A child’s garden of wikipedia, part I

“Part I” is very presumptuous. I might never write part II. Ah well, I press onwards in hope.

I’m going to take my text from Climategate: the corruption of Wikipedia [now very sensibly disappeared from the Torygraph site (arch); something similar is at http://delingpoleworld.com/tag/william-connolley/ (arch)] and see what we can learn about wiki’s workings from the way people misunderstand it. I should warn you that blog is mostly recycled Solomon.

Before I go on (well actually I wrote this *after* I went on, but I came back up here, that is one of the marvels of modern tech) I’ll point out that the LS/JD article is riddled with amateur errors that a moments time from someone competent at wiki could have fixed. This is genuine modern journalism at it’s very worst.

* ”All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles.” This is either technically true, or wrong, depending on how you interpret “re-wrote”. If you use an edit counter you can discover that I have, to date, edited 5,474 unique articles, so it has gone up by a few since LS wrote (actually I wouldn’t swear that total didn’t include talk space, but never mind). But that raw number is nearly meaningless, because it includes articles such as Aesop, where I reverted vandalism, Berkhamstead Castle, where I added a picture, I removed the S word from the CRA , and… I’m sure you get the picture. I can’t quite make it up to Z, but I did remember the XAP2. If you want to know how many articles where I’ve valiantly kept at bay the forces of wacko-dom, you need something more intelligent than an edit counter or a Delingpole.

* “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”. If you’re an admin (as I was for a while, before I got de-sysopped, full story sometime) you get the power to delete articles. However, all such deletions show up and all other admins have the power to recreate deleted articles. So going around deleting articles I didn’t like on climate grounds would not have worked – people would have said “hey, you have a [[WP:COI]] you can’t do that. And indeed, although the edit counter will faithfully tell you “Pages deleted: 510”, you need to look at http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Log/delete&user=William+M.+Connolley to see what I actually did. Most of the pages you see there are redlinks – which is to say, they are links to pages that don’t exist, because (surprise) I deleted them. But any admin that disagreed could restore any of them. Most of the pages I deleted were just simple deletions – they were totally uncontroversial and obvious (I was never much of a one for frequenting [[WP:AFD]] where people have long and tedious arguments about whether individual pokemon cards are more notable than Polish politicians. One of my controversial deletes was [[Antisemitic incidents during the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict]] which I deleted with “edit warring disaster area. where are all the people who voted keep?” but sadly it got re-created (the comment, oh you wiki-virgins, is a reference to the discussion at AFD/DR; don’t lets go there). I’m not at all sure I deleted *any* controversial GW-type pages, but if I did I’m sure the Dark Side will bitch at me and I’ll update this.

* “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.” – one of the other privs of admin-hood is blocking people. Sadly, however, the COI guidelines stop you blocking people you’re in dispute with (ahem); if you do it, another admin will unblock them (incidentally, you can unblock yourself, but you’re not allowed to; see my block log). So where do the 2,000 (2029, to be precise) come from? Well, I used to do a lot of work at [[WP:AN3]] which is a project-space page where people could be reported for breaking the “3 revert rule” (viz: revert a page more than 3 times in 24 hours and you’re blocked, sonny, usually for 24h in the first instance; [[WP:3RR]] for details). You can see (the last 500) of my block’s at here (I was especially pleased with “2009-09-12T13:49:44 William M. Connolley (talk | contribs) blocked Dak (talk | contribs) (account creation blocked) with an expiry time of 24 hours ‎ (edit warring at Fisting)” and rather hoped that would be my last admin action, but sadly I couldn’t resist, and my last was “Redking7 (talk | contribs) (account creation blocked) with an expiry time of indefinite ‎ (SPA RoC/Taiwan edit warring)”). As you can see from the list, there is a vast amount of edit warring at wiki; as you’ll see, (almost) none of the blocks are for GW (indeed the only one ctrl-f finds for me from that list is “2009-06-07T21:55:28 William M. Connolley (talk | contribs) blocked (talk) (anon. only, account creation blocked, autoblock disabled) with an expiry time of 12 hours ‎ (tripe on Talk:Global warming)”).

* “Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings” – I’ve not a clue what this means.

* “Connolley has supposedly been defrocked as a Wikipedia administrator… If this is true, it doesn’t seem to have made much difference to his creative input on the Wikipedia’s entries”. Again, it is possible to check. Juliancolton is shown to be an admin. I’m not (I am a humble rollbacker; another once-admin-only priv is a little button that allows you to revert junk edits quickly; since this is no great power moderately trusted edits can have it too, free of charge). But the main error here is confusing admin and editor status, and it is an enormous error. The admin bit is popularly and laughably called the “mop and bucket”; admins get to patrol wiki and wipe out the cling-ons, so to speak. But this has no affect whatsoever on their ability to *edit* pages (except for the minor matter of editing protected pages, but lets not go there either today).

