Friday, April 20, 2018

The Wikipedia Gamergate article, 2018 review

When the Gamergate Wikipedia article was created about four years ago, it took but a few weeks for it to be harnessed as a completely ridiculous left-wing propaganda machine, which resembled more a page from Conservapedia than from Wikipedia. (Conservapedia is rather infamous for consisting mostly of really lengthy articles that consist of almost nothing else then tiny example after tiny example, in an endless list, of whatever the article is propagandize.)

Has the situation become any better in these four years? Of course not. The article has constantly changed, and while it has become slightly more neutral than what it was at its absolute worst, that's only very slightly. It's still partisan and biased as fuck, and still looks like a Conservapedia page.

No better example of that is, still, the sheer amount of the words "threat" and "harassment" that appear in the article. The former currently appears 77 times, and the latter 125 times. That's still more appearances of those words alone than some articles have words in total.

As some kind of pinnacle of this, one particular paragraph has the word "harassment" a whopping 11 times. Eleven. One single paragraph of text. When one single paragraph of text has such a strong accusing word that many times, that's a quite clear indication that there's an agenda behind the whole thing.

The funny, and hypocritical, thing is that Wikipedia's editing standards have sections against this kind of thing. And I'm not here referring to the biased partisan propaganda (which it also has sections against), but about that sheer amount of repetition and listing tiny example after tiny example ad nauseam. You see these guideline reminder templates slapped in some other articles sometimes, in a box usually titled "This section has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page." For instance, two of these guidelines are:

"This section relies too much on references to primary sources."
"This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience."

The Gamergate article is rife with both. But of course it doesn't have any such template messages.

And, of course, one of the major guiding principles of Wikipedia is the Neutral Point of View principle. One of the particular ways to keep a NPoV is using an impartial tone (which is specifically listed at Wikipedia as such, in its Wikipedia NPoV article.) Which, naturally, the Gamergate article breaches to no end. It constantly uses language that makes strong claims about things that haven't been officially verified.

For example, rather than saying "gamergate hashtag users accused Quinn of an unethical relationship with journalist Nathan Grayson", it says "gamergate hashtag users falsely accused Quinn of an unethical relationship with journalist Nathan Grayson". The former would be just a statement of fact. The latter is a strong claim about something that hasn't been officially verified. (And even if it were something that had been officially verified, eg. by a court of law, the wording would still have to be different in order to maintain NPoV, such as saying "a court of law ruled these accusations as being false", rather than the article making the strong assertion that they are false.) It is not the place of a supposedly neutral encyclopedia to make such assertions, which cannot possibly ever be completely verified.

And that's not even the only instance of the article using the word "false" in the same way.

Many people have commented elsewhere that they have tried to edit the article to become more neutral, balanced, shorter, and better sourced, only to have all of their edits immediately reverted. For some reason (that I cannot really grasp) it seems that this particular article is tightly controlled by leftist ideologues, and they are holding all the keys to its locks. No dissenting views are allowed, and even if one gets through the locks, it's immediately removed.

The worst thing about all this is that many journalists, politicians and other influential people put too much trust in Wikipedia, and may make decisions based on it, without realizing that they are getting a biased cherry-picked perspective, often where mere claims made by individuals are presented as facts.

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