Wikipedia’s General Counsel, Mike Godwin, is sending me nasty emails. Apparently he doesn’t like me telling people how bad Wikipedia actually is, and he definitely doesn’t want me telling you what to do about it – when it effects you personally. He actually, the other day, said I “was trying to destroy Wikipedia…”
Stand back while I turn down my testosterone levels.
Even though, in some ways, it feels good to have some people think I’m that kind of powerful, I can’t really claim credit for what’s happening to Wikipedia. The whole world is beginning to realize that Wikipedia is being run by the social equivalent of a pimply twelve-year-old.
Wikipedia is coming apart. What I’m offering is a remedy for its victims. How? I’m telling people how to sue Wikipedians in the Courts to stop them from victimizing others. I’ve got the formula to beat them (and I’ll tell what that is further into the article) – and Mike Godwin doesn’t want me to talk about it. He says:
“Thank you providing evidence of intent to engage in strategic litigation aimed at shutting down Wikipedia.”
Yup, he really said that. Let me adjust that testosterone knob one more time.
Mike, I don’t need to destroy Wikipedia. It is doing that to itself. I’m actually trying to help you guys, but you’re not listening. The WHOLE WORLD is trying to help you and you are not listening. You need to make some changes – and here’s why…
Critics like Oliver Kamm of the London Times said in his November 25, 2009 article:
“The persistent decline in the number of Wikipedia editors may signal the end of the dominance of a remarkable online resource. It cannot happen too soon. Wikipedia is routinely cited in online articles as a substitute for explanations of concepts, events and people. It has thereby coarsened public culture. It is an anti-intellectual venture to its core.
Knowledge is democratic in the sense that no one has the right to claim the last word. Wikipedia is democratic in the different and corrosive sense that anyone can join in regardless of competence.
Every editor’s contribution is of equal value. That is an affront to the notion of disinterested intellectual inquiry. What Wikipedia prizes is not greater approximations to truth but a greater degree of consensus. That ethos undermines Wikipedia in principle as a reference source. There are many Wikipedia articles that are scrupulous, balanced and fair treatments of their subjects. But these are liable to be overthrown at any time by an editor with an idée fixe and an empty life.
The default position of Wikipedia is to leave editors to sort it out among themselves. The loudest voices and most obsessive contributors become the arbiters of truth.
The periodic scandals that have afflicted Wikipedia are not accidents: its culture invites them. A supposed theology expert turned out to be a fantasist in his mid-20s. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, declared that this impostor had “been thoughtful and contrite about the entire matter, and I consider it settled”.
It clearly didn’t occur to Mr Wales that claiming knowledge you don’t have and have never worked for is wrong. Wikipedia stands for vainglorious amateurism: it will be an easy act to follow.”
Oliver, you hit the nail right on the head.
Wikipedia is being hit harder and harder in the media, all around the world, as well it should be. The language used in the articles is getting less, and less, respectful of what once was a very good idea. You can’t crawl around the internet without finding another complaint – usually in the strongest of language. Comedians are making fun of it.
And the lawsuits are a-coming… and a-coming, and a-coming…
I think Wikipedia/Wikimedia management sits there with a dullness in their eyes reciting that old mantra “Why is everybody always picking on me?
Well, listen up WikiFolks… I’ll make this easy for you. Take that all-day sucker out of your mouth and pay attention children. I’m here to help you. I’ll help you grow up (maybe).
(1) People work hard in their lives to accomplish things. They don’t need to have some homeless, muttering, schizophrenic wander into a public library, plop their reeking selves down in front of the public internet, and log onto Wikipedia with a “private” name, to take out their resentments against their betters, by re-writing articles with so-called facts that were born in their drug-soaked, in-and-out of consciousness, mind. Nobody needs that.
But that’s one of the opportunities you provide. You call it “privacy,” and you actually think it is a good thing. Grow up.
The other opportunity you provide is for the victim of the library-using-crazy to, after spending twelve hours at their profession every day, they get to come home, log onto Wikipedia, and change back to the real information. Just what everybody needs to do after a long day (sarcasm intended).
But it gets better. For, down the road, a few hundred miles, is one of those homes where “we-the-people” store recently out of prison pedophiles. You know the ones. They have to be a minimum 1000 feet from a school yard or a children’s playground. Handily, there is only one small window, in that home, where the perverts can peer out, using their binoculars, scanning that schoolyard – so maybe only two-at-a-time can use the window leaving the other twenty-eight roommates to fight over the use of the five internet-connected computers, all of which have blocking devices keeping them away from the kiddy-porn sites. Since there is no kiddy-porn available why not edit Wikipedia, eh? Do it long enough and you can become an administrator? And, you can make friends, with similar thought paths… like a maybe a “library-using-crazy?”
The wonderful world of Wikipedia “privacy.”
