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Lesson #3: Organize, Organize, Organize - Parker Peters — LiveJournal
Lesson #3: Organize, Organize, Organize
In keeping with Lesson #2, one of the first lessons that someone who wants to tilt a wikipedia article should learn is to organize with like-minded editors.

Wikipedia has a love affair with the word "consensus." In the mind of Jimbo Wales, or other wikipedians too blind to see the flaws of the system, "consensus" is a wonderful thing, involving a group of editors getting together, deciding mutually what the facts are, and then writing an article around them.

What Wales and his cohorts fail to realize is the twofold nature of this problem.

First of all, the idea of "consensus" is thrown under the bus as soon as an organized group shows up trying to push their own point of view. Wikipedia's seen this countless times; we have Arab/Muslim groups ("The Muslim Guild", "The Sunni Guild", "The Shi'a Guild", etc). For a time there were groups opposing these Muslim POV-pushing groups, but they became outnumbered and were destroyed using the time-honored techniques mentioned in Lessons 1 and 2.

Likewise, we have groups who have "ownership" issues on articles regarding Scientology, though they are a tad more secretive about their personal connections. We have groups involving conflicts on such mundane items as Pokemon and kitsch '80s toys, groups that push POV regarding religion in general, groups that push POV regarding terminology for transvestites and "transsexuals", and just about any other possible conflict you can think of.

Second of all, once a "consensus" has resulted, the group who formed "consensus" have just formed the ties of an organized group dedicated to "owning" that page. Anyone who comes in and corrects the information, or adds something new that contradicts the "consensus" - even if sourced - is going to be attacked for "violating consensus." Thus, even for articles that aren't targets of deliberate POV-pushing by groups like the Muslim Guild or pro-Pedophilia groups or the Scientologists or one of a hundred other organized groups that try to own whole article categories, chances are an article of any size has an organized group ready to beat down anyone who disagrees with their groupthink.

The methodology of these groups falls into a definable and easy to observe pattern:

#1 - Organize. It's fairly easy for these groups to set up an off-wiki email list or meeting place "just for themselves", in which marching orders can be given. Not wanting to believe that people would behave in this manner, Wales & Co. remain blissfully, deliberately clueless to this. The best term for it is "deliberate ignorance." They don't know, because they don't want to know.

#2 - Destroy your enemies. There are four main tactics used here.

First tactic: The dreaded 3RR. Ostensibly, this was created as a rule to stop "edit wars" - people continually changing something back and forth. Wikipedia's own blocking policy, meanwhile, says that "Blocking to gain an advantage in a content dispute is strictly prohibited." 3RR is simply a method by which large, organized POV-pushing groups can sidestep this arrangement, having their pocketed administrators wait until a "3RR violation" has occurred and then blocking the "offender" for an absurdly long time in order to gain an advantage on the page.

Second tactic: They'll violate the rules (See Lesson 2). Certain members of the group will be delegated to "attack" the individual, while others are delegated to claim to be "neutral" and "fair." In reality, they're working together; the goal is to have the attackers rile up and insult the person they are attacking, and then have the "neutral" ones report them for "disruption" or "personal attacks", while conveniently not reporting their own friend's violations of same, and then again their pocketed admin has "cause" to use the blocking tool and gain an advantage in the content dispute.

Third tactic: Accuse the other side of Sock Puppetry. As in most cases, it's the claim that's important, and not the end result; Wikipedia also has prohibitions on Meat Puppetry (asking friends to register and join in), and this IS precisely what the POV groups on wikipedia do, but they are given a "pass" again because they have pocketed administrators among their number. The presence of the "CheckUser" tool, some admins will claim, is able to "detect" or "clear" someone from sockpuppetry accusations. It's supposed to give back an unambiguous result: Yes or No.

To this tool, however, administrators friendly with POV-pushing groups have added a new response: "Possible." This means that CheckUser came back negative, the edits were made with completely different IP addresses and the tool should have cleared the user, but the admin wants the user(s) in question destroyed anyways, and sees nothing wrong with lying about the result. You'll undoubtedly see this response a lot more in the time coming ahead, now that the POV-pushing groups and their pocketed admins have figured out that they can get away with it.

And since CheckUser results are "secret evidence" that will never be given out, indeed they can lie quite freely about it, as only a few people have CheckUser access and they are all Administrators, part of the Cult of Adminship and quite chummy with each other.

Fourth tactic: Lie, lie, and lie some more.

