The Signpost

Disinformation report

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By Smallbones
Donald Trump in 2017

If you believe the mainstream press, former US President Donald J. Trump has spread misinformation across the internet and in news outlets on a massive scale. According to The Washington Post he has "accumulated 30,573 untruths during his presidency — averaging about 21 erroneous claims a day." He has been banned from social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Has Trump also spread misinformation or disinformation on Wikipedia? We don’t think that the former president himself has edited Wikipedia since it is much more difficult to edit Wikipedia than it is to tweet. This Signpost article examines whether Trump’s business empire, the Trump Organization, has employed paid editors to edit Wikipedia.

They apparently have. Editor Mmartinnyc disclosed his identity twice in 2011 on-Wiki, as Michael Martin, the Trump Organization’s Director of Digital Marketing.

I work for the Trump Organization and have been asked by Ivanka Trump to update her Wiki page so we hope that you would be kind enough to allow the updates to stand?
Thank you,
Michael Martin
The Trump Organization [1]

Thank you for looking out for Ivanka's Wiki page.
Please be aware that I manage interactive content for Ivanka as well as the rest of The Trump Organization so the edits I am making come directly from her. I noticed you undid the changes made so please contact me if you have any questions as I do the re-edits accordingly.
Michael Martin
Director of Interactive
The Trump Organization [2]

Ivanka Trump in 2012

According to his obituary published in December 2020, Martin started working at the Trump Organization in 1987 and later became Director of Digital Marketing, serving in that position until 2014 when he left the company. [1]

The Signpost notes that evidence of paid editing using only Wikipedia edit histories can not actually “prove” an editor’s identity, even in cases where they disclose many personal details. Sometimes editors have tried to embarrass a targeted individual or company, a tactic known as a Joe jobbing. This caveat applies even when an editor directly declares that they are paid.

Mmartinnyc’s editing

Photo of Donald Trump Jr. uploaded by Mmartinnyc as his own work

Martin only made 45 edits to Wikipedia articles: 23 to Ivanka Trump, 11 to Donald Trump Jr., 10 to Eric Trump, and 1 to Donald Trump. [3]

An examination of the edits to Ivanka Trump shows that on December 7, 2011, his first day of editing the article, Martin removed some unflattering content and added promotional content such as "In addition to her work at The Trump Organization, Ivanka Trump is a principal of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, which launched to great success in 2007 with a store on Mercer Street in New York City." [4] These edits were reverted by an experienced Wikipedian within the hour, while labeling them "heavily copy-pasted POV copy[right]vio[lations]." [5] in the edit summary.

The following day Martin tried and failed to reinstate many of his edits by edit-warring with three experienced editors. [6]. Only then did Martin declare that he was a paid editor.

A week later he made his only edit to the Donald Trump article, replacing the name of the notorious Trump University with “Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.” His remaining 16 edits were less adventurous, 14 of them being marked as “minor”.


Mmartinnyc’s declaration that he is Michael Martin, at that time the digital marketing manager of the Trump Organization is quite convincing. If the declaration was part of a Joe job, it's one that didn't embarrass anybody for ten years, even though the head of the Trump Organization was the president of the United States for four of those years.


  1. ^ "Michael D. Martin 1956-2020, Dec, 6, 2020 (obituary)". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
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The WaPo tracks the Bushes and Clintons, too. They also lie, but not nearly to the same degree.--3family6 (Talk to me | See what I have done) 14:02, 27 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
I also see the theory that (Redacted) is Patton to be nothing more than speculation. While it's clear that (Redacted) has a COI and it is unlikely to be a false flag given the circumstances, it would be a stretch to say that (Redacted) is Patton. The lack of an identity disclosure makes this claim even murkier than the claim that Mmartinnyc is Martin. - ZLEA T\C 23:19, 25 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Who cares? A handful of edits on some of the most watched pages? Ideologically motivated / activist editors do far more damage and are much harder to deal with than any of the editors or edits spotlighted here. Mr Ernie (talk) 18:37, 27 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

I second that. Anyone with more than 12 brain cells that reads the Trump bio and compares it to the Obama one, can clearly see the favoritism lended to the latter over the former. Trump is portrayed as if the piece was written by a MSNBC or CNN goon, hardly a neutral treatise on the subject. That the fancruft Obama bio is an FA is telling of the political slant that this website is dominated by.--MONGO (talk) 01:30, 28 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Request for retraction

