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Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Tue May 22, 2018 11:14 pm
by CrowsNest
I think we are talking about two different things.

If George Galloway at al are seeking to identify Cross, then the WMF will not even bother firing up their tape drive unless he has an itemized list of edits and a clear brief which itemized which parts of the ToS they violate.

Now, obviously, they can go to a court and obtain an order to compel them to identify, but what they have to present to the judge is entirely different, and if they choose a UK court and obtained such an order, the WMF would still most likely choose to tell them to go fish.

Obtaining an order in a US court would make the WMF at least seriously think about whether or not they want to protect Cross or throw him under the bus, but of course success there isn't as likely if the offence is one where US law provides less protection than the UK.

It all really depends on why they want to sue him in the first place. I've seen harassment mentioned, as well as defamation of course. A receptive judge might even grant them an order on the basis he might very well be an agent of a foreign power trying to influence domestic politics while masquerading as a mere private citizen taking advantage of the power of social media. I gather that's a hot topic these days....

Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Wed May 23, 2018 12:56 am
by Abd
CrowsNest wrote:On 18 May, a well explained and meticulously referenced complaint registered by an established Wikipedian (3,000+ edits since June 2017) at the Conflict of Interest Noticeboard was aggressively shut down by one of Wikipedia's most notorious insiders, Guy Chapman..... ... ilip_Cross
Today, four days later, that filing is still closed. This was idiotic, but no surprise for Guy. That filing was more or less open-and-shut, clear COI. The filer made that clear: the juiciest bits:
On May 14, 2018, Philip Cross acknowledged George Galloway as one of "the goons" with whom he is feuding, and 41 minutes later admitted, "Well I have a big COI now, so I probably won't edit their articles very much in future." Nevertheless, four days later, Cross has again edited this BLP.
and there were diffs. JzG unilaterally closed this, which is very unusual for a filing so clear and simple:
Zero evidence of COI. Galloway has picked a fight with Cross, not the other way around. Guy (Help!) 20:47, 18 May 2018 (UTC)

What does who "picked the fight" have to do with Conflict of Interest? And since when does an individual administrator have the right to shut down a discussion like that?
Obviously, he has the right, because nobody stopped him. Cross realized he had a COI. When a user tells an admin to GF himself, the user may have "started it," but the admin still has an obligation to recuse (not to undo his action, if one was involved, but to let someone else decide if the incivility is block-worthy). Guy has been around for donkey's ages, but either doesn't understand policy, or does, very well, and ignores it because he can and has gotten away with violating it.
The Wikipedia community is responsible for what it tolerates. That's true for all communities.

I used to say as a corollary to Rule Number 1, (Ignore All Rules), "If you haven't been blocked, it is because you are not trying hard enough to improve the project." People who stood for the intention of the policies have gradually been sidelined, and blocked and sometimes banned if they didn't retire. This was all, my view, a more or less inevitable result of the initial concepts, which created the conditions that people like JzG flourished in. Wales' naivete -- if that is what it is -- is phenomenal.

Yes, he could probably do something, but I think he's terrified of poking the monster he helped create.

Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Wed May 23, 2018 8:51 am
by CrowsNest
Things moved on from there, and Guy did at least hand it off to AN, although his filing showed what he thought it it all, that it was nothing and if anythigne, Cross is the victim. That is maybe trending to doing something, then again maybe not. It currently appears stalled, and nobody seems willing to close it.

It seems like the whole thing is being tracked by fivefilters, who are posting updates to their original piece.

Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Wed May 23, 2018 9:47 am
by CrowsNest
There is a brilliant summary of the controversy in this Galloway interview of Neil Clark. It outlines all the reasons why this could be terrible for Wikipedia and Jimmy Wales, while also showing what might mean it ends up going nowhere. It's fifteen minutes long, but I urge people to listen to the whole thing.

The scenario which carries most threat, is if the mainstream media pick this up as a story of an obsessive stalker with aggressively centrist views, who uses Wikipedia to target UK foreign policy critics, whose evident agenda in his edits is as obvious as the Twitter abuse he directs at his victims. And yet Wikipedia and Jimmy Wales does nothing about it. Even after repeated attempts to prod them into action, with actual evidence of the behaviour.

Public figures contemplating suicide, offering bounties to identify a person they see as a physical threat to their safety, and stating "we will not shut up about this", is really not a good look for Wikipedia, especially if the response from their God King is arrogant dismissal.

