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Internet Bullies: Wikipedia Admits it has a Problem

Wikipedia logoBy John Stone

In a recent Age of Autism article  called "CNN Runs Scared from the Truth About Andrew Wakefield"  I drew attention to the way CNN blog editors hid behind a Wikipedia article while re-circulating the customary lies and distortions about Andrew Wakefield noting:

The Wiki entry on Andrew Wakefield has a pharmaceutical Praetorian guard surrounding it preventing it from ever being corrected, and plainly CNN realised that they were on to a loser if this discussion continued.

It is interesting therefore to note that despite the nicely utopian theory of being a disinterested and publicly correctable knowledge source, Wikimedia the parent organization of Wikipedia now admits that is easily taken over by commercially sponsored bullies. As a result they are now consulting over a proposed system of disclosure. A Wiki webpage entitles Terms of use/Paid contribution ammendment  explains:

 The Wikimedia Foundation Legal Department plans to ask the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees to consider a proposed amendment in our Terms of Use to address further undisclosed paid editing. Contributing to the Wikimedia Projects to serve the interests of a paying client while concealing the paid affiliation has led to situations that the community considers problematic. Many believe that users with a potential conflict of interest should engage in transparent collaboration, requiring honest disclosure of paid contributions. Making contributions to the Wikimedia Projects without disclosing payment or employment may also lead to legal ramifications. Our Terms of Use already prohibit engaging in deceptive activities, including misrepresentation of affiliation, impersonation, and fraud. To ensure compliance with these provisions, this amendment provides specific minimum disclosure requirements for paid contributions on the Wikimedia projects.

The consultation goes up to the March 21 for any AoA readers interested in submitting their views, however beyond acknowledging the existence of the problem it is unlikely to change much. In the case of the Wakefield entry AoA correspondent ‘Aussie Dad’ reported :

I just posted the following after the first paragraph of the Andrew Wakefield Wikipedia page:

"The Wiki entry on Andrew Wakefield has a pharmaceutical Praetorian guard surrounding it preventing it from ever being corrected."

Pleased to say it lasted about 20 seconds.

The following was the response that came up:

“Hello, and welcome to Wikipedia. This is a message letting you know that one or more of your recent edits to Andrew Wakefield has been undone by an automated computer program called ClueBot NG.

“ClueBot NG makes very few mistakes, but it does happen. If you believe the change you made was constructive, please read about it, report it here, remove this message from your talk page, and then make the edit again.”

Another question is whether Wikipedia itself has undisclosed interests.

Appendix

My comment on the Wikipedia entry for Andrew Wakefield submitted to CNN was as follows:

But this is a flawed account. The findings were confirmed by both histopathologists in the paper subsequent to the hearing (here).

When the Deer/BMJ findings came under the scrutiny of Dr David Lewis in November 2011 they were forced to re-trench (reported in Nature):

“But he (Bjarnason) says that the forms don't clearly support charges that Wakefield deliberately misinterpreted the records.

"The data are subjective. It's different to say it's deliberate falsification," he says.

“Deer notes that he never accused Wakefield of fraud over his interpretation of pathology records…

“Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, says that the journal's conclusion of fraud was not based on the pathology but on a number of discrepancies between the children's records and the claims in the Lancet paper…”

Although Godlee had previously stated in February 2011:

“The case we presented against Andrew Wakefield that the1998 Lancet paper was intended to mislead was not critically reliant on GP records”. It is primarily based on Royal Free hospital records, including histories taken by clinicians, and letters and other documents received at the Royal Free from GPs and consultants."

But it is clear that the judge who presided over Walker-Smith's exoneration and reviewed the Lancet paper in detail could not find any evidence of this. His one major quibble was over the statement about ethical approval [in the] paper which Walker-Smith says he did not see - however this is accurate too.

"Ethical approval and consent

"Investigations were approved by the Ethical Practices Committee of the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust, and parents gave informed consent."

