Monday, October 17, 2016

Pictures from Wikiconference San Diego

Enough of reading, here are some "tricky pix" taken by yours truly at Wikiconference San Diego the first weekend of this month.

Here is James Alexander of the WMF in the middle of lecturing me why I can't attend the conference. The woman in grey in the far background probably alerted Alexander that I had arrived using the tablet she had for check-in work. Alexander kept asking who I really was, claiming that the name I had given was fake, and that I would be refunded. I went into the San Diego Public Library anyway....

Only to be followed around by two women in red shirts who kept demanding that I go downstairs (so security could kick me out). It did not matter that I said I was a journalist (which I am, as was the fake name I used); they did not care. My mere presence in a public library which they were using less than 20 percent of was somehow intolerable to them, even though I spoke to only one Wikipedian who wasn't conference staff. The blonde Redshirt is "Sydney", the brunette I don't know, the woman is allegedly Fluffernutter. Yes, the man is Kirill Lokshin, organizer of the event and quietly furious I was "fucking things up" somehow. Photo taken on the roof of the library, 9th floor.

Same floor, seen from the other side, me seated. I know I kept switching floors to avoid the Redshirts. Does anybody know who these three people are?

This photo was from the same position; the black blob on the bottom is my backpack. Anybody know who all those people at the table are? Does the woman on the right with the red bag ring any bells? How about the woman with the ballcap in the back left? Some of the people on that floor were just civilian normies; I don't expect everyone to be a Wikipedian.

This was earlier than the last two photos, taken inside the Wangenheim Room on top of the library. The guy on the mobile phone is another of the Redshirts, possibly a junior Redshirt (the sort that died quick on Star Trek). The group at the table on the far left might be important, as might be the guy in the chair dead center.

Here are some more denizens of the 9th floor, shot from the Wangenheim Room (they now call it a "collection"). Anybody look familiar?

 Awful photo of the reading room on the 8th floor; thought I could catch some Wikipedians lounging around. Taken through window on 9th floor. Lots of windows in the new SD library; every speaking room had a window at the door.

Another out-of-sequence photo; Robert Fernandez (Gamaliel) on the far left. Lokshin talking to brunette Redshirt. Yes, that is the same male Redshirt. They were watching and waiting for me to do something stupid, meanwhile I was doing what I came there to do (i.e. just take photos).

Now the shit has finally hit the fan; at this point I am being escorted out of a public library by cult members. Notice how Lokshin attempts the Scientology "bull baiting" stare, while James Alexander looks like he wants to eat my camera. Sydney is on the farthest left. Note Kirill's ORGANIZER tag.

Last photo; Sydney gets flashed in the face. Alexander truly furious now. While walking out to the street I ran across William "Monty" Burns, said something deliberately theatrical and confusing and shook his hand. Now my hand has fallen off. Sweet Jesus, he is a very short man.

The final fucking insult; for the temerity of showing up as another person because my cover has been blown thanks to that stukatch tarantino, I have been globally banned from the Wiki-world, even though I was never an editor, administrator, WMF employee, or associate of a Wikipedian before I joined Wikipediocracy. Total outsider, and banned for trying to collect photos for Mr. Barbour, who would use them for his book. Now the gloves are off and the beatdowns will be double.

Finally, the street guy who spoke up for me while James Alexander tried to get me to say my name.

 Notice in the background that the two Redshirts were being briefed on what to do about me by Lady in Grey. Street guy's name is Paul Rollins; he's on Facebook, ladies!

62,345: The number of hits Wikipedia Sucks! has gotten since the beginning. Thanks to all readers across the globe!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Addendum to BADSITES: SWATjester

Dan Rosenthal - my notes call him "a determined buttlicker and troll" - is both SWATjester and Drosenthal, and one of the Wikipedia wargamers, though he is barely on Wikipedia today, and barely talked about by the Old Hands still in Jimboland.

Who he is, Why you should care

SWATjester (Rosenthal capitalizes it "Swatjester") first made an appearance on Wikipedia in January, 2006 as a "registered editor" (his words), in that halcyon period just before the Fall. Before that he had been editing as an IP in late December of 2005 (his admission), though I would not be surprised if he was IP'ing even further back. Should not be confused with the former Clinton White House official Dan K. Rosenthal; this Rosenthal is a Iraq War II veteran, claims to have worked for the State Department, being both an attorney and a game developer. Supposedly he now works for the game company Machine Zone, yet he isn't listed on the "about us" page. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Back in 2006-7, SWATjester edited in a random way a number of articles on military items, numerous political figures, and gaming (of course.) Somewhere along the way he created the SierraSix sockpuppet which was created for him to abandon the SWATjester account if he needed to, but it sits unused. Also shelved but online is Rosenthal's 2007 blog May It Please the Court, which you can only now get to by Wayback Machine; the blog talked about "wiki-law" because Rosenthal wound up working for the WMF as a legal intern from May to September. Before that he went through two Requests for adminship; the first in April of 2006 (failed), the second in February the next year, which was successful. While also pushing for BADSITES to be a thing, he was also in a fight with sci-fi author Teresa Nielsen Hayden and blogger Kathryn Cramer; SWATjester was arguing with Hayden over facts in science-fiction articles. He was dickish enough to try to delete a link to T.N. Hayden's blog within the Teresa Hayden BLP (!) claiming the blog was an "attack site" in August 2007. There are endless complaints on the now-dead Wikipedia Review concerning Rosenthal, and he wasn't loved on Wikipedia either - he tangled with Eleemosynary over a stupid Snakes on a Plane rumor in March 2006; Muriness complained about his heavy-handedness in June 2007. I have five other AN/I complaints: Bstone complained about him in May 2008 (complaint closed by Tiptoeity); Fosnez has a struck-through complaint in October 2007 (that one got real nasty); some stupidity by SWATjester concerning the article on the University High School of Los Angeles; fighting between Rosenthal and the_undertow with LaraLove (aka Jennavecia; Lara Taylor) backing up the_undertow over white power allegations (probably true); and Jeeny, claiming that SWATjester was "trolling and threatening" them in November 2007. The careful reader will notice how many of these complainants later left Wikipedia entirely. Wikipedia Review had this from Greg Kohs, this from Eric Barbour, some shooting talk found by Kohs*.