On the flip side, if they keep banging on about how Cross might be a government agent or disinformation cell, sent to Wikipedia to destroy the very foundations of British democracy and prop up the evil conspiracy between the mainstream media and the neocon establishment, well, most people, and certainly the police and the mainstream media, are going to think they're just conspiracy theorist nutters, and ignore it. Which obviously would only confirm it for them, but is unlikely to be the real truth, and thus really would represent a terrible missed opportunity to expose Wikipedia for what it really is, an unaccountable enabler of unaccountable stalker-freaks and POV pushers.

This is not exactly an unknown flaw of Wikipedia, but to my mind it has only ever been exposed in small cases, where one individual is targeting one or two enemies in a tiny corner of the Wikipedia shit-pile, and there's no higher motive other than interpersonal issues. Consequently the failure is more about the Wikipedians just not really paying attention, and their usual bias against complaints if they come from the outside.

But if enough noise is made, even in these cases, the perpetrator ends up banned, and the Wikipediots kind of sort of admit fault and say sorry. This is different. This is a large scale effort driven it seems by politics/ideology, the interpersonal element of the feuding and stalking/harassment being merely the consequence rather than the driver of the behaviour. And this is not some obscure corner. And this is not merely a case of them not noticing and being implicitly biased toward insiders, they are actively waving away complaints and actively protecting Cross.

Maybe the Wikipediots don't properly get this, but let me explain how serious this could be for them. In Britain, we have just three national talk radio stations. One owned by the BBC, one owned by NewsCorp, one owned by a self-made millionaire (with a little help from daddy) who now lives in Knightsbridge and has an OBE. So you can probably guess which one is the preferred choice of broadcasters and listeners who have a healthy scepticism of the establishment.

When Galloway broadcasts on that station, he knows he can't just trot out any old bullshit and not suffer the consequences. We don't have that kind of media here, we have regulations, standards, and, well, actual laws. So he knows that at the very least, if he says something outrageously defamatory about Wikipedia or Jimmy Wales, they have the means to fight back. Similarly if they wanted to defend the honour of someone like Cross. So for them, it really would be a mistake to be seen to be acting like this really is just the British radio equivalent of dogs barking at the moon, something that is safely ignored.

Not that the BBC is in my view in the pocket of the government, but if we ever got to the point this was picked up by the BBC, it really would be too late, Wales would be at the stage where he would have to find someone prepared to go into a studio and sit across from Galloway at al, and defend Wikipedia. And believe me, they would lose that debate, because that person would probably be him. He is already on record as seeing nothing to this, and the combination of Galloway claiming it is because he is Blairite scum, and him trying desperately to justify Wikipedia's governance model, it would be one hell of a spectacle, one bound to draw negative headlines and yet more media attention.

Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 12:04 pm
by CrowsNest
This whole thing is exploding. It is dominating #Wikipedia.

It's now been covered by The Canary in a massively detailed piece.... ... urnalists/

......which is seriously bad news for Wikipedia. Not because it is a reliable source, but because it has way more legitimacy in the eyes of those who want to be convinced Wikipedia is and always has been in the pocket of the British establishment, than say RT or Galloway.

Even people who like the Canary will grudgingly accept it is biased, but they would not likely accept they would actually lie. Which is why they will sit up and take notice when they say things like this......
The mystery of Cross is still unfolding. But the whole case hammers home just how critical we all need to be as readers of, and subjects to, the media. Not just the mainstream media, but even apparently neutral outlets such as Wikipedia. So we must remember to approach all platforms with a critical eye, especially those that initially appear unbiased.
Wikipedia is screwed. Ignoring this is no longer an option, it's a thing now, certainly insofar as coverage in Britain goes. It almost doesn't matter now if reliable sources pick it up. Indeed if they did, that might be worse for Wikipedia because they're unlikely to convey their response with the necessary accuracy/nuance, or with the required weight. A BBC story on this would definitely plant seeds of doubt in people's minds. It is the classic case of 'questions need to be asked, and these people don't seem to have the answers, they're just attacking the messenger'.

All they can do now is fall back on the idea that if the crazies on the left and the right are attacking us, we must be neutral. This defence works for the BBC, but only because reasonable people are reasonably certain the BBC has an effective system of editorial oversight. This scandal however, simply adds to the existing mountain of evidence that the Wikipedia machine really has no idea, and critically no control, over what it's writers actually do.

