Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Cults That Screwed Up Wikipedia; Future Tumblr Nonsense

Recently I have been sent a trove of documents on Wikipedia, and some of them relate to the two major battles that went on from 2001 until people stopped caring in 2008 or so - Scientology and the LaRouche movement. Both of them are cults - the former quasi-religious, the latter purely political, and the funny thing was that there was far more drama from the people opposed to these two groups than any supporters, save for Herschelkrustovsky, and that was due to open attacks from SlimVirgin and Will Beback. So that is what we will be doing either through the end of July or beginning in August is revealing how the anti-cult movement warped Wikipedia, because it's going to take a number of posts to cover all the material available.

I have decided that Tumblr blogs run by lunatics will be the next side target of this blog; pieces on some of the craziest ones will happen from time to time because I got 1180 views on the "Logic'd" post alone; that article I did on Reddit didn't even break 100 views.

Graph of Blogger page views

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Reddit: Probably Screwed Anyway

As you probably know already the interm CEO of "reddit", a former venture capitalist and corporate lawyer named Ellen Pao had to drop her job like a flaming radioactive rock after much of the website's subforums (called "subreddits") were locked by their moderators in protest of the firing of Victoria Taylor (the "Ask Me Anything" Reddit Q&A sessions coordinator), along with the closure of five harassment subreddits: /r/fatpeoplehate, /r/hamplanethatred, /r/shitniggerssay, /r/transfags, /r/neofag; the first two being anti-fat people ("hamplanet hatred") and the last two mocking video gamers. Steve Huffman, who had co-founded the site in 2005 with Alexis Ohanian, is now going to run the place, but the junked subreddits are staying deleted. No word on if Victoria Taylor (Reddit handle: "chooter") will return.

Here are some reasons why Reddit is probably a baked turkey in a few years:

It was founded on lies. When Ohanian and Huffman founded Reddit, it was solely an Internet links aggregator, no comments, no useless points ("karma") for upvoted comments. That was a huge problem, which they got around by sockpuppeting the living shit out of the site. Huffman admits as much in the video below:

Now National Lampoon had a fake letter column during the early years of the magazine's existence, but that was an obvious joke, and the letter writers would occasionally go meta for a gag. What Huffman is talking about in that video is closer to the old patent medicine shill of the 19th century, the fake outsider from the crowd who samples the "medicine" the pitchman is expounding upon and suddenly no longer has arthritis. By making bullshit into reality, the founders of Reddit paved the way for the slipshod way the site was run later.

The site has never made a profit. When Huffman and Ohanian were doing their slight of hand, the "Y Combinator" seed fund was paying the bills. Later they were bought up by Condé Nast in 2006, then spun off as an "independent company" in 2011, but they are still tied to Advance Publications, Condé Nast's owners. At any rate, they have never been in the black. Back when Yishan Wong was the CEO, he wrote the following in a Reddit comment that was picked up by Business Insider: "Yep, the site is still in the red. We are trying to finish the year at break-even (or slightly above, to have a margin of error) though." That was in 2013. Wong is gone, Pao comes in, The Grey Lady's technobullshit section asks "Can Reddit Grow Up?" Meanwhile all of the scandals (Violentacrez, "The Fappening", the recent Paoacaust) hide the fact that Reddit now has dorky little ads, they constantly beg users to "buy" or "tip" people in "Reddit Gold" which lets users into a goofy subreddit called "The Lounge" (/r/lounge) which tries to act like a parody of a 1920s gentleman's club.

The moderators can make their subreddits private. Because the mother company was endlessly stingy with hiring people to administer Reddit in the early years, they allowed users to become unpaid moderators, which has created Wikipedia-levels of bullying stupidity. Users can be kept from commenting in subreddits, or banned altogether. And the subreddits can go private and never go public again. Sometimes this is useful for marginal subreddits being bullied by professional trolls, but in the recent War on Pao for the first time they were shut down for protest reasons. It will happen again, unless the administrators recode the software so that the popular subreddits can never be shut off, or the management and the userbase comes to some sort of agreement. In a strict business sense, the battle to get Ellen Pao to resign has probably made once-willing investors walk away, and Advance Publications wonder if selling the site might not be a bad idea.

