Monday, August 31, 2015

Wikipedia Lost 300 Million Views This Year and Nobody's Talking About It.... least on Wikipediocracy, so far as we can tell. According to Business Insider and Search Engine Land, Wikipedia has been losing hits all year, and in mid-August Jimmy Wales wrote in his User Talk page that "We know there is a longterm issue with decreasing traffic from Google but this article makes it seem like something new and "sudden" and "massive" has happened." Afterwards, the Wikimedia Foundation issued a pdf file written by Ironholds (Oliver Keyes) himself, which was mostly graph charts.

Above is a chart from SimilarWeb which was featured in the Business Insider article; if you click on it you can see it goes from January 15th to June 15th and the views start at two billion and four hundred million, spike on March 15th at two billion and five hundred million, then slip back to two billion and three hundred million from April 15th to May 15th, before slip-sliding through June and July.

What was the cause? Wikipedia finished switching from the regular hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) over to HTTPS, the secure version of it. Of course, that killed the bots who come to Wikipedia for a huge number of reasons, so the "false clicks" dropped. The other thing are smartphones (there are technical issues doing editing work on Wikipedia through mobile devices.) The last thing is Google's "answer box" which pops up if you ask the search engine questions. Wikipedia was the the fifth-ranked website in the world early last year; now it is tenth. It sits below Yahoo, VKontakte,,, Yandex, and Instagram. And those sit below the "Holy" Trinity of Facebook-Google-Youtube. That must be humiliating.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Battle Over Scientology: Part III

I refrained from calling this the last Scientology post because I'm certain that new nonsense will spring up when the church collapses or David Miscavige suddenly dies or there is some sort of impossible coup and Miscavige flees to Honduras, because the merry-go-round of Scientology on Wikipedia isn't broken; they just flipped off a switch.

The Odd "Articles"

I could bring up the recent stupidity that happened on Reddit when somebody posted part two of this on a Wikipedia-criticism subforum ("subreddit"), but I will let that stand on its own. However, just for "Folsomdsf" and "willfe42" I will write this: NO, I am NOT a Scientologist; you two feebs couldn't point at a Scientologist if Chick Corea was humping your leg like a dog.

 Anyway, the "articles"....all of them are quasi-internal and they deal with Scientology, either subjects or Wikipedians. During 2010 through 2011, there was Neutrality in Scientology, a "short term views page" focused on pushing the "neutral point of view" on to all Scientology articles and BLPs ("biographies of living persons") of Scientologists. Some of the people involved were: SchuminWeb (Ben Schumin of Anonymous), FT2 (of "The Anvil email" fame), Scott MacDonald (once accidentally blocked himself), Youreallycan (as sock account Off2riorob; later blocked for nasty emails), Deirdresm (ex-Sci; thought Scott MacDonald was acting as a proxy for banned users), and finally Stanistani (William "Monty" Burns, the human link to Wikipediocracy.) Things done included deleting the Astra Woodcraft and Kendra Wiseman articles to lump them together into the stub, while leaving the Jenna Miscavige Hill article by itself, even though Hill was also a founding member of the Ex-Scientology Kids website! They couldn't merge the Orientation: A Scientology Information Film stub into some other article, and Stanistani couldn't vaporize the Leipzig Human Rights Award article, even though the last time the award was given was 2003, to Andreas Heldal-Lund of Operation Clambake (aka

Another "odd article" was Articles for deletion/Scientology Public Relations from 2006, the subject of which now redirects to the Office of Special Affairs article. Antaeus_Feldspar (Joseph Crowley) voted for its deletion, while Republitarian decided to have a fight with TheFarix and Orsini over the name of the guy who wrote the article, Lord Xenu (who has since vanished into oblivion.) The whole thing was idiotic and quickly buried.

Then there was the July-September 2007 Requests for arbitration/COFS mess. COFS was the original name of Shutterbug, and that was how she was forced to change names, by a committee made up such wonderful people as SheffieldSteel (real name unknown; possibly a sockpuppet, or a guy in Belgium posing as North Carolina college student; only on Wikipedia to harass people), Durova (Lise Broer), Lyncs (as Justanother), Misou (sock of Shutterbug?), Jehochman (Jonathan Hochman), Cirt (as Smee), and Lsi John (name unknown, all that remains is a page of animal photos.) The accusations were mostly conflict-of-interest editing. Following Wikipedian tradition, the block log at the bottom is full of other names blocked or banned: Shutterbug, Makoshack, and Misou banned from Scientology editing for 30 days in 2007; Anybody and Justahulk warned to avoid each other by Rlevse in 2008; Pieter Kuiper topic banned from Scientology for two weeks in 2010 by Tim Song (Wikipediocracy's Tryptich); finally, Courcelles giving Shutterbug the "indefinite ban" in September of that same year for sockpuppeting.

