More wikifun

My previous post refers. There are lots more things to say; this post doesn’t really say any of them but veers off at a tangent. Let me know if you get bored.

The tangent to start with is “no-one from outside understand how wikipedia works”. An obvious example of this is Lawrence Solomon (my apologies for mentioning: it is more honour than he deserves; but he is a convenient example), who says:

Connolley did not wield his influence by the quality of his research or the force of his argument but through his administrative position

There are several problems with this statement: the first is that I haven’t been an admin since last summer (13 September 2009 to be precise; and in case you’re uncertain, that case had nothing to do with Global Warming). But more important are wikipedia’s conflict-of-interest rules, which prevent admins doing controversial things in the topic areas they edit (if they edit; some admins drop down to hardly editing at all once given the bit. Not me). In case you think that rule is just a formality, and as easily evaded on wiki as it is by city dealers: no. All my edits (and admin actions) are and were scrutinised avidly by any number of highly unfriendly eyes and anything violating the rules would have been reported (in fact there is a section William M. Connolley’s use of administrator tools while involved in that previous, remarkably stupid case, but you’ll notice none of those are in the GW area).

It is probably worth looking at this a bit further, since the misinformation is so widespread. You can see the logs of:

* pages I’ve deleted
* pages I’ve protected
* people I’ve blocked

So, what did I delete? Cooling denier which you could argue falls under COI: but the thing was going to die anyway; I just put it out of its misery. I killed “Catastrophic climate change (disambiguation)” ‎ with the comment “(oh no not again)”; no-one cared. Not even the author. Ditto “Climate change jihad” and “Scientists opposing the global warming hoax”. That takes us back to 2007; I didn’t do many deletes.

As to the protects, you need to understand about the levels of protection available. Pages can be edit-by-all; no-edit-at-all; or “semi-ptrotected”, which means that anons (unlogged in editors) and new accounts (only a few days old) can’t edit them. the latter is conveniently used against vandals etc on controversial articles. There is a similar level of protects available against moving pages. Global Warming for example is permanently semi-protected, as is George Bush. but most protects just last a week or two until the trouble dies down. So most of my protects were “[edit=autoconfirmed]” type; ie, semi-protection.

Of those that weren’t just semi-protection, for example we have:

# 2009-05-22T22:00:20 William M. Connolley (talk | contribs) unprotected Catastrophic climate change (disambiguation) ‎ (Request from sane user) (hist)

# 2009-05-11T22:26:40 William M. Connolley (talk | contribs) protected Catastrophic climate change (disambiguation) [create=sysop] (indefinite) ‎ (salt) (hist)

the 11th protects the article in a deleted state; but as you see when asked by someone vaguely sane, I was happy to unprotect it. It seems to be dead again now, though. anyway, you get the idea.

As to the blocks, you’ll see that they are overwhelmingly “‎(3rr at A Sort of Homecoming (song))” and the like, since I spent most of my admin time enforcing the 3RR (which is to say, reverting a page more than 3 times in 24h gets you a block). None or very few are anything to do with GW.

So next time you read “Connolley did not wield his influence by the quality of his research or the force of his argument but through his administrative position”, you should ask: can you provide some examples of him doing so?

While I’m here, it is interesting to watch some of the folk old and new crawling out of the woodwork, mislead by the denialist claims of triumph on wikipedia. Lumidek (Lubos Motl) had a go at writing trash, got immeadiately reverted for the obvious reasons (Lubos doesn’t really understand wiki either, which is why BLP is a mystery to him). Lubos got the standard warning not to be naughty and responded in his usual charming fashion with risible claims of blackmail, spam and socking. But Lubos is not a real problem, because he has no patience. Lubos also needs to read [[WP:GIANTDICK]] if he wants to keep editing on GW related stuff.

[Update: judging from his blog, Lubos has already given up: So a few days ago, I naively wanted to encourage the users to improve the quality of the Wikipedia articles about the climate – because there could be some room for it, at least for 6 months. Obviously, that won’t work. But you may still try.. However, honesty dows compell me to add that Lubos also says Unlike some other skeptics, I also do think that Wikipedia is a very good and useful project that largely works. From a broader viewpoint, these are details… a page about Keith Briffa is an irrelevant story. It will be read by 0.3 people and whether or not they will understand his links to the ClimateGate will only change the knowledge of 0.1 people in average, and so on… Even the most politicized pages on Wikipedia are arguably more honest and balanced than some typical stories in the mainstream media. That’s my opinion and I have no doubt that e.g. Lord Monckton disagrees but that’s simply how I view the project, and you probably do, too. In comparison, Conservapedia looks really silly. I would never participate in such a project if it were obvious that it would remain a vastly inferior caricature of the actual Wikipedia. If there’s a left-wing bias or even semi-institutionally enforced censorship, it revolves from the fact that non-leftist editors just don’t work hard enough, according to the otherwise sensible general rules of Wikipedia. They should increase their activity. -W]