Wikipedians are involved. Low on the list, certainly, but Wikipedia and Reddit are now compatible spaces because so many prominent/infamous Wikipedians hang out on Reddit. Russavia is a three-year member, as is Jimmy Wales. Noted Nosferatu impersonator and RationalWiki founder David Gerard is a heavy user, thanks to being the moderator of his own RationalWiki subreddit. Protonk has been on the site for four years. Other users include Mike Godwin, FT2, Killer Chihuahua, SchuminWeb, MBisanz, Malleus Fatuorum, AGK, and so on. Some of them barely use it, others are hooked. However the stench of failure and basement living funks up an already rancid website.

The Racism, the Sexism, the Gore. And this is where the stink comes from.....a lot of it came from the "ex"-4chan types and Michael Brutsch (Violentacrez). Brutsch gave us such hellholes as /r/spacedicks (mangled body parts), /r/PicsofDeadKids, /r/StruggleFucking (formerly /r/rape), /r/Jewmerica, and /r/Hitler. Some of these still exist three years after Violentacrez was drop-kicked off Reddit. He didn't create it, but there is an /r/Nazi still working. Men's rights activists have such subreddits as /r/TheRedPill and /r/MensRights to spout misogyny. For the depraved you have /r/KillingWomen, /r/TrueGore, /r/EatingWomen. For every subreddit I named, there are three others, in case the popular one is locked by the Administration. The hatred of African Americans is beyond sanity - the aforementioned /r/shitniggerssay is the tip of the iceberg. Women, men, the human body, the English language, technology: all of these are debased by these subreddits.


Ohanian and Huffman are now like Satan in The Divine Comedy, locked in an icy pit of their own making, having to deal with the endless misery of running a website that constantly subverts their original intentions while the ascended form of Aaron Swartz hovers over them, out of reach, laughing.

Mashable, "Aliens in the Valley: The complete and chaotic history of Reddit." (2014)
Gawker, "Reddit Reluctantly Bans Child Porn" (2012)
Gawker, "How Reddit Became a Worse Black Hole of Violent Racism than Stormfront" (2015)
Chuck von Rospach, "The Death of Reddit" (View of veteran messageboard sysop, 2015)

Addendum: Now the claim in the last two days (7-14, 7-15) is that Alexis Ohanian let Ellen Pao be the target of Reddit's rage because he fired Victory Taylor, and not Pao. The person making these claims: Yishan Wong. Then the Reddit Chief Engineer, Bethanye Blount, quit after being on the job for two months. Here is Wong on Reddit in /r/announcements, writing about the /r/creepshots debacle (that was another Michael Brutsch subreddit), his free speech commitment and how Ellen Pao paid for it:

"How's everyone doing? This is AWESOME!

There's something I neglected to tell you all this time ("executive privilege", but hey I'm declassifying a lot of things these days). Back around the time of the /r/creepshots debacle, I wrote to /u/spez [Steve Huffman] for advice. I had met him shortly after I had taken the job, and found him to be a great guy. Back in the day when reddit was small, the areas he oversaw were engineering, product, and the business aspects - those are the same things I tend to focus on in a company (each CEO has certain areas of natural focus, and hires others to oversee the rest). As a result, we were able to connect really well and have a lot of great conversations - talking to him was really valuable.

Well, when things were heating around the /r/creepshots thing and people were calling for its banning, I wrote to him to ask for advice. The very interesting thing he wrote back was "back when I was running things, if there was anything racist, sexist, or homophobic I'd ban it right away. I don't think there's a place for such things on reddit. Of course, now that reddit is much bigger, I understand if maybe things are different."

I've always remembered that email when I read the occasional posting here where people say "the founders of reddit intended this to be a place for free speech." Human minds love originalism, e.g. "we're in trouble, so surely if we go back to the original intentions, we can make things good again." Sorry to tell you guys but NO, that wasn't their intention at all ever. Sucks to be you, /r/coontown - I hope you enjoy voat! [A reddit knockoff the /r/fatpeoplehate members ran to.]

The free speech policy was something I formalized because it seemed like the wiser course at the time. It's worth stating that in that era, we were talking about whether it was ok for people to post creepy pictures of women taken legally in public. That's shitty, but it's a far cry from the extremes of hate that some parts of the site host today. It seemed that allowing creepers to post (anonymized) pictures of women taken in public, in a relatively small subreddit that never showed up on the front page, was a small price to pay for making it clear that we were a place welcoming of all opinions and discourse.