".....Like a deflating balloon....."

 The decline of SWATjester to a bare-minimum admin just one hair away from being desysopped was slow and painful. There was the stupid argument between Rosenthal and Seth Finklestein in December 2007 over a blog post written by SWATjester; the entire thing has been scrubbed from the Internet, all that is left is this sentence from a Wikipedia Review blog post: "We at the Review recognized this type of thing immediately. It’s called an attempt to quash any criticism. “Swatjester” denounced Seth’s “ethics” in a blog post called “Wikipedia Haters“, before declaring The Guardian newspaper a tabloid and dismissing it as an unreliable source. Seth blew raspberries back, probably the wisest course of action available." That same month SWATjester ran for Arbcom, and got his rotten head kicked in for his troubles. In February 2008 Guettarda (Ian Ramjohn) blocked Dan Rosenthal for twelve hours; SWATjester was feuding with SqueakBox (Richard Weiss). For some bizarro reason LaraLove removed the block.

The rest of the unspooling was pretty unspectacular: in June 2008 the_undertow (aka Law) tried to write a BLP on Dan K. Rosenthal, and that knuckle-knob Ryulong confused the two Rosenthals and tried to delete the article. The year 2009 rolls around, SWATjester runs for the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. And they kicked him to the curb AGAIN! After that point it seemed that Rosenthal started to give up; April 2011 was when he cut back on editing, then he came back in 2012 to do some vandalism patrolling, then he cut back in the summer of 2013. For the last three years he has become the Wikipedia equivalent of a "hump" (Baltimore, Maryland slang for an older cop who is coasting to retirement); he could quit, but then all that work would be for nothing, so he hangs on. Pointlessly.

And the Moral of the Story is.....

Besides "don't do Wikipedia", the lesson is that the Wikipedian subculture has developed to a point where the "dirty jobs" types are considered too goonish for actual power within the machine. Kelly Martin wrote the following about Dan Rosenthal: "Swatjester is a gung-ho fascist with an over-inflated opinion of his own competence. He has even less capacity for finesse or subtlety than I do, and would be even more of a disaster as an arbitrator than he has been as an admin and OTRS volunteer [i.e., the "Volunteer Response Team" - S.] ."  She's completely on target, and it's sad that an online "super-encyclopedia" has to use a guy like SWATjester as an enforcer.


* Let it never be said that I'm unfair to sources who loathe me. Also the term "SWATjester" is spelled with the "special weapons and tactics" acronym in caps, so I'm keeping it like that here.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

BADSITES: An Idiocy that Will Never Die

This was brought up over at the Wikipedia Sucks! forum,so let's jump into it....

An Idea Whose Time was Never

BADSITES was part of the aftermath of the Daniel Brandt vs.Wikipedia war I need to write about some time soon; at any rate, because Brandt had websites reminding people about the Bomis Babes and all the other more unsavory parts of the Jimmy Wales/early Wikipedia story, "The Cabal" (i.e., the administrative leadership, such luminaries as MONGO, Will Beback, SlimVirgin, Snowspinner [Philip Sandifer], Fred_Bauder, Mantanmoreland [Gary Weiss], und so weiter....) decided  to come up with a hidden shite list of websites to be linkbanned and thus BADSITES was born. This was done when Wikipedia was at its highest point, 2006-2007, when it seemed Wiki-inania would be the future and everything was milk and honey, hookers and blow. Now that Wikipedia looks like the tottering wreck of Wilhelmine Germany in 1918, the choice to create such a list looks even more petty and short-sighted.

As with everything "heavy" on Wikipedia, there is a massive backroom discussion chain; in this case it was an RfA "workshop" where ideas were tossed around. Who was on this list? Encylopaedia Dramatica (natch), all of Daniel Brandt's websites (most he later shut down), Kelly Martin's blog (defunct?), science fiction writers Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Kathryn Cramer, along with Danny Wool's defunct website (all I could find). Who else? It gets really Hollywood: producer Don Murphy (for not wanting a BLP),'s Judd Bagley, and director Michael Moore (!), the latter being on the Wiki-shitlist for saying something about Wikipedia the cabal didn't like. Moore is still making movies while most of the Cabal has gone AWOL from "the Project." All of the websites and people we names, plus many, many more were labeled "attack sites" and were not allowed to link to Wikipedia within Wikipedia articles, thus breaking the vaunted "Neutral Point of View" (NPOV) because the reader can't easily hear from the other side, they have to go hunting for it. The arbitration that created the "attack sites" concept was actually much longer originally; Arbcom clerk Penwhale trimmed it down on September 14, 2007 and got an adminship as a possible reward a week later. Within a year BADSITES evolved into the idiot "spam blacklist/whitelist" system used to this very day, mostly as a way to keep out sites like this one, Eric Barbour's SHIT PLANET!! blog, probably WO-MB (if Steve McGeady or William "Monty" Burns hasn't gotten it off the shite list through a backroom deal), basically any and all other criticism websites.

