Why this Site?

  • 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 its 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.”
  • How you can participate:
  •  Visit the Wikipediocracy Forum, a candid exchange of views between Wikipedia editors, administrators, critics, proponents, and the general public.
  • 'Like' our Wikipediocracy page on Facebook.
  •  Follow Wikipediocracy on Twitter!

Press Releases

  • Please click here for recent Wikipediocracy press releases.

Guilty?

By Mila and friends

banned

Recently, an experienced and prominent Wikipedian, who goes by the user name Demiurge1000, was banned by the Wikimedia Foundation Legal team from ever again working on Wikipedia or any of its related sites. Philippe Beaudette, Director of Community Advocacy for the Wikimedia Foundation, provides a good perspective on how big of a deal such global bans are: “the number of times that the WMF has moved to ban someone from our community like this can probably be counted on one hand.” And he’s right: for more than a decade since Wikipedia was created, there have as far as we know only been four such bans.

The WMF has been very tight-lipped on the reason for the ban, but there are a few bits and pieces that could be used to figure out what was the rationale. According to James Alexander, a manager of Legal and Community Advocacy for the WMF, the ban “was done as part of our ongoing obligation to protect the site and its users.”

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia and a trustee of its Foundation, believes that “the Foundation should take a much harder line and ban not just based on the narrow grounds they use today”. He explains that by “narrow grounds” he means “child protection”. So, if the impartial observer were to put it all together, they might reasonably assume that Demiurge1000 was given this “global ban” by the WMF to protect Wikipedians, and most likely to maintain compliance with Wikipedia’s Child Protection policy.

So far so good; it would appear that the WMF is working diligently to protect its users who happen to be children. But is that in fact the case?

If you’ve never heard about Demiurge1000, a good place to start are two Wikipediocracy blog articles that were written about him: Wikipedia punishes child safety whistleblower and ASSUME BAD FAITH. Demiurge1000 exhibits a rather bizarre personality. Because so much of what happens on Wikipedia is visible to the public, we can observe Demiurge1000 describing his own habits to another editor (who identifies as a child), with whom he seeks to cultivate a relationship: “I am online almost constantly (I sometimes take a few hours out to sleep, but not often…)”. Demiurge1000 may be considered by some to be a bit of a jerk, which surprisingly enough was remarked upon even by Jimbo Wales. In fact, Demiurge1000 himself admitted, “I often approach the administration on Wikipedia in an aggressive-borderline-psycho fashion”. But that sort of hostility didn’t get him banned from Wikipedia.

Indeed, Demiurge1000 was liked by some. As a matter of fact, Demiurge1000 enjoyed a long tenure as a self-appointed attack dog on Jimbo’s talk page. When something critical of Wales or of Wikipedia appeared, Demiurge1000 would make it disappear. Wales seemingly condoned, for example, Demiurge1000 calling Wikipediocracy (this well-respected web forum) a “hate site”. While Jimmy Wales has blocked, reverted, or hidden commentary from numerous people who ask him uncomfortable questions on his talk page, Demiurge1000 was given tacit approval, so long as he defended Jimbo, right up to the point when the WMF’s Legal department banned Demiurge1000, possibly out of concern that he may be a pedophile.

As it turned out, the last message posted at Demiurge1000’s talk page, less than 24 hours before the notice of his global ban, was a very friendly one, written by a Wikipedia administrator named Anna Frodesiak. Ms. Frodesiak presented Demiurge1000 with an adorable photo of a bunny rabbit, as a symbol “of happiness and tranquility”, and hinting that more bunnies could be on the way.

But let’s get back to the two blog articles. The first one was published in August 2013, the second one in September 2013. Although neither mentioned Demiurge1000 by his user name, anyone closely involved with “the Wikipedia community” knew that the blogs were about him. So, let’s keep in mind that Wikipediocracy brought concerns about Demiurge1000 to the attention of the Wikimedia Foundation at least 15 months ago, but his global ban only transpired in December 2014. It is clear that not only Jimmy Wales knew about Demiurge1000, but Wales’ invention, the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, also knew. (This committee, or “ArbCom”, might be described as a group of Wikipedia users who act as witnesses, prosecutors, jurors, and executioners in a sort of Supreme Court of Wikipedia.)