The paper did not have ethical approval and consent, and did not need it because it was simply a review of patient data (which was what was on the tin). The procedures needed ethical approval and consent and had them.

So Wiki does not tell you any of this but repeats an account that is long disproven.

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.

 

Comments

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Godfrey Wyl

Arguable, but the disingenuous and malicious nature of the Wiki Wakefield entry is not.

"I am sure Cluebot can reverse malicious damage, the question is whether all that it is doing, and somehow I rather doubt it."

This ignores the fact that the edit in question reverted by ClueBot-NG (the "Praetorian Guard" remark) plainly was inappropriate for the entry itself, as opposed to the talk page, by any stretch of the imagination.

so long as we keep chipping away at Wiki and Pharma we will win..were never giving up that's for sure

angus

Familiar words used in jargon ways. Interesting examples of "newspeak". Perhaps Zackiegirl25 is really our old friend Syme:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYQvDgG1ttE

It is perfectly possible to confirm what I have said in my article citing BMJ, Nature News, English High Court records etc.

Also, of course Z25 resorts to outbreaks of measles as justification of Wiki's lies. There is indeed an issue of how well the vaccine prevents measles but the actual issue is how safe is the vaccine, and is it as safe as it could be.

@AussieMum/Aussie Dad

That was by design.

Thankfully, Wikipedia allows for pages to be protected from editing by users that do not make accounts or their accounts are not confirmed, should that become necessary. Cheers, and thanks for the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measles_outbreaks_in_the_21st_century

John,

I have been blocked from editing on Wikipedia. I couldn't care less.

Interesting how Zackiegirl25 who has left posts in this thread has been using the same pseudonym I used in making my amendments to Andrew Wakefield's Wikipedia page.

I suggest all Age of Autism readers keep these Big Pharma trolls busy by editing the page as often as they can until they too get banned.

Keeping the truth about Dr Andrew Wakefield in Wikipedia is essential as Wikipedia is often the first resource many people go to when starting their research on a topic. (A bit like a medical case study to generate hypotheses for future studies - now where have I heard that before?)

Getting banned is a small price to pay in defence of a good man who simply told the truth.

Aussie Dad

Cia

It is a fair point but it may be we have to look at it as the tail wagging the dog. The fact that Wiki may provide credible or correctable information on great swathes of topics doesn't stop it being theTrojan horse which enables it to misinform over major areas of current policy - the pharma is one area which has been highlighted, and not only by us. It is a terrible shame.

Also, not in itself a new problem that the very concept of an encyclopaedia encourages the mind set that knowledge is complete and certain when it never is.

John

To be fair, I think Wikipedia is a great source of information on subjects that are not controversial. I've been listening to and singing along with the Young Dubliners performing The Foggy Dew on Youtube working up to St Patrick's day, the number one most passionate, sexy, revolutionary song in all of history, and I suddenly thought that I should know more about the Easter rebellion that prompted it than I do, and Wikipedia was there with much more information on it than I could ever have wished for. It had a lot of info on the murder of the Goebbels children in Hitler's bunker by their mother that I got interested in several weeks ago. Who knew that Hitler and Speer both pled for their lives and offered them a means of escape?
But evil, greedy people will find a way to corrupt anything in a way that serves their ends. It's just unfortunate that accurate info on vaccine damage can be blocked so easily by the Dark Side.

Zackiegirl25

I am sure Cluebot can reverse malicious damage, the question is whether all that it is doing, and somehow I rather doubt it.

For the past decade; Educators- from textbooks to teachers when teaching kids to write research papers -- from high school to college - discourage using WiKi. The rules for students are a few Wikis are acceptable as long as there are other supporting literature also listed within the paper.

