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A Wikipedia editor's long-running campaign (fivefilters.org)
748 points by yasp on May 19, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 366 comments

> ‘Philip Cross’ has edited @georgegalloway ‘s wikipedia page over 1800 times.

This, and many other political arguments I have seen on it before, really makes me think that Wikipedia would benefit from a policy where a sufficient number of individual complaints against a user who has passed some threshold of number of edits to a single article (say 100) would be automatic grounds to block the user from further edits to the article, regardless of fault. I understand that this sort of obsessiveness is also an important asset to Wikipedia (and so they are understandably reluctant to set up obstructions to what it considers its "10x editors"), but in my eyes this pattern of personal crusading and article ownership causes damage to its utility as a source on any contentious topic far in excess of the damage it would suffer even in the worst case of every single editor that has put more than 1000 edits into any single article quitting.

> Wikipedia would benefit from a policy where a sufficient number of individual complaints against a user who has passed some threshold of number of edits to a single article (say 100) would be automatic grounds to block the user from further edits to the article, regardless of fault

So, let's suppose that some particular expert who has a particular level of knowledge or expertise in a given field, and is an established member of the Wikipedia community, accumulates a few hundred edits to some particular page in his area of interest. But this area of interest is politically controversial, and there is a certain narrative about this area of interest that some group of people would like to push, but this expert is too diligent about keeping the relevant Wikipedia pages neutral, well-sourced, and factual. That policy would basically allow large groups of trolls to basically lock that guy, or any other editor who catches onto their monkeyshines, out of certain Wikipedia pages, so that they are free to inject their biases unchecked.

The problem is that not every bad actor is a single person standing behind a single username. Some of them are coordinated groups of anonymous trolls. Giving the trolls an advantage over single people standing behind a single username that they can be held accountable for is a bad, bad move.

If some editor makes 1000 edits to a single page, and they're doing so in bad faith, you have more than enough evidence to prove that. If 100 trolls each make 10 edits to a single page, in bad faith, you can't even prove that they're working together.

> That policy would basically allow large groups of trolls to basically lock that guy,

That. It's not theoretical, it's an existing usage pattern. See "brigading"


If the ability for Wikipedia to have a neutral article on a topic hinges on the existence of a single irreplaceable person with that level of dedication, then I think the right solution is to not have an article on the topic. In general, for a topic area that someone out there cares enough to brigade in the fashion you describe, there surely must also exist a non-obsessive set of users capable of moderating the page without making hundreds of edits per person to it.

> If the ability for Wikipedia to have a neutral article on a topic hinges on the existence of a single irreplaceable person with that level of dedication, then I think the right solution is to not have an article on the topic.

This kills the Wikipedia.

Unsurprisingly, there are orders of magnitude more people on the earth with some sort of agenda to push than there are people who actually care about having an unbiased and comprehensive Wikipedia, such that the good-faith Wikipedians are spread very, very thin. This is a shitty state of affairs, but it would be far, far more shitty for the Wikipedia community to just surrender to the post-truth dystopian future we find ourselves living in.

Why do you think it is more likely that a given obsessive editor is a good-faith Wikipedian who cares about an unbiased and comprehensive encylopedia than an agenda-pusher? My proposal was implicitly based on the opposite assumption, namely, that removing obsessive editors will reduce the agenda-pushing set much more than it will the unbiased encyclopedist set. I think that, considering the real world, this is reasonable: we clearly see many more people dedicating an extreme amount of resources, up to and including their lives, to political causes than to abstract values such as objectivity and the accuracy of the historical record. The example that spawned this discussion certainly seems to involve a highly active editor being driven by a political agenda (do you dispute this?), and this is the case for almost all other instances I am aware of (though of course there is a selection bias here). Do you actually contend that the subject of the opening post has no agenda to push, or do you count him as a force for an unbiased and comprehensive Wikipedia because you think that his agenda is correct?

> My proposal was implicitly based on the opposite assumption, namely, that removing obsessive editors will reduce the agenda-pushing set much more than it will the unbiased encyclopedist set.

Which is the exact opposite of what would happen. It’s trivial to get an internet brigade of trolls to push one particular agenda. It’s easy to incite the Internet outrage machine into an angry mob. And the people who do this don’t play fair; they disappear and reappear under new pseudonyms and IPs, spurn accountability, and burn identities. Making it harder for someone to build a record they can stand behind is the wrong direction.

> we clearly see many more people dedicating an extreme amount of resources, up to and including their lives, to political causes than to abstract values such as objectivity and the accuracy of the historical record

Which is why allowing these mobs to brigade against the rare person who is committed to the unbiased truth is the wrong move.

> The example that spawned this discussion certainly seems to involve a highly active editor being driven by a political agenda (do you dispute this?), and this is the case for almost all other instances I am aware of (though of course there is a selection bias here). Do you actually contend that the subject of the opening post has no agenda to push, or do you count him as a force for an unbiased and comprehensive Wikipedia because you think that his agenda is correct?

I did some research on Phillip Cross above and beyond simply reading OP, because OP is an obvious hit piece and the group of fringe political figures who have seemingly declared war on this guy seem to be vaguely aligned with Russian propaganda operations, and this guy’s edit history, from what I’ve seen, seems to be largely in the direction of removing random vandalism and Russian propaganda from Wikipedia. The only seemingly factual criticism I’ve seen is that this guy seems a little obsessive, which is a fair point if you’re worried about this guy having a well-rounded and fulfilling life, but I trust you’ll understand if I don’t think these people who are butthurt about some obsessive Wikipedia editor deleting their propaganda from Wikipedia are genuinely concerned about his well-being.

"If the ability for Wikipedia to have a neutral article on a topic hinges on the existence of a single irreplaceable person"

i don't think that's been said.

"the right solution is to not have an article on the topic."

false. or i guess we'll exclude most of quantum mechanics and dozens of other things few people are knowledgeable about.

"for a topic area that someone out there cares enough to brigade in the fashion you describe, there surely must also exist a non-obsessive set of users capable of moderating the page without making hundreds of edits per person to it."

maybe, but it doesn't mean they're doing it. as you say, they're non-obsessive.

> i don't think that's been said.

I think it's implied by the phrase "they are free to inject their biases unchecked."

> false. or i guess we'll exclude most of quantum mechanics and dozens of other things few people are knowledgeable about.

Note that I said "neutral article". For articles on esoteric QM topics, it's not like one would expect the existence of a well-organised brigade trying to push an alternative viewpoint at all costs, either.

> a user who has passed some threshold of number of edits to a single article (say 100) would be automatic grounds to block the user from further edits to the article

This would not be without precedent. I was an active Wikipedia editor in 2004-2006, and I recall an editor (later admin), who was otherwise a great contributor and a positive force in the project, who had a seemingly unhealthy obsession with singer Ashlee Simpson. After multiple arbitration proceedings, he was restricted from editing her Wikipedia entry under threat of 24-hour bans for each edit.

Here is the notice of the final arbitration ruling [1], mentioning the prolonged history of the case.

To be fair, it was a different time back then. Not sure if a ruling like that could or would be done today.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2...

There is an unfortunate asymmetry that breaks wikipedia this way which is counter to the asymmetry that makes wikipedia work. Making an article is harder than reverting or deleting it. This asymmetry produces all of the content and stops it from going too pear shaped. The asymmetry of good actors getting annoyed by bad actors and leaving unfortunately swings in the other direction.

We can't just jump to conclusions like this. We can't take a single story about a single bad editor and make blanket rules. You have to take a look at the whole dataset of people who make crusader efforts and then see if there's a pattern.

Even if there is, you then have to ask yourself if it's something that people will just learn and work-around.

I'm not disagreeing Cross was likely a net negative for wikipedia, but gut reactions to a single bad actor don't justify large theoretical changes to a largely-successful system.

> You have to take a look at the whole dataset of people who make crusader efforts and then see if there's a pattern.

You'll never see the whole dataset, and understand exactly the motivation behind every edit. All you can go on is anectodes like this and adjust as you can. Its a social system, not an exact piece of engineering science.

It’s not just this sort of editor who cause problems. There is a class of editor who makes no significant extra content via research or substantially flesh out article but who watch the edits as they come through.

As an example, see the user WWGB - if you review their contribution history you will not see any work done other than “review” the work of others:


Not adjusting your overall rules to the actions of single bad actors can be fatal.

Single bad actors can sometimes wreak utter havoc.

> Not adjusting your overall rules to the actions of single bad actors can be fatal.

Rash and systemic overreactions to bad actors can be fatal.

Also true.

Single bad events are usually how we, as democracies, create new blanket rules. The events have to be bad enough to move people to action, and that normally means something out of the ordinary, which by definition is likely to be singular.

The blanket rules should be made with care, for sure, but your premise is wrong.

The reality fact that it's a common mistake isn't a good reason to keep doing it.

I didn't interpret the premise as it's not possible, I interpreted it as an argument for why blanket rules need considerably more justification.

1800 edits on a single page in only a few years is essentially a sickness. I'm not a doctor, but that should be classified as obsession.

So, here's the Wikipedia page in question: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Galloway

The revision history is interesting to look through as well: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=George_Galloway&o...

Many of Cross's revisions seem to revolve around removing unreliable sources (such as RT and Sputnik), integrating edits such that the verbiage flows better, and so forth. I can't find any edits that he's performed that were out of line.

It's also not especially interesting to have a high number of edits. For example, of Cross's most recent 50 edits, the vast majority are to a single article (which is not the George Galloway biography): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Philip_C...

The more I look into this, the more convinced I am that the bad actor isn't this guy, it's the Russian propaganda network who are mad that he's getting in the way of them using Wikipedia as an outlet.

That’s a very generous interpretation. Usually, when you find something that is not sufficiently well sourced, you add “citation needed” or mention it on the talk page or something. You don’t just delete entire sections that aren’t obvious vandalism.

You generally do on Biographies of Living Persons, particularly when it's controversial political figures and particularly when the material has a source which just happens to be RT

In my opinion, it's only fair to respond to hit pieces with generous interpretations. The internet outrage machine needs more coolant, not less.

That is a good point.

The linked article shows quite a few edits that violate the Biographies of Living Persons policy.

I glanced through it and none of the facts removed seem particularly controversial. The editor simply put the fact back in and replaced the source.

Moreover, wikipedia doesn't ban RT as a source and correctly argues that biased sources can be legitimate if they are correct in context.

It seems these days that simply being an anti-establishment politician of any stripe instantly attracts accusations of Russian conspiracy theories. It's weird.

That was the intent of Russian misinformation campaign; to create an environment where all sides stop trusting each other.

If the intent was to have every idiot seeing Russian conspiracy theories around every corner then mission accomplished I guess.

Maybe they're going for a "boy who cried wolf" dynamic.

If indeed it is one individual. With the intensity of edits it would not be at all surprising if this editor was in fact more than one individual masquerading behind a single account.

What possible benefit would accrue from doing something like that?

Look at who get's the favourable edits, and figure out their agenda?

A stipend for the editor is small change to some of the financial types.

Controlling the narrative through the use of propaganda? Its what governments and spy agencies spend billions of dollars doing, annually, around the world, in every format.

Why would they pretend to be one editor?

To shroud and conceal their motive and activities.

They'd be less noticeable as many accounts, and would get more than one voice in discussions.

And of course if you were orchestrating a shadowy conspiracy to denigrate certain figures on Wikipedia by subtle edits as opposed to an individual with an interest in politics and lot of time on their hands, you probably wouldn't use the same handle to copyedit political bios and vent your opinion on the particular individuals on Twitter...

Why not mouth off on social media? Yes, it draws attention. But it also adds legitimacy to the operation if he is not an individual. If a PR firm is making edits to Wikipedia, they get heavily frowned on. If it appears that an individual is doing it, especially one with a long history of good edits, they will be defended.

I don't have a particularly conspiratorial mind and I prefer coincidence until conspiracy becomes the simpler explanation. Just so it's clear we're not entering the unfundable fantasy realm, PR firms can easily afford a competitive salary for a Wikipedia editor just from one or two clients. As can think-tanks.

I can see how I'd set up and scale up such an operation. I'd keep the one editor to one account for reasons above. I'd probably have them be more like a newspaper editor -- they keep a consistent style across the edits. I'd offload the real work to researchers who dig up sources and to write the bits they want inserted and removed.

