...into the bucket of jellied eels

fun Hard on the heels of Wegman's farcical attempt to sue Mashey comes Watts's incompetent attempt to meat-puppet wiki. If you want to see my comments at WUWT that didn't survive moderation, you'll need to read stoat spam or just imagine them; I said nothing that wasn't obvious. My favourite, I think, was

The context here is wiki; we’re speaking about updating a wiki article, so you need to follow its rules, or just mumble over your beer. Wiki’s rules for reliable sources are WP:RS, which is to say https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources. I don’t actually agree with all that but meh; they’re the rules.

which got snipped as a "policy violation"; I kid you not. Anyway, the backstory:

Willard Anthony Watts (born 1958)[1] is an ...

Well indeed, is what? Wiki was having some trouble deciding, as chronicled by me a month or more back. Currently its fairly stable on the delicious

Willard Anthony Watts (born 1958) is a former broadcast meteorologist from the USA,[3] president of IntelliWeather Inc,[4] and founder of the Surface Stations project, a volunteer initiative to document the siting and maintenance of U.S. weather stations.[5] He operates Watts Up With That?, a weather and climate change[6][7] blog that focuses on the global warming controversy and his opinion that the human role in global warming is insignificant. It is described by climatologist Michael E. Mann in The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars as having "overtaken Climate Audit as the leading climate change denial blog".[5]

(my bold). I'm sure the piece in bold is balm to his troubled soul. That its Mann being cited can only make the balm even more balmy; about the only thing the Watties hate more than being called denialists, is Mann. Naturally, the Mann article doesn't quote Watts, because there is no symmetry: Mann is a respected and significant scientist; Watts is some blogger. But enough of that, because the focus for today is on the WUWT article. But before we get to that...


AW asserts that Of course, I’m not allowed to make any changes myself, because the Wikipedia rules prevent such things due to potential “bias”. Its not quite true, though squinted at from his distance its arguably true enough not to matter. The actual, complex, rules are at WP:COI if you want to read then. As with everything, though, its less the rules than how you act. And what they certainly don't do is ban you from going to the talk page and arguing for your preferred version of the article; what stops AW doing that is Fear of leaving his walled garden; the outside world is a scary place.

My advice, though, to anyone with a wiki page about themselves is to not read it. And I take my own advice, to the extent that I don't know if I still do have a page about me.

AW was somewhat coy about exactly what he thought was wrong with the article; a clear intent to apply a smear was about all. But a nod is as good as a wink to a meatpuppet, no?

[[Watts Up With That?]]

The article is currently fully protected, and like the AW article is in a state that will doubtless delight the Watties:

Watts Up With That? (or WUWT) is a blog dedicated to climate change skepticism or denial[a] created in 2006 by Anthony Watts.[1][2]... Contributors include Christopher Monckton and Fred Singer as guest authors.[4]... and is among the most influential climate change denial blogs on the Internet.[6]

Which, errm, bears an eerie similarity to the version before all the fuss.

Brief war; few killed

After AW's clarion call, a couple of the troops turned up to fight the good fight. Oefinell kinda qualified the denial a bit (I bet he got spanked by AW in private for that thin effort) and Ponysboy changed "denial" into "skepticism". That lasted about three minutes before being reverted. Then some anon made a more full-hearted try which lasted almost two minutes. But wiki has seen this kind of stuff before(if 4chan can't take wiki down, the Watties don't stand a chance); there's even a banner for it:


Short Brigade Harvester Boris has a more amusing version, which I encourage you to read.


And there's a procedure for it: "semi protection", which prevents edits by anon, or new, accounts; and allows editing by established accounts. The threshold for an established account is low; its a few days of editing, not a year; its just enough to bounce off the noobs who've been sent in to wage holy war.

FWIW, the admin that semi'd it added a note to say that they were possibly too involved to take admin action on the article; but the action was so obviously sensible no-one complained.

Rather more recently that has been upped to full protection (no-one except admins can edit it, and they aren't allowed to make controversial changes). That's supposed to allow debate to take place on the talk page and some kind of consensus to emerge.

Will it? Certainly, the two ends of the spectrum will never agree. mostly, its just endless rehashing of the familiar "denialism! Its like holocaust denialism! ZOMG I'm just so offended I could use lots of exclamation marks!!!" versus "denialism is just a word that describes what you're doing". Guess which side I'm on.

Surfacestations.org: dead or what?

