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Electronic Intifada's Manipulation

Electronic Intifada's Manipulation

By Andre Oboler, a Zionism On The Web special, May 14 2008, updated may 18 2008

Electronic Intifada wrote the story, boasted publically to a member of CAMERA's Wikipedia group, then sought to have CAMERA listed as an unreliable source. This was probably the extent of damage Electronic Intifada originally planned, however events soon moved forward as Wikipedia administrators started to react to the story. Electronic Intifada nurtured the fears of Wikipedia administrators and sought to work with some in order to impose penalties on members of CAMERA.

Actions of user "Bangpound"

14:08, April 21, 2008 (source)
Bangpound write on Zeq's discussion page.

Zeq is caught trying to game the system
This comes from Electronic Intifada. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9474.shtml

"A veteran Wikipedia editor, known as "Zeq," who according to the emails is colluding with CAMERA, also provided advice to CAMERA volunteers on how they could disguise their agenda. In a 20 March email often in misspelled English, Zeq writes, "You don't want to be precived [sic] as a 'CAMERA' defender' on wikipedia [sic] that is for sure." One strategy to avoid that is to "edit articles at random, make friends not enemies -- we will need them later on. This is a marathon not a sprint."

"Zeq also identifies, in a 25 March email, another Wikipedia editor, "Jayjg," whom he views as an effective and independent pro-Israel advocate. Zeq instructs CAMERA operatives to work with and learn from Jayjg, but not to reveal the existence of their group even to him fearing "it would place him in a bind" since "[h]e is very loyal to the wikipedia [sic] system" and might object to CAMERA's underhanded tactics." --Bangpound (talk) 14:08, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

14:26, April 21, 2008 (18 minutes later)(source)
Bangpound edits the CAMERA article.

Their note for the edit reads

"adding important notes about the organization's intentions to manipulate Wikipedia leadership structures and editorial controls"

They add the link to EI under critisism the section reads:

"CAMERA also attempts to use Wikipedia to covertly disseminate discredited pro-Israeli propaganda. Electronic Intifada uncovered private email messages between CAMERA staff and volunteers that outlined an attempt to subvert Wikipedia editorial controls and leadership structures.[44]"

14:44, April 21, 2008 (18 minutes later again)(source)
They edit the list where people raise questions about reliable sources.. their comment on their edit is:

"CAMERA may not be a reliable source"

Their edit reads:

"CAMERA cannot possibly be considered a reliable source, and they have been caught collaborating secretly with existing Wikipedia editors to subvert Wikipedia editorial processes. See [EI exclusive: a pro-Israel group's plan to rewrite history on Wikipedia]. The linked article includes primary source emails from CAMERA staff and Wikipedia users. Bangpound (talk) 14:44, 21 April 2008 (UTC)"

16:14 & 16:16, April 21, 2008 (1.5 hours later)(source)
Bangpound notices a new topic "WikiLobbying campaign organized offsite by ethnic pressure group" on the Incidents list at the Administrators' noticeboard. He posts first without loging in adding:

* The alarming thing is that the group is told that creating and editing with a user account is a way to maintain anonymity. It exposes incredibly bad faith! [[Special:Contributions/24.12.95.171|24.12.95.171]] ([[User talk:24.12.95.171|talk]]) 16:14, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

As soon as it is posted he realises his mistake and logs in to claim the post:
bangpound needs a cookie. i'm not trying to be ironic. i just forgot to log in myself!
From this we can be fair certain that bangpound and 24.12.95.171 are the same person. This is based both on the spead they noticed the change, the position of the reply, and the lack of anyone else who forgot to log in within a reasonable time period for it to be noticed.

At the point Bangpound entered the conversation various admins were discussing both the source issue (based on his edit to the reliable source list) and the more general issue. Concensus is divided. Some users are suggesting Camera's plan should be delt with "as and when" bad edits are made, and others and pushing for a witch hunt. One user pushing for maximum penalties (before any evidence is collected and based purely on the EI article that they accept as fact) goes on to be come one of the three judges of the case. Bangpound gets to agree to have this admin as a judge.

18:32, April 22, 2008(source)
Bangpound, using IP 24.12.95.171 (i.e. not logged in, perhaps intentionally this time) reveals new evidence:

New evidence surfaces
Electronic Intifada has released more emails. See the bottom of the original article. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9474.shtml

Interaction with other Wikipedians

With an admin

Bangpound got to aprove the self selected admins who hear the case, at least one of these admins had already prejudged the case (based on the comments they made on the first day).

