The Wikipedia Post — Press Kit

Summary:

The Wikipedia Post covers the past five years of the dispute about GamerGate on Wikipedia. It begins with the first fights over the article on indie game developer Zoe Quinn, a central figure in the corruption scandal that sparked the controversy, and continues through fights over the GamerGate article itself. The early stages of the dispute culminated in a case brought by this author before the site’s Arbitration Committee, often likened to a Supreme Court, which was the subject of considerable media controversy. A false narrative regarding that case became established in the media. The Wikipedia Post serves to rebut that narrative as well as show how the narrative pushed the “encyclopedia anyone can edit” to become more closed off and censorious.

Author Bio:

T. D. Adler is an alias used by former Wikipedia editor “The Devil’s Advocate” who edited Wikipedia for over eight years helping two articles to “good article” status and getting eight articles to appear on the front page of the online encyclopedia. He was banned from the site after blowing the whistle on an administrator violating conflict of interest policies in a controversial case that prompted widespread community outcry.

Prior to being banned, Adler was involved in disputes over the GamerGate article on the site and filed a case with the site’s Arbitration Committee, which led to several opponents of GamerGate being sanctioned and widespread media coverage. Adler has been a contributor to Breitbart Tech for over two years, has published numerous pieces on Medium, and co-authored a blog post for Wikipedia criticism site Wikipediocracy.

Adler can be contacted on Twitter and by e-mail on DM request.

Facts About The Wikipedia Post

Word count (Main piece): ~33,400

Word count (Appendices A-D): ~5,200

Q & A

Why did you write The Wikipedia Post?

This started out as a blog post I wanted to write for Wikipedia criticism site Wikipediocracy in the immediate aftermath of the GamerGate Arbitration Committee case to correct the false narrative in the media. Given the scope of things I wanted to cover and difficulty navigating my unfavorable view of Wikipediocracy’s role, I held off on finalizing and submitting the piece. After I was banned from Wikipediocracy and received a three-month ban from Wikipedia, I pitched the piece to Breitbart. I spent the next few years working on it off and on as other events, such as my indefinite ban from Wikipedia and my other writing for Breitbart, took up my time to dedicate to the piece. It gradually became more a history of the GamerGate dispute on Wikipedia and how GamerGate influenced the site. As it went beyond anything they could publish in its entirety even in parts, I settled on publishing the long-form piece on Medium and writing a summary piece for Breitbart.

Why do you use an alias?

I have been involved in a lot of contentious disputes on Wikipedia and with critics of the site. A number of people have attempted or threatened personal retaliation against me for those disagreements. On several occasions I have seen or learned of incidents where members of Wikipedia or criticism sites have viciously gone after people and those associated with them in their personal life when they know their real identities. This includes incidents mentioned in Part 10 of my piece and more recent incidents. My conflicts on Wikipedia have no substantive connection to my activities outside Wikipedia. Given that, I do not wish to submit myself and those I know to what is certain to be extreme harassment when nothing about my real identity is relevant. From what I have seen, people who demand to know or reveal real identities solely to provide “accountability” really mean “I want to be able to make this person regret disagreeing with me.”

Does the title have any significance?

My intent was for the title to be reminiscent of The Zoe Post, which started GamerGate. I read that post in some depth and believe it showed Eron Gjoni was abused, but the response was to smear him and ignore what he was trying to warn people about. From what I have read about the origins of GamerGate, I firmly believe his concerns and the concerns of those who picked up on some of the personal connections noted in the post were legitimate and dishonestly misrepresented by the press, who wanted to suppress criticism of their own unethical tendencies.

Are you being a “devil’s advocate” like your Wikipedia username?

As stated previously, I believe GamerGate supporters have legitimate concerns that were ignored and suppressed through dishonest means. When I chose the username “The Devil’s Advocate” it was not because I sought to “play a role” online, but because it reflects my typical approach to any issue. I examine the popular and unpopular narratives to get at the hard truths. My opinion after doing that with GamerGate is that GamerGate was essentially correct in all its chief claims, including on the specific allegations sparking the movement. Press dishonestly seized on those spreading erroneous derivations of the original claims to dismiss the entire foundation of the movement. They do that a lot.

Given your history, should this not be viewed as a revenge piece?

Once more, as stated earlier, my original intent for this piece was to set the record straight on what happened with the GamerGate dispute on Wikipedia. Some have continued propagating a narrative to this day that biased anti-GamerGate editors were really defending neutrality against GamerGate supporters who were using burner accounts created solely to provoke those editors into misconduct so they could be banned. I wrote this to present the other side of the story and highlight how the false GamerGate narrative negatively influenced the trajectory of the top information source in the world. Even though I have significant disagreements with a number of the people mentioned in this piece, I am not including anything for the purpose of causing anyone harm. A full accounting of notable events related to GamerGate is likely to be unflattering for many of them, but the purpose is to get truth out and show how severely Wikipedia and its ostensible mission have been compromised.

You write for Breitbart, does this mean you are politically conservative?

For most of my life I have called myself an “independent” and that applies to this day. My political views are a mixture of conservative and liberal on both social and economic issues. When I take one of those political tests I am always close to the center, usually with a strong libertarian streak. I voted for Johnson in the 2016 Presidential Election and typically vote for candidates from both major parties as well as alternative parties during elections. Though I am generally critical of the media, there are outlets I believe to be essential sources for alternative viewpoints and Breitbart is one of them.

Are you worried harassment will result, given GamerGate’s reputation?