Look at the first edits by this account: they're on Jazz musicians and politics, and the political stuff isn't too biased. Eventually the cover of Jazz edits decreases. Maybe he started out as a Wikipedia editor and enjoyed writing so got picked up by one of the many many think-tanks that pay journalism money for advancing what will make their sponsors money. Maybe he's an internet sock-puppet. Snowden revealed that the UK has a unit that engages in such activities. [0]

This very site has not been immune from individuals who work for a very-well-funded, highly-litigious, politically-motivated organization posting op-eds that masquerade as thought-provoking articles. Sometimes they make the front page.

It so happens that one of the few handles that only post articles from there are paid to do so and have re-used a handle that as far as I could tell was only used to ask questions about lipstick on Reddit. It was also her real name and she was confirmed as head of social media at the organisation. This was easy to catch, because the only stuff they posted was from one domain.

Perhaps this is an individual living off passive income with a lot of time on their hands and nothing more they want to do. But perhaps this is somebody being funded for doing what they do.

I am reminded of Poul-Henning Kamp's talk "Operation Orchestra" at Fosdem 2014, in which he humorously outlines how entrenched interests could invade or could have invaded open source [1]

[0] https://theintercept.com/2015/06/22/controversial-gchq-unit-...

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwcl17Q0bpk

Sure, nobody is disputing that PR sources can and do manipulate influential publicly editable media full time. But if you were trying to not draw attention to yourself and maximise the percentage of your time spent on edits that were strategically useful, it'd be hard to come up with a less practical approach than User:PhilipCross

(This is not something I lack knowledge of as a formerly prolific editor of UK politics articles. I reckon at least a quarter of MPs have had their articles edited by themselves or their campaign staff, usually in a very unsophisticated and obvious manner. One obscure elected Member of Parliament's biography appeared to have been mostly written, in good faith, by their partner, and that text was up there for a very long time...)

The irony is that some the figures complaining about User:PhilipCross openly take money for regularly appearing on Russian state media, and yet I still believe their politics isn't shaped by financial incentives.

> The irony is that some the figures complaining about User:PhilipCross openly take money for regularly appearing on Russian state media, and yet I still believe their politics isn't shaped by financial incentives.

Because they are openly taking money. If User:PhilipCross is then it is most certainly not transparent.

Almost everybody you see on TV is being paid by somebody. There is a particularly grating employee of the Institute for Economic Affairs regularly appearing on the UK state and corporate media to talk liberating the taxpayer of the NHS. She's presumably not being paid by the BBC or Sky News, but she is being paid for appearing there by interests that would benefit from what she is advocating.

In this way, we see that the majority people providing their time on TV have an agenda. We don't naturally expect the same of Wikipedia editors, but maybe we should.

True, but my point is that many accounts imply (but don't prove) that there's a concerted effort and organized strategy that is bigger than a one-man operation. And that may be what they want to avoid giving away.

Wikipedia is number one on any Google search, with especially advantageous snippets on every search engine. It it hard coded into things like Siri. It's not hard to imagine the economical value of a bit of inside access to the platform.

There are several types of organizations with a big budget whose job it is to influence public discourse. It wouldn't surprise me if some of them were found to be in control of an editor's account in some way. The easiest way is probably to hire one, but seeing accounts are bought and sold on pretty much every other online service the possibility is there.

You just have to be very careful not to burn them. Sloppiness would probably look like editors working exactly the same hours every day for a decade without ever tiring, vacationing or being sick.

Depends on how you edit. Same with commits in github. If you describe issues very granular and commit for each, you can accumulate a lot of commits each day. Others might only get one a week for the same code produced. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Less like a obsession, more like a paid agenda.

He is discrediting reliable anti-war (i.e. anti-government) news sources.

If you were a bad actor or a member of a group with malicious intent, how could you abuse or circumvent the policy you have just proposed? This editor is either a front or insane, but a hundred edits to an article on the subject of one's own long-term research is totally reasonable. This is why Wikipedia has a manual intervention process for people who appear to be abusing the system.

Okay but I mean in reality everybody has an opinion. In fact the people doing actual edits tend to have stronger opinions than others. My active Wikipedia time is already 10 years ago but the linked page looks like a complete out of hand discussion on Wikipedia discussions page. except that it isn't, it's a lot of stitched together samples from the depths of Wikipedia. Double-checking whether the assertions on the page are correct would take ages.

I still gonna make a small attempt:

- "has written for the Guardian" removed but "broadcasts regularly" kept. I google and: https://www.theguardian.com/profile/piers-robinson 2 articles? Are there more he wrote? Is this considered encyclopaedic knowledge that he wrote 2 articles in the Guardian?

- okay, next point: Eva Bartless. I google and one of the top 3 links goes to Quora: https://www.quora.com/Is-Eva-Bartlett-credible "Bartlett talks figures and proportions, and expands your desk research with facts that she documented as a witness on site. Her stark observations have upset an entire media industry." Answer number 2 is not so negative but at the same way basically stating that there are no super reliable sources for things happening in Syria. Also please check out her Twitter.

- added piece about Vanessa Beeley: please just google: Vanessa Beeley White helmets Twitter . I'm not gonna copy&paste all that stuff into here

I know it sucks to be in such kinds of discussions. But also don't forget what Wikipedia is and what it not is. It is an encyclopaedia, people visiting the website assume they are confronted with peer-reviewed and relevant facts. It's tough but if you can only find a single reliable source for some information, then IMHO it's better to remove that piece from the page.

If you want news, then go to Wiki News. If you want to read about research theories, then go to Wikiversity. Also don't forget that eventhough there are obviously controversial users on the platform, there are mechanisms to protect articles, review them etc.

> Wikipedia would benefit from a policy where a sufficient number of individual complaints against a user who has passed some threshold of number of edits to a single article (say 100) would be automatic grounds to block the user from further edits to the article, regardless of fault

If you haven't yet worked out how that would be abused, think a bit more.

No..if there really is a problem with his edits, there'll be a discussion and he'd be banned from that topic, which does happen (e.g, the top editor to the Donald Trump article also has 1800 edits to it but is indefinitely banned from that topic). That is far better than having this easily abusable system.

The Wikipedia editing process is broken. Wiki-lawyering is used to shut down the collaborative editing process, even when not on political topics often by people who don't know much about the topic that they are editing.

I don't trust Wikipedia content and tend to examine the Talk pages (sometimes even the Talk page histories) on controversial articles.

Wikipedia is useful for looking up technical info that there is no conflict over. It is not a good source for diving into a top-level controversial topic as those articles are long and have many places for people to stump and push for their ideas. The more specific a topic (think, a specific author associated with an ideology vs. the page for the ideology) the better. I think I've just adopted these mental heuristics automatically due to this.

> Wikipedia is useful for looking up technical info that there is no conflict over.

Even this isn't true. As a former contributor to the Linux desktop community, false information about projects and codebases I had runs rampant on Wikipedia. One Wikipedia editor with more time on his hands than any of us [0] devotes his time to maintaining those articles, despite self-admittedly having little topical knowledge [1]. Trying to correct these things quickly caused me to spiral down into edit wars I wasn't that interested in winning, and tomes of naming policy after policy.

To get something incorrect on Wikipedia, you just have to be persistent and cast your WP:NPOV, WP:NOR, WP:DEMOCRACY, etc. spells at the right time. Anybody interested in correcting the record will eventually tire out and have to go back to doing the work...

[0] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:ScotXW [1] https://lists.freedesktop.org/archives/systemd-devel/2013-No...

If it's "rampant" on Wikipedia, you should have no trouble pointing out examples. So, respectfully, I'd ask that to support your argument with evidence, you do that.

I had trouble editing technical topics I was familiar with, too, and found it incredibly aggravating. I'd write demonstrably true, helpful, factual content about something only to have it struck for lack of sourcing.

It took awhile to get through my head the model of the project, which included as a basic premise that I, as an editor, am not a valid source. I came to the project knowing that, of course, but didn't realize viscerally how much of the technical writing I do implicitly relied on my own experience and understanding as a sort of "source".

On articles that WP'ians pay attention to, you won't get away with doing that. You'll have to tie claims to a secondary source (you usually can't just point to source code, because then you're doing interpretation, which is a form of original research) both for the claim itself and, sometimes, for the noteworthiness of the claim.

The best way to metabolize this is to realize that Wikipedia isn't the Hitchhiker's Guide; it's an encyclopedia, which means the project has explicitly opted-in to some limitations as a tradeoff to accomplish other things.

(Some articles also just have possessive editors; there is dysfunction everywhere, and WP is no exception).

I don't remember the exact claims I tried to fight, but let's pick a random diagram from the page I linked: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/Linux_AP...

See if you can spot any inaccuracies. Here are a few:

1. SDL doesn't use libevdev. It uses the kernel ioctls directly: http://hg.libsdl.org/SDL/file/3a50eb90e4b2/src/core/linux/SD...

2. Sockets, netfilter, network protocols are all listed under "everything is a file", but notably, sockets are one of the few places of the UNIX API that isn't a file namespace! Sockets can be files in the case of UNIX domain sockets, but configuring Netfilter goes through NETLINK: http://man7.org/linux/man-pages/man7/netlink.7.html

3. Similarly, the I/O scheduler isn't a file. Admittedly, I don't have a source for this other than the kernel source code itself.

These are nitpicks, yes, but they add up, especially considering the near-100 diagrams this guy has made and cloned all over Wikipedia. When we saw people joining our community and asking questions, this information made them think things were different than they were, and that was frustrating. And yes, I used sources like these when trying to correct this misinformation.

1. You missed a thin red line in the diagram. The diagram is not meant to claim that SDL uses libevdev.

2. Sockets are files. No, they don't have filenames usually, but they do have file descriptors and even inode numbers.

3. The diagram does not imply that the I/O scheduler is a file. The I/O scheduler is listed as a component underlying the listed filesystems.

There are no inaccuracies. That said, the diagram is awful. It is hard to follow (your misinterpretation being a great example) and seems to be a cluttered and incomplete collection of parts.

> 1. You missed a thin red line in the diagram. The diagram is not meant to claim that SDL uses libevdev.

There's an arrow pointing to "SDL input". In theory, it makes sense that libevdev is like libDRM and libasound in being "the officially sanctioned userspace library", but that's not the case -- evdev is much, much older than libevdev and does a lot more than wrap the ioctls.

> 2. Sockets are files. No, they don't have filenames usually, but they do have file descriptors and even inode numbers.

Lots of things have file descriptors and are not files. For instance, eventfd(). Or timerfd(). File descriptors should probably be renamed "kernel object handles". As for inodes, abstract UNIX sockets do not have them. Seriously, have a program make abstract sockets (sun_path should start with '\x00'), then call lsof. The 'inode' field will be 00000000.

There is not an arrow pointing to "SDL input". Look again. :-)


There is an arrow pointing to a large red box that happens to contain libevdev right below the arrow. To see the edge of the box, you may need to scroll right if your browser has a narrow window.

It is a terrible diagram, but it is correct.

In UNIX terminology, anything with a file descriptor is a file. Plan 9 would have a filename, but that is a different OS.

See the man page for stat(1) where you will find S_IFSOCK. The st_mode value is 0140000 for a socket, which is 0xc000 in hex.

I just hacked up the program shown by "man 3 getaddrinfo" to call fstat on the file descriptor and show the results. I get this:

    fd 3 has inode 325043100, mode 140777 0xc1ff, dev 8 rdev 0
That inode number is the one that shows as symlink content in the /proc/*/fd/ directory listing.

Clearly, it works. Sockets do have file descriptors and inode numbers. Inside the kernel, there is even a "struct inode" for each socket.

>2. Sockets are files. No, they don't have filenames usually, but they do have file descriptors and even inode numbers.

I challenge you to create a symbolic link to one. :)

ln -s /proc/`pidof Xorg`/fd/1 here-you-go

Really though, it's the file descriptor that matters. This is the abstraction that lets you do things like pass a socket between different processes in the same way that you'd pass an opened directory between different processes.

The few places where this abstraction is missing are painful. A good example is ptrace. You can't pass a ptrace between processes. Handling it nicely in poll or select isn't easy.

The use of file descriptors might not seem so amazing today, now that Windows has the HANDLE and MacOS X has the Mach port, but it was revolutionary when it was introduced. For about 15 years, it was just a UNIX thing. MS-DOS had separate ways to deal with everything: files, directories, each different vendor's network stack, etc. Every other OS was like that, more or less.

