THERE ARE LIES, DAMNED LIES, STATISTICS, AND THEN THERE’S WIKIPEDIA
Sites like wikipediareview (as well as Wikipedia talkpages) are full of detailed criticisms of prominent wikipedians like Slim Virgin and Jzg. However, wikpedians who edit in less mainstream areas are not as often criticized. In this draft, some criticism in India-related articles is detailed. Bias occurs everywhere in wikipedia, but to keep the draft concise, it is limited to this topic. (If the draft refers often to the edits of just a few editors, it is not because they are the most notable or because admins are more important, they are just *by far* the most “productive” editors on wikipedia.)
First it is very obvious that the most active Wikipedians, especially also admins, are not unbiased editors as you would maybe expect from an encyclopedia. Here are some examples of bias against Indians:
“Why are you giving so importance to a Third World Contry person like Talageri? These religious beggers and low class people don’t deserve this much attention.” (“User:Truthlover”)
“what’s happening? Are summer holidays over at American high schools, and all the ABCD trolls flocking back to give Wikipedia grief? (ABCD is a slur, ABCD=American Born Confused Desi)” (“User:Dbachmann”)
“your physical location is [[American-Born Confused Desi|not so relevant]]” (but apparently your race is, “Dbachmann”, when commenting on a Hindu editor)
“the only people that care about [ [ Indian mathematics ] ] are Indians with a collective inferiority complex… Our problem is not with real kooks so much as with second-generation expatriate youths who are shedding their testosterone properly intended for tribal warfare in front of the screen.” (“Dbachmann”)
“imdiversity.com is at least not a Hindu forum, but it seems still to be a lobby organization you’d expect to automatically take the side of an ethnic minority, never mind if their cause makes sense or not.” (“Dbachmann”)
“The articles [[Hindu-Arabic numeral system]], [[Arabic numerals]] and [[Indian numerals]] have been kept separate in order to appease the angry young Hindu editors.” (“Dbachmann”)
One administrator (“Dbachmann”) was heavily criticized for saying this on wikipedia:
“These are not simply trolls in the narrow sense, they do not pretend to be clueless brutes, it is difficult to believe, but I think they are fully serious. It is pointless to waste time with them, because even if you get them to listen to sense, there are millions of more clueless people where they came from, and especially in India, every sh*thole is getting internet access. I feel for these people, because they are in an actual ethnic conflict, and must feel actual hate, but I don’t feel responsible for babysitting them, Wikipedia is not for them.”
This is a comparatively mild version of wikipedia bias, but it has engendered a lot of controversy. The Indians criticized the admin because he refused to apologize for this comment even after being critcized heavily for it. The same user was also criticized for similar remarks and for his tendency to use ethnic, national and religious attributes of editors when making negative criticisms. As an example he routinely refers to Hindu editors as Hindutva-trolls, -zeaolots, -kooks, -meatpuppets, -propagandists, -sockuppets, -sock army, -crowd and Hindutva editors from hell. (Almost none of the victims of his name-calling have declared that they are Hindutvadis.) It would almost seem that he uses the word Hindutva on Hindus as others would use the word nigger.
Further exemplifying that every Hindu and every aspect of Hinduism that he disagrees with is “evil Hindutva”, this admin even puts Swami Dayananda in the Hindutva category, who lived long before Sarvakar (who coined the term Hindutva). The same admin also criticizes the “Hindutvatis” for their denunciation of [ [ British colonialism ] ], claiming “Hindutva scohlars seem to delight in, what with denouncing British colonialists for imperialistic views”. He is also an apologist of British colonoliasm when he writes that India benefited from it because of the railways which helped in times of famines. (But of course the railways were built for economical reasons or exploitation, and many countrys that were not colonized also got railways, including “third world” country Thailand, and colonized countries are more prone to famines than non-colonized ones). (Scholars, including Indian marxist scholars, who disagree with this or similar viewpoints, are then criticized of being “postmodern” or “postcolonial”.)
Of course the fight against “Hindutva” is for many editors just a fight against Hinduism. Thus one administrator (“Dbachmann”) claims that Dayananda’s writings are recognized as having an element of religious fundamentalism and criticizes Vivekananda for alleged pseudo-science in an article with the poignant title “Hindutva propaganda” that was too extreme even for wikipedia standards and got deleted (if an article created by a long-standing admin can be deleted because of its bias and against the wishes of the admin, it is probably extreme).