The article Church of Scientology editing on Wikipedia is a weird "hurrah for our team!" article talking about Virgil Griffith's WikiScanner software that discovered how many IPs were Church owned and how the Church can't edit pages about itself. The page history is interesting; begun by Chesdovi in late August of 2010, nominated for deletion by Robofish, worked on by Cirt from August to September of 2010, then handed over to a number of different people who gnomed it until 2015. Meanwhile Chesdovi decided to refrain from Wikipedia editing for a month in early 2012, and never returned (possibly hit by a Jerusalem bus.)

Lastly, there was a WikiProject Scientology, set up by David Gerard in 2005. It was supposed to do what the later Neutrality in Scientology page did, but as a WikiProject it was far flashier and easier to find, though that didn't stop it from becoming a ghost town after October 2014. When the WikiProject Soviet Union was founded the same year as the Scientology one, and that project is still going strong, something had to have gone horribly wrong with Gerard's baby.

"Scientology is a UFO religion"

That statement shows the bone ignorance of the person who repeats it. If anything, Scientology is an "ancient astronauts" religion due to the Xenu story, except unlike most ancient astronaut theories (which have aliens building Stonehenge or carving the Nazca Lines of Peru) Hubbard's tale takes place before humans evolved on Earth. Due to the multilevel structure of Scientology, it takes years to get to read the "Operating Thetan III" materials or hear Hubbard recount the story of "Incident II" on the Ron's Journal 67 tape (recorded in 1967 on a Scientologist-run ship in some Mediterranean harbor.) Scientologists are told to not speak of the things they learn to "uninitiated" lower-level members or outsiders at all. L. Ron never claimed that he got his knowledge after being taken aboard a flying saucer; Excalibur was written after a laughing gas "trip" in a dentist's office in the late 1930s, while Dianetics was hammered together from that material and other readings in 1950, and Scientology grew from that.

Now there are UFO religions, like Raëlism (founded in France in 1974), or the Aetherius Society (founded in London, England in 1955), or Unarius Academy of Science (founded in Los Angeles in 1954, now in El Cajon, California); even that joke super-pastiche The Church of the SubGenius (founded in Dallas, Texas in 1979) has UFOs taking away the faithful on X-Day when the aliens come to destroy the planet. Weirder yet, the long-exposed hoax/"fiction" of UMMO has given birth to a "Daughters of UMMO" cult in Bolivia. The difference is that these groups were not founded by science-fiction writers (Ivan Stang, et. al. of the SubGenius Church are parodists, certainly, and the "Daughters of UMMO" are more of a syncretic group), but by people claiming to have had experiences they claim are genuine (whether they were or not is beyond the scope of this article, but I am not a member of any group listed.) Scientology, when it was Dianetics, was a form of abreaction therapy in combination with self-hypnosis; it began getting the "space opera" trappings when people claimed to enter memories of previous lives when hypnotically regressing to early childhood, and the past lives started becoming extraterrestrial when they went further back (whether that was due to Hubbard's direct or indirect influence or not I cannot say*.) Nothing of anything written within this section counts however, because Wikipedia has decided Scientology is a UFO religion, Google re-transmits that, and the press goes along. Just to screw with Google, Scientology is NOT a UFO religion.

How to Have a New-Age Article on Wikipedia Without the Mess

1. Be obscure. Do a search for "Rational Culture" or "Cultura Racional." You won't find anything. However, if you type in Universe in Disenchantment you will stumble across the article on Tim Maia, a Brazilian musician/national treasure, who had joined the Rational Culture cult for a short time in the 1970s, by reading their holy book Universe in Disenchantment. Ivan Stang clued me into this Brazilian religion in his 1988 book High Weirdness by Mail, where he wrote that the RC organization at the time was claiming their books were being dropped out of UFOs and that they had healing properties (!) because of that.

2. Have a fixer. If you look at older versions of the article on Prem Rawat, there is no clue he ran a cult (Divine Light Mission.) Why? Because of an employee of his, Jossi Fresco Benaim aka Jossifresco, who was made an administrator, and later thrown out (though allegedly still editing Rawat material under a sockpuppet.)

