At first it looks like win-win. The kids get someone to read them a story, and Omar Navarro, a Republican congressional candidate gets to freak out over “Demonic teachings alive in Long Beach.” Plenty of dramah-dramah, plenty of popcorn for everyone.
But lets look a little closer. According to Snopes, “The event did not involve “demonic teachings” or anything sexually explicit. Xochi Mochi read Todd Parr’s children’s book “It’s Okay to be Different” to the children.”
This book starts out innocuously enough:
“It’s okay to need some help…
It’s okay to be a different color…
It’s okay to talk about your feelings…
It’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub…”.
Wait wait wait.
Macaroni and cheese? Bathtub? This sound like some kind of gateway drug thing.
Sure enough, here is something called a “bathtub bomb”. It starts out with potty-mouth chef Matty Matheson of “Munchies” (Canada again!), and goes downhill from there. (You can google the disgusting recipe video for yourselves. Hint: it’s got Cheetos in it.)
Yes, indeed, Teen Vogue, who are either supposed to be making their bathtub bombs with rose petals or leading the Resistance, depending on who you talk to, instead wax eloquent about the “radioactive-orange, cheesy soup” they say is “the spa treatment you never knew you needed”, claiming that “the scent of cheese, much like aromatherapy, can instantly lift your mood”.
You will notice they never tell you stuff like how to clean the bathroom afterwards. Says one comment: “Did it clog their drain? How was the clean up afterward? Is their skin stained yellow? Can you get the smell of that boxed mac and cheese out of the bathroom? I have so many questions.”
Think about THAT before you have a demon drag queen in to read to the kiddies.
So you’re worried about traffic to your blog, and you pick some woman off the internet at random, make some crude remarks about her on your blog, then if she objects, claim you are being harassed and fire off a legal takedown notice. Should be good for a few page hits, right?
Let’s do the numbers, shall we?
From the time “Wikipediocracy takes no prisoners: Kohs fires off DMCA against Gender Desk” was published on October 3, until roughly some time this afternoon, about 67% of the page views can be traced to specific sources, in particular to four Wikipedia criticism sites: reddit (WikiInAction), Wikipediocracy, wikirev.org, and Wikipedia sucks.co. Since some, if not all of these sites are in the habit of doxing, I will not link to them
The highest volume site is clearly Reddit, with 46% of the traffic, followed by Wikipediocracy and Wikirev, with 28% and 18% of the traffic respectively, and Sucks trailing in a distant 4th place with 7% of the traffic. The duration of the traffic was different for each. Reddit’s attention span was the shortest, with the page hits concentrated almost completely in one day. Wikipediocracy managed to sustain interest for about two days. Wikirev and Sucks have both continued driving sustained traffic up to the present, which is surprising, considering that neither one seems to be seriously in the criticism business, in the sense of providing regularly published adult-level posts and commentary.
That leaves the remaining 33% of the page views unexplained. Could they be from the new super-seekrit r/Wikipediocracy reddit? (And no, I haven’t been invited.) Perhaps some passing troll or IP will drop by with the straight poop on that.
So enough the numbers, what about interpretation.
First, Reddit is kicking Wikipediocracy’s butt, and if I am not mistaken, those are all people that Wikipediocracy was too snooty to keep around. Looks like all those purges are coming home to roost. They should have kept Dark Knight, taught him how to make paragraphs, how to express himself without every other word being a pee-pee word, and how to cut his rants by at least two-thirds. He seems to be making paragraphs now and has stopped flaming–heaven forbid he should ever get any facts wrong himself–so they have missed some great potential.
Second, the missing Rogol is being credited with a lot of stuff, and I probably bear some of the blame for that, since I suggested he was holding up Wikipediocracy all by himself, with a little help from Poetlister and Kohs bumping the old threads in a way that you couldn’t see the recent edit count, not that the published edit counts on those things are at all reliable.
But what if it was just the normal cycle of things, and Wikipediocracy’s content had absolutely nothing to do with the lack of commenters, and that Rogol had nothing to do with the return of the natives. People do disappear in the summer, in fact there are whole countries that take July off, and probably August too. People go to the beach. They take vacations. Wikipedia people too, they are either all at Wikimania, or preparing for it, or moping around if they didn’t get a scholarship. So there is no one around to criticize either.
