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Wikipedia controlled by pedophiles, left-wing trolls, Islamofascists and Communist commandos?
Wales slams Fox News article about pedophiles and Wikipedia
With yet another "exclusive" report about pedophilia on Wikipedia, Fox News has alleged that a global network of pedophiles is "trying to spin Wikipedia in their favor" and "to lure more people into their world". Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has been sharply critical of the journalistic standards evident in the report: "the story is absolutely scandalously idiotic, and Jana Winter, the author, should be fired from her job. The story is idiotic nonsense from top to bottom."
It appears that the Fox News story draws heavily from a Wikipedia Campaign started by Perverted-Justice (PJFI), a U.S. organisation set up to work against Internet pedophilia and predation. The Wikipedia Campaign is hosted on a wiki called Wikisposure, which is home to a large amount of data on individuals and groups involved in the online pedophile activist community, including their contact details. The PJFI also hosts information on what they describe as "corporate sex offenders". According to CorporateSexOffenders.com, another PJFI site, Wikipedia and YouTube are "moderate" and "aggressive" sexual offenders, respectively. Other sites they have labelled as corporate sex offenders include Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
However, the claim made by Fox News that Wikisposure has identified hundreds of Wikipedia editors who are convicted pedophiles and well-known pedophilia activists appears to be an independent finding not supported by the available information on Wikisposure. Wikisposure contains details of 16 Wikipedia accounts blocked in 2008.
Responding to the Fox News story, Jimmy Wales said:
|... we have longstanding policies that deal with [such behavior] very effectively, and there is zero evidence for any of the sensationalist and negative claims put forward about Wikipedia. Much of what [Ms Winter] writes is simply transparently idiotic: that some message board has hundreds of links to Wikipedia ought to be no surprise, no matter what the content of the message board. That pedophiles think we are bigots for not allowing them to advocate here is no shocker, but neither is it evidence that we are a haven for pedophiles. Jana Winter is a disgrace to the professional of journalism, full stop, and I will complain about her at the highest levels possible.
I do not mind stories critical of Wikipedia – lord knows there are plenty of sensible criticisms that people can and do make. What I do mind is deeply irrational character assassination based on absolute untruths.
This is not the first time that Fox News has attacked Wikipedia with claims that it harbours pedophilia. Jana Winter's coverage of Larry Sanger's allegation that Wikimedia projects have been hosting child pornography, and similar articles she recently published (on 7, 10, 14 and 27 May, 2010) appear to have been seriously lacking in standard journalistic practices concerning balance and verification, drawing rebuttals by the Foundation and senior Wikimedia people.
Among the gaps in this coverage has been the fact that Wikipedia has a well-established consensus on how to deal with issues related to pedophile activity on the project, and that while there have been attempts to introduce pro-pedophilia bias in Wikipedia in the past, that such attempts have been contained. Postings on the pro-pedophilia message board "GirlChat" in response to the Fox News story clearly indicate that while there had indeed been an effort by some of its users to "ensure that Wikipedia articles" about pedophiles "contained true and correct information", Wikipedia's present policy does not work in their favour.
The Fox News article made few concrete statements about actual Wikipedia content, among them the criticism that Wikipedia contained links to pro-pedophilia sites: "[The NAMBLA article ] links directly to NAMBLA's website, as do 25 other Wikipedia pages. Wikipedia also has 32 external links to GirlChat, 14 to a Danish pro-pedophile website and 12 to BoyChat." TheDJ examined this assertion and found that "All links that are mentioned are only used in talk pages or in articles very much related to the actual topic".
Wikipedia "overrun by Left-wing trolls"?
