<CPOV> Wikipedia and I - follow up from yesterday

Dror Kamir dqamir at bezeqint.net
Thu Apr 15 01:16:35 CEST 2010


Thanks for making this summary :-)
Stepping aside and alienating myself from the issue, I am mostly 
interested in the reemergence of problematic patterns of social 
behavior. It is a bit like watching a "rerun" of the development of 
judicial system, with all the regrettable (even tragic in real life) 
errors in the process. As for the discussion that developed on he-wp, it 
is interesting for me to see the interface between "real life" and 
"Wikipedian life". The fear of antisemitism creeps into the discussion, 
as if it weren't merely a discussion about how to write articles (BTW, 
it was Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel this week, so may be this was 
the trigger). Beside being anthropologically fascinated (still 
alienating myself from the issue), I cannot come up with interesting new 
insights (yet), but maybe people here could enlighten me :-)


בתאריך 14/04/10 19:58, ציטוט Juliana Brunello:
> Hi Dror,
> your complaints are indeed very legit. I will make here a summary of the
> main arguments, so lazy readers can follow the debate ;)
>>> The new implemented judicial System in WP, the Arbitrary Committee:
> Admins can ban a certain person from editing a topic, as I understood,
> based on complaints of other editors. Since it can be anonymous, it is
> hard to see what the real intentions are and why his complained was
> endorsed by the certain admin.
>>> The problems that surge due to the idea of>sources instead of truth<
> and access to such sources. Also, one needs to know the pseudo-judicial
> laws of WP in order to successfully take part on the debate. Moreover,
> some sources seem to be more valid than others.
> The fact that WP ignores that there are cabals on the project does not
> make them disappear (>there are no cabals<), as we can see quite often,
> like the case cited by Dror. One can see that POVs are enforced on certain
> themes, and that NPOV is hardly effective on controversial cases. I say,
> in WP some editors under the safeguard of some admins are more equal than
> others!
> Juliana
>> <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
>> <html>
>> <head>
>>    <meta content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" http-equiv="Content-Type">
>> </head>
>> <body bgcolor="#ffffff" text="#000000">
>> Hello,<br>
>> <br>
>> Apparently I cried loud enough to bring the Hebrew-speaking Wikipedians
>> to discuss the issue I raised yesterday. Actually there were two
>> interesting debates on he-wp, one about me and the other about the Anat
>> Kam affair (I don't know how many of you heard of it, but it has also
>> become a Wikipedian affair). I am translating the debate about myself,
>> partially because of my egocentric nature :-) but mostly because it is
>> a follow-up to my long message yesterday. Please tell me if you'd like
>> me to translate some of the Anat Kam debate. BTW, I joined the debate
>> twice.<br>
>> <br>
>> <b>The English Wikipedia - An Anti-Israel Propaganda Tool</b><br>
>> <br>
>> ONE: I bring here the words of Dror Kamir who is known to be a
>> left-wing person, simply unbelievable.<br>
>> [<i>cites one of my Hebrew messages yesterday, which is basically what
>> I wrote to this list in English]</i><br>
>> <br>
>> TWO: This is hardly new. See this and this on my blog. [<i>brings links
>> to a blog post that describes more or less the same things I
>> experienced. The post was written on 29 Dec 2009, so I should have
>> noticed it while preparing for my talk on Bangalore. This oversight of
>> mine deserves flogging.</i>]<br>
>> <br>
>> ONE: Yes, I saw it also here on the Hebrew Wikipedia debate page
>> [<i>that's
>> another version of the aforementioned post, apparently you should add
>> some more lashes to my punishment</i>].<br>
>> <br>
>> THREE: The fact that Dror is left-wing doesn't matter at all. There is
>> a huge difference between the lunatic vociferous left that took roots
>> in Europe (but also in the Americas and even here in Israel) and the
>> sane left, which examines reality cautiously and by reasonable
>> criteria. Actually, I wouldn't use the term "left" at all in reference
>> to that lunatic left, it would just blur the fact that they they are
>> weird. They are usually youths under 30 addicted to the junk-food of
>> opinion journalism.<br>
>> <br>
>> FOUR: Actually, I was amazed by this page
>> (<a class="moz-txt-link-freetext"
>> href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Active_sanctions">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Active_sanctions</a>),
>> this page
>> (<a class="moz-txt-link-freetext"
>> href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement#Drork">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement#Drork</a>)
>> and some others. Beyond the issue in question, it is scary to see the
