The real Wikipedia FAQ: How Wiki witchfinders block users

The sequence here is absolutely how Wikipedia's governance system works, it is an extremely typical example of how new users are despatched.

Step 1, an indefinite block, placed on a user with no other prior blocks or even any warnings, merely citing the vague page NOTHERE, which is just an essay, not even policy (seems like the recent advise to admins to stop doing this hasn't reached Alex Shin)

Step 2, wait for the new user to fail to read the blocking admin's mind and react the way 95% of humans would, with anger and confusion.

Step 3, decline the block using the usual copy-paste reason, failure to accept and understand, blah, blah, which I personally have never seen be used successfully in a situation where the initial block hasn't been explained properly, to extricate a new user out of a hole. It only ever seems to further confuse and annoy them. The perfunctory copy-paster, Yambla, is never seen or heard of by the user, again. Fine work. Real commitment.

Step 4, realising the user has a 1% chance of getting this block lifted in procedural grounds due to the complete and total lack of due process, Alex only now provides a full explanation for the block, not for the user, but for then benefit of the next reviewer.

Step 5, wait for the angry and confused user to edit themselves into a deeper hole by addressing the reason line by line in and angry and confused manner, where they make classic newbie mistakes like not understanding this process is not a negotiation or even a conversation (silly them, doesn't realise these admins don't spend hours copy-pasting stuff to them for no reason!), it is merely a procedural step to prove to they are not willing to accept the total validity of the initial block.

Step 6, have a final reviewer turn up, after a sufficiently short time to demonstrate they've not even properly read their defence, use the user's continuing failure to understand this is not a negotiation or even a conversation, to loudly declare with one vague and dismissive statement which completely ignores the user's line by line attempted defence, the that block is totally justified, and they are on VERY THIN ICE! Great job. Must take real effort to deliver this kind of thoughtful personal service, eh MSGJ?

*Step 7**, when then user again reacts with confusion and anger, still not realising that referring to what just happened or even addressing the last reviewer, is totally not part of this game at all, do the final perfunctory step of revoking talk page access, which is the customary way these days to end blocks placed on confused and angry users. It must be nice to be an established user, eh Boing!?, where you can be as angry and confused as you like in the same situation, even in the face of completely valid blocks, and yet you will never be locked out of the precious, as a final and clear message you are not wanted. Always a way back for established users. The complete opposite for redshirts.

This is classic half-assed adminship, the normal power-play of haves and have nots, ins and outs, wizards and muggles. It barely even follows the basic admin conduct standard of a requirement to patiently read and politely respond, while ironically expecting that to be the way the blocked user conducts themselves.

Such double standards and basic failures is the hallmark of Wikipedia governance. I could write a bot to do it faster and with more actual compassion and understanding.

It is indefensible. It is so bad, there isn't even any point examining if the block was actually justified, since under these conditions, a completely innocent user cannot escape the inevitable lockout if they do not instantly and completely submit. It's a classic witchfinder process. If they get angry and protest, they're guilty.

To: R.K. Mathur - Chief Information Commissioner (India) Yashovardhan Azad - Information Commissioner (India)


1) Thank you very much for the lively interaction earlier today at the CIC Seminar 2017, SCOPE Complex Auditorium, CGO, New Delhi - 110003. I especially enjoyed Mr. Azad's sense of humour interspersed with his firm way of handling boisterous youngsters like Sarbajit (in copy) and me, and the way his one-liners were timed to perfection. I also thank Mr. Mathur for his patient hearing us out.

As requested by Mr. Mathur, I prefer my views here, for your kind attention.

2) At the outset, very briefly, after being actively engaged in the early years of RTI, I abdicated in recent years, simply because it became very complicated and matters of public interest started moving into the legal arena. In addition, the body language and way of CIC office staff dealing with applicants vis-a-vis the way of dealing with people from Public Authorities was another reason - it was clear that applicants were almost like accused. Just a cursory glance at the condescending and patronising way subordinate staff at CIC office treats applicants vis-a-vis the way they bow and cringe in front of Public Authorities is enough. Furthermore, under the previous governments, it was clear that RTI was no longer a priority.

Sarbjit, ofcourse, has the oldest pending RTI in history as introduction.