Even if we give the ArbCom, the WMF’s legal staff, and Mr. Wales the benefit of the doubt — that they do not read Wikipediocracy’s blog — were there other means by which they could have found out about problems with Demiurge1000?

There were many.

First, there was an arbitration case, where the whistleblower (re-named “Keith” in this blog article) outlined in public what he saw as the problem with Demiurge1000’s conduct towards underage male editors. Some of Keith’s comments were “oversighted” by Wikipedia volunteers or staff (which means the comments were made invisible to the public, despite Wikipedia’s famous ability to track edit-by-edit histories). But other comments were allowed to stay, though eventually dismissed by the Arbitration Committee:

Pretty much every accusation KW has levelled at Demiurge1000, can be levelled at me – indeed he has in the past. A large number of the editors I have adopted were below the age of majority and the adoption program naturally attracts younger editors with the mentality of a teaching model for learning how to edit. In the same manner, the adoption process attracts those editors who naturally enjoy teaching. I’ve worked with Demiurge in the past and have never once found his behaviour towards these editors to be untoward or manipulative, and therefore find the accusations reprehensible. Therefore, I support an indefinite block from the encyclopedia until such time that KW shows understanding that these sort of accusations are unacceptable. I also agree with FeydHuxtable that an RfA topic ban would be a good idea. WormTT (T-C-L) 08:55, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Sue Gardner, then the Executive Director of the WMF (who today remains a special advisor to the WMF Board of Trustees and Executive Director), was presented with unsettling evidence regarding Demiurge1000 on her own, public talk page. There’s little doubt that she received this evidence. While the evidence was never deleted, she also simply never bothered to respond.

Let’s face it, anyone could have predicted that Demiurge1000 would be trouble for the Wikipedia community, given that he was twice blocked from editing since late 2012.

Today, regarding the global ban of user Demiurge1000, Wikipedia co-founder Wales states that he’s not “that interested in the details right now”. Perhaps one key problem with Wikipedia is that he has never been interested in these sorts of details. Wales has a habit of blocking out any adverse criticisms of his beloved Wikipedia project. More than a year ago, Wales was personally contacted by at least three people about Demiurge1000. We understand that Wales was presented with some evidence that was not made public. He was given an opportunity to check on the legitimacy of this evidence. He has never followed up publicly on that. Instead, according to an e-mail source, Wales appeared to be satisfied that “Demiurge1000 has made a pledge to not get involved in mentoring younger users again”. Is that sufficient protection for minors, that the suspected offender makes a pledge to stop being a creep?

WMF staffer Beaudette got involved in the Demiurge1000 incident purely by accident. As was his habit, Demiurge1000 had inserted himself in a conversation that had nothing to do with him, and this conversation happened to take place on Beaudette’s staff user account talk page. By the time of that conversation, there had been so much public speculation about Demiurge1000’s conduct toward boy editors (speculation to which Demiurge1000 has never responded publicly). An editor signing in only from an IP address elected to ask Demiurge1000 in the presence of a WMF staff member about a particular case where one of Demiurge1000’s followers posted a notice that Demiurge1000 “enjoys caning naughty boys”. You may think that anybody who is suspected of wrongdoing, especially of the sordid sort Demiurge1000 was suspected of engaging in, should jump at an opportunity to defend himself publicly and dismiss the accusations. Demiurge1000 did just that. However, you may judge whether the quality of his response was more of a defense or a dance:

Image

The questions offered for Demiurge1000’s attention were supported by those all-important “diffs” (snapshots of specific edits). Demiurge1000 was not accused of anything, per se. He was asked to explain some strange posts from what appeared to be minors at his public Wikipedia talk and user pages. The conversation may have made Demiurge1000 uncomfortable, but he did not appear to feel threatened at all. Then WMF staff member Beaudette came out swinging at the anonymous IP editor: “Anon, stop it NOW. You’ve strayed into territory that I won’t condone. And I’m blanking those messages. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 21:13, 12 January 2014 (UTC)”.

