Nice work, Wikipedia –

Guardian headline: Wikipedia bans five editors from gender-related articles.

Wikipedia’s arbitration committee, the highest user-run body on the site, has banned five editors from making corrections to articles about feminism, in an attempt to stop a long-running edit war over the entry on the “Gamergate controversy”.

The editors, who were all actively attempting to prevent the article from being rewritten with a pro-Gamergate slant, were sanctioned by “arbcom” in its preliminary decision. While that may change as it is finalised, the body, known as Wikipedia’s supreme court, rarely reverses its decisions.

Right, because articles about feminism have to be impartial, so they should be edited only by people who are opposed to feminism. That makes sense.

The sanction bars the five editors from having anything to do with any articles covering Gamergate, but also from any other article about “gender or sexuality, broadly construed”.


Editors who had been pushing for the Wikipedia article to be fairer to Gamergate have also been sanctioned by the committee, but one observer warns that those sanctions have only hit “throwaway” accounts.

“No sanctions at all were proposed against any of Gamergate’s warriors, save for a few disposable accounts created specifically for the purpose of being sanctioned,” said Mark Bernstein, a writer and Wikipedia editor.

In contrast, he says, “by my informal count, every feminist active in the area is to be sanctioned. This takes care of social justice warriors with a vengeance — not only do the Gamergaters get to rewrite their own page (and Zoe Quinn’s, Brianna Wu’s, Anita Sarkeesian’s, etc); feminists are to be purged en bloc from the encyclopedia.”

Will there be show trials?

The byzantine internal processes of Wikipedia are incomprehensible for many, but they serve to shape the content on the site, the seventh biggest on the internet. Its reportedly unpleasant internal culture and unwelcoming atmosphere for new editors has long been blamed for an overwhelmingly masculine make-up – just one in ten editors are thought to be female – which in turn contributes to which topics get featured on the site.

As the Wikipedia article on Wikipedia’s systemic bias explains, “research suggests that the gender gap has a detrimental effect on content coverage: articles with particular interest to women tend to be shorter, even when controlling for variables that affect article length. Women typically perceive Wikipedia to be of lower quality than men do.”

Oh well, it’s only Wikipedia…


  1. iknklast says

    Several instructors at my college don’t understand why I don’t allow my students to cite Wikipedia in homework or papers. Apart from the fact that they are required to cite scientific sources, this may well be another part of my answer.

  2. Z says

    Oh, no, not here too…

    The Guardian article’s claim about bans is based on the linked blog post by Bernstein, “Infamous”, that was rather alarmist and quickly became obsolete as the wording and the votes of the ArbCom decision changed.

    The proposed decision is here and voting for some remedies is still in progress:

    At the bottom of the page, there’s a table summarizing the results of all votes so far.

    Ther have been six editors that have confirmed topic bans under the ArbCom case, in addition to the ones that had their topic-bans upheld. Of the six, three can be described as “pro-Gamergate”: The Devil’s Advocate, Tutelary and Loganmac.

    The text of the standard topic ban is:

    Any editor subject to a topic-ban in this decision is indefinitely prohibited from making any edit about, and from editing any page relating to, (a) Gamergate, (b) any gender-related dispute or controversy, (c) people associated with (a) or (b), all broadly construed. These restrictions may be appealed to the Committee only after 12 months have elapsed from the closing of this case.

    The wording “gender or sexuality, broadly construed” cited in the Guardian article is sourced from Bernstein’s post and applies to a previous version of the proposed decision.

  3. Z says

    And “feminists are to be purged en bloc from the encyclopedia” is pure bollocks. No such remedy was considered ever.

  4. John Morales says

    Thanks Z, I find your #2 very informative.

    This stands out:

    The wording “gender or sexuality, broadly construed” cited in the Guardian article is sourced from Bernstein’s post and applies to a previous version of the proposed decision.

  5. Tarc Meridian says

    Sorry, but “Z” (it sounds like Tim Davenport, aka “Carrite”) is a Wikipedia apologist and about as un-objective as one can get, having had personal beefs with several of the involved parties. There is only a single, long-term, genuine Wikipedia editor from the “pro-Gamergate ” (and to be a pro-Gamergater is by definition a misogynist individual) and that would be the one known as “The Devil’s Advocate”. The other two that “Z” mentions are throwaways Single-Purpose Accounts; Tutelary is a man who poses as a woman across several internet forums, while “Loganmac” is the same “Logan Mac” who is a prime motivator behind the reddit forum KotakuInAction, which along with 8chan are the prime breeding grounds for the hate and misogyny that defines what Gamergate actually is. Both Tutelary & Loganmac are otherwise throwaway accounts though, not actual Wikipedia editors.

