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Is Wikipedia ever the cause of suicide (or murder)? 
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I'm doing some research about Wikipedia. I was reading various fights on Wikipedia, one of which was several pages of disagreements between Michael Q. Schmidt and Cumulus Clouds from 2008. They both seemed rather sane and reasonable, but simply in disagreement. Then I headed over to the Talk page of Cumulus Clouds, where there were supposedly more fights between the two. To my shock, I saw that Cumulus Clouds was dead. I looked at the end of his edit history and saw he'd had problems at the end of 2008 with one or more Wikipedia editors, up to Dec 12. It appears that on that day, while still trying to resolve (apparently unsuccessfully) his problems with at least one editor, he suddenly retired his account, with the edit summary "(retiring account - note to all users: i will not respond to messages posted here and cannot be contacted through this account)". Then, at some point between that day and Dec 22nd, it appears that he committed suicide. He was twenty-five years old.

This seems like such a tragic situation. Of course, perhaps he was upset about other things in his life or was simply suffering from depression.

If anyone is interested, here are the relevant links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Cumulus_Clouds

http://www.issaquahpress.com/2009/01/05 ... lor-olney/

Also, the following was on the first page of his Google results. It's incomprehensible to me why anyone would do this:

https://encyclopediadramatica.se/Deceas ... lus_Clouds

Does anyone know more about this case, about what happened?

And does anyone know of other cases of people who were very distressed by a situation on Wikipedia and committed suicide?

Wikipedia seems to be the cause of such great upset for many people. I've often wondered if Wikipedia had ever driven people to madness, suicide, murder.


Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:00 am
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Quite a few Wikipedians have died during the twelve years of its existence.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia: ... ikipedians
That page lists their real names--a practice that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Slrubenstein was one of the earliest editors, one of the first admins, and a rabid fan of Jimbo and "free culture". There has been some loose talk about how his early demise was accelerated by the abuse he received on WP over the years, but nothing provable.

(The ED article was probably written by Grawp and some other "good Wikipedians", so as disgusting as it is, the facts there could easily be accurate.)

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:43 am WWW
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He was repeatedly subjected to harassment it seems. Just see this checkuser case that was a blatant attempt at harassment, that included an appearance from some sock master. The guy who started it, Banime (T-C-L), got his just desserts for this slimy little act, though he probably should have been given a permanent vacation for this shit. He also had this situation, apparently involving a battle with the sock that hounded him at the CU request and another editor who were trying to repeatedly shoehorn in some extensive negative material to a BLP. I can't speak to what happened to this young man, but if it was suicide then that stuff probably contributed to his decision.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:11 am
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This was discussed in some detail over at old WR; "Cumulus Clouds Commits Suicide, Userpage contains link to obit", and "Cumulus Clouds, Synopsis for Peter Damian"


Wed Jun 12, 2013 6:00 am
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Thanks for all the info. I look forward to reading it. In the meantime, I found a few more things about Cumulus Clouds (Clayton Taylor Olney). Maybe this info was already discussed in the links you posted, but here it is anyway:

A few months before his death, he went in a hardware store and saw a rope tied as a noose, as a demonstration in the rope section. He thought it was offensive and racist. He alerted a TV news station, which came and covered it.

He was interviewed about it briefly in this news segment. He seems nice and smart:

http://www.komonews.com/news/20725079.html?tab=video

Then he was criticized about it in this other news segment (which also came out as an article):

http://www.komonews.com/opinion/kenschr ... =video&c=y

There is a thread about him on a weird offensive website. It contains a letter claiming that the negative news coverage he endured about the noose incident caused his Wiki friends to mock him on Wikipedia and he got banned, all of which lead to his suicide. At first I thought it was a real letter but now I don't think so.

The letter is at this link. It's halfway down the page, or do a search for "Clayton" on that page to find it:

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... enumber=17


Wed Jun 12, 2013 6:17 am
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It's quite possible Luka Magnotta murdered a man for a Wikipedia article.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 6:41 am
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mac wrote:
It's quite possible Luka Magnotta murdered a man for a Wikipedia article.

Glenn Beck Raped And Murdered A New Article In 1990

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 6:51 am
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N4H wrote:
Thanks for all the info. I look forward to reading it. In the meantime, I found a few more things about Cumulus Clouds (Clayton Taylor Olney). Maybe this info was already discussed in the links you posted, but here it is anyway:

A few months before his death, he went in a hardware store and saw a rope tied as a noose, as a demonstration in the rope section. He thought it was offensive and racist. He alerted a TV news station, which came and covered it.

He was interviewed about it briefly in this news segment. He seems nice and smart:

http://www.komonews.com/news/20725079.html?tab=video

Then he was criticized about it in this other news segment (which also came out as an article):

http://www.komonews.com/opinion/kenschr ... =video&c=y

There is a thread about him on a weird offensive website. It contains a letter claiming that the negative news coverage he endured about the noose incident caused his Wiki friends to mock him on Wikipedia and he got banned, all of which lead to his suicide. At first I thought it was a real letter but now I don't think so.

The letter is at this link. It's halfway down the page, or do a search for "Clayton" on that page to find it:

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... enumber=17
No, the letter is not at all genuine. The contributor who posted that letter, anne frank fanfic, is one of the creeps responsible for bullying Cumulus Clouds on that forum and on Wikipedia. He claimed to be the person who operated the Wikipedia Banime (T-C-L) account mentioned by The Devil's Advocate above. Here's a list of the comments he posted to the thread in the somethingawful forums where the suicide was discussed.


Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:47 pm
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Vigilant wrote:
mac wrote:
It's quite possible Luka Magnotta murdered a man for a Wikipedia article.

Glenn Beck Raped And Murdered A New Article In 1990

Karma is a bitch. I know it's not funny. And yet...
video: show


Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:24 pm
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If this really did cause or majorly contribute to his death, some persons need to man up and apologize to his family, if they haven't already. There's a ton of shit about people on the internet, but when it goes this far, people need to step back and think about it.

If something on Wikipedia itself led to this, someone needs to e-mail Philippe with evidence to such so it can be taken care of in the future. The harassment in the RFCU case probably didn't help, and you know, there's no reason that could've been moved to the filer for the one part, and deleted for the other part. This deserves a closer look by someone with good sleuthing to determine what happened. And then it deserves some closing, knowing what happened and how to prevent it in the future if possible. Many Wikipedians have died while editors, but none of them that I know of by suicide/murder.

~Charmlet


Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:38 pm
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N4H wrote:
Then he was criticized about it in this other news segment (which also came out as an article):

http://www.komonews.com/opinion/kenschr ... =video&c=y

Why didn't the "Schrammie" criticize KOMO news for hauling in the NAACP? That didn't seem to be Olney's idea.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:16 pm WWW
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Charmlet wrote:
If this really did cause or majorly contribute to his death, some persons need to man up and apologize to his family, if they haven't already. There's a ton of shit about people on the internet, but when it goes this far, people need to step back and think about it.


Jimmy Wales has called me a "dangerous stalker" with "gun fantasies" that threaten him and his children. None of it is true. When do you think Wales will "man up" and apologize to me and my family?

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:18 pm WWW
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Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:41 pm
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Charmlet wrote:
This deserves a closer look by someone with good sleuthing to determine what happened.
~Charmlet

er...

we've seen that already - Wikipedia sleuthing, in all its glory.

look it up.


Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:48 pm
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HRIP7 wrote:
Mod. note: Gentlemen ...

...start your engines?


Wed Jun 12, 2013 6:02 pm
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HRIP7 wrote:
Mod. note: Gentlemen ...

...start your engines?


From November 2008: Banime (i=annefran@PC-1110.STUDFB.UniBw-Muenchen.de) has joined #wikipedia-en

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 6:30 pm
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I find this whole Clayton/Cumulus Clouds thing very depressing. It's not like I've been in hibernation for twenty years, and yet that's how I feel. I feel as though I've emerged into a sick futuristic world where half the population has become immoral, evil, and the other half is not surprised and hardly upset by this fact. The three main things I find sad here so far:

1) This really sweet-seeming, well-intentioned 25 years old kid killed himself over misery he was enduring at Wikipedia (at least that's how it appears).

2) There is a sick website (forums.somethingawful.com) with various threads about Clayton Taylor Olney's suicide. These threads are filled exclusively with psychos who seem to celebrate his suicide, claim credit for it, brag about it, laugh about it, and ask who else at Wikipedia they can kill (I saw this last comment written somewhere on one of those threads but now can't find it). And Charmlet's innocent suggestion (above) that these people should go and apologize to his family makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

3) And then there's Tarc. I haven't been on Wikipedia that much, I'm not very familiar with everyone's work there, but the few times I've seen Tarc in action, he's always seemed fantastic. He fights for noble causes. So, Tarc, I don't understand how you can make a comment like the one you did. A moderator deleted your comment right away, but I happened to have copied it already, to e-mail it to someone to assist me in its interpretation. Having seen your work before, I couldn't believe you meant it the way it seemed you did. And yet you did. I know that some people are annoyed by politically correct people, and that's fine (although honestly, the causes you fight for seem rather politically correct to me). But for you to say, regarding a sensitive 25 year old kid who tried to combat racism and who killed himself: "Can't say I'd lose sleep over the loss of one of those types" deflates me. You wrote that comment right under a quote you posted from an article, which was: "Clay is the hyper-sensitive, overly politically correct young man who took offense at seeing a noose hoisted over the rope section of a hardware store up in Sammamish."

So, what exactly are you saying regarding the fact that he killed himself? Are you saying: Good riddance? Are you saying: The world is a better place now that there's one less of those annoying sensitive PC types?

I understand that just because you seemed like one of the really good guys (and maybe you are) doesn't mean you can't have flaws or moments of really poor judgment. And I understand that Vigilant, who also had impressed me greatly, will now probably make jokes that will sadden me (like the joke he made after Tarc, which was also deleted). And I understand that someone else will probably come along and say "Yawn" to my post. I understand all that, but that doesn't change what I've said. If I don't respond to future posts here, and if I don't thank anyone for giving me fresh info, please forgive me but it may just be that I decided to stop reading Wikipediocracy (and Wikipedia too, for that matter), because I'm getting a wake-up call that's a little too jarring.


Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:36 pm
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I can't say that I am surprised that the culture of bullying on Wikipedia has resulted in at least one suicide (if not more; how would we know?). But the important thing is to be certain that this is what happened. Not "Wiki-certain" -- the "certainty" with which immature individuals accuse each other of "unspeakable wiki-crimes"; but really sure.

If we could document properly some significant examples of wiki-bullying ending in incontestable harm, it would be possible to enlist some of the anti-bullying online people to start taking an interest in what goes on.

It is, after all, the abuse that most of us experienced there, and the utter lack of accountability when we attempted to find someone to deal with it, that are at the heart of the unhappiness of most people here.

