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Banned Wikipedia Editor Asks Jimmy Wales Why He Was Removed From Site

A veteran Wikipedia editor who was suspended from the site without reason in January is now asking Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales for answers about his removal.

When Breitbart Tech originally covered this story in January, longtime Wikipedia Editor “The Devil’s Advocate” (TDA) was removed from the site for allegedly engaging in “off-site harassment” related to the controversial Wikipedia article on GamerGate.

In April, a user on an anti-Wikipedia forum did their best to concisely explain the complex situation:

1) TDA emailed Arbcom [Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee] a long and detailed email alleging COI (conflict of interest) editing by an undisclosed editor, who is an administrator.

2) Arbcom in short order banned TDA on a raw and not publicly explained assertion of harassment. It also didn’t explain anything privately to TDA. It seems pretty clear from my reading is that the alleged harassment is of the administrator TDA alleged was engaging in COI editing.

3) More context: TDA had emailed the administrator, apparently three times over a year. The emails advised the administrator to either stop COI editing or declare openly at the articles his or her COI. The emails (TDA has redacted and posted them on Meta) have sort of a prickly character which is to be expected given the subject matter, but to me nothing resembling “harassment.” There is no indication the administrator responded via email, neither that he or she said “stop emailing me.”

4) Jimbo [Wikipedia Founder, Jimmy Wales] is asked by TDA to intercede, basically because the secretive character of the banning, in which TDA is neither told what he did (less the raw assertion “harassment”) nor afforded the ability to defend himself. Some years ago, Jimbo had stated he would overturn Arbcom in very unfair cases where everything is secret and the accused had no opportunity to defend himself or herself. Here, predictably, he just opines that everything is fine, although he (Jimbo) personally would have “notified” TDA of things in a different manner. Jimbo implies that the length (seven pages) and character of the email TDA sent Arbcom, I think he’s implying that the email and its length have a creepy or stalker or harassy character.

5) Various arbitrators are stating that it would be unwise to tell TDA what his harassing actions specifically were, because it would reveal the harassee (who one of them said complained), and TDA would then supposedly go and doubly harass the harassee in revenge. What they’re doing I think is characterizing the investigating of the COI editing as harassment in that TDA has found out personal and professional details of the administrator.

Since January, “The Devil’s Advocate” (TDA), has remained banned from Wikipedia, despite his efforts to gain some clarity on the situation. Several Reddit threads have been dedicated to seeking a better understanding of what exactly happened to TDA and why no one has been able to provide further explanation for his removal.

Considering that Wales himself claimed that he would be willing to overturn specifically unfair decisions made by Arbcom, it’s possible that he could still move to reinstate TDA in the future. For now, though, it seems that TDA will have to engage in an uphill battle if he wants to convince Wales of Arbcom’s wrongdoing.

Tom Ciccotta writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or on Facebook. You can email him at tciccotta@breitbart.com

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