Gateway to Chaos, Confusion, and Complexity

I spent years as a very active Wikipedia editor. My contributions there don’t reflect well the level of work that I did — some users accumulate large edit counts with brief reverts based on immediate appearances, it’s very quick, sometimes even computer-assisted, I once tracked the contributions of an administrator who obviously sat at his computer pressing Save several times a minute for simple edits suggested by a program. He did this for many hours.

You can see the total numbers of my contributions on all WMF wikis on the global account display. Because my “community ban” on Wikipedia has come up recently– the situation being misrepresented in the new RationalWiki article on me — I will cover this on a page here, Wikipedia/Bans/Abd (draft, not complete)

There is a theme, revenge. In theory, Wikipedia is not a battleground. In practice, it is.

This battleground is used to pursue personal agendas, and if the pursuer is an administrator, the wiki is often defenseless. This becomes more intense if an ideological faction is involved. If the point of view, the “ideology” being pushed is popular among Wikipedians, it may be thought of as neutral and not recognized as point-of-view, and synthesis from sources, following this ideology may be allowed, whereas if the point of view is minority or fringe, not. So “fringe” — which is not a synonym of “wrong” or “without evidence,” but only a rough kind of vote — comes to be excluded, or presented with heavy framing, even where covered in reliable source.

Speaking truth to power has been a long-term strong suit for me. It has taken me to some amazing places, and, as is predictable, sometimes power doesn’t like it! It would be much more convenient to speak truth to the powerless, but, practically by definition, it’s useless.

In my training, they said, “If they are not shooting at you, you are not doing anything worth wasting bullets on.”

And what is “truth”? Ancient question, eh? In this case, it can be as simple as documenting, organizing information that is public record, even without judgment or blame. The record itself, and honest testimony, may be seen as “attack,” by those who want it hidden, buried in the noise. This all came out in the Wikipedia process and quite the same has happened elsewhere, most recently on the so-called RationalWiki.

Behind this are some of the same persons and techniques, inlcuding the use of disruptive users for their own purposes, to give them cover.

Conspiracy theory? No, not exactly. This is from my experience and observation, and specific details will be given, supporting this idea, some of this recently became quite clear. So also see RationalWiki.

See also Pseudoskepticism.

Author: Abd ulRahman Lomax


3 thoughts on “Gateway to Chaos, Confusion, and Complexity”

  1. In practice, any place people meet can become a battleplace, and the lower the entrance requirements the more likely that someone will come in wanting a fight. Add in effective anonymity and ineffective sanctions/punishments and there will always be some screw-up happening.

    One way to reduce the problem is to remove the anonymity. In the city, no-one knows you and so if you do something wrong then providing you get away you’ve got away with it; in the village everyone knows everyone else and you can’t do anything without the whole village knowing.

    In the same way as Morse operators used to recognise who was tapping out the message by the “fist” of the sender, moderators can link the style of the various socks and be fairly certain which group they belong to. Favourite insults, hot topics, common errors, lexical style – all stuff that identifies the writer (though of course there are so many writers around that you can’t often be certain, but I did trace one somewhat-abusive user by his favourite insults and found his online sites).

    Get rid of the anonymity, and people are naturally more-polite. I don’t insult people very often (online or in real life) but on the occasion where it was justified I knew exactly who I was insulting and he knew who I was. I’ve also called out scams and frauds where it’s obvious that they know it’s a lie, and I’d back that in court if I had to. That’s how things work in real-life too. Don’t cross someone unintentionally, and if you do call them out then be prepared to follow it up as far as needed (or possible).

    With the Wikis, there is anonymity and socks are accepted if not expected. It’s a recipe for disaster. You can be lax with a small group of people who know each other and there’s thus effective policing of the ethics, but get a lot of people who don’t know each other and are spread across countries as well and there’s no hope of a faction-free system.

    You’re better off out of it, Abd, and getting the stuff you feel is important put in this blog where you have control. Here, it stays as you’ve written it.

    1. Yes. Anonymity is a major part of the Wikipedia Problem. There were legitimate arguments for anonymity, but the problems were not recognized; had that been done, there would have been ways to incorporate anonymous contribution without allowing the massive defects.

      In science, anonymity is not allowed because reputation matters. It is ironic that some of those who imagine they are promoting a scientific point of view so heavily depend on anonymity. They toss mud at real people, under their real names, and then scream the most when someone exposes their real-life identity. Or even their anonymous account behavior across accounts!

  2. In case you don’t know it already, Wikipedia France is in troubled time with some leader resigning under denunciation of sex abuse and other cause…
    I did not follow the detail, but is is like any NGO, worst that a corp.

Leave a Reply