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Update: The agenda-driven edits of Philip Cross and Wikipedia's response (fivefilters.org)
102 points by k1m 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments



It's worth pointing out that one of the people mentioned in this article, @leftworks1, was banned from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Leftworks1) for abusively using a pile of sockpuppet accounts (both anonymous IPs and actual accounts) to evade protection filters on the Oliver Kamm article (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Oliver_Kamm&actio...). His sockpuppets attempted to add information to the article that was clearly poorly sourced and designed specifically to attack a living person, in violation of the BLP policy. However, fivefilters paints this guy as a hero and uncritically reports on his views on things.

Furthermore, this article barely touches on the fact that WP is mulling a topic ban for Philip Cross (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators%27_no...) or is starting ArbCom proceedings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests...), WP's equivalent of the Supreme Court. Both of these are standard dispute resolution steps, and they demonstrate that Wikipedia is in fact taking it seriously (in contravention of this article's conclusion).

These kinds of articles are not helping. If fivefilters/Media Lens/Galloway/et al. have problems with Philip Cross, they should stay out of "off-wiki" opinion-influencing and let Wikipedia's process run its course.


We're highlighting these primarily for the benefit of those unfamiliar with what's been going on. There's also plenty of diffs and context that will hopefully help any Wikipedia resolution. I'm not sure why you think everything concerning Wikipedia ought to be done on Wikipedia itself.

Also, we do not edit Wikipedia ourselves. We have not edited these pages or engaged in any sockpuppet activity.

We don't paint @leftworks1, or anyone else, as a hero. We are not affiliated with them other than following them on Twitter. They have, along with a few other Twitter accounts, done quite a lot of work to uncover problematic edits by Cross. We're not going to dismiss all that because of a conflict with Wikipedia.

As for our criticism of Wikipedia, ignoring the broader problem of this kind of agenda editing going on, it is that there appears to be one admin who is trying to shift the focus on to a conflict of interest with one individual (George Galloway) rather than look at Cross' edits more broadly.


What @leftworks1 did is not a "conflict with Wikipedia". It is disruption, a deliberate attempt to insert poorly sourced material into contentious articles. It is _exactly_ what you are calling Philip Cross out for. You are applying a double standard here - if you think Philip Cross is a bad editor, @leftworks1 is bad too (and worse - they rather openly broke the rules again and again).


I'm not going to speak for @leftworks1. But looking at the links you provided it seems they were trying to add information relating to a court case at the high court, with a public claim number. You might want to see Neil Clark's tweet about the information Philip Cross is trying to hide from Kamm's Wikipedia page: https://twitter.com/neilclark66/status/991310986643730433

So we have an attempt to add information on to a Wikipedia page (to my mind information that should be on the page) by someone who is quickly banned indefinitely and their changes removed (thanks to Philip Cross monitoring the page in question). You are comparing this to a years-long campaign by a prominent Wikipedia editor to discredit, very unfairly (as I'm sure the edits show) a number of prominent anti-war voices. His changes are not reverted, he is not banned. I'm not sure how they're comparable at all.


Unfortunately Wikipedia is based on self selection and thus you tend to only get partisans from both sides involved on charged subjects. And if you appeal to an opposing partisan, one who may even pretend to be impartial or simple authoritive, you will lose.


Philip Cross obvious is running an adgenda and is good at it. Leftworks is a poor editor and rather reactionary. They do not justify each other in any way. They are both problems that need to be addressed, not balanced against each other.

I find that the desire to balance is because one has picked a side and wants to absolve one side of consequences via showing the other side as more guilty. This is dangerous in and of itself.


[flagged]


Is there any chance we can keep this discussion civil?


It is important that people outside of Wikipedia know that there is longer term adgenda-based editing on wikipiedia. There is tons of this and it is very ingrained into Wikipedia that many pages have defacto owners who enforce specific povs. There will always be a pov, it is unavoidable, but it is important to understand on Wikipedia pov is enforcible by self-selected consensus even if it is not right objectively.

This is most obvious on politically charged topics in which there is a self interested party protecting "their" POV articles. In a way groups of editors claim articles like land in an ideological war. If you read one article events have a certain portrayal but other articles beyond the established front have a different portrayal.


Yeah, these articles are more PSAs than messages to Wikipedia.


> These kinds of articles are not helping.