Then Beaudette seemed to restore Demiurge1000 to the status quo, to condone his online communications with boy editors of Wikipedia. Beaudette said, “I won’t allow the accusations that the anon is making to stand on my talk page. I’ve redacted them. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 21:21, 12 January 2014 (UTC)” Nonetheless, some 11 months later, Beaudette’s colleagues in the WMF Legal department would in fact ban Demiurge1000 from Wikipedia.

Perhaps the January 2014 exchange between the IP address, Demiurge1000, and Philippe Beaudette could have been an early warning that the WMF should have heeded more carefully. But no, Beaudette oversighted the uncomfortable questions, making them disappear, leaving Demiurge1000’s responses to stand.

Image

Oversighting on Wikipedia is done only under rare circumstances which may not have applied to the above conversation.

So, seven months before, Wikipedia arbitrator “Worm That Turned” announced that Demiurge1000 was innocent of any disturbing behavior, because Worm had “worked with Demiurge in the past” and “never once found his behaviour towards these editors to be untoward or manipulative.” While we might say that Wales and Gardner may have ignored important evidence that could have pointed toward a creepy online behavior, Mr. Beaudette went further: He actively covered it up, while in the process stretching Wikipedia’s policy on oversighting to fit his mood.

It is very important to emphasize: We do not know exactly why Demiurge1000 was banned from Wikipedia; but whatever it may have been, Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee, Jimmy Wales, its former Director Sue Gardner, and other staff may have missed an opportunity to investigate what appeared (to the dispassionate eye) to have been a case of a disturbing editor engaging in behavior that many months later finally rose to the level of the Legal staff having to act to “protect Wikipedians” from harm.

And while Wikipedians are busy even this month removing commentary and evidence related to Demiurge1000, somebody somewhere may be using the mail server provided by the WMF to engage in inappropriate communications with editors who are minors, and thanks to the WMF’s devotion to user privacy and anonymity, nobody seems to have any means to check on it.

A side note

When a pedophile or similar miscreant engaging in inappropriate behavior is caught on Facebook, for example, the story tends to get published so that it can be discussed publicly.

Why, conversely, is the WMF so secretive when it happens upon a sinister element in its encyclopedia project’s ranks? Why are WMF employees required to sign a “non-disclosure agreement” at their time of hire? They aren’t working on a military weapons program, nor are they working with priceless proprietary formulae for pharmaceuticals. The WMF is supposedly a charitable educational organization whose mission, literally, is to spread free knowledge. So, who or what are they trying to protect with their organizational secrecy? The banned users? Their own staff? Or are they worried about their tax-exempt status, or something else? In cases of child protection, some would argue that once a perpetrator has been judged “guilty” by the Legal team at the Wikimedia Foundation — enough to earn a global block — it is right to protect the identities of the victims. But why cover up the evidence that led up to the antagonist’s banning?

Even if Demiurge1000 were completely innocent of any real wrongdoing, how does the Wikimedia Foundation permanently blocking his user account, without providing any evidence leading to the decision, signify any sort of “fair trial” or “justice” for the person behind the Demiurge1000 account? As long as the WMF keeps secret its secrets, nobody can be sure of anything, not even of the guilt or innocence of a privately banned user. Only one thing is certain… while the “please donate” banners are up and running, doing their annual begging for more cash, the Wikimedia Foundation would rather you know absolutely nothing about why Demiurge1000 was banned from Wikipedia.

 

Image credits: Wikimedia, Krustilu Productions

14 comments to Guilty?

  • Michaeldsuarez

    http://wikipediocracy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5747

    ArbCom has been covering for pedophiles and their advocates since 2007.

  • Radiant Orchid

    I’m sure it won’t be long before Demiurge is back on WP with a new identity. Leopard, spots, etc.

  • John lilburn

    Wikipedians, coming to a child’s email near you.

