Let’s meet Scott Bibby, a person who, shall we say, has taken a strong interest in this Wikipedia criticism website.
You might know him better as Wikipedia editor Russavia. I say Wikipedia editor, but he’s actually banned on Wikipedia right now. That doesn’t stop Bibby from being a very active Wikimedia Commons admin and bureaucrat. It’s no secret that proud Russophile Scott Bibby is Russavia. Here’s Bibby identifying himself as Russavia and asking permission to use a photo on Wikipedia. Here’s Bibby cc’d on a message about Creative Commons Australia (Bibby lives in Perth, Western Australia, according to his Wikipedia user page). Bibby also uses @Russavia as his Twitter handle, although he hasn’t made any public tweets. Does it hurt when you tweet in public? (Oddly, he doesn’t use Russavia as his Facebook handle, he uses mudozvon. That roughly translates from Russian as “bullshitter”. Among the many domains that Bibby has owned is mudozvon.net.)
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet
Bibby tried to get the Wikipedia article on Chanel perfume Coco Mademoiselle deleted. In the deletion discussion he says “I own and operate a fragrance business”. That was in January 2008 and the article was not deleted. In July, Bibby came back to the article and added a new reference - Heavenly Perfumes. Who owns Heavenly Perfumes? That’s right – it’s Scott Bibby! Well, it seems to be registered to his dad, but that’s the business he was referring to in his earlier comment.
Why would Scott Bibby’s dad Graeme Bibby be listed as the contact if Scott owns the company? Maybe it is because it is a family business. After all, the trademark for Heavenly Perfumes is owned by JGSB Pty Limited. But perhaps it’s because of what comes up when you type Scott Bibby into a search engine. Apparently some people think that Bibby was the person behind an eBay account that ripped off people trying to buy airline safety cards. You know, those cards that tell you how to exit the plane in case of a crash? An eBay account called russiansafetycards was apparently listing the cards, collecting the money, but not sending the product. The account is still there, but “no longer a registered user” and the feedback is now marked private.
This comment is particularly sad:
Who knows…hopefully he is in jail for fraud and grand theft. Scott was not only thrown off ebay for the 3rd time under his last ebay ID “russiansafetycards”, but he also destroyed his parent’s internet/ebay based business “heavenly perfumes”. Several ebay members (buyers) got very sad apology emails from Scott’s parents and refunds from their own personal finances. I felt so sorry for them having their business reputation destroyed by their son. I seriously doubt that they ever got their money back from Scott.
It looks like these kinds of accusations have been a recurring problem for Bibby. Way back in 2001, when he was posting to Airliners.net as Brissie Lions, someone was upset after waiting months for Bibby to send him the cards and dodging his attempts to get in touch. And then there’s this one called “Brissie Lion where are my safety cards?”
Brissie Lion, do you still remember me. I was the one that bought some cards from you at Ebay. I had a respons that you received the payment, BUT I never received the cards and I never received a reply on my emails towards you…Well guys watch out for this guy…
And also in 2001, now posting as Aviatsiya, Bibby warns people “I myself, have been accused in the past of not sending out my side of the bargain; when in fact I have, and have even asked other people about the person I have been dealing with, and they have said it is likely they are trying to get more from you”. The safety card business seems very cutthroat, doesn’t it? Here is another warning naming Scott Bibby and eBay from a German site in 2004.
Some mothers do ‘ave ‘em
It is clear that Bibby is very interested in planes. Is he a pilot himself? Not quite. According to his mother Judy:
Scott has a wicked sense of humour and like me spends every spare moment sitting in front of a computer. Scott has had an avid interest in aviation since he was a bit of a kid, ask him anything about aviation and he will tell it all. Scott wanted to become an airline pilot but due to lack of commitment when it counted, this dream was not to be his.
It brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it? If only Bibby could have put as much energy into becoming a pilot as he does into spreading the word of Polandball, an anti-Polish internet meme (although the same trolling style can be used to insult almost any country). When the Polandball article was deleted on the English Wikipedia, Bibby went on a mission to have the article translated and added to other language Wikipedias. How successful was he?
Scott Bibby: Want me to add links to the page from the nearly 50 Polandball articles on Wikipedia? xD
19 October 2012 at 08:26
Do you recall that I said Scott Bibby’s Russavia account was banned on Wikipedia? Eastern European politics is a raging battleground on Wikipedia and Bibby was sanctioned for his edits in this area. Those of you familiar with geography will note that Poland is in Eastern Europe. His block was originally for 6 months, but thanks to his work on Polandball and inflammatory statements he made after his initial block, it was extended to a year. He will be able to edit again in May 2013.
Why should you care about Scott Bibby?
It is worth considering Scott Bibby as an example of some of Wikipedia’s entrenched cultural problems. Wikipedia almost inevitably becomes the top search engine hit for any topic and is therefore a target of people seeking to manipulate public opinion. An editor banned on English Wikipedia for misbehavior (in his case, nationalist editing seeking to denigrate Poland) can still be a powerful insider at other projects, as he is at Wikipedia Commons. Commons is the WMF’s repository for freely licensed and public domain pictures (at least supposedly; many of the photos stored there are ripped from photo sharing websites like Flickr with unclear documentation). Bibby has personally added tens of thousands of images from Flickr (and spends his time deleting the ones that should never have been uploaded in the first place). Another recent example would be Ashley Van Haeften, also a prominent and prolific Commons contributor. Van Haeften is currently banned from Wikipedia but he continued to serve on the board of Wikimedia UK for some months after his ban and even after his banning was elected as chair of the Wikimedia Chapters Association, a post he still holds.
