How Wikipedia administrators "investigate" and punish "dissident" editors
On May 24, Jared Keller, an associate editor for The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire, publishes in The Atlantic an article entitled « Is Wikipedia a World Cultural Repository ? » concerning the Wikipedia application to be recognized by the United Nations as a world heritage site. Keller does not criticize Wikipedia, but he points out that the Wikimedia Foundation does not seem to need extra money and « raised more than $21 million from November 2010 to January 2011 in the service of new initiatives ». He concludes that UNESCO « should better focus its resources on heritage sites facing more immediate challenges ». However, is this the only real problem with Wikipedia ? An article by Kevin Rawlinson in The Independent presents Jimmy Wales as pledging to « resist pressure to censor entries ». But is Wikipedia actually opposed to censorhip ? Selected worldwide information spread through a virtual encyclopedia can also be an influence tool, especially if unwanted information and editors are blocked by a nebula of mainly anonymous administrators with no public editorial board. Will Wikipedia become an official « unique encyclopedia » propagating a « unique thought » ? On May 24-25, Jimmy Wales is participating to the e-G8 (internet G8) together with representatives of the most influential corporations in the field. As The Washington Post emphasizes, Nicolas Sarkozy has opened the e-G8 with a « call for selective government regulation of Internet ». What will be the role of Wikipedia in such an institutional scheme ? Examining the censorhip and inquiry procedures currently used by the Wikipedia administrators against « dissident » editors and net users can be very enlightening from this point of view. And very worrying for the future of free internet. According to Jimmy Wales, governments should just stay away (Reuters). But his « solution » actually amounts to private internet police.
Our articles « Wikipedia and internet police (I) »
already discussed the peculiar « investigation procedures » and « vocabulary », mainly centered around « suspicion », used by the Wikipedia administrators againts dissenters and directed, in most cases, against the expression of unwanted information and points of view.
To ban editors, the Wikipedia administrators invoke similarities of IP adresses (actually associated to geographic zones), writing styles, opinions... Such procedures are based on the personal information extracted from connection data, and lead to decisions based on « suspicion ».
In a superficially « soft » and « funny » way, the net surfer gets used to the idea that such an anonymous and uncontrolled police of personal internet connection data is « normal » and « necessary ». What about fundamental rights and internet freedom ? Wikipedia does not even have an editorial board.
On May 24, one can find in the Talk page of a user named Haeretica Pravitas (according to Wikipedia, the text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License):
User talk:Haeretica Pravitas
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Just to let you know, there is a discussion relevant to you at Wikipedia:Sockpuppet_investigations/Indépendance_des_Chercheurs. Kevin (talk) 08:13, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
In particular, the three-revert rule states that:
- Making more than three reversions on a single page within a 24-hour period is almost always grounds for an immediate block.
- Do not edit war even if you believe you are right.
If you find yourself in an editing dispute, use the article's talk page to discuss controversial changes; work towards a version that represents consensus among editors. You can post a request for help at an appropriate noticeboard or seek dispute resolution. In some cases it may be appropriate to request temporary page protection. If you continue to edit war, you may be blocked from editing without further notice. Kevin (talk) 08:33, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
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Actually, the user was just reacting to systematic deletion without previous deletion and to obviously agressive templates that look very much like a personal attack against a member of our collective in « response » to our articles disavowing the campaign against the Bogdanoff brothers.
Just after our first articles against the anti-Bogdanoff campaign, the French Wikipedia biography of Luis Gonzalez-Mestres was suppressed at the initiative of a Wikipedia administrator (Alain Riazuelo) personally involved in this campaign. After it was pointed out that the article in English on the so-called « Bogdanoff affair » contained wrong statements and misleading references, the Wikipedia article in English on superbradyons (describing and original idea by Gonzalez-Mestres) was also suppressed.
There have been several complaints against such Wikipedia practices without getting any answer, as Wikipedia claims to have no editorial board.
In spite of this situation and without any mention of the real context, the Sockpuppet investigations page on the user Haeretica Pravitas says :
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page's archived case(s) is/are at Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/Haeretica Pravitas/Archive.
24 May 2011
User compare report Auto-generated every hour.
Please list evidence below this line. Remember to sign at the end of your section with 4 tilde characters "~~~~"
There has been persistent sock (or meat) puppetry on Luis González-Mestres and on Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Superbradyon (2nd nomination) (before it closed.) The sockmaster and one other sock are already blocked, but Haeretica has recently started editing the article on Luis with an identical writing style and unproductive edits. His user page also refers to 'fighting Medieval Inquisition on the XXIth century internet' which is very similar to language used by Independance and the anons. Per WP:DUCK, I feel comfortable thinking that Haeretica is another sock and should thus probably be blocked. (There was a lot of iphopping also, but the article is semiprotected so it's no longer an issue.) Kevin (talk) 07:32, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
Comments by other users
Accused parties may also comment/discuss in this section below. See Defending yourself against claims.
Note: I was working on this before the above was posted, and posted it shortly after. I'm deleting my complaint and merging my comment into this one:
User:Indépendance des Chercheurs was blocked for 48 hours for edit-warring on Luis González-Mestres, attempting to remove clean-up tags. The block was extended to 7 days for IP sockpuppetry from the 220.127.116.11/16 range on the AfD of a related article. When the AfD was semi-proteced, the account User:Jaumeta was created to continue. After I filed an SPI, Jaumeta was indef blocked as a sock.