This is my formal request for The Signpost to retract this article. Let's put any political feelings we may or may not have about Donald Trump or The Trump Organization behind us (I will disclose that I am a Trump supporter), the reason I am requesting this is because the article appears to be an attempt to damage TTO's reputation by suggesting that it paid editors to make pro-Trump edits to articles without providing adequate evidence. In the case of Mmartinnyc, the only evidence provided to suggest they are/were Michael Martin was a paid editing disclosure provided by the account all the way back in 2011. As I stated in the above discussion, anyone can claim to be anybody, and the "disclosure" could have been a false flag to tarnish TTO's reputation. Furthermore, the fact that The Signpost decided to wait an entire decade, just a few months after Trump allegedly incited the capitol riots, is highly suspicious. Why not sooner when Trump wasn't as controversial as he is now? It's also quite convenient that this article was written only after Martin died, meaning he can't confirm nor deny outside of Wikipedia that he was Mmartinnyc.

Furthermore, the theory that (Redacted) is Lynne Patton is practically baseless. The only evidence (if you can even call it that) is that she edited "only a few articles on Donald Trump's children or former Trump employee Lynne Patton" and that there is "a parallel between (Redacted)'s editing topics and Lynne Patton's career path." While both of these very likely to mean that (Redacted) is a fan of Patton, without further evidence it is a stretch to say that (Redacted) is Patton herself. While Mmartinnyc at least had a paid editing disclosure (whether it is real or not), (Redacted) has made no such disclosure, so calling her work "paid editing" is also merely speculation (I wouldn't say that for most similar cases, but the fact that her username is literally (Redacted) says she has a huge COI with Trump and likely was happy to make pro-Trump edits without pay). - ZLEA T\C 01:12, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

This article is entirely based on facts, with a small amount of my analysis of the facts at the end. If you can find a misstatement of fact above, please bring it to my attention and I will gladly issue a correction. But, to suggest that I'm being dishonest e.g. in my selection of the timing of the article is just wrong. If you don't think that two declarations of paid editing are evidence of paid editing, it just looks like you're engaging in wishful thinking, or attempting censorship here. Smallbones(smalltalk) 01:32, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Ironic how they are accusing Twitter of censorship. Trump's legacy as president is not the issue here, it's the UPE. Firestar464 (talk) 01:50, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Please explain how "Mmartinnyc’s declaration that he is Michael Martin ... is quite convincing" and "these parallels suggest that it's very likely that Patton ... edited as (Redacted)" (on a side note I will let you know that there are two "these" in that last sentence) are "a small amount of [your] analysis". It looks more like an opinion rather than an analysis, if you disagree then please also explain how you think a paid editing disclosure can be used as evidence in an article making such a serious accusation against a highly controversial/political organization such as TTO? Assuming that disclosures are real is assuming good faith. Therefore, your claim that "Mmartinnyc disclosed his identity twice ... as Michael Martin" is an assumption. Correct me if I'm wrong, but assumptions are not facts. - ZLEA T\C 02:12, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Of course you are wrong Just read [8] and [9]. The edit histories and talk pages show very clearly that User:Mmartinnyc added both edits and that he identified himself in both cases as Michael Martin from the Trump Organization. You can't fake these edit histories. Nobody can. My challenge stands - If you can find some misstatement of fact, I will issue a correction. But I'm very sure you can't. Smallbones(smalltalk) 14:30, 27 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
And just to be clear, by the diffs, this is what Mmartinnyc/Michael Martin says, "Please be aware that I manage interactive content for Ivanka as well as the rest of The Trump Organization so the edits I am making come directly from her." He not only identified himself as her employee, but provided an email address at "". Just to be completely open, he even provided his telephone number at the organization. — Maile (talk) 14:39, 27 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
The Signpost is all about opinions. Firestar464 (talk) 02:14, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
I'm aware that the Signpost is all about opinions, but Smallbones appears to be trying to pass off opinions as facts. - ZLEA T\C 02:16, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
SB has already clarified above. If anything, they should clarify the article. Requesting that it be RETRACTED COMPLETELY is a bit too much. Firestar464 (talk) 02:21, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Maybe, but one of the problems is that this article seems to be far too political. Why did Smallbones wait a decade after Mmartinnyc’s declarations to bring them up? I hate to assume bad faith, but it appears they wanted to join in on the anti-Trump train by digging up an unconfirmed declaration from years ago and tying a Trump fan account's identity to a high profile Trump supporter (just because they edited her article). This isn't even a contemporary issue, there are plenty of current disinformation issues to cover other than a couple of years old alleged paid editing incidents. - ZLEA T\C 02:56, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
If you don't want to assume bad faith, don't assume bad faith. I don't really understand what the bad faith case is here. You're suggesting Smallbones sat on information about a particular COI user for a decade, and then sprung an article to join an "anti-Trump train" months after Trump stopped being President? What would be the purpose? The article doesn't even read negatively, it's a reasonably bog-standard COI case, with polite messages and OTRS tickets to boot. Not a single block or dramatic edit war. On current disinformation issues, I'm sure if you have a relevant topic in mind you'd like to write about, that the signpost would be very happy to receive a pitch. CMD (talk) 03:33, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
It seems you never really read the message above yours. Firestar464 (talk) 03:40, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
ZLEA, Sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers go with you during these trying times. Jorm (talk) 03:20, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
(EC below)Since there are no disputed facts in this article - and it seems like somebody must have been looking real hard to find something to dispute - I'll suggest that we all get back to reality. The Signpost is not going to retract this story. Of course if you do find a misstatement of fact in the story, I will issue a correction - consider that a challenge, The only interesting aspect of the discussion that I see is that I've been accused of saving up this story until just the right time.

