WEBCommentary Contributor

Author: Nicholas Stix
Date:  June 22, 2008

Topic category:  Other/General

Let’s Edit Wikipedia!

"The encyclopedia anyone can edit," can't be edited by just anyone.

The folks who command Wikipedia like to call it, "The encyclopedia anyone can edit." So, let’s do it!

If we are going to edit Wikipedia, aka The Pretend Encyclopedia (TPE), why not start with the entry for ... Wikipedia? (I also call Wikipedia, Antipedia; which name do you think sounds better?)

TPE's entry for Wikipedia contains passages like the following, in the section “Reliability and bias”:

Concerns have also been raised regarding the lack of accountability that results from users' anonymity,[68] and that it is vulnerable to vandalism, the insertion of spurious information and similar problems. In one particularly well-publicized incident, false information was introduced into the biography of John Seigenthaler, Sr. and remained undetected for four months.[67] Some critics claim that Wikipedia's open structure makes it an easy target for Internet trolls, advertisers, and those with an agenda to push.[69]

Seeing as the passage comes from a parallel, fictional universe, one might want to add a modest passage from the real universe we live in, say:

Others make the opposite argument: they say that Wikipedia only appears to have an open structure, but is in fact dominated by politically biased cliques of editors and administrators who push a leftwing agenda, at the expense of the truth, and who hound those contributors who fail to toe the line.

I’d write a much fuller passage, but I want it to blend in, stylistically, with the pretend paragraph, and what with the constant censorship, there’s no point putting a lot of time into a correction.

Alright, now hit the “edit this page” tab at the top, and let’s go! Oops! I can’t find an “edit this page” tab. I do, however, find a little lock symbol in the page’s upper-right-hand corner. Passing my cursor over the lock flashes the legend, “Semi-protected.” It’s not “semi-protected,” it’s locked down.

In wikispeak, “semi-protected” means you can only edit a page if you are a “registered,” as opposed to an “anonymous” user. If you start editing at TPE without registering, you will receive a personal-sounding message (at your talk page, I guess; I can’t remember any more) from a (ro)“bot,” suggesting you register, and claiming that there are advantages to registering. Wikipedians maintain that registering affords an “editor” (at TPE, everyone’s an editor) “more privacy” than anonymous editing, where your computer’s Internet Protocol (IP) number is recorded on the entry’s “revision history” page. Registered users get to choose a personal nom de cyber, which is also anonymous, and which is publicly recorded every time you edit an entry leave a public message somewhere.

If you are using a work computer, people may be able to track you down, by doing a whois search of your IP number, and contacting your business, but if you are using a personal computer that is not part of a business, whether your Internet service provider (ISP) has given you a stable IP number or you float within a range, your name will likely not be listed by any “whois” service, and will not be divulged by your ISP, except under court order.

A Wikipedian would respond, “When we say that registering confers ‘benefits,’ we mean such as greater privacy and being able to edit more articles.”

But if you register, the characters running Wikipedia, aka “The Cabal,” will know who you are. So much for privacy. They are the last people with whom you would want to share your identity. “But we’re the good guys,” they will protest, adding “Nobody wanting to edit Wikipedia has any business hiding her or his or its identity from its administrators.” Oh, yes, he does. The administrators controlling TPE are its biggest problem.

And even if you do register, if you have the “wrong” politics, i.e., you’re a conservative or simply honest, you will be barred from editing a great many articles. Not all articles, since there are many articles that the wikithugs are either indifferent to, or have inadequate thugpower to police. The problem is that the articles aren’t properly marked, say, “Only socialists, communists, gay activists, and black and Hispanic supremacists may edit this article” or “Anyone, even Nazis (i.e., anyone who disagrees with us) may edit this article.” And this is not a matter where ignorance can be rectified through trial and error. At Wikipedia, as in the multicultural university, which is one of the wikithugs’ model, it’s “one strike and you’re out.” So, if you make the mistake of trying to edit a limited-access article, not only will one of the thugs immediately “revert” your edit, but you may also find yourself with a “shadow” following you to every entry you edit, and reverting everything you do, including edits to non-limited access articles. You could be a world-class expert on the subject, and the “shadow” (wikithug) might know absolutely nothing about it, but that will not help you one bit.

As for registering giving you access to edit more articles, and even start articles, in practice, owing to the unwritten political rules, that’s not true, either.