3. Be loved outside of Wikipedia. A good example would be Sri Chinmoy, the now-deceased weightlifting guru, though he had to have a number of fixers keep any of his darker elements from being on Wikipedia. People like: Fencingchamp, Vivvvek (a "single-purpose account"), Wiki9898zzz (another SPA), and Chotochele (ditto), among others kept the controversies away. So the article has expanded and contracted over, and over, and over, again. But notice we hear none of it, because the truly obnoxious users are elsewhere. Probably wearing Guy Fawkes masks.


*  The Research Council of the American Medical Association stated in 1985:
“....memories obtained under hypnotic interventions contain confabulations, pseudomemories and inaccuracies. Self-report, alone, cannot be used to determine the reliability of true from false memories.” (Quote taken from here.)

For the record, William Burns' nickname is not "Monty." I call him that because his actions resemble that of The Simpsons' Montgomery Burns character, though in truth, he is really Steven McGeady's Mr. Smithers.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Jimbo and Larry Lessig "Start" the Presidential Campaign Trail - on Reddit

This was good for some laughs....

Making a first swing at starting a presidential campaign on Reddit would be like Jimmy Carter starting his campaign in 1976 on CB radio. I was clued into this by a Reddit-watcher who noticed that a number of weird accounts were involved, such as:

Who showed up here:

(Is /u/AKVM a Lessig campaign worker?)

My source pointed out /u/1tudore, who had not used their account for over two years until a few months before the IAmA session was announced. Was he/she/it there for normal reasons, or were they a shill?

The number of reactivated and new accounts was shocking, such as /u/welshej talking to Lessig:

And when you look at the questioner:

If you look at the account, /u/welshej let it sit dormant for a year, posted something a year ago, and was posting one comment a month for the last seven months.

There were some like /u/mrblackcoffee, who were new and opposed/skeptical.

Is that a setup or not, or a right-wing troll going after a Democratic candidate? If the supporters are possibly fake, how about the opposition?

There were some people trying to reveal the truth, like /u/FuriousDark:

And people tried to laugh that off:

There were the jokers as well:

So was it all a fraud? Or were there enough fake accounts to "jumpstart" a conversation, just as Ohanian and Huffman used sockpuppets to start interest for Reddit on Reddit? It is pretty fitting that Jimmy Wales is the chairman of Lessig's campaign, because he used similar tactics to bulk up Wikipedia in 2001; taking articles from the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911), the 1899 Encyclopaedica Biblica, the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, and other public-domain reference books, rewriting them, and posting them helped build the site into the intellectual bedlam it is today.

The idea of a fraud conversation between a pseudo-candidate and fake voters within a scam-created website reminds me of a certain show about a Village, a man with a number for a name, and the Election From Hell:

Be seeing you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Guest Post: Why Wikipedia Will Fail

Why Wikipedia Will Fail
by E. A. Barbour

For months, Mr. Strelnikov has begged me to write a fully honest essay on where Wikipedia is going. Having just spent FOUR YEARS studying and taking notes on the internal culture of Wikipedia, as well as its content, and having helped to produce a website containing more than two million words of notes, I daresay that most people would likely conclude that I can actually sit in judgement of the Wiki-world with some accuracy. In fact, the only hard conclusion I can reach is rather simple: that Wikipedia as an active community is dying, and no one can stop it. Because it is based on lies. The content? Hell with that. It was just the "honeypot" to build the community.

In 2011 and 2012 I performed statistical analyses of editing patterns, administration actions, article content biases, and a variety of other quantifiable patterns. One thing that stood out was a repeated pattern of percentages of good work vs. bad work; in general, roughly 15% of Wikipedia work is valuable, and the other 85% is either of dubious value or is complete garbage. This percentage appears in all kinds of unrelated analytic areas. And yet, the Internet-using public sees absolutely nothing wrong with it. Least of all its alleged "founder", the ever-dubious Jimmy "Jimbooboo" Wales.

Understand the worst thing about the perception of Wikipedia: it is not one thing, it is many many things. It is a scattered gigantic mess of hundreds of websites, with tens of thousands of people editing bits of it every day. The general public does not see the massive and lumbering bureaucracy behind the scenes, nor do they see the mind-blowingly stupid fights on hundreds of noticeboards, arbitration boards, mediation boards, or special areas like the ever-broken "Manual of Style". For fools, perception is truth, and these ugly places are not perceived because they are not easy to find. Not to mention the considerable amount of traffic on private Wikipedia IRC channels, which only insiders see. This is an archaic Internet protocol that very few people use anymore -- even IT professionals. It is "invisible" to average folks, therefore it does not exist.