Actually, the timing of the story is the result of Patton's admission that she violated the Hatch Act, which i learned about ~18 days ago. I then read the Lynne Patton article and the talk page - and it was immediately clear that something was going on with a COI editor (Redacted) and a former TTO employee Patton. When I found her resume from HUD (a public record) in the Washington Post it was very clear that Patton was in charge of the same social media accounts for people that (Redacted) was writing about at the time. There are 2 other super-solid pieces of evidence in the article, the OTRS ticket on the Eric Trump photo- where we can assume (if OTRS is doing their job right) that somebody at TTO signed. And the fact that Martin disclosed he was doing the same thing at the same time for Ivanka as (Redacted) was doing for Eric. Maybe I was a bit too subtle in stating these parallels, but folks really ought to read the article before criticizing it. Smallbones(smalltalk) 06:46, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

I can't believe this is happening. Firestar464 I did read the response above mine, but I saw it as trying to turn the discussion away from the topic of alleged paid editing. Jorm I can't tell if that was a joke. Smallbones You say "there are no disputed facts" when the problem I have is your "analysis" of the facts. Also, you may recall that one of your so-called facts, "Mmartinnyc disclosed his identity twice ... as Michael Martin", is the assumption of good faith. Since you bring it up, I'd like to know what the "Not just a party planner" has to do with the rest of the article other than being about Patton. Chipmunkdavis I'm not proud of assuming bad faith, but I feel this is a case when I have to call it as I see it.
Believe it or not, the fact that this article seems specifically anti-Trump is not the problem I have with it. The problem is that it is misrepresenting facts and passing assumptions as facts. I would call for the retraction of the article even if it were about an organization owned by Biden, Harris, or even Pelosi. Say what you want, but my politics have nothing to do with it. - ZLEA T\C 12:51, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
ZLEA, As I said, my thoughts and prayers go with you during this trying time. Jorm (talk) 17:02, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Jorm What exactly do you mean by "trying time"? I haven't lost someone and I'm long over the election results. As I said, my problem with this article is not that it appears anti-Trump, but the fact that it seems to be defaming an organization without providing adequate evidence. I would have the same problem if the organization in question was owned by Biden, Pelosi, or even the Communist Party. I don't care who they are defaming, only that they are defaming in the first place. - ZLEA T\C 17:31, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

If we cannot make paid editing claims, we will be complicit in the destruction of the Encyclopedia. The very basis of a encyclopedia is that the information in it be NPOV, and it order to do that it was recognized from the first that it must be written by editors who are capable of writing in an NPOV fashion. Editors paid by the subject of articles are very rarely so capable. if we do not remove them when there is reasonable suspicion, nothing we do here is worth doing, because we will be no better than Google. After all, Google does advertising perfectly well, better than we could.

