Monday, August 22, 2022

Deep-summer blog update.....

This is more of a plan for he rest of the year, roughly. I have a bunch of past stories that need to be finished somehow, things that were posted and not finished years ago; I did a halfassed job on CEDU, a story I would love to go back to, because for all intents and purposes CEDU was a cult for both the teens in it and the parents paying for it. There is also that review of the Reddit book that I need to finish, and the James Randi article that has been hanging like a sword of Damocles for three years. Randi is dead and his star is fading by the half-year. There is a lot of interesting stuff to talk about because of the Uri Geller-James Randi feud and how Randi willingly pissed away the MacArthur "Genius Grant" money he was awarded on stupid libel and slander cases; he could not stop badmouthing people who had money to shoot back. In the 1980s, the most sue-happy decade of the last fifty years.

So in short, the remaining four months of 2022 will be odd; you will probably see little links to old stories that are finally done, maybe a bunch of IRC conversations from a decade ago, maybe other odd crap. It might look like this collection of not-really random videos below.

"Good night, and good luck" - Ed Murrow's normal sign-off.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Raw Data: Willy on Wheels (ON WHEELS)

Things found on Wikipedia...

User:TheBuddy92/Willy on Wheels: A Case Study

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(archived from the original Dcoetzee essay)

In any project that allows free editing of a work by anyone, the act that we call vandalism, the intentional destruction and/or falsification of the information or structure of that work, is bound to arise. Vandals vandalize for many reasons, many of which apply to real-world vandalism as well: testing the system, attaining a feeling of power, marking out territory, and drawing attention to themselves. Most vandals vandalize only a few times in very simple ways before they become tired of it. Some will escalate until they are banned, and then stop.

And then, there's Willy. Willy on Wheels is a persistent vandal who creates many thousands of throwaway accounts to vandalize Wikipedia in many different ways, most infamously by quickly moving large numbers of articles to new and degrading names. He sees vandalism as a competition, attempting to vandalize as many pages as possible before being banned, and participates in external communities who attempt to defeat his records. Like other vandals, he craves attention and enjoys watching the stir he creates.

Willy's methods

The first known account ever used by Willy was User:Willy on wheels, on August 20, 2004. This user did not move pages; instead, he repeatedly clicked "Random article" and replaced the contents of each article with "{{PAGENAME}} has been vandalized by the Willy on wheels", defacing dozens of articles in two minutes. This simple method already demonstrates the vandal's sophistication: the {{PAGENAME}} variable is little-known even to regular contributors, who rarely have occasion to use it except in templates. It also demonstrates his tendency for flashy, outrageous vandalism, the kind that gets noticed very quickly. Other vandals attempt to avoid detection, but Willy wants to do a lot of highly visible damage quickly and then get caught. He is not out to test the system like sneaky vandals — at this point, he knows these edits will last for only seconds.

Next, Willy vandalized Template:In the news, a template transcluded onto the Main Page, presumably to make his vandalism as highly visible as possible. Again, only a seasoned contributor would know about this template and understand how it is transcluded, and the edit was reverted nearly instantly. Two hours later, replaced the page with an image of an erect penis. We can presume that this is Willy editing anonymously - the page was reverted 3 minutes later. This is not a private IP, however, but a well-known open proxy - it seems even opening the logs would do little to reveal his identity. Then, curiously, he abruptly halted his vandalism. This user never edited anything again except his talk page, and was never banned until much later, when his later incarnations made his name infamous.

Why did Willy stop? It seems that he was flustered at the futility of his vandalism and he was contemplating more effective methods, for five days later emerged User:The Willy on Wheels. This new incarnation of Willy proceeded to move random articles to random names, usually by adding "on wheels" or incorporating "Willy", drawing attention to himself, as can be seen on one of his sock's contributions. These changes were just as obvious as his previous changes, but at the time they were impossible for anyone but administrators to reverse, because moving a page leaves a redirect at the previous name, and the page could not be moved back without first deleting that redirect. This technique, called high-speed page move vandalism, strained the relatively small number of administrators who cleaned up vandalism and increased revert times. The account was banned almost instantly, but the damage was done.