Well, there you go, that is about all you can learn from JD. I’ve not bothered comment here on his misc errors about me – I am all powerful (part 2) is probably your best source for that.

[Teensy update: well there is a bizarre coincidence. I mention Aesop and A, href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Aesop&diff=335898002&oldid=332715076″>some anon wazzock vandalises it -W]


25 thoughts on “A child’s garden of wikipedia, part I”

  1. Cold, isn’t it?

    Assistance for the hard of understanding:
    See that page you link to? There’s a picture on it with lots of red and blue bars, can you see that? That’s called a chart; you might not have seen one before. Do you see how almost all of the blue bars are on the left, and almost all the red bars are on the right?

    That’s global warming.



  2. I come back to the suggestion I made some time ago here : if wiki were to draw a line periodically, like a balance sheet every year, then you wouldnt need to be so active editing. You could just bash the cling-ons in a relaxed fashion on a periodic basis.

    These attacks, from an outsiders point of view, do seem to be getting to you. But I dont know you, so I dont know how you really feel about them.

    From personal experience, it is difficult dealing with psychopaths because they do have the ability to keep going no matter what. The naysayers are going to naysay no matter what. They are not interested in rational behaviour, only their own image every morning in the mirror.

    Anyway, keep going : I support what you are trying to do.


  3. Here are a couple of pet niggles of mine. Stop me if you’ve heard them before.

    [Many a time. Doesn’t make them invalid though -W]

    Firstly it’s inappropriate to refer to Wikipedia as “Wiki”. There are lots of wikis, and wikis existed before Wikipedia, and not all wikis are encyclopedias. It’s always best to use the full name.

    [Yeaaaaahhh I know. But, well, I don’t really have a good excuse for this except laziness. I need to learn that posts, even more than code, is read more often than it is written -W]

    Secondly in a piece which is supposed to be read by people unfamiliar with Wikipedia jargon, it’s better to use the longer forms of page names, policies and terms. For instance you refer to “[[WP:COI]]” which will mean nothing to the average reader and he has to click on the link to find out what you mean. Calling it “conflict of interest” or (if you want to emphasize that it’s a particular term of art on Wikipedia, “[[Wikipedia:Conflict of interest]]” is better. Similarly, [[WP:AN3]], [[WP:3RR]] and [[WP:AFD]] have more readable English names: Administrators’ noticeboard/Three revert rule, Three revert rule, and Articles for deletion, respectively. I think it would be more appropriate to use these long forms outside Wikipedia when addressing those who are not familiar with the terms.

    [Same answer I think, except I have the excuse that you can at least click on them. More, I can be fairly sure of typing WP:COI and getting it right; trying to type WP:Conflict of interest will often fail, and I get the capitalisation wrong (though admittedly that only matters on-wikipedia, not here, but the habit sticks) -W]

    In fact as a long term Wikipedian even I have trouble keeping up with the latest jargon and knowing that such jargon alienates newcomers I always make an effort to use the long forms on Wikipedia itself, and encourage others to do so. That, though, seems to be a lost battle.

    (On Wikipedia I am User:Tony Sidaway)

    [I’d guessed. Welcome here. I shall now go and visit you -W]


  4. WC – I’m also LS.
    (and PO’d that LS makes LSs seem AHs)

    [You have my sympathy (not for your name, of course, but for having to share with such a one). I had to deal with Billy Connolly at school, though. I *could* try spelling out Solomon, but maybe better would be to stop mentioning him -W]


  5. If you run Windows, go to the LifeHacker website, download Texter and add some shortcuts to expand out to Wikipedia, etc. etc. That way you type no (or little) more, but the text gets fully expanded for those reading.

    Alternatively, you could make a available a Greasemonkey script to expand your abbreviations for your visitors. But that’s probably more effort. 😉


  6. Do you have any idea where the following quote comes from?

    “A researcher in the network took it upon himself to clear the articles from anything that might interfere with the description of a unique and catastrophic global warming. Among other things, wiping out his Medieval Warm Period from history.”