If we can not call them out, we cannot remove them. We have a obligation to do so responsibly. I think this article is a model of how to do it responsibly, and I so advised its author. Had they been undeclared editors currently editing, I would without hesitation have blocked the contributor and removed the material. I would have done so on the basis of my experience as an administrator working almost exclusively with paid editing problems for the last ten years or so, and clarified by my participation in dealing with private evidence as a checkuser, oversighter, and member of arb com. (This does not necessarily mean that all admins or arbs would think the same as I, but I think it does represent the general view.) I've seen false flags used at WP in accusing people, and I admit we cannot always clearly tell the difference. I have however seen many more attempts to incorrectly or absurdly or maliciously claim a false flag as an excuse, and as my judgement would go, it is in this matter highly unlikely. One of the reasons for it being unlikely is that there is no particular motivation for it.

From the point of view of a PR agent, editing WP in behalf of their subject is by no means unsual. I'd estimate that at least half and more likely 3/4 of all current political candidates in the US have at least tried it, and quite a bit of it remains in Wikipedia, though we do try to remove it from at least the major current candidates. In the context of politics, I doubt it counts as a major sin. The main argument against it from their point of view would be prudence; it tends to be highly embarrassing when detected. Among the sins which tempt politicians--or PR people--it does not rate very highly. It is not bribery, it is not corruption, it is not lying. It is not trying to mislead news sources or colleagues. It is not voting against one's true convictions. It's not even what politicians claim as routine, such as adjusting electoral districts or appointing people to favor them to key positions. It doesn't sabotage the opponents, or pervert the course of justice by sophistry. It doesn't directly harm any public or private interest, or benefit any public or concealed supporter.

And it is not just politicians. I estimate that over half of the articles on companies or non-profit organizations in WP have been written in large part by those organizations, and almost half the articles on individual professionals of all sorts-- in a few fields, I'd say 90%. I'd say that 10 years ago, it was probably considerably higher, for those professionals or organizations who thought it worth the trouble--we have not been completely unsuccessful in discouraging at least the most naïve versions of it.

As PR editing goes, this was reasonably well disclosed. As PR editing goes, it was not even particularly outrageously promotional. It tried to add a small amount of favorable information, and decrease the emphasis on a very small part of the unfavorable. It would have had if successful no major effect on our coverage of the subjects.

I do not see political implicationz. Were I a supporter of the previous president, I would not hold this against him. After all, most supporters accept there is a good deal of otherwise questionable behavior that is overshadowed by the great amount of good the person has done for the country--I cannot immediately thing of anyone, even himself, who would defend everything that he has done in public or private life. Some people support him for friendship, or for their own selfish reasons, and this would be irrelevant. Most apparently support him because they approve of his goals, and this would be equally irrelevant.

Were I an opponent of the previous president, I would do as I am now doing, smile. It's somewhat humorous to think of his organization or supporters doing something like this, in the context of what an opponent would consider all the much worse things they have done, and all the very much worse things he had done and been proud of doing. From the perspective of any imaginary neutral party looking on, had he confined his organization to things like this, the world and the country would have been much less outraged.

From the POV of a supporter of independent journalism within and outside WP. I'd commend what Smallbones has done, tho, personally, I am not quite sure I would in his place have considered it worth the effort. In its own right, it's more in the nature of odd things at WP, than immediate dire threats. From my own personal POV, it's instructive to see the reaction that an attempt to do something well here can produce. I sometimes forget quite how diverse and strange the community can be. DGG ( talk ) 06:27, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Well stated. Whether I am working at CSD, vandalism reports or other, I generally check the origin of any IP to see if it needs a Shared IP template on the user page. During the past 2020 calendar year, in making such a check on a DT article, one identified as Executive Office of the President of the United States. The White House was editing its own Wikipedia articles, but as an IP. As such, it was reported to Wikimedia to handle. If we learned anything in the previous four years, it's been that there have been repeated polarized insistence of removing any offending anything public that goes against a singular POV. Say what you will about that, the IP I reported was an instance of why we need to adhere to our guidelines on such things. Let me add, that much of what I, as an admin, find flagged at Candidates for speedy deletion, are nothing more than well-written, sometimes professionally so, self-advertising, either written by a paid editor, or by a talented subject of the article. Wikipedia was not meant to be a social media self-advertising platform. We need to be vigilant to keep Wikipedia as it was intended to be. — Maile (talk) 14:11, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
DGG You miss my point entirely. Paid editing disclosures should be taken seriously because they mean either the editor is being paid or is lying and being disruptive. However, the assumption of good faith should not be used as evidence in an article that speculates that an organization is paying editors. This is especially the case when the editor in question claimed to be working for arguably the most controversial organization in modern times.
I realize and respect that people have differing political opinions than mine, and I'm not saying TTO did not do everything this article alleges, but making such allegations without adequate evidence is uncalled for. It seems we are forgetting what we are not. - ZLEA T\C 14:39, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

