The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

Wikipedia: The Dirty Tricks Machine

This is part of a series of posts on Wikipedia:  The Battle for Rupert Sheldrake’s biography, The Skeptics Problem,  Adult Supervision Required (not incl.), The Trial of Tumbleman  Rupert Sheldrake’s Own Post:  Wikipedia Under Threat,  Reality Sandwich:  How the Skeptic Ideologues Control Wikipedia


In my last post I talked about the banning of Tumbleman.  While I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, I knew that the skeptics were systematically working a plan.  Fortunately, there is a Wikipedia article on how to ban a point of view you don’t like.  Wikipediocracy acknowledged the article with this comment:

Editor’s note: this essay appeared originally at Wikipedia, where it is accompanied by an elaborate disclaimer which assures the reader that the essay is intended to be humorous and that “It is not, has never been, nor will ever be, a Wikipedia policy or guidelineRather, it illustrates standards or conduct that are generally not accepted by the Wikipedia community.” Me, I’m not so sure.

I agree with that editor.  This seems like a blueprint to me since the article describes exactly what happened.  I’ve posted links to show how closely the banning of Tumbleman follows this template:

Pro Tip: For best results, before you start, put a template that says you have a PhD or that you attended an exclusive university on your User page.

  1. Do your best to bait, prod, and aggravate somebody on the opposing side of an ideological war from yourself into acting uncivil out of frustration with you. If you have friends, get together with them to gang up on your opponents and get them angry and desperate.


  2. When the opponent finally does something that can be construed as a violation of policy, get a friendly admin to block him/her.

    (Link here.)

  3. When the blocked editor uses the means still available to him/her, such as his/her talk page and the e-mail feature, to complain about the unfairness of the block, get your admin friend to bind and gag the editor by removing talk page posting and e-mailing privileges for “trolling” and “harassment”.

    First here.  And then here.

  4. With the editor forcibly silenced and thus unable to speak in his/her defense, hold a lynch mob ban discussion on WP:AN/I, with your friends once again ganging up. This works best when the blocked user lacks friends to gang up on his/her behalf; if that happens, you’d really have drama, but if there aren’t any, you’ll just get an open-and-shut case where you and your friends say “Burn the witch!” “Ban him/her already!”, and a handful of people who like to see a good lynching banning and hang out on that forum for that purpose weigh in too.

    (Link Here.)  

  5. Now that an editor representing the POV you oppose is banned, make the banned editor into a bogeyman responsible for all that is wrong with Wikipedia, claiming that everything that editor believes in is Communism a “fringe belief” or a “harassment meme”, and that no tactic is too extreme to counter this grave threat. They should block all IP addresses in Upper Slobbovia if that’s where they think the banned editor is editing from!

    Here and here

  6. If anybody else shows up with similar opinions on any subject to the banned editor, try to accuse him/her of being a comrade sockpuppet. If that won’t stick, call him/her a meatpuppet and claim that he/she is proxying for the banned editor, and that everything they edit needs to be reverted on sight.

    (Link here)

  7. If they call this treatment unfair, blacklist ban them too.

    (Link here) (and here)

  8. The larger the body count from the serial banning of advocates of this particular POV gets, the easier it will be to summarily ban anybody new who shows up; just cite the “serial harassment” allegedly committed by people allegedly associated with the new editor.

    (Link here) (And here)

  9. Award barnstars to everyone who jumped on the dogpile!!!

    (Link here)

I have no doubt that every administrator on Wikipedia is aware of this How-To list.  It’s right out in the open where everyone can see it, yet they seem to turn a blind eye when this happens.  Certainly the administrator on the Rupert Sheldrake page should have been able to see this strategy in action.  It was blatantly obvious that something was going on even to a complete novice like me.  This strategy, which is incredibly damaging to Wikipedia is allowed to flourish.  My sources tell me that some of the skeptics on Sheldrake’s page have banned many, many editors.

They certainly got to work at it right away.  Even as I was just getting my feet wet, (October 2nd) they were already scheming against me.  (here.)

Hi Barney. I’m a skeptic and have been following the Rupert Sheldrake stuff on the internet for some various months, I noticed the talkpage and noticed some woo-meisters are trying to add in various fringe theories. One of these users is Craig Weiler a known psi-believer. He’s all over the internet stirring this controversy up and he has a lot of nasty comments against wikipedia. Please see here;

[6] and [7] as you can see he’s asking other psi-believers to help him out add fringe stuff into Sheldrake’s wiki. I believe this is going to end in trouble and suggest this user should be banned. Perhaps you could pass this onto an admin. Thanks. Dan Dan skeptic (talk) 06:14, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

Which they eventually put into action.  (here.)  Same thing with Tumbleman.  They first refer to him here.  Then here, then here.  Then here.  The last link by the way, contains this line:

I highly recommend that Sgerbic (talk · contribs) should help out on the article. Hopefully she will log in today and look at it. Dan skeptic (talk) 10:32, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

That’s Susan Gerbic, organizer of the Guerrilla Skeptics.  That’s the organization that all of them absolutely insist isn’t involved with Sheldrake’s article and here they are requesting her assistance.

It’s pretty clear that this group of editors is spending an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about other editors and figuring out how to take action against them.  All of their discussions about the Sheldrake article between themselves are concerned with Wikipedia guidelines, not the actual contents of the article.  They also consistently demonstrated a complete contempt for all the editors who disagreed with them.