It's a good thing for people to know how the Wikipedia sausage is made, even if it makes Wikipedia occasionally look bad.


I know nneonneo is a Wikipedia editor. Perhaps he, or any other Wikipedia editor who reads this, would like to look into the way Philip Cross adds an unfavourable opinion by James Bloodworth, a follower of Cross on Twitter, and quoted in the dubious source HuffPost, to Diana Johnstone's Wikipedia page, and attempts to disguise the addition by calling it a (ce) = (copy edit). Perhaps nneonneo or other editor would like to add this evidence to the ArbCom submission, and request Philip Cross to explain the matter? Best wishes. Leftworks. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Diana_Johnstone&d...


Another comment from @leftworks1, who's still experiencing trouble posting on this site:

I know nneonneo is a Wikipedia editor. Perhaps he, or any other Wikipedia editor who reads this, would like to look into the way Philip Cross adds an unfavourable opinion by James Bloodworth, a follower of Cross on Twitter, and quoted in the dubious source HuffPost, to Diana Johnstone's Wikipedia page, and attempts to disguise the addition by calling it a (ce) = (copy edit). Perhaps nneonneo or other editor would like to add this evidence to the ArbCom submission, and request Philip Cross to explain the matter? Best wishes. Leftworks. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Diana_Johnstone&d...


They directly address the Galloway arbitration proceedings, don't they?


@leftworks1 got in contact to say they tried to reply to your comment here but had some trouble. I offered to post it:

I suggest, perhaps, that the current focus should be on the evidence that I, and others, are now uncovering and presenting, rather than on my alleged improper behaviour in the past.

A month ago I had very little interest in Wikipedia except as an end user. I joined Wikipedia as an editor because I read that some information that I regarded as common knowledge, and a matter of public record, and as in the public interest to be disclosed as widely as possible, was being edited off the Oliver Kamm page by someone again commonly believed to be a partisan gatekeeper acting as the judge of what should and should not be disclosed on many Wikipedia articles.

I knew nothing of Wikipedia procedures, and made many mistakes, and stuck to my guns, and battled more experienced people in edit wars, and as a result I am banned from Wikipedia. Shrug. I am resigned to that as an entirely understandable result. My heart is not broken that I will never edit Wikipedia again. I accept my fate.

While I was edit warring, I looked into other pages edited by this alleged gatekeeper, and what I found astounded and outraged me. I suggest that people go and look at the circumstances under which the pages "Tim Hayward (academic)", "Piers Robinson", and "Tara McCormack" were set up. In particular, go and look at the Hayward article just after it had first been finished with by Philip Cross, but the Robinson article has also been described by a Wikipedia editor, certainly not myself, as an "attack page". The timing is important. These three pages were set up on, or the day after, an extremely hostile report on these three academics by the British "Sunday Times". It is as clear as daylight that the purpose of setting up these pages was to attack and discredit them. There does not seem to be any evidence that they were added as new work to be set up in any normal way. One editor, "Philafrenzy", was perhaps privately requested to set them up by Philip Cross, who then stepped in to edit them all a day or two later.

These three academics were also tweeted about by a well-known journalist. The hostile accounts were set up the same day. Twitter users are currently documenting what appears to be a very peculiar symbiosis between this journalist and Philip Cross. On the face of it, there seems a most unhealthy conflict of interest issue here.

If the Hayward account in particular is examined closely, it is clear that the original articles referred to in the Wikipedia page contain a good deal more balanced material than was originally included on the page. The selection of material appeared to me to be thoroughly partisan. This is also the opinion of Professor Hayward himself. Professor Robinson has expressed similar opinions. Doctor McCormack had no idea that her page had even been set up, and was most unhappy about the matter when I informed her of it.

Rightly, or wrongly, that is how the Hayward-Robinson-McCormack situation presented itself to me. There were other aspects to the matter. For example, the McCormack page cited opinions of hers, which were accurately cited, certainly, and were also very controversial. It appeared to me that the reason these opinions, and these alone, were cited, were to make her look like a radical lunatic. It was particularly notable that "Spiked", a publication which I had no doubt would have in any other circumstances been booted from Wikipedia by this gatekeeper as an unreliable source, was retained and cited as a footnote. The obvious reason was that it contained opinions by McCormack that seemed ridiculous and outrageous. There appeared to me to be a very unpleasant agenda behind these pages.