    It is about articles on wikipedia…


  7. I just checked it against a new user, and it looks like that tool counts articles and talk pages as one and the same. Of course, it doesn’t limit itself to the article namespace – it also counts pages in the Wikipedia: and User: namespaces. No idea how it deals with subpages though…


  8. Nick Barnes wrote:

    “Assistance for the hard of understanding: See that page you link to [of Alaska temperatures]? There’s a picture on it with lots of red and blue bars, can you see that? That’s called a chart; you might not have seen one before. Do you see how almost all of the blue bars are on the left, and almost all the red bars are on the right?

    That’s global warming.


    That’s not a chart. That’s a chart-with-all-data-before-the-50’s-omitted. The full data set shows that the rise from the 50s to the 2000s has clear precedent from the 1900s to the 50s:

    Drawing a completely arbitrary horizontal line and getting out a red crayon is not exactly very convincing, since any extended warming will have red on the right and blue on the left, decade after decade after decade. Sure, Alaska is warming, but does it show a clear AGW signal on its own, meaning clear divergence from historical trends after 1970 when the IPCC says a clear AGW signal has appeared? Nope.

    The NOAA is fond of the red/blue coloring trick. It was the only way they could make their global average look alarming, since an simple plot with a trend line shows no AGW anomaly but only the possibility that an anomalous cooling trend may have been avoided.

    Soon after I started posting my NOAA graphic far and wide, they swapped their plot for a red/green one which makes it nearly impossible to convince the eye that it’s the same data at their original plot. An arbitrary horizontal line renders data near the vertical level of that line invisible to the eye.

    Let me confirm this by taking their new graphic and remove the goofy color bars:

    Yup, same thing for the global picture. Pointing at temperature plots does not support AGW theory, but in fact seriously calls it into question. One must rely on models that suggest that without AGW there would have been anomalous cooling without CO2 that would have broken the simple linear trend of 350 years found in very long running ground stations (see: http://i49.tinypic.com/rc93fa.jpg).

    I’m open to the idea that models may have something to offer but the idea that CO2 kicked in just in time to avoid anomalous cooling in actual thermometer records sounds highly speculative. If thermometer records *did* show a break with historical trend, such plots would be plastered all over IPCC reports, would they not? Claiming that they do is simply dishonest in the age when the Internet makes dishonesty a losing strategy.


  9. # 1, Younus, January 4, 2010, 6:47
    # 7, Ibrahim, January 5, 2010, 9:23

    Or perhaps take a look at the table below the graph at that link, where the bottom line shows an increase for the nineteen listed locations in the state of 6.0F for climatic winter, and only 2.1F for the summer season over the period 1949 to 2008. That’s the pattern for increased insulation, no?

    While 2008 was quite cold, and my landscaping customers complained all through the growing season about it, 2008’s average high in Anchorage was the 3rd coldest on record, but the average low was only the 11th lowest. Again, the CO2 impeding outgoing long wave flux pattern.

    Then we’ve just concluded 2009 where the number of days with temps in the 70’s increased by a factor of better than 10 over ’08 (providing we thick blooded locals a goodly number of opportunities to lie panting in the shade and complain about the heat) with both annual median high and lows slightly above the 30 year climatic average, again with the low slightly more so than the high.

    All quite anecdotal though.


  10. Re: Younus [imbecile]

    Hot summer isn’t it!

    SES Extreme Heat Watch for South Australia
    The South Australian State Emergency Service has issued an Extreme Heat Watch for South Australia.
    Supporting information can be found on the SES web site, http://www.ses.sa.gov.au or phone 1300 570 255.

    Weather information can be found on the Bureau’s web page for SA, http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/sa/.

    This message was posted at 1452 on Wednesday the 6th of January 2010.



  11. Thank you Nik for http://i49.tinypic.com/i5wxzp.jpg

    It could get colder for a long time.

    [Hard to know what you mean by that. Globally, we’re warming. If you believe in future cooling, there are people out there willing to take your money -W]

    BTW http://climate.gi.alaska.edu/ClimTrends/Change/TempChange.html states:
    The period 1949 to 1975 was substantially colder than the period from 1977 to 2008, however since 1977 little additional warming has occurred in Alaska with the exception of Barrow and a few other locations. The stepwise shift appearing in the temperature data in 1976 corresponds to a phase shift of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation from a negative phase to a positive phase. Synoptic conditions with the positive phase tend to consist of increased southerly flow and warm air advection into Alaska during the winter, resulting in positive temperature anomalies.

    Seeing the pathern from http://i49.tinypic.com/i5wxzp.jpg it could get colder for a long time.


  12. Scared Amoeba

    Younus tells you he will never again want the Aussies cricketteam to win. Shouldn’t have called him a imbecile. 🙂


  13. Ibrahim wrote: “Nik

    Read the text on the lefthandside of the page please.


