Wikipedia on par with Fox News

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Go looking for the reasons why users of an IP range can be banned from editing their own user pages on Wikipedia, and the waters become deep and murky really fast. In the end you have to conclude that it’s an American mind-set now so deeply ingrained in many of its citizens that the astonishing crypto-fascism of it is no longer apparent to its propagators.

The journey quickly changes from being a search for coherent explanations of Wikipedia policy to being a an exploration of a mass psychosis in Amerikaner society.

Like the balefully authoritarian Patriot Act, Wikipedia ‘policy’ on banning IP blocks is basically an open invitation for anyone with the power to do so to exercise blanket censorship. No reason needs to be given beyond ‘suspecting’ malfeasance.

Like standard American police practice, Wikipedia editors can be banned the same way black people can be lynched in broad daylight by law enforcement gunfire: for any reason at all. For no reason at all. Because the anonymous admin thug felt in fear of ‘its’ life.

Like Nazi practices, a user not guilty of any crime can nevertheless be forced to wear a yellow star on his clothing by a forced association with an unproven and unreasoned assertion about some malfeasance linked to an IP address, address block, web hosting company, or any other damn reason one of the Wikistapo bureaucrats can dream up. Let’s keep in mind here that Hannah Arendt eloquently unmasked Nazi monsters as banal bureaucrats, the latter being terminology Wikipedia itself uses to describe its administrators.

Underlying the Wikistapo chain of logic is also an alarming technophobia I never noticed before. Wikipedia dweebs were at least technologically savvy a few years ago. But apparently today basic internet architecture stumps them.

IP range blocks ignore the reality of the depleted stock of IPv4 addresses, and what that means about ISP use of their blocks. Such usage includes applying the same public IP address for several customers at once (while internally distinguishing between them on the basis of matching user router/modem MAC addresses).

So you can get ‘shot’ by Wikistapo goons for a crime committed by someone who ‘looked’ like you (blacks or Jews all look alike, right?).

Since when can ISPs be distinguished from web hosting services providers, and from where the hell else is an ordinary internet user going to get an IP address?

Moreover, from the time America invented the idea that corporations and governments should be able to persecute people online as part of a nominally ‘free’ democratic process, VPNs have become pretty common. But not in the minds of the Wikistapo. If its boffins cannot determine who owns/controls/uses an IP address, they just ban the whole range? Yellow star again. Or is this more like a Trump wall to keep ‘undesirables’ out?

It gets better: if your Wikipedia user identity is clean, but an IP address you are using is not, your identity is tarnished by that association: you are a negro/Jew by association, to be dealt with accordingly. Is that the Mississippi doctrine resurrected as homage to some Wikiklan? ‘If you support ‘em nigrah’s we’ll lynch ya like ‘em nigrahs.’ Or is it a just case of channeling mass murder the way we read about shootings in the USA almost every day?

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While all this is going on, the Wikistapo thugs themselves continue to use mostly juvenile gamer pseudonyms to preserve their anonymity. But looking for IP anonymity is not allowed! How is that not cartel regulation of anonymity methods, with the Wikistapo faction acting in a directly commercial and prejudicial fashion against VPN providers, customers, and the entire business model?

In fact, am I wrong to suspect thuggish abuse of power, and the whole thing can be explained by hidden commercial motivations? You know what, I don’t really give a shit. Except to point it out as yet another example of an entire society that seems to have developed a split personality, with half its people acting like monstrous barbarity were entirely normal and conscionable.

In 2012 I stopped regularly contributing to Wikipedia for other reasons, but reasons even then directly related to the astonishing ignorance and swaggering arrogance of the Wikistapo types, who were enforcing the presentation of propaganda as fact because they could interpret their ‘rules’ to back such subversions of rationality.

I dropped in occasionally to check out disputes I was invited to mediate as an independent outsider, but mostly I stayed out of the shit-fights between people using juvenile pseudonyms to propose even more juvenile arguments to justify the presentation of utter nonsense as facts worthy of an encyclopaedia.

I always thought that any concerns about Wikitrolling could have been cured a long time ago if there had been an earnest attempt to create identities for contributors that were less removed from responsibility for words and actions.