As with all Gestapos, BADSITES created victims; Wikipedian/off-and-on Wiki critic Dan Tobias (Dtobias) noted the case of Gracenotes (not to be confused with Grace Notes), who lost an adminship request because he did not think BADSITES was all that hot. Look at the following:

"Strong oppose. I have to oppose based on Gracenote's answer to my question about attack sites. I feel that websites that out and defame Wikipedians should never be linked to; I certainly can't think of a single encyclopedic reason they would ever have to be. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:00, 23 May 2007 (UTC)" 

"No longer reluctant, and changing to strong oppose. GN's slippery and evasive answers to questions and general behavior in this RfA has increased my concerns about him becoming an admin. --Mantanmoreland 21:44, 26 May 2007 (UTC)" 

"Oppose. Per Slim, Dakota, Avi. Gracenotes' responses during this RFA show a disturbing lack of empathy and judgement, both of which are extremely important for administrators. Note, contrary to the straw man statements of supporters, this is not about support for the failed BADSITES policy, which was itself a straw man proposal. Jayjg (talk) 17:23, 25 May 2007 (UTC)"

The silverback gorillas came out to defend their territory from a weaker gorilla and they chased him off. Gracenotes has just completely dropped out of Wikipedia, vanishing in 2010. Tobias had a wonderfully long rant about BADSITES in 2007 and how awful it was:
"Well, there isn't actually any official "attack sites list" anywhere. This would be a silly thing to have; if it were out there in the open, publicly visible, then it would amount to a central, prominent set of links to the sites that the proponents of the policy don't want anybody linking to... kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? If it were kept secret, it would be the sort of "star chamber" thing we don't really want to have in a wiki. So we end up with a "I can't define it, but I know one when I see one" attitude (like Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart once expressed with regard to hard-core pornography). Once a site has been so regarded by the enforcers of this "policy", it's pretty much impossible to get it off; you'll have better luck getting off the no fly list of the Department of Homeland Security. Even if a site is not presently hosting anything that "outs" personal information about Wikipedia editors, the enforcers will say "That's irrelevant; it has done it in the past, and probably will do it in the future." Any attempt at discussion is futile; it's hard to do without actually citing links to the sites in question, and the policy has quite definitely been enforced on people in the course of engaging in debate about the policy itself, so that's out."

"Actual applications of the policy have included removing a link to one of Daniel Brandt's sites from a Signpost article about him and his site (even though a link to the very same site was on Brandt's article itself, though the entire article has since been deleted after much fighting); and a removal (quickly reverted) of a link to Kelly Martin's blog on her own user page (somebody decided that this constituted an "attack site" because she criticized the actions of another editor)." 

"Especially controversial was the case of the official site of notable science fiction editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden, which includes a blog that happened to critique a particular Wikipedia editor (Nielsen Hayden has some issues with Wikipedia), causing that Wikipedia editor to declare everything from that site to be an "attack site" and attempt to remove all references to it. This caused a major flap extending to articles on a wide variety of subjects where things in Nielsen Hayden's site were used as reliable sources. (A very ironic coda, years later, is that the editor in question, fervent in his insistence that "attack sites" be suppressed due to their evil harrassing of Wikipedians, eventually got banned from Wikipedia for "outing" personal information about another editor with whom he was in a dispute. That's just the sort of activity that those "badsites" are hated for engaging in.)"

"More recently, people have attempted to argue that Perverted Justice, an anti-pedophile site that has criticized Wikipedia for not rooting out and banning all pedophile editors, is an attack site. This situation is made more complicated by the fact that they've been redirecting links with a Wikipedia referer to their anti-Wikipedia page rather than the particular other pages being linked to, which makes their site hard to use as a reference and gives a valid reason to avoid linking to it, but some still go beyond this reasonable point and try to whip up general anti-attack-site hysteria against it. Another recent case is that of the official site of Michael Moore, which attacked a particular Wikipedian and prompted various people to edit-war over whether it should remain linked on the article on him (and lots of other places where it's linked). And somebody has been trying to delink the official site of Don Murphy from the article on him... but ironically also linking to things on that site several times on talk pages while discussing why he considers it an attack site. (These last three cases were part of a very busy week in which some other things were also attempted to be delinked as attack sites, including the above-mentioned Nielsen Hayden blog again.)" 

"On the other hand, not all vehemently anti-Wikipedia sites that "out" real names (and locations, and sexual fetishes, among other things) of editors seem to be created equal; Wikitruth does that stuff, but still has an article on Wikipedia, complete with an external link to that site. (Well, it did, at least until an apparent single-purpose troll sockpuppet making a WP:POINT went and removed the links and put the article up for deletion... but it was speedy-kept and the links restored. This didn't stop one of the anti-BADSITES editors from subsequently removing a bunch of links to it from other project, talk, and archive pages, though. At a much later date the article was finally deleted for good as lacking in long-term notability.) And when Slashdot published an article repeating claims from some of the "attack sites" regarding the identity of a particular administrator, there were some futile "closing the barn door after the horse left" attempts to suppress links to and discussions about that particular article, but nobody was so foolish as to insist on a total link ban of that notable "geek site" as a whole."

The worst of it is, the idiot Doomsday Machine robot survives; the Wikipedia_POV private wiki run by Eric Barbour and Peter Damian was on the en.Wikipedia blacklist during 2010 to 2011, Wikipediocracy was put on the list improperly in March of 2013, after the blog named who Russavia aka russiansafetycards (Scott "ne Russkii" Bibby) was. Anthony G. Kelly (AGK) did the "dirty deed" and it set off a lot of drama with MZMcBride (Max McBride) and SirFozzie (that guy who deserves three "tenners" at Kolyma), but that is outside of the purview of this article. BADSITES is a disaster that creates other disasters and undermines Wikipedia itself. If another free encyclopedia website were attempted later this century, the creators of such a website would do well to research BADSITES and what a mess it created.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Erik Möller's friend Gerard Meijssen: The Cactus Peacock

The more of these I write, the more I notice they seem to follow patterns; if we know their real names, we can give a biographical sketch, if not, we can report on the sleuthing done by others to find out how this "handle" started (usually as an IP). So when I deal with a known clown like Gerard* Meijssen (GerardM), it's just very easy. I'm trying to not turn this site into a "rogues gallery" like the gone-but-not-forgotten Conservative Babylon, but the story of Wikipedia is a story of people, shitty people, and to truly know Wikipedia you have to talk about its players.

                                                       Unofficial Wikipedia motto.

