Thursday, March 24, 2016

Guest Post: The Dark Knight on the Whacked-out Wikipedia References System

 Part of a series The Dark Knight has been running over at on the truth about certain Wikipedia issues.


No, this is not about applying for a job to write Wikipedia (you don't do it for money, you do it for love!). This is about those mysterious things found at the bottom of a Wikipedia article, usually found under a section called References.

If you've ever been unfortunate enough to bump into a Wikipedian and told them that their articles can't be trusted to be accurate, they probably tried to feed you one of their favorite pieces of propaganda: all information on Wikipedia is verifiable to reliable sources!!!??1! Well, yes, in theory. Since these FAQ entries are not meant to be huge volumes, we shall leave the issues of how Wikipedia usually makes a pig's ear of such a simple concept for a later date. This FAQ will concentrate on the method they use to achieve verifiability through reliable sources, which is, and I can tell you are eager to know, the copious inclusion of references in articles.

Where to start. Well, I guess the most important thing is style. Actually, let's back up a bit - the first thing to appreciate about referencing is that a hell of a lot of Wikipedia's content is not supported by any reference at all, never mind how it's formatted. And they likely never will. There are articles on Wikipedia which have been identified as needing references for years - and the cold hard reality of their ridiculous enterprise is that the maths just doesn't add up. The time it takes to find and add the existing missing references easily outstrips the rate at which new information is being added to Wikipedia without a reference. Adding references to articles that you didn't write, like most selfless acts on Wikipedia, is not a remotely rewarding use of your time, and can even lead to fights. You really have to be in it for the love of your fellow man to even do it (so if you find someone who does, and is doing it well, be careful, they might be compensating for being a serial killer in real life!)

Removing text not supported by a reference is officially discouraged, even prohibited if the unreferenced material isn't contentious or likely to be challenged. But in this context, you can appreciate why some Wikipedians spend all their days hacking out text simply because it is unreferenced - regardless of how easy it would be for them to find one if they just did a basic Google search (the usual response being some version of 'sorry, not my job' guv.) And of course, there are some Wikipedians who will happily claim that material which has no reference is by definition, open to challenge, and since tagging it to request a reference has been shown to be quite pointless, they will usually just hack it out there and then. Arguments about these things regularly break out in the haven of peace and love that is the Wikipedia community.

Now, back to style. For some stupid reason, the Wikipediots in their wisdom do not have one single uniform way of dealing with references in terms of how they appear on the page. Which is quite unbelievable given how obsessive they are about all things covered by their holy Manuals of Style (MOS), which dictates in precise detail how things on Wikipedia should be presented. When it comes to references, Wikipedia editors have a veritable smorgasbord of permitted styles to choose from - far too many to be called a sensible collection of useful variations, let alone a Manual of Style in the real world sense of the term.

Such are the variations, it cannot even be guaranteed that the references appear in the "References" section on an article, which is quite unbelievable, from a standardisation point of view. Many of the styles only exist for legacy reasons - the community either can't or won't upgrade older styles to new ones en-masse. But a hell of a lot exist because they all have their own preferred one, and will fight each other to the death to defend it (perhaps the best proof yet that Wikipedia is not built by a harmonious community with a common purpose as such, but by individuals with massive egos, simply putting up with each other for the reward of being allowed to micro-blog on their pet subjects to their heart's content).

It would beyond the scope of this FAQ to even begin to discuss all the merits of each style here, let alone the tedious technical details of how they're achieved (many of which make one style incompatible with others). Suffice to say, they range from the incredibly elegant and efficient, to the downright cheap and nasty, and all ranges in between - and there is almost no correlation between how easy/difficult using the style is, to how nicely it presents the references. It's sufficient just to inform you that arguing about the merits of each style is the sort of thing that appeals to the obsessive compulsive and egotists on the site. One crucial rule is that the first author of a page gets to decide which style to use - and that rule was only adopted because Wikipedians are predisposed to argue about anything which is not governed by a rule (counter-intuitively, as a result, Wikipedia has many of these first choice rules in the MOS).