Another part of WP's warped public perception is that average users automatically assume the administration is "reliable" and "trustworthy". Because of course, in their ignorance, the hoi polloi deludes themselves into thinking "as above, so below". And what they see (all they see) is "loads of interesting and probably-reliable info". When in fact, Wikipedia is the same 85% dubious/rotten, above AND below. Some of the administrators are good and honest people, some of them are average, and some are deeply arrogant and incompetent. Some are completely crazy and should be medicated forcibly. But they aren't controlled in any way. Again, this returns to Jimbooboo's incompetent oversight of the people he installed. And their subsequent evolution into a kind of obsessive, intolerant cult organization.

No one else but Wales can be blamed for the presence of "The Cunctator". Or of David Gerard, or of Tony Sidaway, or of Mark "Raul654" Pellegrini, or of "Essjay", or of Fred Bauder, or of a litany of other early administrators. Incompetent or not, they licked Jimmy's ballsack, so he put them in and insisted they have power, whereupon they caused total chaos. Some of them were placed on the early Arbitration Committee, simply because "Jimbo Sez So". The early history of Arbcom is full of dirty tricks and favoritism done by these fine people, to protect their friends and whatever biased Wikipedia content was involved. Arbcom eventually became a little more egalitarian yet still suffers from bloviation and uselessness. The rot set in back in 2005-2007 and all the chlorine bleach in the world won't remove it. Their "Mediation" system, which was supposed to prevent arbitrations and editor restrictions, was a massive failure.

And because Jimmy was a lazy and cowardly dictator, adminship was assumed to be "for life". Until recently, when administrators started to be removed for inactivity, the only way to get rid of one was for proven and outrageous acts of abuse for years. Even this was often not enough; several high-ranking Wikipedians who stuck their noses into the Israel/Palestine editwarring and other areas have yet to be punished for playing favorites. (Ironically I found that the administrators who were quitting or being pushed out for inactivity tended to be content contributors. The remaining sysops are mostly bot-operating drones, vandalism patrollers, and nut cases. Drug addicts, in other words. Wikipedia is their cult and their heroin. For some of them, Wikipedia is a source of income. Of course, no one wants to talk about this or admit it.) Wikipedia was set up in a broken way, we know exactly who was responsible, and yet it is clear it can never be repaired.

Back in 2012 when the now-failed criticism website Wikipediocracy was started, the sysops started a companion wiki for use by journalists and outsiders, to be a repository of hard information about WP internal operations that were difficult to find or verify. I wrote an article about Wikipedia's "death spiral" for it, liberally punctuated with charts from my previous analyses. It was completely disturbing information. And yet it was completely ignored. The Wikipedians ignored it, Wikipediocracy ignored it, and the journalists Wikipediocracy tried to attract ignored it. I've since realized why journalists rarely run critiques of Wikipedia: they use it routinely for background information, themselves, without further checking of facts. In short, they love it, have assumed that it is "accurate", and are fearful of damaging their favorite online general reference with bad publicity. I suspect this is why real criticism of WP, no matter how well justified, falls on deaf ears and is forgotten. Wikipediocracy's asinine sysops have deleted the "death spiral" article, along with considerable other content on their wiki. So an copy will have to do.

One of the "best" things Jimbooboo ever did for the Wikimedia Foundation was to put Sue Gardner in charge. And the only important thing she accomplished was to make the WMF into an effective fundraising organization. Mostly by begging directly to the general public, and by ass-kissing wealthy people in the Internet industry such as Google's management and Craig Newmark of Craigslist. Otherwise, she hired incompetent lunatics from the insider corps, lied about Wikipedia's quality and value, and otherwise played along with the "cult". She grew the organization from a few paid workers into hundreds, many chosen from the cultic insider ranks. Thanks to their cultic intolerance of criticism or outsider commentary, they refused to admit that Wikipedia's editing community was deeply flawed and declining. Not until Gardner admitted they had a problem in 2010, and was subsequently replaced in 2014 by Lila Tretikov, did any major changes occur at the WMF, as Tretikov started to push out some of the organization's incompetent dead weight (Erik Möller, former "Deputy Director", widely rumored to have had an affair with his boss Gardner) and liars (Steven Walling, Sarah Stierch and others). But she can't fix the community's male bias, paid editing issues, copyright-problem backlogs, and large quantities of crackpots, and she doesn't appear to be trying. Possibly she realizes how hopeless it is.