Bibby was an ally of Van Haeften (Fæ, Ash, and several other accounts on Wikipedia) in his battles on Wikipedia, and sought to paint his critics as a bunch of harassing homophobes (the objections about Van Haeften’s editing had to do with abuse of a Wikipedia process called “clean start,” his use of commercial porn sites as references for encyclopedia articles on little known porn performers, the manufacturing of sources that did not say what he claimed they said, violation of copyright, his disregard for the reputations of subjects of Wikipedia biographies, his constant cries of “homophobia” to silence legitimate criticism, and ultimately for trying to get WMF staffers to influence the Arbitration Committee on his behalf).
The views of both men that external oversight and criticism are unwelcome, have routinely been expressed in vicious fashion. Both have also strenuously argued for anonymous editing on Wikipedia, and view discussion of the identities of participants as a high crime. But in the case of Scott Bibby, more sunlight on his actual identity may do some good in restraining his behavior.
In 2012 Bibby, as Russavia, had this to say at the start of the process that ended in Van Haeften being banned from the English Wikipedia. “This request is simply an extension of harrassment by some other vile characters on Wikipediareview. Fae has undergone some unadulterated harrasment by various users on WR, and a lot of it is of the homophobic variety”. Wikipedia Review (WR) is a forerunner to this criticism website. On criticism of Fæ’s use of an advertising magazine for gay tourists as a source for an article (something that violates Wikipedia’s own rules on “reliable sources”) Bibby said: “There are obviously doubts as to whether this is legitimate or part of homophobic harrassment directed towards Fae”.
In early 2012, Bibby successfully campaigned to have this website added to Commons’ “spam blacklist” (which prevent links to pages here from appearing there) and had a number of contributors to this site blocked for short periods of time. Not all information wants to be free, you see. The bigger issue this illuminates is the infighting, inconsistent standards, and capricious behavior that goes on across Wikipedia websites every day, largely out of the view of the general public. In May of 2012, he briefly joined this forum before we decided to ban him. Why? He joined a discussion of the porn extremists on commons and added another of his cartoons that appeared to attack Poland (it was a bit incoherent) but clearly contained a sexually suggestive picture of a naked, pre-adolescent girl, apparently to make some kind of anti-censorship point. (That stupid hick “Polandball” apparently objected to sexually-suggestive pictures of little girls. Bibby apparently disagreed. Wikipediocracy, hicks that we are, removed the picture from public view — we take a stricter line on child porn than Wikimedia Commons, it seems.) You can see that Polandball cartoon here, but it may be NSFW.
See your doctor
Bibby has a reputation as one of Wikipedia’s pornography extremists, and fights nasty. In 2012, a female Wikipedia editor went to Wikipedia co-founder Jimbo Wales’ talk page to complain about the all the porn, much of it self-shots of masturbating exhibitionists, that popped up on Commons when looking for some mundane photos. She said of all this masturbation porn lying around in public that “it hurts”. Bibby then inserted himself in the conversation with a nasty dismissal framed as a question:
When I masturbate in public, I don’t really feel any different than when I do it in private; can you possibly tell us why when you masturbate in public, it hurts? Y u no be Russavia ლ(ಠ益ಠლ) 19:42, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
Inappropriate on its face. But also interesting in light of the fact that Wikipedia has been paying increasing amounts of lip service to the fact that its main project, the English Wikipedia, is a hostile environment for women. Wikimedia Foundation director Sue Gardner made attracting and retaining women a priority in 2010. But thanks in part to the ranks of folk like Bibby, she has failed. In 2010 about 13 percent of Wikipedia’s active editors were women. Today, it’s closer to 9 percent.
For the lulz?
It’s worth reviewing the final instance of attacks on Poles that led to Bibby — a self-described Russophile — receiving a one-year ban from English Wikipedia. He created an article for a sophomoric cartoon that, as best anyone could make out, was about how Poles are ignorant fools, vandals of Wikipedia, and eventually are banished to clean toilets and be flushed down with the waste. The cartoon is of course still hosted at Wikimedia Commons.
Chauvinist editing skews topics across Wikipedia, and Bibby is just one of hundreds of examples, in dozens of areas both pumping up the greatness of their team and seeking to run down their perceived enemies. Wikipedia has done the right thing about him, for now. But he’s carrying on elsewhere.
Though he tends to be a “keep everything” Commons administrator, with lax standards regarding copyright, the suitability of the hundreds of pages of amateur porn that come without any model releases or information that would guarantee the subjects have given consent and are of legal age, he has been on a strange deletion bender of late. The subject? Poland.
Jimmy Wales wrote the following in 2009.
I think the genuine communities, like Wikipedia, will be built on love and respect. But it’s really important … to remember that Wikipedia is not about technology, it’s about people. It’s about leaving things open-ended, it’s about trusting people, it’s about encouraging people to do good.
The picture he paints of Wikipedia is not accurate, as the example of Mr. Bibby hopefully makes clear. Many Wikipedia editors are not interested in doing “good” as the word is usually understood. The freedom to do whatever the heck they like is the attraction.
eBay to the white courtesy phone, please
Would it surprise anyone to learn that Scott Bibby is still selling perfume on eBay even after having his previous accounts banned?
Image credit: Flickr/Newtown grafitti, licensed under Creative Commons attribution 2.0 generic