All the best,

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:18 pm WWW
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N4H wrote:
3) And then there's Tarc

[...]

You wrote that comment right under a quote you posted from an article, which was: "Clay is the hyper-sensitive, overly politically correct young man who took offense at seeing a noose hoisted over the rope section of a hardware store up in Sammamish."


I detest political correctness. Being a man of some black ancestry, I can safely say that seeing a noose hanging in a store would not prompt me to run screaming out the door and straight to my NAACP rep. If I wake up tomorrow to find one hanging on my front door, that's another matter entirely. Context matters.

And I certainly don't need some pasty white boy to fight my battles for me, especially ones where I don't want to fight in the first place. As I've said many times before, being unoffended is not a right.

Perhaps the phrasing of my disregard for such people was a bit over-the-top.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:19 pm
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N4H wrote:
I find this whole Clayton/Cumulus Clouds thing very depressing. It's not like I've been in hibernation for twenty years, and yet that's how I feel. I feel as though I've emerged into a sick futuristic world where half the population has become immoral, evil, and the other half is not surprised and hardly upset by this fact. The three main things I find sad here so far:

1) This really sweet-seeming, well-intentioned 25 years old kid killed himself over misery he was enduring at Wikipedia (at least that's how it appears).

2) There is a sick website (forums.somethingawful.com) with various threads about Clayton Taylor Olney's suicide. These threads are filled exclusively with psychos who seem to celebrate his suicide, claim credit for it, brag about it, laugh about it, and ask who else at Wikipedia they can kill (I saw this last comment written somewhere on one of those threads but now can't find it). And Charmlet's innocent suggestion (above) that these people should go and apologize to his family makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

3) And then there's Tarc. I haven't been on Wikipedia that much, I'm not very familiar with everyone's work there, but the few times I've seen Tarc in action, he's always seemed fantastic. He fights for noble causes. So, Tarc, I don't understand how you can make a comment like the one you did. A moderator deleted your comment right away, but I happened to have copied it already, to e-mail it to someone to assist me in its interpretation. Having seen your work before, I couldn't believe you meant it the way it seemed you did. And yet you did. I know that some people are annoyed by politically correct people, and that's fine (although honestly, the causes you fight for seem rather politically correct to me). But for you to say, regarding a sensitive 25 year old kid who tried to combat racism and who killed himself: "Can't say I'd lose sleep over the loss of one of those types" deflates me. You wrote that comment right under a quote you posted from an article, which was: "Clay is the hyper-sensitive, overly politically correct young man who took offense at seeing a noose hoisted over the rope section of a hardware store up in Sammamish."

So, what exactly are you saying regarding the fact that he killed himself? Are you saying: Good riddance? Are you saying: The world is a better place now that there's one less of those annoying sensitive PC types?

I understand that just because you seemed like one of the really good guys (and maybe you are) doesn't mean you can't have flaws or moments of really poor judgment. And I understand that Vigilant, who also had impressed me greatly, will now probably make jokes that will sadden me (like the joke he made after Tarc, which was also deleted). And I understand that someone else will probably come along and say "Yawn" to my post. I understand all that, but that doesn't change what I've said. If I don't respond to future posts here, and if I don't thank anyone for giving me fresh info, please forgive me but it may just be that I decided to stop reading Wikipediocracy (and Wikipedia too, for that matter), because I'm getting a wake-up call that's a little too jarring.


Well said, N4H. A lot of us have become so used to the cynicism and sick humour that is common in many corners of the Internet that the most we do on here is contact a moderator in private and ask for the really offensive posts to be obliterated and/or the poster to be banned (I'm looking at you, honeypot21).

You taking Tarc and Vigilant to task for their comments was a necessary wake-up call for this forum. Thank you for bringing fresh eyes and a kind heart to Wikipediocracy. Please don't leave.


Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:59 pm
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N4H wrote:
I find this whole Clayton/Cumulus Clouds thing very depressing. It's not like I've been in hibernation for twenty years, and yet that's how I feel. I feel as though I've emerged into a sick futuristic world where half the population has become immoral, evil, and the other half is not surprised and hardly upset by this fact. The three main things I find sad here so far:

1) This really sweet-seeming, well-intentioned 25 years old kid killed himself over misery he was enduring at Wikipedia (at least that's how it appears).

If you are a kid being bullied by other kids at your school, you have a limited ability to do anything about it yourself. You can't just stop going and you probably can't switch schools on your volition. If you are a 25 year old man who is being bullied on WP, you have a lot of options. The simplest is just stop editing WP. No one is going to show up at your door to taunt you about the correct use of "citation needed" templates. This was a tragic event but WP was not the cause.


Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:08 pm
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Tippi Hadron wrote:
You taking Tarc and Vigilant to task for their comments was a necessary wake-up call for this forum.


Oh jesus fucking christ, stop the hand-wringing. My original comment was modded, I'm fine with that as yea, it was a bit harsh. But at the same time, we're talking about a 25-year-old man here. Not a boy, not a minor, not a child. An adult.

A suicide is a tragedy, and no one will ever know what truly goes on in such a person's head in the moments before the deed is done. But an adult should know how to handle criticism, even assholish criticism that one finds in the Wikipedia or other places. There is no responsibility/culpability of an internet forum in this man's suicide.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:21 pm
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This kid's case is sad and he got bullied hard.
I hate bullies.

On the subject of <redacted> humor.
N4H wrote:
I understand that just because you seemed like one of the really good guys (and maybe you are) doesn't mean you can't have flaws or moments of really poor judgment. And I understand that Vigilant, who also had impressed me greatly, will now probably make jokes that will sadden me (like the joke he made after Tarc, which was also deleted).