There are many other disturbing aspects to the handling of WP's decline. The all-important number of articles, or "content pages" is rapidly approaching the 5 million mark, despite a large number of these articles being generated by bots that scrape other websites, or by obsessive nutcases. Or sometimes by paid editors; especially in corporate areas and biographies. That 5 million number is bandied about as if it were magic. There is no talk, no measure of the QUALITY of these articles. Plus, this listing of statistical figures about English Wikipedia  has numerous columns that stop in January 2010. No explanation. Are they so embarrassing? The "official page" about administrators  lists 1,343 of them (whoops, it dropped to 1,342 while I was writing this paragraph), yet if you dig a little deeper , you learn that only 582 of them are currently "active". It hasn't been this low since 2005. As I said, those vanished administrators tended to be content writers and most of them appear to be quite disgusted with the way Wikipedia is operating today. New-article quantities per month are declining, new editor accounts are declining (they now have 26 million of them, even though most are unused sockpuppets and only a tiny fraction do something regularly), and many other indicia of the "health" of Wikipedia editing are either declining or static. You won't see anything about this on the front page, nor in any Wikimedia promotional materials.

Next time I'll comment on Wikipedia's tiny and pseudo-effective community of critics. They enjoy similar levels of competence/incompetence and outright lunacy, and are also declining as Wikipedia declines. And will deny it just as strenuously as Jimbo denies any problems with his "great creation" -- because most of them are either maniac Wikipedian fans who want to "save" it, or are secretly making money editing it. I've got some really negative things to say about Wikipediocracy, in fact.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Battle Over Scientology: Part II

To paraphrase Alex in Kubrick's version of A Clockwork Orange: "This is the real boring and like nitpick-y part of the story beginning, O my brothers and only friends."

The 2008-2009 Request for arbitration on Scientology

That is a document that screams to be seen, because it's part CYA exercise, part kangaroo court because anybody who spoke up for Scientology (or who was suspected of being pro-Scientology) was blocked or banned. The RfA began on December 11, 2008 and ran through to May 28, 2009. After all the decisions were made it was amended five times, mostly in 2012 (once on the same day - the First of June at 2:10 and 2:40AM!), with the last amendment on September 19, 2013.

To make it worse, all of the evidence has been "courtesy blanked" so you have to go into the article history to see all of this stuff, most of which would be laughed out of even an Albanian court when Enver Hoxha was leader:

Cirt's inability to edit in good faith alongside a Scientologist # 2

Xenu Xenu Xenu Xenu. There, I said Xenu. Cirt seems to think that Scientologists cannot say Xenu. What an odd concept and what a total misunderstanding of what Scientology is and how it works. And then to imply that a Scientologist that edits anything related to confidential materials must be an agent or something is just plain misleading and bad-faith. Here is the deal. Ex-Scientologists and critics assert that Xenu is mentioned in some upper-level Scientology materials and they use the Xenu story out-of-context to marginalize and ridicule Scientology. OK. That is true, they do assert that and do that. What is also true is that the upper levels are confidential and no Scientologist in good standing that has done these levels may discuss what they contain because that would be a breach of the confidentiality agreement. That does NOT mean that Scientologists cannot discuss how the alleged upper-level materials are already presented in reliable sources. That is all I personally ever do, make sure that articles correctly interpret reliable sources in an NPOV fashion. Do you get the difference? If I have done the levels (and I am not going to reveal personal information), I cannot discuss what they contain from my own first-hand knowledge but I can certainly discuss if a reliable source is being represented correctly and fairly. I do not need any "special permission" for that. Nor have I any. Nor do I "get in trouble" for what I do here on Wikipedia. Cirt proves again that s/he cannot edit in good faith alongside a Scientologist and now tries to get the lot of us barred. Sheesh.
(Lyncs as Justallofthem on Cirt, taken from here.)

The accounts originally involved in this fiasco were Durova (the filing party), Justallofthem (aka Lyncs), Cirt, Jayen466 (Andreas Kolbe), Jossi (later-banned sockpuppet of Jossi Fresco), Shutterbug (puppetmaster of Misou), Misou (sockpuppet), GoodDamon, Bravehartbear, Shrampes (another Shutterbug sockpuppet!) Once the ball was rolling, the list grew voluminously; there were four more Shutterbug sockpuppets (Derflipper, Grrilla, Su-Jada, TaborG); real people like Rick Ross (the cult deprogrammer/expert, not the rapper), Tory Christman (aka "Tory Magoo", an ex-Scientologist on YouTube), Hkhenson (Keith Henson the Scientology critic), Karin Spaink (Dutch journalist then involved with legal proceedings with the Church over posting the Fishman affidavit online), David Gerard (mentioned in the last post); also a number of people only known by Wikipedia handles, so around 45 accounts in all. It quickly turned into a melee worthy of a Shaw Brothers movie; Rick Ross and Jayen466 sniping over Ross' "biography of a living person", while
Ross accused Jayen466 of being a follower of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, GoodDamon hammering Shutterbug/Misou over "civility" while defending Cirt, etc.