As noted by me about a month ago, surfacestations.org appears to be a stiff. And, as far as I can tell, no-one gives a toss. I tried tweaking them in the comments, but no reaction; I even called AW's duff paper a "poor dead stillborn thing" and even that didn't get a rise. He really must have despaired of it. The wiki article says ''Watts's Surface Stations project, an analysis of terrestrial US weather stations, was often discussed on WUWT, but became dormant in 2012'' which seems fair enough. I did ''ask'' at WUWT if they thought there was anything wrong with that; no-one replied.

Its scary out in the real world

My favourite exchange in the WUWT comments was this:

dbstealey May 26, 2015 at 9:14 am:

I would love to ask the person who re-edited that entry to define WUWT as “a blog dedicated to climate change denial” and ask him what he means

William Connolley May 26, 2015 at 9:52 am:

But you can (or at least you could, if you were brave enough to venture out of the walled garden)! Because the wiki page has a talk page, designed exactly for this kind of information exchange. Look, its here:


But actually, its even better than that, because the wiki page has a history tab (are you sure you’re comfortable with high tech?):


And if you press that, you can fairly readily find:


and the author of that change has helpfully explained themselves:

“Undo, and restore significant sources removed yesterday, which have been supported by consensus.”

And then further explained themselves on the talk page:


Do you need to be spoon fed any more?

dbstealey May 26, 2015 at 10:40 am:

I’m happy to see you being spoon-fed here at WUWT. You might learn a lot, if you ever decide to open your mind.


(BTW, thanx for the links, but if I want to be spoon-fed mindless propaganda, there are far better sources than yours.)

So they really are afraid to venture out of their safe little zone.

Update: controversial articles

Its often said (well, at least by people who need an excuse for not reading what is written when they don't like it, but who of course use wiki for all practical purposes) that wiki is fine for non-controversial topics, but rubbish at controversy. But this is wrong; wiki is surprisingly, astonishingly, good at handling controversy. That doesn't mean that it always deals fairly with individual editors cough but nonetheless the contents are almost invariably good. Not always, but arguably better than anywhere else.

A follow-on from that is the suggestion that it would be better for controversial topics to be split: into "pro" and "anti" pages, sometimes with the additional suggestion that "pro" people aren't allowed to edit "anti" pages, and vice versa. this is explicitly forbidden by policy, and I think that is correct: if you want to read about global warming you want one article that is as far as possible balanced; you don't want to read one article that says "its all a myth and a con and black helicopters" and another that says "zomg we're all going to die" and average the two in your mind; that would be pointless.


* Septics and skeptics; denialists and contrarians - me, in 2004.
* Climate denial blog-owner Anthony Watts calls his troops to Wikipedia action - Sou.
* In the forest, stoats are scaredy cats-NZ Herald

More like this

"Part I" is very presumptuous. I might never write part II. Ah well, I press onwards in hope. I'm going to take my text from Climategate: the corruption of Wikipedia and see what we can learn about wiki's workings from the way people misunderstand it. I should warn you that blog is mostly recycled…
More wiki-fun. Or is this Google Truth in action? (Yeah, I know, the pic isn't quite right but its good). Which is more accurate? Willard Anthony Watts (born 1958)[1] is an American blogger who runs the climate change denialism website Watts Up With That?.[2] A former meteorologist,[3][4] he is…
My previous post refers. There are lots more things to say; this post doesn't really say any of them but veers off at a tangent. Let me know if you get bored. The tangent to start with is "no-one from outside understand how wikipedia works". An obvious example of this is Lawrence Solomon (my…
Or, A child's garden of wikipedia, part 2. I've been banned from WUWT, after exposing too many of his errors. Although naturally AW doesn't phrase it quite like that. Also, he didn't much like me not showing the adoration that he gets from his fanbois either. Indeed, presumably in an effort to…

WUWT seems to have become (browser hits notwithstanding) the low rent district of denier blog-dom.

These days, all the cool kids are hanging out at Auntie Judy's, apparently believing some gravitas from the Grande Dame is rubbing off on them.

What is it that Watts denies?

[That's not an unreasonable question; if AW's censorship were not so heavy, you could read something of my answer on his blog. As it is, you'll have to read mine: http://stoat-spam.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-sad-tales-of-wikipedia-gang-… -W]

How is the description of him different than descriptions of those who deny the Holocaust?

