Archive for the ‘Media Coverage’ Category
Lessons Learned (Again)
How much time should pass before you can say, with reasonable assurance, that the media has utterly failed to follow up on a story you thought was important?
It’s been over three weeks since the story of Ron Livingston’s lawsuit against “John Doe” - for using Wikipedia, Facebook, and other websites to spread a gay-rumor hoax - was plastered all over the internet. Maybe that isn’t enough time, but so far at least, the not-so-anonymous John Doe spreading the false rumor has gotten away with it completely. Livingston will probably drop the lawsuit, since the culprit presumably has no money, lives in a different country, and (having been caught) isn’t likely to continue his antics for the foreseeable future. And, by extension, Wikipedia will have gotten away with it too, despite having facilitated the whole thing for almost two years.
It’s fair to say that my own feelings in this regard constitute sour grapes. After all, our intention in researching this situation and in identifying Mark Binmore as the culprit (though WR member Tarantino had the scoop on that, not me) was to point out a serious weakness in Wikipedia’s BLP policy, and by extension, to shame Wikipedia into finally doing something substantive about the overall problem. Every little bit helps, but it looks like anyone who thought this case might be the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, and caused Wikipedia to finally implement preventative features against online defamation, was mistaken.
So what did we learn? Read the rest of this entry »
“Lee Dennison” does not exist.
He’s a fictional character, made up by a man named Mark Binmore, a sufferer of something that might be termed “Multiple Online Identity Disorder” - though I prefer the term “Wikiphrenia,” just because I personally own the domain name.
Anyone who appears on the internet claiming that “Casting Director Lee Dennison” is “dating” someone (always a male celebrity) is lying, and indeed, is probably Binmore himself, using one of his many pseudonyms. These include “Lee Kaay,” “Cheekychops,” “Dean Saunders,” “Harry Dennison,” “mickeybloke,” “Ben Humble,” “Jamie Lowe,” “Ram Sweet,” “Pukkabosh,” “nick baker,” “cheekymonkey,” “Fergis,” “Luc Ferrier,” and “Lawrence Davis,” among others. All of these pseudonymous accounts, on Wikipedia, Facebook, and literally dozens of celebrity-gossip message boards and blogs, are operated by the same person.
Binmore himself apparently works for a London-based Alcohol Rehabilitation Program called Foundation66, and also appears to own (at least partially) a Bed & Breakfast in Beziers, France, called the Maison de l’Orb. He has authored a non-existent book of his copious amounts of poetry, and he is also the registered principal of a telecommunications equipment company called “Qualitiwork Ltd.,” the address for which is a mail drop also used by the fictitious companies “Lee Dennison Associates,” “Fushion UK,” “Fushion Pukka Bosh,” and “Kitty Lips.” All of these seem to have been made up out of whole cloth, some with no supporting web presences whatsoever.
In fact, the closest Binmore has been to an actual motion picture production is probably his own basement.
Between December 2007 and March 2008, journalist Cade Metz penned a series of articles for The Register, the British technology focused online newspaper. These articles exposed the dark side of Wikipedia that we Reviewers see on a daily basis. Some of the pieces are vital exposés of Wikipedia’s cultish internal activities, others raise important questions concerning the disturbing contradictions that lie at the root of Wikipedia culture. Below are summaries of ten of the articles, with appropriate links to the stories themselves.
4 Dec 2007
“Controversy has erupted among the encyclopedia’s core contributors, after a rogue editor revealed that the site’s top administrators are using a secret insider mailing list to crackdown on perceived threats to their power.”
Choice Quote: “If you take Wikipedia as seriously as it takes itself, this is a huge problem. The site is ostensibly devoted to democratic consensus and the free exchange of ideas. But whether or not you believe in the holy law of Web 2.0, Wikipedia is tearing at the seams.”
6 Dec 2007
“In early September, the Wikipedia inner circle banned edits from 1,000 homes and one massive online retailer in an attempt to suppress the voice of one man.”
Choice Quote: “I thought this whole thing was vastly overblown and unfair,” he [Dan Tobias] adds, “especially on a site that’s devoted to the free exchange of information and neutral point of view and considering all view points. It just made no sense.” Read the rest of this entry »
“Director IJsbrand van Veelen goes looking for the truth behind Wikipedia. In this film, “Wikipedians,” the folks who spend their days writing and editing articles, explain how the online encyclopedia works. In addition, the parties involved discuss Wikipedia’s ethics and quality of content. It quickly becomes clear that there are camps of both believers and critics.
The documentary introduces us to the main players in the debate: Jimmy Wales (founder and head Wikipedian), Larry Sanger (co-founder of Wikipedia, now head of Wiki spin-off Citizendium), Andrew Keen (author of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy), Phoebe Ayers (a Wikipedian in California), Ndesanjo Macha (Swahili Wikipedia, digital activist), Tim O’Reilly (CEO of O’Reilly Media, the “inventor” of Web 2.0), Charles Leadbeater (philosopher and author of We Think, about crowdsourcing), and Robert McHenry (former editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia Britannica).”
Time : 48:12
Broadcast date: April 7, 2008
Direction: IJsbrand van Veelen
Interviews: IJsbrand van Veelen / Marijntje Denters / Martijn Kieft
Research: William de Bruijn / Marijntje Denters
Production: Judith van den Berg
Commissioning editors: Jos de Putter / Doke Romeijn
On 23 March 2008, Canadian journalist Rachel Marsden posted the below to her user space on Wikipedia, she posted the same thing to Jimbo Wales’s talk page. Marsden had conducted a brief affair with the Wiki God-King, who then ordered changes to her biography on her behalf. In early March, Wales posted a long personal message on Wikipedia detailing the end of their relationship. Marsden’s response some three weeks later, posted to the same place, was hastily deleted by Wales’s Wiki-minions and Marsden was unceremoniously blocked from the site.
Rachel Marsden : As anyone who has ever cared about Jimbo here knows, the only way to have any sort of rational or caring discussion with him is in the Wikimatrix here. Alright, fine. Game on, sweetheart. Newsflash: Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia; it is a cult. I wouldn’t even be included in a real encyclopedia. I want the Wikipedia entry about me deleted. I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept to accept.
This post was submitted to the forum by The Review’s resident Wikipedia Watcher Daniel Brandt. The post was in response to a piece in The Register by Cade Metz researching Roger McNamee, the major donor to the WikiMedia Foundation.
Daniel Brandt: The New York Times yesterday quoted Florence:
Florence Nibart-Devouard, the chairwoman of the Wikimedia board, who has never met Mr. McNamee, did not sound enthusiastic.
“It’s not a huge concern right now, but I am not comfortable with the concept,” she said, of venture capitalists consistently making donations to the foundation. “I would much prefer a varied diverse base of donors, some could be large, some could be long-term friends, who help in finding new friends. I hope the foundation won’t rely on these relationships.”
She said that she had proposed a resolution, passed recently, to require that any donation larger than 2 percent of revenues be approved by the board. And she said she would “make some noise” if a venture capitalist were to try to become a board member.
In the same NYT piece, Jimbo very strongly stated that Wikipedia will always remain nonprofit, and he will continue to show the door to greedy venture capitalists.
I think there’s a conspiracy going on, and Florence’s reaction is reasonable, but too little and too late. She’s in over her head. Jimbo is pushing bullshit to distract from the conspiracy. It’s sort of hard to tell, because Jimbo is almost always unbelievable. Maybe that’s by design!