One of the best statements made during the original process was by AndroidCat:

I certainly didn't want to participate in the annual time-suck, but having been named as a party to this event, listed among the guilty, perhaps I should leave a few words.

I doubt this will be much of a patch on a continually erupting problem. (One almost suspects this as gamesmanship as part of someone's plan.)

Even with the WikiHitThemWithSticksHitThemWithSticks! topic-banning of involved editors, the problem will continue.

Expecting that institutional socks will vanish and CHECKUSER requests will decrease after several institutional IP ranges are blocked is .. wow. If institutional editing is assumed, then this is an institution that is well known for setting up dummy ISP accounts to hide ownership.

Expecting that the articles will drift to some happy norm: That's not going to happen. It's a topic that polarizes even among academic circles.

Here's a heretical notion: the articles have been hugely improved by conflict. Is there a way to limit it and harness it?

Umm... The arbitrator discussion seem to be giving the impression that Jossi has just stepped out for a smoke or something, and when he returns, he'll have to get back in line. Aren't we talking about rather severe warping of Wikipedia policies, guidelines and articles going back over several years? Almost.. even.. a dreaded.. Single Purpose Account? (Sorry if this has all been previously discussed privately on secret channels, I like candor, transparency, and honesty, and hope this is properly addressed out in the open.)
Metz, Cade (2008-02-06). "Wikipedia ruled by 'Lord of the Universe'". The Register.  
Metz, Cade (2009-01-09). "'Lord of the Universe' disciple exits Wikipedia". The Register.

My general impression is that this RFAR is a side-line for some sort of Wikipedia political faction maneuvering. brb, popcorn. AndroidCat (talk) 06:41, 24 May 2009 (UTC)


Being cool about it didn't help; AndroidCat was topic-banned from Scientology.

Wikipedia Hackery vs. the Scientology Spinoffs

One of the issues not really discussed by the Scientology critics are the ex-Scientologists who go into business for themselves. According to Kristi Wachter the Scientology-watcher, 65% of Scientologists go inactive one year after achieving the level of Clear. She also estimates there have been 15,013 Clears from 1976 to 2004 based on figures printed in Auditor, a Scientology magazine.

Look at the Wikipedia article on Eckankar; no mention that Paul Twitchell, the group's creator, was an ex-Scientologist. He was, and his article is a monument of bad Wikipedia writing.

In Berkeley, California, there is the Berkeley Psychic Institute, founded by Lewis S. Bostwick in 1973; group is also called the Church of Divine Man. Not a word in the Wikipedia about Bostwick's time in Scientology, nor his modifications of "the Tech." The fact that the article is nothing more then a large stub with links doesn't help.

The article on est, now called Landmark Worldwide (and no longer owned by Werner Erhard) mentions nothing about Erhard's connection to Scientology, though his BLP does.

The Wikipedia article on Adi Da actually mentions his time in Scientology and is pretty balanced, proof that you can write a decent article on Wikipedia if you put your mind to it.

Finally we should mention the article on The Process Church of the Final Judgement, which began in 1964 as "Compulsions Analysis", a fact left out by the article. The Process Church quickly created a new orientation and theology after L. Ron Hubbard declared them a "Squirrel Group" (i.e. a group "unlawfully" using "the Tech") in 1965. Christ, Satan, Lucifer and Jehovah took the place of going Clear (Xenu hadn't appeared yet in Scientology.) Co-founder Robert DeGrimston's quasi-Biblical writings are out there for the reading, all 520 pages of them.

In 1970 Hubbard published a list of so-called "Squirrel Groups" and that any Scientologist who had been a part of those groups at any time was out. They were:

Abilitism – USA
The American College Propriotary Ltd. – Australia
Amprinistics – USA, Aus. [,] New Zealand, UK
The Assoc. of Int’l Dianologists – USA
The Aus. Center of Applied Psychology – Aus
Balanced Determinism – USA
The Brotherhood – USA
Calif. Assoc. of Dianetic Auditors – USA
Calif. Dianetic Fdn. – USA
Church of the final Judgement – USA, UK, EU, Mex.
Church of Satan – USA, UK, EU, Mex.
Christan [sic] Spiritual Alliance – USA
Dianology – USA
E-Therapy – USA
Eumentics – UK
Harmonistics – USA
Institute of Ability – USA
Int’l Awareness Center – USA
New Principles – USA, UK
Personal Creative Fdn. – USA
The Process – USA, UK, EU, Mex.
Reform Church of Scientology – USA
Sciognostics – USA
Self-Realization – UK, USA
Trichotomy – USA
Trinitology – USA
Triology – USA
Vacuum Cleaning Procedure – USA
World Society for Everyman’s Freedom – USA