  • Triptych

    Wonderful stuff, Mila and friends. The most damning thing I read on the case is where the kid’s parents have wiped out his email address book, apparently have told him “stay away from those freaks,” but Demi tells him on Simple Wiki “you know, one doesn’t need the book if he remembers the particular email address.” Why indeed did the WMF fail to act and in fact suppress for so, so long? And of course there would be residual liability matters for it, if heaven forbid, something bad occurred in between the time it was notified and the time it finally acted.

  • Sidereal

    Yet another missed opportunity by Wikipediocracy to present a story in a manner which would be taken up by the media.

    Following hot on the heels of the complete failure to blog the GGTF/Eric Corbett issue at all (or in Eric’s case, ever), meaning it failed to get any credit when that hit the media recently, you’ve now blogged about this issue in perhaps the most incomprehensible manner imaginable.

    Did “Mila and friends” (I don’t recall any forum member by that name, is this merely a credit of convenience shielding an anonymous coward from the fallout?) seriously believe that this would be picked up by the likes of the Daily Mail? While I credit them for following that particular tabloid’s house style – lead with the damning allegations and then clarify at the end that the entire piece is speculative and not based in any way on any actual evidence – I fear they might have misunderstood a core part of how that particular section of the media works behind the scenes, and indeed the financial resources they possess to fight legal claims.

    The whole ‘Demiurge1000 is a wrongun’ theme has been running for a while now both here and on Wikipedia, so the obvious starting point so that a dispassionate reader would in fact conclude that something seriously wrong is going on at Wikipedia or with the WMF’s child protection policy would have been to write up the evidence from the beginning, and sticking to clear factual statements, free of all the speculative and assertive nonsense this piece contains.

    That would involve being a bit more honest for example about who has actually said what and when (the diff provided to show that Jimbo thought Demuirge was a jerk is particularly laughable). A bit more honesty about the nature of global bans might not go amiss too – that handful of global bans also includes one of the backers of Wikipediocracy, does it not? It could certainly do with being a little more clear about features like oversight (you’re not for example ever going to a case of an accusation of pedophilia ever not being removed and oversighted, regardless of merit). And let’s be clear, that’s what the anonymous coward was alleging on Phillipe’s page (on the theme of being deliberately evasive, I wonder if Wikipediocracy member KW was asked to confirm or deny for this piece that those posts were made by him).

    Indeed, IIRC the child protection policy is quite clear on that score (and you could be a bit more honest about the fact that one of the reasons KW was banned was because he kept ignoring it himself). For all you know, the policy might have been followed here to the letter – someone may have recently had direct experience of a troubling encounter with Demi, and instead of reacting the way Kiefer did, by shouting it all over Wikipedia in an attempt to use it to avoid their inevitable ban for their own conduct (he was and still is a complete jerk by any yardstick), they have simply done as advised and emailed the WMF with the actual evidence, and they have banned him. Which still leaves perfectly valid points over the lack of transparency and other issues of communication.

    The whole paragraph about non-public evidence and your e-mail “source” is ridiculous – the unwillingness to flesh out the details here merely feeds the idea that Wikipediocracy’s status as a “well respected” site is simply not verifiable, to use Wikipedia parlance. If you can be so loose with how you interpret diffs that you actually have included in it, why would anyone trust you when you claim to be summarising the content or intent of non-disclosed communications?

    I don’t think anyone, certainly nobody in the media, is going to be fooled by this piece into thinking that Jimbo Wales or Sue Gardner or Phillipe Baudette or any other editor either tacitly endorsed or deliberately covered up the fact that there appeared to be a child predator trying to use Wikipedia to contact or was actually having inappropriate communications with children. The mistake of making that the intended message has only meant that the opportunity to convince outsiders that there might have been other serious failings in this case has been lost.

    As well as a complete rewrite to separate the fact from the theory, what would have made this blog post a hit would have been to educate the media about the fact that, not only are bans of this nature completely ineffective in stopping anyone editing Wikipedia if they want to, in certain cases, the return of banned editors has been actively assisted by certain elements of the Wikipedia elite.

    Obviously it would be unwise to say that those have been cases of assisting child predators (although it can’t be guaranteed that some weren’t and the assisters just didn’t know it), they nonetheless illustrate that the very nature of the site means that someone being deemed to be a threat to the community is no guarantee the other members will be protected from them.

