20 December 2018

Wikipedia's Standards are Off the Rails

Recently, some advocates of low carb and healthy lifestyles have been deleted from Wikipedia. This seems to be driven by an editor called Skeptic from Britain.

The reason given is that their views represent fringe views outside of the mainstream. In my opinion, this is arbitrary and an improper reason. If the people in question were nobodys, (like me), that would be fine. But they're not. They are respected authors, scientists, doctors and filmmakers with an alternative point of view.

Deleted pages include Malcolm Kendrick, Tom Naughton, Jimmy Moore, and Uffe Ravnskov. I suppose it's only a matter of time before Taubes, Atkins, and Lustig get deleted too.

Point of view should not be a consideration for deletion, but rather their accomplishments. After all, even the Unabomber has a page. He has an unconventional point of view. Should he be removed? of course not.

If you are interested in writing to the donations department this is the email. donate@wikimedia.org

Update from Tom Naughton of Fathead, ehich was also proposed for deletion.
"I've been tweeting about this whole issue for a couple of days, which drew the attention of Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. His first several replies were long explanations of Wikipedia policies, the apparent message being that nothing was wrong, no violations of policy, no biases in tagging for deletion, move along, folks, nothing here to see. That ticked me off, because the editor’s bias could hardly be more obvious.  That’s why in my previous post, I said Wales was making a fool of himself on Twitter defending this nonsense.
I need to take back the insult now, apologize to Wales, and give credit where credit is due. "In a couple of Twitter exchanges, I pointed that Fat Head was targeted for deletion right after I wrote about Kendrick. I asked if he truly believed this editor was making objective decisions, which seemed highly unlikely.
"He replied that he didn’t know what Fat Head is and was unaware of it being targeted for deletion. He then sent me a private message asking for more information. I sent links demonstrating who the editor had targeted, how he’d changed his handle twice in a matter of days while continuing the targeting, etc.
"Wales responded that such behavior was against policy and could lead to an editor being banned.  He said he’d look into the matter."
Here's hsi response:
"Strong keep – As others have noted, WP:IDONTLIKEIT is not a valid reason for deletion. It is worth noting that the proposer is a serial name changer and POV pusher who has now apparently left the project. A quick research of the film reveals that in addition to the sources that User:Strikerforce rightly says are enough to ‘barely’ pass notability, I found an article at Motley Fool and this one at Vulture. It is not a major film to be sure, but there seems to be no reason for deletion other than the POV pushing of the proposer."

Here is the full conversation in Wikipedia Kendrick Deletion page.

I wrote the following letter to Wikimedia.org.

In the last few weeks, many advocates of low carb diets and healthy lifestyles have been removed from Wikipedia including Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, Uffe Ravsnkov, and now Tom Naughton. They are published and notable authors, scientists, doctors, and filmmakers with a non-mainstream PoV. The editor cites their non-mainstream views as the reason for removal. This is unethical and contrary to Wiki’s mission.

The editor who proposed their deletion Skeptic from Britain cited their non-mainstream points of view as the reason for their deletion. Based on that standard, you should also delete Ted Kaczynski. You have a responsibility to have reasonable, consistent standards.

The standard for inclusion should be related to their notoriety and impact, not their specific points of view. I am very disappointed in this recent turn, and in my opinion, it is contrary to the public's and Wikipedia's best interests.

I recently donated $6 to Wikimedia and I would like a refund of that money. I will not financially support any organization that suppresses points of view that are contrary to the mainstream.

Should I simply protest this donation through my credit card, or is there a better way for me to receive a refund? Please advise.


I'm pretty hacked off about this.

Edit: The following is the response I received from an unpaid volunteer of Wikipedia. I am still going to withdraw my contribution until Wikipedia cleans up their standards about biog. If you want to do the same, this is the email. donate@wikimedia.org 

"Regardless of his medical credentials, Dr Kendrick - along with the readers of his blog - exhibits a fundamental inability or unwillingness to understand how Wikipedia works. Articles on Wikipedia are deleted according to our Deletion Policy: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Deletion_policy>. "Big Pharma" do not have any say in the matter, despite Dr Kendrick's consipiracy theories.

"The article in question was deleted after a debate at <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Malcolm_Kendrick
>, because members of the community established that it was unsuitable for inclusion due to a lack of verifiable information from independent sources. If such sources are not provided during the deletion discussion - which they were not - then this indicates that the topic is not currently notable enough for a Wikipedia article. Dr Kendrick's theories and their validity had literally no bearing on the matter.

