Finding the laugh in a Wikipedia slaughter

Nobody aspires to have “enemies.” I suspect, even the super-villainous would probably prefer to go about their villainy unopposed.

But just as the Yin and the Yang are opposite ends of the same stick, when one acquires a new friend, one often acquires that friend’s enemies, too.

Over the past month, it has become evident that, which rarely boasts enough traffic to register on any scale, has acquired the least likely set of enemies: the leadership of Wikipedia (the ninth most popular website on the earth).

I’ll admit, it’s not easy finding the Zen in being on my side of such a grossly unfair fight.

To understand how unfair, I offer some perspective:

  • It takes about one week to log as many unique visitors as Wikipedia logs in less than one minute.
  • Googling “” returns 2,327 results.
  • Googling “” returns 43,100,000 results (7,000,000 more than you get by googling “”).
  • Of the three most frequently-cited sources of Wikipedia criticism (, Wikipedia Review and Encyclopedia Dramatica), is the smallest, the most obscure, most infrequently updated, most understaffed, and the only one not focused exclusively on “Wikipedia criticism.”

Given these extreme imbalances, how strange that Wikipedia would make, the focus of its epic “BADSITES” initiative.

What’s “BADSITES,” you ask?

“BADSITES” apparently beat out “UNGOODSITES” as the shorthand name assigned to the month old (and counting) effort by the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) to officially forbid any reference to on Wikipedia, under penalty of immediate banning.

To understand how extreme that move is, keep in mind the fact that Wikipedia currently endorses mentions of, and links to, websites that advocate pedophilia, racism, and related moral deprivation. Yet, the one website soon to be stricken as a matter of official Wikipedia, and which ArbCom member Fred Bauder claims “displays moral depravity,” is the one you’re reading now.

There have literally been scores, and likely more, of instances where the mere questioning of the validity of the claims against results in immediate banning and removal of the comment.

If there is Zen to be found in these atrocities, it’s the de facto confirmation of the existence of “thoughtcrime” on Wikipedia.

Here’s a perfect example, engineered by me specifically to demonstrate this point.

For a month, a carefully managed discussion of the issues surrounding BADSITES has been taking place on a half-dozen sufficiently cloistered corners of Wikipedia. This is where naive and well-meaning editors go to die.

One week ago, User:Greenstick Break (previously created by me) jumped into the middle of one of these conversations to ask Fred Bauder what should have been the obvious question.

(Note: this is actually a two-fer, in that Fred’s comment nicely confirms one of the central theses of this site, as well as the searing dishonesty of Gary Weiss/Mantanmoreland.)

Fred Bauder: “…For example, one claim is that Matamoreland (sic) uses sockpuppets. Well, he did, when he first started editing two years ago. And he got caught, was warned, AND QUIT USING SOCKPUPPETS…”

Greenstick Break: “Now help me out here, Fred. You just confirmed that WordBomb was correct when he said Mantanmoreland was using socks. In another venue you confirmed that WordBomb was correct when he said Mantanmoreland had a [conflict of interest] problem. Whether or not you think the User:SlimVirgin/ User:Sweet Blue Water connection + User:jayjg oversight issue is a problem, I think it’s generally understood that WordBomb got those facts right, too.
Yet WordBomb is the one that’s banned and whose site cannot be named???
Will somebody PLEASE show me what WordBomb got so wrong as to justify all this?”

It took less than four minutes from the time that comment was posted until the time ArbCom member Jpgordon had removed it and banned Greenstick Break, claiming (impossibly), that he had managed to squeeze a completed CheckUser search in there, as well.

Greenstick Break mounted a tepid defense, partly for show and partly to force Jpgordon to actually consult CheckUser (as you’ll see, that was a necessary part of this plan).

About 45 minutes later, while Jpgordon remained actively editing, I created User:Fjse44 via precisely the same connection, IP address and browser (with all cookies intact) that I had used when editing as Greenstick Break just moments before.

I wanted it to be very easy for Jpgordon or any other CheckUser to know, if they cared at all, that Greenstick Break and Fjse44 belonged to the same banned user.

The only thing that made Fjse44 different from Greenstick Break was sentiment, as I used the account (for the greater good and while holding my nose) to respond dismissively to a perfectly logical comment by Dan Tobias on the same page as Greenstick Break’s.

*Dan T.*: “One should note that The New York Times linked to ASM when it was relevant to a controversy they were covering. But I guess we’re so much more mature, sophisticated, and tasteful in our editorial judgment than they are.”

Fjse44: “The New York Times gets to set its content policies as we do ours. Apples/oranges.”

Ten days later, the pro-BADSITES comment remains in place, and pro-BADSITES commenter Fjse44 remains a Wikipedian in good standing (though that will likely change soon, now that Fjse44 is tied to WordBomb).

The take home lesson here is that under otherwise identical circumstances, Jpgordon banned one user based entirely on his opinion.

That is thoughtcrime.

Normally, this lack of judgment would land even an ArbCom member in hot water. But by now, any sentient observer of the process has seen enough to know that when it comes to, the rules have been officially suspended.

Here’s a beautiful example of Wikipedia’s new thoughtcrime paradigm.

It’s a portion of an exchange between the uncommonly gutsy User:G-Dett (whom I’m reticent to praise for fear of what might befall her) and User:Ryulong, shortly after the latter banned User:Onomato as a WordBomb sockpuppet, based on nothing more than his having made some minor changes to the Wikipedia article on Patrick Byrne.

G-Dett : “Would it be fair to say that Wikipedia’s current working definition of a WordBomb sockpuppet is anyone whose edits focus (either wholly or in part) on naked-short-selling -related articles, and who opposes User:Mantanmoreland and User:Samiharris?”

Ryūlóng: “They would be common traits as far as I know.”

G-Dett : “Of course they’re common traits; my question was whether they’re enough for a positive ID.”

Ryūlóng: “I would say so.”

Thoughtcrime. You may not like it, but at least it’s out in the open now.

Having laid that foundation, allow me to return to my initial point: that there’s an enormous disconnect between what’s been published on so far, and the severity of Wikipedia leadership’s response to it.

I believe the reason these efforts are aimed against, as opposed to the other, more obvious targets, is that I alone possess the past Wikipedia database dumps which, through analysis of what has since been covertly removed, provide unambiguous roadmaps of disturbing behavior at the highest levels of Wikipedia leadership.

I believe their primary concern – and the motive for such Orwellian behavior – is not for what I have published, but for what they know, based on the data in my possession, I potentially could publish.

Nobody aspires to have “enemies,” particularly when ambushed by a brass knuckle-wielding band of them. But if there is Zen to be found in the experience, it’s realizing that the subjects of my efforts – my self appointed “enemies” – appear to place a higher value upon my work than even I do.

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