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> The new Hasbara-esque scandal (but worse)
yow
post Wed 23rd April 2008, 6:52am
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From Electronic Intifada

A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.

A series of emails by members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), provided to The Electronic Intifada (EI), indicate the group is engaged in what one activist termed a "war" on Wikipedia.

A 13 March action alert signed by Gilead Ini, a "Senior Research Analyst" at CAMERA, calls for "volunteers who can work as 'editors' to ensure" that Israel-related articles on Wikipedia are "free of bias and error, and include necessary facts and context." However, subsequent communications indicate that the group not only wanted to keep the effort secret from the media, the public, and Wikipedia administrators, but that the material they intended to introduce included discredited claims that could smear Palestinians and Muslims and conceal Israel's true history.


AND MUCH MORE.
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the fieryangel
post Wed 23rd April 2008, 8:08am
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Interesting :

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Information obtained by EI indicates that while Gilead Ini claimed that more than 50 volunteers had come forward to participate in CAMERA's plan, and the group had set its sights on creating dozens of new editors and administrators over a long period of time, fewer than a dozen were active at the time EI exposed the scheme. Because the effort was apparently in its early stages, only a handful had become active as Wikipedia editors.


So, how many administrators are involved? What is the other side doing to counter-attack?

And what has been the WP reaction so far?
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Somey
post Wed 23rd April 2008, 8:34am
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More discussion on this subject is taking place in this thread...

But I'd say the WP reaction has so far been one of yammering and general confusion, just like their reaction to pretty much everything. They blocked User:Zeq for a year, though... ironically, the block had nothing to do with Zeq's involvement in an Israeli-propaganda meat-puppeting scheme, but rather he was blocked for violating WP's No Personal Attacks policy by calling User:ChrisO a "poopyhead."
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Merzbow
post Wed 23rd April 2008, 9:07am
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As of yet nobody has been able to produce a shred of evidence of this nonsense actually producing any ill-behavior on-wiki, aside from a vague connection between an email and a proposed article renaming, of all things (and aside from isolated, individual incompetence on the part of several editors, like Gil). I've seen the same sort of bullcrap attempted at several Muslim forums BTW, except with worse spelling (actually I may have to take that back after reading more of Zeq's attempts at the English language). The bottom line is that words are not evidence of crime, and to think otherwise leads to idiocy like what led to Rama's Arrow's downfall.

This post has been edited by Merzbow: Wed 23rd April 2008, 9:09am
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Eleland
post Wed 23rd April 2008, 9:19am
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QUOTE(Somey @ Wed 23rd April 2008, 4:34am) *

They blocked User:Zeq for a year, though... ironically, the block had nothing to do with Zeq's involvement in an Israeli-propaganda meat-puppeting scheme, but rather he was blocked for violating WP's No Personal Attacks policy by calling User:ChrisO a "poopyhead."


That's a simple falsehood. Zeq was topic-banned for a year and blocked for a week on the basis of meat-puppetry and using WP as a battleground. This was then extended to permanent topic ban and one year hardblock on the same basis. Gilead Ini's account Gni was indef blocked, and Dajudem was topic-banned for z year, for their involvement in the CAMERA cabal.
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jorge
post Wed 23rd April 2008, 9:37am
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QUOTE(Merzbow @ Wed 23rd April 2008, 10:07am) *

As of yet nobody has been able to produce a shred of evidence of this nonsense actually producing any ill-behavior on-wiki, aside from a vague connection between an email and a proposed article renaming, of all things (and aside from isolated, individual incompetence on the part of several editors, like Gil). I've seen the same sort of bullcrap attempted at several Muslim forums BTW, except with worse spelling (actually I may have to take that back after reading more of Zeq's attempts at the English language). The bottom line is that words are not evidence of crime, and to think otherwise leads to idiocy like what led to Rama's Arrow's downfall.

Merzbow, we all know that Jayjg himself organized off wiki coordination of editors to fix articles to his POV so don't pretend it doesn't go on. It is not surprising Zeq got caught out so blatantly since he is a complete dimwit.
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Disillusioned Lackey
post Wed 23rd April 2008, 10:27am
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QUOTE(Somey @ Wed 23rd April 2008, 3:34am) *

action to pretty much everything. They blocked User:Zeq for a year, though... ironically, the block had nothing to do with Zeq's involvement in an Israeli-propaganda meat-puppeting scheme, but rather he was blocked for violating WP's No Personal Attacks policy by calling User:ChrisO a "poopyhead."