So on the one hand there has been a group of editors (those supporting a neutral point of view on Sheldrake) concentrating on the Sheldrake article, and on the other hand a different group of skeptical editors concentrating on opposing (Neutral to Sheldrake) the other editors.  And in all of their conversations with each other, never consider once the possibility of working together with the other group to create a better article.  quite the opposite.

In the idealized version of Wikipedia, people of all different viewpoints come together to hash out their differences and create balanced articles.  In reality, groups of ideologues game the system and force out anyone they disagree with.  It’s pretty awful.

How damaging is it?  According to this research paper by Phillip Ortega, Wikipedia lost 50,000 editors in 2009.  It’s easy to see why: they’re being either actively chased off or quitting out of sheer disgust and/or frustration.  Facing off against a single troll is hard enough, but on Wikipedia a single editor might find themselves going up against as many as a half dozen of them, all working together.

Very few sane people will put up with that for very long.  I know.  I haven’t been on Wikipedia for many days now because I don’t see the point of it.  I have better things to do than face off against ideologues in their own garden.

9 comments on “Wikipedia: The Dirty Tricks Machine

  1. Planetary Paul
    April 4, 2014

    Some years ago I was looking for information about a comic book and found a Wikipedia article on it. It had some info, but was fairly sparse. So I had a go at adding some info. I got me an account, read up on procedures and amended the article the best I could. The result was immediate deletion of my edit by someone who apparently considered the article to be her turf, not to be trodden on by anybody else. Reason for me to read up on what was going on. The picture of Wikipedia that emerged from that was one of a world wide dick swinging contest. Not worth any further effort on my part.

    As searching the internet is widespread in education and Wikipedia will clearly not be up to scratch any time soon, the Dutch Ministry of Education is sponsoring a science site with information that is vetted and trusted, , which translates as “Knowledge Link”.

  2. andrewclimo
    January 6, 2014

    Not only have I recently fallen foul of the same treatment, but several colleagues. The ‘mass banning’ is pretty scary: True, as a group we made the mistake of setting our Wikipedia IDs up at the same time (so we fell prey to the charge of sockpuppetry), but we were sincere in what we we trying to do.

    With around 100 years expert knowledge about Cornwall between us (covering history, politics, geography) the ‘Wikipedians’ should have welcomed us warmly.

    Well, that didn’t happen. After harassment, name calling and the Cornwall page being locked over an extended period it now all looks like nothing short of censorship and totalitarianism.

    The pattern was very much as outlined in your excellent article Craig, and we feel, well “stitched up”. Banned probably forever, with no line of appeal, no reasons that would stand up to scrutiny given, short of taking them to court, I’m not sure what we can do.

    But then, that’s hard when they are anonymous.

    I’m not angry (perhaps I should be), but I’m disappointed that a resource like Wikipedia falls so short of what it could be. Furthermore, the lack of accountability means that some of the information in Wikipedia is wobbly in many places, selectively omits and permits, must mean it cannot be seen as reliable.

    Thus far
    Andrew Climo

    • craigweiler
      January 6, 2014

      Thanks for sharing this Andrew. You’ve outlined the worst part of the problem here. In the case of Cornwall, this should not be so controversial, but the structure of Wikipedia allows for it to be highly politicized, leading to, as you say, “wobbly information.”

      It’s this giant source of information that is not possible to trust for almost anything.

      • andrewclimo
        January 8, 2014

        Hi Craig, Thank you for the kind words. I think you have hit the nail on the head exactly. All very perplexing. Very best wishes and thank you for the excellent blog resource.

  3. Rupert McWiseman
    October 24, 2013

    I find it utterly fascinating – not to mention highly disturbing – to watch the skeptical idealogues constructing their own online intellectual prison, brick by brick and bar by bar.

    And how odd that these new Thought Police and Atheist Mafiosi are young people – the very ones who would normally be keen to explore unorthodox, ‘far-out’ ideas. As an old guy I find this quite bizarre; it’s as if the world has been stood on its head and all the young intellectuals have fallen madly in love with the Establishment. (And worse, with an Establishment that seems scientifically and metaphysically trapped in the late 19th Century.) Orwell’s “1984” doesn’t even come close.

    Truly, we live in strange times.

  4. Tom Butler
    October 23, 2013

    Excellent overview of some of the tactics used in Wikipedia. I got into a long-lasting argument with a number of skeptical editors over the Electronic Voice Phenomena article (–read the archived talk pages. Some were even writing insulting articles about me on the Internet, clearly in retaliation. One very important moderate editor was banded shortly after that fight. And now, I have several of the editors following me around, either advising others how to deal with me or blocking my efforts on other articles.

    It is important that we have the courage of our convictions and use our real name on the Internet, but the editors hiding behind a pseudonym take full advantage of our honesty.

    Look at the talk page of any frontier subject article in Wikipedia and you will find a skeptical editor who more or less owns the article. For instance, “TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom” seems to be the owner of the Sheldrake article. After all of the fuss settles down, go there and make a minor change. he will likely show up to revert it within minutes, and if you persist, within hours, many other skeptical editors will show up.

    Very few people bother to look behind the scene to see the real Wikipedia. Without activists like you help to let the public know, people like Rupert Sheldrake would be pretty much alone to defend themselves. And of course, since they are themselves, they are not allowed to edit because of conflict of interest. It is so very important that people know how their support of Wikipedia is hurting the quest for new ideas.

    Thanks for all of this effort. I know it take a large chunk out of your life to do the research.

    • craigweiler
      October 23, 2013

      Thanks Tom

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This entry was posted on October 23, 2013 by in Psi Wars, Skeptics and Skeptic Arguments, Wikipedia and tagged , .
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