So complex is Wikipedia's approach to referencing, it has numerous pages just for explaining it to beginners, in addition to even more pages giving the official guidance and advice to more advanced editors. They even have hundreds of templates supposedly dedicated to making the process quicker and simpler. But as usual, there is a time penalty to pay in terms of the learning curve in using them. Cheat sheets, they are not. In this respect, like most other aspects of actually editting Wikipedia, it's all about making you unwilling to abandon the site once you've beyond a certain point along the learning curve and can actually edit properly.

A common day-to-day activity on Wikipedia is an 'experienced' editor coming along to 'clean up' the reference/s in an article - even if the method used by whoever put it there in the first place already complies with one of the many acceptable styles, and there is no evident style in uniform use in the article already. Without a uniform style existing in the article, unless they are actually choosing to impose one, then this is at best described as pointless busy-work. But they do it anyway. Usually the person doing it will arrogantly portray this as a 'fix', or worse, will chastise you for doing something wrong, even though you obviously haven't broken any rule. Some people will actually waste their time on Wikipedia changing how the reference appears in the underlying code of a page to achieve their preferred style, or uniformity of style in the code on the page, even if it makes no difference to how it appears on the page. Crazy is as crazy does.

It's ironic that one of the most crucial parts of Wikipedia articles, the one which any competent editor needs to be proficient in if they want to get anything done, is both incredibly complex, and is prone to starting the most ridiculous fights. What's even more remarkable is that, according to Wikipedia's own research, most readers don't even appreciate the purpose or significance of referencing, let alone appreciate the differences in style. Which makes it all the more hilarious when you realise how many Wikipedians often come to a sticky end and quit or get blocked when they start assuming they know enough about referencing to start telling other Wikipedians how to format their references. it's a basic truism of Wikipedia that there will always be someone who knows more about referencing than you - the art is knowing what you don't know, and making peace with that fact. Not least because the people who desire to know everything there is to know about Wikipedia referencing, are not the sort of people you'd want to get to know.

And do you want to know the most hilarious thing about references on Wikipedia is? It's a complete and total waste of time. Doing it well, offers but a fleeting reward. By design, there are numerous ways in which even the most perfectly referenced article can descend into grey goo without constant monitoring by the one person who added the references in the first place (and therefore knows both the desired style, and which reference supports which text). All you are doing if you take the time to learn how to properly do Wikipedia references, is submitting yourself to a life sentence of misery, as a slave to the watchlist.

There are many different ways that specific references can become detached and ultimately lost from the text they were originally intended to support, known on Wikipedia as loss of "text-source integrity". As if Wikipedia/ns ever had integrity! Too many to list here. The common threads though are the indecision among the community as to whether the reference should be placed right next to the pertinent fact in a sentence, or at the next full stop, or at the end of the paragraph. Secondly, the fact that many people who alter Wikipedia text after it has been referenced often don't take sufficient time to check which text corresponds to which reference. This is understandable, as doing that takes the same amount of time as it would to write the text originally - and the people who edit pre-existing text are usually the sort of people without the time to write it originally. When combined with the fact most novice editors won't even have the first clue what the reference is even for, it all adds up to a hell of a lot of pathways to failure.

One amusing aspect of Wikipedia's referencing is that it has supposedly become more robust over time - largely through the insistence that the reference must be placed vaguely near the text it supports, to ensure that thing they call integrity. But as explained above, unless there is an obsessive compulsive watching the article, this is most definitely a case of giving readers a false assurance. Hilariously, many of even their so called Featured Articles (FAs), supposedly their best work, were written before this stricter approach, and their authors will often take umbrage at having to upgrade it.

FA writers in particular are a bunch of obsessive compulsive page owning freaks when it comes to referencing. They all have their own preferred style, and because they know what I have outlined above about the ever present threat of amateurs messing up their precious, they will often use the mere fact that the article is an FA to instantly reject any change to it, no matter how useful. Even though it goes against all that Wikipedia stands for, new edits to FAs must be perfect right out of the box, including referencing. It is no surprise then, that the chosen topic of FAs is rarely something that frequently changes in real life - which rather undermines Wikipedia's over-used selling point over traditional encyclopedias - that it updates itself.

