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Press Releases

  • Please click here for recent Wikipediocracy press releases.

Wikipedia punishes child safety whistleblower

By Peter Damian

Retaliatory treatment of whistleblowers nearly always attracts public interest. The recent sacking of a Ryanair pilot, for “gross misconduct” after speaking out on a TV documentary about safety fears, was widely covered in the press. Stories about the climate of fear surrounding the exposure of child predators in the BBC and in the Roman Catholic church have been extensively covered in the mainstream media. The plight of Mike McQueary, who was made a scapegoat after his allegations of child sexual abuse at Penn State University, made headlines across the United States. Whistleblowing is big news. And rightly so – if people are afraid to expose evil, evil will flourish.

Yet there has been no press coverage about the punishment last week of a whistleblower in the internet encyclopedia Wikipedia. Last week, a long-serving editor who we will call “Keith”, who had made hundreds of contributions to articles about set theory, mathematics and statistics, was punished by the encyclopedia’s powerful Arbitration Committee, for raising complaints of a serious nature about child protection and predatory editors. Despite his considerable contribution to Wikipedia, he was indefinitely blocked from editing the site. This was not covered by any mainstream media.

“… the only place in their lives where their age doesn’t matter.”

The Wikipedia Adventure Wikipedia rarely features in media coverage of online child protection. Articles like this mention the usual suspects like Facebook and Twitter. They never mention Wikipedia, probably because of its image as a scholarly enterprise whose contributors include teachers and scholars like Keith. Yet a substantial minority of Wikipedia editors and administrators are children, and the Wikipedia itself deliberately targets young editors. “There’s a recurring motif inside Wikipedia of preteen editors who’ve spent their lives so far having their opinions

…continue reading Wikipedia punishes child safety whistleblower

Ducks Redux

By Hersch

This is an updated look at The Duck Test.

Duck For those ranking Wikipedians who toil day in and day out, with no hope of remuneration, there can be another kind of reward: the satisfaction of knowing that one’s personal set of prejudices, or what is known at Wikipedia as one’s Point of View (POV), has become the dominant one on a given set of articles. Once an editor has ascended high enough in the pecking order, becoming one of Wikipedia’s leading peckers, he or she may hope to have his or her prejudices incorporated into the “House POV.” But Wikipedia articles change frequently — how does one defend the House POV against interlopers? Initially it was not easy, but as Wikipedia has evolved and matured over the years, the means of defense have been perfected in the “Duck Test.”

Because Wikipedians edit using pseudonymous screen names and therefore have no legal responsibility for what they write, sockpuppetry becomes an issue. Does Wikipedia oppose the practice of sockpuppetry? That depends, as usual, on who is doing it. Plus, it is difficult to detect, and difficult to prove. In fact, because of the way Wikipedia is structured, it is difficult to prove that any given editor is not a sock. But don’t take my word for it:

Do not make an unblock request that includes a request for checkuser to “prove your innocence” … as indicated at Sockpuppet investigations those are so rarely done that you’re better off not asking (besides, it is difficult to use it to prove that two editors are different people). Most administrators consider such an unblock request a sure sign of a sock account (particularly one

…continue reading Ducks Redux

Wikipedia as a political battleground: after a GMO/Monsanto content dispute, longtime Wikipedia contributor Viriditas is blocked

by Wer900 (with Eric Barbour, Hersch, and others)

A lie told often enough becomes [The Truth™]. —Vladimir Lenin

The dispute summary Many editors of Wikipedia, particularly those who have high social status in its “community” or are employed by the Wikimedia Foundation, are (or at least appear to be) fervent believers that corporations and government lack any significant influence on Wikipedia. They like to pretend that their “conflict of interest”, or COI, regulations keep Wikipedia a “neutral” and trustworthy reference. If the encyclopedia’s history, social structure, and its leaders’ dealings are any guide, though, one can only conclude that Wikipedia is an arena of combat for competing groups of propagandists. A case in point is the controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in particular those relating to large biotechnology corporation Monsanto.

Viriditas, a long-standing editor of Wikipedia, reverted edits by various users on the March Against Monsanto article, many of which removed or mitigated the impact of information critical of Monsanto or GMOs. These edits included a removal of content on the March Against Monsanto protests, the excision, twice, of CNN journalist Jake Tapper‘s reporting on Monsanto’s government ties and questionable ethics practices, and even the burying of the fact that the Hawaiian Crop Improvement Association (HCIA), a nonprofit whose research is oft-cited by GMO advocates in favor of their position, is “partially funded by Monsanto.” Two columns supporting the march, one in The Louisiana Weekly and another in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, were allowed to stay in the article, but in a highly mitigated form. A (failed) attempt was even made to delete the article. (Bear in mind that a major reason for Monsanto’s interest in GMO crops is to make them “Roundup-ready”, meaning resistant to their own industrial glyphosate herbicide products. So they can sell both seed

…continue reading Wikipedia as a political battleground: after a GMO/Monsanto content dispute, longtime Wikipedia contributor Viriditas is blocked