The Meijssen File

Not as cool as The Ipcress File, what we know about Gerard Meijssen can be scraped off the Internet, but there are things both Meijssen and Erik "Kinder sind Pornos" Möller have hidden from view. Meijssen is Dutch, lives in Amsterdam, and has been on Wikipedia since 2003, his first edit was to the Cactus article that December. He's really into cacti, says so on his userpage. Paul Laney and Peter van der Puyl had this to say about a non-Wiki cactus database Meijssen wrote: "The cactus database which come the closest to my wishes was the database of Gerard Meijssen (which, by the way, can be freely downloaded from the Succulenta E-group). But that database works only under Access 98, and is more specialised in the scientific side of the plants." Meijssen quickly became a Jimbophile, broken-English Wikipedia-I emailer, and status-quo defender to the extreme, which made sense because Essjay hadn't been outed yet. Somewhere along the line he became a friend of Erik Möller, proving that even the 1940 Rotterdam bombing can be forgotten somehow. By 2007 both of them started a Dutch non-profit called Stichting Open Progress, a group dedicated to creating open source/free software and open source/free content; Erik Möller was the Chief Technology Officer, Meijssen was Director. This is now the thing that they are trying to hide as of 2016; links are impossible to find connecting both men to SOP, a group which came and went like a fart in a windstorm.

Back to Wikipedia, GerardM got further and further involved with the machinery thanks to his friend. Remember "Flow", the threaded discussion system that ultimately went nowhere? Eloquence (Möller) was the guy behind that and a previous incarnation of it, and during the Flow portion of this quixotic quest Meijssen was talking the thing up like mad because his friend was in charge. (I'm afraid to give links because GerardM might gank them like the information on Stichting Open Progress.) The Wikipediocracy Blog did a good writeup on the subject; the author is not stated. Kelly Martin had this to say about the relationship: "Gerard has long been Erik's designated attack-puppy; they collaborate frequently and Gerard has been used by Erik to float test balloons....Of course, both Erik and Gerard are thick in the wikicult, so for either of them to exhibit nonrational attitudes is to be expected." Meijsssen's ditsy use of Wikipedia-I for easy questions was mocked in a Wikipedia Review thread back in 2009; he was also mocked for being angry at a New York Times article on Wikipedia the same month - Greg Kohs mentions how Meijssen seems to hate his guts. He was a supporter of Wikidata from 2009 onwards but only started editing it in 2013; Greg Kohs had this to say on the Wikipediocracy forum (WO-MB): "I cringe that we are trusting the world's largest pile of open data to people who can't even respond to a mailing list thread without trimming the copy of the 16 messages posted prior to their response. That Gerard Meijssen guy is especially guilty of this, and he seems to be a really uppity tool, doesn't he? I think there's a correlation." Meijssen's peak was his 11-month stint as a WMF employee; he was a "Internationalization / Localization outreach consultant", i.e. "the foreign-language advertising guy" in regular English. I wonder if he had "street teams" slapping up stickers all over Amsterdam and sliding flyers under doors. Probably not. Why was he fired? Damned if I know.

Some Quotes

"Hoi, Reliable is not an absolute. Wikipedia is in the final analysis an encyclopaedia. It is not original research. Studies have indicated that Wikipedia is as reliable as its competitors. Wikipedia does link ever more to the VIAF indicators by the OCLC and thereby it links to the sum of all knowledge as it is available in libraries. I think you have it backward. Given that Wikipedia is best of breed, people do care about Wikipedia Zero. It is why Wikipedia Zero is not part of any walled garden; it is there for every company who cares to provide it free of charge. For the rest I find that I am getting annoyed. Thanks, GerardM Gerard Meijssen Sun Apr 5 05:36:48 UTC 2015"

"At Wikidata we have always been open to collaborating with external resources. This open attitude now results in relevance. A relevance that will expose every Wikipedia in every library of the world that is linked to the OCLC through VIAF. How wonderful is that?" (Source: his blog.)

"I certainly welcome Mr Kohs absence from this list. His brinkmanship is well known, he is not welcome on two projects as well and he boasted recently that there are still projects open to him. Getting rid of a troll is imho beneficial to the atmosphere. Mr Damian uses hyperbole to the extend that you would believe there is nothing good to be found in Wikipedia. His posture as a superior mind has become increasingly boring. I hope he will consider his options and decide to tone down this rhetoric. This might make him relevant again I hope. If not tough. So I am one to welcome the move by the list administrators and I am happy to support their action. Thanks, GerardM" (Source.)

"He's consistently a smug prick on that list. I have yet to see him add value to a conversation there."
  - Vigilant, in a WO-MB thread

"He's not any better in person. I ran into him at Wikimania 2006 in Boston. He would only talk about himself and his pet projects; it was impossible to engage him on any topic other than those."
 - Kelly Martin, responding


Beyond all the blather he has written the the back rooms of en.Wikipedia, he has the aforementioned (under-read) blog, a Facebook page with a ton of Wikipedian "friends" on it - all the modern inconveniences of the online life. His ordinariness outside of his Wikipedia role is so dulling to the wits, it was hard to write about the guy.


* To borrow a Harry Plinkett quip, "What is it with Gerards?"

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Beeblebrox Speaks! The Wit and Wisdom of a Wiki-Jerk

As we recently wrote, Beeblebrox left behind/has produced a wealth of just mind-bendingly dumb statements peppered with scads of profanity. Below we will look at his outpourings in non-chronological order.

The Fuck Off Essay

This one was from 2013, repeatedly deleted and posted again:

05:23, 14 August 2013 Beeblebrox (talk | contribs) deleted page User:Beeblebrox/fuck off (because assholes keep trying to use it to try and attack me. find a real reason next time, or just fuck off) 

User:Beeblebrox/fuck off

Once or twice in my wiki-career, I have told another user to fuck off. In each instance there have been several who felt the need to tell me what a bad idea that was, that it didn't help, that it was uncalled for, etc. I don't make a habit out of telling people to fuck off, I only do it when they've really earned it. I deal with the real world, I don't live in the fantasy world some Wikipedians would have us believe in where no matter how ridiculous someone is acting we all have to talk like kindergarten teachers lest somebody be offended. In each case of me using this term the circumstances were as follows:
  • The other user and I were in some sort of dispute
  • I had tried to break off discussion with them as it was not working
  • They persistently posted to my talk page after being asked nicely to stop doing so
  • I told them to fuck off
If that seems wrong to you, then you probably haven't worked a job where you deal with the general public. I have. Sometimes you have to tell somebody that they are too drunk, too loud, too angry, or whatever, and that they need to leave. Usually they feel suitably embarrassed and they do leave without any further fuss. Sometimes they would rather argue about it, embarrassing themselves even further with their inability to understand that they are acting like an ass. That is when it becomes appropriate to resort to using strong language. It has its place and purpose and anyone who thinks it's absolutely never acceptable is free to not use it themselves but should not try and enforce that draconian prohibition on others or endlessly berate them when they do use it.