But that’s not the Amerikaner way. Lynch mobs like to be anonymous (with bed-sheet hoods), and they definitely don’t want to be accountable for their actions or words.

Today I noticed I couldn’t use an anonymous IP to see the talk page of an article apparently misrepresenting Australian Aboriginal history. After logging in with my account details, I realised that I couldn’t even edit my user page – a page with no possible impact on the Wikipedia project itself.

The idiot responsible for this ban goes by the name of SQL, and seems to have been an administrator for all of five minutes. But ‘it’ has the power to impose bans on whole IP ranges. And to attribute guilt by association. And to threaten me with removing my remaining avenues for communicating on Wikipedia. Because I called ‘it’ out as the Wikistapo thug it is.

Before today I have not used my Wikipedia account with the apparently offending IP address. In fact I rarely used my account at all for a couple of years, and when I did, my IP address was unlikely to have been the same twice in succession. This is how it goes for most people renting online access. It’s hardly new-fangled technology. But the Wikistapo seems to be unfamiliar with the concept.

Such are the people entrusted with the curation of ‘knowledge’. It’s like putting book-burning vandals in charge of libraries. Which is pretty close, now, to the way half of America thinks, if their preferred presidential candidate is a barometer of such things.

I’m done asking how this could happen. I’m just pretty sure the world needs to be less restrained in telling the relevant Amerikaners that this is not OK. Not tolerated by sane people. That people who act like Gestapo thugs need to be called out for it.

And that Wikipedia is now as compromised as Fox News by the behaviour and effect of its Wikistapo goons.

6 thoughts on “Wikipedia on par with Fox News”

  1. Mr. Strempel: As you know from the notice you got when you tried to log in, “The block was made by Vituzzu.” Vituzzu is Sicilian, not American, and is an administrator on Wikimedia Meta-wiki, not Wikipedia. Wikipedia was founded by Americans, but it welcomes contributions from everywhere, going as far as to have coordinated projects aimed at improving coverage of worldwide topics, and sponsoring edit-a-thons in many varied countries.

    If you really are a writer and an IT professional, then you must realize this article you’ve written is nonsense. Attacking giants like Wikipedia and the United States are the low-hanging fruit that make up the bread and butter of those who are desperate for someone, anyone to care about what they’re writing, but can’t write anything decent; you must be better than that.

  2. That’s not quite how it went, anonymous interlocutor.

    The first notice I got, which I did not have the foresight to copy, made no mention of ‘Vituzzu’. As I explained on Wikipedia, my IP address changes; often every time I sign in. The first notice mentioned only SQL, to whom I responded.

    Great to see that Wikipedia has you to spread its PR. You make and almost plausible case explaining the jet-setting lifestyles enjoyed by Wikimedia’s management, which appear to be funded entirely from public donations. However, Wikimedia staff’s extracurricular activities aren’t really germane to the current circumstances.

    ‘If you really are …’

    Did that line make you chuckle when you wrote it? Unlike you and all your Wikipedia pals, I never used a pseudonym, never hid behind any excuse to avoid accountability for what I did or said, and don’t need you to validate (or invalidate) my credentials or work history. Only my peers can do that, and my peers aren’t ever anonymous. By definition.

    You can choose to describe my opinions as nonsense, but I was almost amused by the rapidity with which my comparison of Wikipedia admins with lynch mobs and Nazi thugs turned to reality. How long was it before the lynch mob formed, foaming at the mouth to ban me for daring to hold my own views? A couple of hours? How long was it before that idiot (Blackhead or Blackbutt, or some such pseudonym) misrepresented all I had said to call for my (figurative) summary execution?

    What had any of the comments in the admin stream to do with preserving some lofty mission to improve Wikipedia rather than the exercise of punitive power? And was this not escalated from a private email to public auto da fe by an administrator in the first place?

    It isn’t my first critique of Wikipedia; you can probably trace the history of my thoughts on the anti-encyclopedia here and in the history pages of Wikipedia itself.

    If I wanted a cheer squad for what I was writing, I’d be lionising Apple, Google, Wikipedia, and a whole bunch of other shady entities instead of pointing to evidence of unwholesome developments. You know, the kind of gushing, credulous adoration of corporate actors you get on Fox News.