Since then, of course, the number of people looking at this matter has substantially broadened and more evidence has come to light, and more is forthcoming all the time. I welcome that. I am not in the least interested in publicity. All I am interested in is getting this evidence out there and shown to people so that they can judge for themselves. I make no claim to be any sort of hero. Five Filters did not consult me before they quoted me, and the only reason they seem to have quoted me is that I have presented evidence which they believe is worth bringing to light. I concur with that.

There is an enormous amount more to say - I have presented only one example, which barely scratches the surface - but I have probably said enough for people to understand that, however wrong-headed I have been, I am not simply some random vandal, and I have not acted out of some personal animosity, or even thought-out agenda. I have simply wanted some information out into the public domain. That has led me to the discovery of other matters, which I also think properly belong in the public domain.

Never mind me. Please focus on the evidence that is being brought forth, on Twitter and elsewhere, and use your own judgement as to whether or not it is reasonable.

Best wishes, Leftworks.


I highly recommend reading Chomsky or Herman’s work directly and drawing your own conclusions. It is extensively footnoted with primary sources.[1]

I grew up in a conservative environment. One day I came across some of Chomsky’s speeches on the early web with claims I found somewhat shocking (e.g. “the US is the world’s leading terrorist state”). But there was something compelling about it, so I took the extra step to check myself into my university library and read some of his books. And actually follow up on the citations. (Which actually documented terrorist activity on the part of the US government, among other things.) This was pre-Wikipedia. It was truly mind-expanding and equipped me with faith that careful study of the facts can change beliefs.

I fear that far too many of us rely on the summations of others. Wikipedia is truly a wonderful resource, but there is no substitute for checking sources yourself.

[1] An extensive online archive of Chomsky’s work can be found at http://chomsky.info


At least as far as the "George Galloway" article is concerned, this is definitely not resolved and this article is plainly disputing that. The linked-to thread on WP:ANB shows that Guy referred this specific issue to the arbitration committee, which, as of May 26th, is still in the process of getting statements and proceeding forward.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests...

& the aforementioned noticeboard: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Adminis...

Edit: I should add I only say this because the article concludes by saying that the issue is resolved and it isn't. ArbCom is supposed to be a process whereby outside intervention is requested, and unless that process does nothing, then it's not worth declaring this finished.


the issue of the article is resolved insofar attention was a concern.


This just goes to show that wikipedia is not a trustworthy source for polemic topics. The very nature of the platform makes it too easy to manipulate by one or more individuals with an ideological position.


Been plainly clear for many years. Gamergate really has a lot to answer for in terms of allowing people with first-hand knowledge of a topic to see how blatantly and maliciously falsified it is in all quarters of the media.


I'm fortunate to have been around long enough to observe the "swinging bias" of Wikipedia. In 2008 the conservatives complianed that it was too liberal, but over time I've seen articles wander pretty far in every direction. I still think this is an advantage, though: if your entire reality is a specific classical news source it will seem unbiased and universal because your universe will be exactly it. Whereas if you mostly read Wikipedia then you will see the bias because the center of mass of an article today might not be its center of mass tomorrow.


From my vantage point (I identify best with the Constitution Party’s platform), Wikipedia has always been very liberal.


Either you "believe" in decentralized governance systems or you don't. If you do, then this means your participation is required for improvement (edit articles, run a bitcoin full node, etc) which in practice is more expensive in resources and effort. If you don't, then just sit back and relax, but also accept you're just going to have to trust those centralizing influence a variety of incentives.


You make it sound like it's the perfect system just lacking enough participation. What makes you think everyone has the time to devote to it. Or that there aren't people with more money and resources who can influence it? It's seen by many as a neutral source. We're trying to highlight how easy it is to manipulate.


I believe it is very manipulated. Much more than is commonky acknowledged.


If only it were that easy in practice. The Wikipedia community can be a genuinely hostile place - and I'm not the kind of person who uses that term lightly. I've made a handful of small edits to pages over the last decade and everytime it's been an exercise in frustration. It typically ends in reverts at the hands of overly pedantic editors who've ordained themselves as permanent caretakers over a wide range of related articles. If you have a problem with the revert you then have to deal with that same editor on the Talk page, difficult if you've other commitments in life.