Because page moving is not available to anonymous users, he had to create another account to repeat the trick, and then another and another, one for each attack. Most of these accounts had names that were a variation on the original "Willy on Wheels", although some were totally different. The attacks came sporadically, sometimes minutes apart, sometimes weeks. He began to demonstrate his awareness of Wikipedia culture and processes, choosing names that played off the names of well-known contributors in the community, vandalizing the user pages of well-known users, moving Wikipedia:Votes for deletion and Wikipedia:Community Portal, and so on. At one point he edited a MediaWiki message to attempt to hide RecentChanges in order to make it more difficult to detect his changes. He also began stealing user pages of reputable Wikipedians to attempt to legitimize his edits.

One of our best sources of information on Willy is an old revision of User:WoW. This shows that Willy's ultimate goal is to vandalize as many pages as he possibly can before being banned. He is constantly attempting to innovate new techniques toward this end, and sees it as a competition. He claims affiliation with troll groups like the GNAA and the "anti-cabal" movement against the leadership of Wikipedia. There may even be multiple Willies competing for this "honor", as suggested by his proposal for a competition.

This page was reposted on subsequent user pages, along with addendums referring to popular theories about Willy such as the concept that he might be an alter ego of an active administrator (a conclusion based on his intimate knowledge of Wikipedia).

It seems that others took Willy's competition seriously. User:A ding ding ding ding..., with a clearly different writing style, brags that he has beaten Willy's record of 175 edits before being blocked with 200 edits. This competition just fuels Willy's efforts.

A profile based on edits

  • He is deeply familiar with the software and the culture. He knows rarely-used features, notable members of the community not known outside of the community, and appears to be experimenting with his methods offline (due to a lack of test edits with his vandalizing users).
  • He likes Firefox and had a 64-bit machine, later upgrading to a Mac Mini, and claims affiliation with long-time troll groups.
  • He despises the power structure of Wikipedia, as evidenced by his proclaimed affiliation with anti-cabal groups - this strongly suggests that he is not in fact an admin at all, but may have been a registered user.
  • From the creation of User:John Kerry's Willy on Wheels!, we get the idea that he dislikes John Kerry and may be a Republican.
  • His references to the people who discuss and block his vandalism show that he watches them and revels in the attention, enjoys taunting them.

Willy on Wheels[edit]

Willy on Wheels (talk+ · tag · contribs · logs · filter log · block log · CA)

Willy on Wheels

Suspected sockpuppets
Evidence submitted by KuyaBriBriTalk

All user names that resemble name of a banned user KuyaBriBriTalk 13:10, 14 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Evidence submitted by KuyaBriBriTalk

Another account resembling that of a banned user KuyaBriBriTalk 13:22, 14 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Comments by accused parties    See Defending yourself against claims.

Comments by other users
CheckUser requests

Checkuser request – code letter: (Other reason )
Current status – Symbol redirect vote.svg Completed: Reviewed by a Checkuser, results and comments are below.    Requested by Synergy 13:27, 14 April 2009 (UTC) [reply]
 Clerk note: This is self endorsed. Curb accounts being created, check for more accounts, etc. Synergy 13:27, 14 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Clerk, patrolling admin and checkuser comments


It's unlikely that this individual is the original "Willy on Wheels". All of the accounts were created by the same highly dynamic IP, there are no additional accounts. Also, The last account listed above is invalid. --Versageek 16:00, 14 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks. I didn't believe it to be the original either. Synergy 16:05, 14 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Symbol comment vote.svgThis case has been marked as closed. It has been archived automatically.

--Nothing much we can do here; all accounts blocked. PeterSymonds (talk) 16:04, 14 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]

02 February 2012[edit]
Suspected sockpuppets

Editor claims to be Willy on Wheels, a banned user NellieBly (talk) 02:17, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Comments by other users[edit]

Accused parties may also comment/discuss in this section below. See Defending yourself against claims.

