Specific deceptive claims

Overall, the RationalWiki article was clearly written as revenge for exposing the activity of “Anglo Pyramidologist” socks, in impersonating and attacking enemies. See the WikiMedia Foundation study, and then the RationalWiki study (created after the attack article was created, and documenting long-term creation of attack articles on many people.)

These studies are long because they do not simply make claims; they are short on “claim” and long on evidence, and they are for the use of this who are interested in reality, rather than mere opinions. Some have discovered that they can play on the reluctance of some to study long pages or complex , and they can then create “fake news” — or claims that sober journalism is fake news, and people then go with knee-jerk reactions.

One of the techniques of trolls, I found this on Wikipedia long ago, is to convert a single incident where there was arguably some problem, into a pattern. So a young woman editing on Wikipedia had copied some materail from a draft page she found. Turned out it was, arguably, a copyright violation, and an obvious troll attacking her claimed that she “creates copyright violations.” Later, in process that I largely created, her history was examined. There were no other examples. But even administrators looking at the original requests of that troll, even if they checked the single example (often, amazingly enough, they don’t!) would see what could be a confirmation (and if they also paid no attention to the back-story, of where she got that material, and she had asked an administrator if she could use it, and the admin had said it was okay.)

Everyone makes mistakes, or takes actions that might be justifiable, or that can look bad if divorced from context. And trolls thrive in an environment where knee-jerk reactions can carry the day. So, from the RationalWiki article, on various topics:


Written on RationalWiki:

Between 2010 and 2017, Abd was blocked 11 times on Wikiversity.[46]

That looks really bad, eh? The devil is in the details. In response to the message quoted below, I examined the block log. 3 of those blocks were by an rogue custodian, reverted quickly as not following policy, and the custodian was quickly desysopped. It is rare that block logs are reviewed and corrected. Most of the time, if one is unblocked, it’s over, and to review these things can be seen, in itself, as disruptive. What I found, in quick summary, was that of the 11 blocks, two were legitimate (and short). In one of those cases, I simply made a mistake and supported the short block. In the other, I was addressing major disruption and decided to do what would get me blocked to force attention — no custodian was active, so I lit up watchlists. It worked, by the way. But I expected to be blocked, I was willing to be blocked to stop what was happening, it was harming the community.

On 31 December 2017, Abd was blocked for a year for disrupting articles.[47]

That was not the block reason. It was for allegedly disrupting a discussion, when the discussion had become irrelevant (and could be continued, if desired,  by reverting an edit, a few seconds). My block log review goes into details. This was the tenth block in my log. It would have been reversed if not for the eleventh, as stated by another bureaucrat who was involved. But “disrupting articles” (plural) sounds worse.

The same day, a bureaucrat extended his block to indefinite, after pointing out Abd has engaged in contentious activity by misusing the website as his “personal podium” spanning 7 years of long-term abuse:

This, my eleventh block, was based on a review of the block log. Wikiversity did allow people to “take the podium.” It’s not an encyclopedia, and opinion was always allowed. But I had not been substantially contributing to Wikiversity for two years. So why the block now? This was the same bureaucrat who had just blocked me, about which the other bureaucrat, with much more experience, had written:

… I would support this unblock request. The edits in question could be interpreted as a good-faith attempt to resolve a content issue.

It was obviously that, but … either the bureaucrat was not understanding the edits, or was looking for proof that I was disruptive — which can lead to misunderstanding. And so then, looking at my block log, he would react to the length. He very much misinterpreted it. What he wrote in the next block:

Your long term activity at Wikiversity shows a persistent pattern of long term disruption that has been going on for the past SEVEN YEARS! This activity has also drawn a great deal of unwelcome contentious activity to our site that distracts the community from developing learning resources. The unblocks in your log show repeated attempts by our community to assume that you are making a good faith effort to improve Wikiversity despite much evidence to the contrary. I’m not going to get into the minutia of your individual actions. I’m going to make a call based on the sum of your contributions. Wikiversity is not your personal podium. Your participation here has become a drain on the resources of our community and we will not allow this to continue.[48]

This was effectively a community ban, but without any ban discussion, as Wikiversity traditions required. As a result of this claim, I wrote a block log annotation, see below. The AP sock continued:

Harassment and complaints

Prior to his ban, various editors on Wikiversity had complained about Abd’s disruptive behaviour.

Over the years, it’s true, there had been complaints. Often from very disruptive users, such as the former custodian I had blocked for incivility (my block was later confirmed by a bureaucrat as within discretion) and who then embarked on a vendetta… However, there had not been such complaints for years, except very recently from sock puppets of AP, the same person (or small family group) as wrote the RationalWiki article.

He had also sent another user “harassing” emails.[49]

This is conclusory, not factual. The fact  is that a user complained about harassing mails, giving no evidence or details. He links to an entire page on archive.is, but the actual comment was this:

Delete and ban User:Abd for harassing me in e-mails. Wikiversity should be ashamed of itself for continuing to let him abusively campaign here. I have asked the foundation for a ruling as well. ජපස (discuss • contribs) 22:53, 21 December 2017 (UTC)

He was lying. And there was no “campaign.” I had hardly edited the cold fusion resource — which I did not start as was also claimed — for two years or more. I am informed that the Foundation will be disinterested in these unsubstantiated claims. But one never can tell. Toss enough mud, some may stick. Does anyone notice who is constantly tossing mud? (This user was long banned on Wikipedia for outrageous behavior, but he attempts to conceal his past.) The request for deletion was full of ad hominem arguments irrelevant, normally, to keep or delete.

The emails are quoted on this page. None of this was what is understood as harassment. Disagreement is not harassment, unless continued well beyond a request to stop. There was no request. The correspondence was voluntary. When he ceased responding, I ceased responding, as can be seen in the history quoted. But if this user complained to the bureaucrat, perhaps the bureaucrat believed him.

A Wikiversity bureaucrat noted “We have received numerous legitimate complaints about your activity over a long period of time.”[50]

The bureaucrat writing that was the same one as the one who blocked me twice without following, at all, blocking policy, particularly in there being no violated warning. The AP socks had threatened they would write complaining emails. Obviously, they did. But normally such complaints, if they are to be actioned, would be documented so that an accused user has the opportunity to defend him or herself. this is normally done with a Community Review on Wikiversity, though there are alternate processes. Instead … he reacted. It was out-of-the-blue, without providing any opportunity for defense, explanation, and no warning.

Abd wrote thousands of words on his blog about the incident, claiming he has been incorrectly blocked.[51] Do You Believe That?

Misleading. The link is to the block log annotation which goes over the 11 blocks, created so that anyone who wants to review that block can see the record and history in detail.

Evidence is always lengthy, compared to summary claims. But does that page claim I was “incorrectly blocked”? Which block? As I wrote there, two were legitimate blocks. There were at least three that were obviously and totally illegitimate. What I actually wrote was that the other blocks did not follow blocking policy, which is rather easy to establish. That does not mean that they were “incorrect.” Some were “involved blocks.” Perhaps there was some emergency, for example. Was there? This would take examination of the log entries and circumstances. Whether the block was “correct” or “abusive” or whatever is up to the community, and if the community doesn’t review it — too often that has been the case, it will stand. And that is exactly how wikis become unsafe. It is common and has happened to thousands of users.