"The tree of knowledge must be refreshed from time to time with the sweat of editors"


There’s some weird Russian connection here isn’t there?


I don't disagree - George Galloway and several of the subjects mentioned have connections to RT, Sputnik, etc. Philip Cross has had to remove a fairly sizable amount of content that was only sourced to RT and Sputnik (which are not considered reliable, neutral sources). There's a nonzero probability of a Russian connection.


In matters of war, RT is as reliable as NYTimes. Both are reliably biased, RT to Russia and NYT to American interests. For me at least it is useful to see what each country's narrative is.


Have you ever seen an RT article deeply critical of Putin’s regime?


American media has vigorous criticism within a certain range (roughly the Democrat-Republican spectrum), but it is supportive of common elite interests. For example you will find the NYT rarely criticized on moral grounds the wars that the US waged. Speaking of Herman and Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent is a good analysis of this phenomenon (propaganda in democratic societies), with supporting evidence.


Feel the same.


Quite possibly from my reading of the situation. Doesn't necessarily invalidate the claims against Cross however.

Sadly the aims of groups with good intent and those with bad intent sometimes coincide.


Only insofar as the hysteria about Russia has been interjected into every issue by people caught up in the frenzy. The truth is that the propaganda arms of a variety of countries have been deeply involved in shaping, controlling and attempting to influence media and social dialogue for many, many years (with by far the most "successful" being the CIA/USA with Israel as a close second and Russia lagging far behind).


Very convenient to dismiss evidence with baseless accusations.


ctrl-f on site for "Russian": 0 results. Same for russia, kremlin. Don't spread FUD.


Okay, so I don't consider @psergeant's comment to be the most open, but he is suggesting it only because WP:ANB is (specifically, Guy's initial proposal).

> George Galloway is not "anti-war", he's an activist for Palestine and supports Russia's involvement in Syria - he may be anti some wars but the claim of "anti-war" is at best questionable. (from Guy)

> Also on May 14, the conflict spilled over into wider media. RT published "Mystery figure targets anti-war pundits and politicians by prolifically editing Wikipedia" and two days later Sputnik followed with an interview of George Galloway, "Who's Philip Cross: 'Either a Mad Obsessionist or State Operative' – Galloway". (from KalHolmann)

So, while this comment does seem a but unjustified, it is validated by the initial requests to refer to ArbCom.


That he considers activism for Palestine "pro-war" is telling in and of itself.


I'm reading it as "'anti-war' is too general to describe someone who's mainly an activist for Palestine and supporting Russia's involvement in Syria is actually 'pro-war'".


The selective quoting of JzG's arbcom election page from 12 years ago is basically doing exactly what Philip Cross is being accused of.

Is this how fivefilters normally conduct themselves?


We didn't claim to be quoting the entirety of the page. And I don't understand the Cross comparison. What did we get wrong?

JzG initially tried to shut down discussion of this issue when it was brought to his attention (he decided there was "Zero evidence of COI [conflict of interest]" within 2 minutes - other Wikipedia admins clearly now disagree and have implemented a topic ban).

He then went on to frame the whole debate around a dispute between two individuals, when in fact it's much more than that, as has been clear from the beginning.

When that didn't work, he went after the Wikipedia editor who had brought this whole thing to their attention.

You don't find his conduct abnormal?

You might be interested in this statement from another Wikipedia editor, made today, about JzG's conduct: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Adminis...


I have no dog in this race. Pretty much because I encounter inaccuracies on Wikipedia more often than I'd expect (most recent being the current status of Lancia). Just signing up to edit is just not worth my time. I wonder how many more inaccuracies there are, and how many others couldn't be bothered to try fix it.


For most articles, you don't have to sign in to edit.

And what's the Lancia status inaccuracy?


It wanted me to sign up when I tried. Haven't in ages.

Wikipedia incorrectly states that Lancia only sells in Italy (see for example http://www.lancia.fr/mopar or http://www.lancia.de/mopar). Also makes no mention of the modern Flavia (re-badged Chrysler 200, but sold as a Lancia nonetheless in Europe). It's a bit like not mentioning the Mercedes-Benz X-Class because it's based on the Nissan Navara.


I wonder what the odds are we would be seeing articles like this if Philip's apparent bias ran in the other direction.


Highly likely?


I hope you're right.


CNN, prime time, Russia collusion.