Ah, my memory fails me of the limitation I was running into. IIRC it was passing socket FDs from a process in an ip namespace to a parent process outside of the namespace via a unix domain socket.

You haven't linked to an article, so I don't have the context here. Where is this diagram included?

But I suspect you're running into exactly what I ran into: you're trying to correct a page using yourself as a source. I'm sure you're right (although I think you're nitpicking about the sockets-are-files thing --- not that they are, but rather than I don't think the diagram is making that claim --- it is a _really_ bad diagram though).

It can be easier on WP to strike content from a page (because it is inaccurate) than it is to replace that content.

That's a resource, not a WP page. It has no talk page. I'm trying to get a sense of what the actual argument was.

It's not a good diagram, and its author is clearly trying to attach it in as many prominent places as they can, which is not great. But I still don't know what the actual controversy is.

You can see the "File usage on other wikis" section to see Wikipedia pages in which any commons file is being used. I see a list of couple pages for the particular resource linked there, and verified that the resource exists in those pages.

Right, I'm trying to find where the argument is, and what the rationale was for shooting down the proposed alteration to the diagram.

Here, I'll help (from just googling "Linux API wiki"),

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_kernel_interfaces

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Linux_Programming_Interfac...

Probably a lot more, but can't really reverse image search SVGs.

Or you, and M. Ptacek, can just read the list of pages that use the image that is right there in front of us all on the Wikimedia Commons page that was just pointed to. (-:

Good point :) I assumed it wasn't there, since tptacek seemed proficient in wiki stuff.

> I had trouble editing technical topics I was familiar with, too, and found it incredibly aggravating. I'd write demonstrably true, helpful, factual content about something only to have it struck for lack of sourcing.

> It took awhile to get through my head the model of the project, which included as a basic premise that I, as an editor, am not a valid source.

It seems to me that the correct response to this is to mark the content as needing citations (or to look up the citations oneself), not to knee-jerk delete it every time. Well-cited material is best, but at least for uncontroversial technical subjects, poorly-cited but nonetheless accurate material is a lot better than nothing.

There's another problem I've seen, particularly in non-technical subjects, with information that is so broadly accepted that nobody ever bothers to formally define it, so it's not allowed on Wikipedia. For example, in the fantasy genre, "high fantasy" broadly meant epic, heroic, good-vs-evil stuff (Lord of the Rings) and "low fantasy" broadly meant gritty shades-of-grey stuff (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, Thieves' World, Song of Ice and Fire). The terms were used this way for decades throughout the genre, and were so intuitive that no one needed to explicitly define them.

In 1971, Lloyd Alexander wrote an essay that used "high fantasy" to, roughly, describe fantasy that takes place in an imaginary world, rather than in our own. This usage was never common or influential...until someone wrote a Wikipedia article about it, and used that one source to block any attempts to mention the original definition for many years. Now the "high fantasy" and "low fantasy" articles are conflicting muddles of the two different definitions, and the confusion has inevitably leaked into off-Wikipedia discussion.

> If it's "rampant" on Wikipedia, you should have no trouble pointing out examples. So, respectfully, I'd ask that to support your argument with evidence, you do that.

For example, Bir Tawil is called "a Terra Nullius" on several Wikipedia pages although no scholarly sources support that claim. There are only a few scholarly sources and they come to the conclusion that Bir Tawil can't possibly be Terra Nullius. For example, it is inhabited by nomads while Wikipedia claims it is uninhabited.

However, several news paper sources erroneously claims that Bir Tawil is Terra Nullius, possibly because the journalists read it of Wikipedia. The large number of bad news paper sources trumps the few scholarly sources. Therefore Bir Tawil is, in the minds of most Wikipedians, Terra Nullius. They can't really comprehend that the opinion of one professor in international law completely outweighs the opinion of 100 uninformed journalists. :) Examples like these are everywhere on Wikipedia.

Have you tried changing it based on sources? What the scholars say should be in scientific papers I guess? If it then gets denied you can still start a discussion on the talk page. Couldn't find anything on the talk page or history at first glance that referred to it.

EDIT: the source used for that paragraph is actually not a newspaper article, it appears to be scientific. I don't know much about the topic (and don't have access to that book) but it's not just copied from some newspaper.

There is discussion about it on the talk page. The change request was denied by the "consensus." The source isn't "scientific" but from a book. The book claims that it is "the only place on the planet that is both habitable and unclaimed" - not that it has Terra nullius status.

Scholars generally do not publish scientific articles just to refute misconceptions held by laymen. However, there is a blog post by a law professor correcting this particular misconception.

> (Some articles also just have possessive editors; there is dysfunction everywhere, and WP is no exception).

That's exactly what made me not waste a second thought on Wikipedia after my first attempt to contribute.

A small change, clearly correct, well-sourced with first-rate sources, but unfortunately the guy who made most of tzhe changes to the article over its history cannot stand if someone fixes something in "his" article.

Unless Wikipedia finds a way to "appeal" those decisions in a low-barrier way (maybe introduce "Wiki-lawyers" who know the gigabytes of procedures, rules and obscure Wiki pages where those procedures happen?), Wikipedia will lose both concrete work and also good-will.

I won't ever try again.

Perhaps you should. I've made plenty of edits without problems - maybe you just had one unlucky experience.

Well-stated and accurate. In this case, the editor in question seems to 1. have lots of time; 2. relish a) removing already-contributed material s/he doesn't like (always subject to that action if not adequately-cited), and b) adding cites to material s/he does like.

IF this person is busy taking the 'N' out of NPOV all over the place - as the article claims - that ought to be obvious to the WP 'court'. In which case, a 6 month suspension for abuse seems appropriate. Further abuse means s/he'll have to find a new IP to abuse from. Rinse and repeat.

you should have no trouble pointing out examples.

There are really entire broad topics that are bad. Lots of maths pages are horrible and un-encyclopedic.

As a stumbling late-in-life math learner and thus reluctant frequent consumer of Wikipedia maths articles, I couldn't agree more. But I'm looking for patterns of editors working to keep topics bad, not just examples of where WP isn't good yet.

WP's coverage of computer security topics is generally quite bad. Also: the WP process prevents them from getting better as fast as they could; that's the conclusion I came to after spending several months trying to work on them. I was unhappy about this at first, but I gradually came around to the conclusion that what was making topics hard to improve for me was also what was making the whole project work at all, and it's just fine if WP doesn't have great security coverage yet.

I'm interested if you think that's a crazy perspective.

Making things harder to change simply increases the costs of change. People with the most time to spend end up winning the war. If that's well correlated with the truth, that's ok. In politics, though, it's rather less likely.

So yes, I think your perspective is naive.

That sounds completely sane to me. Information security is a young, rapidly evoloving, technically deep, highly interdisciplinary field. It regularly reaches into people's everyday lives, into popular culture, politics, law, commerce, you name it. It makes sense that an open process for collaboratively making an encyclopedia would be lousy at capturing all that well and I agree with you that, while suboptimal, that's fine and that it will likely eventually get better.

Maths, on the other hand, is the OG field of abstract human knowledge. The study of how to communicate it, its history, its philosophy, a number of its key applications are all serious fields in their own right. WP's terribleness at it makes no sense to me at all. It's totally not-fine that it's produced jiggabytes of material that's worse-than-useless to interested non-specialists and adult learners - the supposed primary audience of an encyclopedia. It feels like some sort of massive sytemic failure but I have no idea or hypothesis why it's turned out that way, maybe you do?

But they're often still better than other freely available resources. Math errors are probably a result of the editor not knowing it correctly, not malice. Have you tried correcting the ones you found?

I find math on Wikipedia really hard to get right. If you want to express it completely accurate, many people with little knowledge of the domain won't understand it. If you want to make it accessible, you often need to make some compromise. For someone looking up a simple fact or theorem, having a simple description can be best, even if it's not strictly correct.

But they're often still better than other freely available resources.

I don't think that's the case at all.

As examples I've encountered, virtually anything touching on the Kochs, Koch Industries, the Koch foundations (and other "charitable" organisations), or their interests, particularly global warming topics, and most especiaally their stable of denialists.

It's not that valid and truthful information cannot be added, but it runs a fearsome gauntlet of protectors.

I'm sure other people feel likewise, like so:

As examples I've encountered, virtually anything touching on Soros, Open Society Foundations, Clinton Foundation, The Climate Reality Project (and other "charitable" organisations), or their interests, particularly global warming topics, and most especiaally their stable of alarmists.

It's not that valid and truthful information cannot be added, but it runs a fearsome gauntlet of protectors.

Imagine being in their shoes.

The same was true for technical articles on databases. Just factually incorrect information, and lots of marketing. Tried to fix it, but there were a few people more devoted than I was, and it became too much of an effort to play the revert/lawyer game just to get consistent articles with similar information across all databases.

Another example of problematic diagrams in the computing field is the one for systemd. It took me citing one of the systemd developers to point out that it was not in fact an accurate diagram.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Systemd&diff=6311...

I observe that this was again that account that you mention, in 2013 taking someone else's work off another WWW site without attributing the creator (or indeed any indication on that other WWW site, that has no free copyright licence that I can find, that the original diagram was freely licensed by that creator and usable on Wikipedia in the first place), taking it out of its original context, and falsely marking as "own work".

That account maintains a personal version of the article still calling it "The entire systemd software bundle and its components".

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:ScotXW/systemd#Components...

This is pretty much the same heuristic I use. I use Wikipedia a lot for obscure medievalist history topics, and those articles are usually very high-quality. But if you wander into a modern-day controversial topic, like "Palestine", it's going to be quite messy. You can even smell from the way an article is written that there's some trouble brewing in the Talk page.

What is a good source for authoritative content on controversial issues?

Brilliant :)

Controversial material is difficult to address in any epistemic system, and is frequently poorly covered.

If you subscribe to criticisms of establishment ideology, and some of those have merit, there is a pervasive bias against numerous valid, credible, or meritorious viewpoints, contributions, contributors, and voices.

(There is also a great deal of quite valid rejection of flat-out bullshit.)

One can easily find numerous instances of this. An example from my present reading, H.A. Guerber's 1906 anthology The Myths of Ancient Greece and Rome, specifically notes in the preface, "great care being taken, however, to avoid the more repulsive features of heathen mythology".

Earlier enyclopedias either explicitly followed institutional gospel, or faced censure and criticism for failing to do so.

Another instance of which I'm aware, having run aacross it myself, comes from the 1874 Chamber's Encyclopedia, a British work with an authorised American edition ... to which some changes were made. The British publishers took umbrage:

In the interests of literature, and in defence of their rights as authors, Messrs Chambers have to make the following Satement regarding an American edition of their Encyclopaedia:

By an arrangement with Messrs Lippencott of Philadelphia, they were furnished with duplicate stereotype plates of the work, in order that it might be simultaneously printed and issued in the United States. After a time, the American publishers began to make extensive alterations to the articles, a thing which had not been contemplated in the agreement. Had the alterations been confined to bringing the information up to a more recent date, or correcting errors of fact, nothing need have been said about it. But it is a serious matter when, in a re-issue of a work, statements and opinions are introduced which are repudiated and hateful to the original proprietors, their name all the while appearing on the title-page. That Messrs Chambers have reason to complain of being placed in this unpleasant and false position by the American edition of their Encyclopaedia, will admittedly by any one who will look at the following alterations, selected from a number that could be noted....

Among the contested entries, free trade:

Free Trade (Original Edition). 'This term, when used so late as twenty years ago, expressed a diputed proposition, and was the badge of a political party; it now expresses the most important and fundamental truth in political economy. From its simplicity, it affords, to those who expect to make political economy an exact science, the hope that they have obtained an axiom. But it has in reality been established as the result of a double experience --- the one being the failure of all deviations from it, the other being the practical success of the principle during the short period in which it has been permitted to regulated the commerce of the country.'

And how might one possibly offend? Oh...

Free Trade (American Edition), 'a dogma of modern growth, industriously taught by British manufacturers and their commercial agents. For many years certain political economists have laboured to establish this theory upon a reliable basis, and have asserted that the doctrine represents an important truth; but no nation has attained substantial prosperity except by protection to native industry, whether avowed or disavowed. The doctrine had no foothold in the policy of any nation, and had no legislative birth until put forth by Sir R. Peel in 1846....

Also Protection, Slavery, and:

[A] slanderous imputation concerning His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, which we should be ashamed to copy.