That's hysterical.
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Tarc
post Thu 24th April 2008, 9:30pm
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QUOTE(Merzbow @ Wed 23rd April 2008, 5:07am) *

As of yet nobody has been able to produce a shred of evidence of this nonsense actually producing any ill-behavior on-wiki, aside from a vague connection between an email and a proposed article renaming, of all things (and aside from isolated, individual incompetence on the part of several editors, like Gil). I've seen the same sort of bullcrap attempted at several Muslim forums BTW, except with worse spelling (actually I may have to take that back after reading more of Zeq's attempts at the English language). The bottom line is that words are not evidence of crime, and to think otherwise leads to idiocy like what led to Rama's Arrow's downfall.


You have no idea what you're talking about. There are plenty "shreds of evidence" right in the group's own mailing list archives that have been posted.
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Milton Roe
post Thu 24th April 2008, 10:12pm
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QUOTE(Tarc @ Thu 24th April 2008, 9:30pm) *

QUOTE(Merzbow @ Wed 23rd April 2008, 5:07am) *

As of yet nobody has been able to produce a shred of evidence of this nonsense actually producing any ill-behavior on-wiki, aside from a vague connection between an email and a proposed article renaming, of all things (and aside from isolated, individual incompetence on the part of several editors, like Gil). I've seen the same sort of bullcrap attempted at several Muslim forums BTW, except with worse spelling (actually I may have to take that back after reading more of Zeq's attempts at the English language). The bottom line is that words are not evidence of crime, and to think otherwise leads to idiocy like what led to Rama's Arrow's downfall.


You have no idea what you're talking about. There are plenty "shreds of evidence" right in the group's own mailing list archives that have been posted.

But wait-- since the most actively edited non-WP-related articles on WP are Israel-Lebanese Conflict, Adolf Hitler, and WW II, I thought we'd decided to blame the Lebanese for this ongoing campaign.

It does bring in the old meta-problem, though (metaproblem: where you see that a bunch of problems are really the SAME problem, only in different forms, so you try to fix the basic "thing"). The basic problem at Wikipedia is that anonymity is really NOT consistant with any kind of democratic behavior (and "democracy" includes any kind of voting, asking for opinions, or anything that even vaguely looks like a town meeting, so please don't try to fuzzify the issue by claiming Wikipedia doesn't try to do democratic things). The whole thing comes to a head with WP:CANVAS (which is vastly hypocritical, depending upon which group is being canvassed and how) and the various giant wiki-wars over sockpuppeting and meatpuppeting and cockpuppeting (this last term only for sexual partners editing the same laptop from the same bed, especially if gay), and so on. Because all of these things wouldn't matter if there was no "voting", or if there was "voting" but voting couldn't be "stacked" or "stuffed", due to "voter registration" (see identification).

So the Israel Lobby Problem, whether it does or does not exist, or even if it exists de facto but not by conspiratorial intent, is no different than the "Math Department Lobby" problem. But it generates a lot more Dwama. In the Sturm und Drang of Wikipedia, this is really good Drang.

But since Wikipedia is studiously ignoring this particular metaproblem, due to their refusal to fix either of the two conflicting core policies which produce it, I suppose this is just going to have to continue to cause more dwama. Stay tuned. Here at the WR Cult Deprogramming Center™, we enjoy these, more than Soap Opera. tongue.gif
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Saltimbanco
post Fri 25th April 2008, 1:58am
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So we now have the Hasbara Fellowships, the JayJG "Watch my back" mailing list, and finally the CAMERA conspiracy, all groups of individuals with a distinctly pro-Israeli perspective on Middle Eastern affairs who have colluded off-Wiki to influence Wikipedia articles of interest to them.

What measures could Wikipedia possibly take to provide some level of assurance that their articles on the Middle East have not been compromised? I mean, I look at a lot of them, and it's obvious that they have been compromised, but how can this be undone and how can future Zionist efforts to control Wikipedia be kept from succeeding? I don't think it can be done within the current framework of Wikipedia, short of launching a long series of pogroms. I expect that this will get the usual, "Move along; nothing to see here; we blocked three people and the problem is contained" treatment, but I think we all know that will be a joke. If Wikipedia wanted to deserve to be considered a reliable source for information on the Middle East or on any other contentious issue, what could it do?
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Milton Roe
post Fri 25th April 2008, 2:00am
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QUOTE(Saltimbanco @ Fri 25th April 2008, 1:58am) *

If Wikipedia wanted to deserve to be considered a reliable source for information on the Middle East or on any other contentious issue, what could it do?

