Attack on women philosophers


Saint Sophia, or Σοφία, the female personification of wisdom

Really this stuff is getting old, and it’s so commonplace I hesitate to even write about it. But since Sashi gave me a shout-out over on Proboards, I will give it a shot.

Here is the usual situation. Someone starts an article about some woman at an editathon, and some patrollers, usually some kids who don’t know anything about writing articles, decide that women can’t possibly do anything “notable” and proceed to try to delete the article.

I wrote about one such situation here, where a group of amateur patrollers decided to target a March 8 International Women’s Day editing event just because it was for women. One typical deletion discussion was at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Risa Horowitz, which pretty much sums up the arguments.

A typical sentiment:

“I would like to point out how demoralizing nominations like there are to new editors and projects like Art+Feminism, and I wonder if deleting is really the best we can do. Is it really not possible to improve articles like these?”

art feminism delection thread

Several articles were deleted several times, mostly without discussion. But the end result was that out of some 26 articles created, 25 are still blue links.

Now, to Sashi’s link. Just for reference, the article is philoSOPHIA, and the issue has now been brought to the arbitration committee for clarification.

In this particular case, I would say that first, SV is a very experienced editor, and that I would hate to find myself on the opposite side from her on anything, no matter how trivial. Second, if she has had to invoke discretionary sanctions for this, she has already lost. Many women will not edit at all except at editathons, and in particular they see Wikipedia “governance” as being rigged against them and want nothing to do with it. That there is now a “clarification request” at WP:AE is not a good sign. It is also not a good sign that Manchester regular RexxS has shown up, as well as hardcore gamergator Masim, and perennial arbcom candidate Salvadrim, also associated with gamergate-friendly sites. If this was just some random inexperienced patrollers, it could have been handled on the talk page or at AfD, but the entry of these individuals raises the stakes, as it also raises questions.

The previous tactic was to try to delete as many articles about women as possible, and if they could not be deleted, at least attach some templates to the top of them, to make them look bogus, and discredit the subject.  But there have been some new patroller tools come down the pike as part of the anti-harassment grants, so does this represent a change in tactics against the GLAM crowd?  Are the usual harassers turning back to arbcom as their traditional power base, and testing its strength and loyalty?

The situation itself is clear cut. Two individuals are edit warring. They should be stopped, but as usual, no one will stop them, because gender. They have invented a policy out of whole cloth, and should be told to start an RfC if they want this as a policy, not to try to shortcut the consensus process through arbcom, but instead they being treated like royalty, like this is already a real policy. Because there are women involved, as well as academics (a newbie with a PhD in philosophy), this has become a culture war, and the haters will be given an opportunity to drive them off.

The actual RfD policy is at WP:BEFORE:

“If there are verifiability, notability or other sourcing concerns, take reasonable steps to search for reliable sources.
“The minimum search expected is a normal Google search, a Google Books search, a Google News search, and a Google News archive search; Google Scholar is suggested for academic subjects.”

A search of Google books for “philoSOPHIA: A Journal of Continental Feminism” turns up a good 10 pages of references. These dudes could have added some sources. Instead, they chose to disrupt the article.

Note: still waiting for the creation of Julkaisufoorumi or rather the translation from the Finnish, which Headbomb rather petulantly insisted remain a red link. The source was quietly removed by his editwar buddy Randykitty in this mass edit.


7 thoughts on “Attack on women philosophers

  1. rosashills

    I looked at it more closely after posting and the whole disruption seems to be over a technical detail that really isn’t that important (whether the current editorial board gets listed or not). It just seems like a litigious excuse for generating conflict. (I think I remember the Headbomberz saying it was puffery to include editorial board members unless they’re actually doing stuff and aren’t just there to add titular star power). I don’t think that a journal’s reputation gets made on Wikipedia… and the links you provide above show the star power works where it needs to. I suppose circulating this to the Daily Nous might mobilize ant-armies of mud-slinging all over the place. (I’ve read of some crazy behavior there too). But that could be seen as canvassing meat-puppets, or stirring the soup, which I gather is frowned upon. ^^


  2. genderdesk Post author

    The original tactic was deletion (see the deletion discussion), but when that didn’t work, he shifted tactics to removing the names of notable women from where they might be discoverable by Google, even though, as SV pointed out, he had previously opposed the removal of the names of board members on other articles. One of the arguments against women editing that you see is that after women get done writing all the articles about women they will go back and delete all the articles about men. But in this case, when it is pointed out that two other articles about journals list board members, it is the dudes who go back and remove the names from those articles. You can see they have been all over Contemporary Pragmatism and Philosophia Reformata.

    It’s not about the board names, obviously, it’s the hostile language “special snowflake journal”, “utter fucking horseshit”, “toxic feminism”, “I simply gives zero fucks”, “women-hating cavemen”. People go to a lot of trouble to recruit knowledgeable scholars and convince them to edit Wikipedia, and maybe later bring in more editors from their institutions, only to see them subjected to something like that.