And there we have it. If this FAQ over all others hasn't made it abundantly clear that sane people should not trust anything on Wikipedia, even if it appears referenced, then I don't know what will. It should certainly persuade you that editing Wikipedia just to change reference styles, is probably the stupidest hobby you could ever wish to have. Most Wikipedians are contemptible people, but when put side by side, the one who gives less of a crap about referencing styles and simply uses the quickest and easiest one to ensure whatever it is they're adding can be verified by a reader in the next few minutes, will probably the more sane of the two. I say this only to aid you in the event someone has a gun to your head and says you must talk to one of them on pain of death. A difficult choice all round, admittedly.

It hardly needs saying that for those who want to mess with Wikipedia/ns, referencing is fertile ground. If Wikipedia was a sensible organisation/community, it would have adopted a single standard for references long ago, and found some way to efficiently maintain text-source integrity even after the original author has long gone. It is precisely because Wikipedia is not sensible, that the same arguments and busy work over style will still be being repeated a decade from now, if God help us, the site still exists. Indeed, if you were looking for the single best argument for why Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed, it is arguably the fact that there is no amount of community harmony, sweat of the brow, or technical wizardry, that could possibly solve the issue of text-source integrity once and for good - it is an ongoing and ever present source of doubt, built into the design.

An amusing post-script is that the new fangled shiny thing that Wikipedia's tech people recently introduced to make it easier for people to edit Wikipedia, helpfully took out all notion of reference formatting away from editors - all you need to know is that you need one, and then plug in some basic details - just the url in online cases. As a result, it only has a few reference styles to choose from, even if you want to do it perfectly. Predictably, rather than use that as an opportunity to standardise, the embittered Wikipedians who wear their insane levels of knowledge about referencing as some kind of weird badge of honour, have engaged in multiple fights and screaming matches over its introduction. People even run around adjusting the style of references added automatically by this tool, whining incessantly about how they should have been consulted about this or that. Tools indeed.

Stuff That Has Nothing to do With Wikipedia: Tumblr Nazis

I decided to go back to the topic of Tumblr Nazis because You Just Got Logic'D has been dead for half a year now. As with all Tumblr blogs the reason for the collapse is never stated and that infuriates me because I like to know the fates of the things that anger me. Tumblr will shitcan any of their users' blogs for nearly anything, which I why I am expecting Eric Barbour's Shit Planet!! site to vanish at any moment, because "rules."

                                                From another website Logic'd ran.

So there are lists of these blogs, but the problem is the names change and because many of the more open blogs have been deleted by Tumblr, so they now talk in code. A good example of the fringe of this "movement" is Lord make me an instrument of thy peace aka "the-yawner." If you didn't look closely it's just an odd Catholic blog run by "Billy", who describes himself as "18, Traditionalist Roman Catholic, Monarchist." Go to the first month he was in operation (March, 2014) and we get a picture-quote of Julius Evola "Traditionalism is the most revolutionary ideology of our times." Who is Evola? Only the most dangerous Italian Fascist intellectual, the one who was not on the Grand Fascist Council but who kept goading them to higher levels of tyranny, who after the war was still writing about extreme absolutism and who supported the Right-wing combatants during the Years of Lead (1968-1982). Why use Evola? Because he is obscure to most Americans; this is "dogwhistle fascism" the same as how skinheads use the Celtic cross instead of the Swastika, or talk of the "14 words."

There are people trying to stop these guys on Tumblr, but it's a fool's errand because so many of them vanish anyway; Operation Highlord is trying to name and shame, but how can you shame a douchebag like Right Wing Resistance?

Here is a list of Nazi/Traditionalist/fascist Tumblr blogs that are operating as I write this. I expect most of them will vanish within six months.

Wake Up with Vlad ("News" of inter-racial violence. Pro-Trump.)

h8generation (French or Belgian straight neo-Nazi. Likes the Romanian Iron Guard.)

HappyAcres (More pro-Trump, Catholic-right, openly anti-black.)

Fascionistki (Polish, straight Nazi.)

Europa Veritas (Possibly British, pro-White-anti-Syrian refugee.)

Roxy the Republican (Republican, anti-Israel, Anti-Zionist. Has Republican elephant with Confederate stars and bars flag, which makes her a walking contradiction.)