If pigs wanted to fly, what could THEY do?? dry.gif They'd have to become something other than pigs. Same answer with WP.

This post has been edited by Milton Roe: Fri 25th April 2008, 2:00am
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Saltimbanco
post Fri 25th April 2008, 2:03am
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What would it have to become, though? I mean, is it completely out of reach? Would they have to become Brittanica? Or could some modification of the Wiki way accomplish it?
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Proabivouac
post Fri 25th April 2008, 2:21am
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QUOTE(Saltimbanco @ Fri 25th April 2008, 1:58am) *

If Wikipedia wanted to deserve to be considered a reliable source for information on the Middle East or on any other contentious issue, what could it do?

Under the current structure, probably nothing. Even if you got rid of all the "Zionists," what would you have left? A core of sincerely neutral non-POV-pushing contributors? The ones who brought us "Israeli Apartheid?"

The current system is actually dependent upon a relatively equal number of POV-pushers from each side, and is even then completely dysfunctional.

Zeq's e-mails are actually pretty insightful - for example, his point that creating an article with a certain title is very difficult to stop under the current system, because deletion debates default to keep. Articles about "terms", in particular, are nearly always "coatrack"-type excuses for biased content, and should probably be banned altogether.

Point by point, what Zeq proposed is exactly what people are doing already.

Re Jayjg's "watch my back," I doubt there is one person in this space who can look us in the eye and say they haven't solicited assistance through e-mail at one point or another, if not on a regular basis. The game is to accuse others (usually correctly) of doing it while hiding it and denying it ourselves. This has been going on for as long as I remember. The reasons are first, that reverts are limited per editor, not per team, and second, that "consensus" is nothing but numbers.

QUOTE(Saltimbanco @ Fri 25th April 2008, 2:03am) *

Or could some modification of the Wiki way accomplish it?

You'd need some reasonably moderate people with a strong sense of how encyclopedia articles should be written who are empowered to override "consensus;" i.e. senior editors/content administrators. That brings its own problems, naturally, but at least we'd know who to blame for them, and have a specific action to remedy the situation - replacing them.

This post has been edited by Proabivouac: Fri 25th April 2008, 2:17am
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Milton Roe
post Fri 25th April 2008, 3:26am
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QUOTE(Saltimbanco @ Fri 25th April 2008, 2:03am) *

What would it have to become, though? I mean, is it completely out of reach? Would they have to become Brittanica? Or could some modification of the Wiki way accomplish it?

If by the wiki way you mean the Wikipedia way, no. Too many of WP's core policies are tied up here to allow the layers of name-editor and expert-editor review. But again, wikis were not invented by Wikipedia. They function in many places with ID'd name users, and users vetted for expertise.

The genius of WP was in recognizing that most of the grunt work of writing an encyclopedia can be oursourced and even done by volunteers. What Jimbo and cronies forgot was that Singer was going to use this as feedstock for an expert review system, and it still needed doing. When Sanger left, Jimbo kept the thing and never added the name review and expert review, and pretended it was okay and all his idea. Which it isn't and wasn't. Sanger, in turn, never could get his own platform off the ground, either, because a lot of people aren't experts and still want to do something. And should be allowed to. Together, Singer and Wales have two halves of the sacred Indiana Jones Lost Ark "Headpiece to the staff of Ra". But they no longer speak, and both are too proud to admit they need the other's idea/half. huh.gif So no Lost Ark.

WP needs three layers and classes of editors: 1) grunts, 2) real-nameusers, and 3) subject matter experts (SME). You can let the grunts edit anon or from IP, same as now, but not to articles viewable by the look-up public-- only to a draft which must be viewed AS a draft (thus anybody can see the working-draft of any article by hitting a key, but they must be prepared for the same kind of recently-vandalized remains you see too often on WP NOW). Promotion of draft-copy to viewable-copy must be done by somebody we trust and know, and that's somebody with verified ID. Not just an annonymous admin, because if there's anything that Essjay and Slimey and JZ have taught us, it's that anonymous people can't be trusted no matter who they are, even if they are admins.