Less famous are the misc septic-lings who write stuff like I see this as attempting to rebalance the awful WC-led coverage fo this issue. It is also a test, to see how the page does in view of the supposed change in attitude towards ‘climate skeptic’ views. If it is ‘redirected’. merged or speedy deleted, for sure it will reflect badly on WP and be reported as such. Well, it was redirected (equivalent to deleted, in this case), so hopefully the test has passed; wiki (although “ruled” by a dysfunctional arbcomm) still isn’t a pushover for the dear disappointed readers of the septic blogs.

For fans of arcana, there was the edit war over “Global climate model” and the associated sock puppet investigations.

Special bonus fun: the following (lightly redacted) is an email I exchanged with another editor over a topic they were getting over-involved in, back in the days when I was an admin:

Hi. OK, I’m afraid I have some advice for you that you don’t want to hear. I’ve just read your mail, and I’ve just reviewed your last 500 edits. You do nothing on wiki but [XXX]. You need to step back somewhat and realise that this shouldn’t dominate your life, or your wiki editing. It really doesn’t matter that much. If you can’t convince people on wiki, spend some of your time and energy doing some of the vast array of useful things that need to be done else where. At the very least make a consious effort to do – oh, I don’t know, maybe 5 – useful little things elsewhere between every [XXX] post.

Its not quiite directly comparable – in that case, XXX was a single article – but the spirit is there.

24 thoughts on “More wikifun”

  1. So what caused YOU to be banned for 6 MONTHS then?

    [You could always read the previous post I refered you to. But, I’m not banned from wikipedia -W]


  2. Fun while you could get away with it though wasn;t it?

    Was it worth the effort though?

    More time on your hands to look through Wiki and writhe to do some editing/deleting…

    Ha Ha Ha


  3. You did well, perhaps overreached a little and played little Dutch boy at time, but more than good enough. Hope to see you back at work soon, but slightly humbled.

    Fred Bauder

    [I think that does indeed represent a segment of the arbcomm’s views – it is a shame that you can’t see what is wrong with it -W]


  4. It doesn’t matter what you say. The ‘thornes’ out there have read what they want to hear, and you will never change their minds.


  5. Dear Stoat, the characteristic you attribute to me is not a lack of patience. It’s called decency. I just won’t swim in tons of mud.

    On the other hand, your and Schulz’s and Sidaway’s characteristic is not called patience but bigotry. You folks are on par with Al Qaeda and you should be treated just like Al Qaeda, and I am convinced that you eventually will.

    [Lubos, you charm as ever. and you demonstrate to others how to keep content-free comments here undeleted: make the rhetoric so wildly overblown that I’m happy to have it -W]


  6. Gotta love Lubos with yet another not-so-veiled threat of violence against climate scientists, in the same post he claims he “just won’t swim in tons of mud”. He dirties the word *decency* every time he uses it.
    This entire wiki episode (and the ranting from the denial-sphere concerning it) is just another manufactured *controversy* that the delusional think spells the beginning of the end for climate science. At heart they know better, thus the elevated rhetoric from people like Motl.


  7. I came back here to see if the ever insightful Motl would comment and indeed, he did. However, his blather was just the run of the mill screeching one comes to expect from him, not the full blown warp drive rant he’s capable of delivering. Such a shame, I really would have enjoyed one of those incoherent spittle-laden fusillades of pseudo-science. I sure as hell am not going to visit that technicolor vomit of a blog he posts.


  8. I’m with 6. Gawd, I don’t even get the comments. I can just barely make out who the good and bad guys are. Clearly Lawrence Solomon sucks, and somebody who writes in twice as ‘thorne’, saying GOODBYE to end the second, then has to write a third from ‘thorne657’ (all before a single other person comments) must be off his rocker. I can’t seem to ever understand anything that Lubos ‘contributes’, which makes me wonder if he wrote that thing W quoted re conservapaedia. So, I’m left wondering if John Mashey can review this for us (although he apparently has more important things to do).


  9. Interesting thing is, if you look at the global warming topics, such as Mann and McIntyre, Mann is mired in controversy, McIntyre is a hero.