Riding the Tiger (Name comes from Evola book title, more marching Fascist photos, etc.)

Sturmbannfuehrer (German or British site run by an "ex-investment banker." More Nazi guff.)

WHITEREICH (More of that wonderful Holocaust denial crap, skinhead goonery.)

SS-girl (Crazy Spanish-language blog full of Hitler photos.)

Sir Krieger Von Berlin (More of a Gothic horror blog shot through with Nazi photos.)

Clerical Reaction (possibly Right Catholic and Right Orthodox; French and English.)

Armed Liberty (Not really Nazi, just ragingly anti-Obama. Stopped updating in 2013.)

Aberrant (Nazi Viking Uncle Skinhead streetfighter loonie.)

Argus Panoptes (Ranting Nazi lunacy, stopped updating in September, 2015.)

Unqualified Reservations (Not a Tumblr blog, but a necessary read. Mencius Moldbug [Curtis Guy Garvin] helped create the monstrosity that is the Dark Enlightenment.)


Let no-one say that Tumblr didn't give the Right a space, because for each one of the blogs I listed there were four or more also on the lists, not counting the defunct ones.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Demiurge1000: Another Pedo Trainwreck

Demiurge1000 is another Zanthalon*, and was thankfully globally banned from Wikipedia on December 3, 2014 (though he may still be on the site in sock form.) He was exceptional at hiding who he really was; a lot of people on Wikipedia and Wikipediocracy thought he was Chris Owen (ChrisO) or Derrick Coetzee (DCoetzee); nobody really knows still. Don't confuse him with this Demiurge, who was on the site five or six years prior.

 Why People Thought He was Chris Owen

Demiurge1000 showed up on Wikipedia in 2010 when Owen was in an Arbitration over the Climate Change article (the article was a massive editwar), and he abandoned the ChrisO account for the Prioryman one.  Demiurge1000 edited (early on anyway) in the same field as ChrisO/Prioryman, i.e., military history (Chris Owen is a former British Ministry of Defense employee and was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire medal for his work as a historian.) What is known of Demiurge1000's physical location is that when he appeared on the Wikipedia IRC (internet relay chat) channel in 2010, he was using the IP, which puts him in Cardiff; he was also using a Virgin Media/NTL account over a cable modem. Prioryman lives in London, allegedly Rotherhithe; he keeps his private life hidden because of his pre-Wikipedia life as a Scientology protester. Owen likes to use sockpuppets; besides the ones we have mentioned he is also Helatrobus, L'ecrivant, and CaptainAhab (the last only on a couple of anti-Scientology forums.) So you can see it was natural to assume that Demiurge1000 was just another Owen appearance. The only problem was that the editing patterns overlapped between Prioryman and Demiurge1000. A summer 2013 edit study of the two accounts' work was done by a Wikipediocracy member or members (I'm guessing Eric Barbour and/or Peter Damian, maybe Tarantino); from late May 2013 to early June 2013 Prioryman was hacking away on the Gibraltar article while Demiurge1000 was arguing over the Wikipediocracy article and giving certain talkpages grief.

His Fetish: Victorian Schoolmaster

He likes the idea of hitting young boys with a cane, and he spent a lot time trying to groom teenage boys when he wasn't pretending he was one himself. In expressing his caning fetish he became a friend of Alarics, a fellow creepy pedo who only edited articles on British railways and private schools that use corporal punishment. Unlike Demiurge1000, Alarics is still on Wikipedia; it's hard to track his non-Wikipedia doings because his real name is the same as the famous actor Colin Farrell. He has a creepy caning website. They both edited the Caning article. Some more edits he did to that article:

08:30, 29 May 2011 Demiurge1000 A headmaster's caning of a 13-year-old schoolboy at an English grammar school in 1987—five strokes for poor exam results—left "severe bruising", and, according to the family doctor, five separate weals. The headmaster who gave the punishment was cleared of the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, with the judge commenting "If you get a beating you must expect it to be with force."

21:28, 26 February 2013 "Comparing the cane with other methods of corporal punishment in the twentieth century, one recipient's widely reported conclusion was that a belting on the bare buttocks was "relatively painless" compared with a caning through trousers and underpants; the latter hurt much more."

