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When Wikipedia Attacks!

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Recently we focused on the plight of representative Judd Bagley, and his efforts to have Wikipedia acknowledge that feuding journalist Gary Weiss was using a number of aliases to “control” articles related to the company.

Other media sources have examined how Wikipedia came to be used as, in Bagley’s words, “a literal weapon against me and others”. Here we examine how a group of leading Wikipedia administrators, some of whom were in private email communication with the journalist, acted as opinion leaders in the Wikipedia community, thus implicitly sanctioning and encouraging others to side with Weiss and against Overstock.

Bagley and Overstock became known as “Enemies of the Wiki” for exposing the details of Weiss’s edits. And like a cult on the attack against “heretics”, the inner core of Wikipedia administrators set to work demonizing Bagley. Bagley’s perfectly legal and legitimate efforts to highlight the anonymous targeting of Overstock were twisted into accusations of “stalking” and “evil harrassment” from Wikipedians. Characterization of his methods eventually became so exaggerated by the Wiki-cult that they mutated into blatant falsehoods, reminiscent of the lies propagated against Wikipedia critic Daniel Brandt. Below are examples of this systematic character assassination by leading administrators taken from Wikipedia’s talk channels:

(It should be noted that Bagley’s claims regarding Wikipedia were later proved beyond reasonable doubt in an extensive evidence collecting process by concerned administrators. The wider claims regarding the US financial markets, which were at the center of the dispute, were in line with measures taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission this year. This week, Bagley will be appearing with Wikia CEO Gil Pechina on a panel, discussing “Web 2.0: The Emerging Law of Wiki, Blogs and Social Networks and Its Impact on Traditional Business and Entertainment”, where the matter will no doubt be discussed.)

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

[Bagley] is an obsessive troll. And I thought we’d learned our lesson about “sleuthing” established editors. It’s got nothign to do with that other site you’re involved in, other than as the venue for Bagley publishing his possibly fraudulent evidence. I don’t know why anyone would give him the time of day, he’s so obviously off in laa-laa land on this subject.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

Bagley is a known net.kook and absolutely not above forgery, the “evidence” he presents off-wiki is questionable not just because he is a vicious agenda-driven troll but also because the times have been called into question. In the absence of hard evidence, or indeed of evidence of an actual problem with the edits made by either account, I am strongly inclined to point Bagley in the direction of the colloquial version of Genesis 1:28 and leave it at that.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman) from December about the Register article on Judd Bagley:

Both the Register pieces are clearly polemical, the followup parrots Bagley’s lunacy completely uncritically

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

On the other hand, I will freely admit to being if not enraged then certainly disgusted by Bagley. His vile smear campaigns against people he dislikes are simply not the kind of thing that earns my respect.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

The Register is unreliable in this instance, not only because it repeats the harassment meme that Bagley invented,

User:JzG (Guy Chapman) here JzG actually links to Gary Weiss’s blog O-Smear, taking everything in it as gospel…:

given the long history of abuse by Bagley we’re going to need some pretty solid sources before we even think about letting his POV creep in here.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

I don’t know about the NYT piece, but The Register is absolutely inappropriate. It is not even tabloid journalism, it’s not journalism at all, just polemic, strongly inspired by Bagley’s manipulation.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

It’s a completely absurd suggestion. We absolutely must not succumb to the paranoid fantasies of banned abusers of the project. I have no agenda whatsoever in respect of overstock, as a company it holds little interest for me. What is not acceptable is for people who have been banned from Wikipedia due to abuse and harassment, to be allowed to dictate who may and may not engage in respect of content. It looks to me very much as if the measure of NPOV being applied above is that the article will be NPOV when it reflects Bagley’s POV. Sorry, no. His cynical manipulation of The Register (with which, admittedly, they seemed to co-operate gleefully) does not change the facts: Bagley’s allegations against Weiss have no substance any more than his Holy Jihad against naked short selling is an excuse for the poor performance of overstock’s stock - that was, as has been pointed out by many impartial observers, easily explained by reference to their consistent failure to show a profit.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

You’re sure doing a lot to give the impression that you prefer your friend Mr. Bagley to my friend Mr. Wales.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

I do not think it does your credibility much good to come here, as a well-known Wikipedia Review member, supporting Bagley, another Wikipedia Review member. What Bagley says about anybody is relevant to Bagley but not provably relevant to the targets of his harassment.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

We already know that Bagley uses disinformation and harassment against anyone who does not uncritically support his company, we can scarcely say that a failure to repeat that harassment here is a failure of neutrality.