Admin Fut.Perf's early reaction to this (source):

We can't crack down hard enough on groups like this. I'd support immediate indef topic bans from all Israel-related articles for any editor demonstrably associated with activities like that. No warnings. Fut.Perf. 15:03, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

In a Statement by Bangpound he notes that making the full set of e-mails public would be against Wikipedias policy (and possibly the law in some countries) (source):

I have the mail archive, but I will not post it publicly yet. I've read the messages from User:FT2 and others about privacy and transparency. Bangpound (talk) 17:43, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
The responses by one of the team of three admins who want to get involved:
Let me suggest a compromise. Bangpound, please send your link to myself, Future Perfect and Moreschi so that we can review the e-mails. The three of us are administrators with long experience of nationalist conflicts and nearly nine years' worth of editing experience between us. We can keep confidential any personally identifying information in the e-mails, but all three of us are empowered to act on any findings that we make. It would have the further advantage of avoiding any witch-hunting in this rather heated discussion. -- ChrisO (talk) 16:15, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
One of the admins mentioned (who has already suggested "We can't crack down hard enough on groups like this") now suggests going straight to the arbitration committee:
Some people might be more comfortable if that went to Arbcom right away, but if somebody should send me such material, of course I promise I'll keep it confidential, along these lines. Fut.Perf. 16:32, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Bangpound responded:
I will not post the email archives then. I need to review everyone's positions and the rules before I decide what I should do. Bangpound (talk) 16:39, 23 April 2008 (UTC

A member of the aribtration committee replies (source):

I was asked to comment here as a member of the Arbitration Committee, specifically about the emails.
He goes on to say how Wikipedia normally functions:
In normal circumstances we can deal with warring on articles, by means of usual editor and administrator attention. It's not always easy, but it's actually very hard to do something like that when the community knows about it. We take great respect of people's real-life identity and personal information, even serious vandals and banned users who leave we will remove some material from the wiki. Our usual solution for most problems is usually to seek more (or more experienced) eyeballs to help. (If there are possibly privacy-sensitive issues then ArbCom is usually best to ask.)

Based on EI's allegations (particularly about the scope of the activities) more serrious and immediate action is suggested:
In this case though, the allegation is of a large scale and insidious conspiracy. The evidence for that needs to be examined, but we still don't need to publicize personal information to do so. (...) Obviously ArbCom, who deal with privacy related issues all the time, will want to see a copy privately (please email any individual arbitrator), and you have three admins who I can confirm are fair choices for the task here, if you prefer as well. Your material will get a fair review and it will be taken seriously. I think that's what counts.
The three admins (who are already involved to some extent) are suggested as one option for judging this case. The choice of judge however is left up to Bangpound.
What I'd do if I were you, is ask those people - either the three adminsitrators who have volunteered, or ArbCom - to review it, and give their advice on a fair balance of information and privacy, or advice on what parts should be publicized (...) FT2 (Talk | email) 17:07, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Bangpound decides to go with the admins who have volenteered and already partially made their position known (source):
I've compiled the full archive that I have of the Isra-pedia group. I'm sharing it with these admins:
User:Moreschi, User:ChrisO, User:Future Perfect at Sunrise
This is the course of action advised by FT2.
Bangpound (talk) 19:35, 23 April 2008 (UTC)



With an editor
A statement by one user called the EI report "misleading" in some aspects, it caused concern for EI (source).

In this quote we see BangPound in damage control mode (EI itself was also in damage control mode, modifying the strength of the claims they had initially made):

Eleland you say (source):
EI's selection of emails and appended commentary were accurate as to the intent of the campaign but misleading as to the extent.
But in the update to the EI story, they wrote
Information obtained by EI indicates that while Gilead Ini claimed that more than 50 volunteers had come forward to participate in CAMERA's plan, and the group had set its sights on creating dozens of new editors and administrators over a long period of time, fewer than a dozen were active at the time EI exposed the scheme. Because the effort was apparently in its early stages, only a handful had become active as Wikipedia editors.
Can you be more specific about how EI overstated or misrepresented the extent of the problem? Bangpound (talk) 03:09, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
This was pointed out by Eleland:
You have a good point there. The 22 April update makes it clear; the original 21 April piece seemed to imply a more active and fully formed cabal than what actually existed. 03:18, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
Bangpound's response is a suggestion that evidence about EI's actions and intentions be removed:
Perhaps you would consider revising your statement then? Your statement is based on an incomplete review of the evidence, and it's also completely irrelevant to the issue brought before ArbCom. ArbCom was asked to review the actions of CAMERA, yet you're making statements about the actions of EI. Bangpound (talk) 12:39, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
If the Wikipedia community wants to investigate properly, the question fo EI's intention and how this may have mislead people and contributed to the extra harsh penalties is relevant. The attempt to cover up this part of the story is itself problematic and a manipulation of Wikipedia's democracy.

Who is bangpound?

In this section we explain how Bangpound can be shown to be a staff member of Electronic Intifada.

This is based on:





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