Friday, September 25, 2015

FLOP: Why Wikipedia Criticism Will Always Be A Waste Of Time

As promised, another guest post by E. A. Barbour on the state of Wikipedia criticism.

FLOP: Why Wikipedia Criticism Will Always Be A Waste Of Time

by E. A. Barbour


As I said in a previous post, I've spent four miserable years compiling a massive database about Wikipedia's history and showing why and how it went wrong. And now I have the miserable duty to admit and explain why this activity was a waste. It is clear by now, after more than ten years of growth, editwarring, abuse, lies, manipulation and outright criminal activity that one thing cannot be denied: Wikipedia is "special", and must be treated more as a religious reliquary than a mere website. Even its loudest critics also tend to be fans who love it deeply, and want to ensure its success. Some are also conflicted by a need to control certain content, for personal or professional reasons. Plus the distinct likelihood that professional media people rarely want to discuss Wikipedia scandals, because they depend on Wikipedia for their fact-checking. All of this history is populated with gigabytes of idiocy, tiresome argumentation, paranoia, monkey dancing, robotic masturbation, Heebs (and more Heebs), transsexuals, Eric Moeller's pale blob wideness, and even a few appearances by occasional people who were sincere and honest in their desire to see Wikipedia either be "cleaned up" or taken offline. All to no avail whatsoever. So, let's summarize this nonsense of "Wikipedia criticism" and be done with.


Wikipedia Review

Although plenty has been written (and censored and forgotten) about WR, between November 2005 and March 2012 it was the dominant website for criticism and open, honest discussion of Wikipedia problems. Yes, of course it was started by bigots (the now forgotten original sysop "Igor Alexander" was repeatedly accused of being an anti-semite, and former moderator Jeff "Blu Aardvark" Latham was provably a white supremacist from eastern Oregon). At first Wikipedia insiders could not shut up about this, and continued to harp on it long after "Igor" and Latham had left. Another major resident troll in the early days, Adrian "Blissyu2" Meredith, an obsessive conspiracy fan and Australian marsupial-creature, eventually also left.

During Wikipedia's massive growth phase (2005 to 2008), there was literally no place other than WR to openly discuss and critique Wikipedia operations. And the often-bizarre personalities who infested Wikipedia and the nascent Wikimedia Foundation, especially discussion in depth and with experienced editors. Any attempt to discuss serious problems on an "official" noticeboard, talkpage, or IRC channel would result in a swift bannination, smug personal attacks, and sometimes even led to  the careful reversion of every Wikipedia edit the critic had made--useful or not. Plus, WR was unique in that it tolerated the occasional "outing" of an anonymous Wikipedian. Despite many flaws, a very laissez-faire culture, and a good number of crackpot regulars and rubber vagina monsters, it was instrumental in exposing some of the worst abuses on English Wikipedia: the scary SlimVirgin, the William Connolley climate-change assmafia, bicycle-sex king Guy Chapman, Bela Lugosi cosplayer David Gerard, "Fat Heeb For Power Rangers" Ryulong, Gary "Hey guys I'm a Jew too" Weiss, "tool of Yahweh" Jayjg, the short-penised Israel Wikilobby, Will "Won't" Beback, and various other major comedy routines.

The "official" Wikipedia Review article is poorly written and has been constantly hacked at since its first appearance. The first version was written mostly by SlimVirgin, who made it as intentionally abusive and defamatory as possible. It has been deleted and restored at least six fucking times, some of which are not documented in Wikipedia's database. The latest attempt, 20 January 2012, was an abject failure and typical of the contempt Wikipedians have for any kind of criticism. Their rage at having their abuse questioned eventually peaked in one of the most asinine things any website has ever tried: the "BADSITES" arbitration. In which Wikipedia insiders arrogantly tried to convince each other that they had the right, and the power, to censor the entire Internet in any way they saw fit. Of course, they didn't. Of course, the discussion was heavily censored after the fact. Remember that this is coming from the website-clitoris that relentlessly screams it is "NOTCENSORED".