Some people like my sense of humor. Some people do not.
I've seen far too much hardship in my life to get worked up about someone disliking some old, black humor.

If me making that joke somehow diminishes me in you eyes then that's too bad.
It's not a yawn, but I'm not going to change much.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:27 pm
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Tarc wrote:
Tippi Hadron wrote:
You taking Tarc and Vigilant to task for their comments was a necessary wake-up call for this forum.


Oh jesus fucking christ, stop the hand-wringing. My original comment was modded, I'm fine with that as yea, it was a bit harsh. But at the same time, we're talking about a 25-year-old man here. Not a boy, not a minor, not a child. An adult.

A suicide is a tragedy, and no one will ever know what truly goes on in such a person's head in the moments before the deed is done. But an adult should know how to handle criticism, even assholish criticism that one finds in the Wikipedia or other places. There is no responsibility/culpability of an internet forum in this man's suicide.

I have to agree.
All he had to do was turn off the computer and go outside.

People getting wound around the axle doesn't change anything.

You want to make a direct difference that gently chastising me won't accomplish?
Go volunteer at a suicide prevention hotline.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:29 pm
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Tarc wrote:
....But an adult should know how to handle criticism, even assholish criticism that one finds in the Wikipedia or other places. There is no responsibility/culpability of an internet forum in this man's suicide.


Well, I know what you're saying. But sadly all of us can be vulnerable sometimes. And all of us invest in our online selves. To say otherwise is naive. Words have power; hence "Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. My lawyers, however, feel otherwise."

All the best,

Roger Pearse


Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:58 pm WWW
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roger_pearse wrote:
Tarc wrote:
....But an adult should know how to handle criticism, even assholish criticism that one finds in the Wikipedia or other places. There is no responsibility/culpability of an internet forum in this man's suicide.


Well, I know what you're saying. But sadly all of us can be vulnerable sometimes. And all of us invest in our online selves. To say otherwise is naive. Words have power; hence "Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. My lawyers, however, feel otherwise."

All the best,

Roger Pearse

Dude.
I never wrote that.
I've got enough line items in my sinner's list, but please don't add any more.

Edit by Zoloft: Fixed the misattribution

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:08 pm
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It is rather insensitive and unethical to suggest that someone should just leave a place where they face hostility as though their failure to do so should be considered the problem, rather than the existence of such an environment and its continued tolerance by staff. We can't know what went through his head, but the timing suggests his treatment on Wikipedia could have played some part, even if only in aggravating an underlying problem. To say it is not a fault of Wikipedia that someone cannot deal with such treatment, even when that person is pleading for help and not being heard, is really just dickish. Without question, the tolerance of bullying and harassment or incompetence in dealing with it, is a very real fault of Wikipedia and should not be disregarded on the basis that victims need to get a thicker skin or just walk away.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:48 pm
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I've been on forums of one sort or another for 20 years (Compu$erve onwards) and put up with a lot of nonsense. However, last month someone hassled me once too often (three years or so of public abuse from a local person who doesn't like the way I will not support his personal view on a local matter so every time the matter resurfaces, he blames me personally for it, and libels me rather than accepting one of the reasons the matter continues to be a problem for him is that he has not the skills to deal with it).

I wrote to him in 2011 saying quite simply that as he found it impossible to write emails to me without abuse, sarcasm and libel, then I did not feel obliged to continue replying and that he should stop writing to me. He wrote again, so I simply replied with a cut and paste email saying not to write to me. He uses a local blogger news site to make comments about me. At one time I used to deliberately comment saying wise words while obviously ignoring is libel and abuse to make it obvious I was aware of what was being said and was rising above it. Then I decided it was best just to ignore it.

He went quiet and then started emailing again a couple of months ago. I immediately told him to stop and he said that if I did not reply he would go to the press, which he did. The main local press ignored him (that's what editors do) but the local pretend news site blogger has unmoderated comments where he misrepresented my refusal to deal with him, a classic case of harassment. Knowing the issue will run for another couple of years yet, something snapped at the thought of having to put up with this and I went to the police. He gave a signed undertaking to stop, yet last week he again started posting. If I go to the police, he will get a police record this time around.

As a self-confident person, I was able to handle this, but I am handling it based on half a century of experience of life. It is quite painful to know that there is crap out there on the Internet that you cannot get rid of and that there are people out there who will do their best to ensure it lives with you till the end of your days. I've never been a believer in "just man up" - it is the excuse of a bullying culture.

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Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:59 am
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The Devil's Advocate wrote:
It is rather insensitive and unethical to suggest that someone should just leave a place where they face hostility as though their failure to do so should be considered the problem, rather than the existence of such an environment and its continued tolerance by staff.


And yet most here told Fae to do just that last year, as the consensus was that he deserved the shit thrown his way due to the antics he got up to for several years

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Well then, clearly the only fair thing to do is to tell everyone to leave, whether or not their behavior is justifiable under the accepted norms of a civilized society.


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Well then, clearly the only fair thing to do is to tell everyone to leave, whether or not their behavior is justifiable under the accepted norms of a civilized society.
-Midsize Jake


I would urge every WP editor to flee its toxic environment. People here, and on WP, talk about "addiction" to WP, and they're probably correct. WP exploits addicts who get their little burst of dopamine from altering wiki-reality. A lot of these editors are self-described as minors, or as people with serious psychiatric problems. They should all be released from WP's baleful thrall.

