The Wikipedia Arbitation Committee (ArbCom) is a respected and thoughtful quasi-judicial body that has ultimate oversight of disputes on Wikipedia. It has been so successful as to be cited in academic articles as a model for dispute resolution. An investigation by ArbCom whose proposed findings were released a few hours ago has comprehensively devastated media claims that Grant Shapps MP edited his own or colleagues’ Wikipedia entries. Members of ArbCom have proposed dismissing his accuser and are voting now.
What sort of person has a username of “Chase Me Ladies, I’m the Cavalry“? Aside from the obvious drawback of taking a really long time to type, it has the secondary problems of being prima-facie sexist (as opposed to imaginary SJW sexism) and somewhat creepy.
When people like Anita Sarkeesian or @Eastgate talk about pervasive misogyny or a hostile environment your author often treats them with scepticism but in this case it looks pretty clear cut. Imagine setting that as a username or email address in any other workplace?
The username is that of Richard Symonds, the Wikipedia administrator and Liberal Democrat who accused Grant Shapps, who thinks it amusing. That alone raises questions about his judgement and suitability. The name itself has lent a slightly surreal air to the ArbCom proceedings and seems inconsistent with Liberal Democrat stated policy on equality.
It is frankly bizarre that the left would criticise the entirely reasonable decision of ArbCom over #GamerGate but ignore a person whose username is a hair away from, “Stick to the Kitchen Sink, Girls!”
Of vastly more interest to the public and hopefully to David Cameron of course are the so far unopposed findings of fact currently proposed by ArbCom –
“2) When asked about the timeline of events surrounding the block of the Contribsx account and the publication of the article in the Guardian, Chase me ladies, I’m the Cavalry struggled to provide an accurate timeline.
3) Chase me ladies, I’m the Cavalry performed checks on accounts purported to be operated by the same individual he connected to the Contribsx account as early as 11 September 2012. He was not forthcoming with this information.
4) No evidence has been presented, during the initial sockpuppet investigation or during arbitration, that definitively connects the Contribsx account with any specific individual.
5) The original statements that Chase me ladies, I’m the Cavalry made about the identity of the operator of the Contribsx account were in violation of the policy on release of CheckUser data and the Biographies of living persons policy.
[…] The email that Chase me ladies, I’m the Cavalry sent to the Guardian was not appropriate as it provided not yet public information in Wikipedia’s voice to a third party, and created an appearance of favouritism and an appearance that the CU tool was being used to “exert political or social control”.[…]”
In short we have a Liberal Democrat supporter having inappropriate contact with a leftist national newspaper during a general election. Worse, he made improper use of privileged access to personal data to make unsustainable allegations. The Guardian now owes Grant Shapps an apology.
The fact that someone who was trashing Conservative biographies on Wikipedia chose to make some positive edits for Shapps is by no means proof of anything. Dirty tricks are common in politics – before the last General Election, Damian McBride, an aide to then Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown had to resign after being implicated in an elaborate and vile plot to smear Conservatives with allegations of having STDs and mental ill health. Any activist from any party could have made the edits and Shapps would be a natural choice to set up.
Shapps is not the only one owed an apology by the Guardian. This is exactly the same committee that recently moved to sanction many GamerGate critics and was viciously and unfairly condemned for the same reason.
Ironically, Shapps has much in common with GamerGate – like him the movement has been unfairly accused of sock puppetry to the extent that the official logo of pro-GG journalistic ethics forum KotakuInAction (KiA) contains one.
Despite superficial differences, there has been a meeting of minds between KiA, Conservatives and even some feminists on the issue of journalistic ethics. Grant Shapps MP was one of the few leading politicians to condemn despicable US site Gawker.com ‘s recent stunt involving their commission of a robot script to tweet passages from Mein Kampf.
Let us hope that those who stand for ethics and against the extremist, SJW left can put aside their differences and work together for a more ethical future.