Some of the same admins and editors maybe unsurprisingly also go at great lengths to equate Hinduism with fascism, racism and “national mysticism” (and also accuse Hindu editors both of racism and of playing the race card). The purpose of calling Hinduism “national mysticism” is of course to paint Hinduism and Hindus as proto-fascists, thereby smearing the Hindus/Asians/Pagans as evil, and at the same time making appear the Nazis and other racists as less evil (since everybody, Jews, Hindus/Pagans, Muslims and Afrocentrists are also Nazis). There are two explanations for this behaviour.
The first one is that they are fascists who are projecting their own racism on Hindus. There are of course many fascists who are projecting their own obvious racism, and that of their party, to Latino, Hindu, Jewish etc communities. (This does not mean that Hindu, Latino etc racists do not exist at all.) But there are people who feel they must protect racism by projecting racism on those protesting racism (e.g. the BNP in the UK). That’s the equivalent of the right wing meme, the Orwellian “to protest racism is racist.”
The second explanation is that they are anti-fascists who believe (or want to believe) that Hinduism is a fascist and racist cult (this may be quite common among some Christians for example who are ignorant of Hinduism but believe that it is “from the devil”).
That the latter explanation may be true in many cases is shown by an admin (Dbachmann) who advances his belief that Hinduism is racist, e.g. his opinion on the Hinduism article is:
“sadly, this article is very, very, far from being encyclopedic or even factual. It’s a sermon. An eulogy. I made a few edits, but they do very little. The Vedas don’t condone discrimination? Varna has nothing to do with skin color? I believe that many Hindus believe so (and this may of course be asserted), but that’s just because most Hindus have never actually read the vedas, or if they have, they didn’t bother to translate. The Rigveda, for example (9.73.5) talks about the blowing away with supernatural might from earth and from the heavens the swarthy skin which Indra hates.”
And in the Indo-Aryan migration article he writes:
“The tribes hostile to the Indo-Aryans in such warlike encounters are described as dark-skinned, e.g. RV 9.73.5:
:”O’er Sire and Mother they have roared in unison bright with the verse of praise, burning up riteless men,”
:”Blowing away with supernatural might from earth and from the heavens the swarthy skin which Indra hates.””
That Vedic Hinduism is racist is of course the opinion of nazi ideologues from Alfred Rosenberg to white-history.com, as also of some colonial era scholars. But the point is that the admin in these cases thought that such statements deserve to be in the lead of articles like Rig-Veda and Indo-Aryans, and this without reference to other opinions on the subject. In fact he at the same time removed statements by scholars who think that Hinduism is not racial from articles, e.g. while claiming that the Rigveda is racist he also deleted passages that argue otherwise.
While such admins and editors like to routinely refer to Hindus and Hindu editors as “Hindutva fascists”, they have no problem collaborating with real fascist-minded editors (if they are also anti-Indian) such as (in the case of admin “Dbachmann”) the Islamists (according to some wikipedia editors, but also quite obvious from their edits) TerryJ-Ho, Nadirali and Anonymous editor.
One of wikipedia’s most blatant examples on an attack on “biography of a living person” might be admin Dbachmann’s attack on Hindu author Kak. This case also clearly shows the bigotry on wikipedia. Dbachmann laughs at his poetry, deletes articles on his books, calls him all kind of names and claims that Kak is taboo and kooky because he is a physicist writing about Indology. But the same admin promotes the indological work of astrophysicist Kochar (because of course the latter happens to be an ally of the like-minded Witzel). So if you agree with Dbachmann’s point of view, then it is okay to be a physicist and still write on Hinduism. But if you don’t agree with Dbachmann’s point of view, then it is kooky and taboo. Dbachmann also claims (without any credible proof) that the wikipedia article on Kak and the Amazon reviews on his books were written by Kak himself. But the fact that anti-Hindus like Steve Farmer are spamming links and references to their own papers in wikipedia articles is not criticized. Nor
is it a problem if the like-minded Prof. Witzel is removing criticism against his political campaigns from the California textbook controversy article. (Incidentally, according to a wikipedia edit, Witzel is known to have an email correspondence with administrator Dbachmann, who also happens to protect the Witzel page on wikipedia and insert Witzel’s point of view (including the fringe ones, like his Indus-Script-is-not-a-Script-theory) into articles.)
Wikipedia is also a place where inconvenient truths are quickly removed. If once a serious study on censorship on wikipedia is undertaken it will almost surely also examine the case of the committed deletionist Hornplease. While many others are expert in censoring articles, not many do it with so many words and excuses as Hornplease. As one wikipedian commented: “What you are infact doing as visible to me is that you are systematically censoring and removing mention from wikipedia of atrocities committed against Hindus by Muslims and providing all bogus reasons for doing so.” (Although his censoring activities are not confined only to Islam-related political areas).