In ten years time VisualEditor, and other tools making it easier and easier to edit, will have reduced WP to the grey goo; and new search algorithms will present information-seekers with personalised aggregations of authoritative information. Wikipedia will left to the video gamers, lost in some obscure corner of the internet. The addicts should understand this, before they waste more of their precious time on earth.

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Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:06 pm
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Mancunium wrote:
I would urge every WP editor to flee its toxic environment. People here, and on WP, talk about "addiction" to WP, and they're probably correct. WP exploits addicts who get their little burst of dopamine from altering wiki-reality. A lot of these editors are self-described as minors, or as people with serious psychiatric problems. They should all be released from WP's baleful thrall.

In ten years time VisualEditor, and other tools making it easier and easier to edit, will have reduced WP to the grey goo; and new search algorithms will present information-seekers with personalised aggregations of authoritative information. Wikipedia will left to the video gamers, lost in some obscure corner of the internet. The addicts should understand this, before they waste more of their precious time on earth.

:applause: :)

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Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:31 pm WWW
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Vigilant wrote:
Dude.
I never wrote that.


Sorry about that - replied to the reply by accident.

Thanks zoloft for fixing it.

All the best,

Roger Pearse


Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:01 pm WWW
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dogbiscuit wrote:
I've been on forums of one sort or another for 20 years (Compu$erve onwards) and put up with a lot of nonsense. However, last month someone hassled me once too often (three years or so of public abuse from a local person who doesn't like the way I will not support his personal view on a local matter so every time the matter resurfaces, he blames me personally for it, and libels me rather than accepting one of the reasons the matter continues to be a problem for him is that he has not the skills to deal with it).

I wrote to him in 2011 saying quite simply that as he found it impossible to write emails to me without abuse, sarcasm and libel, then I did not feel obliged to continue replying and that he should stop writing to me. He wrote again, so I simply replied with a cut and paste email saying not to write to me. He uses a local blogger news site to make comments about me. At one time I used to deliberately comment saying wise words while obviously ignoring is libel and abuse to make it obvious I was aware of what was being said and was rising above it. Then I decided it was best just to ignore it.

He went quiet and then started emailing again a couple of months ago. I immediately told him to stop and he said that if I did not reply he would go to the press, which he did. The main local press ignored him (that's what editors do) but the local pretend news site blogger has unmoderated comments where he misrepresented my refusal to deal with him, a classic case of harassment. Knowing the issue will run for another couple of years yet, something snapped at the thought of having to put up with this and I went to the police. He gave a signed undertaking to stop, yet last week he again started posting. If I go to the police, he will get a police record this time around.

As a self-confident person, I was able to handle this, but I am handling it based on half a century of experience of life. It is quite painful to know that there is crap out there on the Internet that you cannot get rid of and that there are people out there who will do their best to ensure it lives with you till the end of your days. I've never been a believer in "just man up" - it is the excuse of a bullying culture.


The police is the right answer here. Don't hesitate; zero-tolerance, report the guy now. This is bullying / harassment, however it is done. Such scum rely on the limp-wristedness of the authorities. (I once was harassed at work by a jerk, purely out of envy. It was eye-opening how reluctant his employers were to act.) You may have to get a lawyer involved. If so, do.

I too have been online a long time, and I've seen a lot of crap. It's my impression that the nastiness has got exponentially worse in the last few years. The criminal element is now online; the people who seek to do harm, if they believe they can get away with it. And, often, they can.

But yes, we need to recognise a bullying culture when we see one.

In the old days it was easier in some ways. These days I never invest emotionally in any forum; and so I can and will walk away in an instant if I find that the admins are dishonest. (Indeed I did so a couple of weeks ago; no purpose in contributing to *any* forum where the admins are scum). But with something like Wikipedia, you are sucked in by the sense of achievement. To be pushed out means abandoning everything you have been working for. The criminal element use this "hook", that is sunk into every contributor, to keep the victim on the line while they punish him like a punch bag, coming back to be slapped as hard as possible again. Once you realise that nobody is in control of Wikipedia, that the "Lord of the Flies" is the game, and that you're wasting your time ... if you can find the detachment, you can then write all that off and leave. But it is quite a decision, for anyone who has invested in the project.

In my own case I endured 3 months of abuse before I reached that point, and only then once I saw dishonest admin action. It took quite a while before I realised that my attacker had actually done me a favour in stopping me wasting time there, when I ought to be producing academic content. Which is what I am doing now. :-)

All the best,

Roger Pearse


Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:12 pm WWW
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thekohser wrote:
Charmlet wrote:
If this really did cause or majorly contribute to his death, some persons need to man up and apologize to his family, if they haven't already. There's a ton of shit about people on the internet, but when it goes this far, people need to step back and think about it.


Jimmy Wales has called me a "dangerous stalker" with "gun fantasies" that threaten him and his children. None of it is true. When do you think Wales will "man up" and apologize to me and my family?

I expect that most people here will appreciate the difference between driving someone to suicide and that sort of stuff.

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Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:15 pm WWW
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Tarc: thanks for explaining.

Vigilant: I thought your deleted joke was kind of funny in isolation, but not funny when right on the heels of someone's offensive comment, and definitely not funny in a thread about a young-ish man who committed suicide. But even if comedic timing is not your forte, when you’re serious you’re impressive (that's just my opinion, based on the very few posts of yours I’ve seen).

