I am being nudged about this NYT article “Wikipedia Isn’t Officially a Social Network. But the Harassment Can Get Ugly.” so I suppose I need to think of something to say.
In case you’ve used up your 10 free articles this month, possibly by accessing this very article repeatedly, here it is on the Wayback Machine
…which doesn’t seem to be very stable, since it disappears once you scroll to the end of the article – they’ve done something to it to prevent archiving, because this used to work.
And here it is at archive.is
Neither of which will show you the comments, especially the most excellent comments by Wikipediocracy’s cranky Brill Lyle, who seems to be a lot less cranky now that she has had some time away from Wikipedia. [Note: comments are now at the end.]
Here is a sample
On English-language Wikipedia, one of roughly 300 languages with its own site, users are asked to report conflicts with one another on online notice boards, where they are expected to post links to abuse so an administrator can decide whether to take action.
That method problematically forces complaints into the public sphere, said Ms. Lo, the foundation researcher.
“If you’re being harassed,” Ms. Lo said, “the last thing you want to do is tell your harasser that you’re about to tell on them.”
In some cases, situations are dealt with by Wikimedia Foundation staff members or via private emails with volunteer administrators, she said.
Well, that’s news to me, but apparently it might work if you *are* someone and you *know* someone. Like maybe if you are able to get a 30K grant for the WMF from your institution. It is also possible to leverage Wikipedia volunteerism into a solid job offer. Drmies is the obvious case but there are others less obvious, since it is common knowledge that Wikipedia can give greater exposure to your own corporate entity if you know the ropes.
But for every harassment case that is public, on Wikipediocracy or elsewhere, I know of at least 3 more that are not, and I know of none that have been acted on by the Foundation, despite their claims.
The rest of the article is a bunch of LGBLT jargon that reads like the personals section. We get to find out that someone “uses” pronouns and also that there is a new and poorly defined title of Mx. This is probably going to be regarded as insensitive, but who cares? I mean, unless you are going to jump in bed with someone, why spend so much time sniffing butts? This is not to say such people should be receiving death threats, they should not, but we already know the Foundation is not willing to do anything about that. And I think people like Pax are well-received in the movement — even if they do nothing but wander around being cheerful and vaguely ambiguous gender-wise, they are certainly more valuable than the Manchester crowd that claims to be “content creators” while chasing off genuine professionals that may or may not end up being in competition with them for resources.
Speaking of “Mx”, the latest one to jump on that bandwagon is the Wikimedia Foundation’s own Oliver Keyes aka user:ironholds. You may remember him from the arbcom case where he was quoted on some IRC channel as wanting to drive a pen through a woman’s throat and watch as her protests grew more feeble (maybe someone will come up with the exact quote… oh it’s here, archived, not gonna link to ED). After that, he had some quarrel with some software group (“R”?) that he left, and did some good work on some dating app (OK Cupid) that had some identities leaked. That quarrel went to Twitter, where he was called a “faggot”, whereupon he responded: “I fuck men. Do better.”
So what is our Ironholds doing now?
“Please note my title is ‘Mx’, not ‘Ms’…” (from his blog, archived)
He is on twitter as His old Twitter account @ seems to have been scrubbed. If you want to hear his voice there is a Wikimania presentation, “Big in Japan”. The slide “What about combating bias through content” looks somewhat interesting, but unfortunately he is mostly describing how he stayed up for 25 hours straight to put together the presentation. But that has always been his typical loose cannon stuff, maybe it gets better if you can suffer through more of it.
Oh Ironholds, you little minx. Back in the day, this guy’s favors were the most sought-after amongst the WMF staff, not to mention volunteers, who just so wanted to punish punish ooooh punish him for his outrageously saucy outrageousness.
But these days branding is everything, including money, and especially money. Ironholds has rebranded himself as Os Keyes, that’s “Mx. Os Keyes” to you. Or maybe Mx has no dot after it, either because Keyes is British or because it’s not an actual abbreviation for anything.
So the “I fuck men” days are over, and also the pen-in-the-throat trick for silencing black women. His photo, (I thought it had a mouseover, but you can still see this in the alt title) identifies him as “portrait of the artist as an old queer”, whatever that is. Looks like he’s sitting in an office with some Seattle pine trees outside the window. Nice work if you can get it.
“My current projects investigate how models of gender are encoded within dataset and algorithm design, non-binary experiences in navigating gendered (virtual or real) infrastructure, and collaborative practices in the design of computational systems.” Well, that was a mouthful, and anyone who can come up with that, and convince other people that it actually means something is probably going after some big bucks.
And what has this gender ambiguity gotten him?
The Ada Lovelace fellowship is a “three-year fellowship for PhD students at North American universities who are members of groups underrepresented in computing and pursuing research”.
Keyes, a British national, is a PhD student at University of Washington, a public institution supported by American tax dollars. (“Public” has the opposite meaning in America, in the UK a “public school” is a privately funded boarding school for the wealthy.)
Keyes gets free ride (tuition and fees) for three years in a PhD program, plus $42,000 walking around money.
Keyes is a white Jewish male, who has ridiculed Christians on his (now deleted) Twitter account, as well as taken some undeserved namecalling on his personal blog (also deleted). So, it’s not really clear what “underrepresented group” Mx Os is a member of.
He was previously in law school in the U.S. I lost track of whether he finished that or not, but it’s obviously expensive and you don’t go to law school without some backing from a wealthy family.
For the Ada Lovelace fellowship you also have to be nominated by the department chair. Hmmm that would be “David McDonald, Professor and Chair of the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, commended Keyes on this honor, …” That would be this guy who replaced a woman in that position, Jan Spyridakis, when she retired back in 2014. McDonald seems to have done a ton of research involving Wikipedia.
So back to the NYT article. How to read the tea leaves. First, it’s been a while since Wikipedia scored a piece in a big name source like NYT; the last one I remember was a puff piece in WaPo at about the time Maher took the helm. And this one is negative, and interviews a bunch of insiders.
I’m going to take a stab at this and say they were connected with the blessing of the WMF. So this means the WMF is going to move forward with…something, or maybe is running a flag up the flagpole to see who salutes it.
If it is discrimination in general, it’s way overdue.
If it’s a new transgender thing, then they ought to go back and look at the comment on the Wikimedia mailing list:
There is a Swedish expression “har man tagit fan i båten får man ro honom i land” (If you have taken the devil into your boat you must row him ashore”.
No one minds people like Pax in the boat. But when it comes to embracing the latest trans ideology – and it is an ideology – they ought to be more careful with their fact-checking. Read up on the Meghan Murphy Twitter controversy, or the men who have infiltrated women’s rape crisis shelters, google “cotton ceiling” (ewww), or follow some of the uglier British stuff going around on Twitter, especially around “Mermaids” and the forced sterilization of children who do not conform to the “right” gender stereotypes.
There are always men looking for ways to tap into the money set aside to overcome traditional barriers against women, and they don’t care if they have to say they are women to get it. If academia can be convinced there is some merit in the current trans gender ideology, the money spigots just may open. Let’s hope Wikipedia does not jump on that bandwagon.
But wait, our Ironholds is being quoted in the press, during a strike at University of Washington:
As Os Keyes, a trans member of UAW 4121, urged the membership during a rally on May 15: “They’re only doing this because they no longer see trans people as merely disposable, but now as useful and disposable. Don’t support this offer. Stand in solidarity with all.”
Is he now claiming to be a woman? Plenty of people must have a different personal opinion about that from back in the old WMF office on Montgomery street. What is going on here?
Comments from the NYT article below the fold
Continue reading “The NYT piece”