The best part of a Wikipedia article is where it links to external resources and gives you links/DOIs.

Not always. Again an example from the computing field. All hyperlinks from the article on the Single Unix Specification to the actual texts of the various versions of that Specification were removed by an account named Stesmo in 2017.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Single_UNIX_Speci...

Where would one go to dive into a top-level controversial topic? Outside of doing the research oneself or having a organization which is explicit nonpartisan with the goal of unbiased reporting (ie fact checking sites), what options are left beside Wikipedia?

There are many options. Off the top of my head, here are a few:

Major non-partisan news organizations. Generally, their news is relatively unbiased; editorials are meant to be biased, of course. Search their news archives.

Major non-partisan think tanks can be fantastic sources, but be a bit careful about their funding.

Encyclopedia Britannica is excellent, with articles generally written by domain experts. Coverage isn't nearly as broad as Wikipedia, but otherwise it's a great first stop for most topics. They let you read a few free articles, but don't hesitate to pay for quality information.

Review articles in academic journals: An expert reviews the state of the literature. Search Google Scholar.

University libraries often have fantastic study guides online, written by experts in their fields.

Many academic fields have excellent online resources and aggregations. In philosophy (extending into the philosophical aspects of math, humanities, and more), the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. For the academic study of the Judeo-Christian Bible, there is Oxford Biblical Studies Online: for Islam, there is Oxford Islamic Studies Online. And professors often put together ad-hoc websites.

> non-partisan news organizations. Generally, their news is relatively unbiased;

One has to be very careful about who their readership are and whom the journalist cater to in their writing. For example we had this study done for reporting on the 2016 election and its only a small selection in green that indicate nonpartisan target audience: http://wilkins.law.harvard.edu/projects/2017-08_mediacloud/G... It should be noted that the map do not show official endorsements which some of the green marked organization (or owners) made.

We also have the classic "Who reads the papers?" from Yes, Prime Minister. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGscoaUWW2M) Its a joke of course but one that rings quite true for a lot of people. The audience influence the paper which in turn incentives the writers to cater to the existing audience. Online advertisement is exceptional strong in this where the effect can be felt continuously with instant feedback.

Encyclopedias are fun. One on side of the family I have academic ancestors who had two really old sets from around world war 1 and before. Amazing read, especially if you look up political topics. Occasional I read it just for the culture difference. Domain experts can be rather "colored" by their time, and its difficult argument to make that today Encyclopedia Britannica is enlighten and correct but 100 years ago they paid biased and blind experts.

Which leaves doing the work oneself and make original meta research by seeking out studies, academic journals and papers. That is the proper way to do it if one has the time and energy.

There are no perfect solutions, but dismissing all of them because they are imperfect (or mocking them as 'fun' and outdated) is a failure of thinking. Everyone's code is imperfect and has bugs, but that doesn't mean we should dismiss all code as unreliable. The reality is that some things are much more reliable than others, and critical thought is required to distinguish between them.

> doing the work oneself and make original meta research

It's extremely inefficient, and often impossible to do without domain expertise. Also, there's no reason to think that you are less biased than others.

This then returns us back full circle. If we have to deal with imperfect, unreliable, potential (or even very likely) biased writing that require critical thought to distinguish bias, then where does Wikipedia fit if we order things by reliability.

Studies has been done. Wikipedia has a page on it with a long list of cited studies (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia).

I would really enjoy seeing a study done on the 2016 election and see where wikipedia would land. My own view is that the order is something like social media < news < wikipedia < fact checking sites when ordering from least reliable to most reliable. Others might have a different personal view, but it is all good so long we all agree that A) critical thought is required for all reading in regard to controversial topics, and B) there are no perfect solutions.

> My own view is ... Others might have a different personal view, but it is all good so long we all agree that A) critical thought is required for all reading in regard to controversial topics, and B) there are no perfect solutions.

I strongly disagree with the premise that every analysis - i.e., every personal view - is fundamentally equally accurate or worthy. That goes against critical thought and reason. A major point of the Enlightenment is that through reason, we can distinguish good from bad, accurate from false. You have a right to your own opinion, but that doesn't make it right. Also, you don't have a right to your own facts.

Personal views are established by prior knowledge, experience, established facts and consensus. Indeed they are not all equal as when there is a conflict then views get valued based on the support the proponent has in their view.

News sites has several reason for bias. The most obvious one is when the owner or company has a official political endorsement and that spend money as part of a commercial venture on a political candidate. I will propose that common sense says that this is a prime indicator of bias for a specific political outcome, and data research (I will not cite sources because that would make a already long comment significant longer to write) on articles published shows a clear statistical differences in the substance of those articles compared to news sites of opposing political stance. News site also has an incentive to cater to existing audience and market share. Competition in news is harsh and giving up one audience for an other is an economic risk. Advertisement is also targeted and is more economical if the intended audience is reached. There is usually also a correlation between views heuristics and hiring (contractor vs permanent staff), wage negotiations, and internal promotions which again incentivize journalists to strategies for maximized views, usually through existing audience since getting outside audience is seen as harder than an already captured one.

For Wikipedia the bias is different. There is malice out of fun and fame. There are crowds that can gang up on a issue. There is local politics inside the circle of long term editors.

Comparing the two is hard which is why the best bet is usually to look to third-party researchers who try to measure correctness and bias. We could try to reason between ourself to distinguish which should have a bigger impact, through this will be a very subjective approach and it depend on both participants to have good intentions and willingness to find common ground. Online forums have a bad reputation for such conversation, through occasionally it does work.

If it's a philosophical topic, try starting with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

If it's a scholarly topic that lends itself to testable predictions, use Google Scholar to search for highly cited and/or recent review articles, and read on sci-hub if the article isn't already open access.

If it's highly controversial and not particularly testable, then I recommend A) prepare yourself to consume a lot of primary sources and make difficult judgments on your own and B) prepare yourself to live with the problem not feeling satisfactorily resolved even if you do A for a long time.

Seems like a good case for a Wikipedia reader/plugin that indicates the level of controversy/abuse going on in an article. As a bystander, I get the impression the management/senior editors are not at all interested in such a feature.

> The Wikipedia editing process is broken

It is broken, in my opinion, because people in charge insist that it is not (and should not be) a democracy.

So in the end, there is no clear understanding who is in charge, and you get people who invest lot of time and get implicit power.

Democracy is a principle which, for all its failings, is there to protect interests of people who can't or don't want to fight for power full-time. Because we say, here we are being treated as equal. By explicitly setting the power that people have, democracy makes attaining implicit power somewhat pointless.

Therefore, democracy is in the interest of people who want to get job done and not get so much involved in politics.

I've interacted with Philip Cross many times (UK politics Wikipedia is a very small place) and found him perfectly reasonable and his edits usually well justified.

Needless to say, an anonymous critic launching a campaign complete with website and Twitter account against him for allegedly being unfair to conspiracy-mongering figures like Craig Murray and George Galloway and genocide denial specialist Neil Clark and too nice to two Jewish journalists (one considerably more outspokenly pro-Israel than the other) isn't about to change my mind...

Why don't you engage with the substance of the criticism rather than who's made it. He's made over a hundred thousand edits on Wikipedia in almost 15 years. I'm sure some of them are well justified. We're highlighting the ones that aren't and in which he has a serious conflict of interest.

To be brutally honest, the fact he's made over a hundred thousand edits on Wikipedia and the examples you choose to highlight of alleged bias include following WP policies and removing an unsourced claim about a libel suit from a biography underlies the fact that beyond Galloway et al moaning about it and Murray actually suggesting he's part of a government ' “cyber-war” op aiming to defend the “official” narrative against alternative news media', there's not a terrible amount of substance to the criticism. I'm pretty sure I've sided against him (and many other editors) in talk page disagreements over more substantial issues of possible bias than that. Similarly the screenshot suggesting that despite obviously politically disagreeing with them he apparently contributed the majority of the very fair and balanced introduction to the MediaLens article would be a point in his favour for anyone interested in the substance of the encyclopedia rather than going down the Murray rabbit hole . Admiring a figure is not a prerequisite for writing articles on them.

Sure, he has political opinions and wears them on his sleeve, but that applies to pretty much everybody else involved in political Wikipedia.

Admiring a figure is not a prerequisite for writing articles on them... Sure, he has political opinions and wears them on his sleeve, but that applies to pretty much everybody else involved in political Wikipedia.

Who said you have to admire them? He's openly hostile toward them and taunts them on Twitter. Then makes blatantly unfair edits as we've shown. Remember, we're not talking about posting your political views on your blog. This is supposed to be an encyclopedia.

I'm pretty sure the set of people who (i) know about and (ii) are neutrally disposed towards most of the political figures highlighted here is an empty one (maybe one can feel neutral towards Kamm, whose foreign policy views in the early 2000s were very wrong but I've never felt to have behaved in a particularly loathsome manner). And it's perfectly possible to contribute in a dispassionate manner about people and organizations you fundamentally dislike, as funnily enough the diff of the MediaLens article linked in the OP appears to offer evidence for...

Traditionally, Wikipedia's approach to "unfair edits" is to make a case for their reverting on the talk page, not to offer rewards for doxxing the responsible editors, launch campaign websites against them and blog about how it's likely he's part of '"cyber-war” ops aiming to defend the “official” narrative against alternative news media' and Jimmy Wales is implicated too...

(I'm not exaggerating: here's Craig Murray's take on the same thing. https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/05/the-philip-c... I could insinuate that "fivefilters" must surely be part of some shadowy organization coordinating to release information hostile to Philip Cross, but I live in the real world where sometimes people have common political views and wish to share their take on things they read online...)

I'm really not sure where you're going with all this.

We haven't offered rewards for doxxing anyone. We've written an article highlighting a problem with a particular editor's behaviour on Wikipedia where he has a conflict of interest and Wikipedia is refusing to act. You seem to be talking about anything and everything except this.

George Galloway offered the reward, according to RT in the article posted above (and various other sources generally supportive of Galloway). That's... not usual behaviour.

And as I pointed out above, having a negative opinion of a subject is not a "conflict of interest", and several of the diffs, of literally thousands you could have chosen, are entirely unobjectionable. I even pointed out one above was actually removing something editors are required to remove according to Wikipedia policy. I'd expect the ratio to look rather different if he was a disruptive or agenda-driven editor, as opposed to one whose choice of commentary to include I don't always agree with. If the real interest was in the edits as opposed to promoting conspiracy theories about Wikipedia colluding with conflicted editors to damage the good name of Messrs Murray and Galloway, presumably people would be devoting their time to reasoned explanations of why X is important or Y is irrelevant in talk page discussions on article wording rather than inviting people to astroturf HN as part of their #ditchwikipedia campaign instead... https://twitter.com/newsyc50/status/997927206167941120

George Galloway offered the reward

Well, we're not George Galloway.

If the real interest was in the edits as opposed to promoting conspiracy theories about Wikipedia colluding with conflicted editors to damage the good name of Messrs Murray and Galloway, presumably people would be devoting their time to reasoned explanations of why X is important or Y is irrelevant in talk page discussions on article wording

I'll just repeat what I said in another comment here:

What it seems you're suggesting is that those unfairly targeted on Wikipedia, as Cross is doing, should learn the labyrinthine processes Wikipedia expects to correct their entries. And then presumably to put in the same amount of time Cross is putting in (hours and hours on weekdays and weekends) to monitor their pages for more abuses from him.

Should we not be more concerned about blocking those who are clearly in the wrong here?

If there's an editorial dispute, please solve it in an editorial manner. Editors opposing Cross on Wikipedia have shown prior bad-faith activity. For example, User:Leftworks1 created over a dozen sockpuppets (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Sockpuppet_investiga...) to push their viewpoint, only to get smacked by several editors including Cross repeatedly.

If there's a real editorial dispute - if anyone wanting to "correct" the bias on the articles is actively doing that, with reputable sources, and getting smacked down, then you can bring that to dispute resolution (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Dispute_resolution) and come to consensus. But yelling about Wikipedia being broken or unfairly targeting people is just bunk until you've worked through the process.

In case you think this is me telling you to submit to the bureaucracy - that's exactly what I'm suggesting. If you have a dispute in the real world, you would go to the courts and use the legal system, not just yell about it endlessly to passersby.

You might want to read Leftworks' response to you here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17162387

You have much more faith in the Wikipedia process than I do. Please read our update which highlights how a certain admin has tried to shut down debate around this from the beginning: http://wikipedia.fivefilters.org/agenda.html

It's only finally now being debated thanks to lots of people "yelling" about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests...