>> monster of bureaucracy, enforcement, punishments, expulsions, bans,
>> committees and tribunals that has emerged there on "Wikenglish".<br>
>> <br>
>> TWO: Anyone wants to establish [our own] ArbCom [Arbitration
>> Committee]?<br>
>> <br>
>> FIVE: Wouldn't it be better to annihilate the servers hosting the
>> Hebrew Wikipedia? It would be quicker and more humane.<br>
>> <br>
>> FOUR: I'm not sure. I mean, I see advantages to such committee, as some
>> of you know [<i>links to an article he wrote on he-wp about ArbCom on
>> the German and English Wikipedias and how it should be implemented in
>> he-wp</i>], but there are hazards too. Like anything good, it can get
>> out of control. I don't see a principle problem with imposing bans on
>> certain users to do certain things in certain articles. For itself, it
>> could have resolved all kind of past crises quite easily and it would
>> have been less harsh than blocking a person.<br>
>> <br>
>> SIX: Should such a committee be established, it should rule in
>> controversial issues. In what concerns imposing bans of this kind or
>> another, it may recommend, but the final decision should be left at the
>> hands of the admins. Anyway, what happens on the English Wikipedia is
>> indeed worrying. I don't understand how come none of the thousands of
>> activists there protests.<br>
>> <br>
>> TWO: The problem with such a committee is that it takes its toll. It is
>> not only articles that can be diverted. In their manic pursue of
>> justice on the English Wikipedia, they forgot they were not qualified
>> as judges; hence it is easier for interested people to divert them. I
>> have never asked for such authority [as SIX suggested] and I wasn't
>> appointed to exercise such authority. I don't want it and don't want it
>> to be exclusively at the hands of the admins.<br>
>> <br>
>> SIX: Let me get it straight, it is okay to completely block a person,
>> but wrong to prevent him from editing a certain limited subject?<br>
>> <br>
>> TWO: Blocking is a preventative measure. I block a person when I see
>> his actions cause damage, and assess that blocking is the only tool I
>> have to stop him (if I reckoned there were another tool, I would use
>> it). On the other hand, ruling that a person is free to edit on
>> Wikipedia except in a certain subject, actually means a declaration
>> that this person's opinion in this subject should be ignored, even
>> though he is still a member of the community. The considerations
>> required for weighing such ruling are numerous and grave, much more
>> than the simple consideration whether or not a person causes damage.<br>
>> <br>
>> SIX: I didn't mean a permanent removal from a certain subject, but a
>> temporary one. For example, I would have been glad if someone removed
>> me from the discussion about the Elad association [<i>an Israeli
>> right-wing NGO highly involved in conflicts between Jews and Arabs in
>> Jerusalem</i>] before it got out of hand, but that's me.<br>
>> <br>
>> TWO: Temporary is even more problematic - it gives an unfair advantage
>> to those holding opposite views. Once you introduce too many "levels"
>> between "fully qualified user" and "banned from the community", you
>> introduce considerations that the normal community member, and also, as
>> a result, the normal admin, is not truly able to consider. We are not
>> judges. Most of us never delved into philosophy or law.<br>
>> <br>
>> ME: [<i>After receiving a letter saying: you must write something in
>> this debate</i>] I was asked to respond, so I hereby publish my
>> response: This is the fifth year for me to be engaged in
>> Wikipedia-related activities. I believe this project has taken the
>> wrong course and diverted from its objectives. This is why I don't
>> write anymore on the Hebrew Wikipedia, nor in the Arabic Wikipedia. I
>> also write very little on the English Wikipedia. My recent harsh
>> comments there were due to the fact that things have gone too far. I
>> could have pulled my hands from anything related to Wikipedia, and I
>> even considered it several times in the past year, but it is not that
>> easy. I turned into persona non grate on the English Wikipedia due to
>> complaints of pro-Palestinian editors that I attacked them personally.
>> These editors did not not come with clear hands, as they were blocked
>> in the past due to similar complaints directed at them. Nevertheless,
>> their complaints were acknowledged. Late Arie Kaspi, may he rest in
>> peace [<i>a local publicist whom I admire</i>] once wrote that a
>> factory needs the workers to declare a strike every now and then, in
>> order to shake-up the management and keep the factory away from
>> decadence. Wikipedia might need such treatment. In any event, since I
>> am active in several free-content projects within Wikimedia Israel, It
>> is important to me to clarify that all I said and will say about
>> Wikipedia is my own personal view with no relation to Wikimedia Israel.
