On May 25, The State News writes : « Students help increase Wikipedia credibility », refering to a collaboration between the Michigan State University (MSU) and the Wikimedia Foundation whithin the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative. However, the article does not examine the way Wikipedia is actually run. Although the participation of students to the activity of a virtual media can be a very useful contribution, the benefit is only guaranteed if this media presents itself reasonable guarantees of transparency and neutrality. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case of Wikipedia, that has no editorial board and whose administrators are basically anonymous. And who could control the conflicts of interests of anonymous student contributors and of the professors that would possibly have encouraged them to become Wikipedia editors ? Especially when universities have to face severe budget problems in several countries and are forced to increasingly depend on private sponsors. There is no obvious guarantee that students confronted to such a situation would be independent from academic and industrial lobbies, or that they would not develop other group or conflicting interests. Trying to get Wikipedia insered in a UNESCO world heritage list, Jimmy Wales claims that « Wikipedia is this amazing global cultural phenomena that has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people » (The New York Times). But the actual situation is much more involved. Not only because of the participation of Jimmy Wales to the e-G8 together with the main internet corporation representatives, but also because of the opacity and the censorship that seem to characterize Wikipedia running, including the very controversial inquiry procedures on the personal data of net users and the punishments based on suspicion using the supposed results of such inquiries. How can UNESCO support such methods that, precisely, jeopardize the neutrality of the information provided by Wikipedia ?
How is Wikipedia actually run, and how neutral is the behaviour of its administrators ? How independent can be in such a context, with respect to academic and other lobbies, student editors who need professors and sponsors to get diplomas and jobs ?
How neutral can be anonymous editors and administrators whose possible conflicts of interests cannot be checked by the public ? Who can control what happens in Wikipedia, if there is no editorial board ?
And is it so suprising, which such a functionning, that Wikipedia administrators are led to use strong-arm internet police methods againts users and net surfers ?
Here follows an example of current Wikipedia functioning.
A week after our collective wrote the first article (March 5) criticizing thz campaign against the Bogdanoff brothers :
the French Wikipedia biography of Luis Gonzalez-Mestres (a well-known member of our collective) was suppressed on March 21 :
The deletion procedure :
was initiated by Alain Riazuelo, Alain r, a Wikipedia administrator directly implied in the anti-Bogdanoff campaign even in his professional web page :
Similarly, some net users tried, on May 4 and 5, to correct obvious wrong assertions of the English Wikipedia article concerning the so(called Bogdanoff affair, see the history of the writing of this article :
But they were blocked. On May 5, we wrote the article :
Then, the English page of Wikipedia on superbradyons (an original idea of Luis Gonzalez-Mestres) was removed on May 21.
Now, the biography of Luis Gonzalez-Mestres in English is also being attacked :
In these « procedures », at least five Wikipedia users have already been blocked, including our own account, on the grounds of « suspicion » from personal connection data (supposed IP similarities, when there have actually been several different groups of IP adresses and IPs just indicate geographic zones...) :
Thus, internet police methods are used to « justify » content censorship without any possible control of the possible conflicts of interest of the anonymous administrators.
How can one identify persons from internet connection data ? And how can a so-called « free Encyclopedia » use such internet police methods leading to sanctions explicitly based on « suspicion » ?
When Jimmy Wales declares that governments should « stay away » from internet (Reuters), he is actually proposing a much worse « solution » : private internet polices.
Here are some of the Wikipedia administrator « tools » and « concepts » :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_test (Duck Test)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Sock_puppetry (Sock puppetry)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Sockpuppet_investigations (Sockpuppet investigations)
Interestingly enough, the Duck test Wikipedia page says :
The duck test is a humorous term for a form of inductive reasoning. This is its usual expression:
"If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."
The test implies that a person can identify an unknown subject by observing that subject's habitual characteristics. It is sometimes used to counter abstruse arguments that something is not what it appears to be.
Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley (1849–1916) may have coined the phrase when he wrote "when I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck." The phrase may also have originated much later with Emil Mazey, secretary-treasurer of the United Auto Workers, at a labor meeting in 1946 accusing a person of being a communist.
The term was later popularized in the United States by Richard Cunningham Patterson Jr., United States ambassador to Guatemala during the Cold War in 1950, who used the phrase when he accused the Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán government of being Communist. (...)
Later references to the duck test include Cardinal Richard Cushing's, who used the phrase in 1964 in reference to Fidel Castro.
Variants include Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency : (...)
(end of quote)
The Wikipedia mentions are :
This page was last modified on 8 May 2011 at 16:46.
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.
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The same article explicitly indicates :
For the use of "the duck test" within the Wikipedia community, see Wikipedia:DUCK.
(end of quote)
This second article, that explicitly uses the expression « The duck test (suspicion) » :
openly prescribes :
The "Duck test" is meant to be used for internal processes within Wikipedia. For example, consider that "User:Username" is engaged in a violent dispute with someone else, and gets blocked because of it. Immediately after, a "User:Username reloaded" registers in Wikipedia and continues the dispute right away, saying the same things and in the same tone. The Duck test allows us to consider it an obvious sock-puppet, and act in consequence.
(end of quote, similar Wikipedia mentions as before and last modification on May 20, 2011)
Even worse, our collective has been charged with a « suspicion » of « sockpuppetry » and blocked for this « reason » after having been previously asked to introduce several individual users :
You seem to have implied above that more than one person is editing from this account. Is this true? If so, please see WP:NOSHARE. It explains that shared accounts are forbidden on Wikipedia. If that's what's going on here, each person using this account will have to get an account of his own or just be content to edit as an IP. Thank you for your kind attention. --Steven J. Anderson (talk) 02:55, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
(end of quote, similar Wikipedia mentions as before)
And more generally, how can any internet police know that two users are the same, even in the presence of the same IP ? In a familiy, for instance, several persons can use the same computer.
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.