In the past days, Mark Bernstein has published a series of thoughtful and deeply worrying pieces about the representation of Gamergate on Wikipedia. You can find the sequence here:


A very, very brief summary is that the entry on Wikipedia about Gamergate has been the subject of weeks (running into months) of edit wars. It culminated in a decision from ArbCom, the highest user-run body of the site, to ban the five editors who were trying to prevent the page from being rewritten with a pro-Gamergate slant. According to Bernstein's analysis, sanctions were also applied against some of the pro-Gamergate accounts -- but only against a few accounts, and throwaway accounts at that.

Bernstein's analysis has been picked up pretty widely, by sources from The Guardian and Der Standard to Wil Wheaton. I understand there have been some efforts to discredit Bernstein, and that's why I'm weighing in here -- not to rehash what has already been said, but to highlight that it's out there, and to say: This man knows what he is talking about.

Mark Bernstein is the founder and chief scientist of Eastgate Systems, a company that specialises in hypertext technologies (including some great writing tools) and the publication of serious hypertext, fiction and non-fiction. He's been conducting highly respected work in this area since I was a toddler, and in the years I have known him, I have been struck by his depth of insight as well as his professionalism and dedication to the fields of hypertext, digital culture and web science.

Again, Bernstein knows what he's saying. Sure, there may be a touch of hyperbole in there, and I sincerely hope his statement that this is not fixable is untrue; there must be some hope for reform in Wikipedia governance. That, however, is as far as I'd go in my criticism.

As for me, I  certainly shan't donate any more money to Wikipedia (although this may change in future, should reform happen). I shan't trust coverage of contentious areas on Wikipedia, especially areas related to gender issues. I will speak with fellow web scientists about what has happened, in the hope that the scholarly community may be able to learn some lessons from these events. And I shall continue to trust what I read on Bernstein's blog.