So Rogol steps into the void and posts some of his tedious rambling pseudo-philosophy, and disappears, then Newsfeed appears and posts some equally insufferable links with no context, and no appearance of knowing anything whatsoever about Wikipedia, before disappearing in turn. Then September hits, and the regulars return in droves. Were they all on strike from paid editing, and were suddenly offered new and more lucrative sockpuppet contacts? Or were they just at the beach? Or at Wikimania. We will probably never know, unless some passing troll or IP drops by with some enlightenment.
But let’s look at it from another angle. What if Rogol had never showed up, if Poetlister had not felt loquacious? Would Wikipediocracy have disappeared forever?
I think not. We have it from Somey, who appears to be some sort of Wikipediocracy regular, that “We’ll probably change the hosting arrangements before year-end”, so we know the hosting is paid up, for at least a while. Plus we have it from Zoloft/William Burns that the cost of running Wikipediocracy is about $500. If you estimate that the cost of web hosting is less than $3 a month, as this article states, then they are good to go for another 167 months, or 13 years. Plus I think we can be pretty sure that Kohs is not going to give up that domain name as long as he remains conscious and/or reasonably sane enough to understand what a domain name is.
This is really weird. Usually you hear “free speech” used to justify hate speech, anti-antisemitism, and such on the internet. But in an article in Wired this week, “Comcast is abandoning customers in the name of free speech“, Comcast, described in the piece as a “litigation-happy monolith”, is using the phrase to try to get out of an agreement it made to expand cable coverage to remote areas of Vermont, for no apparent reason other than meanness.
Well, well, well, I have just received a takedown notice from one Gregory Kohs.
First let me make this one thing clear. I am not a paid blogger, I’m just an ordinary Wikipedia volunteer. I use this small blog, the Gender Desk, to talk about coloring books and paper dolls, and sometimes about suicide and sexual assault. I also criticize both Wikipedia and Wikipedia criticism sites, especially when they target women.
Now, it has always been understood that Kohs was the owner of record for Wikipediocracy, but I thought the whole Wikipediocracy blog was being reorganized, in the aftermath of Kohs’ global ban from the Wikipedia projects. Just a few weeks ago, long-time site moderator Zoloft/William Burns announced that “the domain hosting and administration will be placed in trustworthy hands and the current holders will stand down”, along with a bunch of other warm and fuzzy stuff that was supposed to happen but didn’t.
But it looks like that did not happen either, that Kohs did not step down on schedule, that he did not give up the password as envisioned, and is even now firing off legal notices on behalf of the Wikipediocrazies.
Before Kohs and Wikipediocracy start firing off DMCA takedown notices, they ought to stop and think. It is perfectly legal to publish excerpts of copyrighted material for the purpose of commenting on it. This is called “fair use” and is specifically protected by copyright law. And you know how fast the Wikipediocracy moderators can scrub something and make it disappear, or even rewrite it, the minute you criticize them. You had better have a screenshot, just to prove you’re not lying.
Most platforms like YouTube or this one, WordPress, have a huge amount of material to keep track of, so they use automated systems for takedown requests. This makes it tempting for anyone who is criticized – and the Scientology people are notorious for this — to use DMCA notices fraudulently in order to silence criticism. But WordPress can and will sue someone who does this. They have already won $25,000 from “Straight Pride UK”, which for some mysterious reason, no longer exists. In the case of deliberate deception, a court can award damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees.
So what happened? What claims are they – Kohs, and by extension Wikipediocracy – making against me?
The content they object to is a screenshot from the website Wikipediocracy: (archived) that I used to explain what was going on with the blog. The material they claim copyright to is here: (archived), which would relate to the second and third image, about Kohs’ understated snarks directed at the now-departed Rogol. You would think that Kohs would have recognized in myself a kindred spirit, who was as equally irritated with the insufferable Rogol as he was, and that we would have ended up bonding away in a sort of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” eternal honeymoon heaven. But, no. It was not to be. Whatevs, but just to show good faith, I have now modified the post slightly to emphasize the “transformative manner” in which the screenshot is used, so that it will be even more obvious that the intent is appraisal rather than “exact reproduction”.