His attempts to attract boys were similarly creepy, as can be seen on his Simple English talkpage:

Forget about emailing me. My stupid parents just went through and deleted most of my contacts. Instead, I'll be at Playcrafter sometimes. See you. Loudclaw (talk) 21:19, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, don't worry, this sort of thing happens sometimes. I'm sure you realise they are just being careful of your safety.
Technically speaking, someone not being in your contacts, doesn't stop you emailing them (if you know their address), or them emailing you. But it's better if you agree with your parents about who you should and shouldn't email.
Another good thing is to discuss what you do online with your parents - when they're not busy - so that they know what's going on. Did you remember to ask if they would agree for you to create an account on that chess website?
I don't think I will use Playcrafter much, the games aren't that great and the chat interface is pretty annoying.
Now, back to Wikipedia things. How is WikiProject Warriors going? I see there are still a lot of articles to create. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 00:32, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Well.....Look on the talk page of WP:Warriors. Loudclaw (talk) 23:24, 14 January 2011 (UTC) (I left a little treat)

Well I did find a new member. That member can be found here, at User talk:Silverspirit. Loudclaw (talk) 01:53, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

Hey, uh.... I can improve Metroid Prime 3: Corruption because I now own the video game. I'll also use GameFAQs. Loudclaw (talk) 20:51, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Sorry, Demiurge, I'm not allowed to IM anyone or I'll get into trouble. Sorry, Loudclaw (talk) 05:35, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

The Demiurge1000-Loudclaw issue was even discussed on the Wikipedia IRC channel on March 22, 2011:

05:29:17 sonia Demiurge1000, what's the deal w/ you and Loudclaw?
05:29:48 Demiurge1000 sonia: He complains to me about U.S. legislation
584 05:29:58 sonia heh, okay
585 05:30:08 sonia just saw your talk page pop up in my feed of simple
586 05:30:09 join/#wikipedia-en (Delta!~Delta|awa@unaffiliated/betacommand)
587 05:30:26 Demiurge1000 At one point, he had my email address
588 05:30:48 Demiurge1000 And now I think he still has my email address, but he doesn't have access to *his* email address
592 05:31:27 sonia heh
593 05:31:49 sonia Demiurge1000: if he says anything on-wiki that compromises his safety- or yours, for that matter- do let me know
594 05:32:08 Demiurge1000 sonia: Indeed
595 05:32:37 sonia I'll hide it at once and ring an oversighter if it's particularly egregious
598 05:32:58 * dcoetzee can revdel if it helps
599 05:33:09 sonia dcoetzee: not on simple
600 05:33:12 dcoetzee Oh
601 05:33:15 * dcoetzee mixed up
602 05:33:17 sonia haha
603 05:33:20 dcoetzee But you can revdel on Simple;-)
604 05:33:29 * sonia revdels dcoetzee's face
605 05:33:47 * dcoetzee revdels Sonia's hidden fears:-P
606 05:33:52 sonia o_o
607 05:34:09 emoquit/#wikipedia-en (UncleDouggie!~UncleDoug@wikipedia/UncleDouggie)(Read error: Connection reset by peer)
608 05:34:18 join/#wikipedia-en (UncleDouggie!~UncleDoug@wikipedia/UncleDouggie)
609 05:34:29 sonia so you're wandering around faceless and I"m wandering around flouting every law possible?:P
610 05:34:31 Demiurge1000 oh god, they call RevDel "hide" on Simple? Figures:)
Notice that nobody is truly repelled by Demiurge1000's obvious games with an adolescent, and this was early as 2011. It took them three years to decide that he was enough of a moral hazard that he needed to be dumped.