Moonage Daydream wrote:
N4H wrote:
I find this whole Clayton/Cumulus Clouds thing very depressing. It's not like I've been in hibernation for twenty years, and yet that's how I feel. I feel as though I've emerged into a sick futuristic world where half the population has become immoral, evil, and the other half is not surprised and hardly upset by this fact. The three main things I find sad here so far:

1) This really sweet-seeming, well-intentioned 25 years old kid killed himself over misery he was enduring at Wikipedia (at least that's how it appears).

If you are a kid being bullied by other kids at your school, you have a limited ability to do anything about it yourself. You can't just stop going and you probably can't switch schools on your volition. If you are a 25 year old man who is being bullied on WP, you have a lot of options. The simplest is just stop editing WP. No one is going to show up at your door to taunt you about the correct use of "citation needed" templates. This was a tragic event but WP was not the cause.


Moonage Daydream: I think it's possible that if Wikipedia had not been in this young man's life, he might still be alive today. The bullying he was enduring, yes as an adult, on and off Wiki, might have been a contributing factor to his suicide. It might have been the straw that broke the camel's back (or even played a huge part, who knows). I looked at lots of his edits, discussions, arguments on Wiki. He was gentle, never offensive, never mean, never out of control, never even impolite. Except you could tell he was getting distressed toward the end, but still keeping it together. His main enemy said he went crazy right before he got banned. So I looked at those sections where he supposedly went crazy. Not crazy at all. He was presenting his extremely convincing case effectively, with perseverance (his perseverance is what seemed to have been the cause of his banning).

In case there are people reading this thread who are not familiar with this case and who don't get around to exploring the links which "The Adversary" kindly posted earlier, here are some comments that the young man's bullies posted three days before his death. These comments were motivated by editing disputes they were having with him on Wikipedia:

"cum cluods it will take me approximately 22 minutes to travel from my place of residence to your high school. god help you if i learn your name motherfucker."

"CUMULUS CLOUDS I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND loving KILL YOU..."

After they learned of his suicide, the comments were:

"time to plan my next murder via wikipedia.. ip 111.34.23.123 is going down"

and:

"Wikipedia Creator how you like your encyclopedia now?? it have kill a man. delete wikipedia"

and:

"after years of being the person that anyone can bully, ty pepp decided to have the final edit on his life"

and:

"[we] can now make any edit in wikipedia. no one will be stupid enough to try to stop us again..."

(Note: "Cumulus Clouds" and "ty peppar" were the young man's pseudonyms)

The pre-suicide quotes above can be found at this link, which also contains horrible racist cartoons: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... id=3036406

The post-suicide quotes can be found at this link: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... erid=86581

And they also made up horrible lies about him in various threads, which I don't even want to repeat here. In my opinion, the lies are as bad as the death threats because the death threats reflect badly only on those who make them whereas the lies could be believed by casual observers and reflect badly on the young man. Plus, these people didn't know his real name so it was unlikely they could actually go and kill him even if they wanted to.


Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:49 am
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N4H wrote:
Vigilant: I thought your deleted joke was kind of funny in isolation, but not funny when right on the heels of someone's offensive comment, and definitely not funny in a thread about a young-ish man who committed suicide. But even if comedic timing is not your forte, when you’re serious you’re impressive (that's just my opinion, based on the very few posts of yours I’ve seen).

Dude.
Fucking ow.

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N4H wrote:
The pre-suicide quotes above can be found at this link, which also contains horrible racist cartoons: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... id=3036406

The post-suicide quotes can be found at this link: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... erid=86581

And they also made up horrible lies about him in various threads, which I don't even want to repeat here. In my opinion, the lies are as bad as the death threats because the death threats reflect badly only on those who make them whereas the lies could be believed by casual observers and reflect badly on the young man. Plus, these people didn't know his real name so it was unlikely they could actually go and kill him even if they wanted to.

Sadly, this is not unusual for Something Awful. I haven't added them to any of our book coverage, because they're basically a minor offshoot of the whole 4chan/ED/Anon/black-hat trollish scene, with the added "extra-minor feature" of a rabidly libertarian founder.

Seeing as bullying is a substantial component of "Internet culture", I'm actually surprised we don't hear about more suicides of this general type. Nevertheless, since we have clear evidence that Wikipedia was partly used to harass a young man into suicide, this belongs in the book wiki.

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Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:12 am WWW
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EricBarbour wrote:
N4H wrote:
The pre-suicide quotes above can be found at this link, which also contains horrible racist cartoons: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... id=3036406

The post-suicide quotes can be found at this link: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... erid=86581

And they also made up horrible lies about him in various threads, which I don't even want to repeat here. In my opinion, the lies are as bad as the death threats because the death threats reflect badly only on those who make them whereas the lies could be believed by casual observers and reflect badly on the young man. Plus, these people didn't know his real name so it was unlikely they could actually go and kill him even if they wanted to.

Sadly, this is not unusual for Something Awful. I haven't added them to any of our book coverage, because they're basically a minor offshoot of the whole 4chan/ED/Anon/black-hat trollish scene, with the added "extra-minor feature" of a rabidly libertarian founder.

Seeing as bullying is a substantial component of "Internet culture", I'm actually surprised we don't hear about more suicides of this general type. Nevertheless, since we have clear evidence that Wikipedia was partly used to harass a young man into suicide, this belongs in the book wiki.

I just noticed that the forum was SA.
Something Awful is not a great place to hang out, let alone someone with a fragile mental state.

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Vigilant wrote:
Something Awful is not a great place to hang out, let alone someone with a fragile mental state.