Unfortunately, people who should have known better eventually became the controllers of WR. By 2007 the main sysop was James "Somey" Somers, who claimed to be a former US government employee currently living in retirement in Des Moines. Somey continues to claim he has never edited Wikipedia, although he did spend years posting tiresome "satire" on the not-funny joke wiki Uncyclopedia. Daniel Brandt, who was already noted for his endless dispute with Wikipedia love-muffin Chip Berlet, was running a "Google Watch" website when he found that Wikipedia was full of power abuses; he soon had a "Wikipedia Watch" website and was quickly dubbed an Enemy Of The Wiki. You would have to ask him why he was motivated to go after WP. Few people in the world endured more abuse via Wikipedia biography than Brandt. Even one of the most notorious TS Wikipedians, Kelly Martin, showed up on WR to make accurate and damning comments on internal WP operations.

Most enigmatic of all is Steve McGeady, a retired former Intel executive and ex-coder who had been banned from Wikipedia for editing his own Wikipedia biography. He used the name "Gnetwerker" on WP, the name "Gomi" on WR, and "Greybeard" when he later helped start Wikipediocracy. Plus he allegedly owned a vanity website at gomi-no-sensei.com (pseudo-Japanese for "master of garbage" or something like that). Obviously he loves the letter G, like any good Oscar the Grouch fan. As an independently wealthy VIP-type and a dedicated supporter of his alma mater, the pussy-liberal Reed College, plus the owner of his own home server farm, he would seem to be well-suited to run a protest website. Again, you'd have to ask him why he wants to criticize Wikipedia, although I suspect his motivation is very simple: he wants to get back in there and continue to glorify himself. And try to neutralize the bio of his old Intel friend Mike Hawash, who was prosecuted by the Feds for "providing material support for terrorists" (by donating money to Muslim support societies). Obviously Hawash was a target of the Israel Wikilobby. If you're thinking this is all extremely stupid and petty, fear not; it is. Erections were scarce all around.




Most people reading this know the story of WR's decline. They invited too many honest people (plus some outright cranks and clown-cars) who were banned from Wikipedia: some of the more intelligent ones included perpetual Gary Weiss editwar victim Judd Bagley, angry Hollywood producer Don Murphy (who objected to his WP biography and was mocked mercilessly for it on WP noticeboards), and that curiously furious right-wing Catholic Jeff "Ottava" Peters. Plus philosophy instructor (and my co-author) Ed "Peter Damian" Buckner, professional music teacher Paul "fieryangel" Wehage, and Andreas "Jayen466" Kolbe. All three of whom really should know better than to try to "fix" the unfixable.  Not to forget Tim "Proabviouac" Usher, who was later shown to be a spy for SlimVirgin. Plus a mixed bag of many others. Mixed in with considerable valid criticism and analysis, WR hosted incoherent rants moaning about Wikipedia's censorious, phony and paranoid culture. Plus "outings" that might or might not serve a useful purpose, plus plots to "destroy" the indestructible website, and even some displays of outright raving madness. Occasional Wikipedia True Believers logged in under phony names and shrieked at the regulars. In short, it mirrored Wikipedia itself with some accuracy. A few 4chan-style "lulz" were had, little else ensued. So its demise in early 2012 should not have been surprising.


Akahele

Started by WR regulars Greg Kohs, one of the few honest paid WP editors and greatly despised in that little world, with Paul Wehage, Anthony DiPierro and Judd Bagley. It was a part of their "Internet Review Corporation", which apparently was intended to cover all aspects of Web abuse and corruption. Their website akahele.org went live in February 2009 -- and lasted exactly one year. It was essentially a group blog which ran a few interesting and useful postings. Still, it became clear that the "serious" approach doesn't work when it comes to Wikipedia brigading and nut-buggery. The most important thing in this little pocket universe is to worship the Magic Wiki and the Magic Anus of Jimbooger Wales. (Remember those immortal and insipid words, "It was basically a valid concept". People still talk like that today, unfortunately.) And anything not plugged into that rigid paradigm was clearly a non-starter and a bore, to Wikipedians. And Akahele didn't have a forum for trolls to call each other names thereupon. So, after months of being almost totally ignored, they admitted defeat, shut down the "Internet Review Corporation" and shut off the website. All that can be seen today are a few archive.org backups. The last new post was on 25 February 2010, by 2011 the entire site was gone, and by early 2012 the URL had been seized by spammers. The last visible capture was in June 2010.