Back on the original article, Luis González-Mestres, IP socks continued edit-warring to remove the template. I brought this to an admin's attention, and the article was semi'd. Now, the recently-created User:Haeretica Pravitas – whose user page reads "Fighting Medieval Inquisition in XXI-th century internet. Also interested in more general ethics problems" echoing the general tone of persecution and complaints about "Internet Police" by Jaumeta and the IPs on the AfD – has shown up to edit the Luis González-Mestres article, adding POV material (from the viewpoint of LGM), some of which had been previously removed from the article due to COI, OR, RS, SPS and POV problems. This is clearly another sock account, created to get around the semi-protection of the article, the same behavior as seen before. True, the editor has learned a few things: they did enough edits after creating the account to become autoconfirmed.
Clerk, CheckUser, and/or patrolling admin comments
I agree that behavior is sufficient to justify an indef block of User:Haeretica Pravitas as a sock of Indépendance des Chercheurs. The latter's seven-day block (which I had imposed) has recently expired, and we should probably let him resume editing on a wait-and-see basis. But our tolerance should be limited. EdJohnston (talk) 10:07, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
Clerk endorsed Switched to correct master, newest reported account is currently the master. Blocked the master for two weeks per previous evasion, are there any more that just haven't been found yet? -- DQ (t) (e) 12:08, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
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In both cases, the Wikipedia mentions are :
This page was last modified on 24 May 2011 at 08:33.
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.
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A Wikipedia administrator participating in this virtual police operation declares :
I'm Kevin Gorman. I was a participant in the spring 2011 session of Politics of Piracy at UC Berkeley, and I will be facilitating the fall 2011 session.
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However, although this name can be found in the Berkeley program with the title « Undergraduate Lower-Division Courses 98. The Politics of Piracy (Sec 1) (2 units) » :
no further specification is provided on the person using this name.
Actually, the suspected user had launched no editorial war, but just tried to introduce new information, that can be found in his last version of the biography of a member of our collective (Luis Gonzalez-Mestres) :
At the time, González-Mestres was a well-known member of the Intersyndicale (joint local unions) of the Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire at Collège de France.. His role appears, for instance, in the Intersyndicale communiquees  reproduced by alternative medias like La Gauche  and used by several conventional newspapers.
Although it is true  that González-Mestres had to face strong institutional pressure, not only because of his research subject but also due to the conflicting situation, of the Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire at Collège de France, it is unjustified to state that he was actually prevented from making his work public in due time. The existence of the arXiv electronic archive and of other e-publishing sites, as well as some important international conferences abroad, allowed González-Mestres to disseminate his results and ideas.
Gonzalez-Mestres was among the "dissident" participants to the November 1996 public hearing of the nuclear energy amplifier project (presented by Carlo Rubbia) organized by the French Parliament . Rubbia's project was criticized by several members of the Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire, but also later by a Parliament report .
In the period 1997-99, there were several public written questions addressed to the French government by members of the French Parliament concerning the situation of the Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire of Collège de France and the difficulties met by Gonzalez-Mestres and other "dissidents" from this laboratory 
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The relevant references are :
42 - Remnant site of the Intersyndicale of the Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire of Collège de France (in French), http://pagesperso-orange.fr/intsynd-lpc/
43 - COMMUNIQUE SUR LA SITUATION DU LABORATOIRE DE PHYSIQUE CORPUSCULAIRE DU COLLEGE DE FRANCE (5 Juin 1998), http://www.lagauche.com/gauche/lghebdo/1998/1998-22-03.html
44 - "La Gauche" (Gauche Socialiste), http://www.lagauche.com/gauche/lghebdo/1998/1998-22-03.html
45 - Fabien Gruhier (February 1997), Dans trente ans le réacteur miracle? Nucléaire: la bataille du rubbiatron, Le Nouvel Observateur, February 6, 1997 (in French), reproduced in http://resosol.org/contronucleaires/Nucleaire/important/2010/rubbiatron-bataille.html
46 - André Gsponer (November 2003), In memoriam: L'amplificateur d'énergie nucléaire de Carlo Rubbia (1993 - 2003), from La Gazette Nucléaire, No. 209/210 (in French), http://cui.unige.ch/isi/sscr/phys/Rubbiatron.html
47 - Rapport de Claude Birraux sur le contrôle de la sûreté et de la sécurité des installations nucléaires, pages 67-150, http://www.senat.fr/rap/r96-300-2/r96-300-21.pdf
49 - See, for instance : 1998 written questions by Marie-Claude Beaudeau, http://www.senat.fr/questions/base/1998/qSEQ981213282.html ; ; 1997 written question by Noël Mamère, http://questions.assemblee-nationale.fr/q11/11-5756QE.htm ; 1997 written question by Claude Billard, http://questions.assemblee-nationale.fr/q11/11-5761QE.htm
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The Wikipedia mentions are :
This version of the page has been revised.
Besides normal editing, the reason for revision may have been that this version contains factual inaccuracies, vandalism, or material not compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
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But where is the vandalism, and where are the inaccuracies ? These informations, that can be readiliy checked through the references, appear pertinent with respect to the article subject and content. It rather seems that the Wikipedia administrators are trying to protect hierarchies and lobbies, including nuclear ones, contrary to what Jimmy Wales states.
The complete Wikipedia biography of Luis Gonzalez-Mestres before censorhip started can be found here :
See also our articles :
Indépendance des Chercheurs
Groupes de discussion :
Le Club est l'espace de libre expression des abonnés de Mediapart. Ses contenus n'engagent pas la rédaction.
L'auteur a choisi de fermer cet article aux commentaires.