post was published, I knew that it wouldn’t be long before it was read by Wikipedia editors. I expected that it might be a day or two before there was any reaction, but I did not foresee what was to follow.

All Talk, No Action I had expected that a couple of things would happen. For An Angel would be blocked. Of that I had no doubt. I also thought there was a very good chance that some people at Wikipedia would ask for me to be blocked for writing the blog post. I was fairly confident that would happen, but I had no prediction about how that would turn out. What I did not expect was that neither of those things would happen.

Shortly after the blog post went up, an IP editor alerted For An Angel about it. For An Angel’s reaction was to delete the message and carry on editing. After a couple of days with no reaction, I posted a link to the blog post on one of the most widely watched pages on Wikipedia – Jimmy Wales’ talk page. After the discussion started, For An Angel asked for their userpage to be deleted (the user page that included a hidden “girllover” symbol). The discussion drew a small amount of comment — including one comment from For An Angel himself — but dropped off Jimbo’s page after a couple

…continue reading Meet the editors (follow up on For An Angel)

Portrait of a Wikipedian: Ted Frank

By Eric Barbour

Here we examine a major scandal and Arbcom case, and a major embarrassment for Wikipedia, which transpired in August-September 2007. It is almost forgotten today. The principal is a well-known conservative attorney, and the apparent “victim” was filmmaker Michael Moore. The real victim was the truth.


[Editor’s note: the numbers in brackets are links to individual edits on article or discussion pages at Wikipedia, what are called by Wikipediots “diffs.” The practice of citing “diffs” is integral to WikiLawyering, one of the more exciting and fulfilling aspects of the Wikipedia Experience.]

Essentially, Wikipedia was being edited by Ted Frank, notorious tort-reform activist and right-wing attorney, with the assistance of his conservative “Team America” Wiki-Friends, most notably MONGO plus minor conservative WP figures Crockspot and Noroton. At first he edited under his real name, then later under THF, starting in June 2006. A popular subject: tort reform. By March 2007 he was patrolling vandalism using Twinkle, thus ingratiating himself with the insider crowd. See his talk page for examples. Mr. Frank proved to be a very successful “Wiki-lawyer”. There are many cases of Frank editing Wikipedia to slant its coverage to the right and in a pro-Israel direction. Examples: [1] [2] [3] [4]


Frank’s POV pushing brought him into frequent conflict with one of Wikipedia’s most liberal characters, David Shankbone. [5] [6] Because both Frank and Shankbone were well-regarded by Wikipedia’s mandarins, the situation simply worsened.

Frank was a frequent litigator on behalf of large drug companies, so he was mentioned in Michael Moore’s 2007 health-care documentary ”Sicko’‘. As a result, Frank began to edit Moore-related Wikipedia articles to make Moore look bad. [7] The dispute escalated during

…continue reading Portrait of a Wikipedian: Ted Frank