Wikipediocracy

Again, most people reading this are aware of how WR collapsed. The probably-medicated young woman who was somehow in charge of the DNS registration, Sarah "Mistress Selina Kyle" Donovan, managed to beg the WP insiders into unbanning her. So she started to trash the WR database and erase its attached blog, to "gain their trust" or something. She was duly unbanned on WP, went on a rampage, and was quickly rebanned. Meanwhile the WR regulars became disgusted and started a new forum/blog. As before and as always, the seeds of its own destruction were built-in. Although Bill "Stanistani" Burns, a professional sysop, a Wikipedia editor in good standing, and a minor WR player, was made the sysop of Wikipediocracy (WO), the same personalities were otherwise embedded. Greg Kohs was responsible for the DNS, most of the same old farts (your humble narrator included) were in regular evidence, and hosting was provided -- by none other than Steve McGeady. I was made a moderator along with several ex-WR moderators and mucky-mucks, including John McConomy and Andreas Kolbe.

It started out well at first. The attached blog became a good adjunct, running a number of entries about Wikipedia atrocities. Some even attracted media attention; such as the "Qworty" story and the ongoing saga of "Wifione" (which Ed Buckner and myself authored). Both stories were stunning in their basic idiocy. Showing how "hosed" Wikipedia is, that's always easy. But inevitably, by 2014, WO went off into the weeds. Crazy we-must-SAVE-it types like "Kumioko" and "Kiefer Wolfowitz" showed up to bleat in their uniquely narcissistic way. WP insiders like "Mathsci" (RIP ha ha), "SqueakBox", "Kww" and "Spartaz" logged in primarily to splutter that they were "innocent" of any wrongdoing and that their critics were evil. All incredibly predictable. Despite not allowing well-known trolls like Ottava or Proabivouac into the forum, and Burns banning crackpots more frequently than WR ever did, it still came to resemble WR. And I won't even mention the spanking they administered to me in July of this year, except to note: I wrote many of the items on the WO wiki, and after my kicking Burns made most of the wiki articles disappear. Whether they were useful or not.

The main purpose, to get the news media to notice Wikipedia problems, inevitably took a back seat to squabbling and idiocy. I've got an absurdly long list of media mentions of Wikipediocracy, compiled by Kolbe originally. It's quite impressive. Sadly, journalists also seem to have short attention spans as well as a major blind spot when it comes to Jimboo's Crap Farm, so this list has only historical interest.


Others

There were other websites intended for Wikipedia-related discussion. Very few of them, in fact, and every one of them failed horribly. And the reasons were much the same as above: they were run by Wikipedia fans and tended to quickly become shrieky troll cunthavens. Whether Wikipeople admit it or not, their "magicpedia" is far more like 4chan or a hacker forum than anything "serious". And so are associated websites and "communities". They live to piss on each other's heads. Unlike the above, these lesser bitchfests were usually heavily censored, thus strangling themselves in the crib. The whole subject is insulting and more people ought to feel embarrassed by their connection to these disasters, but needless to say, Wiki-fans are akin to 4channers and have short attention spans and short memories.

In February 2006, perpetual pest "Grace Note" tried to start a forum called "Wikipedia Report". It was far from an attempt to encourage free speech: he disseminated a "manifesto" which ranted at length that criticism of Jimboob and friends would not be tolerated, racism would not be tolerated, and "outing" of Wikipedians would not be tolerated. Essentially nothing that Wikipedians really enjoyed would be tolerated. He could not stop calling Wikipedia Review the "racist board" or the "Igor Nazi Board". Because he could also not stop fighting with other Wiki-Fans, it was stillborn.

Insiders often forget that the supremely arrogant WP administrator/bureaucrat/checkuser Steve "UninvitedCompany" Dunlop started his own private Wikipedia discussion forum in January 2008, called "Wikback". Like Grace Note's proposed forum, it was massively censored and utterly intolerant of anything but positive happy-talk. It lasted a few weeks and its URL was quickly seized by Japanese spammers. Because the geek had "nofollow" links on it, there are no existing archives of it anywhere. Thus, in classic Wikipedia fashion, it "never happened". Step right up and see the dancing freaks, eh? Dunlop eventually became inactive. More people could take the hint.