Notice that the Process Church is on the list twice, because Hubbard hated them that much. Later four names were added:

Eductivism – USA
Anderson Research Fdn – USA
Defense or Thought – USA
Erhart [sic] Seminar Training (EST) – USA

Very few of these groups have been mentioned by Wikipedia, and Wikipedia still lacks a page for Scientology offshoots.


We will finish our look at Scientology on Wikipedia by examining some bizarro articles ("Neutrality in Scientology", the AfD on "Scientology Public Relations"), and how other cults control their articles. After that an article on Howard Keith Henson, and we can finally discuss the LaRouche war.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stuff That Has Nothing to Do with Wikipedia: "Communism Kills" of Tumblr

Above is the banner of a certain American conservative Tumblr blog, Communism Kills, run by Ashley Rae Goldenberg, who allegedly works at L. Brent Bozell's Media Research Center. If you look at her blog, it's your stock "trash the Left" bit of work; as I write this she's slamming Bernie Sanders.

The image above is a self-portrait of Goldenberg from her blog. The image below is also her, supposedly:

And that guy with the World War One Imperial German flag is supposedly this fellow:

Who is Matthew Heimbach, founder of the White Student Union at Towson University in Maryland. And they were dating, just to make matters even worse.

She deleted the post above, where she admitted she dated Heimbach from 2011 to 2012. Below is Heimbach at some sort of skinhead or Neo-Nazi gathering in 2013:

Note the Klan insignia on the wall, we added the red arrow on the grass.

I am not doing this to humiliate Goldenberg or Heimbach; I just find it fascinating how the farthest-Right and the regular-Right can overlap like that, much as Doug Henwood discovered as a member of Yale's Party of the Right during the Nixon administration when POR members outnumbered German-language students at a screening of Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. The most annoying part was having to use a neo-Nazi website as a source, though another Tumblr blogger confirmed it. We have a sickening feeling all this stuff will be deleted within the next five years because Tumblr seems to delete blogs for breaking some set of rules possibly only known to Tumblr users. Heimbach is listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's "extremist files" website, so he can't walk away clean, but Ashley Rae Goldenberg can.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Battle Over Scientology: Part I

Right off the bat I want to say that we aren't going to be talking about Xenu, body thetans, auditing, "sec checking", or L. Ron Hubbard's rotten teeth. This is all about the article on Scientology in en-Wikipedia, how it was biased from the beginning, fought over for nearly a decade, and became a relic of the Internet-Scientology wars of the 1990s-2000s while also being a guide for other New Age, "new religious movement" groups on how to dodge the e-mobs while keeping a presence on Wikipedia.

In the Beginning....

The first Scientology article was in October 10, 2001 by The Cunctator (Brad Johnson), and as you can see here it's a long, harsh stub with no section breaks, photos, or complicated layout of any kind. The next edit was in November 19, 2001 by an IP address ( who stuck in all the "cult" references and then it was off to the races. The Cunctator only edited the article twice after creating it, with his last addition in September of 2002. When Larry Sanger resigned from Wikipedia on March 1, 2002 he told Johnson this: "I'm sure glad I don't have to deal with you anymore, Cunctator. You're a frigging piece of work."

