Soumyadipta, a journalist who has reported from West Bengal in the past, today took to Twitter to say that Wikipedia admin “Newslinger” has permanently banned him from the platform for ‘offline harassment’. “Newslinger” is the same person who has been trying to ‘blacklist’ OpIndia on Wikipedia.
The Wikipedia Admin called #NewsLinger who is a well-known harbinger & promoter of vandals, has indefinitely blocked me from editing any wikipedia page.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) March 20, 2020
How did he find me?
Because I was on Wikipedia with my REAL NAME & my workstation IP.@jimmy_wales & @Wikimedia remains silent! https://t.co/n50XBVtfD5 pic.twitter.com/WmT06OjtTO
He said that ‘Newslinger’ is well-known for promoting vandals and found Soumyadipta as he was on Wikipedia with his real name. Earlier this month, Soumyadipta had taken to Twitter to expose how there is a cartel of admins and editors on Wikipedia who earn money by creating and editing Wikipedia pages.
Years ago, my friend and I collaborated to write an investigative article on Wikipedia.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) March 4, 2020
The plan was to expose the entrenched gang of Wikipedia editors who earn money by creating and editing Wikipedia pages.
A Bollywood producer helped me with the contact of an agency.
Soumyadipta explained how he got in touch with an ‘agency’ by posing as a PR (public relation) agency of a relatively unknown actress. They emailed the ‘agency’ instructions regarding the edits required for the page along with payment details. Rs 10,000 was paid to the ‘agency’ to create a page of an actor. Total charges for creating and ‘maintaining’ the page for six months were Rs 50,000.
Soumyadipta further states that on Wikipedia, one cannot make edits as one likes as they would be ‘reversed’ if ‘they’ (the cartel) does not like them. “A gang of about 50 Indian editors are on top of a chain of editors and they have complete control over Wikipedia,” Soumyadipta said. “They are on top of a chain of command. A team consists of about 10 editors. A newbie proposes an edit and a chain of command approves it and further edits it,” he adds.
Google algorithm is such that the first search result is almost always the Wikipedia page. “Google changes its algorithm frequently but they used to heavily favour Wiki because it is an open-source, publicly edited charity platform,” Soumaydipta says.
Adding on their investigation into the ‘business’ of Wikipedia editors, Soumyadipta says that for two months, they kept adding the favourable edits like turning flop film into semi-hit at the box office and obscure awards. “Every time the top editors approved the edits and they were never reversed. Even if somebody reversed it, they were brought back,” he adds. Soumyadipta says that the top Wikipedia editor would make up to Rs 5 lakh per month as ‘consultants’. Except, they do not mention Wikipedia on any documents. The ‘consultancy’ fees are usually for IT-related or PR agency work. Even income tax is paid on the ‘consultancy charges’.
Revealing how the hierarchy on the platform works, Soumyadipta says, “Here most editors mask their identity. So, it’s difficult to figure who’s attacking you. You might be a professor with a PhD on the subject but a first-year student will reverse your edits if he’s higher in the hierarchy.” It takes years to ‘climb’ the ladder on Wikipedia. Wikipedia gives you badges, stars etc in recognition of your work and you won’t them unless you have the tacit support of the “gang”.
Soumyadipta explains that to climb the ‘hierarchy’ your edits on Wikipedia should not be reversed. That is possible only with the support of the editors who are higher-ups. “Backed with data, you edit the article on Wikipedia only to find that it has been reversed the next day. Imagine this happening to you frequently. Day after day,” Soumyadipta says.
On the bullying on Wikipedia platform, Soumyadipta says, “There are these “Talk” pages where you can ask why your edits have been deleted. These pages are public and the language is monitored. It is here that the senior editors will bully you by clever usage of words. They’ll tell you that your edits were “pretty pointless” or “vague”. You have the liberty of re-editing or seeking help from someone else but the bullies who are trying to block your edits will patrol your Talk pages to figure out who you are talking to and what are you saying. If they find you intimidating, they will try to block you permanently.”
Wikipedia relies heavily on external citations for your edits. “These editors ensure by one method or the other that their narrative on a particular page does not change. This is mainly the case with political pages. It’s interesting to note that there are many Bengali and Malayali senior editors on Wikipedia who have been editing Wikipedia pages for years. They’re staunch Leftists and their job is to ensure that Wikipedia doesn’t say nice things about non-left personalities and media,” he says.
Explaining how the leftist ‘editors’ vilify pages, Soumyadipta explains that for individuals, they highlight their flaws. “For example, create a separate section for an unverified allegation levelled against him just by citing a newspaper report. But for others, they would ignore it. For people who are known to have anti-left views, the attacks get more vicious. They scour the internet for publicly available articles that show you in bad light. Once they get such an article, a new editor will edit and the senior editors will ensure that it sticks to the page,” he explains.
Apparently, such malicious edits take place through secret chat rooms outside of Wikipedia. “They will ensure that the edits come from different locations. So it’s impossible to figure out that it’s a coordinated attack. If seniors from Virginia, Kolkata, Vietnam, Karachi & Mumbai are saying the same thing about an article, then the edit sticks. No matter how much you try, you will not be able to modify it. Every time new senior editors will come and block you from editing or will reverse the edit,” he explains.
Coming back to the actor whose profile they got published on Wikipedia, Soumyadipta says that the actor now has positive media coverage and even has verified Twitter account as Twitter considers Wikipedia, which is open to editing for the general public, as a legit source.
As I said, Wikipedia editors come from various backgrounds but most of the seniors have a strong bias against anti-left narrative.— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) March 5, 2020
BJP leaders, personalities who publicly support Narendra Modi and those who speak in favour of majority Hindus often have derogatory edits approved.
Soumyadipta reiterates that most Wikipedia editors have a strong bias against anti-left narrative and hence often approve derogatory edits.