    The point, by the way, goes to SV, who did not lose her PhD philosopher newbie, and managed to introduce a DS template on the talk pages of both harassers. If they continue to pull stunts like that, this will make it easier to move against them later, since it proves they have been informed of discretionary sanctions, and there is a record of the objections made about their conduct. The community definitely will not move against harassers, but no one ever knows what arbcom might do. SV plays the long game.

    Oh, in case you missed it, a link to GorillaWarfare’s comic with slithering feminists:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. genderdesk Post author

    Finally, an RFC started on the talk page. And it’s looking more and more like this Headbomb guy has some kind of an ax to grind. It looks like the articles for Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, German Medical Journal, Social Science Japan Journal and Journal of International Affairs all have their boards listed, but Headbomb isn’t interested in that, he only wants to take out the women.

    And now I see the original discussion at AN. This is brutal.

    The guy makes no secret of who he is. Here is his (accepted) submission for Wikimania 2017, a lecture for “Journals Cited by Wikipedia: Evaluating the Impact of Journals on Wikipedia” under the name Gaëtan Landry (Headbomb). So in theory at least you can go and ask him whatever was he thinking. On enwiki he uses the same name, “Hi, I’m Headbomb (Gaëtan Landry if you need to have a name). I coordinate the physics projects…” So, not an expert in philosophy, much less contemporary issues in feminist philosophy, and not exactly a librarian. His rationale for demanding the professional women follow his invented essay seems to be “because penis”.

    He has posted some pics of himself at a 2005 physics meeting, and we find out there were only 3 women at the meeting. Also, his blog, his private Twitter, quoting Ayn Rand, and an anti-religion straw man rant.

    Not sure what this (here) is supposed to be:

    IMO he seems excessively hairy, but what do I know.


  4. rosashills

    Yes, it was that foaming-at-the-mouth opening paragraph at ANI that caught my attention. Since Salvidrim! made a bad decision regarding my humble request to archive my talk page after a BS block, his assuming bad faith on SV’s part also made me curious.

    Only after you posted this did I realize just how disingenuous he was being (using the interaction tool shows that Salvidrim! never had any doubt about Headbomb’s sex or identity, having celebrated their potential common ancestry about 6 months ago (again), after first noting it back in Sept. 2011.

    On, we would have to assume Alzheimer’s, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. genderdesk Post author

    Salvadrim is now over on Reddit crying to his fellow gamergaters at WikiInAction about how sad these disagreements make him. And magically, like mushrooms sprouting overnight, a bunch of poorly articulated “no” votes appear on the RFC.

    The name thing came up somewhere with SlimVirgin as well, “oh, SV I am soooo surprised to see you are female since I just now noticed you added ‘Sarah’ to your sig”. Yeah right, cause dudes always want people to know when they’re a virgin. This is all meant as FUD to make it sound like the issue is the gender of the participants, and not a content dispute over having names of female scholars appear online, as the male names do in other journal articles, and probably to keep the ideas of this branch of philosophy from being articulated publicly. If Headbomb is presenting at Wikimania on the effects of academic journals appearing in Wikipedia, you can be sure that he is well aware of the issue.

    But now, having prevented SV from finishing the article by insisting she cannot use the names of the scholars she was going to quote in the article, to fill out the content, Headbomb has now turned to the content of the article itself. In the very beginning SV pointed out that he had taken over the article and asked if he was familiar with feminists philosophy scholarship, and this was deemed unreasonable. Now he wants stuff removed because he doesn’t understand it. Imagine if someone tried to remove stuff from physics articles on that basis, what would he say to that? If he would just let them write the article, he might learn something. This happens so many times, that people with credentials in one field are totally incompetent in something else that is not in their specialty. He really ought to stick with physics.

    And now he has jumped on his anti-religious hobby horse, insisting that the Greek goddess/ saint Sophia be referred to as “[Sophia] according to [insert religion here].”


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rogol Domedonfors

    Given the impossibility of keeping actual knowledge on Wikipedia up-to-date and accurate against the entropic forces of vandalism and stupidity, anyone who still thinks Wikipedia might at some point in the future turn into an encyclopaedia would be well-advised to minimise the amount of information that needs constant curation. The board of editors of a journal is a good example. The editors of a current publication will almost certainly be available in up-to-date form at its website. Copying that list to Wikipedia creates work for people to do, and gain points in the MMORPG, and creates battlegrounds such as the current one for people to fight fights over. They are of essentially zero value to the reader, that mythical being for whose benefit all this work is allegedly being done. The only real question is why does any article on any journal try to maintain this sort of list. Indeed, why does Wikipedia try to be a compendium of current fast-changing information when it cannot even manage to be an encyclopaedia of knowledge that is stable in the long-term?



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