    The text insinuates that data before ’49 is unreliable. If that is so I would want to examine individual stations that go back a hundred instead of fifty years since then there’s no averaging issues of stations dropping in and out to screw things up. What I find is that most of the data from 1900 to 1920 come from only a couple stations, with a mere third one helping out to 1930, so there is indeed a reasonable argument that Alaska lacks enough data to confidently compare new to old warming (though I certainly want to see it anyway). However, the text also claims most of recent warming was not AGW (unless PDO is influenced by temperature which indeed it might be but I’ve never heard the claim, rather than the claim that it is fully cyclic).

    Analyzing how objective the author of that page might be….it does not in any way appear to be an AGW activist organization nor a hardened skeptical blogger. In fact it is a textbook example of how objective academic science should present itself: as a public resource.

    Whatever the details, with or without the PDO variation, the overall trend line of each half century, both being an incline, the overall century is also an (overall) incline that will form a perfectly good hockey stick blade, albeit starting significantly earlier than it should to fully support AGW theory. It’s then up to proxy studies to tell us if recent variation is outside of natural variability. Only a few (highly publicized) proxy studies fail to show similar warming in the past, however, according to http://www.co2science.org/data/mwp/quantitative.php (an albeit activist site). Yet models can (and do) still claim an AGW signal has appeared.

    For those who believe there is no amplified (due to positive feedback) AGW then future warming is still more likely due to thermometer records showing no significant change in upward trend over several hundred years, though past thermometer record variation has shown “cooling” for upwards of five decades at a time (see my chart of long-running stations above). That a non-amplified additional ~1 °C warming is in the works this century makes cooling even less likely. However, I have yet to hear of a computer model that fails to predict that a significant upward spike has already started that means cooling spells should no longer last several decades but hardly last at all. So a mere few more years of a lack of very strong warming will throw existing computer models into question.


  14. Posted by: Ibrahim | January 6, 2010 9:59 AM

    Younus tells you he will never again want the Aussies cricketteam to win.

    What have the Australians done to him? I suppose he thinks I’m Australian?
    I’m not Australian, and I don’t watch or play cricket either.

    FHI, there’s this thing called the intertube and I used it to look at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website, because if it’s cold in the NH, I sort of figured it might be hot in the SH! And I was right.

    I haven’t changed my mind about him.


  15. @Scared Amoeba:
    It’s cold in most of the NH. There are, however, also some relatively warm places.
    For example: Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, currently has daytime temperatures that are well above zero degrees Celsius (they even expect 6-8 degree at the end of next weekend). Normal temperatures are well below zero (-4). In essence, they are having temperatures that are normal in MAY.

    Halifax, on the Canadian Eastcoast also has warmer temperatures than normal (but not as extreme as Nuuk).


  16. Some more idiocy from LS. And W, you get a mention. I think I may have even spelled your name right.


    Just when you thought commentary on the CRU hacked emails could not get any more absurd, along comes National Post columnist and “environmentalist” Lawrence Solomon to up the ante. Believe it or not, Solomon’s latest over-the-top screed accuses Google of censoring search results to downplay the so-called Climategate scandal. But, as they say in the newspaper biz: “Check a story, lose story”.

    [LS *is* rubbish. But at least you’ve worked me into the story, which I believe is obligatory 🙂 -W]


  17. A comment to this egregious drivel refers to your vast powers. At least I think this is you:

    “Wikipedia got a new head man a few years ago and he personally deleted thousands of useful references to the Medeival warm period there, bringing it in line with the efforts to rewrite the publicly viewed climate record. This guy also recommended the latest editor to a key referee magazine… “Science”, which began working its own cooked peer review process ever since. Our media is a disgrace in its coverage of all aspects of this story.”

    Congratulations on your promotion to “head man” which goes with your demotion (do tell…) as noted by Solomon. How did the vast powers of Wikipedia over the scientific journals come to be? This aspect of the vast conspiracy is especially fascinating and I look forward to the inside story.

    [I think I’d seen that drivel before, though not the comments. “Demotion” would be my de-adminning I think -W]


  18. In regard to cold weather… Scandinavia has had a very warm autumn and early winter. Up here in North Sweden it has been the warmest in more than 50 years, in many places the warmest since they started recording temperatures.

    I recognise that such anomalies must be seen in a wider context, but the warm weather in Nuuk is not unique.

    For long-time trends glaciers are good indicators. The mountain glaciers in North Sweden are all shrinking, and have been doing so for decades.


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