>> Due to my harsh criticism, I asked not to represent Wikimedia Israel
>> abroad anymore (a duty I had to fulfill in the past), so that there
>> would be no doubt that my criticism is my own. I will continue to
>> promote free-content projects within Wikimedia Israel, as long as the
>> association is interested and as long as I have something to
>> contribute.<br>
>> <br>
>> SEVEN: If most of the world is antisemitic, there is no reason why the
>> big free encyclopedia that it writes be different. Haven't we got tired
>> of trying change the world not to be antisemitic? When the Egyptians
>> shoot Sudanese on the border fences (I've seen some bodies with my own
>> eyes), while we let them into our country, and discuss their rights, we
>> are condemned as human rights violators. When rockets are fired at us
>> from Gaza, an event that every enlightened cultural nation would react
>> to with more than a siege, while we handle it with kid gloves, then
>> something is allegedly wrong with us. Leave this idea of convincing the
>> world with reason, it is bound to remain this way. I am more and more
>> convinced in what Rabbi Bar Yochai said: "It is common knowledge that
>> Esau hates Jacob" [<i>an ancient saying known only to someone who took
>> Jewish religious studies</i>].<br>
>> <br>
>> EIGHT: Most of the world is not antisemitic. There are countries where
>> the government offers indoctrinated antisemitic education, like Egypt,
>> but that doesn't make the majority of the world population antisemitic,
>> not at all. There are also communities that consume media which is very
>> unfair to us, but when I lived in such a community, it was clear to me
>> that the media is not successful in turning the most of the public
>> antisemitic. Stop this defeatism. Anyone who is concerned about the
>> public opinion vis-Ã -vis Israel and about fighting antisemitism, should
>> cool down, and use his brain. There is a lot to do in order to
>> communicate our position to the majority of the public (not just to
>> some few idiots). Good Luck.<br>
>> <br>
>> It goes on, but I'll stop here, because I think you get the idea. I
>> don't know what can be extracted from this debate, but it seems
>> interesting. Tell me what you think.<br>
>> <br>
>> Dror<br>
>> <br>
>> <br>
>> <br>
>> <br>
>> <br>
>> <br>
>> בת�ריך 13/04/10 20:18, ציטוט Dror Kamir:
>> <blockquote cite="mid:4BC4A773.1090501 at bezeqint.net" type="cite">Hi,
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> First of all, an apology - ever since I came back from Bangalore I've
>> been overloaded with work and projects, and didn't have enough time to
>> follow the CPOV events and mailing list. I truly regret that, and I
>> hope it'll change in the near future. Having said that, I can't avoid
>> using this mailing list today, since I arose the curiosity of some of
>> you, when I published a call to boycott Wikipedia on FaceBook (a
>> personal call, I should emphasize, before my colleagues at Wikimedia
>> Israel eat me alive). I published some explanations to my friends
>> there, but they were in Hebrew, so they weren't very useful to most of
>> you. Last remark before telling the story - I have been so much
>> involved in Wikipedia and Wikipedia-related projects, that I've become
>> quite emotional about them. To those of you who see Wikipedia as a
>> subject of research, it might seem strange, and I can't blame them for
>> that :-)
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> Several months ago I returned to the English Wikipedia and looked again
>> at articles related to the Middle East. I think it was part of my
>> preparations to the Bangalore conference, but I'm not sure this was the
>> trigger. This way or another, I found out that there was a strange
>> pattern of edits in articles such as "Israel", "State of Palestine",
>> "Palestinian territories" and other related articles. There was a group
>> of editors who persistently and quite forcefully introduced a political
>> thesis into the aforementioned articles. There were several
>> characteristics for these edits:
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> 1. Excessive use of the name Palestine, while blurring the distinction
>> among its various meanings. In many articles, it has become unclear
>> whether the name Palestine refers to a geographical region, to a
>> historical political entity, to a future state, to the Palestinian
>> Authority and so forth.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> 2. Excessive use of terms like "occupied", e.g. in the article about
>> the Golan Heights or the Palestinian territories, where previously it
>> was agreed to use more neutral terms like "controlled". That was not
>> merely a change of term, but also overuse of this term over and over
>> again.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> 3. Describing the State of Palestine as a fact on the ground and
>> drawing a straight line between the British Mandate of Palestine and
>> the Arab State of Palestine. The idea is basically to instill the