Having made that decision - much of reddit's current condition is on me. I didn't anticipate what (some) redditors would decide to do with freedom. reddit has become a lot bigger - yes, a lot better - AND a lot worse. I have to take responsibility.

But... the most delicious part of this is that on at least two separate occasions, the board pressed /u/ekjp [Ellen Pao] to outright ban ALL the hate subreddits in a sweeping purge. She resisted, knowing the community, claiming it would be a shitshow. Ellen isn't some "evil, manipulative, out-of-touch incompetent she-devil" as was often depicted. She was approved by the board and recommended by me because when I left, she was the only technology executive anywhere who had the chops and experience to manage a startup of this size, AND who understood what reddit was all about. As we can see from her post-resignation activity, she knows perfectly well how to fit in with the reddit community and is a normal, funny person - just like in real life - she simply didn't sit on reddit all day because she was busy with her day job.

Ellen was more or less inclined to continue upholding my free-speech policies. /r/fatpeoplehate was banned for inciting off-site harassment, not discussing fat-shaming. What all the white-power racist-sexist neckbeards don't understand is that with her at the head of the company, the company would be immune to accusations of promoting sexism and racism: she is literally Silicon Valley's #1 Feminist Hero, so any "SJWs" would have a hard time attacking the company for intentionally creating a bastion (heh) of sexist/racist content. She probably would have tolerated your existence so long as you didn't cause any problems - I know that her long-term strategies were to find ways to surface and publicize reddit's good parts - allowing the bad parts to exist but keeping them out of the spotlight. It would have been very principled - the CEO of reddit, who once sued her previous employer for sexual discrimination, upholds free speech and tolerates the ugly side of humanity because it is so important to maintaining a platform for open discourse. It would have been unassailable.

Well, now she's gone (you did it reddit!), and /u/spez has the moral authority as a co-founder to move ahead with the purge. We tried to let you govern yourselves and you failed, so now The Man is going to set some Rules. Admittedly, I can't say I'm terribly upset."

Source of quote. (Scroll down to find it.)
The thread it came out of.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Fluffernutter-Ironholds IRC Fragment, 2011

Fluffernutter is Karen Ingraffea of IBM; she documented the work done to make the "Watson" AI machine. Ironholds is Oliver Keyes, who was a British university student at the time. This 18 minute fragment has been floating around the Internet for years, and it is possible this was typed at the Wikimania 2011 conference in Haifa, Israel (Keyes mentions a "dull presentation.") What is known is that Fluffernutter later married Courcelles (allegedly "Bradford James Brown" or "Bradley Marshall Brown") in 2013. Mr. Brown appears here as "tyw7."