Finally, every so often, Wikipedia subjects that are amenable to academic vetting, need academic vetting, and for that we need somebody like the Britannica gets. Paid SMEs to look the things over and sign off on them (with a page for that, which appears with each article). Articles which aren't academic can have their last vetting be at the nameuser level. There are no ultimate-experts on Star Trek except the fans.

For giant debates on POV, you use the academic one for academic subjects (splitting them into subarticles when there are major academic camps). For others, you recognize that there are rarely more than a handful of major sides to any political argument, so you give them each their own article, requiring a short summary and link from the others (very much like now-- except you just quit lying to yourself and everybody else, and CALL it a POV fork). I doubt that there are more than a dozen major views about even Zionism or Israel. So divvy them up and invite each one to write the best article it can, trying to keep an even tone (not neutral-- just civil).

Not many changes in total, here, but they involve just about all 5 core pillars of WP. So don't look for them to happen soon.

This post has been edited by Milton Roe: Fri 25th April 2008, 3:28am
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Saltimbanco
post Fri 25th April 2008, 3:40am
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QUOTE(Proabivouac @ Thu 24th April 2008, 10:21pm) *

Re Jayjg's "watch my back," I doubt there is one person in this space who can look us in the eye and say they haven't solicited assistance through e-mail at one point or another, if not on a regular basis.

I absolutely never did on Wikipedia. To do that goes completely contrary to everything I know about the pursuit of truth. When I asked anyone for assistance, it was on his talk page, and often the twelve or so people who had spontaneously shown up to edit war against me would wail, "ZOMG! You're canvassing!" (At other times, naturally, they'd say, "ZOMG! You must have been stalking me to find my comment on that user talk page!") (Okay, mainly that was just Linda Mack.)

QUOTE
QUOTE(Saltimbanco @ Fri 25th April 2008, 2:03am) *

Or could some modification of the Wiki way accomplish it?

You'd need some reasonably moderate people with a strong sense of how encyclopedia articles should be written who are empowered to override "consensus;" i.e. senior editors/content administrators. That brings its own problems, naturally, but at least we'd know who to blame for them, and have a specific action to remedy the situation - replacing them.

So, no hope whatsoever, basically. I'd like to see, though, how a model that allows multiple, competing versions of the same article would do. As much as Jimbo imagines he believes in Randian free markets, it's curious that that idea never gained much traction with him.

QUOTE(Milton Roe @ Thu 24th April 2008, 11:26pm) *
... it's that anonymous people can't be trusted no matter who they are, even if they are admins.


You misspelled "especially."
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guy
post Fri 25th April 2008, 8:05am
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QUOTE(Saltimbanco @ Fri 25th April 2008, 3:03am) *

What would it have to become, though? I mean, is it completely out of reach? Would they have to become Brittanica? Or could some modification of the Wiki way accomplish it?

There are those who doubt the impartiality of Britannica.


QUOTE(Saltimbanco @ Fri 25th April 2008, 4:40am) *

You misspelled "especially."

You misspelled Britannica.
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jorge
post Fri 25th April 2008, 9:17am
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QUOTE(guy @ Fri 25th April 2008, 9:05am) *

There are those who doubt the impartiality of Britannica.

Source?
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Moulton
post Fri 25th April 2008, 9:58am
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QUOTE(jorge @ Fri 25th April 2008, 5:17am) *
QUOTE(guy @ Fri 25th April 2008, 9:05am) *
There are those who doubt the impartiality of Britannica.
Source?

Do you doubt that, Jorge?

If so, can I quote you on that?
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Saltimbanco
post Fri 25th April 2008, 12:18pm
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QUOTE(jorge @ Fri 25th April 2008, 5:17am) *

QUOTE(guy @ Fri 25th April 2008, 9:05am) *

There are those who doubt the impartiality of Britannica.

Source?

Britannica and a lot of other sources are famously biased against Israel: they report the truth about it.
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guy
post Fri 25th April 2008, 12:22pm
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QUOTE(jorge @ Fri 25th April 2008, 10:17am) *

QUOTE(guy @ Fri 25th April 2008, 9:05am) *

There are those who doubt the impartiality of Britannica.

Source?

http://www.mymac.com/showarticle.php?id=356
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