I'm far from the biggest fan of Wikipedia's jargon or bureaucracy, but if there is a specific false or objectionable claim on a page it's generally a lot less time-consuming and more productive to remove it, explain why it was removed and then watch the page for future updates than spend hours searching through the responsible editor's social media accounts and then launch a campaign to ban him through multiple social media channels...

If someone is persistently editing unfairly, has a conflict of interest with many of the people he edits, you think the best thing is just to let this continue and try to put in as much time as he's putting in to watch for and challenge bad edits? Don't agree.

In my experience contentious articles are often locked for edits from the general public, require approval, or in case they are not, your edits are reverted 10 minutes later.

There is really nothing to do. Depute resolution only mentioned the damage it has done to their already besmirched reputation, Cross blanked his talk page, ( you can read all his comments and controversy in the view history, but ... get this, and this is funny, he was awarded TWO, count them TWO barn stars. He wins, Wikipedia looses, everyone looses.

"the Cross-Galloway fracas is spreading from Twitter, and threatens to damage the credibility of Wikipedia in the public eye." They are worried, but still. Nothing has been done:

"On May 14, 2018, Philip Cross acknowledged George Galloway as one of "the goons" with whom he is feuding, and 41 minutes later admitted, "Well I have a big COI now, so I probably won't edit their articles very much in future." Nevertheless, four days later, Cross has again edited this BLP."

I do not have to make any of this up.

Has anyone involved in the articles actually attempted to engage Wikipedia's normal dispute resolution procedures? I see one editor who reached out to CoI, but this editor is not actually involved in the articles.

There is no He. It is them. "He" has made edits every single day in more than 1700 days. It is clearly a group.

There are far more productive Wikipedians (Cross is 308th) who are easily attributable to individuals. 30 edits a day is literally nothing - Cross probably has WP open in a tab at work and checks it like email. Someone makes a negative change to a page he's watching, and he reverts. Easy way to rack up hundreds of edits in a week. (Source: I used to do exactly this for about a year).

He's also one of the people that often posts a separate edit for almost every sentence he copy edits, which results in long strings of edits of a page over the space of an hour, when someone else with a similar amount of time on his hands might just rewrite the whole section or page, and pastes infoboxes into lots of articles he thinks its relevant for. This whole thing is reminding me of just how time consuming that was...

Of course, there theoretically could be a team being paid by number of edits to films and jazz musicians to distract from their real agenda to discredit people already enjoying roughly the same reputation as Lyndon LaRouche within the British political sphere. Some people are paid to post to social media.

Equally, if anyone can be bothered looking at the diffs of the allegedly offensive edits it could be that he's a guy whose Wikipedia obsession goes further than most and has a watchlist set up on pages he's edited and a set of brand new accounts edit warring the same unsourced claim about a Guardian journalist's beef with a Russia Today journalist into an article are the organised, if not necessarily paid, group...

It just seems like this guy is one of the more benign power editors if that's the worst that can be found among the thousand of edits. I think his bias might be overstated due to the fact that it's right leaning bias.

However there are also editors such as Volunteer_Marek that I see in almost every political or current event topic inducing a heavy left leaning bias. These bias in these edits are much more extreme and unrestrained.


I really am more concerned with the threat to call him out. While I may not agree with all his actions this idea that we can strip someone of the anonymity that makes wikipedia great because we don't agree with him is something we should all stand against. if you have to ask why, then it is as simple as understanding that yourself or editors you do like could find themselves silenced because it will bring threats

Do you seriously think Philip Cross is an actual individual ? Personally I think it a plainly obvious that it is well organised, probably well funded PR operation. Which is perfectly fine by me (I'm certainly not as naive as to think that such things are not happening for years).

What is IMHO more worrying is the apparent collusion of Wikipedia, as an organisation, with those people. M. Wales is entitled to his political opinions and water works for stuffing his wallet, but he is also walking a very very fine line...

well, I'm grateful for some of the sense in this forum. i know PC and he's one. that's it - the end of the story. but some of these twitter and blog trolls don't care about real-life consequences. I agree with Shivetya that protecting the right to anonymity - particularly in thsi vile manhunt - should be paramount. i think PC is probably experiencing a lot of stress and would welcome some more solidarity around this. twitter has been rife with speculation, people post addresses on forums, someone even posted a death threat on craig murrays blog in the comments today... i mean , come on... anyone got any suggestiosn how to handle this and de-escalate? it seems totally unwarranted (as you say, he's prolific but not even in the top 300), and is getting really serious... :(


"Anti-war" doesn't sound like a particularly descriptive adjective for the apparent targets here. They are not anti-war campaigners per se, they seem to be sitting in the Russia-sympathetic zone of discourse. I'm not saying that to discredit them (I might, but I won't), but calling them anti-war rather obscures the problems people might have with them.

That doesn't mean that a "one-man" effort to shepherd their Wikipedia entries isn't notable or concerning but let's not pretend these guys are pacifists.

The strongest people Russia can leverage are those with genuine positions independent of Russia, because reflexive apologists are easy to dismiss.

You haven't supported your position that these guys are not pacifists.

I rather see them as pointing out hypocrisy, necessary to avoid the groupthink that forms around national interests - the set of positions that all sides of mainstream politics in a nation hold for reasons of self-interest, rather than truth or ethics.

George Galloway is primarily a contrarian, and actively supported Saddam Hussein. I'm not sure he'd recognise a genuine position if he fell over it in the street.

Neil Clark is a genocide denier: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/feb/12/warcrimes.comm...

There's a real problem with people who (correctly) spot that Western governments are lying about certain things, and then infer that (a) they're lying about everthing else and (b) non-western governments aren't worse liars.

> actively supported Saddam Hussein

I find Galloway unbelievably annoying, but is this just (Tory/New Labour) for being anti-Iraq War? Because it certainly was in the US.

I was trying to use "actively" to express that his support went beyond merely opposing the war; the details are complicated, lengthy and the subject of numerous court actions, but here's a sample: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4016803.stm

I'm not sure if whether it's Russia has anything to do with it. The point is that objective truth requires moving above tribalist mentality, clearly cross failed to do that. Dragging Russia into this is also failing to rise above tribalist mentality.

The fact that this "article" was published on a site that appears to have no other purpose other than advertising some RSS tool and who has a Twitter account that seems to be almost entirely dedicated to pushing this one story is an objective truth.

Their other Twitter activity is mostly from an anti-western perspective with a lot of pro-Assad, pro-Iran, pro-Wikileaks, pro-Corbyn, and a handful of straight pro-Putin messages. I'm not giving an opinion, just stating the objective truth (I can link exact Tweets if you'd like).

This article also mirrors pieces being shared predominately on pro-Putin outlets like Sputnik and RT.

So the fact that some of the targets in this seem to be pro-Russia isn't entirely a non-point when trying to evaluate the full picture of this situation and the motivation of the different parties involved.

The question at hand is whether Cross is editing wikipedia beneficially. You instead focus on the political views of the website that published this piece, which is irrelevant, and also creates a distracting us/them mentality. None of which has any bearing on whether Cross is editing wikipedia beneficially.

If you think the piece is unfairly critical, then dispute the facts of the case (the merits of the edits he made) rather than the character of the speaker.

I think the editor may have been trolling these people, yes, and the people offended should escalate the issue. But so far that's been Wikipedia's response so I don't see any wrong-doing from their behalf. Just from one editor.

But instead of going through the proper channels and attempting to resolve this within the Wikipedia protocols these people seem to be launching a campaign against Wikipedia which, in my opinion, borders on propaganda.

Some of the debate here was also over a subjective accusation that the targets were "anti-war" when in reality the commonality seemed to have been pro-Putin. That distinction also stinks of propaganda. Again, just my opinion.

This seems closer to the truth, otherwise why sputnik and rt would care.

These notable persons (Craig Murray, David Edwards, George Galloway etc) who are reporting their personal biographies being edited unfairly on Wikipedia, are in fact well known as prominent humanitarian and anti-war activists and writers.

For strategic reasons at least -- Russia's foreign commercial news stations are also of late "sympathetic" to anti-war and progressive themes (such as arms reduction and peaceful conflict resolution). Opinions may differ here about the nature of Russia's support for those subjects, but that is a very orthogonal concern.

I don't know of any substantiated connections between the persons involved here and the Russian government or media. They certainly are "anti war" in the popular sense of the term.

Galloway, a humanitarian? Hahahaha.

This is what Galloway said to Saddam Hussain: "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem."

That isn't in the spirit of hacker news discussion. That quote has a context and we shouldn't single one of the concerned notable persons out to judge them all. Galloway organised the Iraqi Oil for food program to try to relieve the population suffering extreme infant mortality under international sanctions, and he was a UK Parliamentarian and major figure in UKs Stop the War campaign and others.

I googled Galloway and he has young Stalin on his twitter profile pic. Never before had Stirlitz been so close to failure.

Sure Galloway has a soft spot for Stalin - obviously he considers him misunderstood - history written by the victors and all that. I wouldn't know. But the issue here is how does such an eccentricity significantly connect him to the modern Russian government or media? And also the others, as is being suggested - as a group.

I'm not sure how "having a soft spot" for one of the most notorious mass-murdering warmongers of the 20th century makes someone "anti-war".

Like I said, there may or not be a reasoned historical debate behind it I dont know. He is known as an anti war campaigner, because he has been a prominent campaigner against military aggression in our time.

Even his staunchest defenders would be forced to admit his campaigns against military aggression are selective and more influenced by a continuation of Cold War "anti-imperialist" realpolitik than actual pacifism. He's been outspokenly supportive of Russian involvement in Syria, and he was the member of the anti-war campaign over Iraq that achieved notoriety by calling for Arab armies to join the Iraqi "martyrs" in fighting Western forces rather than the more mainstream position of advocating a cessation of hostilities altogether...

I think he is most "influenced" by the thought of lasting international peace and security for everyone, and perhaps justice too, though I fear that is most difficult of conditions to resolve.

Would that Russia critics could admit their involvement in Syria has been hugely stabilizing to a situation which almost fell into the hell which Libya was thrown into by air strikes...

I prefer to judge him by what he actually does and says (and he's an unusually eloquent speaker and persistent campaigner rather than some gaffe-prone blunderer) and not than some Platonic ideal of what he actually might represent.

We're talking about someone that agitates against any form of air strikes by the West for months, then when Russia announces plans to launch air strikes against exactly the same target, gushes that it's going to be a Stalingrad-like triumph over fascism all over again. We're talking about somebody who highlighted Saddam Hussein's human rights abuses right up to the point where the West decided he was actually more of a threat to regional stability than Iran and forcibly ejected him from the neighbouring country he invaded, at which point George started meeting people who were naming their sons Saddam and felt obliged to fly to Iraq after the war to salute Saddam's indefatigability and wish him future victories in person and deliver deputy the writings of Sun Tzu to advise them on "patriotic resistance" against any future threats. And we're talking about somebody who goes off the fairly coherent and very widely-supported anti-war campaign script in 2001 to call upon Arab armies to join the Iraqi "martyrs" in rising up against the West in Iraq. If all this is in the name of "long lasting international peace and security for everyone" as opposed to because he really, really wants to see non-Western forces prevail on the battlefield, it's difficult to see exactly how....

I try to look deeper than just Western and non-Western forces.

I believe Galloway and all the people concerned here do sue for peace given any fair prospect of it and recall Galloway was active against Apartheid in South Africa. Craig Murray was too even while he was a british civil servant under Thatchers government at the time (who considered the ANC simply a terrorist organisation).

Regardless of the summary of George Galloway, Craig Murray, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, David Edwards etc. that you would put up for debate, and of these suspicions of extra-national interest suggested here as "realpolitik" and "zone of sympathy" -- the persons own wikipedia bios should be technically even handed if not charitable, so that the Wikipedia reader (and supporter) doesn't have to fill in a case for the defence or the prosecution themselves to achieve balance.

