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« Prospect on the Hockey Stick (again) | Main | Newsnight reactions »

Wiki wars

A correspondent writes to tell me that Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee are currently examining the conduct of people involved in the ongoing saga of edit wars over climate change articles. The allegations and counter-allegations over who did what and when can be seen here.

There has now been a draft decision issued and it looks as though, hot on the heels of losing his SysOp privileges, Dr Connolley may be up for a ban. He will be accompanied by at least one sceptic.

(As always with Wiki, please don't get involved if you are not already)

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Reader Comments (27)

Its a mad, mad world. Is it just me, or from reading the arbitration thing, is wiki developing it's own language?

Aug 24, 2010 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer


Can you tell us what rules apply at Wikipedia? As near as I can tell it is some form of consensus governed by the "right people" - i.e. admins/editors

It doesn't seem to be right-wing or left-wing (whatever those terms mean) but has some relevance to the original US constitution - the really original one - where the people were to be governed by a democracy of 'the right people'. Ordinary people didn't get to vote. This early feature of "the world's greatest democracy" results in the very odd American electoral college system where the president is voted for by selected state's voters, and these are voted for (belatedly by some years) by the popular vote.

As far as I can see Wikipedia is a very early version of American style Democracy. The only difference is how the 'college voters' are selected. In Wikipedia's case I expect it is because they were busy and compliant at the right times?

[BH adds: Dunno. I'm not a big Wiki editor and I don't follow the arguments over who is in charge very much]

Aug 24, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

@ Atomic Hairdryer

Thank heavens I am not alone!

Aug 24, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss H


if anybody ask about wiki, climate and and william connolley again(founding contributor - RealClimate )... ie trying to dismiss the manipulation...

Look at William Connelly's 'rap sheet' there.. (7, onwards, half way down)

Aug 24, 2010 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Don't all these people have anything better to do?

Aug 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

I had a little back-and-forth dialog with the Wikimedia Foundation a while back after telling them that there would be no $$$ donations until they dealt with the likes of William Connolly.

He is a phenomena they are aware of.

Aug 24, 2010 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

I really do thing WC epitomises everything that is bad about the dogma that is Alarmist "science". We have seen others of course via the Climategate tapes but WC's rap sheet on Wiki (Thanks for the link Barry) is astounding.

And yet with all that obvious duplicity and spin on his part - he still thinks he holds the moral high ground!

Aug 24, 2010 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug

I followed the link for a quick browse (not much on this morning) and suddenly discovered I've been lost in there for nearly three hours! It's gripping in its awfulness. A couple of quotes made me feel quite at home:-

"I believe these comments by [...] express clearly WMC's and his group's attitude towards editors outside their group who have differences of opinion on the content of the climate change articles"

Following the link you come to:-
"I'm increasingly frustrated that an editor with a grand total of 106 main space edits, nearly all of them political POV pushing, keeps distracting and baiting valuable expert editors with thousands of constructive main space edits."

I seem to remember someone complaining loud and long about being inundated with malicious FOIA requests. This complaint sounds very similar.
Reading this whole discussion we get another angle on the mindset of the warmists which simply confirms what we already suspected. Surveyors call it "triangulation", I believe.

By the bye, Ward's contribution has disappeared from the Newsnight page. "Referred for further consideration", apparently.

Aug 24, 2010 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

It was there when I put this on..paraprhased, still in BBC moderation)

ie Bob Ward has an antagonistic 'history' with Andrew Montford..
He is a paid, PR spin person for the Grantham institute,
see the article, in the Guardian, where they allow him to have a go at, 'The Hockey Stick Illusion'"

from the article:
"• Bob Ward is policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

• This article was amended on 20th August 2010. Changes were made following a complaint from Andrew Montford."

Just posted this at the BBC:

Please leave Bob Ward's comment, (a pr person for climatechange)for the record....
It has been responded to fairly, let us see both sides of the debate in public.

Aug 24, 2010 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods


Electoral College does not work the way you think.

Aug 24, 2010 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Wiki got to love it, want to read all about it try:-

If you have a spare half hour at work.

Mr Hill looking good on TV last night, switched newsnight on to see the headlines and noticed the story about Pakistan watched it and there you where, 10 pounds heavier.

Aug 24, 2010 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

well the bbc, do not like my link to Bob's guardian article, bishop hill's response, or an extract from the Guardian saying where BOB works..

WHY, will they not allow that! (further consideration)

I am a BBC licence fee payer, commenting about the issue, and linking to reputable sources....

Aug 24, 2010 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Both the sceptics up for bans will go, can`t have WMC get the boot and only one sceptic :) I`m one of those going to get banned btw. And i suspect connolley will not actually get booted.

Aug 24, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Nutley

A bit OT, but I think Young William's conduct as a moderator of RC and editor of Wikipedia (and source of income) will get drawn into the Cuccinelli investigation. For those interested, here's a legal blog that is covering the case:

Aug 24, 2010 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

Is/was Connelly a moderator at CiF as well?

It might explain the large number of sceptical contributors that have been arbitrarily banned from there for crimes such as disagreeing with St George.

Aug 24, 2010 at 9:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I'm confused as to who Robert Watson is? I think there was a James Watson who edited my changes to Richard Lindzen's bio. I didn't understand the talk page to figure out how to 'take it there' as I was told. And I was merely pointing out the lines 'Lindzen argued X was not done by scientists alone' was not contradicted by 'NAS disagreed saying X was decided by scientists and others.'