Whenever people are criticized online there is a risk of harassment resulting and I am always concerned by harassment. I do not wish to see anyone face genuine harassment of any kind. GamerGate opponents triviailizing harassment of GamerGate supporters was, in fact, a major reason I requested ArbCom intervene in the dispute. I don’t believe GamerGate’s negative reputation is warranted or relevant. Unlike the BlackLivesMatter and Antifa movements, no one who supports GamerGate has resorted to violent attacks to further the movement’s agenda. The irony is some who support GamerGate have been violently attacked for their views. While I disagree with online threats and harassment, the fact movements far more prone to violent assaults on opponents do not have the same media reputation is telling and is why its reputation is not of special concern to me. I have read Medium’s policies and ventured to keep the tone as tame as possible. That said, I have no control over how other people react to what I write and neither does anyone else. I also know some people will claim harassment whenever they face criticism, even when it clearly does not apply. All I can control is what I say.

Some claim you are not being truthful about your ban. Are they right?

I have written a lengthy post about my ban. Officially, the reason the Arbitration Committee gave for my ban was harassment. After months of the Committee not telling me or anyone else what that entailed in violation of policy, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales admitted under community pressure that my ban was triggered by me reporting an administrator for violating rules on conflicts of interest and nothing else. He argued I harassed this administrator by investigating the administrator’s conflicts of interest and warning the administrator about the rules regarding conflicts of interest several times prior to submitting my report. My investigating was done using open source information after seeing another editor’s public allegation against this administrator. I warned the administrator three times that I could prove the administrator was violating the rules and would contact the Arbitration Committee unless the violations stopped, but they continued. Wikipedia’s rules clearly state investigating misconduct and warning people about misconduct are not violations of the harassment policy. None involved in my ban have explained how my conduct is inconsistent with those rules. A key part of their defense is to claim my allegations were wrong, though I have strong evidence some supporting my ban knew the administrator’s conduct violated policy and supported banning me anyway. Even Wales acknowledged this situation boiled down to a difference of interpretation. Their interpretation is just the one that decided the outcome.

You used real names for several Wikipedia editors. Are you doxing them?

In addition to those users on Wikipedia whose usernames are their real names, all those identified by real name in The Wikipedia Post have publicly disclosed those names on Wikipedia or related sites. Two of those identified by name disclosed their real names on the Meta Wikimedia site when they ran for seats on the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees. No personal information included about these editors goes beyond what they have publicly disclosed themselves in prominent places.

Key Details

Accuracy

  • The false narrative about Wikipedia’s GamerGate dispute began with blog posts by anti-GamerGate editor Mark Bernstein claiming pro-GamerGate “throwaway accounts” provoked GamerGate opponents trying to keep the article neutral until they became uncivil and were banned, further claiming ArbCom decided “feminists were to be purged” from the site. When numerous news outlets considered “reliable” on Wikipedia repeated this false narrative as the outcome of the case before it even closed, an editor created an “ArbitrationGate” article repeating the false narrative about Wikipedia on Wikipedia itself. Corrections following statements from ArbCom and the Wikimedia Foundation debunked part of this false narrative, but key falsehoods have remained. (Covered in Part 1)

Bias

  • Anti-GamerGate editors regularly sought to slant the article on GamerGate against the movement. This included repeatedly trying to remove mention of the fact women supporting the movement existed and that supporters of the movement had been harassed. Editors engaged in this biased editing were protected by administrators who opposed GamerGate and were somtimes directly involved in the content dispute on Wikipedia. Following the ArbCom case, numerous efforts slanted the article further, including by removing mentions third-party trolls attacking both sides of controversy, and this slanting of the page sometimes involved support from anti-GamerGate throwaway accounts. An attempt to rewrite the article to be more neutral was rejected with a statement that the GamerGate article has to prominently and explicitly present the movement as being about harassment. (Covered in Part 1, Part 3, Part 5, Part 8, Part 11, Part 12, and Appendix C)

Censorship

  • Several of the site’s administrators took actions to censor content favorable to GamerGate. This included administrator Guy Chapman adding the unofficial GamerGate site GamerGate.me to a spam list, making it impossible to link to the site. Chapman has a history of using the spam list to push personal agendas and had previously called GamerGate a cult. A number of administrators repeatedly censored a piece by gay GamerGate supporter J. W. Caine detailing how GamerGate supporters had always been raising concerns about ethics in game journalism in response to the Zoe Post and did include women, LGTB individuals, and non-white people. Such censorship made it so that even regular administrators could not see edits mentioning the piece. Editors were even banned for linking to these sites. (Covered in Part 1, Part 3, Part 5, and Part 6)

Harassment

  • Members of Wikipedia Criticism site Wikipediocracy doxed two editors who edited Zoe Quinn’s page to try and add reliably-sourced information about the corruption scandal engulfing her in the early stages of the GamerGate controversy. Quinn herself shared the doxing piece on Twitter, but later deleted the tweet. Wikipedia’s community, rather than show sympathy for the editors, immediately discussed banning them by adopting the baseless smears of the piece as reality. Both editors would be eventually banned from the GamerGate topic in questionable actions by partisan administrators with a history of abusing their tools: Robert “Gamaliel” Fernandez and Future Perfect at Sunrise. (Covered in Part 1 and Part 3)

T.D. Adler edited Wikipedia as The Devil’s Advocate. He was banned after privately reporting conflict of interest editing by one of the site’s administrators.