Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

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Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by CMAwatch » Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:35 pm

Do you have any good or bad experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?
#BbbGate
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Re: Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by Strelnikov » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:45 am

I have written about both, but I was never involved with either.
Still "Globally Banned" on Wikipedia for the high crime of journalism.

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Re: Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by ericbarbour » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:27 am

Could swear I posted the book-wiki article somewhere on this forum....

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Re: Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by ericbarbour » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:31 am

hmm, guess not, so....
RationalWiki

History
Started in 2007 as an openly biased wiki, RationalWiki 1 is supposed to be the exact opposite of
Wikipedia. And yet, many Wikipedians have accounts there (most notably David Gerard 2 , one of the
founders and sysops; and Tom Morris 3 , plus many others 4 ).
Yes, Trent Toulouse 5 , original co-founder of RW, has edited Wikipedia. He especially hates
homeopathy.
RationalWiki operates in a manner similar to Wikipedia: users are mostly anonymous, abuse of certain
people and organizations is encouraged, and adolescent snark is the order of the day. So, it is the pro-
science leftist equivalent of Encyclopedia Dramatica, albeit not as amusing. Conservapedia is the
primary target, but anyone the resident manchildren don't like is fair game.
As stated on the "Technical support 6 " page for many years: "The people with root on the servers are
Tmtoulouse and David Gerard." Also shown: "Special:ListUsers/tech 7 ", the most powerful people on
RW. Note that as of 2017 at least seven of the seventeen accounts listed were either retired
permanently, or have been relatively inactive in recent years.
In February 2017 RW's user database was cracked, and a blog post 8 was used to warn users to change
their passwords. Note the comment: "Tim Starling from Wikimedia has kindly helped upgrade
RationalWiki to MediaWiki 1.27. This will be going live shortly. This should bring us many
functionality and security improvements. In the process, Tim discovered that, in February 2017, the
RationalWiki site was breached and the site's user table was downloaded."
It took four months and Starling's involvement for RW's sysops to learn their wiki had been
compromised. It was reposted 9 on Reddit's r/wikiinaction.

Connections to Wikipedia
For many years the only mention of RW on English Wikipedia was in a paragraph of the
Conservapedia article. It was first split off as a separate article in 2007, which was swiftly deleted by
early arbitrator Mark Gallagher. 10 It was quietly recreated and re-deleted FIVE more times, with no
AFD discussion or input and always by Wikipedia insiders, until August 2008, when an IP address
deleted it and others started arguing to keep. 11 Another attempt to delete, in November 2008, also
failed. Finally a proper AFD was started in March 2010 12 . Trent Toulouse himself, and a moiety of
sockpuppets, showed up to demand deletion. They failed.
The present RW article shows its first edit in April 2010. It was expanded greatly in June 2010 13 by
Wikimedia India principal Vipul Naik. Thereafter, the primary author is "FuzzyCatPotato 14 ", a totally
anonymous person who openly claims 15 to be a director of the RationalMedia Foundation and a high-
ranking RW sysop. And yet, sometimes denies 16 being an "official RW spokesman". This is a classic
example of COI abuse being tolerated by Wikipedia administrators, because someone wants it to
happen. From 2015 on, FCP and other obscure WP accounts, especially conservative WP editor/addict
Rothorpe 17 , fought over the content.
Further attempts to blank or delete the article were treated as simple vandalism. Thanks to heavy
editwarring and the silent involvement by high-ranking WP insiders, the edit history of this article
probably cannot be trusted to be "accurate" or complete.