To stop people like Cross, you need volunteer Wikipedians to notice, and to care. The lesson of the scandal is that Wikipedia's unpaid volunteers neither notice, or really care, until something has developed into a shitstorm. Even then, their best effort so far is proposing a topic ban from Galloway's article, and even that is being opposed. This is not going to be enough, certainly for readers of The Canary, not by a long shot.

And of course, because they have horrifically mishandled it since it began to break, perhaps because they assumed it would just blow over like so many of their other issues which lamentably don't get this level of interest, anything they do now to admit the scandal is a scandal, merely ensures it officially becomes a Wikipedia scandal. The next Siegenthaler affair, the next Essjay controversy. In exactly the same way those scandals torpedoed their PR message of the day, this will absolutely torpedo their current efforts to position themselves as the only neutral purveyor of real facts in the free world.

Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 12:13 pm
by CrowsNest
Nobody on-wiki has complained, but he seems to have upset some people off-wiki.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 05:32, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
This is what some Wikipedians are capable of saying, even when this is going on...... ... ilip_Cross

Sheer lunacy. When you can quite easily prove someone is as delusional as this, why do they then assume people will believe them when they say this.......
I've come across Philip Cross while editing David Frost and didn't think that there was anything wrong with his editing.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 15:40, 24 May 2018 (UTC)
(and even if you did believe him, why would anyone assume the things Cross is accused of doing, would be apparent on a seemingly irrelevant article like David Frost?)

Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 6:05 pm
by CrowsNest
Now it's being suggested his motive is pro-Israel/ that'll quiet things down then :lol: ... wikipedia/ ... -1.6115917

Haaretz interestingly chooses to defend Wikipedia using the 'we are attacked from all sides, so we must be neutral' angle, and tries to argue that it is Wikipedia's model is to have openly biased editors fighting each other, which somehow ends up in a neutral article, or at least one that reflects mainstream bias.

As said above, that isn't actually the mode!. Editors are allowed to have bias, but they are supposed to be aware of how it can affect their editing, and take active measures to ensure it doesn't affect their edits, or how they debate with others. It's just a sad reality that most Wikipedians are morons who aren't remotely interested in building a neutral reference work, and so don't follow this practice. Wikipedia even has specific rules which make it clear people who edit exclusively toward one POV are not welcome, and if they don't play ball, should be banned. But because most Wikipedia Administrators are unqualified morons not remotely interested in enforcing the rules, least of all against people whose biases they agree with, this practice isn't followed either.

Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Sat May 26, 2018 10:34 am
by CrowsNest
Interesting developments.....

Cross has now self-identifed as Andrew Philip Cross (born 1963). If this is yet another attempt at misdirection or mockery, he better hope and pray there isn't a real person who matches these details, because history has shown mistaken identity on the part of vigilantes, can have serious consequences, up to and including murder.

Guy Chapman has also decided to put this matter before ArbCom. ... =843022317

This is ostensibly because.....
This is under discussion at AN, where I raised it, but I think the involvement of private data and the off-wiki element makes that a dangerous route to final determination - the AN thread already includes encouragement to off-wiki sleuthing, which precedent shows to be a bad idea.
.....although I rather think it is telling how many times he seems to be saying this......
Either that or PC is the victim of an off-wiki harassment campaign and needs to be able to clear his name, which is very difficult without credible evidence of his real-world identity, which, if released, would likely result in physical danger to him.
Cross made his self-identification above, which seems to discredit this statement, mere hours before Guy filed this request.

The simple reality here is, the idea Cross = Kamm is only a small part of this scandal. Even if he were able to prove beyond doubt using private details that he is not Kamm, as Spartaz has claimed he can, that still leaves open the possibility he is a close associate, and evidence backing that up keeps emerging, therefore he cannot clear his name in any way.

On that issue, and indeed on all this other issues where he is charged with serious breaches of assorted Wikipedia rules, all he can do is give a plausible explanation for why he appears to be an obsessive stalker abusing Wikipedia for a sustained campaign to smear his enemies and benefit his friends. The only plausible explanation here is that he has simply misunderstood the rules, and had no feedback or way of even knowing that his editing is wrong.

That is where a case will be useful (and thus why they might decline it), since it will expose the many times people have raised the alarm, on and off-wiki, and Cross has been able to ignore it and continue on regardless, because of the institutional incompetence and/or systemic bias of Wikipedia and the Wikipedians. It will also expose the fact Cross has greeted all of these complaints with a curiously detached air, giving little to no useful information, and indeed look like continuing attempts to troll his critics.