"I chose what I work on, as do we all. I do not normally engage in oversight regarding outing or most reasons for oversight; I focus on oversighting identifying material posted by children. As with admin functions, I will not violate established policy, but I choose what I actively engage in enforcing, and where I disagree with it I do not attempt to participate in such a way as to over-ride it, though I give my opinion if I think it relevant, as can anybody else on anything. For those things where I disagree on policy, I very rarely take a lead in requesting change, though I sometime participate in discussions where someone else does . There is a mailing list where the oversighters (including the current admins) discuss challenged or questionable oversights. The list is strictly private, but I can say this has not yet. been discussed on it. If it is, I will probably refer to my opinion here that this does not require oversight. The problems with oversight are usually instances where an oversighter suppresses material and others disagree, and there are established mechanisms for dealign with this .The contributor here was aware that I did not intend to oversight this, but that others might to choose to do so. I do not and cannot offer them or anyone protection about this, nor do I think anyone should have the power to do so. DGG ( talk ) 15:35, 29 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

if you were aware that this could've been a grey area you should've asked other oversighters BEFORE this article got published to hundreds of readers. See "The contributor here was aware that I did not intend to oversight this, but that others might to choose to do so" We cannot "unout" someone and remove the information from people who have already seen it. Letting the information get published first and then oversighted is not the right way to deal with this. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 19:31, 29 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]


The allegations made about (Redacted)'s identity are a blatant violation of WP:OUTING, and consequently the post should be oversighted. It is unjustifiable to speculate about the offwiki identity of any account if they haven't volunteered the information, even if it is obvious that the user in question has a COI. I would note that the evidence presented about the particular identity is very weak. Hemiauchenia (talk) 13:50, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

my advice was asked, and although there is no way of giving official clearance, I advised otherwise. No direct accusation was made, and the evidence of COI was good enough to block.
If my colleagues oversighters or arb com decide otherwise, I think that good reason to revise our standards as being unrealistic. We designed our rules to stop coi editing, not facilitate its evasion. I point out a person delivering a speech at a national political convention is a public figure, and has an inherently diminished expectation of privacy. DGG ( talk ) 14:00, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
My problem isn't that (Redacted) has been accused of having a COI w.r.t. The Trump Organisation, that's a totally reasonable thing to say, but that the sentence "Taken together these these parallels suggest that it's very likely that Patton, the former Trump employee, edited as (Redacted)" is unjustifiable outing, given that (Redacted) made no such indications in her edits. Hemiauchenia (talk) 14:07, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
I see the problems with this article are growing. It doesn't matter what evidence of COI there is, outing is outing. If (Redacted) disclosed that they are Patton then there would be no problem, but of course there is no such disclosure. Even if the evidence was undeniable (which it is not), speculation about a user's identity should not be welcome under any circumstances. WP:OUTING clearly states that it doesn't matter if the information is accurate or not. - ZLEA T\C 14:50, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
I will also say that WP:OUTING does not say anything about outing editors as being public figures. Therefore, the argument that they have an "inherently diminished expectation of privacy" is moot. - ZLEA T\C 14:53, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
  • Respond to ping - my final comment. I disagree with your reasoning and misapplication of the policy. Outing was included in the Harassment policy for a reason. In this case, no one is being harrassed. For example, if someone says, I removed that material because it is potentially libellous, and against BLP policy, that is not a legal threat anymore than the suggestion that the COI editor might be so-and-so could be considered outing. No one was harassed or outed in this case. It appears to me that you believe the suggestion in the Op-Ed is correct, and if it is, the COI editor is expected to disclose their COI and their relationship to the BLP, as in "I am the BLP" = guess what? No outing. If it isn't the BLP = guess what? No outing. Atsme 💬 📧 18:55, 26 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Coretheapple The offending content had been redacted. The article previously attempted to out a specific editor as a public Trump supporter. - ZLEA T\C 20:59, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
OK, thank you for clarifying that. Assuming there was an outing and it was cured, I would think that this is no longer a live issue. Coretheapple (talk) 15:16, 1 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Contested deletion