    Of course, I could be completely wrong: the lynchmob Gestapo attitudes I complain of could disappear overnight as a new era of peace and harmony gripped the USA, and its citizens. The world would certainly be a better place for it. Wikipedia could lead the charge by evidencing a cadre of admins with slightly thicker skin and slightly less itchy ban-trigger fingers.

    I’m not holding my breath. On either matter. It seems to me that how this whole issue has played out on Wikipedia is such a perfect confirmation of my critique that others must wonder whether I scripted the whole thing.

    Wikipedia admins have revealed themselves, once again, to be swaggering, ego-driven juveniles more concerned with exercising power they don’t have in life than any encyclopaedic mission.

    It is largely through their agency that serious, professional contributors to Wikipedia have been driven away while the entire project now resembles a collection of increasingly skewed propaganda, pop culture artefacts, and crumbling ruins of articles treated as personal opinion battlefields by editors who are enabled by admins to act that way.

    In the meantime I’m still blocked, and not entirely certain whether this hasn’t now become a deliberate move rather than the consequence of an unthinking fixation on banning, blocking, razing, and nihilism.

  3. Reading the email (posted publicly at your request) suggests you were “being a dick” (which is against policy, and common sense, if you want someone to cooperate). As the administrators aren’t being paid to be nice to you, their response was what should be expected from any human capable of reading English.
    The arguments being made against your being unblocked are that you’ve wildly overreacted, by posting and emailing vitriolic rants instead of polite and concise messages, suggesting you can’t or won’t contribute in a civil and efficient manner. That, combined with your limited and/or undocumented recent editing history, suggests to them that unblocking you might be either a waste of time or a net loss to the project. Remember, they’re trying to write a mainstream encyclopedia, not provide a space to voice dissenting political or philosophical opinions.
    I agree that how the donations are spent needs to be made more transparent, and that such a topic is best saved for another discussion.
    Also, I thought I was being clear: I don’t think you want a cheer squad. I think you know it’s much easier to get people to join a lynch mob, especially against a giant entity some already dislike.

  4. It appears you’ve since been given the contact information for the functionaries who deal with technical block issues, and that the opinions of the administrators will be irrelevant.

  5. That’s a great piece of propaganda revisionism, Mr New England. It neatly embraces a smug bit of cupcake fascism in proposing ‘don’t be a dick’ as a universalisable rule somehow more respectable than the older, more overtly bigoted version of the same thing.

    You know as well as I do that Wikipedia is run by a narrow clique of fewer than 6000 predominantly WASP young American men who confuse all ‘rules’ of conduct with their own clique norms. Those norms often strike me as pretty well unintelligible, because they rely on Lord of the Flies (LoF)pack behaviour.

    Oddly enough, this is even acknowledged from time to time, when the latest piece of research commissioned by Wikimedia into disappointing diversity and new editor retention figures reiterates what it’s always said: academics, subject matter experts, women, and non-white males of all ages are put off by a culture of corrosive rudeness and arbitrary intervention by Wikipedia admins. Dig through some of Jim Wales’s discussion threads, and some others on Wikimedia and Wikipedia to see how that insight is recycled every few years to be quickly forgotten again as the toxic culture at Wikipedia remains unchanged.

    In that context, too, it may be time to suggest that you seem to misunderstand the sequence of events, if not also the content, that you seek to reposition to the advantage of the juveniles (administrators) who had to be shut down by one of their own elders in the end for grossly mishandling my ‘dickishness’.

    First, I have years of experience of Wikipedia that is both open and anonymous, with a deeper insight into specific individuals and particular groups of administrators than is visible in this particular farce.

    Secondly, neither you nor the admins involved appear to understand the effects of an international IP range block affecting thousands, if not tens of thousands of internet users, whether they have ever used Wikipedia or not. Neither you nor the LoF posse seems to be clear at all on what happens when a Wikipedia editor is caught in that net, and why this might be intensely frustrating. There was some vague acknowledgement of that early on in the piece.