    So, no, the Guardian’s article isn’t 100% on-target; it may be possible that 1-2 of us 5 editors described as “anti-Gamergaters” will skate by a topic ban. But the overall gist of the article; that long-time Wikipedia editors seeking to protect living people from salacious, libelous harm, were disproportionately punished in this affair. There is already a 2nd wave of throwaway accounts active right now, who have learned from the mistakes of wave #1. They still push the same hateful prose, but now do so politely.

    To Mr. Morales above, the modified wording of the topic ban for several of us now reads as follows;

    “Any editor subject to a topic-ban in this decision is indefinitely prohibited from making any edit about, and from editing any page relating to, (a) Gamergate, (b) any gender-related dispute or controversy, (c) people associated with (a) or (b), all broadly construed.”

    All they dropped was the “sexuality” part, and all that does is allow editors like Tutelary to continue editing their favorite sex articles, e.g. “anal bleaching”;


    (yes, the project regrettably has a real article on this, which editors like this guy are adamant about retaining photos of)

    Welcome to the 2015 Wikipedia. :/

  6. John Morales says

    Tarc, thank you also.

    Condition (b) is interesting, as it presumes Gamergate is a gender-related dispute or controversy.

    Welcome to the 2015 Wikipedia. :/

    I find its bureaucratic workings quite recondite.

  7. RossR says

    I’m not entirely sure how Wikipedia operates. Before a question like this is put to a “vote”, is anybody tasked with finding out the objective truth of the matter? Or is it simply assumed that nobody could ever be objective about gender questions?

  8. Z says

    No, I am not Carrite. I have commented on this blog before, and OB can easily check my commenting history, and my IP points to a location unlikely to be occupied by someone called Davenport (hint: English is not my native language).

  9. VilcaRomba says

    Ross: Wikipedia specifically says that objective truth is not the standard. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability,_not_truth). They care about verifiability more. To quote that page: “Editors may not add or delete content solely because they believe it is true.”

    On the one hand, this prevents someone from adding something totally ridiculous and claiming that they just know that it’s true. If someone edits the page of a living person to say that they did something depraved, and that this editor knows this to be true because they personally witnessed it, Wikipedia editors can say, “We don’t care that you think that’s true. If it’s not verifiable, it doesn’t belong on Wikipedia, true or not.” Whereas, if truth were the standard, then every attempt to remove libelous or crank statements would require Wikipedia to try to determine the truth of the statement–and how would they do that? If someone posted that they saw Obama kick a puppy, Wikipedia wouldn’t be able to remove that statement without proving that the statement wasn’t true, which they can’t really do. So instead Wikipedia requires citation from reliable sources like newspapers. The idea is that the sources take care of making sure that they only say true things, since they’re equipped to do that, and Wikipedia just collects information from those sources without further vetting it.

    Of course, this causes other issues. If the sources themselves are inaccurate, there’s no check against it, and if something happens that isn’t sourced for whatever reason, it can’t go on Wikipedia even if it’s important and true.

  10. Z says

    I think that Ross was interested in how the Arbitration Committee works, not in how articles are written.

  11. says

    This story doesn’t really surprise me.

    Wikipedia is the site that said “Essjay is a qualified expert” until his real identity and lack of any qualifications became public. His true information was or may have been known privately, but wikipedia kept him anyway until the scandal was too big to explain away.


    Remember when Jimmy Wales edited Rachel Marsden’s page with positive language when they were dating…and with negative language after they broke up?

    And remember Jimmy Wales getting caught using donations for personal use and expenses?


    The banning of editors is yet another in a long line of such events. I wouldn’t be surprised of those banned are all women editors (see below). There’s also:

    * the child porn scandal (the refusal to remove it)
    * character assassination, page vandalism and photoshop (re: Anita Sarkeesian)
    * revenge editing
    * stooge editing by various governments
    * the disparity of female-to-male editors (about 1 to 11 in 2011)
    * Roger Bamkin and Maximilian Klein, and the pay-for-edit scandal
    * fake accounts and self promotion (re: David Rose, et al)
    * David Boothroyd, the sockpuppet admin and part of the “arbcom”

    Among others. I don’t include links to avoid moderation, but they’re all quite easy to find.

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