The "internal culture"

The correspondence between RationalWiki articles and Wikipedia articles can be remarkable. For
example, compare the two on anti-immigration crusader John Tanton 1819 , or the Most Holy Family
Monastery 2021 .
Not surprisingly, many of the people associated with the Guerrilla skeptics also have accounts on
RationalWiki, including Susan Gerbic 22 . A very high percentage 23 of RW's few regular users have
administrative rights, and seem to think that blocking themselves, or each other, is a form of
"entertainment". 242526272829303132333435363738394041 For "rational people", their behaviour could not be more
irrational.
And as with Wikipedia, someone is using bots to create sockpuppet accounts on RationalWiki. As of
2015 there were more than 30,000 accounts on RW, yet less than 1% of them performed any
substantial editing work.
As some observers have pointed out 424344 , RationalWiki either takes an anti-feminist and misogynist
position, or a rabidly pro-feminist position. Indicating that the "lulz" are successful.
• To precisely quote the Wikipedia article about Conservapedia 45 , which mostly serves as an
attack on Conservapedia:
"In April 2007, Peter Lipson, a doctor of internal medicine, repeatedly attempted to edit
Conservapedia's article on breast cancer to include evidence arguing against Conservapedia's claim
that abortion was a major cause of the disease. Conservapedia administrators "questioned his
credentials and shut off debate". 46 Several editors whose accounts were blocked by Conservapedia
administrators, including Lipson, started another website, RationalWiki, a sometimes satirical and
sometimes serious wiki website with articles written from a secular, progressive perspective.[citation
needed] RationalWiki's self-stated purpose is to analyze and refute "pseudoscience", the "anti-science
movement", and "crank ideas", as well as to conduct "explorations of authoritarianism and
fundamentalism" and explore "how these subjects are handled in the media." 47 According to an article
published in the Los Angeles Times in 2007, RationalWiki members "monitor Conservapedia. And—by
their own admission—engage in acts of cyber-vandalism.""
• To precisely quote the openly racist Metapedia's article about RationalWiki:
"RationalWiki is a genetic-egalitarian race denialism propaganda website that is run by Ontario
resident Trent Toulouse. RationalWiki is a wiki founded by secular humanists in response to
Conservapedia. They regard Richard Dawkins as their messiah. It is based on MediaWiki, like
Metapedia. The wiki has around 4200 English pages middle of May 2010. The information is
inaccurate and sparse. The wiki begs for donations. The site is extremely anti-Christian and anti-
Conservative and promotes sodomy and gun restriction."
"Trent Toulouse has promoted like-minded people on the wiki to the rank of bureaucrat, and let them
enforce the site’s propaganda and promote other like-minded people to bureaucrat, whereas Trent
Toulouse himself does not directly enforce the propaganda. That serves to make Trent Toulouse
appear blameless; the same tactic is used by Wikipedia owner Jimbo Wales. Trent Toulouse's primary
surrogate is the user “Human”; Human has done much of the bureaucratizing that Trent did not want
his name attached to."