That being said, don't do this

I really believed in this for a long time. I still believe in the underlying principle, but let's face it: Wikipedia is not a bar, even if people do edit while drunk at three in the morning. What is entirely appropriate behavior in one context may (in this case absolutely will) be seen as entirely inappropriate in another context. Doing this will only change the focus on to you for daring to use a bad word. The persistent jerk who prompted you to say it will get to just walk away while everyone yells at you for telling them to fuck off. A better approach is to just remove the offending posts. If needed, find an uninvolved admin to talk/warn/block them.
So fuck off from fucking off, it just is not a good idea in this environment.

Beeblebrox vs. Bwilkins

Beeblebrox oversight from January 22, 2013: 

 "Beeblebrox (talk • contribs) and his talkpage are on my watchlist. Having viewed the most recent series of edits to his talkpage, including the final one with the edit summary "FUCK OFF YOU PETTY FASCIST IDIOT", I have blocked Beeblebrox indefinitely as a possibly compromised account. This spate of behaviours does not appear to be consistent with Beeb's usual behaviour. Does anyone think we need an emergency desysop? (✉→BWilkins←✎) 21:51, 22 January 2013 (UTC)"

"Couple thoughts here: First, no, he's not got his account compromised, that's Beeblebrox's style that we're seeing. Second, ugh, why must it be Beeblebrox's style. This is the sort of thing people complain about when they say that admins call people names, etc. It's not ok for Joe Editor to do it, and it's not ok for Joe Admin to do it, and it doesn't matter how upset or frustrated either of them claims to be to excuse it. Third: This immediate unblock has made things even more uncomfortable - Bwilkins had already been informed that the "compromised" bit was an error, and whether that part was or not, Beeblebrox has indisputably violated our civility policy. It pains and embarrasses me to have to say it about another admin/functionary, because we're supposed to be the people who know better, but a block for personal attacks was called for here. I would much have preferred letting the blocking admin (or AN) reconsider the block as an NPA block instead of what's now likely to be a bouncing ball of blockage because of the immediate unblock. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 22:05, 22 January 2013 (UTC)" 

"I don't react well to bullies. I'm referring to Kosh here, not B. Not content to just go away, he appointed himself the civility police as well as the content police, and was equally inept in both roles. So i told him to fuck off. Then he tried to re-open the closed thread, so I told him to fuck off, and that he was a petty fascist idiot. That is in fact exactly what he was acting like. A user persistently posting to my talk page after being asked to stop is the only situation that has ever compelled me to tell another user to fuck off, and I completely stand behind my right to do so. Beeblebrox (talk) 22:17, 22 January 2013 (UTC)"

"Administrators and holders of advanced user rights should set the example, and not dish out personal attacks when feeling frustrated. I stand behind your right to behave like this once in a while, I do not stand behind you doing so in a position where you're representing this project. Snowolf How can I help? 22:20, 22 January 2013 (UTC)" 

The Idiotic Nightscream Arbitration

This one goes on for a while, but that knuckleknob Beeblebrox decided to take Nightscream down a peg for no real reason. Some good quotes:

While reviewing unblock requests a few days ago I came across a block placed by Nightscream on User:Rtkat3. The block was for their edits to the article Gotham City. They edited the page on 7 November. Nightscream edited the page themselves, and then issued a two week block on 6 December. I should think it would be obvious what is wrong about that as there is little preventative purpose to issuing a block a month after an action, and Nightscream was involved in editing the same article so blocking at all for anything but obvious vandalism is completely inappropriate. When I went to speak to Nightscream about this I found that they were also blocked at that time for edit warring at the article Jessica Nigri. A close look at the page history reveals that the final edit before the block was made after the page had already been protected by another admin and Nightscream edited through protection in order to restore their preferred version. It is true that the protecting admin another admin also reverted, to a pre-edit war version, after the page was protected corrected per Salvidrim but that does not seem particularly relevant. Any responsible admin will never make substantive edits to a fully-protected article, and especially not to one they were already involved with in an editorial capacity.

If these were isolated, one-off incidents that would be one thing, but a search of AN and ANI archives quickly reveals a long-term pattern of ignoring WP:INVOLVED going back at least five years. Additionally, they seem to believe that if they perceive a violation of any Wikipedia policy that their subsequent actions related to that content are not subject to the edit warring policy. This would be bad enough in a "regular" user, it is a dangerous and destructive attitude when coming from an administrator. Above are just a few examples demonstrating this pattern, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

In short, I do not believe Nightscream should continue to be permitted to serve as an administrator as they do not respect important policies regarding both editorial and administrative actions, they have repeatedly abused thir position of trust in the community, and in recent times have been utterly unrepentant and refused to even acknowledge their errors in judgement. Beeblebrox (talk) 23:13, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Nightscream's response:

