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Caravan Magazine asked us about our coverage on Wikipedia and its Left bias – Here is our detailed response

Ranging from child rape videos to an FBI complaint about paedophilic content, changing history of the Noakhali genocide and a global bias against conservatives, OpIndia has covered a range of issues that ails Wikipedia.

We live in a post-truth world where the facts often get lost in the cacophony of emotional wails and motivated narratives. One website which has occupied the driver’s seat in the information-warfare era is Wikipedia. Wikipedia has become the agent of misinformation and propaganda. In a post-truth world where facts are relegated to the ‘right-wing imagination’ and the Left narrative is considered as the Gospel truth, Wikipedia reigns supreme. OpIndia coverage of the Wikipedia misrepresentation of facts started right after the Delhi Riots 2020, where Islamists coordinated and executed violence across the national capital.

After OpIndia’s extensive coverage of the inherent bias of the platform, we also interviewed the co-founder of Wikipedia, who explained in detail why the platform is a cause lost to Left’s propaganda. Almost vindicating everything that Larry Senger told us later about the functioning of Wikipedia, the platform had blocked OpIndia from being referenced in Wikipedia almost immediately after our Delhi Riots coverage and the reportage on how Wikipedia editors are heavily biased towards the Left.

The Left was not too happy with OpIndia and it was evident. Jimmy Wales himself went on a tirade on Twitter, but more on that later. Since the Delhi Riots have become a propaganda flash-point for the Left, sympathetic media has now decided to presumably pick up the issue to ensure that Wikipedia’s credibility, which has been on the slide, is maintained, if not improved.

Presumably to that end, Caravan Magazine, that was recently counting the caste of the soldiers who laid their life down at Pulwama in defence of the nation, reached out to OpIndia saying that they were doing a story on OpIndia’s coverage of Wikipedia and wanted to ask us certain questions.

The Left has not exactly covered itself in glory, considering how they conveniently cherry-pick facts and misquote the people and organisations that they wish to malign. Hence, OpIndia’s responses to Caravan Magazine are being reproduced here in the spirit of transparency and honesty, tenets long abandoned by not just Wikipedia, but also the Left media that it seems to rely on heavily.

The questions asked by Caravan Magazine are in bold, and OpIndia’s response to them follow each question.

Why did OpIndia choose to dox a Wikipedia editor? What is your editorial stance on the ethics of revealing the editor’s personal information?

OpIndia started its coverage of how Wikipedia was biased in its coverage of the Delhi anti-Hindu Riots 2020 on the 26th of February. It is pertinent to remember that the Delhi Riot itself started on the 24th and lasted in the wee morning of 26th February.

Here are some of the issues we raised regarding the Delhi Riots page of Wikipedia.

  1. On 24th, one anti-CAA protester had brandished a pistol and fired 8 shots towards pro-CAA protesters, who was identified as Mohammad Shahrukh. The Wiki page merely mentions him as a shooter and did not even mention that he is from anti-CAA mob.
  2. When the shooting happened, the Left media had claimed that Shahrukh was a part of the pro-CAA mob, however, when the images of the incident were analysed, it emerged that he was a part of the anti-CAA mob. When other users wanted to include this information in the Wikipedia article, they were shot down by the moderator. The senior editor, who is supposed to be politically neutral while editing and moderating content on Wikipedia, commented that if the man was a Hindu, media would not have focused on him, and there is no need to include more detail on the incident.
  3. The article mentions the attack on a mosque in Ashok Nagar and shouting of “Jai Shri Ram” and “Hinduon ka Hindustan” slogans by the mobs, but have absolutely no reference to any attack by Muslims and anti-CAA mobs. On the other hand, while there are videos showing mob shouting “Nara e Taqbeer” and “Allahu Akbar”, but they find no place on the page.
  4. The Wikipedia page mentions journalists heckled by Hindu Sena, right-wing protesters and other Pro-CAA mobs, but does not mention a single incident of journalists attacked by Muslims and anti-CAA mobs. In fact, there is even a video of NDTV journalist Sreenivasan Jain being heckled and threatened by anti-CAA mob, but the Wikipedia article was hardly interested in facts.
  5. The article on North East Delhi riots was made semi-protected. As a result, ordinary users had to request user DBigXray for making changes, and user DBigXray, who had special privileges as a Master Editor III, decided which contents are included and which are not in the page. Hence, we discovered that this editor was directly responsible for the poor chronicle of facts that the Wikipedia article was.
  6. When one user requested the moderator to include the news of the murder of a Hindu activist by Muslims, the moderator declined the request, saying the request was ‘not clear’.
  7. The moderator even refused to include the provocative comments by AIMIM leader Waris Pathan, again asking for ‘reliable source’, for a comment that was already in the media.