Ryulong shows up

From this WO thread 48 , 29 Dec 2014:
"So, Ryulong became active on IrrationalWiki earlier this month. A few days ago he was given sysoppowers by David Gerard and today started complaining about another sysop having the tools 49 , started
a wheel war by abusing his tools to remove the other sysop's tools 50 and was then the subject of a
wheel war over his access to the sysop tools 51 . Here I was just using IrrationalWiki to describe their
content, when it clearly describes their overall culture."
This led to a charming conversation 52 on RW's "Chicken Coop", their version of a "noticeboard".
Clearly Gerard wanted Ryulong to have sysop power on RW for "entertainment". And personal animus
on Wikipedia transfers directly to RW and vice versa, despite the two websites having no "official"
connection.
"Two days ago, Nutty reopped 53 Exiled. Ryulong removed 54 Exiled's sysop. Nutty removed 55 Ryulong's
sysop. Neither of these removals was the result of a discussion on the Chicken Coop. As such, I
reopped 56 Exiled and reopped 57 Ryulong. Ryulong has 58 brought 59 this 60 up 61 on numerous pages and
mentioned 62 a previous Chicken Coop incident. If we are going to discuss anything in this matter, we
should discuss it here, rather than on 50 pages. User:FuzzyCatPotato 15:59, 28 December 2014
(UTC)
"Deop all 3 and call it a day? 141.134.75.236 16:14, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"Or don't. Since all three currently have sysop status, just leave things as they hang. User:Weaseloid
16:19, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"Pretty obviously people randomly removing sysop status because they personally think it's a good
idea is a bad way of going about things. If somebody is abusing their sysop status then this is the place
to talk about it. --User:Bob_M|Bob 17:11, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"FWIW - The opping of EE struck me as a terrible idea - he's not only a bloody worthless waste of
space as a contributor (and a good example of the principle that if you just got kicked off Wikipedia,
you won't do any better on RW without changing your ways - really, [Caligula] in [Category:Engineer
woo]? Wasn't woeful categorisation what he got kicked for?), but also has posted copyvios that then
needed removing. Though I don't see any in his blather this week. The key point is that EE lacks the
minimal judgement needed not to actually piss all over the carpet, all the time going "what? what?
what's the problem? you're so MEAN" and if you were looking for an example of a poor newbie
harassed by cantankerous old guard, he's sorta not a great one - User:David Gerard|David Gerard
17:38, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"I am no particular fan of EE but I'm at a loss to see where he's misused his sysop status. And if that's
not the offence he is accused of I don't see the point of removing it.
"In any event it would need to be a community decision.--User:Bob_M|Bob| 17:46, 28 December 2014
(UTC)
"I don't care. People are being inconsistent, few have any idea what they're talking about, and this
kind of shit is always more about personalities than merits, but do whatever you want. User:Nutty
Roux|Nutty Roux 18:03, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"I want aware of process to actually know that this was necessary but CensoredScribe is a mess that
should not be trusted on any MediaWiki software site with anything beyond reading ability. outside of
my action, his bit has been on and off since registration. IRS not even like he was banned from
Wikipedia for personality issues or whatever is rumbling there for me. He got banned because he
wouldnt stop making bad content decisions when they were discovered and violated his ban on doing
anything regarding categories, which he is wont to do here as well.—User:Ryulong 18:57, 28
December 2014 (UTC)"I largely concur, but at least almost nothing you can do in MediaWiki is irreversible (which is why
sysop is actually not a big deal) - User:David Gerard 19:00, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"[plain old editor hat] I move we all calm down and back away slowly and have more Christmas drink
and it'll be as resolved as anything ever is in a wiki full of argumentative skeptics all convinced of their
own perspicacity and everyone else's stupidity - User:David Gerard 19:00, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"I second David's motion. User:FuzzyCatPotato 19:07, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"I third the motion. I may personally dislike Ryulong; however he has done nothing here to warrant
having sysops privileges removed, beyond vengefully removing mine which I've never done to anyone.
Ryulong may have committed the capital crime of not capitalizing their O's and using apostrophes
correctly, but I do that when stressed by the thought of every post being my last as well.
"I ask that this matter be dropped and no ones sysops privileges removed; but if that is too much to
ask, than before anyone is tried, may they at least be given warning that a decision is pending, so that
they may present their case before a certain time. It will take some time for me to compile a list of my
best edits here to refute the less than 10 examples that are cited against me. I have more than 10 good
edits, just to science articles.
"Inconsistency is correct. I understand I make a lot of edits, but I find it hard to believe you would the
majority of them objectionable; this is cherry picking a few bad cherries in a field of hundreds. Also,
I'm not an expert on Roman history, however that Caligula article sort of made it sound like he was an
engineer who thought he was a god. I would be more than happy just to leave any additions to
engineering woo up as a discussion on the respective talk pages, as I've done with UFO; just inform
me now what is a personalized banish-able offense for me, and I will avoid it ahead of time.
"You never even bother to just ask me politely to discuss categorizations. Nor does anyone bother to
demonstrate what is and isn't copyright violations like Drmies did for me the two times I did that as
Cassandra Truth. It seems to be like a DNA test done with words, where as little as 6 shared words
between the reference cited and the summation of that text constitutes copyright violation. What is the
number exactly and if you have a concrete number why isn't it stated somewhere on the site? Try not
using a single word from the reference, and see if that's possible and not just completely unrelated to
the source at that point; a single drop of plagiarized words like and, the or the article name, poisons
the entire well.
"We are all in the same boat; the one that isn't Noah's ark. Shiver me timbers! User:Exiled
Encyclopedist 22:38, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"Just an aside, you're not at all obligated to write verbose edit summaries for every edit, you know. Not
that there's anything wrong with it, though the effort could be spent on more worthwhile things.
141.134.75.236 23:16, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
"Worthwhile things like taking a few seconds to consider whether adding links to [Watergate]
whenever a -gate topic pops up is really such a splendid idea. . 141.134.75.236 01:36, 29 December
2014 (UTC)

