User:MarkBernstein

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hypertext researcher Mark Bernstein is chief scientist of Eastgate Systems, Inc.

Designer of Tinderbox and author of The Tinderbox Way.

Program Chair: ACM Hypertext 97 (with Cathy Marshall), ACM Hypertext 98 (with Kapser Østerbye), ACM Wikisym '08, ACM Web Science '13.

You may contact him bernstein at eastgate dot com, or see http://markbernstein.org/ .

The Coming End Of Wikipedia[edit]

AfD for Jews and Communism[edit]

This page has its origin with Jewish Bolshevism, which discusses the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Communism is a Jewish plot aimed at world domination. That page is expressly limited to discussion of the conspiracy theory; Jews and Communism seeks to offer evidence that the conspiracy theory is in fact true. This page offers a pastiche of statistics, anecdotes, and cherry-picked sources to show that people with Jewish ancestry were involved in various aspects of Communism, with special attention to the secret police and (in previous versions) the execution of the Russian Tsar. It frequently goes out of its way to emphasize connections between people of Jewish ancestry and finance. Parts of the article and its sources appear to derive from an article [1] by a notorious holocaust denier [2].

The page is a mixture of WP:OR and WP:SYNTH in support of a WP:ATTACK on an ethnic group through a WP:FRINGE theory. To present the color of neutrality, occasional disclaimers are sprinkled to remind the reader that not all Jews supported Communism, and that Jews were sometimes persecuted by Communists; thus a WP:FRINGE theory finds its way into Wikipedia by acknowledging that not everyone believes the theory to be completely true. The information offered here can more effectively be presented (where warranted) in more natural contexts; if the religion of Karl Marx’s grandparents is notable, for example, it might be discussed in his biography rather than here. The tone of the page, and of its supporters on the talk page and elsewhere, is deeply disturbing and the page threatens to deeply embarrass the project. MarkBernstein (talk) 15:31, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

Created on 27 February 2014 [3], Jews and Communism has been a magnet for controversy and edit wars. It has already been at AN/I twice [4][5], and was the subject of an 8000-word discussion on Jimbo’s talk page [6]. A previous AfD [7] was closed without consensus. Directly relevant precedents include the deletions of Jews and Hollywood [8] and Jews and Money [9]. Some (apparently) reliable sources can always be found for any conspiracy theory, but Wikipedia should not host pages of evidence for Antisemitic canards. MarkBernstein (talk) 14:49, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Commentary at AN: The chill wind blowing through our dusty, deserted corridors[edit]

Can Wikipedia resist concerted efforts to contaminate it with lies, hate, and deception? In the time from February through May 2014, it signally failed to do so. The virulent anti-Semitism of the original article should have been evident to all, and much of it persists to this day despite the efforts of literally dozens of editors and the investment of hundreds of hours. The attention of administrators, and indeed of Wikimedia board members, should have been focused by the original AfD, the Jimbo discussion, the two long, long threads at AN/I, and plenty of direct correspondence.

This was not an obscure or difficult issue requiring expertise, some dispute about mathematical series or the best name for some forgotten Balkan outpost. The article was filled with evident canards -- and it linked to a fairly extensive Wikipedia article filling in the historical background on the smear! We have the whole cast: the ugly Jews, the Jews in banking and finance, the secretive Jews, the Jewish traitors. We argue that all sorts of people were really Jews because their ancestors were Jewish. And on the talk page, as here, we have the repeated dismissal of opposition because, after all, it's just those Jews again coming to WP:VOTE, and everyone knows how they stick together.

Wikipedia is in serious trouble. It is hemorrhaging editors. Its reputation is already low, and scandals like this page diminish it. Worse, it seems clear that Wikipedia cannot and will not resist serious efforts by a small team of concerted editors who, as was the case here, can easily override policy and consensus by pretending to adhere to the forms. I've used Wikis since Ward’s Wiki was new; I've been keynote at WikiSym and I've been program chair; I’ve written wikis. Never -- not even during the great wiki mind wipe of 1999 -- have I so completely doubted the efficacy of the WikiWay. The conclusion seems inescapable that Wikipedians have lost the ability to distinguish routine contention from opposition to racist and anti-semitic distortion; if we cannot do that (and I see scant evidence that we can), the wind will blow through the empty corridors of Wikipedia?

Could it happen? If you think not, think again. Events like Jews and Communism bring Wikipedia into disrepute. If Wikipedia becomes sufficiently disreputable, an engineer at Google can press a button and, overnight, Wikipedia could go back to Page Rank 3, taking our traffic. If Wikipedia becomes sufficiently disreputable, donations will dry up. If Wikipedia becomes sufficiently disreputable, the remaining editors will be even more dominated by the hacks and the charlatans, the zealots for obscure movements, the gamified WikiLawyers looking for one more scalp and one more barnstar. This can still be fixed, but it can not be fixed by kicking the can down the road and nodding sagely that, if the anti-semites were regrettable, some of their opponents were sometimes intemperate.