A open letter to Tim Farley, your data sets are fake.


Dear Tim Farley,

This is a response to your article “When you are not here to contribute to an encyclopedia, your Wikipedia statistics show it.”

Much of this blog post of yours, it clearly appears, intends to discredit my voice and Wikipedia We Have a Problem, supporting the narrative that I am just a troll and internet crank with a conspiracy theory about “skeptic editors”.

A common tactic, damaging editors reputations in a consensus process on Wikipedia is something specifically this case study focuses on. I believe in my case you’re getting a little carried away.

You probably went through the Wikipedia talk page sections and realized there was really not much you could pin on me on Wikipedia, as all of my participation on the Sheldrake article was patient, professional, collaborative, and 100% in step with Wikipedia’s policy, even over exceeding it.

So I guess the only thing you could say honestly about me is my light editing history on Wikipedia, and my extensive writing on the subject of “wiki wars”, specifically Rupert Sheldrake’s biography, where I focused.

Your post suggests that I don’t have the right to criticize certain Wikipedia editors since they are genuine contributors, while those “pro sheldrake” editors, myself included, don’t contribute.

I’m not sure what is necessary to draw from that. It appears like a remarkable justification to abuse and harass editors on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia editing experience is not a rationale for editor suppression.

The extent of my editing history, or anyone’s, is irrelevant. Everyone uses Wikipedia in one way or another, a lot. Either as a researcher, light contributor, donor, it does not matter.  To say that skeptic editors are immune from criticism because they are the ones doing all the heavy lifting on Wikipedia is not a justifiable position for harassment, under any circumstances.

You introduce a few other straw men, mentioning I’ve written over 35,000 words on this issue isn’t really a solid way to discredit something. Especially when you flip it in the opposite direction, stating I did little writing on Wikipedia, but lots of writing on WWHP.

Not sure what conclusion you draw from that, but what ever conclusion it is, it still does not give skeptic editors the right to suppress editors away from an article.

Pro sheldrake vs ‘skeptic editors’

Tim, this is your data set.

In your article, you literally took editors who were making what you would call “pro Sheldrake” arguments and arbitrarily placed them in your category of “skeptic editors.”

I assume you did that to bolster your straw man argument that Wikipedia experience and more contributions makes editor suppression justified on Wikipedia.

Specifically, David in DC, Lou Sanders, who  you strangely put in the ‘skeptic’ category, were making the same or similar concerns as Capn, Tumbleman, barleybannocks, who you put in the ‘pro Sheldrake’ category.

What bothers me about this so much is that you should know better. Because you start adding numbers to your data sets which only appears to back up your theme that “skeptic editors contribute” and “pro sheldrake editors, bad”.

Lou and David in DC gave you your biggest data sets for productivity, yet you arbitrarily assigned them in the skeptic category when they were making the exact same arguments that you accuse others of making as being  ‘pro Sheldrake’, and were even threatened with sanctions by the skeptical editors and quit editing the page because of it.

So that is just misinformation you are publishing, a clearly inappropriate assignment, apparently to flag wave and damage control perceptions of skeptic activity on Wikipedia.

Using your arbitrary assignments of ‘pro Sheldrake’ and ‘skeptic’, we could also add editors 74 and Liz and Very Scary Mary, who noted the same problem regarding the small but vocal set of skeptic editors, and were frequently but ‘coincidentally’ harassed by those same skeptics.

Here is what your data set should  have looked liked, keeping your arbitrary assignments, even without including the other, as you call it ‘pro Sheldrake’ editors.


And something else you left out was that the biggest editor on Rupert Sheldrake’s article is Manul.

Manul has such a large article count because they got approved to perform hundreds of auto-reverts a day, but those active contributions are negligible in number as those are programmatic actions taken by a script, not a human behavior.

So to include that data from Manul could be considered cheating.

Manul is a skeptical activist through and through, beginning editing on the Sheldrake article as a Single Purpose Account (SPA) and focusing on Biographies of skeptics.

From Vzaak’s formation until the auto-reverts began on Feb 11 nearly all their activity was devoted to ranting about pseudoscience but not doing much else on Wikipedia, and his percentages haven’t improved much since then, if you look closely.

If we included the (somewhat dated, I’ll admit) number of article edits Manul made before starting auto-reverts – here is what his part of the data set would have looked like without his auto-reverts.

Here is a preview… it doesn’t uphold your claim that skeptics contribute more than the ‘whackos’ they oppose.

I’m not sure where the win is for you running misinformation campaigns like this for skeptic activity on Wikipedia, you are clearly misrepresenting and misleading readers to what is happening.



Rome Viharo



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