January 30, 2015
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Armies Of Mordor

David Millard, Glorious.

Broadly, what Mark is pointing out is that what Gamergate has accomplished with Wikipedia reveals alarming things about Wikipedia as a subvertable system (for details, see Careless). Their actions are different to the everyday edit wars that appear on the encyclopaedia, as they are targeted and personal, aiming to harm, both psychologically and socially, key individuals with whom Gamergate takes exception. This is organised trolling on a scale that makes it look like the armies of Mordor are on the move.

Some Wikipedia officials remain eager to show even-handedness to abusers and victims alike, repeating that ”Wikipedia is not a battleground.” Millard – a professor and researcher in this field and a member of what’s probably the strongest Web Science team in the world – agrees that it’s not a battle. It’s a war.

Anti-social behaviour on the web is hardly new, and we have an emerging vocabulary to describe it (flaming, vandalism, cyberbullying) but this sort of co-ordinated trolling is different, and probably deserves not only a new name, but new responses. Because unlike isolated trolls, unpleasant and frightening as they are to their victims, this type of behaviour has the potential to render entire information systems unusable. It’s really nothing short of cultural cyberwarfare.