    Thirdly, I propose to you that the percentage of paid Wikipedia editors, including admins, may be small, but is statistically significant all the same. Particularly in articles and disputes relating to American politics and commerce.

    Fourthly, I laugh at your suggestion that admins are trying to do anything positive at all while acting as a pack: I refer you to my comments above about the corrosive culture they have constructed and maintained since day dot. You might say this culture is their raison d’être, and the social focus of their activities on Wikipedia. Yes, despite claims to the contrary, many regulars treat Wikipedia as a social network. Is it another heresy to say that?

    Take yourself back to my userpage sometime soon, before it is ‘pacified’ (read carpet-bombed) to see what I have to say about 12 points on which the LoF posse erred in fact and judgement. That is if you care for a half-way rational account of the storm in a demitasse confected by this gang.

    As for that marvellous piece of psychological displacement about me trying to generate an anti-Wikipedia lynch mob, I don’t see lines of people queuing up with pitchforks and torches in their hands. My critique of Wikipedia is longitudinal and consistent. It remains, like many of my opinion pieces, a ‘minority report’.

    By the way, I don’t begrudge you or anyone else the right to disagree with me, or even to use terms of endearment; I approved your comments on my site long before I saw them here, or replied in either place. Vigorous disagreement is definitely part of any adult debate. It’s when the other side holds guns and truncheons in their hands, figurative or literal, that I object. Which is what this is really all about in the first place.

    PS: I had a Skype conversation with a friend – a woman who is also an occasional Wikipedia editor. We talked in passing about my recent experiences there, and I mentioned your suggestion that I had behaved like a ‘dick’.

    Her response took me by surprise. She suggested this was proof positive of a menacingly sexist culture on Wikipedia. When I asked her to explain she said that you guys are probably not even aware how it gives away the entitled white boy attitudes you bring to the place by talking about dicks as the measurement of anything at all, but particularly as a measurement of acceptability/unacceptability. She’s pretty convinced that the use of the dick yardstick exposes its users as immature frat boy types who never grew up, and will never grow up.

    When I asked her whether she had ever said that online, she looked at me like I’d just said something completely inane: ‘Are you fucking crazy! Have you never heard of the brogrammer dudes? They’d come after me like a bad smell! I’d get harassed day and night forever.’

    I had to confess I’d never thought of it that way.

    I couldn’t help but share that little nugget of alternative viewpoint in a place where no Wikipedia admin can summarily delete it as being offensive and contrary to the ‘don’t be a dick’ rule.

  6. My interlocutor here, who prefers to stay anonymous, but whose IP address, distributed as part the ‘New England 8’ range, places him in or around New Jersey, came back to comment on Medium (but not here), with the following, about five hours ago:

    It turns out, “Don’t be a dick” was changed to “Don’t be a jerk” 2 years ago, though a consensus of these “menacingly sexist” editors, but it’s nice to see you’ll attack, label, and drone on about any issue, no matter how small or irrelevant.

    I’m starting to think that you actually believe what you’re writing, in which case, we’re both fools, as my time had been wasted.

    To which I will reply as follows:

    Email from my friend: ‘Oh, that’s just so much better, isn’t it. From not being a penis to not jerking off the penis. These boys just can’t stop thinking about their tiny little peckers as if they were the centre of everyone’s universe.’

    I guess she’s got a point. As far as rules for acceptable behaviour go, grasping for a metaphor involving dicks or jerking things, it does seem a tad juvenile, and definitely fixated on penises the way adolescent boys usually are.

    As for ‘attack, label, and drone on about’, I thought I was responding to points you were raising. I know it can be disconcerting when a parochial Weltanschauung is suddenly exposed to the idea that its own terms might not be all there is to the world.

    ‘ … no matter how small or irrelevant … ‘, you’re not talking about Wikipedia administrators and dicks again, are you?

    Cheer up, though. Your time hasn’t really been wasted. You have educated all who read this thread about some of the more admirable aspects of the ‘broly’ Wikipedia culture. And you sure taught me a lesson, right?

    As for regretting having wasted my time, not at all, Mr New England. Glad to leave you with some ideas you just won’t be able to ‘unthink’ no matter how many doses of re-affirmation you will get hunting with the Lord of the Flies pack.

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