Finally his weird attempts to impersonate a child:
"My parents have a Mac too. Parental Control is set on it to stop them breaking things by accident. (After all, the Parental Control feature is provided to allow you to control parents in this manner, right?) This confuses them greatly when I change the desktop background to be a surprising picture and they can't change it back. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 01:07, 2 January 2013 (UTC)"

"I keep my own parents well informed about my activities on the internet, and they often have useful advice. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 05:35, 1 August 2013 (UTC)"
Back to the Beginning, Which is the End

The longer he was on Wikipedia, the more obnoxious he became; he harrassed Fluffernutter (Karen Ingraffea) on IRC in December 2013 and it carried over to her talkpage. He was asked by an IP ( in January, 2014 if he was fond of caning boys. Demiurge1000 removed the question and had the userpage protected. He gave Viriditas trouble in June. He started a fight with Sitush in September which got really violent verbally. He kept screwing with Jimbo's talk pages to hide his identity; the Loudclaw business had been noticed by the top-rung people (Phillipe Beaudette had shielded Demiurge1000 from Mila "Mbz1" Zinkova's jabs in January of that year; somebody must have had second thoughts.) Out of nowhere he and DCoetzee** were put on the global ban, joining Beta M in the outer darkness. The Daily Dot's questions to the WMF went unanswered.

I can't write anything about this that isn't cliche; they knew what he was pretty much early on, and yet they let him get away with it for years, until he became too obnoxious to handle and they kicked him to the curb. Was the post-Essjay fiasco editor drain so bad that they would keep anyone, even creepos like Alarics and Demiurge1000? The moral lapse in all of this speaks volumes.

* The photo on that website looks like the man in this video, but I have no proof that the site's information is correct.

** Because they were banned together, there is the easy belief that Coetzee and D1000 were the same person. Another possibility, though not spoken of much, was that he was Paul McCue, a British military historian who used the sockpuppets Tykelad and 58apr18 to do work on his own BLP and work on military subjects.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Is Lucia Black Dead? Is the WMF vs. NSA Legal Appeal a CYA Move?

This one is odd, sad, maybe a hoax, possibly real. Lucia Black was an editor who showed up in May of 2008, and was involved in editing articles on Japanese non-news media; i.e., comics, video games - all the neckbeardy gunk the kiddies like. After a lot of drama over seven years, late in February, an IPv6 address tells everyone on her talk page that she "deceased" three weeks earlier. A few people made condolences, Black's page got a "This Wikipedian is deceased" tag and that was it. The affair was noticed by Hex (Scott Martin) on the Wikipediocracy messageboard, then The Dark Knight posted it to our messageboard. Both threads became talking about suicidal Wikipedians and dealing with the problem, not recognizing that Wikipedia has allegedly been "hiding by distancing" Wikipedian suicides* for some time; Risker (Anne Clin) wrote the following in late February 2014 on Giano's talkpage as an aside: ".....I can personally think of half a dozen editor suicides....." She never said who those people were.

So this is the situation: we have a dramatic person editing Wikipedia who get in deep enough that she is willing to walk away for a year (2014) because it was driving her crazy. She returns to more drama, and it drives her to write things like "I'm just no longer mentally stable, nor am i wanting to really stay alive at this point", she walks away again, and then that anonymous message appears saying she is dead.The trick is, we don't know if "Lucia Black" was her real name, if she was actually a woman, or if this was a type of performance art. If this was a real suicide, her family has my condolences. If this was somebody walking away from a persona, they need to own up to it.

Secret Squirrel vs. Jimmy's Keyboard Kommandos: The Battle in Balmer

It runs for 92 pages, but the actual appeal doesn't start until page 21 due to all the disclosure agreements and other signed documents. As with all the best things, the lede is buried; according to page 16 (actually 43) Wikimedia makes a log every time somebody looks at edits a Wikipedia page; in May of 2015 they transferred 140 billion of these logs from foreign servers to US-based servers, essentially handing them over to the National Security Agency. The appeal names the program used against the WMF - it's called "Upstream" and it scans data flowing in undersea cables and in fiber optic infrastructure and the NSA has been doing it since 2008. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the WMF alongside Human Rights Watch, the Rutherford Institute, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, among others; they want to make an oral argument to a judge in Baltimore. Will it work? Probably not, but the Keyboard Kommandos will be there, adding kilobyte after kilobyte to the Wikipedia article on the case. Did Lila and Jimmy know? 

* Should have mentioned when this posted that Italian Wikipedia admins stopped a man from killing himself in 2013 by calling the Postal Police. So sanity does show itself at the project, just not in America.