One instance of this happened in the case of a user by the name of RunedChozo, who had a run-in with the Muslim Guild, over a page on Mohammed.

The first salvos were as expected - attempts to trick RC into 3RR violations, verbal attacks, etc.

Then came the lies. Muslim Guild member Itaqallah started leaving falsified edit summaries:
Claiming the edit had no source, which was a clear lie.
Claiming the subject had been discussed, which was clearly false.
Wikipedia's administrator response? RunedChozo's edit summary, pointing out the blatant lie, was a "blockable personal attack" upon Itaqallah.

When RunedChozo reported the behavior to the Administrators' Noticeboard, the response was... attack RunedChozo. What happened next, maintained in posterity for all to see (though certain items were deleted by "friendly" admins from the history, and the rest is now flushed in "archiving" to destroy the evidence of its happening) was disgusting.

FayssalF/Svest claimed RunedChozo had "5 blocks w/in 1 month." This was entirely false, not to mention misleading, and I'll take you through it:

Block #1 - a good faith effort to move a page to neutral wording, blocked by administrator Aecis.
Block #2 - Blocked by William M. Connelly, for "indefinite" time, for a 3RR violation.
Block #2A - William rightly reduces this to 24 hours, fixing his own mistake. This is what Svest calls "Block #3."
Actual Block #3 - "Future Perfect at Sunrise" - a friend of Itaqallah - blocks RunedChozo on behalf of the Muslim Guild again. No 3RR or violation has actually occurred, but Future Perfect feels he is justified in placing a 72-hour long block, well outside Wikipedia blocking policy.
Actual Block #4 - Connelly blocks yet again, after another 3RR violation is provoked.

The rest of the page is just Tariqajbotu and friends playing games, "lengthening" the block based upon unproven statements made while RC was blocked. The sort of piling-on abuse all too common for Wikipedia administrators, but that's no surprise.

Emails to the wikipedia en-l list? Just as disgusting. RunedChozo was accused of "trolling" and personally attacked time and again.

Later on in an email exchange, I caught Tariqajbotu lying some more; first he tried to claim that he was really in disagreement with the sources (which makes it a content dispute), then he tried to attack the sources even when confronted with corroborating sources, including public statements by modern Muslim leaders. Finally, he lied and claimed that RunedChozo was the only person supporting such additions (he wasn't) and he lied and claimed that two other people opposed to the Muslim Guild behavior didn't ever revert to put RunedChozo's edit back up (they did). The full text of the exchange can be found Archived at Nabble, and the most interesting thing about it? After the exchange, after Tariqajbotu and Itaqallah and FayssalF/Svest were caught, all three, lying, the response of Wikipedia's administrators and the Arbitration Committee was... dead silence.

You see, they'd managed to put RunedChozo on "moderation", and blocked him permanently it seems from Wikipedia, and instead of addressing a real problem of base, untrue behavior by the Muslim Guild, they instead slapped each other on the back for "driving off a troll." This despite the fact that RunedChozo was in fact not a troll at all, but just another example of well-meaning people coming and trying to rectify severe bias problems in an article, only to be attacked by a POV-pushing group that insists they "own" the article in contradiction of Wikipedia's stated policies.

What was RunedChozo's mistake? That's right - he wasn't organized. He was one person, and even though other people supported his edits, they were perhaps more familiar with wikipedia, they knew how the system works, and even if they didn't, they know now: cross the Muslim Guild, or any of Wikipedia's organized POV-pushing groups, and they will abuse, attack, lie, cheat, and use every underhanded trick in the book to destroy you while the administrators look on and do absolutely nothing about it.

But even if he had been organized, the Muslim Guild has destroyed groups opposing their POV-pushing and gotten away with it before, and they'll no doubt do so again any time one comes up to oppose them.
2 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 24th, 2007 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Veddy Interestink

As someone who was harassed and abused via my Wikipedia entry for many months, I can attest that something is very sick and wrong with that site. It tooks almost a year for us to get someone banned who was posting the most heinous and evil lies about me - page after page. The admins themselves were abusive in allowing this person to constantly post this garbage. They specifically stated that the subject of a piece was fair game for vicious personal, ad hominem attacks, while the "editors" (i.e., anyone with a computer) who were doing the attacks were off limits.

A very unfair policy, to say the least, that would have gotten them sued eventually - and we may yet see lawsuits from other beleaguered parties.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 4th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)


Hi all!

Looks good! Very useful, good stuff. Good resources here. Thanks much!


2 comments or Leave a comment