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