The backstory to this rule is The Cabal’s abuse of, and lies about non-registered users. Lie: That TPE’s vandalism problems are chiefly due to “anon users,” hence the need to limit access to some entries to registered users. No, the problems are chiefly, or at least equally due to registered users—wikithugs. The cabalists, who are wikithugs, and their helpers, the would-be cabalists of wikithugdom, use this lie as cover for their abuse of non-registered users, for the thugs’ routine “insertion of spurious information” into entries, and routine censoring of true information from them. Indeed, just about any rationale any wikithug gives for any action, is nothing but a cover story rationalizing abusive behavior. (Not all administrators are wikithugs or even cabalists, but they’re not the problem, and they are not going to stand up to the cabalists, because they would then lose their “adminships.”)

The Advantage of Registering

The real advantage to registering at Wikipedia, is that you will be able to make major contributions to TPE in its other guise, as The Defamation Factory. In TPE’s first big hoax/libel, in 2005, Brian Chase of Nashville wrote in the entry for John Seigenthaler Sr., a famous retired newsman and Bobby Kennedy aide, and a hero who had twice risked his own life while saving other people’s lives, “For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven.”A friend of Seigenthaler’s tried correcting the libelous “encyclopedia article,” by replacing the lies with true material from the official biography of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, which Seigenthal had founded, but was “reverted” (changed back to the previous version) by a Wikipedian who claimed that the revision was guilty of “potential copyright violations.”

Only after Seigenthaler personally called Wikipedia co-founder and “God-King,” Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales to complain, was the libel removed—over four months after it had been posted.

Seigenthaler wrote in USA Today, “… I am interested in letting many people know that Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool…. [which, like the Internet, is] populated by volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects.”

Insisting that it would be impossible to find the hoaxer, Wales made no effort to do so. And yet, using the Internet protocol (“IP”) number of the computer used to post the hoax from the entry’s revision history, Wikipedia critic/victim and cybersleuth Daniel Brandt quickly traced hoaxer Brian Chase to Nashville. An apologetic Chase then wrote Seigenthaler that he had thought that Wikipedia was “some sort of ‘gag’ encyclopedia…. [and] didn’t think anyone would ever take it seriously for more than a few seconds.”

Seigenthaler then became prey to new abuse from Wikipedians who, angry at him for having publicly complained, replaced his photograph with one of Lee Harvey Oswald, and vandalized his entry for months, with statements such as:


Seigenthaler did not use the collaborative editing feature of Wikipedia to correct the misstatement himself.

One time John Seigenthaler punched a baby, right in the mouth. A "baby" for Chrissake! But in his defense, the baby did accuse him of killing Jack Kennedy.

Wales could just as easily have tracked Chase down, but he felt—and still feels—no responsibility for people being defamed by his “encyclopedia.” However, had Chase registered at TPE, it would have been impossible for anyone outside of Wikipedia to track him down, and Wales would doubtless have aided and abetted him, by refusing to release his name. Thus, had Chase been a registered user, short of a court order, neither Brandt nor anyone else would have been able to track him down.

Encyclopedists vs. The Pretend Encyclopedia

After months of observing and trying to counter the wikithugs’ abuse, I found Web sites and blogs by TPE’s critics, many of whom had had the same sort of experiences, and made the same observations, though typically in saltier language than I’m using.

And that’s when I decided to turn the tables on the wikithugs, and give them a taste of real encyclopedic research. I devoted close to two years to the research, including studying work by others, who had in turn devoted thousands of man hours to researching TPE. I even warned the wikithugs early on, that they were making fools of themselves for the whole world to see, but on their turf, with its zero tolerance policy towards truth and criticism, they felt invulnerable. (When they libeled someone I know and respect, but whom they hate, and I told them what they were guilty of, informed them that such behavior was actionable, and that I hoped their victim would sue them, they banned me for an “infinite” duration. But they also finally removed the libels from the entry in question, something they otherwise would never have done.) That research culminated in my first Wikipedia expose, “Wikipedia on Race,” which just appeared in the July issue of American Renaissance.

After reading my introduction to TPE in American Renaissance (the whole thing’ll be posted online Tuesday night!), the best places to learn more about this perverse Web site are antisocialmedia.net, All’s Wool that Ends Wool, Conservapedia, the wikipedia review, Nonbovine Ruminations, Slashdot, Wikitruth, Wikipedia Watch and The Register.

Should you still wish to try your luck editing TPE, the best way for dealing with the registered/non-registered user issue is to register, but give false information. The wikithugs do not (yet) require verification of one’s identity. But that still won’t protect you from being censored, blocked, and ultimately banned, if you get caught smuggling the truth into TPE. Of course, you could always re-register, under a new false identity, but why bother? The important thing is to study outlets that publish information that is the most reliable that honest scholars and journalists currently know of, and support said undertakings, whether through working for them, subsidizing their operations, or promoting them, or start your own, and let the world know about both the honest publishers and the frauds.

Nicholas Stix
Nicholas Stix, Uncensored

Biography - Nicholas Stix

Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.

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