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

This page should not be speedy deleted as an attack or a negative unsourced biography of a living person, because it is not a Wikipedia article and it is not subject to the policies and guidelines governing Wikipedia mainspace. Neither is the content of The Signpost required to have footnotes or be linked to WP:RS. The Signpost is a newspaper. For the purpose it provides, it could just as easily be hosted on any server off-Wiki like any blog, where like it or hate it, Wikipedia editors, whatever they feel about it, would not be able to have it redacted or deleted. Once published, print media newspapers don't get redacted or pulled from the streets once they hit the news stands. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 13:23, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

A "G10" deletion applies to all namespaces (hence the "G" label and not an "A" label). If it would be hosted off-wiki, there would be no need for us to redact or delete it. And no, the Signpost is not a newspaper (as a professional news publication with standards), it is a news blog about Wikipedia, and if it wants to be posted on Wikipedia, it is subject to Wikipedia policies. Fram (talk) 13:39, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
(edit conflict) No, but they do print redactions to prevent themselves getting sued. In any case, WP:NOTPAPER. Also in any case, BLP applies across the project, not just article space. ——Serial 13:41, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

This page should not be speedy deleted as an attack or a negative unsourced biography of a living person, because... (G10 lists examples of material on "attack pages". None of those apply here. "Examples of "attack pages" may include libel, legal threats, material intended purely to harass or intimidate a person or biographical material about a living person that is entirely negative in tone and unsourced.

  • libel? - No way. Everything in this article is clearly sourced to the most reliable sources, or refers to actual, unredacted edits on Wikipedia itself, and links to those edits.
  • Legal threats? - absolutely none.
  • material intended to harass ... and unsourced -
    • completely sourced as above
    • my intention in writing this was simply to expose that the TTO, which is completely owned by D.J. Trump, edited articles related to his business. This is important because Trump was then the future president of one of the most powerful countries in the world. He is now, of course the former president, but he is still eligible to run again, and is one of the more likely candidates to be the next Republican candidates.

other points:

  • There's an MfD discussion on this article. By my quick count the !votes are 8 for keep (including several admins) vs. 5 for delete. Let the process there continue.
  • If this type of deletion goes through, there will essentially be no place on Wikipedia where this type of paid editing by government officials can be openly discussed. The threat of disinformation inserted by folks like this is real and one of the most important issues of the day. If you delete this article, you are loudly declaring to the world that we're not even allowing discussion of the matter. Every Wikipedian should be ashamed of our encyclopedia if that's the case.
  • I'll revert to an earlier version that doesn't doesn't have any chance whatsoever of being considered an attack page. I'll also change the title and may revise the article further to a form where more can be discussed.