Our detailed first report can be read here.

Since repeated attempts of getting the page rectified did not work, it was on March 2nd that an OpIndia report investigating who was editor DBXray, was published.

In the report, we relied on publicly available information and at no point was personal information not on the public domain was released. Some of the information, like the Editor’s real name, was already published in a Reddit thread at the time. OpIndia embarked on a journey to verify publicly available information, much of it, was already in the Wikipedia archive and his Facebook profile.

Interestingly, the anonymity of Wikipedia editors is a part of the problem that Caravan, at least by the tone of the question, seems to be defending. Wikipedia editors are increasingly functioning as Mainstream Media editors where they decide what information should be included in an article and which information should not be included. No longer is Wikipedia a purely publicly sourced platform, as was proved during the Delhi Riots fiasco where the page was locked and people’s counters were dismissed with derision. When the Editors of Wikipedia behave like MSM editors, they should not be granted the luxury of anonymity. What is even more interesting is that while the editors of Wikipedia mirror Left editors, who deride anonymity and consider it a yardstick on which authenticity should be measured, they are more protective of their own identity while peddling the very same agenda.

OpIndia believes that any editor, whether on Wikipedia or otherwise, who decides which fact is worth communicating to the public and which isn’t, based on their own world-view and narrative, does not deserve the shield of anonymity. Just like you have the means to reach out to the Editor of OpIndia to pose questions to us about our coverage, editors of Wikipedia who are now functioning in the same realm, have no right to claim anonymity while spreading falsehoods about sensitive and important events of India.

Does OpIndia intend to dox more editors? In what circumstances would you decide to do so?

While Caravan Magazine uses the word ‘dox’ to define what OpIndia did, thankfully, reputation does not indicate that it is, in fact, the truth. There was no attempt made by OpIndia to compromise his personal details like his address, phone number etc. The information that was investigated by OpIndia was publicly available information available on Wikipedia and his own Facebook profile. We take exception to this being called doxxing since Caravan Magazine seems to believe that being protected while spreading falsehood was his right. It was not.

Further, unlike the Left, OpIndia has no documented strategy to investigate more editors. In our coverage, if we feel that other editors need to be investigated, we will take that decision on a case to case basis. However, if the question posed is inquiring whether we will stop investigating Wikipedia, its antecedents or its Editors, the answer is certainly in the negative.

A few months ago, OpIndia was blacklisted from Wikipedia for doxxing an editor. Would you like to comment on Wikipedia’s decision to blacklist OpIndia?

OpIndia again takes exception to the Caravan Magazine journalist calling the investigation ‘doxxing’. While we put this on record, we are sure that in their article, Caravan will use this word since we abandoned our expectations from the portal a long time ago.

Instead of OpIndia opining on its blacklisting from OpIndia, we would like to add some quotes by Larry Sanger, who is the co-founder of Wikipedia on how the platform really functions:

  1. ‘If you are an admin, or if you just have a lot of pull because you are popular because you have a lot of views and stroke the right backs, if you are in the in-crowd then you have a lot more authority in the system. It is mob rule and it has been since I left. Although it was become more organised in many ways. There is a veneer of rather strict bureaucracy – a set of rules and functions applied in an arbitrary way. You can detect a pattern, but it’s a political pattern. Not a principled pattern”.
  2. “Basically, the Left tends to invade open institutions, its been their modus-operandi for the last 100 years. Basically, invading open institutions and subverting them, dominating them, and freezing out anyone who dissents their views. I can’t tell you what the cause of the bias on Wikipedia is, I can only tell you that it is really obvious now. It used to be quite obvious 10 years ago, Now, it is just embarrassing”.
  3. “The bias that they (Wikipedia) now reflect, is that of the Globalist Left. Of the Establishment, with a capital E”.
  4. “It is more than just a mob now. It is a mob in the sense that there is real internal political authority being wielded and no regularised fair, democratic way of determining who should have that authority. The arbitration committee elections are a joke. You cannot know, announce, reveal the identities of the most of administrators on Wikipedia… you don’t know who those people are and if you don’t know, there is no accountability. It is a self-contained system. If it just so happened that one of the leading administrators on Wikipedia is a convicted paedophile, sitting in prison right now, in some prison where they let prisoners use the internet, that does not make any difference because there is no way of finding that out. That bothers me. That does not make it a mob. What makes it a mob is the combination of lack of a fair democratic process of determining who those in charge would be and lack of a fair application of rules, there is no rule of law in Wikipedia. They try to make it look like there is since they keep citing these alphabets soup of acronyms which is short for policies, but the way in which these policies are applied is arbitrary”.

