To begin an overview of ‘Wikipedia, we have a problem’ please begin here

at ‘Overview: We have a problem’.

UPDATE: The ISHAR project *

Dec 9th, 2014

As readers of this site may know, I come into this ‘problem’ facing mind/body topics on Wikipedia as an outsider, I have no ‘mind/body’ agenda in my professional life – as my focus is media architecture with a focus on online consensus building. I got involved with this community primarily because I offered to help Rupert Sheldrake on his Wikipedia article and the well publicized  wiki war occurring there and published the result of that experience here on this site.  As most know, since then I have been harassed and attacked online, with ‘hit’ articles published on me on Rational Wiki and bloggers such as Tim Farley engaging in reputation distortion campaigns against me online.

This year Deepak Chopra was one of many individuals who contacted me regarding their ‘problem’ on Wikipedia and asked for my advice. I can confirm that I was heavily involved with the ISHAR project – as has been revealed on Wikipedia by a few disgruntled Wikipedia editors,  no fan of my work nor Deepak Chopra.

Previously to this exposure, I was not familiar with Dr. Chopra’s work and never read any of his books. I probably shared a ‘gentle caution’ that most people have of a celebrity known to promote popular ideas in mind/body areas  before I started working with him.

I came to find Dr. Chopra unusually responsive, clear, direct and consistent – and a very creative and prolific individual who was also, surprisingly to me, very easy to work with and forthcoming.  Additionally, once it was explained to him how Wikipedia works as a platform (most people just simply do not know) I was thrilled to find him supporting many of the principles of collaborative editing in the Wikipedia five pillars.

I advised to a strategy – and an architecture for a community platform, that could resolve this very real problem for him as well as the entire ‘mind/body’ community all over the world, and this project was ISHAR.

The ISHAR project formed very organically, many prominent voices were involved. It was a very thrilling experience working with all of them closely, listening to the many various implications each had regarding the mind/body problem in their fields . I was exposed to extraordinary people, each with their unique expertise and many quite accomplished in their fields of study. They became the ISHAR supervisory board, each contributing their work and accomplishments to an architecture that brought contextualization for easy discovery online.

For this reason,  ISHAR was designed to be independent of Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Foundation as a collaborative platform in service to the mind/body community and a commitment to uphold the principles of Wikipedia, principles which were championed by Deepak Chopra himself in the press.

Over the coming months to a year, ISHAR would add dozens, hundreds, and eventually thousands of ISHAR supervisors, scaling the ‘library of alexandria’ in a short amount of time through collaborative curation.

While this independence always had the support of Deepak Chopra – Deepak Chopra is also not running the Chopra Foundation.  Not everyone agreed with this independence for ISHAR at the Chopra Foundation either, primarily the president of the Chopra Foundation.

I protested attempts at unilateral actions against independence more than once. The independence of the ISHAR governance board was a foundational principle of the project. As the architect, I assigned ISHAR over to the Chopra Foundation as an independent non profit organization with it’s own independent board by the end of September 2014, and I was made CEO, a position that I did not ask for but accepted.

After I was made CEO – further attempts to deny the independence of the project were insisted on by the president of the Chopra Foundation. – and, in early termination of our contract and without direct vote or independent review by the ISHAR LLC governance board, I was told I was fired, an act that I protested as CEO of the independent governing board.

Additionally – the design architecture was set to launch on Dec 1st has been canceled by the president.

I can’t comment on any other details on this matter at this time, other than sharing the same confusion as the many supervisors involved with the project, but can clarify a few things.

The new direction for ISHAR without me is not the same ISHAR that was promised on Wikipedia by SAS81 – and whatever that new direction is it will be up to Ryan Castle or another ISHAR representative to update the Wikipedia community.

SAS81 is also the fourth Wikipedia account that I have used to successfully bring balance and attention to very genuine editorial problems and abuses occurring on the Wikipedia platform.

I have never used more than one account on any Wikipedia article I was engaged in at the same time. I am not a sockpuppet or an SPI, and each new account I create to contribute to Wikipedia is a protest against the horrible editorial abuses happening on the platform and each account tells the same story. Rational argumentation and adherence to Wikipedia’s Five pillars is met with continued harassment and abuse on controversial topics. Each account I have created has adhered to this very strict policy, and anyone can check for themselves Wikipedia’s records.

So SAS81, just like Tumbleman, introduced a ‘rational’ discussion to a messy ‘wiki war’ environment and followed all Wikipedia guidelines in the process.

SAS81, just like Tumbleman, was harassed and constantly encountered adversarial ‘agenda based’ editors who sought to abuse Wikipedia’s guidelines by employing various ‘reputation distortion’ tactics on the platform.