So, guess what happens. The “library-using-crazy” gets really sick of this professional changing back his writings every night so he contacts his admin buddy over at the pervert center and complains. “Perv” fixes the problem by pointing out that the professional is violating Wikipedia rules by editing information about himself, and bans him from Wikipedia indefinitely. Then the professional gets upset and demands to know who these people are – so the “Perv,” and the “library-using-crazy” complain to the ArbCom group and they, of course, ban the professional forever for trying to “violate privacy,” leaving the bad information on the article page
And that’s Wikipedia in a nutshell.
I think it is being run from a tree house.
(2) Larry Solomon, from the National Post, in his article titled “How Wikipedia’s green doctor rewrote 5,428 climate articles” says it like this:
The Climategate Emails describe how a small band of climatologists cooked the books to make the last century seem dangerously warm.
The emails also describe how the band plotted to rewrite history as well as science, particularly by eliminating the Medieval Warm Period, a 400-year period that began around 1000 AD.
The Climategate Emails reveal something else, too: the enlistment of the most widely read source of information in the world — Wikipedia — in the wholesale rewriting of this history.
Solomon goes on to describe, in detail, what happened next.
One person in the nine-member Realclimate.org team — U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley — would take on particularly crucial duties.
Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.
All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.
So, WikiFolk? Did the nice man send a plate of warm brownies up to your tree house while he [blanked} your big sister, so to speak? Where the hell were you when this “global warming” crap was going on?
(3) Everybody in advanced health care knows that Wikipedia articles about health are manipulated by a secret group with an agenda designed to keep the health care status quo. No studies have yet been conducted to determine how much death and damage this group has caused to Earth’s population. But I’d guess that it is considerable.
I’ve written about this before, so there is no point in rehashing the issue. For a refresher try “A4M Sues Wikipedia…”
But, a common thing in the Wikipedia health care world is the “badmouthing” of what are called Alternative Medicine health care paradigms, professionals and activists. Another word for “badmouthing” is defamation, and defamation is actionable in the Courts. Specifically, in the case of a health professional, refer to the “defamation per se” Wikipedia definition which reads: (Note the red highlighted words).
“The four (4) categories of slander that are actionable per se are (I) accusing someone of a crime; (ii) alleging that someone has a foul or loathsome disease; (iii) adversely reflecting on a person’s fitness to conduct their business or trade; and (iv) imputing serious sexual misconduct. Here again, the plaintiff need only prove that someone had published the statement to any third party. No proof of special damages is required.”
I used the Wikipedia definition for a good reason. I wanted to show you that Wikipedia is very well aware of the law. They simply cannot deny it. They just think it doesn’t affect them.
Here, below, is the section of an email I wrote to a Wikipedian that actually tries to solve problems (yes, there are some) I believe it was paragraphs three, four, five, and six (all in green) that set off Mike Godwin:
The first question: Is there a way within Wikipedia to put a stop to the organized defamation attacks against my clients, by the group I offered to “out” in the email below? If so, what is it? How do we activate it right this minute?
We know that there are certain Wikipedia web pages that are completely controlled, or unduly influenced, by this subversive group – and they will use very trick they’ve learned to keep those web pages the way they want – keeping them reflecting their POV. This is not acceptable to us and none of us are willing to spend most of our lives edit-warring with these people.
With this in mind our group is of the mind that the Court system would work much better for us. Properly set up cases would wreak havoc with Wikipedia volunteers, all up through the volunteer ranks. Why? Because the volunteer ranks do not seem to be getting any legal advice, and are of the opinion that they have Section 230 immunity – when, in fact, since they are an integral part of the editorial process, they have no such immunity.
My recommendation to our angry players was that we simply set traps (set up a sting), positioning new editors into the system so that they readily become victims of the subversive group. Then when that happens we simply activate what appears to be Wikipedia’s internal controls, making, as it were, an appeal for the editor’s position. When that fails, go to the next step, and the next, until all avenues have been exhausted in the Wikipedia process. When all that fails, which it will, because of the depth, and sophistication, of the subversive group’s infiltration, then we simply sue all of the participants in every step of the process in a venue of our choice. There, each of the Wikipedia volunteers can explain through the discovery process, and more, how they arrived at the conclusion that defamation was OK, because they at Wikipedia decided it was.
Wouldn’t that be interesting? Thirty five to forty Defendants each hiring their own attorney?
It would be very hard, I’d surmise, to get volunteers to serve on those Wikipedia committees when they see what the term “liability” actually means, as it is applied to people they know.
But let’s go back to my first questions: Is there a way within Wikipedia to put a stop to the organized defamation attacks against my clients, by the group I offered to “out” in the email below? If so, what is it? How do we activate it right this minute?
Ok, it is time to drag out your sense of disbelief. What do you think was Wikipedia’s response to my reasonable questions?
“I think there is probably so much prejudice regarding you that it is probably impossible to accomplish anything. Actually I doubt it is unwise for you to try to represent your clients because of that.”
Tim Bolen is a consumer advocate. Copyright 2010 by Bolen Report.