There's a long, dark history of Anglo-American "anti-war" campaigners being nothing more than sympathizers to the enemies of those countries. Orwell had these people's number in 1945 (https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwel...):


The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to the taking of life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of the western countries. The Russians, unlike the British, are not blamed for defending themselves by warlike means, and indeed all pacifist propaganda of this type avoids mention of Russia or China. It is not claimed, again, that the Indians should abjure violence in their struggle against the British. Pacifist literature abounds with equivocal remarks which, if they mean anything, appear to mean that statesmen of the type of Hitler are preferable to those of the type of Churchill, and that violence is perhaps excusable if it is violent enough. After the fall of France, the French pacifists, faced by a real choice which their English colleagues have not had to make, mostly went over to the Nazis, and in England there appears to have been some small overlap of membership between the Peace Pledge Union and the Blackshirts. Pacifist writers have written in praise of Carlyle, one of the intellectual fathers of Fascism. All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty. The mistake was made of pinning this emotion to Hitler, but it could easily be retransferred.


60 years later, and "pacifists" like Galloway evidently have no problem pinning that emotion onto butchers like Stalin, Putin, and Assad.

I'm not British and I don't have a horse in this race; I don't really know who Galloway is and from what I've heard, I don't care to. But the evidence presented in this thread certainly presents as symptoms of Orwell's diagnosis.

Both can be true. After all, humans are a contradictory mess.

Hitler for instance saw to animal welfare [0] while also perpetrating ethnic cleansing.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_welfare_in_Nazi_Germany

Yep, they are very pro-war when as long as it waged by Assad and his allies.

> "Anti-war" doesn't sound like a particularly descriptive adjective for the apparent targets here. They are not anti-war campaigners per se, they seem to be sitting in the Russia-sympathetic zone of discourse.

No. Please, everybody stop with this Russia nonsense. Russia has become the bogeyman to which every evil and its opposite can be attributed, included the election of a US president that the US citizens voted themselves, and of which on average are pretty satisfied, I'm afraid.

Some of the people mentioned in this story as targets of Philip Cross have been questioning the West's alliances and wars- and the narrative that enabled them- for decades. Since a couple of years, Russia seems to be openly, and somehow aggressively (from an information point of view) doing the same. So in case it's Russia that aligned with them.

It's not nonsense. Russia is waging a propaganda war in the west. Results are clearly visible in the last 5 years or so.

Even in my country that was occupied by USSR at one time, there are now very vocal pro-russian agenda voices, especially on social media, news comment sections and or alt-news websites. It's ridiculous.

And what's this website anyway? Someone created an anonymous website to spread some onesided info about a feud with some wikipedia editor he doesn't like.

Out of curiosity, I looked up Galloway. He isn't really serious about what he writes about UK/US/Syria. Just filter his twitter for syria keyword. It's all just some one-sided polemic, often based on leading questions. It's not even reporting. He comes of as some kind of misinformed activist with non-obvious agenda.

Anti-war? That surely must be a joke. He has 151k tweets and barely mentions destruction of Raqqa by US air campaign that was going on for 5 months. He mentions Kobani, another city US bombed and shelled to the ground, precisely once - to send people to RT/Sputnik for info about that. All these things and others were significantly more influential actions by the US war machine in the region, and incomparably more deadly and injurious to innocents. He's not even anti-US/UK war machine, consistently.

Yet US does some token attack on Assad's infrastructure, and he spreads alarmist nonsense for days, even insinuating that he might be killed by UK government. I don't get him. Perhaps he's just trying to look certain way to UK citizens, and it's all just posturing/signalling.

He didn't even mention any of the Assads war crimes, or what he did to fuel instability and war in the region. No mention out of 151k tweets. That's anti war?

So, you looked up a politician you've never heard of before, that's been in politics for 30 years, and filtered on his tweets to see if it fits what you own definition of "anti-war" is? Maybe you want to contact him and tell him what he should be talking about and how, to fit your own ideas? I warn you that he's a blistering debater. You can have a taste of his ability in this hearing at the US Senate 13 years ago, when he defended himself from the nonsensical propaganda accusations that he had done oil trading with the Saddam Hussein regime:


> He comes of as some kind of misinformed activist

Haha. Maybe you'd want to look up some of his activity and also get a grip on the history of the past, uhm, 30 years. It'll take you a bit longer than doing a filter search on twitter.

> Someone created an anonymous website to spread some onesided info about a feud with some wikipedia editor he doesn't like.

There's no question about the fact that Philip Cross has been suspiciously hyper-active for years and that he's concentrating on a cluster of political figures. I've checked a couple Wikipedia entries of people I know as critics of the US and western policies, and voila', hundreds of Philip Cross edits just in the last few days.

You haven't expalined why is judging someone's public persona/ideas by their own public pronouncements (or lack thereof) on twitter irrational or wrong.

If someone has hunderds of thousands of tweets, I'd say such judgement would be pretty accurate, unless he segemnts his pronouncements based on media/audience in some very deliberate way, which I doubt, because he went to twitter to critcize US intervention.

And yes I wonder how he's anti-war in general or even anti-US imperialism in general based on some simple searches that reveal he's barely criticized US foreign meddling in the war against ISIS on twitter.

Cross may be suspicious, I aggree, but that doesn't make the web page magically non-anonymous and balanced.

In the early 1990's, I picked up a complete with the bookcase 1957 Encyclopedia Britannica at a yard sale for $15. Over the next decade and more it was a useful resource for historical topics in the days before the internet became what it is today...the basic scholarship of the Roman Empire, Ming vases and Howe trusses has been pretty stable for a long time. On the other hand, social and political topics usually tended to an editorial bias long past expiration even twenty years ago...let's say the phrase "spinning in his grave" is particularly appropriate for many of those Britannica authors and editors given today's events when "today" is taken literally.

Wikipedia is like any other encyclopedia, human endeavor with shortcomings, biases, and failings. It should be taken with a grain of salt where warranted, trusted as canonical elsewhere, and constitute one among many sources in other cases. For me, at least there is the relatively high degree of transparency that allows people to independently research the claims of this article theirself should they choose. That's not the case with Google's search results and those probably have more a role in my ordinary decisions than Wikipedia.

None of which is to say that this is good. Only that for me, it is a corner case...contemporary politics is an area of Wikipedia where I expect political gerrymandering and biased reporting simply due to the size of the attack surface, the nature of politics and the stakes at stake.

I'm not that involved in wikipedia, but I do recall his name. It came up during a discussion on reddit about aljazeera documentary "the lobby"[1]. He was accused of actively censoring any mention of the incident from the "Israel lobby in the United Kingdom"[2] wikipedia page.

[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/thelobby/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_lobby_in_the_United_Kin...

This is extremely concerning. Phillip Cross was easily caught because he was running his mouth on twitter, and was blatantly making one-sided edits from his single account. Imagine if a country like Russia makes an orchestrated effort to achieve similar goals, using an army of fake-wikipedia-profiles. They could easily turn Wikipedia into a platform for disseminating propaganda. In fact, I'd be surprised if they haven't done so already.


Wikipedia, however, appear to be trying to protect him. Please see one Wikipedia editor's efforts to flag his behaviour: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:KalHolmann

Exactly what is it we're supposed to be looking at here? And what does "Wikipedia", as an entity, mean in your comment?

The relevant bit is the last two comments by KalHolmann. Attempts to discuss Cross' behavior in the relevant, public boards were closed within minutes of each posting with unsatisfactory explanations. See [0] for example.

Not a wikipedian, but from my nerdish poking around and learning about how wikipedia works, it was my impression that these boards are supposed to be public forums to openly discuss issues, in line with its spirit of open collaboration. The fact that editors closed it immediately is evidence that, as KalHolmann says, there is circling of wagons going on.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest...

Wikipedia does tend to protect long time contributors and not have to outside sources that do not like an article. There is a meta game in Wikipedia that if you do small changes and write justifications in wikilawyer speak and you discredit your opponents in the right fashion you can win even if you are technically wrong. It is a beuruaucracy and some can play the game well.

I've noticed the same behavior on Reddit, hackernews, Tumblr, and lesswrong. As long as you say it in the right cadence for the given forum, you can be completely off base and be getting upvotes.

I try to be aware of it but I see myself mindlessly agreeing with someone just because they took the superior tone for the given format.

HN cleverly flips this around to its advantage. Even comments that are categorically wrong often contribute to the conversation. Some of the best comments on HN happen when a comment is so wrong that it baits a sleeping expert into responding.

Thats a matter of quantity though. Have enough of it and the content and normal users get drowned out and leave.

In the end, good faithed users contribute in thier spare time. Once certain interests are involved, you are faced with bad faithed actors who make their livelihood sabotaging this.

Catch enough controversy and this will ruin almost any project where people cooperate in their spare time to inform about something.

It's got very little to due with length of contribution it's pure inner circle behavior.

Then it's a pretty big "inner circle".

From everyone that uses Wikipedia a subset has made an edit. And within that subset an even smaller fraction is part of the inner circle that has some ideas about Wikipedia's culture. The Chinese Communist Party is vast, but it still qualifies as an inner circle, even though that onion has plenty of layers.

"Inner" doesn't mean "small", it just means "inside a larger one"

I see an admin with no apparent connection to this subject[0]:

(1) instructing KalHolmann not to canvass (this is one of WP's older rules and comes up all the time in AfD, where people will canvass WP and Twitter to get votes to keep marginal articles)

(2) backing out KalHolmann's canvassing comments

(3) responding to KalHolmann's question about where to direct his concern by telling him to take it to ANI

(4) advising against him taking it to the "COI Noticeboard" (I'm not sure I know what that even is but I guess I can guess and I'm not surprised it exists)

(5) after KalHolmann takes it there anyways and complains about the outcome, telling him again to take it to ANI.

None of this seems bad to me; it seems like a WP admin going out of their way to be helpful (in a WP'ian sort of way) and getting slagged for it on HN.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Contribut...

You misssed the fact that he took it to ANI and was shut down there too very quickly. Frustrated with the fact that no attempt was made to deal with the matter, he, quite sensibly, concludes that it appears they are trying to protect Cross.

I should also add that the people targeted by Cross all have a fairly large audiences on Twitter, and have been vocal about this issue. Jimmy Wales is aware (he's tweeted to them, as I say in another comment, but to dismiss the matter). I, too, would conclude they were trying to protect him if I was met with that kind of response.

Who is "they" and why is it sensible that they're "protecting" some random WP admin?

What seems more likely to me is that people have very legitimate concerns about Cross's POV, but aren't following WP norms in raising those concerns, and are getting shut down as a result. That's an expected outcome, not a sign of something nefarious happening.

Oh wow, so they don't follow the bureaucracy, so their concerns are shut down, until what? Until they follow the bureaucracy?

If I can take a stab at guessing what is happening, the Wikipedia admins probably feel like a super-active member is one of their own, and he/she is being attacked by "outsiders", so what they're doing is defending him with made-up reasons to fool themselves that what they're doing is just. A bit like US police, they're meant to be a part of the community and serve them, but after demonstrations against them because a few members did terrible things, they think they're under attack and their response is to protect their own and treat the public as the aggressive enemy.

Yes. I understand that lots of people on HN hate that, but, yes. Wikipedia is an incredibly complicated and intricate project with its own objectives and norms. It has been manifestly successful; it is one of the great achievements of the Internet to date. People arguing to override those norms have a heavy burden to meet.

One of the reasons for those norms is that on controversial issues, everybody can marshal a plausible argument. WP's processes try to make sure that admins can make procedural rather than substantive decisions to resolve conflicts. It's reasonable to have a couple thousand people who understand a process. It's not reasonable to expect a couple thousand people to be authoritative for all the substantive controversies litigated on the encyclopedia.

Another reason is that the norms are interdependent. For instance: many of the rest of WP's processes don't work without the "no canvassing" rule. Admins and 'crats can't evaluate an argument if it's flooded with partisan complaints. Admin decisions aren't votes.

Alright I'm going to have to disagree specifically on that point. I otherwise agree with your argument that there's no homogenous "they" banding together (And there's an article for that, even! [0] And an article nuancing that view too. [1])

But I emphatically take issue with the idea that it's reasonable to shut down what sounds like, in your words, "very legitimate concerns" instead of guiding the concerned users through the proper process, fostering a healthy discussion. If I'm being harsh, isn't that the role of an admin, someone who should know better?

It's important to follow rules, and I could ironically cite you a dozen Wikipedia guidelines that argue for[4][5][6][7] or against[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] the idea that not following proper process should get your concerns shut down.

But one of the founding and most important principles of Wikipedia[2] is precisely that it has no firm rules. What it has are guidelines that have been found to work well, and policy that one is expected to follow unless there is a reason not to.