>> notion as if Israel was just a temporary stage in the history of the
>> region, while the "real" State of Palestine that existed in the past
>> was about to reemerge.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> Politically-wise, this is a sensitive time in this ongoing Middle East
>> conflict. The Palestinian Authority appealed to the International Court
>> of Justice asking for recognition as a state so it could formally
>> accuse Israel in conducting war crimes. In the UK the pro-Palestinian
>> organizations calling to boycott Israel are more active than ever. For
>> my naked eyes, it seems too much like an anti-Israeli campaign of a
>> group of Europe-based Palestinians or pro-Palestinians. On Wikimedia
>> Commons, BTW, I already had some fierce battles with pro-Palestinian
>> editors who tried to upload problematic fiels and hinder projects of
>> Wikimedia Israel.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> I won't get into the political discussion that evolved between me and
>> this group, and I beg you not to assess my judgment regarding the
>> editors' motives or the legitimacy of their edits.  In fact, this is
>> the minor issue here. What really bugs me is what I found out about the
>> way Wikipedia is currently working.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> 1. The English Wikipedia developed a judicial system. There are laws
>> and tribunals, but they act in a way would amaze even Kafka. There is a
>> decision by the Arbitrary Committee that any editor who makes
>> problematic edits to ME-related articles would be banned from making
>> further edits about the subject. While the Arbitrary Committee meant
>> well, in practice it means that every admin can ban an editor.
>> Wikipedia cherishes anonymity. It is very hard to understand who
>> complained about you, what his motives are, and why his complained was
>> endorsed by the certain admin. Asking to lift the ban requires a long
>> bureaucratic process.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> 2. If one dares to complain about another editor, he might find the
>> accusations turned around at him. Basically it is all about forming
>> cliques. I you have your clique, you are quite immunized, and you can
>> even revert accusations and penalties to those who accuse you.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> The whole treatment of content has become very bureaucratic and
>> imbalanced. The idea that information should be sources has been
>> brought to absurd. Practically anything is regarded as reliable if you
>> can bring a name of an article that says so. I often pointed out to
>> serious problems in the logics of a certain articles, and was answered
>> that I have to bring articles that state otherwise in order to make my
>> claims valid. When I brought such articles, I was often answered that
>> my source was not serious enough, too pro-Israeli, a primary source
>> while WP favors secondary sources and so forth. I often found myself in
>> a strange position where I could not argue with a person, because I did
>> not have access to the book he mentioned.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> Actually WP has abandoned most of its primary values - it is no longer
>> open to all. One must have an access to big academic libraries, be very
>> skilled in conducting debates and have huge amount of time to conduct
>> them. NPOV and No Original Research have become idle principle.
>> Practically any problematic term or theory can be used, as long as you
>> can find some source and interpret it in a way that would enable you to
>> present it as a previously uttered idea. The idea of reaching
>> informative articles through confluence of information and exchange of
>> views has failed. It is all about imposing one's view. The person who
>> imposes his view successfully is the one who has better relations with
>> the judges, namely the admins.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> Okay, I think I wrote quite a lot, and used quite harsh words (I warned
>> you about my emotionality). I'd be happy to hear some relaxed wise
>> comments and insights.
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> Best wishes,
>>    <br>
>> Dror
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> _______________________________________________
>>    <br>
>> Cpov_listcultures.org mailing list
>>    <br>
>> <a class="moz-txt-link-abbreviated"
>> href="mailto:Cpov_listcultures.org at p10.alfaservers.com">Cpov_listcultures.org at p10.alfaservers.com</a>
>>    <br>
>> <a class="moz-txt-link-freetext"
>> href="http://p10.alfaservers.com/mailman/listinfo/cpov_listcultures.org">http://p10.alfaservers.com/mailman/listinfo/cpov_listcultures.org</a>
>>    <br>
>>    <br>
>> </blockquote>
>> </body>
>> </html>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Cpov_listcultures.org mailing list
>> Cpov_listcultures.org at p10.alfaservers.com
>> http://p10.alfaservers.com/mailman/listinfo/cpov_listcultures.org

More information about the cpov mailing list