    [In case it isn’t obvious why, this is due to WP’s rather odd rules of biog-writing, since it is trivial to find “reliable” criticism of Mann, but no-one ever writes anything about McI -W]


  10. “…since it is trivial to find “reliable” criticism of Mann, but no-one ever writes anything about McI”

    More precisely, few “reliable” sources write anything bad about McI. He’s got a fair amount of positive mainstream media coverage, and some of his glowing Wikipedia profile is based on that.

    As the U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu put it:

    “If you look at the climate sceptics, I would have to say honestly, what standard are they being held to? It’s very asymmetric. They get to say anything they want.”


  11. Humpty Dumpty took the book and looked at it carefully. `That seems to be done right –‘ he began.

    `You’re holding it upside down!’ Alice interrupted.

    `To be sure I was!’ Humpty Dumpty said gaily as she turned it round for him. `I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that seems to be done right — though I haven’t time to look it over thoroughly just now — and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents –‘

    `Certainly,’ said Alice.

    `And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!’

    `I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

    `But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

    `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master — that’s all.’

    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

    `Would you tell me please,’ said Alice, `what that means?’

    `Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. `I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’

    `That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

    `When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `I always pay it extra.’

    `Oh!’ said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.

    `Ah, you should see ’em come round me of a Saturday night,’ Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side, `for to get their wages, you know.’


  12. Current situations at WP convinces me that the wiki is not a bureaucracy is now false. At the very least it has now become more about getting all verifiable things in than getting truth in that can be verified.

    I can understand that wiki isn’t about truth, but it should be about getting to the truth with reliable sources and not about just repeating what every reliable source says. Especially when its obvious their info is outdated!

    I have seen people comment how sceptics (or however you want to call them) get scared away, but at least I am an example of the opposite side losing any real interest in contributing to the wiki project. Wiki shouldn’t be about arguing whether someone has been impolite, it should be about writing the best possible articles. Everything else should be secondary to that, but I have seen very few people (and no one of the arbcom) support that.

    And it is getting silly when leaving notes on your talk page is bad, but if you do it on some forum or in a pub its all A-ok(this is related that being civil is more important than almost anything else).


  13. I have been quietly following the situation enough to see that you have now been barred from the site entirely for two weeks, and that you tried unsuccessfully last night to contest it.

    Frankly, given that you are now prevented from writing about your main area of interest and expertise (I say this not intending to be dismissive about expertise related to your present job), I don’t see what difference it makes for you to be barred completely or not, unless you really now want to spend significant time writing about other things on Wikipedia.

    I wonder if the time could be better spent developing articles about climate-related topics elsewhere instead – possibly initially forked from Wikipedia and possibly also merging in subsequent worthwhile edits that appear on Wikipedia, provided that you are careful about licence compliance. Citizendium comes to mind if you still want a collaborative environment, although I don’t know enough about it to be sure whether this is an appropriate suggestion. The material could then be complete and worthwhile in its own right, but also give a corpus of writing from which you could merge material back into Wikipedia at a later date when they’ll have you back – on the assumption that they will do so, i.e. accept from you a total break from editing Wikipedia as evidence of adequate “cool down” from the disputes, and not insist that you first spend six months actively writing about Teletubbies as a penance before they’ll let you write about climate change again.

    I imagine also that third parties could merge such material into Wikipedia if it is appropriately licensed (which it would certainly be if originally forked from Wikipedia). However I find it a little draconian that, from what I can gather of the current fracas, they could be penalised for doing so under internal Wikipedia policy if it was while you are still banned from the topic there, regardless of whether they accepted full personal responsibility for it and regardless of whether it in fact improved the articles. That said, I could have misunderstood because it is based on my reading of wiki in-speak, e.g. a “meat puppet”; I do think that you Wikipedia regulars need to be more outsider-friendly in how you describe things – and in that particular case, also more vegetarian-friendly 🙂


  14. It’s been a classic example of success with a longtime group trolling tactic: getting the people who take the forum seriously to attack each other, then sit back and laugh.

    Someone should work up a history of other Wikipedia topics of corporate interest like asbestos, lead, tobacco, and such, and see if a pattern emerges. You could get a paper out of it.


  15. Continuing my point above about wiki in-speak, although I guess that “arbitration committee” is a bit of a mouthful and that “arbcom” is maybe a fairly inevitable abbreviation, it is still amusingly reminiscent of those similarly formed Soviet-era abbreviations, e.g. “komsomol”, “sovkhoz”, “goskomstat”, etc, etc.

    [I’m thinking more “Stasi” at the moment -W]


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