We need to discuss the problem, not cover it up ) --Smallbones(smalltalk) 14:24, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Completely sourced? Not really, no. There is not a single source linking the second person you discuss at length, and Wikipedia. The only intention of the material is to harass the persons, and through them the TPO. A few edits from 10 years ago is hardly "one of the most important issues of the day", there are plenty of more recent, more widespread, and more hidden examples (as the first one was quite openly declared: it was wrong, it was unacceptable, but it is long gone, and a minor issue even then). Furthermore, he wasn't a "government official" nor worked for one, so if your article is intended to expose "this type of paid editing by government officials", then you failed badly. Fram (talk) 14:44, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Facts about the second person are sourced to
Almost all of these sources make a direct connection between the person and TTO. If you can't make a connection between these sources and the rest of the article, it's because you simply don't want to. Smallbones(smalltalk) 15:30, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
There is not a single source about this second person + Wikipedia. The inclusion of this person in this article as it stands is an unsourced "guilt-by-association", a pure innuendo, and as such a vile attack and a blatant BLP violation. It is a sorry state of affairs that too many people want to defend this (many of them long-time Signpost defenders, I have to say).
Your reply is pure deflection, and not a reply to what I said above and what for that second part is the essential problem: "There is not a single source linking the second person you discuss at length, and Wikipedia". You are claiming quite explicitly that that person has made paid edits to Wikipedia and has spread disinformation on Wikipedia, which is a clear G10 BLP deletion. You repeat this here, with "If you can't make a connection between these sources and the rest of the article, it's because you simply don't want to." as if the lack of any source about their Wikipedia editing is proof of their Wikipedia editing somehow. That you have found an admin (with whom you have a history of deleted BLP violations in the Signpost) who is again willing to defend this seems like a rather big risk you both are taking. Fram (talk) 15:51, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
I'm only here to address the bad faith accusation that Smallbones prompted me to remove your inappropriate CSD tag. I have had no contact with Smallbones regarding this - or any other matter since prior to the pandemic, to the best of my recollection. I removed it solely for the stated reasons in my edit summary. Given your past history with Smallbones it would be prudent for you to step back from this matter and let the community consensus govern what happens next instead of attempting an end run around an MFD. Gamaliel (talk) 16:13, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Oh, I don't doubt that you didn't need prompting, I was just amazed that, with your BLP violating history with Smallbones and me, it was you who decided that you were the right person to act on this. This is something that a neutral admin should have handled, not the person who was in part responsible, together with Smallbones, for a previous Signpost article that had to be deleted as a blatant BLP violation. I seem to remember that Smallbones then tried to make an issue of "outing", as if they cared about this enormously, but was basically laughed out of court for this. Probably something they only care about when their "anonymous source" and their fabrications is getting exposed. Nice talking to you, Gamaliel, and enjoy your admin status for as long it lasts. Fram (talk) 16:21, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
I'm sorry you've decided to escalate your ad hominem instead of stepping back from this matter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Good luck with your grudge against Smallbones. Gamaliel (talk) 16:24, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
As editor-in-chief of The Signpost I think it is appropriate for me to ask everybody to avoid personal attacks on this page, even when I am one of the targets of the personal attacks. If this goes the way it's currently going, this case is likely to be appealed the result to ArbCom. If necessary you can discuss it there. Smallbones(smalltalk) 18:03, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
  • I agree that in general people should be careful about "outing" as it is a hot-button issue and not tolerated. But for the life of me I just can't see any basis for deleting this page on that basis. It's an informative article, and the person admitted to be the RL person indicated in the article. So it doesn't fall afoul of outing rules. What am I missing? Coretheapple (talk) 16:07, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
    • The article was about two persons: one recently deleted who edited Wikipedia a few dozen times 10 years ago, long before Trump was President: and another one who has now finally been removed from the article, and whose supposed Wikipedia handle was earlier oversighted for outing (leaving here half an article about a BLP without any link to Wikipedia in the text, but still accused of being a paid spreader of disinformation on Wikipedia). That version, the one which was nominated for MfD and Csd, can still be seen in the article history for now. (Oh, and in general it is not sufficient for a Wikipedia editor X to declare that they are person Y in real life: as long as that person hasn't made the reverse declaration, we shouldn't simply believe the Wikipedia editor on their say-so, and shouldn't accuse the person Y of being editor X). Fram (talk) 16:14, 30 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The Signpost itself predicted this

I'm surprised to check in a week after I read this piece, before it had a first comment written, to find it's blown up like this. What about this piece in particular is exceptional? I found its content a bit weak compared to the usually much more serious and damaging COI that's reported on. (Slow news month, Smallbones is overworked—I get it.) However, I don't see what was uniquely a violation of outing. Perhaps I just forgot the content that's been objectionable. It was only two issues ago that The Signpost explicitly asked its readers what they thought was and wasn't acceptable with these types of reports: Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2021-03-28/From the editor. If only we had established the community's view on this at that article and not this one then the drama could have been avoided. — Bilorv (talk) 22:38, 1 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Unlike most of the prior pieces, this one specifically said that there was strong evidence that a certain Wikipedia user was "John Doe". This user didn't disclose that info anywhere on Wikipedia and it was deduced based on this person's editing patterns to certain articles that the real life person was involved in. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 03:13, 3 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Chilling effect

I had contemplated writing a Signpost article on another COI situation involving various accounts identified on- and off-wiki as being related to the subject of the article, a major public figure convicted of felonies. I think an article like that would be informative. My point was to be how volunteer editors with limited time and motivation are helpless when dealing with determined COI editors. I am opposed to outing and would scrupulously follow the outing policy. But would I write such an article? Hell no. It's not worth the trouble. How can Signpost deal with COI and paid editing issues involving admitted (not surmised or alleged or denied) paid and COI editors if we are going to hound the Signpost editor as we have done here? Coretheapple (talk) 14:11, 2 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]

