Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2019-10-31/In the media
A fake Nazi death camp in Warsaw
On 4 October, Haaretz published "The Fake Nazi Death Camp: Wikipedia's Longest Hoax, Exposed", with later coverage in The Times of Israel, The Week, and at least nine other news sources in several languages.
For fifteen years, the article for Warsaw concentration camp, also known as KL Warschau, contained the misinformation that the camp was an extermination camp with the majority of its victims non-Jewish Poles. Although there were numerous revisions to the article in time, and disputes as to the veracity of the claims to it being an extermination camp, the misinformation persisted from the creation of the article by the now deceased Halibutt in August 2004 until interventions by K.e.coffman on 5 and 6 May 2019 and Icewhiz on 27 and 28 August 2019. The misinformation (called a "hoax" by Icewhiz and Haaretz) largely originated from research by the judge and author Maria Trzcińska, whose obscure hypothesis about the camp being an extermination camp that targeted non-Jewish Poles was officially discredited in 2007 (three years after the date that the Wikipedia article was created). Icewhiz reported to Haaretz that they investigated the claims in the Wikipedia article after they read a May 2019 article by Christian Davies in London Review of Books which mentioned "Wikipedia entries amended". They posted an essay on their user page documenting the existing problems found on Wikipedia, both in the article itself and mentions of Warsaw concentration camp elsewhere on Wikipedia, as well as the state of the article prior to K.e.coffman's edits. User:François Robere approached the Signpost in September with an edited version of Icewhiz's essay prepared for publication, but the Signpost declined to publish.
Icewhiz was involved in several content disputes about antisemitism and misinformation related to Poland in World War II, and is subject to sanctions per Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Antisemitism in Poland. They have now been banned indefinitely for off-wiki harassment pertaining to the Antisemitism in Poland content dispute, see Arbitration report. Icewhiz states that they brought the story to Haaretz as an attempt to generate reliable coverage of the facts regarding KL Warschau which could then support their arguments on Wikipedia. Both Icewhiz and Haaretz writer Omer Benjakob claim that this case was just one out of many instances of intentional misinformation added by Polish nationalist editors. Benjakob writes that there "seems to be a systematic effort by Polish nationalists to whitewash hundreds of Wikipedia articles relating to Poland and the Holocaust." Benjakob links this effort on the English Wikipedia with current Polish nationalist political efforts, which he accuses of promoting Holocaust distortion and attempting to minimize the documented complicity of Poles in the Holocaust and promoting Poles as equal or worse victims of the Holocaust. The historian and Haaretz contributor Daniel Blatman countered in a 17 October 2019 opinion piece that the false claims in the article persisted through several Polish governments, including those which acknowledge the complicity of Poles in the Holocaust, and thus cannot accurately be described as an attempt by Poland to falsify Holocaust narrative. The blame for the faulty article lies, Blatman argues, entirely with Wikipedia. User:Poeticbent, who was the most prolific Wikipedia editor of Polish-related articles, including those about Jewish-Polish history, until he retired from Wikipedia in May 2018, is named by Icewhiz as one of the Polish editors intentionally spreading misinformation on Wikipedia. He responded to the accusations with an essay posted on his user page. User:Piotrus, another prolific editor of Polish content, is also named in the article, and was interviewed by Haaretz for the piece. However, Piotrus states that the interview was never authorized for publication, and so they posted a response on the Polish Wikipedia. In this response, Piotrus says there are inaccuracies and false statements from Icewhiz that were not corrected by Haaretz.
As a remedy in the Antisemitism in Poland arbitration case, all articles pertaining to Poland in World War II (1933-1945), including those pertaining to the Holocaust, are subject to the guidance applied to the Collaboration in German-occupied Poland article: "Only high quality sources may be used, specifically peer-reviewed scholarly journals, academically focused books by reputable publishers, and/or articles published by reputable institutions. English-language sources are preferred over non-English ones when available and of equal quality and relevance. Editors repeatedly failing to meet this standard may be topic-banned as an arbitration enforcement action."
Swedish embassies lead edit-a-thons
The Swedish government's gender equality foreign policy is shown by WikiGap edit-a-thons held in Swedish embassies in Japan and Pakistan this month. Previously about 60 other WikiGap events have been held. (32 events are shown here).
- In Japan: Around 40 editors concentrated on writing articles on Japanese women writers and athletes, as well as translating English-language articles about women into Japanese. An agricultural writer created an article on Eri Otsu, an award winning woman farmer.
- In Pakistan: Another 40 editors created about 50 articles, including one in English about Rafia Qaseem Baig, the first Pakistani woman to enroll in a bomb disposal unit and another on Jalila Haider, a human rights activist and attorney in Belochistan.
- In Jordan: a WikiGap edit-a-thon was held in May . An October edit-a-thon focusing on Jordanian cultural heritage was hosted by the Photo Archive at the American Center of Oriental Research, Wikimedia Levant and the Jordan Open Source Association.
- At University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: the Daily Tar Heel reports that Sloan Art Library wants your help in its Wikipedia editing workshops.
- At Penn State: Onward State reports that Penn State’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity to Host October Events For LGBTQ+ History Month including an edit-a-thon.
- In Scotland: Black History Month highlights role of David Livingstone aides an edit-a-thon coordinated by the David Livingstone Birthplace Project quadrupled the size of the article on James Chuma and Abdullah Susi and almost doubled the size of Jacob Wainwright's article. Articles on Edward Steere and Joseph Thomson were also improved.
