Wikipedia has indefinitely banned the Scots UKIP MEP David Coburn for a breach of the website’s editorial guidelines, reports the Daily Record.
A Wikipedia administrator blocked Coburn, UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Falkirk in next week’s general election, after the page dedicated to him was edited 69 times over a six-day period. Complaints had been raised that he had been engaging in what the site calls “edit wars” and was in possible breach of rules governing conflict of interest.
The Guardian states that the “edit war” situation arose after Coburn first started altering his page on 1 April. On that date he deleted a passage regarding disputed events during the 2014 European Parliament campaign which he describes as “nonsense.” Three minutes later another user re-posted the passage only for it to be deleted again by Coburn.
The 69 edits that followed over subsequent days included ones relating to information about where he lived, his education and his opinion that there is “no material difference” between gay marriage and civil partnerships.
Wikipedia rules state that “unlike a personal web page, your Wikipedia biography is not yours to control.” When users seek to correct errors about themselves they are asked to provide information on the associated discussion page, but to “permit other editors to add it to the article itself.”
Speaking to the Scotsman Coburn’s chief of staff, Arthur Misty Thackeray, dismissed the incident saying “I can’t believe some idiot has tried making a story about something that is open-source and viewable to the public…it goes to the heart of the fact that David’s not an IT expert, so things like Wikipedia aren’t his strong point. He’s gone there in good faith to try and change it, but people can put any old rubbish up and lo and behold after trying to put things right he’s ended up blocked.”
Comments left on the Scotsman website suggest some sympathy with Coburn’s position. One poster wrote “Don’t like this chap, but the real story is that he’s the victim of a campaign of intimidation and abuse.” Another suggested that “no one should have to fight for a fair hearing. He is as entitled as anyone else to have the facts about him correctly and accurately reported.”
Asked to comment by the Guardian, Coburn responded in typically combative fashion declaring: “I’m sure its all wee cybernats who’ve got nothing better to do with their time and they should actually be out getting a job.”