19:57:22 < tyw7> Ironholds: I think Fluffernutter_ is currently afk
19:57:27 < tyw7> see Fluff|laptop instead
19:57:49 < Ironholds> tyw7: she's sitting next to me and I just slapped her arse
19:57:51 < Fluff|laptop> yeah, he's talking to the wrong me
19:57:51 < Ironholds> trust me, I know
19:57:57 < Fluff|laptop> no he didn't
19:58:00 < Fluff|laptop> he has terrible aim
19:58:03 < Fluff|laptop> he poked me in the hip
19:58:12 < Fluff|laptop> and now he just pinched my ass
19:58:19 < Peter-C> O_O
19:59:11 < Fluff|laptop> you'd think he'd have figured hiow to slap asses by now, but nooo
19:59:51 < tyw7> why is he slapping your ass?
20:00:00 < Ironholds> tyw7: we're fucking
20:00:02 < Fluff|laptop> why not? we DID say we're bored
20:00:06 < tyw7> O_o
20:00:12 < Ironholds> I mean, we're not fucking right now
20:00:15 < tyw7> Ironholds: you are fucking Fluff|laptop
20:00:16 < Fluff|laptop> Ironholds, see, no one believes you when you say that
20:00:17 < Ironholds> but as a general principle, we fuck
20:00:24 < Ironholds> tyw7: jeremyb didn't believe me either
20:00:29 < Ironholds> and we kissed in front of him and everythign
20:00:30 < Fluff|laptop> jeremyb practically rolled his eyes
20:00:33 < tyw7> you two are married?
20:00:37 < Fluff|laptop> baahaha
20:00:37 < Ironholds> tyw7: no, we just fuck
20:00:51 < Fluff|laptop> marry me, darling. we can drive each other insane for eternity
20:00:54 < tyw7> what would your wives/husband say? or are you single?
20:01:02 < Fluff|laptop> we're single
20:01:05 < Logan_> omai
20:01:19 < Ironholds> tyw7: dude, I'm TWENTY
20:01:22 < Fluff|laptop> haha
20:01:23 < Ironholds> I'm not married
20:01:27 Resfirestar is now known as res|starcraft
20:01:34 < Fluff|laptop> he's not married, he's just a babydaddy
20:01:39 < tyw7> Ironholds: really? I'm 18!
20:01:46 < tyw7> how old are you Fluff|laptop
20:01:49 < Ironholds> tyw7: well, nobody's perfect
20:01:50  * Fluff|laptop grins
20:01:52  * Courcelles never knows what is erious in this channel.  Ever.
20:01:58 < Logan_> erious?
20:02:00  * Fluff|laptop is far too old to be sleeping with Ironholds, let's just say
20:02:39 < Ironholds> Courcelles: we are actually being serious
20:02:47 < Ironholds> oh dear GOD THIS PRESENTATION IS DULL
20:02:53 < Ironholds> fuck this, I'm going for a smoke
20:02:56 < ^3^> You could leave?
20:02:59 < ^3^> Oh, nvm
20:03:06 < Fluff|laptop> Ironholds: do you think it will move them along if i make a show of falling asleep on your shoulder?
20:03:10 < Logan_> Ironholds: I thought you quit
20:03:16 < Ironholds> Logan_: quit what?
20:03:19 < Logan_> smoking
20:03:25 < Ironholds> Fluff|laptop: try going BOOOO! GET OFF THE STAGE!
20:03:29 < Peter-C> OMG Ironholds and Fluff|laptop need to get an apartment >:(
20:03:34  * Fluff|laptop looks shifty, suddenly decides she's a smoker if it means i can get out of here for ten minutes
20:03:36 < ^3^> Or a motel.
20:03:36 < Ironholds> Logan_: then I applied for a WMF job and tripled my stress levels
20:03:40 < Logan_> heh.
20:03:41 < Ironholds> Peter-C: we've GOT one. It's hers.
20:03:44 < Fluff|laptop> ^
20:03:49 < Peter-C> :O
20:03:50 < Fluff|laptop> brb
20:03:59 < Peter-C> Fluff|laptop has the dominant role in this relationship
20:04:09 < Logan_> you could have the marriage at the WMF headquarters
20:04:30 < tyw7> Ironholds: are you typing while in the meeting?
20:04:34 < tyw7> Say hi to Jimbo for me
20:04:35 < Peter-C> Logan_ - Jimbo could be the priest!
20:04:39 < Logan_> haha
20:04:52 < Nascar1996> ...
20:05:00 < Logan_> I declare you WikiHusband and WikiWife.
20:06:40 < tyw7> Ironholds: say hi to all the wikipedians for me ;)
20:10:26 < Ironholds> back
20:10:29 < Fluff|laptop> Peter-C: oh, if only you knew
20:10:37 < Fluff|laptop> Ironholds: we should photograph my bruises
20:10:41 < tyw7> Ironholds: who else is there at the meeting?
20:10:49 < tyw7> Fluff|laptop: and make it public domain?
20:10:51 < Fluff|laptop> lol
20:11:02 < Fluff|laptop> i have a rather spectacular one on my forearm
20:11:29 < NA_0> Bruises? What did I miss?
20:11:40 < tyw7> NA_0: Ironholds pinching and slapping Fluff|laptop
20:11:41 < Fluff|laptop> <_<
20:11:49 < Fluff|laptop> there's been very little pinching
20:12:11 < Fluff|laptop> or slapping, for that matter
20:12:29 < tyw7> and romping... :D
20:13:05 < Ironholds> romping, lots of that
20:13:08 < Fluff|laptop> hee
20:13:10 < Ironholds> Fluffernutter looks like she has hypothermia
20:13:16 < Fluff|laptop> ...?
20:13:37 < Ironholds> all blue
20:13:46 < Fluff|laptop> most of them are yellow and purple at this point
20:13:50 < Fluff|laptop> you've fallen behind
20:13:58 < tyw7> how can you romp in a Wikipedian meeting?
20:14:17 < Fluff|laptop> tyw7: you don't want to know what he just suggested to me in pm
20:14:36  * tyw7 fluffs Fluff|laptop
20:14:43 < Fluff|laptop> ew
20:14:46 < Fluff|laptop> hands off
20:15:05 < Ironholds> tyw7: blowjob in the stairwell
20:15:13 < Fluff|laptop> i said he didn't want to know, dude
20:15:24 < tyw7> lol O_o
20:15:27 < p858snake|l_> ironholds has alot of experience in that dept >.>
20:15:43 < Fluff|laptop> the stairwell is very creaky
20:15:56 < Peter-C> p858snake|l_ - giving or reciving?
20:16:08 < Fluff|laptop> also i kissed him on our way up the stairs and he was all "omg why are you touching me ew"
20:16:48 < p858snake|l_> Peter-C: I don't think it matters when you are talking about Ironholds <.<
20:16:53 < Fluff|laptop> lol
20:16:55 < Fluff|laptop> so true

