Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Short Timeline of Wiki-Scandals in 2007 to Early 2008

The years 2007 to early 2008 were the turning point for Wikipedia, when all the scandals finally reached full flower and the insiders and the more internet-savvy portion of general population began catching on that Wikipedia was not to be trusted. The result was that editors began to defect from Wikipedia, and that the culture of Wiki-lawyering grew. If we want to understand why the Essjay mess reverberates, we have to see what happened after both shoes hit the floor.


January - Essjay reveals himself to be a "Ryan Jordan" in order to get a job at Wikia early that month. He is not the graduate-level theology professor he claimed to be; he is a college undergraduate. This starts a chain of events that ends up with Essjay booted from Wikipedia and Jimmy Wales' face covered in egg. This same month Carolyn Doran is hired as Chief Operating Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation.

February - Professor Taner Akçam is held in custody at the Montreal airport on the 16th over information added to his Wikipedia biography (BLP) which calls him a "terrorist." Akçam is one of the few Turkish academics not willing to stonewall on the Armenian Genocide and a former jailed dissident inside Turkey who is now a German citizen. Near the end of the month, professional golfer Frank "Fuzzy" Zoeller sued Joesph Sliny and Associates in Florida over libelous statements added to Zoeller's BLP.

March - After some drama both Brad Patrick and Danny Wool quit the WMF at the end of the month. Possibly Brad Patrick was running from the forthcoming Doran explosion, or he was forced out by Carolyn Doran, questions still need answering.

April - Larry Sanger says that Wikipedia is "broken beyond repair." On April 1st Jimmy Wales tried to blame John Siegenthaler for the vandalism of Siegenthaler's BLP on the Australian TV program Sunday, interviewed by Ellen Fanning for the piece "Wikipedia - Right or Wrong?"

May - Doran gets her third DUI arrest on the 20th.

June - Doran attends a WMF conference in Amsterdam, Holland at the beginning of the month and is stopped by US Immigration officers upon her return to the United States for the parole violation. This is the beginning of the end for Carolyn Doran as COO, though there are still questions at to why she was not fully vetted before being hired for the job. The WMF is unwilling to admit that Doran was fired until September 14. The cover-up involved everybody at the WMF, including their General Counsel Mike Godwin.

July -  John Barberio of Oxfordshire, England goes to The Register to complain about the OTRS system which he was involved with on Wikipedia, claims that it is becoming "an amateurish censorship board." Sue Gardner is hired at the WMF as a "management consultant."

August -  Because "the Hits Just Keep on Comin'" as Dave Rabbit would say, Carolyn Doran goes through her fourth (!!) DUI, which is a hit and run this time. No word if she was still on the payroll of the WMF or living off her final COO check.

September - The bizarre Wikipedia-only saga of Mzoli's "Meats", an article put in by God-Emperor Wales himself, possibly after he had lunch there while touring South Africa. Lots of edit-warring and talkpage posturing and the article has changed little in ten years. The other major fiasco of this month is the culmination of the Overstock.com/Judd Bagley saga - in order to block Judd Bagley from editing Wikipedia (which he wasn't doing anymore, he was just writing about Wikipedia on his own site) , David "Nosferatu" Gerard blocked the IP range of Traverse Mountain, Utah. Because Bagley lived there.

December - Greg Kohs talks to Alex Roshuk early that month, gets the killer quote: The point is he [Jimmy Wales] is pretty flaky and he does not keep his word. He just makes statements and expects us "peons" to forgive him for his lapses because he thinks we want access to him. I don't need people like that, we have a word for them here in Brooklyn: hypocrites. Roshuk was the lawyer who set up the 501-c(3) status of Wikipedia and wrote the bylaws for the organization back in 2002-2003. (We ran across his blog in 2014.)  The scandal of that month was the secret mailing list that was uncovered thanks to Durova's clumsiness. Somewhere near the end of the year BADSITES became a topic on Wikipedia Review.


January - More of a December issue, Professor Carl Hewitt (MIT, emeritus) was banned for being "disruptive." Looking at the list above, we can safely say that Hewitt was the least of Wikipedia's problems. The real January scandal was the infamous "Boy Scouts are For Spanking" pedophile greasiness over the now-long-defunct Wikia "encyclopedia" of spanking "art"; the conversation about it started over at Jimmy Wales' talkpage.

February - Jossi Fresco, student/supporter of Prem Rawat (formerly Guru Maharaj Ji) and deeply connected Wikipedia insider is discussed on The Register, resulting in Fresco leaving the next year after a battle that made War of the Gargantuas look like Manos: the "Hands" of Fate.

March - Literary agent Barbara Bauer begins a law suit against the WMF and seventeen other organizations concerning a list article titled "The 20 Worst Agents"; in Wikipedia's case it was linked to Bauer's stub BLP (which has been disappeared.)

May - The ultimate she said/he said in the history of the Internet; Rachel Marsden talks about her short-lived fling with a divorced Jimmy Wales at Valleywag, the Gawker's Silicon Valley focused sub-site that was destroyed with the mother blog after the 2016 Hulk Hogan/Peter Thiel legal victory over Nick Denton. Jimmy Wales is strongly suspected to be the "Colonelpanic" who tried to match wits with Marsden in 2008. There is also the Valleywag article around the same time on Erik Möller's defense of pedophila, complete with his creeper glasses and "come to my windowless van for candy, children" haircut.

Other Elements

Somewhere along the line Danny Wool revealed that Wales wasted WMF funds on "entertainment", whatever that was. Thanks to the power of non-disclosure agreements, a lot of this stuff is being buried by the passage of time; for example we still don't really know who Essjay was, there is much evidence to doubt that he was actually a "Ryan Jordan." Supposedly Carolyn Doran isn't under a non-disclosure agreement and yet we have heard not a peep from her (the humiliation probably outweighs any possible "kiss and tell" book).