1. Used for criticism? Yup. The screenshot is only used for proof of what was written, for context of a blog post of over 500 words, just like Twitter uses a screenshot of something as the basis for a tweetstorm, a cascade of nested comments.
2. Factual and published? Yup, and not very well written either, just the usual snark. There is no way anyone is going to think I am stealing someone’s unpublished masterpiece novel here.
3. Amount of material used in relation to the whole? A cropped screenshot. This is hardly scraping the website for content. You see more material in a Twitter thread.
4. Effect on the value of the work? Well, some people would argue that the value of Wikipediocracy is already zero, but if someone already reads that trash, I doubt if they will stop reading it just because of something I say. If anything, it will probably drive more traffic to their site, which is probably why they do it.
The complainant on the notice is listed as Gregory Kohs, who claims to be the copyright holder: “I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed”. And just in case you are thinking this is old or outdated, Kohs’ digital signature is dated Sept. 14, 2017.
Kohs is no stranger to making fake claims. He uses them to drive readership to his blog. Who could forget his “grant proposal” on Meta, “Grants:IdeaLab/Impacts on lives of the banned,” complete with a troll avatar, which he went back to his blog and bragged about here: (archived).
The Wikipediocrazies have gone to a huge amount of trouble with this takedown request. I get it that they hate women, it is part of their marketing approach. And I get it that they would go after the Wikimedia Foundation as a symbol of some corporate entity, even if it is non-profit and not really all that large. They are trying to subvert its terms of service for their own profit, with their paid writing clique. But why on earth would grown men want to target some stranger on the internet? Why would they make a corporate decision to go after some little person, a private citizen, off in a corner of the internet with the coloring books and the paper dolls. Not good optics. The real question is why the Wikipediocrazies don’t get a life.
But I do want to be fair, and give Wikipediocracy the right of reply. Is there some reason Kohs is sensitive about his relationship with Rogol? Some have even entertained the notion that Rogol is one of Kohs’ sock puppets. Or maybe Kohs is sensitive about his college philosophy grades, and regrets posting them, although you have to wonder why he took so many of those courses in the first place if he can’t stand the subject. Also, you would think he could get that scrubbed if he had had second thoughts — they remove and rewrite stuff all the time over there, but that particular post is still live. So did I miss something really obvious? Wikipediocracy may be censored, but y’all can speak out over here. I can even start an RFC in a separate post if you want one.
For quite some time now, Wikipediocrazy regulars have taken turns trolling for new membership over on the gamergate subreddits. But this week, for some reason, some of the former targets of Wikipediocracy’s purges have landed over there. Not only have they been giving the Wikipediocrazies a trouncing on the discussion boards, they have spurned Kohs’ usual dog and pony show about Jimbo’s personal life, and branched out into actual Wikipedia criticism.
For some time now I have been hearing phrases like “Communism 101” and “show trials” from women connected with Wikipedia. Now I am seeing similar phrases on the gamergate thread: “Kafkaesque”, “like a cult”, “struggle sessions”, …
And from rosashills, “Some of the preposterous suggestions certainly do remind me of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness¹ at Noon.” Now I think everyone has heard of Orwell’s classic totalitarian dystopia 1984, but this last sent me scurrying to google, where I found out from the New York Review of Books that this work was an inspiration to Orwell, and that it was translated into English in the midst of the war, by a 19-year-old art student named Daphne Hardy, Koestler writing the thing in German in one room, handing each page to Hardy as it was finished, and Hardy rewriting it in English on the other side of a curtain. Obviously a classic, if you want to read the original, I think this is it here.
A few things over there are worth quoting in detail, while leaving off the names, since it is impossible to figure out what is going on without actually looking at the diffs in question, and since the particulars of who is involved at this point seems secondary to the process itself. And if the story is correct, there are no diffs to look at anyhow.
[User: Z] seems to be being railroaded in a time honoured Wikipedia fashion. It is not unlike a swamp, the harder you fight, the more your eventual fate is sealed, although in this horror show, the harder you fight, the louder you scream, the less inclined the non-drowning members of your ‘community’ are to help. It’s quite sick, very medieval, and totally unnecessary in a civilised world.