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Wikiscuttlebutt: SlimVirgin and Others

Let's drag up some rumors and unconfirmed facts for the pure hell of it.

SlimVirgin: The short story is that Linda Mack/Sarah McEwan is dying from cardiomyopathy, allegedly due to stimulant abuse. The longer one is that the 007 of Swalwell, Alberta has been physically falling to pieces for some time, I knew about it, but I didn't say word one because I didn't have any details. For those people not in the loop, she was the Queen Shit of Fuck Mountain from 2004-2008 and still involved with "the project" to this day. Fought Hershelkrustofsky over Lyndon LaRouche articles, editwarred over the Lockerbie (PanAm flight 103) bombing, got Hershelkrustofsky kicked from Wikipedia with Chip Berlet's help. When she dies, one of the kingpins of the Hot Time (2004-2007) will take all the hidden edits she did as Slimv in 2003 that were deleted out of the system, and all the backroom nonsense she was involved in (including which country she was a spook/disinfo agent for) to her grave.

Erik Möller: We're not going to talk about Herr Kinder sind Pornos' support of man-boy love, or Visual Editor, or even that he was shite-canned two months ago. Nope, we're talking about his greasy relationship with fellow former Wikimedia Foundation employee HIS BOSS Sue Gardner.  Subordinates wanted to leak it for years (because Möller ran the WMF "like a baron") though it came to light in 2013, but only on Encyclopaedia Dramatica. In reality none of this truly matters to the running of Wikipedia because Gardner and Möller are ex-employees of the WMF....I bring it up in case ED vanishes again.

The 2006 Wikipedia database crash: Sometime in August or September 2006 the site crashed, millions of editing "diffs" were lost, the backup files were corrupted, and the SQL database had to be rebuilt using random pieces, most belonging to Brion Vibber. Little to nothing is known about this fiasco, and my source thinks there was a possible coverup. Kelly Martin said this about the rickety state of the system nine years ago:
You're asking about operational reliability from an organization that used to serve the entire PHP codebase for all of Wikimedia from a single, nonredundant NFS root server with no backup? The only reason they don't do this anymore is because it once failed and they had to scramble to fix it. Only after they'd been burned did they take any proactive measures to ensure uptime.

Wikimedia Engineering is a laughingstock. Especially given the budget and degree of loose cash that they have. Even today they tend to run with far less redundancy than would be considered acceptable in a reputable organization. (WO messageboard, January 2015)

The closest we get to an official statement is this "technology report" from The Wikipedia Signpost:

All Wikimedia projects were briefly locked down after most users were unable to access the site. The reason, according to developer Brion Vibber, was the readvertising of Wikimedia's IP space by Cogent.  As a result of the IP snafu, which occurred on Friday at about 17:30 UTC, few users (mostly AOL users) were able to access the site, while most others were blocked. Developers made the decision to put all databases into read-only mode until the route was restored around 19:55 UTC; write access was enabled shortly afterward. A new IP space was given to Wikimedia, and the old space is or will soon be unavailable. River Tarnell said that developers were looking into obtaining a permanent IP space.