The moment that heavily codified process is used by experienced editors against less experienced ones or against people who have a legitimate concern, that is not helpful process and not a fair or acceptable outcome.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_Is_No_Cabal

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:CABAL

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:5P5

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:LAWYER

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:NOCOMMON

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:RECKLESS

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:CAUTIOUS

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:EXPECT

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:IAR

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:BOLD

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:SNOWBALL

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:NOTBURO

[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:NOTFATRAT

[13] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:COMMON

[14] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:REASONABILITY

[15] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:PRINCIPLE

In what sense is a process being used by experienced editors against an inexperienced one here? Again: all I see is a person being told where to file grievances, and a general set of expectation about "Conflict of Interest" that doesn't in fact match the project's COI guidelines.

What you see is bureaucracy.

- File this form in triplicate here sir!

- I did, but it was instantly rejected within 2 minutes. Where should I file my appeal?

- File your appeal with the same person.

- But it will get rejected again. Can't I appeal to someone else?

- You can only file your appeal somewhere else if you fill out this form.

- OK, I did that. It was rejected in 6 minutes by the same person.

- Sounds like you're out of appeals. Stop trying to play the system.

>In what sense is a process being used by experienced editors against an inexperienced one here? Again: all I see is a person being told where to file grievances, and a general set of expectation about "Conflict of Interest" that doesn't in fact match the project's COI guidelines.

I'm thinking of the FORUMSHOP justification for closing the discussion on ANI in particular, and I'm more generally responding to your posts in this thread.

About this incident, I think it's fair to say that the administrator in question, with 13 years of experience and over 100k edits might be more experienced with the rules and policies than User:KalHolmann.

Now if the COI guidelines do no justify filing a report to the COI Noticeboard, that is one thing and closing that request is understandable, but ANI is a place for discussion, and since we're using it as an example the FORUMSHOP close reason comes across as exceptionally severe and opinionated to me.

I see a person being told to file grievances somewhere else, and an administrator who at the very least may have forgotten to Assume Good Faith in response.

So I suppose the "anyone can edit" tagline is a crock of shit?

If an organization is publishing some info about me, it sounds like a giant pain in the butt if I have to learn their bureaucracy to get e.g. false information changed. At least have an ombudsman who could represent my grievances, if you built such a site. But nooooo, it seems because anyone can join and be involved in the mud-wrestle, that's what they have to do to be heard!

I wonder if politicians/celebrity can GDPR (to use that term as a verb) Wikipedia to delete all info the site has about them. After learning about this 5 minutes ago, I'm outraged! (Do note, this sentence is tongue-in-cheek!)

saying that "anyone can edit wikipedia" is identical to saying that anyone can contribute to the linux kernel. Its both true and false depending on how you look at it.

Yes, anyone can send in a patch.

No, only a very small subset of the world population has the knowledge and experience to create a patch that gets accepted.

Yes, they do want more contributors and want to encourage all users to contribute.

No, they can not accept all patches.

That is not a fair comparison.

Linux patches generally gets accepted based on technical merit, some politics aside;

But it seems like most Wikipedia contributions are subject to the inside political considerations and bureaucracy.

Wikipedia contributions are generally subject to sourcing requirements (i.e. information must be backed by reliable secondary sources), not "political considerations." Wikipedia cares about verifiability, not truth itself.

See this example that illustrates the policy using the flat earth theory[1]:

> "Wikipedia is not worried per se about whether the theory that the Earth is flat is true. There must be current, reliable and independent sources substantiating claims that the Earth is flat. But there are no such sources that are current (almost no scientists have thought the Earth was flat since about the fourth century BC), that are reliable (reliable sources are reviewed for accuracy), or independent (a journal published by a Flat Earth Society would not be independent.)"

> "If Wikipedia had been available around the sixth century BC, it would have reported the view that the Earth is flat as a fact without qualification. It would have also reported the views of Eratosthenes (who correctly determined the Earth's circumference in 240 BC) either as controversial or a fringe view. Similarly if available in Galileo's time, it would have reported the view that the Sun goes round the Earth as a fact, and if Galileo had been a Vicipaedia editor, his view would have been rejected as "originale investigationis". Of course, if there is a popularly held or notable view that the Earth is flat, Wikipedia reports this view. But it does not report it as true. It reports only on what its adherents believe, the history of the view, and its notable or prominent adherents. Wikipedia is inherently a non-innovative reference work: it stifles creativity and free thought, which is a Good Thing."

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Why_Wikipedia_cannot...

I don't buy the assertion that Wikipedia gives a higher weight to source requirements than their internal politics and bureaucracy. Things like this original story are sadly very common.

And to add an anecdote to this, in multiple occasions, my contributions were reverted with some jargon that I suppose suggested that my sources (local journalist) were not credible, after adding more mainstream (CNN or Washpost, can't remember), the whole article was deleted yet with some other jargon that I couldn't bother figuring out.

So, from where I stand, the notion that Wikipedia contributions are not subject to political considerations is laughable.

That's not what 'identical' means. Although this thing isn't even similar, never mind identical.

You obviously can edit. And it's especially easy if you're the subject of an article to correct false information about yourself; see WP:BLP.

What you're not promised is the ability to win any given debate between yourself and other editors. What would you expect? How could the project possibly work otherwise?

One of Cross' targets attempted to edit his page and his changes were quickly reverted by Cross due to conflict of interest. What it seems you're suggesting here is that those unfairly targeted on Wikipedia, as Cross is doing, should learn the labyrinthine processes Wikipedia expects to correct their entries. And then presumably to put in the same amount of time Cross is putting in (hours and hours on weekdays and weekends) to monitor their pages for more abuses from him.

Should we not be more concerned about blocking those who are clearly in the wrong here?

Which BLP page are you referring to here? I don't see it in the article we're talking about. (I believe you, I just don't know what you're talking about).

I don't know what "clearly in the wrong" means. Cross and I don't share a POV; from the little I know about him (exclusively: this article) I find his politics noxious. But I would be extremely disturbed if my opinion about his politics somehow controlled Wikipedia.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Piers_Robinson&ty... and https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Piers_Robinson&ty...

I'm not suggesting anyone base the block on their opinion of his politics, but of his behaviour on Wikipedia. There's clearly a conflict of interest when someone who is openly hostile toward someone else and taunts them on Twitter, then goes and makes the kind of edits he's making to their Wikipedia page.

There's of course a bigger issue of how Wikipedia deals with this problem more broadly. But the fact that they're unwilling to act on a single editor whose actions have been exposed doesn't inspire much confidence.

No, you can't edit, even simple spelling mistakes get reverted regularly. It's designed to be an overly byzantine bureaucracy to discourage edits so a relatively small group can maintain control. Remember if 100 million people made meaningful contributions daily there would be no way to maintain that control.

Arguably that works well, but it's almost meaningless to call it a wiki.

One of the indisputably nice things about WP is that there's a record of everything that happens. Can you cite an example where a simple spelling mistake was reverted, so that the page right now is running the incorrect spelling of something?

That's not what I am saying. I am saying that if you look at Wikipedia history you can find plenty of places where an anonymous user/occasional editor fixes a spelling mistake that was then reverted. That history sticks around far longer than anyone one version. And for that user all they see is that their effort is pointless.

"if you make an edit which is good-faith reverted, do not simply reinstate your edit – leave the status quo up" ... "propose your reverted change on the article's talk page or pursue other dispute resolution alternatives." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reverting

I am not saying the policy is unreasonable, but it combined with the interface does discourage people.

As to an improvement, if Wikipedia sees the same edit applied twice it could detect this and walk someone through the policy.

> I am saying that if you look at Wikipedia history you can find plenty of places where an anonymous user/occasional editor fixes a spelling mistake that was then reverted.

You're essentially refuting yourself by making the same claim again, and yet still without offering a single example of something you are claiming is rampant. If there are "plenty" of examples, it should be easy to link a few.

I'm skeptical, because I've made many small, always anonymous edits over the years, mostly correcting spelling mistakes and bad grammar. Most of these edits were even made from dynamic IPs - and yet none of them were reverted.

Why were the various Vandal Patrol groups closed?

Why is is harder to get Twinkle and Rollback now than it used to be, and why is their usage more closely monitored?

It's because people were rapidly reverting a lot of edits, and many of those edits were correct and should not have been reverted.

There's a bunch of discussion on ANI and village pump about this.

By the nature of Wikipedia it really depends on how many people / editors are looking at the page.

But, feel free to dig through the reverts they are really common and not just for regional variations in spellings.

PS: I realize listing even 50 in all of Wikipedia is not nessisarily meaningful so no I am not going to waste my time tilting at windmills.

You have made an assertion that a certain thing is a common occurence on Wikipedia, and have multiple times been asked for sources. The fact that you are still refusing to provide any sources (all the while claiming it is “really common”) is clear grounds for dismissing your point out of hand.

Here is one example: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pittsburgh&action...

Note all the editors messing up the correct Pittsburg(h) with and without the h in various settings. Lot's of +/- 1 edit lengths.

Now, did some how instantly validate my point? No.

PS: But it does illustrate the situation something is popular enough that many people see it, complex enough that it takes a little thought for someone to notice an issue fix it in good faith and then get reverted.

That's certainly the sort of thing that can happen, but as far as I can tell the COIN report was within Wikipedia norms, and closing the report two minutes later with "Zero evidence of COI. Galloway has picked a fight with Cross, not the other way around." was not.

(Unless "don't criticise a top-1000 user" counts as a Wikipedia norm, I suppose.)

I disbelieve that that the admin in question is both a neutral arbiter and capable of determining within two minutes that Cross is not an "avowed rival" of Galloway (see WP:BLPCOI), particularly given the "And being attacked by RT and George Galloway is a reasonably reliable indicator that you are doing something right" bit on his talk page.

[The relevant part of BLPCOI is:

« Therefore, an editor who is involved in a significant controversy or dispute with another individual—whether on- or off-wiki—or who is an avowed rival of that individual, should not edit that person's biography or other material about that person » ]

Quick summary of what happened next for anyone who comes across this thread in the future:

Under pressure from outside, the wikipedia admins decided to reopen this case. They fairly quickly came to consensus that Cross was violating the paragraph of the biography-of-living-persons-conflict-of-interest policy quoted above and banned him from editing Galloway's article.

There's continuing discussion of whether Cross is doing anything more seriously wrong.

A biased point of view isn't a conflict of interest. See:


We all have biases. But we have conflicts when we have direct relationships with topics.

Similarly: edits are supposed to have NPOV. But editors almost always have a POV.

Is truth defined by perseverance?


The admin who dismisses the conflict of interest complaint later comments that 'being attacked by RT and George Galloway is a reasonably reliable indicator that you are doing something right'.

It's very easy to see how someone might view this as being up against a "they".

NeilN isn't the abusive or sinister one here. It is the fact that KalHolmann's posts were closed on the boards that is the issue.

Ok, look at the admin who closed it --- and their talk page, where they talk more about the reason they closed the COI notice:


Also no apparent connection to the topic.

There over a thousand admins on Wikipedia; most of them don't know or have any connection to each other.

I'm confused about your point, but am I correct in you're trying to prove there is no cabal by pointing out the replies from individual admins? It's possible that it's a coincidence that these events are occurring, but to outsiders, it looks like circling the wagons.

Regarding JzG's reply, it sounds a little disingenuous when they claim Cross is "editing with an opinion" and those bringing COI up are "people with a vested interest." I probably believe those against him have a vested interest, but that Cross who openly admitted to having a feud with the pages of people he edits (TFA's point) is the one operating with acceptable behavior is okay is strange.

It seems like me the best way to address the warring is just to openly discuss it.

Said admin also wrote «As long as you don't request community-imposed sanctions posting at WP:COIN is fine.», and I observe that the KaiHolmann's posting there did not request community-imposed sanctions.

It was fine, it just didn't have the effect KalHolmann wanted.

That's what I took from it too. But I've noticed an increasingly growing segment of HN commenters wearing fashionable hats made of foil.

It's not that long. Did you read it?

One Wikipedia editor is trying to highlight the problem of Cross' edits and have him marked as having a conflict of interest on certain articles. The Wikipedia admin (or superiour, I'm not familiar with the Wikipedia hierarchy) shuts him down very rudely and doesn't appear to want to address the issue at all. Leaving the editor to give up: "Forgive me for concluding that Wikipedia is circling its wagons around Philip Cross...I know when the deck is stacked against me."