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Re: Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by Dysklyver » Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:46 pm

As a Tech on RationalWiki I always found it to be a perfectly good website if you ignore the Nazi trolls and Crazy people who come along to troll.
De facto globally banned on all Wikimedia sites. Editor of The Wiki Cabal. find me on the Wiki Treehouse Discord.

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Re: Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by Abd » Fri Feb 21, 2020 7:30 pm

Dysklyver wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:46 pm
As a Tech on RationalWiki I always found it to be a perfectly good website if you ignore the Nazi trolls and Crazy people who come along to troll.
The problem, Dysk, is that many of the ordinary users (i.e,. sysops there) are quite crazy, and some of the crazies have even been elected moderators, and have tolerated extreme, highly offensive trolling by some.

Used to be routine that Ace McWicked would drop a penis trident on a user's talk page, and that was not the worst of it by far. There was a sober element there, there always was, but it also tolerated extreme trolling, except for ordinary point-of-view pushing by Nazis -- or people accused of being Nazis --, and was highly selective about what disagreement was allowed.

It still happens that a trollsock shows up impersonating me and is blocked immediately as a banned user. I.e, as me. I have not edited RatWiki for quite a long time -- and never disruptively.

RatWiki is "perfectly good" from what point of view? As a place to post skeptical content? Not safe, unreliable, consider the content put up by Some random Smith, blocked as me. Allegedly an impersonation of Oliver Smith, though nobody saw it that way until the accusation appeared.

No, Dysk, you know better -- the community is next to impossible -- and I think you largely abandoned RatWiki because of what you know. Amirite? (And, by the way, you have never betrayed your position as a tech, nor would I expect you to. You are one of the most trustworthy people I've found in years of internet activity.)

It may be useful in some ways and for some people, but "perfectly good," no.

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Re: Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by ericbarbour » Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:22 am

Abd wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 7:30 pm
RatWiki is "perfectly good" from what point of view? As a place to post skeptical content? Not safe, unreliable, consider the content put up by Some random Smith, blocked as me. Allegedly an impersonation of Oliver Smith, though nobody saw it that way until the accusation appeared.

No, Dysk, you know better -- the community is next to impossible -- and I think you largely abandoned RatWiki because of what you know.
hear hear

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Re: Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by Dysklyver » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:06 am

Abd wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 7:30 pm

[...]

No, Dysk, you know better -- the community is next to impossible -- and I think you largely abandoned RatWiki because of what you know. Amirite? [...]

It may be useful in some ways and for some people, but "perfectly good," no.
I found that the community on the site now is largely more constrained than that original time, although like any online community dedicated mainly to taking the mickey out of others, it is prone to random infighting.

I made good friends with certain members there (even some former members ;)) and had favourable interactions with most, however my interest in the wiki hasn't particularly returned yet after my mental health issues forced me to withdraw from my formerly frequent activities on the internet late last year.

I'm not certain that I will ever be as active on any fora as I was around 2017-19, but I mantain that as user participatory websites go, RationalWiki was alright. There were some people there who were undoubtedly not positive members of society and their impact both on the wiki and me personally was detrimental, but that is honestly part of most open communities.