There are several such quotes and explanation by the co-founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, which if the journalist or the magazine really wants to understand the issue instead of doing a shoddy hit-job, could go through.

Here is the link to his interview by OpIndia.

Researchers from the University of Maryland have claimed in a study that OpIndia’s articles consistently include themes such as “Naming and Shaming Journalists,” “Media as Partisan and Elite-Oriented,” and “Media Biased Against India and Hindus.” Is this an accurate characterisation of OpIndia’s work?

We don’t agree with the adjectives used or the characterization of our work, but we plead guilty to treating journalists the same way journalists treat others. Celebrity journalists are often the object of our articles, which upsets the Omertà that is there exists in the media where they don’t take potshots at each other. This Omertà was broken for at least Arnab Goswami by the rest of the media, while we broke this code for entire media years back.

Perhaps you could read an example of that in this article, where Caravan Magazine allowed blatant lies to be published against Arnab Goswami without due diligence or basic journalistic investigation:

Anvay Naik suicide case for which Arnab Goswami was arrested: Letters exchanged, the closure report, and unanswered questions

After OpIndia’s editor-in-chief emailed Jimmy Wales outlining grievances, have you received any communication from the Wikimedia foundation or Wales himself?

A 5000-word email was sent to Jimmy Wales on the 5th of March after Mr Wales had, messaging OpIndia editor Nupur Sharma personally, claimed that he can be an ally in solving issues and that the editor must help him with people who were questioning him on Twitter. No help was offered, however, a detailed email was sent to him focussing on the misrepresentations in the Delhi Riots page. Other than his strange rant on Twitter, we have not received a response from him yet.

Since the ban on OpIndia, the publication’s coverage of issues related to Wikipedia has increased significantly. What is the reason behind this editorial decision?

OpIndia’s coverage of Wikipedia has increased not after the ban on OpIndia but after its biased article as far as the Delhi Riots 2020 is concerned, which was a case investigated extensively by OpIndia.

I understand why Caravan Magazine would want to impugn the ban as a motive, but it must understand that OpIndia works differently from the Left media.

Here is a list of the articles OpIndia has published with regards to Wikipedia after we reported on its bias as far as the Delhi Riots were concerned:

  1. Journalist who exposed cartel of Wikipedia editors permanently banned from the platform for ‘offline harassment’
  2. Wikipedia page on Noakhali genocide, where Muslims massacred Hindus, vandalised to show Muslims as victims: Details
  3. Wikipedia deletes article on Tablighi Jamaat hotspot of Coronavirus calling it anti-Muslim, the administrator uses Supervote to overrule majority vote to retain article
  4. Wikipedia page of RSS vandalised calling it a Hindu terrorist organisation by Islamist user with a history of anti-Hindu edits
  5. Wikipedia vs OpIndia: The crusade launched against OpIndia by Wiki, the left-bias and the players involved
  6. Fact-check: Was Wikipedia updated with time of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death even before he had died
  7. Left dominated Wikipedia displays bias against conservative voices yet again, ‘downgrades’ reliability of Fox News after ‘discussion’ by Wiki Editors
  8. The saga of Wikipedia bias continues: ‘Jai Shri Ram is a war cry’
  9. Bengaluru riots, Wikipedia and the impossible staircase of Indian secularism
  10. Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger had accused the organisation of hosting paedophilic content
  11. Most article on Scots Wikipedia written in mangled English by an American who can’t speak Scots: Reddit user makes explosive revelation
  12. As Pornhub faces heat over child rape videos, Wikipedia editors promptly remove content mentioning criticisms and petitions against the website

Ranging from child rape videos to an FBI complaint about paedophilic content, changing history of the Noakhali genocide and a global bias against conservatives, OpIndia has covered a range of issues that ails Wikipedia.

We would like to understand from Caravan if the magazine believes that these issues do not deserve coverage simply because Wikipedia seems to pander to the ideology that Caravan follows.

Further, Wikipedia, for most issues, is the first result that Google throws up. Any bias or misinformation in that regard becomes crucial since the platform seems to be re-writing history from a Left prism and furthering blatant misinformation as we speak. Perhaps issues like the truth, propriety, transparency, an accurate representation of history and current events etc are not issues that the Left likes to concern themselves with, but is certainly something OpIndia holds dear and will continue to report thereof.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

 

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