Essentially 100%, though probably from a different author. Calling out media bias, real or imagined, is one of the hallmarks of the American right wing, after all, and I see no reason why Wikipedia would be immune. But naturally people are more likely to speak out when their own side is being attacked.


Alex Jones would be all over it as proof of lizard people? But then again, Alex can find conspiracy in pure oxygen.

TBH, I haven't seen a whole lot about this beyond some mentions on HN and Reddit. I tend to ignore Wikipedia news as a rule.


So somewhat less likely then.


I suggest, perhaps, that the current focus should be on the evidence that I, and others, are now uncovering and presenting, rather than on my alleged improper behaviour in the past.

A month ago I had very little interest in Wikipedia except as an end user. I joined Wikipedia as an editor because I read that some information that I regarded as common knowledge, and a matter of public record, and as in the public interest to be disclosed as widely as possible, was being edited off the Oliver Kamm page by someone again commonly believed to be a partisan gatekeeper acting as the judge of what should and should not be disclosed on many Wikipedia articles.

I knew nothing of Wikipedia procedures, and made many mistakes, and stuck to my guns, and battled more experienced people in edit wars, and as a result I am banned from Wikipedia. Shrug. I am resigned to that as an entirely understandable result. My heart is not broken that I will never edit Wikipedia again. I accept my fate.

While I was edit warring, I looked into other pages edited by this alleged gatekeeper, and what I found astounded and outraged me. I suggest that people go and look at the circumstances under which the pages "Tim Hayward (academic)", "Piers Robinson", and "Tara McCormack" were set up. In particular, go and look at the Hayward article just after it had first been finished with by Philip Cross, but the Robinson article has also been described by a Wikipedia editor, certainly not myself, as an "attack page". The timing is important. These three pages were set up on, or the day after, an extremely hostile report on these three academics by the British "Sunday Times". It is as clear as daylight that the purpose of setting up these pages was to attack and discredit them. There does not seem to be any evidence that they were added as new work to be set up in any normal way. One editor, "Philafrenzy", was perhaps privately requested to set them up by Philip Cross, who then stepped in to edit them all a day or two later.

These three academics were also tweeted about by a well-known journalist. The hostile accounts were set up the same day. Twitter users are currently documenting what appears to be a very peculiar symbiosis between this journalist and Philip Cross. On the face of it, there seems a most unhealthy conflict of interest issue here.

If the Hayward account in particular is examined closely, it is clear that the original articles referred to in the Wikipedia page contain a good deal more balanced material than was originally included on the page. The selection of material appeared to me to be thoroughly partisan. This is also the opinion of Professor Hayward himself. Professor Robinson has expressed similar opinions. Doctor McCormack had no idea that her page had even been set up, and was most unhappy about the matter when I informed her of it.

Rightly, or wrongly, that is how the Hayward-Robinson-McCormack situation presented itself to me. There were other aspects to the matter. For example, the McCormack page cited opinions of hers, which were accurately cited, certainly, and were also very controversial. It appeared to me that the reason these opinions, and these alone, were cited, were to make her look like a radical lunatic. It was particularly notable that "Spiked", a publication which I had no doubt would have in any other circumstances have been booted from Wikipedia by this gatekeeper as an unreliable source, was retained and cited as a footnote. The obvious reason was that it contained opinions by McCormack that seemed ridiculous and outrageous. There appeared to me to be a very unpleasant agenda behind these pages.

Since then, of course, the number of people looking at this matter has substantially broadened and more evidence has come to light, and more is forthcoming all the time. I welcome that. I am not in the least interested in publicity. All I am interested in is getting this evidence out there and shown to people so that they can judge for themselves. I make no claim to be any sort of hero. Five Filters did not consult me before they quoted me, and the only reason they seem to have quoted me is that I have presented evidence which they believe is worth bringing to light. I concur with that.

There is an enormous amount more to say - I have presented only one example, which barely scratches the surface - but I have probably said enough for people to understand that, however wrong-headed I have been, I am not simply some random vandal, and I have not acted out of some personal animosity, or even thought-out agenda. I have simply wanted some information out into the public domain. That has led me to the discovery of other matters, which I also think properly belong in the public domain.

Never mind me. Please focus on the evidence that is being brought forth, on Twitter and elsewhere, and use your own judgement as to whether or not it is reasonable.

Best wishes,

Leftworks.




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