Where SAS81 differed than Tumbleman is that SAS81 was successful in resolving the Wiki War and won all attempts to ban SAS81 on Wikipedia by agitated editors upset by SAS81’s presence.

Now, however, SAS81, like Tumbleman, is now banned indefinitely from the Wikipedia platform.

What crime did SAS81 commit? That SAS81 is ‘Tumbleman’ the ‘troll who causes disruption on Wikipedia.’

What crime did Tumbleman commit?  Attempting the same thing on Rupert Sheldrake’s article, for which I faced harassment, outing, libelous statements made about me online and claims of me being a troll on Wikipedia without any evidence that I was ever trolling on Wikipedia.

SAS81 operated with full COI transparency.  SAS81 also did no editing  on the article, merely used rational argumentation and Wikipedia’s own policies to bring about neutrality. It was remarkable seeing Wikipedia work, and SAS81’s policy arguments had the support of veteran Wikipedia editors and the page improved 100%.

Tumbleman’s account ban is an act of harassment and abuse on a platform.  Not just any platform, but a platform that could easily be argued to be the most powerful publisher in the world. I certainly feel no obligation to respect Wikipedia’s admin’s decisions  banning me when such tactics are used for that banning. And that is why I may consider returning again.

Everything  that has been done on Wikipedia by any action I have taken or that I have influenced others has been for the sole purpose of holding Wikipedia to it’s own neutral editorial policy and contribute to the project with integrity. If I have to ‘break a ban’ to make the page better, and bring these abuses to the public eye, then I may continue to freely do so and encourage others too as well until Wikipedia’s admins responsibly address this problem.

I can also confirm that I hired Ryan Castle to  be an archivist for the ISHAR project, and can confirm that archiving was his primary responsibility.  His appeal to me was that he was a self proclaimed ‘atheist and skeptic’ who also had Wikipedia experience dealing with agenda based editors who were skeptics and understood the editorial problem as a wikipedia editor and knew how to format an archive for Wikipedia sourcing. I believed, and still do – that because of this Ryan Castle brings a level of credibility to ISHAR archiving as a ‘neutral’ or outsider in the mind/body community.

After I was fired, Ryan Castle was approached to ‘project manage’ a ‘new direction’ for ISHAR primarily as an online research archive managed by the Chopra Foundation. It is both unclear and unlikely that they will  be involved with the Wikipedia issue and I wish them well with their venture.

 

12 thoughts on “

  1. Hi, I’ve been studying the creation of a scientific social network for three years now. I strongly believe that this is a solvable problem, but I also notice that people tend to make the same characteristic mistakes when approaching it. It appears that that which motivates people to read about scientific controversies tends to filter out the entrepreneurs and other people who get sh*t done in this world. In other words — and you might have heard this before — what got you here will take you no further.

    I’ve decided to publish what I’ve found thus far on this subject online in an attempt to create more intelligent dialog on this subject — which I’ve found is TOTALLY absent. It’s my firm belief that true rational scientific discourse must be DESIGNED. It will never become commonplace without an infrastructure which is intentionally designed to elicit it. And to do that, the site has to take what humankind already knows in the subjects of philosophy, psychology, sociology, social networking, critical theory, science education research, marketing research & branding (yes, trust me on this, it’s important) — etc — and apply them to this problem space.

    Please feel free to use my thread (http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=14667) as a basis for ideation on this subject. What I believe we need to do first is to make ourselves into the world’s leading experts on scientific social networking by creating fluency in all of the relevant subjects. Then, without any particular dogmatic attachment to any of those ideas, we need to imagine solutions to real-world problems which actual people run into. Somewhere in there, there is a core technology which applies to lots of these specific solutions. What is that core technology?

    Either way, I am deeply committed to this subject matter, and so I would ask to please be kept int he loop on any effort to reform online discourse.

    • Chris thank you for this can you email me? I would like to speak with you about this and inform you of progress with AL 0 1 2, which is such a design. I could really user your insight. rome AT wikipedia we have a problem DOT com

  2. Wikipedia is a useful resource for factoids. For example, if you wanted to look up the population of Nottingham, England, and a brief synopsis of its history. However, on many more complex issues — that should be open to debate — it is dangerous and unreliable. This is because it is dominated by ideologues.

    Very often these bigots hide behind words like skepiticism. In reality skepticism means to doubt certainty, and yet these bigots are certain of their worldview, and seek to denigrate all others by various means. Thus it is fair to describe the influential clique of Wikipedia editors (we know who they are) as pseudoskeptics. They are mean-spirited and continually act in bad faith.

    A number of leading scientists in addition to Rupert Sheldrake have had their work and biographies misrepresented and distorted by the Wackopedians. This situation is anti-scientific.