Bagley is as polemical as you can possibly get, and the material is stated in terms that are functionally indistinguishable from an outright attack. So, unless we can find better sources and better wording, we shrug it off as “vituperative piece by vituperative person” and ignore it.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman)

Bagley is a vicious hatemonger whose approach to anything other than uncritical adoration is reliably to harass and attack.

User:JzG (Guy Chapman):

the Register does not make a fair point, it parrots Bagley’s idiocy uncritically.

Phil Sandifer:

it is important to note that Overstock is a money-losing company with a staggering record of despicable actions on the part of its management. These are basic and well-cited facts of the sort that you describe. My wording was strong, but we’re making the same point - we are not to be held accountable for Overstock’s generation of a long legacy of incriminating facts.

Phil Sandifer:

Well, the problem is that Overstock is an unprofitable business run by a lunatic who rants about sith lords, with a sociopathic executive who infects his critics with spyware. All of which is well-documented. The alternate position suggested - that Overstock is full of flowers and puppy dogs - is supported by very little in the way of reliable sources. Perhaps if the company were to start turning a profit and were to stop being run by the criminally insane this would change, but until that turn of events there’s relatively little to be done on our end. Phil Sandifer (talk) 01:18, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

In January, leading administrator George William Herbert wrote the below about Judd Bagley and another user Piperdown, who was one of the unrelated editors banned by Wikipedia for opposing Gary Weiss’s control of several financial articles. The claims have no merit whatsover and appear to be a deliberate attempt to drum up support of Gary Weiss via scare tactics:

They are not banned because of any conclusion as to the merits of their position on the issue. They’re banned because they behave sociopathically and abusively towards editors here, tracking down real names, calling their homes, their employers, their friends, trying to get them fired, urging others to stalk them in real life, threatening violence, etc.

User:Morven, a Wikipedia Arbitrator, one of the high-ranking administrators:

…Nor do I think it worthwhile to give stalkers, especially stalkers for pay, satisfaction by giving much credence to things like this - minor allegations of tiny improprieties a long time ago…

Joshua Zelinsky on Wikien-l:

…Could someone please go over there and explain at minimum how Bagley is a complete ass and please list a few of the things he did that got him banned?

Yet more JoshuaZ on Wikien-l:

Bagley, Brandt, Amorrow and others have engaged in real life harassment that has ruined lives.

Guy Chapman on his wiki:

Finally you get the hard core of genuinely dangerous sociopaths. They are so determined that the world is doing them down by not letting them drive at 60 past a school that they will stalk the traffic police and attack them when they are off duty. In the real world, people have attacked police, magistrates, traffic wardens, jurors and judges. In the Wiki world, this increasingly vocal and dangerous group is currently exemplified by Judd Bagley but we have seen it in the past from 9/11 Truthers and various other individuals. And this, I think, is a serious and pressing problem. There is no mechanism in place by which they can be prevented from following their victims. They are often resourceful, and in most cases seriously unbalanced. They are scary, and they are as dangerous as a drunk redneck wandering round Greenwich Village with an Armalite. During a Gay Jewish Communists Against War March.

George W. Herbert on Wikien-l:

However, IMHO, Bagley’s claims are false, for reasons unrelated to him being a sociopathic, evil harrasser.

David Gerard on Wikien-l:

Mostly around the arbcom list. Bagley isn’t your regular corporate spammer, he’s actually notable in Reliable Sources - for his odious stalking behaviour. Read the sources on [[Judd Bagley]]. As I noted in the AFD, he’s about as provably unpleasant as you’re going to get without an indictment. Is there any conceivable bad use for a link to the site? Hell yes. Is there any conceivable good use for a link? Not that I can think of.

Phil Sandifer on Wikien-l:

If it’s an action that’s standing because Bagley is so odious that everybody is unwilling to take him off the blacklist, even if they wouldn’t have put him there themselves, well, that’s a non-trivial difference.

More Phil Sandifer on Wikien-l:

Nobody is seriously suggesting that Brandt, Bagley, or any other nutjob running an attack site be taken seriously.

Brock Weller(?) on Wikien-l:

As for protecting this particular asshole its far from that. He’s dangerous, it seems they were simply protecting previous victims from retribution.


Written by The Review

March 10th, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Critics

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