Clayton Olney was not "hanging out" on Something Awful, at least not at that point in time - but rather he assumed (probably correctly) that Banime (T-C-L), Orpheus (T-C-L), and HoboJones (T-C-L) were using Something Awful's FYAD ("Fuck You And Die") forum to organize Wikipedia activity against Democratic Washington State Rep. Geoff Simpson (T-H-L), specifically by inserting allegations of spousal abuse (for which charges had been dropped) into his BLP article. Olney, meanwhile, was working (probably volunteering) for the campaign to re-elect the female Democratic Governor of Washington, Chris Gregoire (T-H-L), whom Mr. Simpson strongly supported. Olney had been doing this for some time, and was especially keen on ensuring that the negative information was kept out of the article until after the Nov. 4, 2008 general election, which Simpson (and also Gregoire) won. However, in 2010, Simpson lost to the same challenger that he faced in 2008, Mark Hargrove (T-H-L), whose BLP article is a stub.

Most likely, Olney felt isolated and unappreciated for going through such an unpleasant experience on behalf of the Washington State Democratic Party, and probably getting no credit for it (as this would risk their being accused of "wiki-fiddling" on the public, or at least the donors', dime), but instead getting death threats and "wiki-hounding" from Hargrove's far-more-appalling supporters on Something Awful. What isn't clear is whether or not the WPers from SA (chiefly Banime, who is almost certainly "Anne Frank Fanfic") were actually concerned with Washington State politics, or were in fact simply upset with Olney himself for having earlier attempted to insert negative information into the Something Awful (T-H-L) article (regarding tax evasion in Washington State). They believed that Olney actually did this out of spite, in that he had previously participated in the FYAD forums himself under the name "Tyler Peppar" and had left after being insulted way too many times.

There were WR threads on this subject at the time - this one and this one in particular. I vaguely recall there being some question as to whether we should even carry those threads, and one of them was moved into the BLP subforum (not visible to search engines) as a compromise. WP admin (and WR member) John Vandenberg (T-C-L) oversighted several of the more egregious "trolling" edits posted by SA Wikipedians after Olney's death, and for this, he too was treated to death threats and a variety of insults on SomethingAwful.com.

Obviously I would assert that the blame here should go to Wikipedia for operating the platform on which all of this activity, so corrosive and corrupting to democracy and civilized discourse in general, was allowed to continue unabated - and indeed, when Olney attempted to defend his actions in various administrative venues on Wikipedia, was told that he acted wrongly "when consensus went against him," and apparently was blocked for multiple violations of the "Three-revert rule." Worse still, if it had become known that Olney was a campaign operative, he would almost surely have been blocked for a COI violation as well, no doubt for an even longer period.

Meanwhile, "Anne Frank Fanfic," apparently a holocaust denier - among other things - and (again) almost certainly User:Banime, was banned fairly soon thereafter, in January 2009. User:Orpheus is still a Wikipedian in good standing, and User:HoboJones was blocked for a year but didn't return, at least not under that name. I have to say, the apparent ability of these individuals to transform from having practically no command of the English language whatsoever on SomethingAwful.com to articulate, almost-erudite, and highly rules-aware "editors" on Wikipedia.org is nothing short of remarkable.


Last edited by Midsize Jake on Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:48 am, edited 4 times in total.



Fri Jun 14, 2013 5:25 am
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Great! If you know of more examples of SA's forum being used by Wikipedians for whatever reason,
let's see them. That goes for any web forum (other than this den of snakes, of course).

And remember, Andy Sylvia received far worse treatment, despite not actually doing much
editing on behalf of New Hampshire Democrats. Wikipedia is partly a hacker / troll playground,
cleverly disguised to look like an encyclopedia. The biggest dick sets the political tone.

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Fri Jun 14, 2013 5:47 am WWW
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Vigilant wrote:
I just noticed that the forum was SA.
Something Awful is not a great place to hang out, let alone someone with a fragile mental state.
The FYAD portion isn't, but the rest of SA is basically a normal Internet forum.

EricBarbour wrote:
Wikipedia is partly a hacker / troll playground, cleverly disguised to look like an encyclopedia. The biggest dick sets the political tone.
Yes, one of the worst things about Wikipedia: one's influence over the content of a page is very easily reduced to manipulating Wikipedia rules and norms, exploiting the ignorance of outside observers, and teaming up with others to carry these out.


Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:51 am
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Ismail wrote:
Yes, one of the worst things about Wikipedia: one's influence over the content of a page is very easily reduced to manipulating Wikipedia rules and norms, exploiting the ignorance of outside observers, and teaming up with others to carry these out.
Yep.


Sat Jun 15, 2013 7:05 am
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Ismail wrote:
Vigilant wrote:
I just noticed that the forum was SA.
Something Awful is not a great place to hang out, let alone someone with a fragile mental state.
The FYAD portion isn't, but the rest of SA is basically a normal Internet forum.

I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you here.
SA is much more OMM/POE than /. or reddit.

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Midsize Jake wrote:
Vigilant wrote:
Something Awful is not a great place to hang out, let alone someone with a fragile mental state.

