Friday, January 25, 2019

William Beutler, "the Wikipedian"

From time to time we go looking though search engine requests for the term "Wikipedia sucks" or "Wikipedia sucks blog", going pages deep to see if this very blog is quoted or linked to by anybody else beyond people we know or know about. One of these searches turned up this:

6. Wikipedia Needs Better CriticsWikipediocracy_logo Our 2013 installment listed the rise of Wikipediocracy, a website devoted to criticism of the Wikimedia movement. This time we’re here not to praise it, but to bury it. The site’s multi-contributor blog has published exactly once in the second half of the year, while its once-lively (and sometimes disreputable) discussion forum has slowed to a crawl. What happened? The biggest factor was the departure of its most serious contributor, Andreas Kolbe, who took his talents to The Signpost. Second was an apparent falling out between mainstays Greg Kohs and Eric Barbour. The latter went on to create an alternative site named, hysterically, Wikipedia Sucks! (And So Do Its Critics.).
The decline of Wikipediocracy highlights the dearth of effective Wikipedia criticism. What have we got? There’s the UK IT news site The Register, which harps on a few recurring themes of narrow appeal. There’s WikiInAction, affiliated with Gamergate, focused even more narrowly. Wikipedia Sucks is a joke, itself barely registering a pulse. For what it’s worth, The Wikipedian does not consider itself to be among their ranks. This site offers Wikipedia criticism, but will admit to being pro-Wikipedia in most ways; The Wikipedian is an apologist, if also a realist. And to drop the pretense for a moment, I don’t post often enough for it to matter but a few times a year.
There is something about Wikipedia criticism that attracts people with fringe views, who are not always the most stable personalities, and whose obsessions tend toward the arcane. Of course this is generally true of the gadfly profession, but when you consider that Wikipedia owes its very existence to freaks and geeks, it shouldn’t be any wonder that participants who hold themselves apart from mainstream Wikipedia may be stranger still.
As of late, the best criticism happens at The Signpost, especially under former editor Kolbe, and now under Pete Forsyth. Given the competition, however, that isn’t necessarily saying much.
That was from this article written by William Beutler, under his pen-name "The Wikipedian." Notice the artistic representation of the actual facts (which Beutler could have gotten from Mr. Barbour had he been willing to contact him) mixed with the idiot belief that it's Eric Barbour's blog and he is writing under a nom de plume when I have made it very clear that it isn't his (though I rely on work he and Peter Damian did for their own book project). Also I have been very open about the viewership this blog reaches - as of this moment, we have gotten 158,208 views total since the blog started in the Fall of 2014. So who the hell is Bill Beutler?

Just who the hell William Beutler is.

On Wikipedia he is NMS Bill, also WWB and WWB Too; he started editing in 2006. Beutler is one of the few people on en.Wikipedia who has been an open paid editor, and unlike Greg Kohs, he hasn't been punished for it, not even once. Beutler used to be with a firm called New Media Strategies in Arlington, Virginia - he wrote the original version of the Wikipedia article we linked to.....back then he was a "social media strategist" and client manager for the firm, to which he was an employee from 2006 to 2010. He became his own business in 2010, and his firm has been operating under the name Beutler Ink since 2013 and they've been in Washington, D.C. for a while.

The most notable thing about NMS Bill  before 2015 was that he was involved in an editwar with the grand stinky old man of Wikipedia, Orangemike, over Beutler's paid editing on the Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants. Here is the first "Peer review", then the second one. Beutler was able to hold his ground with Orangemike and prevail.

Comment from a WMF staffer

With the coming of the fiascos of Dr. Heilman being kicked from his WMF truestee position, plus the Lila Tetrikov mess and Arnnon Geshuri, Beutler was willing to do an article at The Wikipedian titled "The Crisis at New Montgomery Street" in January, 2016. He got the following comment from an anonymous WMF staffer:

With the admitted understanding that I’m doing this anonymously (I’m sure you understand why) I feel obligated to point out an important clarifier: While there is certainly anger with WMF Staff (both those who originated from the community and those who didn’t) and we all have disagreements with specific c-level decisions etc (especially Engineering who has had a lot of turn over and conflict there) there is significantly more support of the C-levels then with Lila and the Board. In fact the c-suite is in a horrible position because they ALL told Lila (and the board) that they felt she had to go and were turned down and so are stuck trying to do their job (whether it be legally protecting the foundation, supporting the communications work & how the board is heard [even if the board ignores them], supporting the staff, keeping the community and engineering teams going etc) while having a Board and ED who refuse to listen to them. 
The vast vast majority of the “confidence in Senior Leadership” scores were about Lila and the Board, and ONLY Lila and the Board. The other stat which the Signpost released is also important in context: “The Signpost has been informed that among the “C-levels” (members of the executive), only one has confidence in senior leadership.” is even more striking when you realize that the “Executive” group released in the survey was 7 people, there are only 6 C-levels (+Lila), which means that only Lila had confidence in herself. (and the direction in the foundation, which was also 1/7 for that group)
That he was willing to be honest about the Wikimedia Foundations' problems is admirable, the ship had already sailed. Or maybe it is impossible to truly be honest with Wikipedia's problems when you are a paid editor.


  1. Salvidrim you should know better by now. IMO you barely qualify as a "critic". More like just another addict who isn't so good at playing their paranoid little political games.

    And don't start me on Beutler. Self-serving AND isn't as clever as he thinks he is. Others have "monetized" Wikipedia far more effectively than he has. He is just a small fish in a dirty little fishbowl.

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