Sunday, August 22, 2010

CAMERA and Wikipedians for Palestine

What is going on is reminiscent and indeed references the CAMERA decision in which it was alleged that : "Wikipedia has been targeted by an off-site astroturfing campaign, to get stealth administrators in place to manipulate encyclopedia content." CAMERA , the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Affairs, had sent out a call for Wikipedia volunteers much like WikiBias has done. The volunteers started an email group, called Israpedia, which was open and an Electronic Intifada (their name says it all) member joined and they got the emails too, which they ''leaked'' to Wikipedia.

Oh the Horrors! It was "frightening" and "subversive" and intended to "harm Wikipedia."

But when it was discovered that there was another group of Wikipedians, about 12 of them, who called themselves "Wikipedians for Palestine" , no one seemed frightened or considered them "subversive," for some odd reason. This secret group had this to say about membership in it:

"In order to verify their status as both a Wikipedian in good standing and someone who is pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist, those wishing to join this group will be asked to provide their Wikipedia user ID."

o.O They have to prove that they are "anti-Zionist"? But, apparently, there is nothing really wrong with that.

Andre Oboler at ZionismontheWeb.com investigated and wrote about it at the time. It is well worth reading and thinking about as this case is being discussed on Wikipedia here and now

Oboler notes:

"The penalties imposed on members of the CAMERA group were harsh in part because it was argued that this was a new threat to Wikipedia and an example needed to be made. The feeling was that recruiting people from within grass roots advocacy organisations, enlisting experienced editors to help, and having the discussions outside of wikipedia could all contribute in a way that went against the nature of wikipedia. This was naive. Our research shows past attenpts, by Palestinian advocates, some of whom commented and pushed for sanctions in the CAMERA case, that meet all of these criteria. The admins considering the case found some of this information too, their attempts to investigate did the equivalent of starting the shredding machines. "

Absolutely zero came of it. It was never investigated. One or two people were asked if they were members and they said no. That was that.

Oboler also exposed user: Bangpound in this excellent investigative article as the member of Electronic Intifada who outed the email group. Turns out this editor was in the employ of that organization. Some are arguing today that an employee of an advocacy group should not be editing in the area, but the editor called Bangpound still contributes a little these days, under that name.

The twelve members of the Wikipedians for Palestine with their self-proclaimed anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian bias are no doubt still at Wikipedia. Some of them are most probably fellow editors at the discussion board, urging sanctions against others; some may be administrators, checkusers, even arbitrators.

1 comment:

Zionism On The Web said...

Hi neshumah,

Thank you for the praise. I've published my comments on the current situation via Honest Reporting, you can see it at: http://backspin.typepad.com/backspin/2010/08/zionist-wikipedia-editors-so-what.html

The key issue here is that I don't see any evidence this event was doing any more than training people on how they could edit Wikipedia. That surely is something to be encouraged. If the current uproar exposes anything, it exposes anti-Israel bias and spin that at best assumes bad faith, and at worse seems to suggest Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia anyone can edit, but rather one where anyone with the right views can edit. This restriction is not one being imposed by Wikipedia, but rather one being imposed by the media. It is Wikipedians themselves who should be standing up for the right of these people to be part of the project, and Wikimedia should be supporting their efforts to educate about Wiki-ethics. Indeed, in some reports I thought I saw a suggestion that Wikimedia, or at least a number of senior Wikipedians WERE supportive of the event.

The real story here, as you rightly picked up, is about the medias reaction to this.

Best regards,

Dr Andre Oboler