February 3, 2015
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What They Do

On Monday, an editor named Retartist changed an assertion that the targets of Gamergate's harassment were overwhelmingly women to include a bit of hedging: Commentators have said that the targets were women, with the hidden implication that those commenters might be wrong. Pointing to a heap of evidence in favor of the claim—which, indeed, is overwhelming—another editor quickly changed it back. This morning, Retartist returned and made the exact same edit a second time.

This is half of the GamerGate playbook. You make a little change to the article; it’s refuted. You argue about the refutation, adding thousands and thousands of words of gibberish than wouldn’t convince a child. It’s not meant to convince a child; it’s meant to deter any responsible party from reading it. You may judge the success of that strategy for yourself.

Armies of Mordor, allied with the Haradrim of Arbcom.

Gamergate: it’s really about ethics in weaponizing Wikipedia.

Though there's no question that the effect of the Arbcom decision has been to encourage GamerGate to take over – Zoe Quinn’s page, for example, now describes her harassment in past tense and implies that it perhaps GamerGate had little to do with it – on the whole, the pages have received more capable defense than I had expected.

This is entirely due to a number of feminist editors who had played a lesser role in the past, but who, seeing the need, have literally stepped into the breach ArbCom created. As before, I use “feminist” here to denote people believe that women should pursue a career in computing if they feel like it, and that women ought not to be raped or crippled if they do pursue a career. This is a radical notion for GamerGate and also, it seems, for Wikipedia.

Wikipedia’s misogyny, overt and subtle, has been much discussed lately. This might be a good occasion to take a fresh look at its anti-intellectualism, which dovetails neatly into the anti-intellectual and paranoid traditions of American politics. Question: is this entirely to be laid at Jimmy Wales’ door? If you know good discussion of Wikipedia’s anti-intellectual foundations, Email me.