Hello, everyone. First let me apologize for not having been able to provide my full response here sooner. The research needed to comb through all the relevant edit histories and diffs, coupled with some issues that I’m experiencing in the non-virtual world prevented me from doing so sooner. I understand the related guideline that requires admins to respond to Arbitration cases “promptly”, though I don’t know why this was interpreted by some here to mean that my earlier message here was not prompt enough, or that my full response now was insufficiently prompt. Is that guideline defined somewhere to mean “within 48 hours”? The need for promptness or not, the posts that need to be composed here are not those that can necessarily be produced within a day or two of their demand. This does not apply to the minor edits I’ve made since I was notified, nor to the ANI post, which required only the summary of things I had bookmarked in a single folder, and was brought about by the fact that the admin who suggested I post in that thread did so at the last minute, after much had already been said in that thread, and when the window for me to get my two cents in edgewise there may have been closing. In any event, SilkTork’s attempt by play Thought Police by claiming to know what I “take seriously”, and Beeblebrox’s unsubstantied accusation that I have engaged in a “delaying tactic” are unwarranted, and are violations of WP:AGF. Simply put, you don’t know me, you don’t know anything about my state of mind or what’s in my heart, and you don’t know anything about how long it took to comb through various edit histories to find the diffs and other material I needed to compose my response here. Putting aside that I have never been accused of this in any of the ANI cases or any other matter in which my response has been required, and the fact that I have a tendency to be comprehensive (so much so that I placed my 2010 evidence against Asgardian on its own page), just because my speed doesn’t match your arbitrary and whimsical time limits doesn’t mean you can gauge anything else about me. That you, SilkTork, would act this way despite being a member of ArbCom is astonishing to me. Let’s hope cooler and more well-reasoned heads prevail here.

Because of the various different accusations and arguments that have been brought up here, my response has grown too large to place here on this page, so much as I did with my evidence in the 2010 Asgardian Arbitration case, I placed it on its own page, divided into the three main areas that have been brought up against me, along with the Conclusion. I apologize for its length; but its in my nature to be comprehensive in matters like this, and I honestly don’t know how to compose such responses more succinctly without sacrificing what may be vital information. Nightscream (talk) 04:39, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

I was not able to compose a more condensed version before the "within 24 hours" request by Newyorkbrad expired, but if those here would prefer that I do so now, I can do so. Let me know. Thanks. Nightscream (talk) 16:41, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Beeblebrox's hope was to have Nightscream drummed out of Wikipedia; instead they just de-sysoped him in January of 2014. Pure idiocy.


Found on the WO-MB: 

"I have a Remington 870 12 guage short barrel that is very similar to this one, other than the pistol grip. Other than just enjoying a good shotgun, the reason I have it is simple: bears. Black bears come right into town where I live. Last year one was pooping on my property about once a week. I never actually saw it, but the evidence indicates it found my place to be a quiet oasis for napping and crapping, while still close to town were some people are still dumb/inconsiderate enough to leave their garbage out where bears can get into it. There are a variety of 12-gauge slugs designed specifically for taking down bears, they are quite devastating at close range and substantially less expensive and easier to master than a large caliber revolver or a big hunting rifle. I personally know someone who has had to do this in his own front yard." 

"For those same reasons it is also an excellent home defense weapon. I sincerely hope never to use it for either purpose, but if confronted by an angry bear or a desperate junkie trying to invade my home I'd like to be able to do something about it." [sic]


This was the "Ban Appeals Subcommittee" and Beeblebrox wanted it gone because it made getting unbanned "too easy" or some-such Internet Tough Guy rationale. The BASC had been around since 2009, and my notes thought it was "one of the sillier functions of Arbcom"; Beeb put forward his request in October, 2014. Risker had this to say:

"Oppose. First off, if you're planning to include functionaries in a committee, it would be a good idea to poll the functionaries and see if they're interested in taking on this work. You've not done that, and in fact haven't informed the functionaries about this proposal at all. Secondly, BASC is unnecessary. The only reason Arbcom is at all involved in block appeals is that it took it upon itself back in 2007 to review certain blocks, without any mandate from the community, and without any really good reason except that it seems they wanted to unblock someone with the intention to trap them and reblock them. BASC has resulted in almost no unblocks and a massive amount of work for arbitrators. The community is perfectly capable of handling unblock requests through existing processes. The Arbitration Committee should narrow the scope of BASC to review of blocks directly linked to Arbcom cases only, and devolve all other unblock requests. Just remove them from your portfolio. Risker (talk) 00:46, 16 October 2014 (UTC)"

After a lot of hemming-and-hawing the BASC was abolished in November, 2015, almost a full year after Beeblebrox's Arbcom term ended that January. Six years of "work" down the toilet thanks to one idiot.

Pointless Slams of Professor Edward Buckner

On Jimbo's talkpage during the Jagged 85 fiasco, Beeblebrox could not stop hitting Edward Buckner like a child's punching dummy:

"I don't know anything about Jagged 85's case, but I can tell you why Peter Damian/Buckner remains banned: he won't stop evading the ban. For someone who claims to not like this project much he certainly is obsessed with posting to it. If he could just act like a grown up with some self control and stop sockpuppeting for a few months I have no doubt he could get unbanned and be welcomed back, but he apparently can't do that, the most recent evidence being that it is fairly obvious he is the IP who opened this thread and then proceeded to personally attack me, citing my opposition to unbanning him in the most recent discussion, thereby proving my point about his apparent inability to just go away for a while, which he has been told again and again is something he needs to do to get unbanned. He would have us believe that he is so important that WP:SOCK should not apply to him. The community has repeatedly rejected that notion, so he remains banned. Simple as that. he was not banned because he is an expert but in spite of it. His behavior was found to be causing more problems than his contributions were solving. Since that time he has dedicated an absurd amount of time and energy into trying to publicly embarrass Wikipedia instead of following the fairly simple requirements of the standard offer. Apparently the view from his ivory tower does not permit him to see the possibility that he might have behaved poorly and has nobody but himself to blame for the fact that he remains banned. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:45, 26 September 2012 (UTC)"

Some hidden replies:

"Beeblebrox, I just looked at a few stubs you created. It looks like you don't personally know much of anything. It's okay. Not everybody is an academic. What isn't okay is do not let experts to improve Wikipedia . Do you believe that by preventing Peter Damian from editing Wikipedia you are preventing a disruption by a banned editor? No, you are preventing Dr.Edward Buckner from sharing his knowledge with Wikipedia's readers. Unblock Dr. Edward Buckner. Wikipedia will survive, and Dr. Edward Buckner will fix the article mentioned in the Baltimore Sun.-- (talk) 21:49, 25 September 2012 (UTC)"