3) My core competencies in RTI in the early days were -

a) Trying to bring transparency not just in governance but also in all segments of Indian society. b) Working on public interest issues. For example, even submitting an RTI Application was difficult in the early days. c) Trying to work for a positive narrative on the improvements taking place in India. d) Going after symbols of colonial rule in our democracy. Red beacons and the term VIP were favourites. Reclaiming public spaces was another. The one I worked really hard on was Definition of Public Authority in Veeresh Malik vs SAI/CWG, and will always be grateful to CIC for the support then. Amir Khusro park in Nizamuddin is more recent.

4) However, as soon as the RTI Act reached a level of some larger benefit, I observed that many of the key organisations and personalities therein started jockeying for positions of pelf and power, and their favoured method appeared to be what I call "appeasing the drain inspector" tactics. My objective of ensuring that the variety of NGOs in the RTI arena themselves show transparency and suo moto declarations were not viewed favourably by them. Other things like Kejriwal got into politics, Prakash Kardaley passed away, Shailesh Gandhi became an IC, my family is indebted to and we are Indians in India because of Wajahat Habibullah, and so I moved on. Last straw on the camel's back was attending an RTI Convention where President of India was Chief Guest. Never felt more like demeaned than that event at DRDO Bhavan. I also got busy with health and personal issues. In any case, RTI had started becoming a business and also the RTI pipelines were clogged variously, and when public interest RTIs became dangerous for me, I opted out. The big elephant in the room of departmental RTIs was another factor because I could see how that was corroding the pipelines at CIC.

5) Over the last few years, I also realised that using the online Public Grievance Cell for public interest matters worked better, was easier, did not make me feel like an accused, and in certain cases, rolled up to CAG much faster than when using RTI. In addition, the PG Cell network is largely free of the cancer of vested interest anti-National type NGOs, so it is also a question of the company one keeps being important.

6) Coming to today's events -

a) The two positive talks, lady from Pune and Commodore Lokesh Batra, were the good narrative highlights for me.
b) Usual suspects from CHRI and fake NCPRI were there with their regular snake-oil. Nothing short of the codes for nuclear weapons will satisfy Venkatesh Nayak, it seems.
c) The lady who called us "common people" needs to be given a copy of the Constitution of India and the term "citizen" explained to her.
d) Thorough research on NGOs participating needs to be done and foreign NGOs need to be seated separately as observors, from Indian citizens.
e) Term "Honourable" is no longer in use.
f) How and when did the Information Commissions start referring to themselves as "e-Courts"? The whole concept of RTI was to spare us the Courts as much as possible.
g) The term "petitioners" as used by the CIC staff also may need to be looked into. We are applicants, not petitioners.
h) I have been thrown out of multiple legal and quasi legal forums, including CIC, for trying to take audio-video recordings as well as wearing brightly coloured kurtas. Am grateful that this was not objected to today.

6) Specifically on CHRI. I have in the past also researched them thoroughly, and find that their relationship to the Church of England's activities in the post-colonial world as well as their funding, and their more recent collaborations with our Western neighbours, are not exactly kosher. In any case, as an organisation, they do not fit into the "citizen of India" condition present in the RTI Act of India.

Once again, I do believe that there is a lot of positive to the RTI narrative in India, especially if viewed on ease of filing RTIs online now. This narrative is not reaching out. Grievance type RTIs are better served now through the PG Cell and there may be some amount of reduction in RTIs soon because of this. Fishing expedition kind of RTIs I personally do not favour but then that is something way beyond my paygrade.

What I do want from RTI in India is an Indian in India kind of approach. We are Indians, we will make our RTI Act better, we will make governance hopefully better.

I also want an option of filing AND getting response on paperless methods. Where PIO is given the option of a paperless response to the applicant. Like on the PG Cell.

And most of all, with all respects, the wall between PIOs and applicants will need to be chipped away. I find, in that context, Subhash Chandra Aggarwal's approach of helping PIOs facing unreasonable RTI Applications to be very fresh and a way forward. The waiting room at CIC for applicants and public authorities needs to be common.

Once again, thank you for the great seminar,


Veeresh Malik D-61, Defence Colony New Delhi 110024

Wikimedia adult content, the handling of adult content suffers from similar problems. Hundreds of masturbation videos and penis images in Wikimedia Commons testify to a well-developed and unchecked culture of anonymous sexual exhibitionism.

Internet sites owned by the Wikimedia Foundation, including the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, have become increasingly important. The Wikimedia Foundation has become a highly visible organisation with a $80 million annual income from donations. But however successful in many respects, the Wikimedia principle of “crowdsourcing” by anonymous contributors creates significant and ongoing problems in several areas, eg. handling of adult content.

