For a while now, Wikipedia has relied on a team of volunteer editors who appear to get off on the power over what others write. They appear a little too proud of their ability to define that porn stars are “notable” while Fudzilla does not exist. Recently they even censored their own boss Jimmy Wales.
However, that is nothing to what has been going on in China where the volunteers felt it was their god given right to push a pro government line and embarked on a campaign involving physical beatings, doxxings, and harassment.
Normally the Wikimedia Foundation ignores these particular power abuses, but in this case the outfit had to admit that they overstepped their god-like powers a bit.
It has banned seven high-level users in September and temporarily demoted a dozen others for abuses "unprecedented in scope and nature."
The foundation accused these volunteers of biasing it in favor of the Chinese government's viewpoint. This incident involved a monthlong investigation found that the veteran editors were "coordinating to bias the encyclopaedia and bias positions of authority" around a pro-Beijing viewpoint, in part by meddling in administrator elections and threatening, and even physically assaulting, other volunteers.
What is bizarre is that China blocks the site and makes accessing it a crime. The editors have to tunnel through the Great Firewall with VPNs. But to do that, and then basically carry out China’s censorship policy “because they believe it is right” adds another strand of weirdness to the Wackypedia editorial team.
In some cases, the Foundation found, the fights had spread beyond online harassment into real-life threats, and worse. Wackypedia said there was no evidence the banned editors were backed by the government it is just a bunch of polarised editors fighting each other.
The Foundation had only issued 86 bans since 2012, and typically only one at a time. Suddenly, the Foundation's bans and penalties had knocked out a third of the Chinese edition's administrators.
It argues that the banned users "liked to defend Beijing's point of view, but they also liked their influence over the Wiki community; and a pro-China stance allowed them to more easily fly under the government's radar.
To protect their fiefdom, they sometimes resorted to personal threats, harassment, and assault."
Since the ban, they've now launched a "hard fork" of Chinese Wikipedia which already has 400,000 articles, "tailored to appease government censors so that anyone on the mainland can access it."