There's literally nothing preventing you from going to WP:COIN if you have a legitimate concern. I fail to see why it is impossible for editors to follow WP:COICOIN and why you have to write a Signpost article outing people. If there's evidence that would out people you can email a functionary. There's no policy against COI editing in general so long as it is disclosed and people follow the COI rules. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 03:09, 3 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]
There's literally nothing in your response that has anything to do with my concern, which relates to Signpost not posting on COIN. Coretheapple (talk) 15:34, 3 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]
That's the entire point of what I wrote; you don't have to write a Signpost article outing people to address COI issues. We have existing processes to deal with this and I fail to see why you are unable to use those. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 19:16, 3 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Two different places with different purposes. COIN deals with immediate problems, that can be solved with a block or similar. General editors don't go there very often. The Signpost is for all Wikipedia editors and can deal with bigger questions like "there's this guy who tells lots of fibs, had his finger on the nuclear button for 4 years, who encouraged an insurrection against the US government, and his organization edits Wikipedia. What do we do?" If we took that question to COIN, they'd just say "We're not set up for this. Take it to The Signpost." If we took it to ArbCom, they'd say "We're not GovCom. We can't deal with content, much less the real world. Take it to The Signpost". We publish it here and you say, "you can't do that here, at least not in any detail." So the question to you is "where do we tell the Wikipedia community what's going on? And why do you want to bury your head in the sand?" Smallbones(smalltalk) 01:14, 4 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]
"There's this guy who tells lots of fibs, had his finger on the nuclear button for 4 years, who encouraged an insurrection against the US government, and his organization edits Wikipedia. What do we do?" So this is a politically motivated article. - ZLEA T\C 03:16, 4 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Let's not quibble about the hypothetical, please. The article I had considered writing was devoid of political content, and was intended to describe the kind of time suck COI editing, even "white hat" COI editing, creates for volunteers. To me this is the primary issue raised by COI and paid editing, and yet I find that many editors and especially administrators are callous to that aspect of the problem. It's as if Wikipedia's policies and guidelines create a "level playing field" for volunteer editors and determined, motivated COI editors. That is a problem that has no political aspect. And yet, I wouldn't even go near such a topic on Signpost repeat on Signpost repeat on Signpost as I simply don't have the time or energy to fight the kind of battle that has been created for Smallbones here. Coretheapple (talk) 14:42, 4 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]
There should be enough examples that have been raised and documented on English Wikipedia that an article could cite to illustrate this aspect. isaacl (talk) 15:08, 4 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Then you run into another set of challenges. For example, if you;re dealing with a banned COI editor you might run into the NPA rules. Or attack page. This very article was nominated on that basis at one point. Coretheapple (talk) 18:24, 4 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]
The issue was raised precisely because the article didn't use examples previously examined by the community. I do appreciate there are challenges, because there is a diversity of opinions on conflicts of interest, and the sub-category of paid editing. For better or worse, the portion of the English Wikipedia community who like to discuss its processes generally favour open discussion, including open discussions on Signpost articles. That has disadvantages but also advantages. isaacl (talk) 05:00, 5 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Conclusive outing?

Weird how the time and date for at least one edit would seem to have been physically impossible for the real Martin to have made. Bad idea to take an anonymous person's claim for their IRL ID serious, especially when time and dates can be compared (hell, I have even done that on the internet, back in the day—couple decades ago—and I was able to easily manufacture convincing evidence back then... thousands of people do it for entertainment, trolling, low self-esteem issues, and mischief).— al-Shimoni (talk) 04:18, 3 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]

I don't think you know what you are talking about.
  • Martinnyc did not edit after his reported death if that was what you are implying.
  • I just reviewed both sets of edits from both editors originally included in the article in both micro (minute-to-minute and changes in words and letters) and macro (longer term, articles edited).
I don't believe they are they are the same editors, but they do have somewhat similar styles. Neither made "physically impossible" edits. Both type quickly and save often - so there are spurts of activity, but nothing impossibly quick. To some extent, both - but one more than the other- start with a fairly large insertion, or make big quick deletions (or both), and then copy edit on the run, resulting in very fast and small staccato edits at the end of the spurt, e.g. both have made 3 edits in one minute. Nothing impossible about that. Macro - they look about the same.
In short, do be more specific about this "impossible edit" or I won't be able to believe you. Smallbones(smalltalk) 15:24, 3 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]

This signpost is embarrassing. You are defaming the memory of a dead man

Seriously, don't y'all have ANYTHING better to do than obsess over what some former employee of the former president of the United States MIGHT have edited on Wikipedia articles, six years ago????!!! This is petty and vindictive and embarrassing. Spend your time on actively going after ACTIVE egregious COI and PAID EDITORS not Stalinist purges like this that also reek of being self-congratulatory. I am disgusted.--FeralOink (talk) 20:44, 26 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]


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