The handling of adult content suffers from similar problems. Hundreds of masturbation videos and penis images in Wikimedia Commons testify to a well-developed and unchecked culture of anonymous sexual exhibitionism. The most accessed pages are almost all sexual images. Sexual material hosted in Wikipedia and/or Wikimedia Commons includes –
• photographs of sexual acts including ejaculation, ordinary penetration, masturbation with vegetables, toothbrushes and children’s toys, and the drinking of urine,
• old, out-of-copyright pornographic films featuring penetration, fellatio and ejaculation, • pornographic drawings with motifs ranging from bestiality to incestuous child abuse. This material is available unfiltered, to minors and adults alike. Personality rights and privacy are treated in a cavalier way. The word of an anonymous uploader is taken as sufficient assurance that the person depicted – possibly in the process of engaging in a sexual act in a non-public place – is aware of and has consented to the upload.

The absence of any kind of content rating or search filter, such as the one used in Google, means that sexual images may be and are included in search results for innocent search terms that no user would expect to return sexual media. For example, searching for a particular children’s toy in Wikimedia Commons returns as its first search result an image where the toy in question is used by an adult for sexual gratification.

The Dark Knight

Jimmy has of course used the media to lead a campaign for Wikitribune to ensure anyone directly connected to a Wikipedia article does not edit it themselves, in the pursuit of neutrality. He asks that they post requests on the talk page, in the hope Wikipedians will act, if deemed appropriate. Whether it works is not exactly up for debate, in critic circles at least.

Wikipedia works in theory, not in practice... and how it covered the new kid on the block, its brother from another mother, WikiTribune, just proved it.

It is fundamental to Wikipedia principles that...

  1. Wikipedia articles should be neutral, presenting the entire spectrum of views as registered in reliable sources in proportion to their incidence in the overall mix of coverage,
  2. Wikipedia isn't a place where organizations can effectively receive free advertising through the hosting of one sided articles whose content is (ultimately) sourced almost exclusively to press releases from the organization and interviews with their promoters.

Off the back of the huge interest in this new venture in independent reliable sources, a Wikipedia article for WikiTribune has existed for a day and a half now (condition as I found it linked below), which is an eon in digital promotion terms. And yet none of the many Wikipedians who have edited it, and even debated if it should exist (not for very long), have thought to include a word, not a single word, of skeptical or critical content, from those sources.

And it does exist. I found two news articles with a pretty skeptical slant with some ease, so no doubt others will also be out there, and elements of skepticism will have also found their way into many other articles which take a more equivocal position.

Why the Odds Are Stacked against the Jimmy Wales Journalism Project:

The Problem with WikiTribune:

Despite it being their long standing practice, Wikipedia hasn't even tagged the article with a notice warning readers it doesn't currently comply with their basic standards. This of course may have something to do with the fact the article's talk page is entirely devoid of any sign anyone has even noticed there might be a problem with its neutrality, and only one section complaining about promotional intent. And that only concerns tone/word choice of the press release derived information, not the lack of skeptical or independent content. Tellingly, it took a newbie to note even that.

Naturally, a glowing Wikipedia article is a hugely attractive prospect for anyone wishing to promote their wares, not that Jimmy Wales would do such a thing. Nevertheless, as I write, on my device, a Google search for "WikiTribune" already returns the Wikipedia article as the top result, above even its official site, and only then come the news stories about its launch. It has most likely been this way since just after it was created, as any Wikipedia editor could tell you.

Jimmy has of course used the media to lead a campaign to ensure anyone directly connected to a Wikipedia article does not edit it themselves, in the pursuit of neutrality. He asks that they post requests on the talk page, in the hope Wikipedians will act, if deemed appropriate. Whether it works is not exactly up for debate, in critic circles at least. But he believes in it. It is disappointing then, that even Jimmy appears unwilling to post a suggestion that maybe it's not in the best interests of Wikipedia's reputation to be so lax about following their core principles in this high profile case, which is rife with potential conflicts of interest, and suggest at least some skepticism be included. Maybe he's just been too busy. Yes, that will be it.

Of course, eventually the article will be developed to be more neutral (although how close to perfect is anyone's guess), but by then it will be too late, as the vast majority of people who came to Wikipedia to read this article, will have done so already, and then moved on, newly 'informed' by the 'world's greatest' encyclopedia. Some of them no doubt using what they found there to make decisions on whether or not they should stump up the requested $15 a month to get WikiTribune off the ground.