Wikipedia is not a hierarchy. Admins are experienced wikipedians who have a few extra administrative tasks (hence the name). The Admin in question seems to have acted based on their own judgment. (I know because I asked them! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:JzG#meatball:ExpandS... ) . You could even talk to the admin yourself, if you would like extra information. Wikipedia has a function to add questions to a talk page, and there is a function to send an email instead/as well, if you have questions.

That said, I went looking around, and there appear to be politicians and russian media involved here. This is not a "Evil admin stomps on poor innocent victim" story, for sure.

Oh, JzG is Guy Chapman! I remember him from usenet back in the day. I haven't interacted with him in almost a decade, but i remember that he was one of the good guys, even if he did take it a bit seriously.

Seeing a link to Meatball is also a blast from the past - i just about remember the drama when it split off from Ward's Wiki.

Reminiscences aside, i suppose these are both reminders that Wikipedia is a living fossil; it was started in the early days of the web (not the early early days, but early enough), drew its participants and culture from other places which existed at the time, and has been evolving on its own terms ever since.

What are you suggesting with your last comment? Did you read the story posted here and the changes Philip Cross has made?

"I went looking around, and there appear to be politicians and russian media involved here." - Is that the level of evidence needed to do whatever you want on Wikipedia?

Yes, I have read most carefully. And I have also talked to one of the admins, as you can see.

Obviously, things are not adding up. We can both agree on that much ;-)

What I don't quite get is why fivefilters.org is interested?

Because we like the work of many of the people targeted by Cross and decided to write something up on it.

Maybe that editor is Philip Cross?

It looks like a wikipedia editor requested that Cross should not be allowed to edit articles where he has a conflict of interest. Rather than dealing with the request, it was immediately closed and the editor reporting the conflict of interest was accused of picking a fight.

It seems obvious to me that by "Wikipedia" he is referring to the Wikipedia admin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JzG) who quashed user KalHolmann's attempts to discuss the issue of Philip Cross's campaign of biased edits. Did you not read the link?

>Imagine if a country like Russia makes an orchestrated effort to achieve similar goals

This article is citing references from RT and Sputnik to defend a guys who broadcast on RT and Sputnik.

It cites several fairly normal edits as outrageous. For example Snopes has it's founders names listed but the article implies listing Media Len's founders is an attack.

Likewise removing an un-cited assertions are called attacks.

And the article apparently believes offering a £1000 for doxing information is acceptable.

And remarkably expanding on all this to imply that all of wikipedia is suspect.

I would really take this article with a big grain of salt.

It is already happening on a daily basis regarding all articles related to a certain country. Correcting erroneous information doesn't work because most issues aren't about facts, but about judgement calls. Is this piece of information relevant in this context or not? Should we use "this definition" that all anthropologists uses or "that definition" that most Wikipedians prefer but no scholar uses? Unless you are getting paid for it, you can't justify spending hours per day bogged down in fights with people who most likely are paid for their time.

Wikipedia was a good idea but for political topics it doesn't work at all.

Interesting that you mentioned political topics since I find Wikipedia a much better source than news agencies that are openly aligned to one specific political platform. For news here in Sweden its not uncommon to hear the national radio say "in the political aligned left/right news paper xxx, they wrote ..., while the political aligned (opposing side) wrote ...".

Fact checking sites are naturally better and usually go to great length to differentiate themselves from normal (political aligned) news sites and affirm that they are political unaffiliated. Sadly their time and scope is limited so Wikipedia work as a nice middle ground.

I agree! But when you read news articles you know and expect that the information will have a political slant. But on Wikipedia, the information is advertised as neutral and free of bias, which it isn't. That's the problem with the site. People are treating it as "the truth," rather than just one source among many.

People need to be aware of how incredibly messy the Wikipedia editing game is, and that it is dominated by politically affiliated paid editors. Believing otherwise is incredibly naive.

What if that’s exactly what this guy is trying to resist? I don’t have a whole lot of information, but it seems like many of ths guy’s “targets” are “journalists” for Sputnik, which is part of Russia’s propaganda apparatus. And I’ve developed a strong, deeply-held skepticism towards any obvious attempt to fire up the ol’ internet outrage machine against some particular person.

A few of my colleagues at work had a running gag of building a persona around one of our coworkers as a joke.

The goal was to get a Wikipedia bio crediting him with inventing a particular variant of mullet in the 70s.

We were unsuccessful in getting him inventor status, but we did a bio page created, and prominently featured a picture of him with a mullet. You just need a few months and some savvy dealing with the bureaucrats on the site. Slowly make relevant edits to build facts on other articles and you are good to go.

It's funny how much the strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia mirror communism in the Soviet Union.

When no one is above the rules, everyone is equal. But given strict adherence to the rules by everyone, enough time, and a collection of ignored misunderstandings that build on each other... change that is not actively opposed is guaranteed.

Why is this only concerning now? Wikipedia has had this issue for at least a decade. I would be less concerned with Russia and more concerned with the agenda of the people who have been working with impunity on Wikipedia all this time.

Infogalactic doesn't have this problem.

>Imagine if a country like Russia makes an orchestrated effort to achieve similar goals

That's pretty much already happened. Remember that time Scientology tried to attack Wikipedia for telling the truth about Sea Org? They got close to getting away with it, and if a larger nation-state tried editing less-controversial articles, I'm sure they would get away with it. It wouldn't surprise me if Russia has already done things like that.

Just look at your news channels...

> Imagine if a country like Russia

Honestly, Israel, KSA etc. are as much, if not more likely to do this, as indeed shown by the Phillip Cross guy, who was making edits to benefit them. Of course it is far easier to constantly mention Russia, (and it should be mentioned), but I'd love if people were more willing to call out our 'partners' who engage in this behavior, as calling out Russia requires no amount of 'courage' at all.

The point of the post was not the courageousness of the op, or Russia. The point was propaganda.

Well it has a definite slant against Russia, especially given the lame example in a link about Mueller's indictment against several Russians from an Internet spam outfit, not against Russia the country. Somehow I haven't heard the Cambridge Analytica debacle being presented as a UK's effort "to achieve similar goals".

Israel would indeed be a better example with their hasbara effort which is directed by the government.

> The point was propaganda.

I get that, my point was that if you're going to give examples, it may be worthy to not always point to Russia/China etc. as that is well known and understood, but to take the opportunity to highlight that it is done by countries that are supposed to be our friends to a much greater degree as that is not a point you'll hear on MSM, (Russia you'll hear so much about, it borders on Xenophobia).


Of course, you can't exactly claim Vox isn't a legitimate news source without citing some sources either.

(Whether or not Vox is "legitimate" or not is beside the point here, the point is it's hypocritical of you to call someone's sources into question without providing any yourself.)

Your post is a clear example of an ad hominem and whataboutism [1], an invalid argument, where you cite the usage of a link to Vox to completely dismiss the parent as untrustworthy.

[1] http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Whataboutism

There's an object-level point that can be made about referencing an even more partisan source like Rationalwiki as a response in this particular thread, but the more interesting meta-level observation is that the whole Wikipedia sourcing/attribution mechanism is clearly inadequate for an age where even a fairly casual discussion in HN comments can't be completed without relying on sources that one of the two parties to the debate will consider clearly inadmissible (Vox and Rationalwiki for one side, and maybe Craig Murray and Sputnik for the other).


> Russia that doesn't give a f$#k about Wikipedia nor USA elections

why do you feel this is the case? that would actually be very strange if true.

you mention state actors but overlook the bogeyman in our own backyard, whether it be the CIA, FBI, or even PACs. Yes Political Action Committees have people whose job is to maintain their view. PACs do it through mailing lists that combine specific people to maintain control over what is presented. with regards to sites like reddit you have those assigned to post and the list to rally those to vote up particular posts and downvote others to even mass report.

I know that many want to blame the other guy but sometimes that other guy is someone we know and their intentions are no better

Please hacker news... use your skeptical nature and research inclination to understand where this junk is coming from. This is a propaganda outfit.

I have a suspicion HN is getting played here... upvotes and downvotes seem suspicious on these comments.

Some info on who Media Lens and FiveFilters are...


There's no mention of us in that article and we didn't exist in 2006.

As for Media Lens, I googled the author's name and Media Lens and this article came up. Might be interesting too: http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2006/449...

I mean, you can actually see the edits the guy makes.

Why would FiveFilters falsely defend Media Lens - a conservative organization - while attacking a wiki editor who is extremely pro-war? Your argument really only makes sense if the editor is liberal and attacking Media Lens and FiveFilters.

Their issue with the editor is that he cares about sources... so whenever these anti media outfits want to post unsubstantial claims in Wikipedia, he has a problem with that (as he should).

This is propaganda war at its finest. Make it look like conservatives and liberals agree with your points... then gloss over actual facts with hand waving. Most people won’t dig deep enough to find out the truth. These guys just want to control the narrative and generate public opinion that we should doubt our journalistic institutions.

And if we stop caring about journalism and hard facts and the importance of sources, then our democracy is going to have real issues.

Their ties with Russian propaganda outfits should also be troubling. Do a little googling and you’ll see a host of pro Russian conspiracy stuff from these “agencies”.

Pointing the spotlight on someone in this manner could of course be agenda driven, but the source is irrelevant -- the actions of the individual are the antithesis of what Wikipedia is supposed to be about. His actions indict him fully, and for his own health he should really find other pursuits.

Why is FiveFilters taking such interest in this particular anonymous Wikipedia editor? This doesn't look like simply an honest piece of investigative journalism, given how far FiveFilters seems to be going to promote this story (https://twitter.com/fivefilters/).

Why doesn't the article disclose the relationship between FiveFilters and Media Lens? The FiveFilters blog (http://blog.fivefilters.org/) mentions Media Lens three times (they've built tools for viewing Media Lens articles) and explicitly thanks Media Lens for making their content go viral.

There's a lot that doesn't quite add up.

We're a huge fan of Media Lens. They do great work. But we're not Wikipedia. We don't need to live up to the standards they set themselves. We don't run an encyclopedia that pretends to be neutral.

By huge fan you mean “are”. (Look at parents posts)

How did this garbage get on Wikipedia? Fivefilters and MediaLens are part of the whole anti media propaganda outfits.


No, we are not Media Lens.

They seem more like Putin-aligned propaganda relays than "investigative journalism".

This part:

We pulled in the dates from his user contributions page and found that Cross had not had a single day off from editing the site in almost 5 years!

Makes me think that this is an account shared by many people. Since we don’t know who this person is, there is a chance that this person is really a whole organization.

There are a lot of obsessive people on Wikipedia. Back in the days when I was an active editor, I was regularly embroiled in edit wars with somebody who had odd but extremely firm opinions about the romanization of Okinawan (not a political topic even in Japan) and what appeared to be 24/7 ability to enforce them. I suspect quite a few of those shut-in "hikikomori" types are top Wikipedia editors...

All that said, checking the manual of style in question today, I'm positively surprised to see the weirdness is gone. This is a strength of Wikipedia: over time entropy of opinion tends to decrease, even though it may take years.


Is it good, though? I'm all about reducing entropy about facts, but what about opinion or more delicate subject? The power on propaganda, on making a new truth, is so big.

It's not hard to make an edit a day. It's a daily activity for editors like me to come home and wind down by quickly going through our watchlists and reverting any vandalism. I have 11k articles on mine and I wouldn't even say I'm a prolific editor. It takes me only a few minutes and thanks to things like ORES (https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/ORES), most of the suspicious edits are highlighted already.

Cross's modus operandi seems to be many small edits which accumulate to produce a large negative effect, at odds with Wikipedia's principle of "neutral point of view". It's an example of operating within the letter of the rules but not their spirit.

I bet that if you changed 1 word per day on a page, after 2 or 3 years, you've successfully modified the tone of an article that cannot be easily reverted.

"ditch Wikipedia" seems a bit melodramatic.

Nobody should rely on Wikipedia as the sole source of any information, but it can be a useful starting point and usually has enough references to back it up.

People need to be more careful about examining the source of claims in general. Including what is shared with them on social media, YouTube videos, news articles, etc. But that doesn't mean those mediums are no longer useful.

If anything, it seems like more of a reason to get more active and involved with Wikipedia. Otherwise, people like this will get more and more control over the site

"ditch Wikipedia" seems a bit melodramatic.

Definitely, if they call for ditching Wikipedia over a single contributor in the title of the article, how much are they exaggerating about other things?

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