Sunday, October 9, 2016

Addendum to BADSITES: SWATjester

Dan Rosenthal - my notes call him "a determined buttlicker and troll" - is both SWATjester and Drosenthal, and one of the Wikipedia wargamers, though he is barely on Wikipedia today, and barely talked about by the Old Hands still in Jimboland.

Who he is, Why you should care

SWATjester (Rosenthal capitalizes it "Swatjester") first made an appearance on Wikipedia in January, 2006 as a "registered editor" (his words), in that halcyon period just before the Fall. Before that he had been editing as an IP in late December of 2005 (his admission), though I would not be surprised if he was IP'ing even further back. Should not be confused with the former Clinton White House official Dan K. Rosenthal; this Rosenthal is a Iraq War II veteran, claims to have worked for the State Department, being both an attorney and a game developer. Supposedly he now works for the game company Machine Zone, yet he isn't listed on the "about us" page. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Back in 2006-7, SWATjester edited in a random way a number of articles on military items, numerous political figures, and gaming (of course.) Somewhere along the way he created the SierraSix sockpuppet which was created for him to abandon the SWATjester account if he needed to, but it sits unused. Also shelved but online is Rosenthal's 2007 blog May It Please the Court, which you can only now get to by Wayback Machine; the blog talked about "wiki-law" because Rosenthal wound up working for the WMF as a legal intern from May to September. Before that he went through two Requests for adminship; the first in April of 2006 (failed), the second in February the next year, which was successful. While also pushing for BADSITES to be a thing, he was also in a fight with sci-fi author Teresa Nielsen Hayden and blogger Kathryn Cramer; SWATjester was arguing with Hayden over facts in science-fiction articles. He was dickish enough to try to delete a link to T.N. Hayden's blog within the Teresa Hayden BLP (!) claiming the blog was an "attack site" in August 2007. There are endless complaints on the now-dead Wikipedia Review concerning Rosenthal, and he wasn't loved on Wikipedia either - he tangled with Eleemosynary over a stupid Snakes on a Plane rumor in March 2006; Muriness complained about his heavy-handedness in June 2007. I have five other AN/I complaints: Bstone complained about him in May 2008 (complaint closed by Tiptoeity); Fosnez has a struck-through complaint in October 2007 (that one got real nasty); some stupidity by SWATjester concerning the article on the University High School of Los Angeles; fighting between Rosenthal and the_undertow with LaraLove (aka Jennavecia; Lara Taylor) backing up the_undertow over white power allegations (probably true); and Jeeny, claiming that SWATjester was "trolling and threatening" them in November 2007. The careful reader will notice how many of these complainants later left Wikipedia entirely. Wikipedia Review had this from Greg Kohs, this from Eric Barbour, some shooting talk found by Kohs*.

".....Like a deflating balloon....."

 The decline of SWATjester to a bare-minimum admin just one hair away from being desysopped was slow and painful. There was the stupid argument between Rosenthal and Seth Finklestein in December 2007 over a blog post written by SWATjester; the entire thing has been scrubbed from the Internet, all that is left is this sentence from a Wikipedia Review blog post: "We at the Review recognized this type of thing immediately. It’s called an attempt to quash any criticism. “Swatjester” denounced Seth’s “ethics” in a blog post called “Wikipedia Haters“, before declaring The Guardian newspaper a tabloid and dismissing it as an unreliable source. Seth blew raspberries back, probably the wisest course of action available." That same month SWATjester ran for Arbcom, and got his rotten head kicked in for his troubles. In February 2008 Guettarda (Ian Ramjohn) blocked Dan Rosenthal for twelve hours; SWATjester was feuding with SqueakBox (Richard Weiss). For some bizarro reason LaraLove removed the block.

The rest of the unspooling was pretty unspectacular: in June 2008 the_undertow (aka Law) tried to write a BLP on Dan K. Rosenthal, and that knuckle-knob Ryulong confused the two Rosenthals and tried to delete the article. The year 2009 rolls around, SWATjester runs for the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. And they kicked him to the curb AGAIN! After that point it seemed that Rosenthal started to give up; April 2011 was when he cut back on editing, then he came back in 2012 to do some vandalism patrolling, then he cut back in the summer of 2013. For the last three years he has become the Wikipedia equivalent of a "hump" (Baltimore, Maryland slang for an older cop who is coasting to retirement); he could quit, but then all that work would be for nothing, so he hangs on. Pointlessly.

And the Moral of the Story is.....

Besides "don't do Wikipedia", the lesson is that the Wikipedian subculture has developed to a point where the "dirty jobs" types are considered too goonish for actual power within the machine. Kelly Martin wrote the following about Dan Rosenthal: "Swatjester is a gung-ho fascist with an over-inflated opinion of his own competence. He has even less capacity for finesse or subtlety than I do, and would be even more of a disaster as an arbitrator than he has been as an admin and OTRS volunteer [i.e., the "Volunteer Response Team" - S.] ."  She's completely on target, and it's sad that an online "super-encyclopedia" has to use a guy like SWATjester as an enforcer.


* Let it never be said that I'm unfair to sources who loathe me. Also the term "SWATjester" is spelled with the "special weapons and tactics" acronym in caps, so I'm keeping it like that here.

No comments:

Post a Comment