"Who says Beeblebrox doesn't personally know much of anything. He knows at least something about sizes of weiners (sic) but I do not think this knowledge will be helpful in improving Anselm_of_Canterbury.-- (talk) 01:44, 26 September 2012 (UTC)"

Fighting Cla68 in 2013

After Cla68 posted a link to a notorious Wikipediocracy article about the beautiful Mathsci, Beeb attempted to indef-block Cla. Since Beeb was an oversighter, he had no problem making the original posting disappear. The mess turned into a lengthy thread on the Wikipediocracy forum, wherein numerous complaints about Beeb's abuses were posted. As Cla said, "Beeblebrox is a good example of why WP's administration needs more adult/professional supervision." Editor Wer900 called for administrative reform on Wikipedia, and was threatened by Beeb. [Link to WO-MB.] [Link to Wikipedia.].

(The above was taken directly from the notes, I did not write it.) 

Final Thoughts 

After reading though all of this, would you trust this idiot to run a popsicle stand?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Guest Post: "The NSA Was Hacked", or Only Idiots Need "Security" by Friendly Rich

This guest post is rather timely, seeing as how the new American college semester has begun and a million new laptops and tablets are in circulation.
"The NSA Was Hacked", or Only Idiots Need "Security"

by Friendly Rich

Someone I know recently sent these links on various mailing lists, and they deserve some outside comment:


Not mentioned in the articles, but visible in the main FOXACID document: this stuff is almost exclusively aimed at Microsoft Windows. The basis is a set of tools to break into Internet Explorer via Javascript/XML malware. Just disabling Javascript on a browser, or using Firefox with NoScript, will probably stop FOXACID exploits. The NSA does have exploits for Linux, Solaris and Free-BSD, and so presumably OSX as well, but other OSes aren't mentioned anywhere in this set of documents. The NSA uses Linux heavily for internal systems, especially Red Hat/Fedora and their own SELinux, so I assume they have break-in methods for various versions of Linux. But I will bet you it is more difficult than cracking a Windows machine.

Evidently most of the NSA's "secret methods" depend on the idiocy of browser users, just like any common hacker malware. The "CNO Course" document talks about handing out infected flash drives to random people and leaving them in internet cafes. Really? That's what the mighty Uncle Sam uses to crack PCs? Obviously it works. Because there are idiots in every organization.

The FOXACID server runs Windows Server 2003. Which is just hilarious. Ten years behind the times. And they get MIT to load the software on the servers before deployment. Why? Do they not trust their own employees and customers? They even have bogus SSL certificates. Hey, isn't that illegal in some places? Not that anyone seems to care.

All of this shit was originally aimed at breaking into PCs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Pakistani government's Green Line network was explicitly mentioned as a major target. So where's the diplomatic complaint? And the CNO Course shows a BLINDDATE PC using a wireless packet-injection exploit while driving around....Kabul. Again, it depends on web browser weaknesses to install malware on a PC. Field personnel aren't expected to know how to write malware nor understand how all the tools they use actually work. This is a classic case of idiots hacking other idiots.

It's an old "joke" and rumor: Microsoft has grown to such size and arrogance because Bill Gates cheerfully negotiated "special deals" with the US government back in the late 1980s. And they've gotten closer and closer since then. The NSA, CIA and Microsoft's operating-system division routinely exchange developers and knowledge. This is supposedly why the 1997 attempt to prosecute MS for breaking antitrust laws failed so massively.

Their "Shared Source Initiative" in 2001 was an attempt to calm their big corporate users, and I'm not sure it really helped much. Googling gets plenty of Microsoft press releases and very little honest discussion of the SSI. "Shared source" is Microsoft official jargon; nothing is "shared". Accessing the source code is very costly, there are numerous restrictions, and extremely harsh nondisclosure agreements are demanded of anyone allowed into the SSI.

But bring any of this up in mixed company and IT "professionals" will accuse you of being a conspiracy freak. Even though the signs have been visible for many years online.

This Gates interview from 2014 is notable. He ever-so-delicately tiptoes around the issue of surveillance and security. But does manage to splutter about Ed Snowden being a "criminal". An interview that communicates very little otherwise.

"Even so, do you think it's better now that we know what we know about government surveillance?"
"The government has such ability to do these things. There has to be a debate. But the specific techniques they use become unavailable if they're discussed in detail. So the debate needs to be about the general notion of under what circumstances should they be allowed to do things." LOLWUT?

And here's a 2004 article about Windows vs. Linux security. Despite being 12 years old, I've never seen any indications that the general situation has changed much. PC operating systems became more-or-less "stable" a long time ago and any updates tend to include new hardware support, new multimedia formats, and other improvements outside the kernel.

This is the glorious state of the glorious software world today. It's all badly designed, insecure, and sooner-or-later compromised by our wonderful government. Because there is so little real choice in the way of modern operating systems for PCs today, the NSA spooks have a variety of ways to break into machines. Evidently they don't even need "sneaky back doors" any longer. If you don't want anyone to sort through your hard drive, either don't connect your machine to the internet, or use a VPN exclusively; and don't do stupid things with a browser. Think before clicking on things.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Back on the Chain Gang - UC Chancellor Linda Katehi Screws Around with Wikipedia

Just before August vanishes off the calendar, let's talk about Linda Katehi, who resigned as Chancellor of  the University of California at Davis on the second Tuesday of this month. She was involved with Wikipedia as far back as 2009, completely focused on her own Biography of a Living Person (BLP) article. The problem was she possibly had underlings at UC Davis do all the work on that piece.

