How vicious GamerGate Wikipedia opponent and Guardian source Mark Bernstein, who caused outrage when he tried to gratuitously link GamerGate to the Charleston shootings, used the encylopaedia to edit his own company article, as well as those of products and business associates in flagrant violation of Wikipedia rules.


Wikipedia must not be used to promote personal commercial interests. Picture via Dreamstime.

Wikipedia is the encyclopaedia open to everyone. Amongst the few rules those of greatest importance are the Conflict of Interest rules. Wikipedia must not be used to advance personal commercial interests. As the policy says –

“COI editing is strongly discouraged. It undermines the public’s confidence in Wikipedia as an independent resource, and risks causing public embarrassment to the individuals and groups being promoted […] If it causes disruption to the encyclopedia, accounts may be blocked.”

It goes on –

“Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a vanity press or forum for advertising or self-promotion. As such it should contain only material that complies with its content policies, and Wikipedians must place the interests of the encyclopedia first.”

“[…] Editors with COIs who wish to edit responsibly are strongly encouraged to follow Wikipedia policies and best practices scrupulously. If involved in an area where they have a COI, they should disclose the COI on their user page and during any discussion about the affected topic.”

And on –


Wikipedia provides helpful info boxes to make it really, really clear. (Screenshot).

And on –

“If you have a close financial relationship with a topic you wish to write about – including as an owner, employee, contractor or other stakeholder – you are advised to refrain from editing affected articles.”

The policy also advises that CoI editing may violate European and US laws on covert advertising. It does advise that editors with CoI issues can still contribute by following the procedure –

If you have a conflict of interest, you can propose changes on the article talk page by usng the {{request edit}} template. You can also suggest changes on the conflict-of-interest noticeboard.”

There is even an easy read version

“Do not edit articles about yourself, your family or friends, your organization, your clients, or your competitors.”

White knight Mark Bernstein has a lot to say about #GamerGate – he claims we are a misogynistic plot to drive women out of computing, per my previous video, Sinister. If you have not seen Sinister, watch it now for details of Bernstein’s unpleasant views.

As the Ralph Retort recently exposed, he even went so far as to draw some sort of link between thwarting GamerGate and the mass shooting –


Mark Bernstein gratuitously links #GamerGate to a mass shooting on the strength of Wikipedia editing. Or something.

For someone who has so much to say about others one would expect Bernstein to have followed the rules scrupulously itself. In Sinister, I exposed a minor, almost technical breach about his support for a politician. There was no financial interest or personal gain. I considered it a trivial point.

Surely however Bernstein he would never edit his own company page, where he has a direct financial interest. That would be incredibly serious. A long standing respected editor like him would simply never do that.

Except of course here [1] (minor), here [2] and here [3] (significant).

In fact it is quite surprising to your author that EastGate Systems, a small company which according to its FAQ page has never had more than a handful of employees, has a Wikipedia article at all. At one stage the article was nominated for deletion, but immediately afterwards an IP editor (who according to the log page has never edited any other article) fortuitously intervened to ‘flesh out’ the article before vanishing into the sunset as mysteriously as they arrived.

Then there is the page for Tinderbox, a product produced by EastGate Systems, edited by Bernstein here [4], here [5] (added reviews) here [6], here [7], here [8], here [9], here [10] and here [11]. Some of the edits are minor – typoes and capitalisation, others add commercially beneficial material like reviews.

Those edits happened a while ago but Mr Bernstein has continued to edit pages related to authors whose work is sold by his site, for example Shelley Jackson. Jackson had a notability tag on her page querying whether the author was sufficiently well known to be on the Wikipedia. Bernstein removed the tag [12] on 18/06/2015 – a very serious step. He did however reverse the decision a few minutes later [13]. As well as last week, Bernstein had also removed critical text in 2010 – [14].

Other articles relevant to Eastgate, its authors and their work that have been edited by Mr Bernstein include –

Kathryn Cramer [15] (added award nominations and other beneficial text)

Stuart Moulthrop [16] (trivial change)

“Afternoon”, a story, [17], [18], [19], [20] and [21]

Victory Garden (novel), [22], [23] and [24]

Patchwork Girl (hypertext), [25] and [26]

Those are just the edits done via the MarkBernstein account, although your author would argue that WP:DUCK applies to some of the IP edits to these articles. Your author would also suggest extensive CheckUser investigation.

Mark Bernstein is in clear violation of the Wikipedia Conflict of Interest rules and has been editing articles in which he has a clear financial interest since 2007 ongoing until last week in 2015. Doubtless he and his flock of supporters will bleat about his good faith but the COI policy says –

“The belief of an editor with a COI that she can remain neutral does not affect the determination that she has a COI.”

So, did Mark Bernstein declare his interest anywhere? In fairness to him he does use his real world name as his username and he does declare he is “Chief Scientist” of Eastgate Systems on his userpage. However, it would not be clear to the casual observer that Eastgate and the authors and stories listed are connected.

In any event the rules require that the editor with a CoI declare it “during any discussion” such as on the Talk Page of the article being edited. Editors are also encouraged to seek an opinion at the Conflict of Interest Noticeboard. I searched several years of archives but found only two conversations on the noticeboard [a] and [b] with contributions by Bernstein – threads started by other people about other people’s interests.

In short Bernstein knew the rules, he applied the rules to others, and he was familiar with the venues he should have engaged. He chose not to do so.

Mark Bernstein is a gravely harmful influence on Wikipedia – to #GamerGate and to propriety. The functionaries of Wikipedia need to take the matter in hand – if they do not deal with this then the reputation of the Encyclopaedia will be gravely damaged.

If you care about Wikipedia, please do watch my previous video about Mr Bernstein and his supporters, Sinister and then join TheGGGreatWork at Reddit and help to contribute to Wikipedia.

Finally, the Witchfinder would like to thank the whistleblowers at Wikipedia who made this article possible. None of it is thanks to Guardian journalist @AlexHern, who uncritically reported Bernstein’s words but unearthed none of his questionable activities or even the disciplinary matters on his talk page.

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8 thoughts on “Improper

  1. All I can say, is: BUSTED.

    It’s funny how each of these outspoken, holier-than-thou moral crusaders turns out to have massive skeletons in their own closet.

  2. It would not be at all surprising if Dylan Roof was a Gamergater. GG advocates threaten to rape and kill women who stand up for themselves, after all, so it isn’t a stretch to go from that to wishing to incite race wars. Same mentality in both situations.

      • Matthew, I would be more than happy to produce the hundreds upon hundreds of harassing, abusive and threatening tweets from opponents of GamerGate currently in my possession. Tweets which include rape threats, death threats, doxing threats, threats to family members, job threats, masturbation shots, blatant misogyny, racism, bomb threats, mass murder, torture, and things I can’t repeat in polite society.

        • Yeah I can mass create a bunch of bogus emails too. Anyway to attach a disturbed individual, who set out to kill black people, to an issue about women in the gaming industry is completely ludicrous. It is tantamount to saying ruffles have ridges because the potatoes wanted it that way.

  3. Pingback: Wikipedia Editor Tries To Blame #GamerGate For Charleston Shooting

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