Auggie, the sysop of failed Wikipedia "fork" encyc.org, started a Proboards forum called "Wikipedia Review" in March 2013, oddly enough. Auggie was banned from WP (predictably) and thought he could "out-reason" unreasonable people. Although it is still online today, like Encyc it is essentially a dead and drifting vessel. He's the only person posting comments. Haw.

We can't do this without mentioning the extensive coverage The Register gave to Wikipedia criticism and scandals, starting all the way back in 2003 and continuing today. It was the ONLY news outlet of any kind that regularly ran Wikipedia items that weren't slobbering love letters to Jimbo's foreskin. The two primary Register writers responsible for the WP coverage, Andrew Orlowski and Cade Metz, were pilloried for it on Wikipedia. To this day the Wikipedia biography of Orlowski (prominent tech journalist) is badly written and useless. Metz is repeatedly insulted in old noticeboard comments but does not "deserve" an article.


Conclusions

No doubt Wikipedia is declining. Recent discussions of it in news outlets, on Reddit and in other places make that quite clear. The Gamergate scandal was very damaging for Wikipedia as its combative insiders were drawn into the pointless squabbling. Jimbarf continues to give speeches for $50k-100k a pop, to accept awards, and to bask in the rectum-rubs administered to him by his fellow "digerati", despite having little to do with his "great creation" any longer. And the criticism, while it continues, seems to have been more of a vomit factory than a useful movement. Disagree and snarl all you want, you're the Japanese rubber monster; I can PROVE my assertions. Can you? Further information is available upon (serious) request. Although I admittedly expect that no one will take me up on the offer. Because no one cares; Wikipedia won and everything else is shit. Have a nice day, sucker.

To conclude, have a joke:

What's the difference between KillerChihuahua and a refrigerator? A refrigerator doesn't fart when you pull the meat out.






11 comments:

  1. Directly from the Reed College article on Wikipedia:

    "Notable Reed alumni include businessman John Sperling (1948), Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder (1951), fantasy author David Eddings (1954), radio personality Dr. Demento (1963), former US Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig (1965), computer engineer Daniel Kottke (1976), and Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger (1991).

    Among those who attended but did not graduate from Reed are Academy Award-nominated actress Hope Lange, chef James Beard, and Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs."

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    1. That sounds like a "pussy-liberal" college to me. Heh heh.

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    2. At least they have Dr. Demento.

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    3. fwiw Sperling was the fine gentleman who started the first major for-profit university, the University of Phoenix. Which is currently dancing with bankruptcy after soaking money from millions of students and giving them semi-worthless college credits in return, over the past 39 years.

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  2. Hey, interesting article, and a bit of a rant itself. Just want to deny killing any of the wiki articles. The Wikipediocracy wiki has had little maintenance done to it and I certainly haven't touched it since you were 'deposed.' If you like, I can take a crack at putting it back together with your help. You know where to email me. I'd need one of those three-day weekends to ensure time for pulling my hair out and cursing my existence for messing with MediaWiki again.

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  3. That KillerChihuahua joke compliments your other jokes at ED nicely, Eric.

    https://encyclopediadramatica.se/Wikipedia/Jokes

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  4. Okay Bill: if you didn't remove those wiki pages, where did they go? I'll email you.

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    1. Looks like the pages are there, but not rendering. MediaWiki - quality stuff. My measly efforts to fix that are so far in vain. Might have to reinstall the software and reconnect it to the database.

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  5. The points made in this rant are vitiated by the utterly gratuitous misogyny ("website-clitoris"? really?), swipes at transsexuals (how is it relevant even if KM is trans?) and Jews (your capitalization suggests you do not mean "people who give one the heebie-jeebies"), and puerile sneers at others' masculinity ("Erections were scarce all around.") Truly epic foot shooting.

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    1. I gave Mr. Barbour a space, he used it.

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  6. I just stumbled upon this now. Not sure why I am listed as a troll there or a conspiracy theory nut. I had some inside information about a few things that not everyone knew about, but that's about it. Certainly not a troll, and certainly not a nut. Somey stole WR from me. I essentially bought it off Igor.

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