Another example is the administrator Dbachmann, who when he can not censor an article (by deleting it, e.g. articles of Hindu authors or books), will start a defamation campaign. Not only individual authors (pratically all Hindus or too “pro-Hindu”), but whole book publishing firms are the victim of such defamations. Thus, an admin (“Dbachmann”) sweepingly claims that the books from a Hindu publishing house (“Voice of India”) are the product of their “criminal energy” (besides of course also accusing them of publicizing evil propaganda, revisionism and fringe works). Dbachmann even adds the name of the owner of the website to the wikipedia article (which of course is not wikipedia practice, but as so often some admins are more equal than others). (Also as another of many examples, some members of the Fringe noticeboard will delete all kind of articles just because they pertain to their definiton of “fringe” and non-worthy, even if they report neutraly on a non-mainstream subject, for example articles on non-
mainstream, non-Christian religions. Due to this, that board is pretty much everything that’s wrong about wikipedia, one wikipedian said. Furthermore, the introduction of the prodding process, where articles can just be tagged for deletion instead of going through an discussion process, has facilitated the censorship of the less visited parts of wikipedia.)
Also telling is when the admin Old Mishehu deletes an article about historical facts on Hindu slaves in medieval India with the comment that it appears to be “Hindutva fancruft”.
There is on wikipedia no shortage of bullies and censorship cops that will work overtime to manipulate wikipedia. Wikipedia, as has often been stated, is as a rule unreliable in all areas that are in any sense political. As the proverb says, “There are lies, damned lies, statistics, and then there’s Wikipedia.” In this draft mostly anti-India bias are detailed. I have limited myself to this topic only to keep it short, but all politically charged areas in wikipedia suffer the same problems, especially on non-mainstream subjects. Of course there are also Indian and Hindu editors with an agenda, but it is easy to see that they not do have the same influence as their counterpart, and are quite clearly constantly bullied by the “anti-Hindu” editors.
Wikipedia is clearly unreliable in both theory and practice. The opportunities for misinformation are too numerous to mention. The power the higher echelons have for pushing their own agendas, and for simply behaving like bullies, is enormous. On subjects far removed from the political, wikipedia can be useful. The problem is that in anything to do with subjects of great debate and moment, there are attempts to manipulate. There are those who try, but consistently fail to present facts without them being twisted or obscured by those who don’t like them. Those wishing to make a beneficial difference are generally beaten black and blue by the system, and whoever wants to have a go at them.
I personally believe that history will be more interested in the talk pages and edit logs than the content itself. What makes Wikipedia interesting for researchers are not the articles themselves (no student or scholar would ever rely on or quote from wikipedia), but the talkpages and the article histories. Wikipedia is not about fact at all. Its about truth. Its fairly easy to see the truth when you read between the lines and the diffs. And with a few printscreens, its easy enough to see the sort of stuff that needs to be ushered out of view. That’s all about truth (and hiding it) as far as I can tell.
If you are into truth, then all that needs to be done is collect a few diffs. One could say they are only human. Which side of human? You have to work the truth out for yourself. Most of the time its really obvious. Wikipedia in my mind (and for my purposes) seems to be just a method of exposing the truth about power hungry individuals who want to paint the world in their own particular variety of sh*t. Those who are good at climbing the ladder, get to drop more influential lumps on any collection of info that is in the splatter path.
Nearly every article has a band of “campers” hanging around it, who are much more interested in maintaining their own version of the truth via the preferential enforcement of technicalities in Wikipedia’s rules, than they are in the truth content of said articles. Wikipedia was a good idea, but it has been seriously corrupted by people like these, and the foundation has not done anything to address the problem. On the contrary, it has, in some cases, supported people who have worked hard to keep certain articles inaccurate.
Most pages of any significance have a group of people that have appointed themselves overseers, and resist new additions on general principle. Often, they have a collective ideology slant and have chased off everyone who disagrees in any significant way. In this state, the odd person coming along and trying to modify the article against the views of the established mass is shouted down, accused of going against consensus, and chased off.
The issue there in my experience is the same problem we have with US politics – too many people who care far too much about their own interpretation of the notability policy are in positions of influence. It doesn’t matter if we’re right. What matters to them is we don’t agree with them. So they’ll stomp on us and shit on us and delete entries anyway, out of spite or some twisted logic that what was originally founded as a public resource is somehow divinely theirs. The wikipedia editors that push this crap are the internet equivalent of The Religious Right in american politics, and are about as open to reason.