"If you believe after reading the deletion policy that the article was unfairly deleted, you can ask the administrator who deleted the article for a fuller explanation. If after an explanation you still believe the deletion was unfair, you can bring up the article at Deletion Review (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Deletion_review) where the community can take another look to see if the article was deleted in error.

"With regard to your donation, this channel is entirely staffed and managed by volunteers, and we have no involvement in the donation program. You will need to contact the Wikimedia Foundation directly to request a refund; the donations dapartment can be contacted at donate@wikimedia.org .

"Yours sincerely,

"Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/
"Disclaimer: all mail to this address is answered by volunteers, and responses are not to be considered an official statement of the Wikimedia Foundation. For official correspondence, please contact the Wikimedia Foundation by certified mail at the address listed on https://www.wikimediafoundation.org/

E4E take:
In my opinion, he is worth every cent they pay him. I found his response snarky and insulting. The discussion page regarding Kendrick's deletion is full of ad hominem statements and attacks on the people who were defending Dr. Kendrick. They attacked his science, but then said that the science isn't the issue, it's the lack of notoriety of Kendrick. There is some discussion of the lack of "verifiable information from independent sources" as mentioned by the volunteer. 

I simply do not have the time or energy to dig in and understand all of the wikipedia rules and regulations about biographical entries. Apparently, for inclusion, there must be significant external reporting on the person in question. This seems like an odd standard for someone carrying the standard of a non-mainstream view, but those are the rules.

Here are some references to the jihad against the low carb community.
The Skeptical Cardiologist (disagrees with Kendrick scientifically, but thinks deletion is wrong)
Reddit thread
Reddit page on Kendrick

A Couple of Posts that I think are pretty well-stated:
"Secondary sources, as you describe, should be unnecessary unless the subject (of the biographical page entry)'s existence has been seriously challenged by a reader. My interest is in keeping Wikipedia as a usable reference source for most web users. A subject of a biographical page is notable, by such a definition, each time a visitor to Wikipedia types in the subject's name, which the visitor almost certainly got from somewhere else i.e. from a secondary source. The great benefit of a comprehensive compendium of knowledge of all kinds, from the very trivial to the most profound, is its inclusiveness. A serendipitous wander wherever my interest takes me is another of the great pleasures of the site. These things are what I pay for when I contribute to Wikipedia's various appeals and they will be lost if too many gatekeepers try to keep material off it. Editors should concentrate on keeping pages as accurate as possible, on distinguishing clearly between orthodox and heterodox viewpoints, and on keeping the tone of the page polite, not on deleting serious entries about real people.Shirley49 (talk) 22:45, 5 December 2018 (UTC) — Shirley49 (talk • contribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic."

"We are now talking at cross-purposes. My point is that the way some Wikipedia editors now work is destroying the web-site for the general reader. The rules for posts have become so legalistic that they are almost impenetrable. The basic rule should be simple. If someone posts something which can be factually disputed, the person who wishes to do this should do so and the matter can then be debated online. If an agreed consensus can be reached, that should stand. If not, the view, which is judged to be the mainstream or majority view, should stand, but at the base of the page should be a link to a separate page where the minority view or views can find expression. This is a common procedure elsewhere, like in the civil courts, where dissenting judgements are routine. If this were to occur, Wikipedia could then be freed of the charge of censorship of unpopular views or of ideas which challenge the rich and influential. Secondary sources can look impressive, but how much is: "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"? I feel the main problem with science today is, that with a few notable exceptions, the mainstream scientist lacks the ability to interest and educate the lay-person. If Wikipedia has no wish for the small amounts of money I sometimes send it, I can spend it on something else.Shirley49(talk) 02:33, 6 December 2018 (UTC)"

Bottom Line of Wikipedia
Yes, WP sides with the mainstream, it's by intent and by design, see for example here and here. It's part of our structure, what we are for. But the internet is vast, so there are plenty of other places to write. What can make an article accepted here, is sources (WP:RS) as described at for example WP:NACADEMIC or WP:AUTHORGråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 19:22, 6 December 2018 (UTC)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. I have modified and used your letter to them to also request a refund of my last donation. Maybe if enough of us protest they will listen.