[Sigh. This is what I was referring to by endless rehashing of the familiar “denialism! Its like holocaust denialism! ZOMG I’m just so offended I could use lots of exclamation marks!!!” Read the article talk page if you want the answer -W]

These are the questions that should always be answered before using a term that the recipient regards as an inflammatory insult.

[No. How AW regards the term has no bearing on whether wiki should use it or not -W]

If Wikipedia or anybody else is not willing to put those answers adjacent to their use of the term they should not use it.

My own experience with being called a denier is that it is not enough to accept the physics to avoid the smear (as happens to Lindzen and Dyson who are frequently labeled deniers. Watts is not a scientist but he agrees.), to accept the potential of global warming to be a real risk (as happens to Lomborg and Curry) or to accept that action to mitigate or adapt is appropriate in the present day (as happens to myself).

Now Barack Obama is a denier, as pronounced by Bill McKibben.

It is a crass insult and Watts is right to object to it.

But the qualification for denier is laughably simple. If you don't agree with the policy prescription of the 2 digit IQ moron who calls you a denier, they will use the insult to try and deligitimize your contribution to any discussion about climate.

[No; AW and his ilk are denialists for the science, not for the policy -W]

By Thomas Fuller (not verified) on 28 May 2015 #permalink

I've never had much use for Wikipedia other than helping with the Sunday puzzles and don't understand the importance people attach to it. That being said, I was originally drawn here because you always answered my science questions fairly, right down the middle, without political spin and in ways my non scientific brain could understand. That the wiki warriors try to paint you as some wild eyed agenda driven super alarmist just boggles my mind.

[Ah, you should go tell them that :-). But its a tribal thing: like the daily hate, the Watties need opposition to coalesce around and demonstrate loyalty, because they don't have anything else to agree on. And they need to hate wikipedia and its liberal cabal, because they need a reason for why it says what it says even though "the facts are o their side" -W]

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 28 May 2015 #permalink

Nice. I haven't the stomach to actually monitor that page; your summary is fun without the baggage of actually having to care much.
The Wikipedia ethos seems to work, at least better than a car running on glue and tar. Fitfully, that is.

[:-). And you've reminded me of something I forgot to say, so I'll add that -W]

By Russell the Stout (not verified) on 28 May 2015 #permalink

You want low rent....you want to try Jo Nova. The denizens of her blog make the Watties look like clever people.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 28 May 2015 #permalink


It may be a Wallace Line thing-- Jo's commentariat seems less simian but more marsupial

By Mnestheus (not verified) on 28 May 2015 #permalink

I noticed Sphilbrick has Alan Moran's book listed on his reading list. So much for NPOV.

By Chase Stoudt (not verified) on 28 May 2015 #permalink

Only read a few comments at WUWT. Unsurprisingly, some are calling for the lawyers. Too much exposure to Monckton & Co makes you sue-happy.

[Calling for lawyers is easy, especially if you're an anon commentator. But even AW isn't dumb enough to actually sue -W]

Mnestheus wrote "Jo’s commentariat seems less simian but more marsupial"

now, now, we'll have less of that, thank you very much! ;o)

[Nice to see something other than mustelids getting stick -W]

By Dikran Marsupial (not verified) on 29 May 2015 #permalink

Sorry Dikran-- no elision of wombats and moonbats was intended

By Mnestheus (not verified) on 29 May 2015 #permalink

I saw the title of the post, and I was hoping to read more about jellied eels.

I'll guess I'll have to go to wikipedia for that

[Somehow, I'd imagined them as looking funnier than that :-) -W]

By Joseph O'Sullivan (not verified) on 29 May 2015 #permalink

Its scary out in the real world

WUWT is a true anti-Wikipedia. No wonder they do not feel at home at Wikipedia.


Perceived legal threats
Wikipedia has a policy of blocking users who threaten other users with legal action, because legal threats are usually inconsistent with being a collaborative editor.

The legal advisor of WUWT-popular Lord Monckton is a busy man.

Posting of personal information
Posting another editor's personal information is harassment, unless that person had voluntarily posted his or her own information,

The standard procedure when losing a debate on WUWT is to publish private information.

By Victor Venema … (not verified) on 29 May 2015 #permalink

"Of course, I’m not allowed to make any changes myself, because the Wikipedia rules prevent such things due to potential “bias”."

The Grant Schapps/Michael Green defence?

Naughty, misleading the poor dears, "Wiki’s rules for reliable sources are WP:RS" is wrong, them's the guidelines.


[Maybe that's why it was snipped at WUWT as a policy violation ;-? -W]