Aug 24, 2010 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

I would think the arbitrators are sick to death of climate change!

Aug 24, 2010 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos


We have a Republic not a democracy.


First time I've posted here. However, I lurked frequently. Well done blog, good book.

Aug 24, 2010 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaye Bass

Unimportant but amusing little gem: Dr. Connolley's earlier punishments were received in the WP Cold fusion wars.

Aug 24, 2010 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym


Sadly, from what I have seen, it probably gives them a reason to get up each day.....

Aug 25, 2010 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

Would be interesting if WMC were a Grauniad mod. I get the feeling the wiki wars will keep sociologists in publication for a good while, along with the rest of the climate wars. It's a neat demonstration as to how as small group of individuals can end up with a disproportionate influence and help create the needlessly polarised environment for climate science. WMC plus cabal guard wiki, RC was the 'official' go-to place for serious climate news and then there's the 'Science Media Centre' to help reinforce the message with the mainstream media. A small group of people shape the consensus and make sure the official channels stay on-message. Might be why Mr Ward was so upset with Newsnight. Can't be having sceptics turned into notable sources, how would wiki then manage notability?

But that seems to have been a problem for wiki, and the way it's allowed people like WMC and his followers to become guardians of neutrality and arbiters of reliable sources. Which seems to have tied themselves in knots. Some blogs are deemed 'reliable', some aren't and they get into a right muddle when newspapers lift their copy off blogs.

But respect to Mr Nutley for giving it a go. I'm still curious about a few things, like whether WMC became an RC founder for his wiki work or that came after. And one of wiki's great mysteries, who is scibaby? Are they real, or just a convenient scapegoat? Also not convinced banning just WMC will change anything if the rest of the cabal remains. ChrisO's suggested edit for the HSI page based on Ward's negative PR piece being a nice example. Ringmaster may go, meatpuppets remain the same.

Aug 25, 2010 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

I see that Connolley made some twenty edits just yesterday, 24 August. Seems the guy has no real job.

Mr Nutley - it seemed to me that your editing proposals on the HSI Wiki page were sound and politely argued - I am very surprised that they have put you on the same naughty step as the infamous Connolley. Especially if this was a "first offence". Connolley's disruptiveness and vindictive manner of operating should have got him banned for life.

Aug 25, 2010 at 12:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohninLondon

JohninLondon - Link to Bill's effort here

I haven't bothered to count all he's done since 2003. 25 edits on the 24th August and 42 on 23 August from 1025 hrs to 2240 hrs. Average one every 18 minutes or so.

Someone should speak with him. He needs help.

Aug 25, 2010 at 4:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

"I'm still curious about a few things, like whether WMC became an RC founder for his wiki work or that came after. And one of wiki's great mysteries, who is scibaby? Are they real, or just a convenient scapegoat? Also not convinced banning just WMC will change anything if the rest of the cabal remains. ChrisO's suggested edit for the HSI page based on Ward's negative PR piece being a nice example. Ringmaster may go, meatpuppets remain the same.

@Atomic Hairdryer

Hey, I'll answer some of those questions for Mark (I'm the other skeptic that will probably get banned).

1. Connolley was a member of Real Climate before he edited wikipedia,

2. I believe I do have the original Scibaby's name somewhere in my email. At this point though I think it is pretty obvious that "Scibaby" is actually an amalgamation of people. If you look through you comments of this topic on WUWT you'll see a huge number of people who've edited in the area and a good portion who've been banned. Sometimes new "Scibaby" socks are identified after only a single edit and without checking the IP address based on "behavioral evidence" - it is clearly ridiculous.

Obviously there are sockpuppets on the skeptic side (there are on the other side too, but they last a LOT longer), but I suspect it is a relatively diverse bunch using similar techniques and all getting lumped together as one guy because a bogeyman is a convenient thing to have. According to the AGW advocates on wikipedia Scibaby has terrorized them by creating more than 500 socks over the years - according to me people learn how to use open proxies after being unjustly banned after only a few edits and get called Scibaby.

As for your final thought, no nothing will change if the proposed decisions aren't drastically altered.

Here is my statement on the proposed decision, but I doubt anything will be adopted from it (keep in mind I had a strict word limit):

The only terminology that may be unfamiliar in that is my reference to a DUCK test, which is basically wikispeak for calling a spade a spade.


Aug 25, 2010 at 6:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheGoodLocust

Useful Idiot; "The term is now used more broadly to describe someone who is perceived to be manipulated by a political movement, terrorist group, hostile government, or business, whether or not the group is Communist in nature."

2006 email from Michael Mann; "I’ve attached the piece in word format. Hyperlinks are still there, but not clickable in word format. I’ve already given it a good go-over w/ Gavin, Stefan, and William Connelley (our internal “peer review” process at RC), so I think its in pretty good shape. Let me know if any comments…"

Aug 25, 2010 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

WP admin SirFozzie lays it down

But what do I know.

Actually, what I do know is this.I've worked in some really putrid areas as an administrator. I'm sure my fellow arbitrators have seen areas that are just as bad as the areas I'm thinking of.

But the utter lack of congeniality, the utter bad faith, and the line in the sand edit-warriors on all sides in this area is the worst I've seen in my 4+ years on Wikipedia. There's a bunch of folks who are going to treat that as a mark of pride to hear me say that. It's not. It's a damn shame.

and proposes a scorched-earth solution.

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Apr 18, 2011 at 3:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterMinatrixFM

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