All this makes it extremely silly that Guy is trying to frame this case as being only about Cross versus Galloway, to the point he rather ridiculously seems to smear everyone who is criticising Cross, as the "pro-Galloway camp", or even "Galloway apologists". Hopeful that is just a mistake in how he has written the submission, but then again, that's not a mistake someone with his experience should be making.

To reference one of Guy's points though, this issue frankly goes way beyond the pay grade of mere Arbs. This guy is facing a lawsuit for defamation if his self-identification is real, and as well as the issue of Wikipedia volunteers utterly failing to enforce their own policies against harassment and bias, Jimmy and the WMF face accusations of not taking complaints about what in reality would be serious breaches of the Terms of Use (Lawful Behaviour, No Harm, Mission). And nothing I have just said there requires any proof Cross has a COI in relation to Kamm or is not a real person or is a paid operative.

Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Sat May 26, 2018 11:14 am
by CrowsNest
Cross to Guy:
Thank you for a fair and reasonable summary of the issues. Philip Cross (talk) 09:46, 26 May 2018 (UTC)
Like I said above, despite him beiing at the centre of a total shitstorm, every response he gives on wiki is banal, to the point of useless. If you really wanted to, you could take this as meaning he thinks the Wikipedians pulling him up for a basic and obvious violation of BLPCOI for having edited Galloway's page while also feuding with him on Twitter, are just Galloway apologists. If he said that explicitly, you would like to think he would be blocked instantly. So he doesn't say it explicitly. If you asked him directly on Wikipedia if he agrees with that reading of his reply, it seems likely be would either not answer, or not give a direct answer.

The Wikipedians need to really start reflecting on whether or not this guy really does come across as a sympathetic victim, someone worth defending on basic principle. Because if he isn't, the scale of this scandal is going to ensure the world knows exactly what sort of person they consider worth defending, a gamer/stalker/troll who lacks any sense of ethics or personal responsibility, and most certainly does not see himself as part of a collaborative community.

If they believe their own hype, a Wikipedian is supposedly more than their edits, they are people of principle and ethics. And this guy's edits don't even really pass the smell test. As I type, even as this scandal is surrounding him, his latest effort is to continue to argue the following news story is a trivial event, not something you would include in the Wikipedia biography of Ruth Smeeth...... ... ction.html ... =843009931

Smeeth is, of course, exactly this sort of politician Cross' critics have alleged he seeks to remove negative information from, indeed she is named specifically as one example of his biased editing - he is of course, the most frequent editor of it, by number of edits.

It seems he is only being prevented in this goal now, because of this so called harassment campaign.

Re: Philip Cross

Posted: Sat May 26, 2018 4:59 pm
by CrowsNest
Not a formal statement, but a response to the points raised by two Arbcom members below. I will not edit the George Galloway article again for an indeterminate length of time regardless of any decision. This also includes quite minor changes, like the two I made on 24 May 2018 here and here which I unwisely assumed would be entirely uncontentious and could not be interpretated as being anything other than "positive". Plus the other articles which have been queried by interested parties, including the article about Oliver Kamm with the proviso about very minor edits also applying to them, and accepting any interventions by administrators if I should err in future. Philip Cross (talk) 16:04, 26 May 2018 (UTC)
Not a formal statement? I'm afraid it is, but remain surprised at how this guy continues to approach this as if it were a negotiation.

I can't even understand his terms. No edits to Galloway at all, forever, which is frankly where the AN report was heading. But what does the rest mean? There are numerous different lists of articles which people have highlighted as his targets/beneficiaries. Interesting that he leaves it open. And is he barring himself completely, or is he allowing himself to do minor edits on those?

Whatever the specifics, what you're seeing here is an experienced editor playing Wikipolitics. NewYorkBrad implied, and Rob13 outright stated, that accepting the case hinges on whether or not he continued to edit certain articles. Logically then, your best move is to offer not to do that, without making clear which ones, and hope that is enough to spare the full scope of your activities being exposed in open court.

This not formal formal statement is categorically not what you would have expected someone to say if, as Cross has been implying with his prior brief comments, that he wanted this whole thing to go before ArbCom so his harassers could be stopped and he could clear his name. This is a guy who knows he is guilty and is trying to cut a deal, with the least amount of further on-wiki exposure of evidence as possible.