I would describe RationalWiki as a niche leftist group project, it's not truly neutral nor truly skeptical but presents the views of it's writers to anyone who cares to read it, and that's perfectly good as far as I'm concerned.
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Re: Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by Abd » Thu Mar 19, 2020 7:19 pm

Dysklyver wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:06 am
I would describe RationalWiki as a niche leftist group project, it's not truly neutral nor truly skeptical but presents the views of it's writers to anyone who cares to read it, and that's perfectly good as far as I'm concerned.
Thanks.

I'd again suggest that "perfectly good" is a strange way to describe a site that pretends to be skeptical but is no.

It's true, it doesn't pretend to be neutral.

But it does pretend to welcome people who disagree with site positions, and it doesn't, far too often. So that is deceptive. The site supported the Smith trolls for far too long, suppressing any hint of critique, and it still supports them, though things are getting a bit tight for the Smiths.

One of the obvious problems is a naive public that can confuse "wiki" with "Wikipedia" -- and naive journalists who don't realize they have been snookered.

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Re: Experiences with RationalWiki and MetaPedia?

Post by Strelnikov » Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:58 pm

Dysklyver wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:06 am
Abd wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 7:30 pm

[...]

No, Dysk, you know better -- the community is next to impossible -- and I think you largely abandoned RatWiki because of what you know. Amirite? [...]

It may be useful in some ways and for some people, but "perfectly good," no.
I found that the community on the site now is largely more constrained than that original time, although like any online community dedicated mainly to taking the mickey out of others, it is prone to random infighting.

I made good friends with certain members there (even some former members ;)) and had favourable interactions with most, however my interest in the wiki hasn't particularly returned yet after my mental health issues forced me to withdraw from my formerly frequent activities on the internet late last year.

I'm not certain that I will ever be as active on any fora as I was around 2017-19, but I mantain that as user participatory websites go, RationalWiki was alright. There were some people there who were undoubtedly not positive members of society and their impact both on the wiki and me personally was detrimental, but that is honestly part of most open communities.

I would describe RationalWiki as a niche leftist group project, it's not truly neutral nor truly skeptical but presents the views of it's writers to anyone who cares to read it, and that's perfectly good as far as I'm concerned.
My problems with RationalWiki involve how certain articles were written; a good example is the Holodomor article (https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Holodomor) on the point of Douglas Tottle, author of the book Fraud, Famine, and Fascism* (1987) - they call his book "a conspiracy theory"....which was the same stuff said by the expatriate Ukrainian nationalists in Toronto and Chicago in the late 1980s, the same people that were working with Robert Conquest on The Harvest of Sorrow documentary in 1985-86 - and Conquest** is considered a good source in the article! What I'm saying is that the article (like with the one on Wikipedia) seems to have a bias toward Ukrainian claims and a desperate willingness to dodge the (only seen on Wikipedia) tag of being "Holodomor deniers." In WikiLand, the devil is always in the details. If I can find leaks or oddities or bias in this, then what else is slanted on RationalWiki?

* Source for Tottle's book: https://archive.org/details/DouglasTott ... 3/mode/2up It is near-impossible to find actual physical copies of the book. For "balance", here is a pdf of The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book, a work many people think was paid for by the CIA: https://willzuzak.ca/lp/holodomor/white-book.pdf

** Conquest has his own problems of veracity: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/08/robe ... tivization The tl;dr is that Conquest was part of the Information Research Department, a project of the Foreign Office of the British government - he was writing anti-Soviet books on the Queen's shilling, books that would be published through private publishers so it didn't look like state propaganda. Lobster magazine has a number of articles on the IRD, I can't get the one on Conquest out, here is one on Hugh Mooney: https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free ... gh-who.pdf
Still "Globally Banned" on Wikipedia for the high crime of journalism.

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