Some day this WiKi article will be a great teaching tool of why wiki should not be trusted and other literature is needed

Regarding ClueBot, to get an idea of what it's algorithms codify as vandalism, simply click the "diff" blue link on any of the lines that do not say "User Talk" in them. Here are links to the first four edits at the time of posting:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_China_Study&diff=prev&oldid=599292648
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Four-stroke_engine&diff=prev&oldid=599292525
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=STEM_fields&diff=prev&oldid=599292223
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Screwtape_Letters&diff=prev&oldid=599292068
Stuff in red is what was removed by ClueBot, stuff in blue is what was added, or in this case, readded.

If Wiki seen it as a problem it would indeed be "fixed" as it is just now "fixed" to support Pharma ...

Great article John thanks

Angus

Elizabeth/Aussiemom

Do you think all the changes were reversed automatically or some by human editors?

Garbo

The more I think about it the more alarming it is that in the Wikipedia mindset, as it has evolved, edits they don't like are categorised as "vandalism" rather than "disagreement". It seems to suggest a condition of advanced institutional psychosis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYQvDgG1ttE

In response to "Aussie Dad" and his amendments to Wikipedia's entry about Andrew Wakefield.

The following changes were made:

Paragraph 1 ..."fraudulent"... Aussie Dad removed.
Paragraph 1 ..."research paper in support of the now-discredited claim that there is"...Aussie Dad removed and replaced with ..."case study suggesting..."

A paragraph 2 was added by Aussie Dad ..."Dr Wakefield explained in a 2009 article "That Paper" a 7 page concise explanation of the reasons for the case study, the findings and the concerns it raised. For persons new to this controversy it is a good place to start to understand his position. [99]
http://www.wesupportandywakefield.com/documents/AutismFile_US33-Wakefield.pdf

A paragraph 3 was added by Aussie Dad It is of some note, however, that none of the parents of the children involved had any complaint whatsoever with Dr Wakefield nor the team at the Royal Free and their procedures.

Paragraph's 2 & 3 were completely removed by Wikipedia and ..."known for his fraudulent"... in paragraph one was returned.

The "hubby" and I had enough time to print these changes before Wikipedia stepped-in.

Elizabeth Gillespie

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wakefield

From the cluebot website, I'm wondering if any intrepid AoAers with considerably more computer skills than I might be able to get a login to review the datasets of the Wakefield Wiki:


"One of the keys to Cluebot-NG functioning well is its dataset. The larger and more accurate its dataset it, the better it will function, with fewer false positives, and more caught vandalism. It's impossible for just a few people to manually review the thousands of edits necessary, so Cobi wrote a dataset review interface to allow people to review edits and classify them as vandalism or constructive.

This interface is used for a few things. Firstly, it's used to make sure the dataset we already have is accurate. False positives and false negatives from the trial dataset are put in the review queue, because we've found that a very few edits in the dataset may not be correctly classified. This causes problems in the bot's training and threshold calculations.

Also, random edits from Wikipedia may be added to the review queue to grow the overall size of the dataset.

Classifying edits in this review interface can actually help Wikipedia more with your time than just hunting vandalism. Hunting vandalism manually may catch a small fraction of a percent of vandalism on Wikipedia. Classifying edits in this interface may allow Cluebot-NG to catch 5% or more of additional vandalism.

To use the dataset review interface, you need a Google account, as the interface is built on the Google AppEngine framework. To be granted access to the interface, log in and fill out the form that appears. Once approved, please thoroughly review the directions that will appear below.

You need to log in, here is a link."

Wikipedia is basically a division of Minitru. Statist and institutional, like our captured press. Even Urban Dictionary is captured-- gone are the days of entering anti-biotech joke definitions.

Zackiegirl25

I think it is very difficult to tell from the page whether Cluebot is reversing (to use common English) unhelpful or helpful emendations. Of course, to define everything it does reverse as "vandalism" is circular.

PS They would say that wouldn't they?

Just so you guys know, ClueBot's task on Wikipedia is to revert vandalism. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/ClueBot_NG for a list of its edits.

Wiki falsifiers rank alongside playground vandals.