Things would never happen like this if Wikipedia had an independent panel whose sole job was to review blocks, to look at the evidence, charges and consequences, and check it all for truth, policy compliance and general reasonableness. The panel could even be volunteers like the rest of the Wikipediots, the only requirement has to be that they are completely independent, never interacting with the people whose actions they are reviewing, and most certainly never having their seat on the panel in their hands.
But that would make it too much like a sensible grown up system of governance, and Wikipedia is anything but. In societal terms, it is a toddler. In Wikipedia, you are judged and sentenced by the same sort of person who then hears your appeal. There is very little reward, and a whole heap of consequences, if you’re the sort of person who overrules other people who are essentially supposed to be your peers, who you are supposed to trust and respect. And if you hate your peers, and find them untrustworthy and corrupt, for some strange reason, it still isn’t the done thing to go around reversing their blocks. It’s very wierd.
But this all just leads us back to familiar territory – ask any Wikipedian of a certain experience level, and they will quite happily tell you, with a sick sort of pride even, that it’s just a private website whose primary and indeed only mission is to write an encyclopedia, and therefore users cannot expect justice, or even fairness, from its governance system. If only they were open and honest about that in their promotional materials, then maybe the poor saps who get caught in these bear traps might never go into the woods to begin with.
An excellent suggestion about the need for any encyclopedia of the future to have an independent panel to review blocks. This will prevent the ‘You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’ which enables Admin X to ‘fix’ an editor who is in conflict with Admin Y by claiming he (X) is far removed from the conflict and is hence neutral, and then later Y will fix any editor in conflict with X to return the favor. This has been going on for a long time now.
An independent panel will also ensure fairness because in my experience crowd sourced justice is mob justice whereby an entrenched longtime editor or an Admin (particularly senior Admins) will always be at an advantage in any conflict with a newbie since they have so many ‘friends’ who will come to their rescue.
There is a Wikipedia rule prohibiting canvassing, but as I understand it is very common for Admins to blacklist editors on various in-house chats and mailing lists. Senior Admins and editors may even be having their own mailing lists where any editor in conflict with any of them is blacklisted and targeted by all the people on the mailing list. Otherwise how do you explain that Admin [user:M] returned from a one and half month hiatus from Wikipedia and immediately indeffed [user:Z] (and is now refusing to provide the diffs which [user: Z] and others have requested from him).
Finally, I was really impressed by these words of [user:Z]:
“Not trying to soapbox with this analogy, but this is what they do in DPRK and used to do in the USSR. You go into a room, are forced to sign your confession for crimes (with the promise of leniency), but you aren’t allowed to read the confession. This can’t be how Jimbo envisioned as how he wants this process to work.”
I liked [user:Z]’s analogy, and to extend it further, what he is being asked to do (confess to his crimes even though the diffs he is seeking for his alleged “crimes” remain unprovided) is how cults operate. Wikipedia has, in many ways, become a cult.
Quite an indictment, and incidental structural analysis of why the system isn’t working.
¹“From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.” –Matthew 27:45
Just in case you have wee ones at home who like to color, here are the famous women. A pity this coloring book is out of print. Technically, this is classified as “adult coloring”. Gel ink pens are recommended, whatever those are. The women (below the fold) are:
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Joan of Arc
Madame de Pompadour
Susan B. Anthony
The Prime Minister of Iceland, Bjarni Benediktsson, has just resigned over a pedo coverup crisis. It seems that in Iceland, people can get rehabilitated from crimes, even sex crimes against children, if they have enough clout. Well, what is new in this world.
In this case it was Bjarni’s father, who signed the letter for a “friend”.
Under Iceland’s judicial system, a person who has served a sentence for a serious crime can apply to authorities to “restore their honor” and seek employment again, meaning their criminal record is erased. For that, a letter of recommendation by a close friend or an associate is needed.
Benediktsson’s father had written a letter urging a pardon for Hjalti Sigurjon Hauksson, who was convicted in 2004 of raping his stepdaughter almost every day for 12 years.
The LA Times doesn’t mention her age, but BBC news does not shrink from the task:
…convicted in 2004 of raping his stepdaughter almost every day for 12 years from when she was five.