  3. One sad thing about this mess is that investigations (skeptical but honest) into what is termed Fringe science, or pseudo-science, etc. is absolutely crucial to the progress of science, in the long run. If everyone who came at a problem with a different perspective had as her reward being banned, we would still be wondering what those funny bright dots in the nighttime sky are. Einstein would have died a postal clerk. There’s enough marginalization in doctrinaire science in all its ventures without Wikipedia and other potentially good ventures joining in and piling on.

    I am looking into a “fringe area” with great delight – the Universe as plasma with isolated areas of cooler condensed matter, harboring, in one known instance, anyway, somewhat sentient life forms. Including Rupert, you, and me. Astronomers and astrophysicists know that what they are looking at at great distances is almost all in the fourth state of matter – plasma; i.e., matter stripped of one or more electrons, as a low or high enough fraction of non-ionized components as to make the electric force significantly more powerful than that of gravity in the observed phenomena. Nonetheless, the current approach is to rely on gravity as the prime mover and creator, possibly because it is more tractable, and mysterious, requiring the funding of searches for “other things” that will help gravity-based mathematical solutions better describe and predict the events observed in space.

    I am as skeptical of the electromagnetic explanations as of the gravity explanations, in this niche area, but am drawn to the dark corners and dismissed areas because scientists seem to avoid them so widely. And, truth be told, there is good work in the fringe-y areas by some who work in mainstream astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology as their profession and first love.

    Wikipedia does not reveal this. It assiduously moderates this discussion, too, as an assault on What Everyone Knows Is the Truth, just as it does on Rupert Sheldrake. Science isn’t about truth, beyond the simple observation that we will never know it all. It is about finding and improving models of our understanding how things work. We, ourselves, are working objects in that view, and thus cannot stand too far apart from scientific enquiry, ourselves. If fringe science is wrong, it will come out in the wash, when people investigate carefully, critically and honestly. If it’s ever right, we need to know it, right?

    So press on, Rome. You are appreciated more than you might realize. There are a lot of people fed up with Wiki and the controllers of communications and knowledge than you may ever know.

    Jim

    • ha ha thank you! I am not your cousin but that’s just what he would probably say too. I am going to be collecting similar stories from other editors – so pop me off an email at rome AT wikipedia we have a problem dot .moc

  4. Thank you for fighting for truth, and trying to spread it. Wikipedia has changed in the last 12-24 months. They have never been like this before. Now they are either operating with a gun to their heads, or have been forcibly infiltrated. They also have already started ‘failing to archive’ certain edits/edit wars. When I accused them of having guns to their heads, on the Crop Circle Talk Page, they simply didn’t reply. No denials, no attacks, just nothing. I think that says something. There is a war on for control of the internet, and our minds. Maybe we should ask the BBC to start a ‘BBC-Wikipedia’. (Who else can we trust?) Be well, blucat, David.

    • thanks for the support Dave. I’ve heard many editors report a similar issue. I think mine is unique because the evidence is so clear. I don’t think what’s causing this however is anything ‘sinister’, i think it’s just ‘group think’ and the down side of human nature. Although the article i edited on was a biography, the particular biography is well known for engaging in what is called Fringe research. But this case study should not be looked at as an indictment of skeptical activism. This can happen in any article on Wikipedia where different ideologies have to work through an issue. What this case study shows is that if you have a number of editors who have the bias of their own ideology, the system can be gamed. I don’t think the behaviors of the editors involved is a reflection of their beliefs, although I do admit that most I have met online through this experience who are avowed ‘skeptics’ engaged with ‘skeptical’ activism can certainly be a cranky bunch, no doubt. Thanks for sharing and thanks for helping to get the word out.

  5. It does not surprise me that you were treated this way. The psuedoskeptic movement is a hate group full of ignorant and closed minded individuals. In the end they will lose, because they are defending a position that has been proven false. Truth will triumph in the end as more facts come to light. The mind simply cannot be reduced to the brain.

    • Thx for commenting! It certainly appeared that way during this whole ordeal. I expect dirty tricks from political groups, but if you claim to argue for science and empirical thinking, you would at least expect logical and empirical arguments that would easily refute the opposition. If their positions were so reasoned on the article on Wikipedia, why the need for all the dirty tricks? They have recently banned a few more editors, and now they are claiming that anyone who does not agree with them are in violation of Wikipedia’s core principle of neutrality. they appear to be a very draconian bunch!

  6. A most thorough and erudite presentation Rome – well done!

    I was active on Sheldrake’s talk page shortly before you started contributing and ran into the same impenetrable bulwark and the same bully tactics, though I gave up early. Have experienced this on other topics as well (Quakerism). I applaud you for sticking with it so tenaciously.

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