James Delingpole, an English journalist and novelist involved in debates about climate change, recently published a column in The Spectator (I feel the need to offer Wikipedia some ammunition in its quest to discredit me) where he charged that his biography on Wikipedia is biased, carries undue weight and had been vandalised. Guy Walters, an author and journalist who like Delingpole writes for The Daily Telegraph, took Delingpole's column as an occasion to ask "Has Wikipedia been overrun by left-wing trolls and junk historians?", on his blog for The Telegraph. Walters also discusses politically motivated vandalism on his own biography article - while acknowledging that "[n]ormally, Wikipedia is quick at restoring vandalised pages", he pointed out that he had to revert one libelous vandalism edit himself. He concludes, "Don’t trust Wikipedia. We all use it, because there’s nothing better online, but be wary."
As described by Walters, Delingpole's complaint about his Wikipedia article centered on the mention of an event (described by The Guardian in a blog post titled Climate sceptic James Delingpole's cheap shot at Newsweek backfires) which does not seem to be factually disputed, but was seen as given "disproportionate emphasis when set against his body of work" (it was given a separate section in the article). On the article's talk page, Jimmy Wales said that "Delingpole's particular complaint here about his entry is without question valid", observing a violation of WP:UNDUE. The section has since been removed.
Last December, Delingpole had published an earlier article about Wikipedia where he accused it of "corruption" for not adequately covering the Climatic Research Unit email controversy, which Delingpole called "the greatest scientific scandal of the modern age", and, reprinting a photo of one of the Wikipedians involved, stated that "some very ugly people" were responsible for this corruption.
Wikipedia accused of "Islamofascist dark side"
Allegations of anti-Israel bias were raised last week in a blog post titled "Wikipedia, an Islamist Hornet’s Nest", on FrontPage Magazine, a conservative website based in California. The article alleges that the State of Israel is incessantly vilified by Jihadists and like-minded anti-Semites in Wikipedia. The allegations revolve around the article on the Battle of Deir Yassin. The author, Ari Lieberman, claims that moving the article to Deir Yassin massacre and the present content of the article show a strong "Islamofascist" bias. Further, he claims that some editors who advocated the insertion of a neutral point of view were blocked indefinitely or topic banned. The author said that he had attempted to edit Wikipedia but was prevented from doing so because his edits were reverted. He found the explanation that his edits read too much like an Israel Defense Forces press release "almost comical".
Wikipedia manipulated by "digital action commandos" operating out of former Soviet spy base
In his recent weekly column in the Miami Herald, Carlos Alberto Montaner, an exiled Cuban author known for his criticism of Fidel Castro, asserts that Wikipedia is "a field of ideological battle where there's no shortage of lies or a biased selection of information to distort the image of the adversary someone wants to destroy". Montaner cited the article about himself, which he says has been a victim of slanderous edits which inserted "delirious fantasies" about him. However, Montaner acknowledged that Wikipedia also has "many collaborators who are healthily devoted to the spread of knowledge" and said that after "the Wikipedia webmasters" were notified of the problems, most of the problematic content was removed and the article was protected.
Montaner stated that "my former student learned that one of the sources of disinformation is the University of Computer Sciences in Havana, built on what was the Lourdes espionage base created by the Soviets in Cuba during the Cold War. There, 'digital action commandos' write and rewrite the biographies of friends and foes according to the script dictated to them by the political police."
The problematic edits happened at a time when Montaner was involved in a public controversy with Cuban singer Silvio Rodríguez, and Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, was publishing allegations about Montaner's relationship with the CIA and his involvement in a bombing plot of the Cuban American National Foundation.
- In a column for Purdue University's student newspaper ("Wikiwisdom gets reformed, is more highly valued"), the author reported that Wikipedia's reputation had improved considerably since her high-school days, where the mere mention of Wikipedia was met with "cringes" by her teachers. She explained the change as follows: "Wikipedia is now recording anonymous posters’ IP addresses and, thus, forbidding repeat vandalizing offenders from striking again. It also reviews all changes." The author tested this with three well-intentioned and two deliberately destructive edits. Both vandalism edits were reverted, but so were two of the well-intentioned ones.