Clerk, CheckUser, and/or patrolling admin comments[edit]

I don't see where they claimed to be Willy on Wheels, just someone named Willy. Is it listed somewhere else? TNXMan 14:45, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Says it on his Userpage [1] - third edit. Of course he may just be a Willy Wannabee, but I have blocked as either he is Willy (so is a banned user) or he is a troll pretending to be Willy (not here to further the project). --Elen of the Roads (talk) 18:37, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
The edit says "I am Willy, and I have returned.", but that's it. How do we know it's Willy on Wheels, and not some other person named Willy? Their edits are also innocuous, whereas a troll would have jumped right into disruption. I don't see the connection here. TNXMan 18:53, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I had missed it - the "on Wheels" was added by an IP - that geolocates to Australia. So unconnected to the Willy Returns account. Which I did CU on the assumption that the addition was by the same chap - the underlying IP however is a US one. The only thing I would add is [2] - making an IP edit and then immediately creating an account to undo it is somewhat suspicious. --Elen of the Roads (talk) 19:13, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I definitely agree that it is odd. However, I don't know if there's enough evidence of a problem to block the account. Making an anonymous edit, then creating an account isn't super-disruptive. TNXMan 19:25, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I'll unblock, or you can, if you think it's the better course. --Elen of the Roads (talk) 19:34, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I've unblocked them -thanks figuring this out with me. Cheers! TNXMan 19:44, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Marking for close. TNXMan 16:20, 3 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

28 April 2013[edit]
Suspected sockpuppets

I came across Billy on Meals the other day when he redirected WP:AIV to Willy (EastEnders). I've been chatting with Anemone Projectors about him since then and it's been suggested that he may be a sock of Willy on Wheels.

The evidence is that the names are similar and here Willy admits to editing encyclopedias containing articles on Willys.

I know it's quite a few years later but then Billy has performed this edit, directing AIV to Willy (EastEnders) and then this one directing Willy (EastEnders) to AIV He also redirected his own talk page to it

Requesting Checkuser to see if these accounts are related and also to see if there are any sleepers. If these are related I think it would be highly unlikely that the user has not edited in over 8 years without creating another account. 5 albert square (talk) 14:03, 28 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Comments by other users[edit]

Accused parties may also comment/discuss in this section below. See Defending yourself against claims.

  • Given that DoRD already CU-blocked the account it's probably just DFTZ or another LTA trying to fake being WoW. I seriously doubt it's actually WoW. Legoktm (talk) 14:07, 28 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Clerk, CheckUser, and/or patrolling admin comments[edit]
  •  Clerk declined - I'm going to be bold and decline this since CU appears to have gotten this already and because the real WoW is long gone. Wouldn't be offended if a CU decided to take this however. Rschen7754 23:29, 28 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • I CU-blocked the account, so you can assume that I ran a check at some point. If you look at my block log, there are some related accounts, but it's not necessary to list them here. In any case, I'm pretty sure that this isn't WoW. ​—DoRD (talk)​ 02:05, 29 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • Closing. Rschen7754 05:24, 29 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]

30 September 2013[edit]
Suspected sockpuppets

This person has a similar name and their only contrib is the creation of Willy on wheels, as seen hereJns4eva (talk) 06:00, 30 September 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Also, I forgot to mention the other two articles: WILLY ON WHEELS and Jumbo Wheels, one of which is an attack page on Jimbo Wales. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jns4eva (talk • contribs) 06:03, 30 September 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Comments by other users[edit]

Accused parties may also comment/discuss in this section below. See Defending yourself against claims.

Clerk, CheckUser, and/or patrolling admin comments[edit]
  • WoW is long gone, but blocked as an obvious troll. Rschen7754 06:02, 30 September 2013 (UTC)[reply]

11 October 2017[edit]

Suspected sockpuppets[edit]

Impeaston account MarkSewath (talk) 12:15, 11 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Comments by other users[edit]

Accused parties may also comment/discuss in this section below. See Defending yourself against claims.

Clerk, CheckUser, and/or patrolling admin comments[edit]

  •  Check declined by a checkuser - Everything here is long-since  Stale. ~ Rob13Talk 13:41, 11 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • Taking this directly to close - globally blocked account, no edits on this project at all. Risker (talk) 03:00, 14 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

02 March 2019[edit]

Suspected sockpuppets[edit]

Edit Summary: Willy on Wheels SwagGangster  02:04, 2 March 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Seems I was too slow, this account was banned while I was writing this. SwagGangster  02:05, 2 March 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Comments by other users[edit]

Accused parties may also comment/discuss in this section below. See Defending yourself against claims.




According to "the notes", Willy's IP address was in Cardiff, Wales using a fixed Virgin Media connection. Only one person knows who he is and she's not telling because "he's retired."