The Wikipedians who come to edit it later, to eventually ensure compliance, or something approximating it, are essentially only doing it for their own self satisfaction. They'd be loathe to admit it, as it rather undercuts the perceived value to the world of their chosen hobby. But if they examined the page view stats they would see this is the cold hard reality. See for yourself...

The same cycle will be repeated after each new round of publicity, with subsequent readers attracted by new news coming to the article and only finding skepticism which doesn't factor in whatever has just been released and which no doubt promises a whole raft of new things to WikiTribune's supporters and readers. Naturally, such skepticism is easily dismissed in the reader's mind when it is perceived as being old news.

Consult any of Wikipedia's posted rules and any of the past pronouncements of its supporters, notably Jimmy Wales himself, and you will see that Wikipedia is not supposed to be this way. Their 5 disclaimers set you straight of course, but who has ever read them before? Here they are, btw...

The reality is, Wikipedia's much trumpeted instant editing and fast revision model cannot stop it being this way. Whether it is intentional, or whether it happens because the vast majority of Wikipedians are clueless idiots (useful idiots?), isn't really relevant. All that matters is that the product doesn't meet customer expectations or even their own description of what it is supposed to be.

And how successful Wikipedia as a product is, objectively speaking, matters. Because as you will see even from the skeptical pieces, the general opinion of the media is that if anyone can make a volunteer news site work, it is Jimmy, and that view is based on their perception he has had 'success' at making Wikipedia 'work'.

Their perception is wrong, and this is ironically because the traditional media is horrendously ignorant of how Wikipedia really works, as well as of course, how it is supposed to work. They happily trash it for its well understood flaws, notably its inability to keep out obvious errors due to vandalism and such like. And that is where they seem content to stop.

Can Jimmy's new paradigm fix how the news media works? Can it ensure they pay closer attention to what really matters in this digital Century?

Seems pointless to even ask...

This article was originally posted on (the new) _Wikipedia Review, reposted with permission._

There are several reasons why Wikipedia articles do not get accepted on Wikipedia. Here I will share the main ones I’ve come across from my experience expertly editing Wikipedia during the last 2 months:
Writing style

Wikipedia aims to resemble an academic encyclopedia. One of the issues with this is that the users who usually contribute to Wikipedia lack academic (and oftentimes even elementary) writing skills. Recognising this was the main reason why I did quite well with my new article submissions. I have a lot of experience writing academically for my international school (Shanghai American School) homework that expects much higher writing standards than Wikipedia. NB: Writing style here refers not only to having proper grammar and paragraph structures, but also using adequate descriptors which are written in a crisp and neutral tone (always sticking to the point of why the subject of the article is sufficiently notable to merit a stand-aloneWikipedia entry).

Avoiding promotional text

One of the biggest mistakes new editors make on Wikipedia is using blatantly promotional language. There is a group of fanatical Wikipedia admins that devote much of their time deleting articles that have hints of promotional overtones.

Editor seniority

It's obvious there are many articles that, by Wikipedia’s own standards, should not be there. So why are they there? Because they’ve been submitted or are protected by certain senior editors. Although Wikipedia claims to be an open source site where anyone can contribute, the site is actually closely monitored by "bots" and managed by a small group of editors who act as if they own Wikipedia. These editors are often better known for deleting articles than creating new ones, and have achieved seniority for deleting articles over the years. As much as Wikipedia aims to not be biased, it clearly is.

Failed ? Is it worth alternatives to getting Your Wikipedia Article Accepted ?

No ! Let's face it, everyone has their own agenda when adding an article to Wikipedia, regardless of how neutral the article actually is. Because I've learned Wikipedia's system well, I am usually able to upload Wikipedia articles to the site avoiding any potential issues. I suggest that you do so too and avoid the so-called paid editors who mess this up. The point here is that the more an article gets deleted, the more difficult it becomes to re-publish it, so it is important to get it right the first time.

When uploading a Wikipedia article, my main advice is that the article be written in an encyclopedic manner.

You don't need a PhD to write a wikipedia article. If you have experience writing in an academic style for your sckool homework like I do, then following the 5 simple "5 pillars" wikipedia guidelines should help get your Wiki article accepted without wasting money on paid editors and faked PhDs from 5th world LDCs.