What's the point of having an shared interactive encyclopedia if ClueBot NG constantly replaces honest reality-based consumer edits with its officially sanctioned biased narrative?

Taximom5

I rather think that any page which is open to outside editing would be taken over by forces beyond our control.

John, is it possible to start another Wikipedia page about Andrew Wakefield, one that is not linked to the current page, but that would still pop up when people google his name?

I'd be astonished if corporations couldn't find ways to conceal payments. Haven't they been transferring money offshore since the flood?

I am surprised that they even mention vaccination on their explanation of original antigenic sin. Pretty interesting really.

I had a letter to the editor published nearly two years ago on a study by Micah Mazurek that said she was the first ever to discover that GI problems often went along with autism. I wrote that Dr. Wakefield had been the first, even though, in a quote from the Wikipedia entry on autistic enterocolitis, it was said that doctors and scientists worldwide agreed that that was preposterous, totally an invention on the part of Dr. Wakefield. I was surprised at the time that Wikipedia should be so out to lunch.

Deborah,

Thanks. Of course, I have used in this case the Andrew Wakefield entry as an important example, but evidently the problem is more generic. David Healy had this interesting post about Wiki a few weeks ago.

http://davidhealy.org/sexual-dysfunction-enduring-after-treatment-halts-s-death/

John

From the Wiki webpage entitled Terms of use/Paid contribution ammendment as quoted above:-

"Making contributions to the Wikimedia Projects without disclosing payment or employment may also lead to legal ramifications. Our Terms of Use already prohibit engaging in deceptive activities, including misrepresentation of affiliation, impersonation, and fraud."

It's very clear from John Stone's detailed and evidence based explanation above, the current Wiki entry on Andrew Wakefield contains 'misrepresentations' at the very least. Most right thinking persons would call these deliberate lies.

Also from the Wiki webpage:-
'Contributing to the Wikimedia Projects to serve the interests of a paying client while concealing the paid affiliation has led to situations that the community considers problematic.'

If, as seems likely, the Wakefield entry is paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, and the wording is 'ring fenced', then this situation is certainly 'problematic' to the public 'community' who are being deliberately misled by Wikipedia. Most persons expect Wiki information to be as factually correct as possible. Mistakes are supposed to be corrected, when evidence of inaccuracies is supplied.

It's interesting to see the Wiki comment about inaccurate paid entries possibly leading to "legal ramifications".

Perhaps the threat of being sued might just bring Wiki into line. At the very least, a register identifying the sources of paid entries, should increase the transparency about some of these sponsored lies.

John i have to say i am really not surprised to hear that this problem has been spotted ,i feel that they do not want Andrew Wakefield to be heard , because of what he has said concerning children with bowel issues , many children with bowel issues just need the right medication , which unfortunately is not forthcoming

John writes:

"It is interesting therefore to note that despite the nicely utopian theory of being a disinterested and publicly correctable knowledge source, Wikimedia the parent organization of Wikipedia now admits that is easily taken over by commercially sponsored bullies."

At least Wikimedia .. the parent organization of Wikiedia now admits that it is easily taken over by commercially sponsored bullies. Is it possible that CBS has similar problems?

I just read that Sharyl Attkisson of CBS has "resigned" her position as one of CBS top "investigative reporters". Accoring to one report:

"Sharyl Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsize influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said. She increasingly felt that her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her reporting on air.

Attkisson joined CBS News from CNN in 1993. She served as an overnight anchor for two years before becoming a Washington-based correspondent, a position she held until this week. She has won five Emmy awards for her reporting on Fast and Furious, the Red Cross, Republican fundraising, TARP and border patrol."

I suspect that Sharyl's "investigative reporting" on vaccines was also not well received by the "commercially sponsored bullies" at CBS.

The good new is .. Sharyl now intends to write a book regarding the problems she encounted in her career as an "investigative journalist" .. which should be well worth reading.

God bless Sharyl .. you go girl....

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