Clayton Olney was not "hanging out" on Something Awful, at least not at that point in time - but rather he assumed (probably correctly) that Banime (T-C-L), Orpheus (T-C-L), and HoboJones (T-C-L) were using Something Awful's FYAD ("Fuck You And Die") forum to organize Wikipedia activity against Democratic Washington State Rep. Geoff Simpson (T-H-L), specifically by inserting allegations of spousal abuse (for which charges had been dropped) into his BLP article. Olney, meanwhile, was working (probably volunteering) for the campaign to re-elect the female Democratic Governor of Washington, Chris Gregoire (T-H-L), whom Mr. Simpson strongly supported. Olney had been doing this for some time, and was especially keen on ensuring that the negative information was kept out of the article until after the Nov. 4, 2008 general election, which Simpson (and also Gregoire) won. However, in 2010, Simpson lost to the same challenger that he faced in 2008, Mark Hargrove (T-H-L), whose BLP article is a stub.

Most likely, Olney felt isolated and unappreciated for going through such an unpleasant experience on behalf of the Washington State Democratic Party, and probably getting no credit for it (as this would risk their being accused of "wiki-fiddling" on the public, or at least the donors', dime), but instead getting death threats and "wiki-hounding" from Hargrove's far-more-appalling supporters on Something Awful. What isn't clear is whether or not the WPers from SA (chiefly Banime, who is almost certainly "Anne Frank Fanfic") were actually concerned with Washington State politics, or were in fact simply upset with Olney himself for having earlier attempted to insert negative information into the Something Awful (T-H-L) article (regarding tax evasion in Washington State). They believed that Olney actually did this out of spite, in that he had previously participated in the FYAD forums himself under the name "Tyler Peppar" and had left after being insulted way too many times.

There were WR threads on this subject at the time - this one and this one in particular. I vaguely recall there being some question as to whether we should even carry those threads, and one of them was moved into the BLP subforum (not visible to search engines) as a compromise. WP admin (and WR member) John Vandenberg (T-C-L) oversighted several of the more egregious "trolling" edits posted by SA Wikipedians after Olney's death, and for this, he too was treated to death threats and a variety of insults on SomethingAwful.com.

Obviously I would assert that the blame here should go to Wikipedia for operating the platform on which all of this activity, so corrosive and corrupting to democracy and civilized discourse in general, was allowed to continue unabated - and indeed, when Olney attempted to defend his actions in various administrative venues on Wikipedia, was told that he acted wrongly "when consensus went against him," and apparently was blocked for multiple violations of the "Three-revert rule." Worse still, if it had become known that Olney was a campaign operative, he would almost surely have been blocked for a COI violation as well, no doubt for an even longer period.

Meanwhile, "Anne Frank Fanfic," apparently a holocaust denier - among other things - and (again) almost certainly User:Banime, was banned fairly soon thereafter, in January 2009. User:Orpheus is still a Wikipedian in good standing, and User:HoboJones was blocked for a year but didn't return, at least not under that name. I have to say, the apparent ability of these individuals to transform from having practically no command of the English language whatsoever on SomethingAwful.com to articulate, almost-erudite, and highly rules-aware "editors" on Wikipedia.org is nothing short of remarkable.


Jake, That's interesting. Back when you posted this comment, I was surprised that much of what you were saying did not match the impression I had come away with after my explorations into this case. That doesn't mean you're the one who's wrong. It could be me. I didn't respond to your comment at the time because I would have had to go back in my research, give examples, etc., and I didn't have time. And I haven't looked into it further since then.

As it's been a while, I can't remember now all the places I looked, nor the details of what I found, but several of the links to where I looked are in this thread, posted by others, in case anyone wants to investigate in the future. In any case, your post was interesting. But I felt the truth was possibly even more interesting. In case people such as journalists read this thread and are tempted to write about this story, it would be a shame if their urge is dampened in any way, as I think the mysteries in this story are worth piercing and writing about. This story might be a very good example of the harmful effect Wikipedia and its culture of anonymous editing can have on people's lives.


Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:49 am
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N4H wrote:
In case people such as journalists read this thread and are tempted to write about this story, it would be a shame if their urge is dampened in any way, as I think the mysteries in this story are worth piercing and writing about.


Maybe so... but to me personally, truth and avoidance-of-hypocrisy are just more important. We can't get around the fact that Olney did some revenge editing, posting about "filed charges" against SomethingAwful that were really of almost no practical significance at all. (Also see the relevant talk page section.)

Obviously nothing could ever justify the kind of behavior we see from the SomethingAwful FYAD forum members during and after that incident; they're the worst kind of internet scum, clearly (and I suspect they'd be the first to admit it, too). But it's also very hard for me to conclude that Olney did the right thing by edit-warring to keep that material in the article, or that they would have behaved that way if he hadn't done so - they probably wouldn't have even known or cared that he still existed. What's more, he could have easily started over with a new user name on Wikipedia, or (way, waaaay) better yet, gotten the hell out of there altogether. Why didn't he?

And this is all assuming that he wasn't just severely depressed to begin with. It's true that Wikipedia can exacerbate psychological problems, and frankly that's bad enough - but it doesn't usually cause them.

That said, I'm something of an extremist when it comes to both revenge-editing and psychological issues related to Wikipedia participation. To me, just about anyone who spends a significant amount of time contributing to Wikipedia's internal culture in any kind of substantial way must, to at least some degree, be mentally disturbed. You can try to make sense of their behavior from a generalized social or cultural perspective, but it's not easy, and I might even argue that sometimes it simply can't be done.


Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:24 am
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Midsize Jake wrote:
To me, just about anyone who spends a significant amount of time contributing to Wikipedia's internal culture in any kind of substantial way must, to at least some degree, be mentally disturbed. You can try to make sense of their behavior from a generalized social or cultural perspective, but it's not easy, and I might even argue that sometimes it simply can't be done.

Perfectly put. Thank you.

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