    In the recent arbcom elections, I count 5 users newly appointed as arbs who I know for a fact have in the past actively suppressed the exposure of returning banned editors (most using blocks or other intimidation tactics, while others using even more advanced user rights), returning users who were in many cases ironically banned by the very institution they just got elected to.

    That is after all, the undercurrent to this piece, is it not? That reports by whistleblowers from without and within, are often ignored at best, and actively buried at worst.

    Still, I guess when Wikipediocracy bans people like me, people with nearly ten years experience of watching Wikipedia on the basis that I’m supposedly a troll (simply because I didn’t immediately suck up to the ‘trustees’) while allowing other people, the posters who by their words and deeds do indeed earn this site a reputation for being an online hate factory, it’s useful details like that you end up missing out on.

    Well, this troll isn’t doing too badly if the last few weeks are anything to go by. I knew more about how the Eric Corbett case would play in the media than any of you apparently did, and I could have done a far better job writing up this issue too.

    If this makes it anywhere near the press off the back of this piece, even in the publications who are plainly just reprinting emails sent to them from here on the naive basis that the people here know what they’re talking about and they don’t need to check every assertion for themselves, then I’ll [insert you favorite forfeit here].

    A total missed opportunity, on many levels.

    • Eric Barbour

      >> (he was and still is a complete jerk by any yardstick)

      Muzzle it, Phil. You’re one to criticize.

    • Radiant Orchid

      Sidereal, don’t think of this as a “missed opportunity” for Wikipediocracy, think of it as an opportunity for yourself. There’s nothing stopping you from doing “a far better job” of writing this up and presenting it to the press if that’s what you are interested in doing. That’s probably a better idea that writing screenfulls of bitter whinging.

  • Eddie

    Excellent article, and a good point at the end. Why aren’t WMF publicising incidents like these?

  • Jim

    Well written analysis, Mila. I know you would be pleased some action was eventually taken, even if far too delayed, and seemingly aimed more at minimising reputational damage and PR than proactively preventing harm.

    Sidereal, take some time to breathe. It helps the endorphins. I think you should always be mindful of your health.

    • Sidereal

      LOL. Another insightful comment from a valued forum member. Meanwhile, back in the real world, it’s pretty clear that “Mila” isn’t going to be pleased in the slightest that it apparently took well over a year for the WMF to act (assuming the central premise of what the ban is for is correct). If it’s not correct, well, the forum isn’t exactly overflowing with people who can offer anything other than idle speculation. Seen in that light, this blog post was borderline pointless. Issues like Eric, where facts abound, are totally ignored. Issues like Demi, where there are precious few facts on the ground and the ‘story’ has to rely almost totally on speculation and supposition, are discussed at length…..almost to the point of breaking the rule that the forum must not at any time be seen as busy.

  • Mila

    Thank you all for the comments!

    Sidereal, thank you for the “anonymous coward”. I mean it, I am extremely pleased that it appears that not everybody yet knows who I am 🙂 Of course the most important part to me is that each and every user mentioned in the blog knows exactly who I am.

    Now a few words about the blog and the issues.
    When I named it “Guilty” I did not mean it to be with a question mark, and I did not mean that “guilty” to be addressed to demiurge1000. Under “guilty” I meant the arbcom, the WMF, Jimbo who were presented with the evidences but either ignored them or covered them up. IMO these evidences were not strong enough to ban the user, but strong enough to start an investigation.

  • This is a bit after the fact, but I have been curious about Keith for awhile. You see, a Wikipedia editor (a nice one, with whom Wikipediocracy is friendly… I think) thought that I was Keith for awhile, based on my editing activity and blog, at the time! I said I was not, but was impressed by Keith’s footprint as I happened upon it subsequently. I had wanted to say hello and share my little story with him, but sadly, he was gone by then. Based on his apparent intellectual prowess, it was an honor to be mistaken for him.

  • […] but not on Commons You may have read some of the earlier stories here about Wikipedia editors Demiurge1000, Kintetsubuffalo, Meco, Crakkerjakk, and For An Angel. All of those users have since been blocked […]