Early editors of the article split into two camps very quickly; those who actually used their real names, and those who just used IP addresses, and the latter camp were thought to be Scientologists or PR flacks working for them. Lee Daniel Crocker (who called the article "the best carefully-polished, well-debated" one on Wikipedia in November of 2001), Dreamyshade (one of the first female Wikipedia editors), AxelBoldt, and Bryan Dirksen were some of the early "name" Wikipedians involved. By 2003 Modemac (Eric Walker) was watching over the page and the warring was in earnest. By that point the article had regulars. The anti-Scientologists were: Prioryman when he was ChrisO (Chris Owens, 2003); David Gerard joined in 2004; Tony Sidaway, Gerard's friend, that same year; Will Beback (William McWhinney), also in 2004, then banned in 2012; Antaeus_Feldspar (Joseph Crowley) also 2004, left Wikipedia in 2011; SchuminWeb (Ben Schumin) in 2005, he left in 2012: MartinPoulter in 2005; Cirt (name unknown) 2006, desysopped in 2012; and finally Wizardman (Daniel Tylicki) in 2006. The named pro-Scientologists were much smaller in numbers and they were: Misou (name unknown) 2006; COFS aka Shutterbug (same) in 2007; TaborG (same) also in 2007; Lyncs aka Justallofthem aka Justanother (also unknown name), joined in 2006 and survived blocking, still on Wikipedia today. Misou, COFS, and TaborG were all accused of being sockpuppets of each other and banned; Lyncs tried to be the voice of reason from the Scientology side and failed to make a dent. There were four "uncertains" whose "allegiance" and true names were unknown: Wikipediatrix, who joined in 2005;  GoodDamon in 2006; Republitarian joined that same year, was later blocked as a "meatpuppet or sockpuppet" (?); and Highfructosecornsyrup, also in 2006. That last account was blocked as a sockpuppet of Wikipediatrix. Beyond all the names listed there were a large number of IP addresses and alleged sockpuppets, so much so that a number of half-baked "sockpuppet investigations" were carried out and large numbers of people were banned, most probably innocent. And thanks to all the submissions, deletions, reinsertions it remained a biased wreck that only began having photographs of Scientology buildings attached to it in the summer of 2005, and even then it was just a shot of the long vertical sign of the Los Angeles "Scientology Information Center" on Hollywood Boulevard.

Why Kick Scientology?

There are a number of  reasons, all of them complicated. Since the 1970s, there have been a number of anti-cult movements fighting groups like the Unification Church ("Moonies") or the Hari Krishnas (ISKCON), but especially the cults which encouraged mainly young people to drop their previous lives and live in some sort of collective, and there have been a large number of those, copying the `60s "drop out" communes but sticking in their pet religious dogmas. I see a lot of this as a bourgeois  revenge at the time on the commune culture which allowed the Symbionese Liberation Army (1973-75) to form, the fear that "something worse" would emerge. Instead they got Jonestown and David Berg's "The Family"; while "revolutionary suicide" and the idea of religious prostitution are deeply unpalatable, they aren't the urban guerillas of the SLA nor the bombers of the Weather Underground, and neither of those were cults.

Scientology was different; it was run like a corporation, most of the members did not live in communes (group living was for poorer staff members and members of the "Sea Org" priesthood), it aimed itself at the aspirational middle-class, it was wealthy enough to have television ad campaigns, famous people were members. There had been small bits of criticism like Paulette Cooper's 1971 book The Scandal of Scientology, but the Church liked lawsuits, so the media stayed away. What changed everything was the rise of Usenet, then the early Internet; Scientology tried to attack anti-Scientology Usenet groups in 1994 (possibly because they felt invincible after forcing the IRS to declare Scientology a religion in 1992); they were trounced. Scientology asked members to put a modified version of Netscape Navigator in their computers in 1998 which critics dubbed "Sciento Sitter"; it blocked out a number of anti-Scientology websites. When YouTube started in 2005, that became another battleground as protesters would record their protests and post them, or video editors cut up Hubbard lectures and other material into anti-Church collages, or posted copies of private Scientology videotapes like the 1986 death of L. Ron Hubbard "briefing" or the Jon Zegel audiotapes. The last two examples were posted to "stick it" to the Church of Scientology, to prove that their secrets were no longer so, also Zegel (who was involved in dissident Scientology, mainly David Mayo's Advanced Ability Center) was forced by Church lawyers to make a "recanting tape" after three others laying out where Hubbard had been from 1967 to 1983 and other secrets the Church was hiding from parishioners and the US government. As with everything else Internet and Scientology, videos were pulled for "copyright", but copied and reposted. Some of the videos linked to above are copies of copies.

So this is what the Wikipedia Scientology war was about, continuing the older Usenet fight on another website while also being a sideshow of the mid-2000s "Project Chanology" protests (which started when the Church yanked that Tom Cruise video that wound up being relentlessly parodied anyway.) It really had nothing to do with sticking to Wikipedia's "neutral point of view" in article writing, it was all about protesting an unpopular group the oddest way possible.


In the next post on this subject, we will run through the insane 2009 Arbitration case, look at how sloppy Wikipedia is when dealing with the large number of Scientology spinoff cults, and examine a number of odd articles related to Scientology within Wikipedia.

Below is an interview the Lisa McPherson Trust made with Mike McClaughry in 2000. McClaughry was a former member of Scientology's Guardian Office which was a small intelligence organization within Scientology. These were the people who broke into US government offices in the 1970s ("Operation Snow White"); they are now called the Office of Special Affairs and allegedly less crazy.