- Ada Lovelace Day was celebrated at Cornell University and the University of Texas at Austin with edit-a-thons.
- Meet the women working to fix the massive gender imbalance in Wikipedia's articles on Mashable Originals shows a video featuring Rosie Stephenson-Goodnight, Emily Temple-Wood, and Siko Bouterse. "Wikipedia is what happens when anarchy begets bureaucracy," according to Temple-Wood.
- Ronan Farrow writes about Wikipedia whitewashing: in his new bestseller Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators. Further coverage is provided by the Washington Post, Newsweek, The Signpost, and many others.
- Wikipedia Exposes Porn Performers to Stalking, Harassment—And Visits From CPS writes Jezebel referring to Child Protective Services. Dozens of actresses in pornographic films have been exposed to harassment and unwanted attention due to their legal names being published on Wikipedia alongside their stage names. IMDb may have published many more. A spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation told Jezebel that concerns about the publishing of legal names can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Campaigns and Groups Ignore Wikipedia at their Peril in Campaigns & Elections. Brian Young, a "media planner" for the marketing agency ACRONYM, suggests that candidates for public office should closely follow the Wikipedia pages about them so they can ensure that the people who read them come away with a favorable impression.
- NRA employees edit articles: A Brief History of NRA Employees Editing Wikipedia for Fun and Possibly Profit in Splinter News identifies 155 edits in the last decade made using the National Rifle Association's documented IP address at the NRA headquarters building. Not all the edits are about the NRA, guns, or related topics. Many were made before the current prohibition on undeclared paid edits came into effect in June 2014. But, according to a count by The Signpost, 23 of the edits were about NRA-related topics after June 2014.
- More potential plagiarism?: The Daily Beast reports that sections of American political writer Peter Schweizer's new book, Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, bear striking similarities to several Wikipedia articles, namely the one on Patrick R. Daley. Schweizer's spokesperson denied any impropriety.
- Armenia MPs being photographed for Wikipedia: The Hraparak Daily seemed surprised that Wikipedians were not demanding money for the photo shoots. The MPs were enthusiastic about the photos, though some asked to come back the following day when they were better groomed.
- Spread the word: the Iraqis translating the internet into Arabic: According to The Guardian "just 0.6% of internet content is available in Arabic, despite it being the fourth most common language among internet users." Ideas Beyond Borders helps Iraqis translate Wikipedia, academic articles, and the classic works of science, literature, and philosophy.
- They used to say 'don't read it', now they teach you how to edit: Macleans reports that several Canadian universities, including University of Windsor, University of Toronto, and Concordia University have hired Wikipedians-in-Residence.
- Stocking up on books: Neowin takes notice of the Internet Archive's announcement on its blog page of an initiative to link citations on Wikipedia articles to the books' pages in their online library. The archive hopes to "connect readers with books by weaving books into the fabric of the web itself, starting with Wikipedia."
- Wikipedia has only granted one takedown request. Here it is: Mashable citing a report from Comparitech writes that a 2014 visa photo with personal information appeared in the English Wikipedia article Visa policy of Myanmar. It was the only non-DMCA related takedown granted by the WMF in the six years since the WMF began reporting these data in 2013, according to Comparitech.
- Why Amazon’s One Million Dollar Donation To Wikipedia Is a Lesson For Us All: Justin Bariso of Thrive Global praises Amazon's decision to donate 1 million USD to the WMF. He asserts that this is not only a positive thing for Wikipedia, but that it's just good business as well on the part of the multinational technology company.
- Jimbo on the news: Jimmy Wales and Orit Kopel published The Internet Broke the News Industry—and Can Fix It, Too in Foreign Policy about how the internet has made it "easier for political players to manipulate public opinion and to do so while denigrating established news brands." His solutions to this problem include using social media to allow communities to participate in journalism, and to use a wiki model of collaborative editing, and small donations to fund more news sources. While it's not mentioned in the article, Jimmy's WikiTribune is moving to a social media format, concentrating on news and will continue to be funded through small donations.
- Vatican edits: The conservative Catholic website LifeSiteNews reports that somebody within the Vatican City, possibly in the Secretary of State office, has vandalized the article on Taylor Marshall, author of Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within.
- And for the sequel? Larry Sanger wrote an encyclopedia article about his left thumb on Everipedia, the encyclopedia that promises to pay for your writing with digital wooden nickels. Sanger has now returned his wooden nickels and resigned from his position as Everipedia's CIO without writing an article about his right digitus medius. Sanger's next project looks thumb-what more promising, a decentralized encyclosphere supported by the Knowledge Standards Foundation. Not only can anyone edit, but anyone can create their own encyclopedia, with articles on a topic being rated across encyclopedias. Of course anyone can rate the encyclopedia articles.
- Clueless: Wikipedia “Could Spell the End of Clueless Arguments in Pubs”: However unlikely that seems, it was published on the UK satire site NewsBiscuit.
- Moscow Times reported on October 9 that the Great Russian Encyclopedia will be repurposed as the Russian analogue of Wikipedia and will be designed for 15 million users per day. Russian technology site RBC.ru reported that the state budget will fund the new site for about $31 million. The Russian broadcaster RT, which usually has a political or ideological agenda, reported that the website will be "free of any political or ideological agenda." Last month The Signpost reported that Belsat, which has a different political or ideological agenda, gave the same information. The Signpost predicts that the GRE will not replace Wikipedia in Russia, but that it will have a political or ideological agenda.