The Background

Katehi (born Pisti Basile Katehi; Athens, Greece) was a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University who left Indiana for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she taught the same subjects while also getting sucked into the endless white-walled makework machine that is college administration (Prof. Katehi was provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at UIUC). However that machine gives enough time for politicking and she was able to impress the UC Regents and they made her Chancellor of UC Davis, with her husband (chemistry professor Spyros Tseregounis) brought along as well to teach. (By the way, if two academics are married and one accepts a position somewhere else, the college will often hire the spouse, especially if they have been tenured before. So this move for the Katehi-Tseregounises is common.) Linda Katehi's BLP first appeared on Wikipedia as a stub before she was hired on in California in May 2009. It didn't remain a stub for long.

Two years later Occupy Wall Street brought back the sit-in protest to national news, and Occupy groups appeared everywhere, including UC Davis. On Thursday, November 17, 2011 Occupy UC Davis held a sit-down protest in the Quad over tuition hikes and the violent treatment Occupy Cal protesters got at UC Berkeley earlier that month. The next day the protesters were still in the Quad; they had camped out overnight. Chancellor Katehi called in the UC Davis police and by 3pm the famous images of Lieutenant John Pike pepper spraying students sitting on the ground were being snapped by cameras. Quickly his nonchalant action became an internet meme.

                           The Beatles are somehow involved, as always. (Stolen from the sadly-defunct Gawker.)

There were claims that doused people were vomiting blood and that the UC Davis and UC Berkeley police were shooting pepper spray in students' mouths. There were investigations and Lt. John Pike was later fired, but Davis was still stuck with Linda Katehi. And this is where Wikipedia and PR really come in.

Conflict of Interest Editing, the UC version

We can't find the real names, but we know the Wiki-handles of a number of probable COI editors or sockpuppets of one smart paid editor.

The first COI editor was Mtang6, who started the article on May 7, 2009. That probably was Katehi, because it was only a couple of lines. Possibly it could have been her children, working at her behest.

Next was Eve2500, who added bulk to the BLP in June of 2011.

In early November 2011 before the pepper spray incident, two IP addresses did some "embarrassment cleanup" and made the article larger; they were and - now there is a gap in the record from July 22 to the 18th of November.

After the outright barfight of edits (mostly with IPs, not accounts) following John Pike's claim to fame, Jokestress (Andrea James) took the semi-protected version of the article and began re-editing it, but remained neutral - we are not claiming she is a COI editor, just that a "name" editor showed up to tinker with things for a day and then dropped the article like a hot rock.

Spin the watch hands to October 2013, and there was Linda F UC Davis, who tried to get the editors to include more mentions of Linda Katehi's STEM background in the BLP and stated outright that she worked for UC Davis in the article's talkpage. Linda F UC Davis has not been seen on Wikipedia since.

Move forward another year to November 2014 and the unpronounceable Wvxihjazb acts mostly like an SPA (single purpose account), editing the Katehi article along with the Larry N. Vanderhoef article (chancellor of UC Davis before Linda Katehi), an article on Greek academic John Panaretos (which had a link to the Linda Katehi), "improving" the list of notable alumni in the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (I give you one guess who got mentioned), and finally the article on the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (adding a list of Commissioners, one of whom was Linda Katehi.) All of Wvxihjazb's edits were done from the 5th of November to the 26th of November skipping every two days. Like H.P. Lovecraft's vowel-less monsters, Wvxihjazb utterly disappeared after wreaking havoc, back to the Void.

Last but not least was KianaHooper. For a paid editor, "she" played the part of the neophyte Wikipedia editor very well: "Hi! I'm Kiana Hooper. I was urged to create an account so here I am! I think Wikipedia is really awesome and I can't wait to improve it. I never knew Wikipedia was run by such an intricate and well though out set of rules. It's really cool!" is what the first line of "her" userpage ran. Nobody noticed as all she did was edit in bursts, first on "Hispanic-serving institutions" redirect page, then UC Davis, then Linda Katehi....and that's all "she" focused on. Notice how the editor came and went until the fateful day of June 5, 2015 when the explosion of text erupted and "she" more than doubled the size of the article. Then KianaHooper vanished, or went back to being Linda Katehi's administrative assistant, or a paid-off grad student, or a hired hack, whatever the truth is.

Paying for a Spotless Reputation

Realizing that the photos from the pepper spraying had been posted to the Internet, UC Davis hired Nevins & Associates at $15,000 a month for six months to massage the internet and make the problem go away. Problem was, they did it in January of 2013. There went  more than 90,000 dollars down the drain. Then they hired Purple Strategies, a public relations firm in Virginia to "Get me off the Google" as chancellor Katehi demanded. (I can only hear that demand in Arianna Huffington's voice.) Purple Strategies were paid 44,600 American dollars total for three months of work; in the end with more cash burned in a pyre for another PR firm, the university urinated away $407,000.

                                Not actual UC Davis money burning, but a realistic approximation.

Did I mention this idiotic vanity site was part of the cash expended? None of it worked, of course, and you would think a person trained in EE and computer science would know how the Internet functions in the early 21st century. Her other "footbullet" element was a predilection for international travel; according to the Sacramento Bee, she cost UC Davis over S174,000 in 26 international trips to drum up business for the college, going to Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Dubai, France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus over a five year stretch from 2010 to 2015; very little came of these trips for the college, and Chancellor Katehi flew first class every time. Meanwhile, she was a board member at the corporation behind the for-profit DeVry University, and had previously spent time at textbook publishers John Wiley & Sons, raking in $420,000 for three years work, making the costly textbooks (which the publisher makes obsolete constantly) part of the UC Davis scene if they weren't already. And this is a person that makes $420,000 without the need to part-time it in private industry! In the end Linda Napolitano put her on ice this April, then gave her the axe this month, nearly three weeks before the UC Fall 2016 semester began.


Wikipedia was useful once for building a reputation, but in a world of "gotcha" journalism, everybody having a camera on a cell phone, and Google caching it has become insanely easy to ruin yourself. Linda Katehi might be out of a job, only because she never took Thomas J. Watson's command to THINK seriously. But then, IBM leased punch card machines to Nazi death camps, so what did he really know?

                               Neither of the two men above are Greek, but dance along anyway.