Essay:Rome Viharo revisits Rational Wiki, a critique

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Essay.svg This essay is an original work by Rome Viharo.
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A critique of Rational Wiki[edit]

Rational Wiki is a collaborative wiki that looks like an online encyclopedia, somewhat like Wikipedia. [[1]]. It's title suggests it has the comfort one would expect from rational thinking and an evidenced based encyclopedia. Rational Wiki has a Google page rank of 5, so it can show up decently in search returns, and can emerge as a powerful publisher on the web along certain search topics.

Rational Wiki presents itself as a trusted publisher in evidenced and factual based claims - and claims to defend scientific and evidenced based claims from attacks made by religious, new age, or conservative groups in the matters of pseudo science, quack medicine, and environmentalism.

Rational Wiki presents a veneer an encyclopedia that encourages reasoned, evidence based argumentation and facts. This is very misleading. Personal vendettas can rule it's community, with articles written by first person commentary. They have overstepped their boundaries or sphere of relevance into online harassment inside of a peculiar culture war. Rational Wiki can be leveraged by members in the community employing any number of 'dirty tricks' mis- framing and abuse. Additionally, there is no process for accountability when publishing a biography of a living person, and this is leveraged in campaigns of public shaming and personal harassment, and the re-publication of libelous material posted on Wikipedia talk pages.

While this critique may refer to a small or large percentage of Rational Wiki is unknown, what is known however is this platform was used to initiate personal vendettas and payback for editorial disputes on Wikipedia, and as such, Rational Wiki has emerged as a highly irresponsible and potentially influential publisher online.

Personal Experience with Rational Wiki, public shaming, harassment, personal attacks[edit]

Rational Wiki has had a biography published about me since Oct of 2013, when Vzaak 'doxed' my anonymous wikipedia account and stalked and harassed me on Wikipedia. Therefore my experience has been direct and personal. We Have a Problem has focused on the harassment and abuses that occurred on Wikipedia and it mentions the pattern of public shaming continuing on Rational Wiki at the same time. It makes I believe a very strong evidenced based case about these types of abuses happening. As my website discloses, with direct evidence and links back to Wikipedia for every assertion made there, I was harassed, libeled, and stalked on Wikipedia by a group of editors who frequent the Skepticism noticeboards on Wikipedia. These editors also engage on Rational Wiki. My expertise and background is in online collaborative consensus building online - my interests in Wikipedia was resolving wiki wars in problematic environments. This generally means I pay a bit more close attention to the behaviors in online collaborative mediums than your average Wikipedian.

I was editing Rupert Sheldrake's biography article, which is simply a composite of biographical facts about a living person. I edited that article with the intention of being anonymous and following Wikipedia's rules and community guide lines to the best of my ability. I could care less about parapsychology - and don't know a thing about it. My arguments were solely editorial in nature, and I specifically commented on the biases on both sides of the argument. Within 3 days I my personal identity was stalked and revealed. I was framed by those editors as a woo supporter, troll, and conspiracy theorist quickly thereafter, see:here for evidence and here for evidence.

There were five clear attempts to either harass me away from Wikipedia or attempt to instigate a sanction about me. The fifth attempt finally worked. During my final hearing on Wikipedia, none of my behaviors in the talk page were used as evidence of me trolling. User Vzaak used nothing else than one link to some ridiculous discussion from 10 years ago, a clear violations of Wikipedia's own community guideline. While I was editing on Rupert's page, editors on Rational Wiki created first a section about me and then a full page article designed to shame and embarrass me to the public.

What's up with the mis-framing and reputation distortion used by editors on Wikipedia? If anyone thinks it's petty to argue like this over editorial disagreements on Wikipedia - it is. That's why I was so upset to receive this kind of treatment when I encountered editorial disputes with members of Wikipedia's Skeptic Noticeboard community. After being outed, harassed, libeled, publicly shamed, (websites such as 'romeviharoisanidiot' were created), to this day in my private entrepreneurial life I have to address this Rational Wiki biography page with potential clients and investors.

I assume Rational Wiki views my investigations and research on Wikipedia as somewhat embarrassing to the skeptic community, thus my assertions about their behaviors, of which there is clear evidence, mean somehow that I am on an 'anti skeptic' tirade, or as they call it a conspiracy theorist. That's a little over the top. My critique on Rational Wiki is not a critique of their world view - it's a critique of their harassing behaviors and their irresponsible manner of publishing.

I note my biography page on Rational Wiki does not disclose that I am a publisher of critiques against this very website and the abusive behaviors that emerge from it.

Tim Farley, a member both of this site, an editor on Wikipedia, and the publisher of 'skeptools', 'what's the harm', and a declared 'skeptic' has publicly both encouraged others to promote my Rational Wiki biography page as payback for my work on Wikipedia, and has been exposed publishing highly deceptive and misleading public commentary about my participation and the activities on Rupert Sheldrake's article.

I find the lack of self reflection and honesty within members of this community for these public harassments and shaming alarming, and I protest these kinds of behaviors online and find them highly problematic for online consensus building, responsible publishing, and the broader collaborative wiki culture. (talk) 23:32, 17 April 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia harassment boils over into Rational Wiki harassment[edit]

Immediately after I was banned on Wikipedia, as I believe the clear and irrefutable evidence holds, the pattern of harassment I received from a community of self declared skeptic activists continued. Within days, there were two websites that were registered on wordpress (romeviharoisanidiot and romeviharoisamoron) and an entry on Rational Wiki in the Rupert Sheldrake article for 'Rome Viharo'.

While the article on Rational Wiki wishes to paint their own unique narrative of events, the data does not support it. Rational Wiki editors cherry pick statements, comments from around the web, some of them no longer published online, and fail to responsibly attribute context to them.

Rational Wiki used as attack site for public shaming[edit]

Rational Wiki allows any user to write their encyclopedia. Many articles are comprised of first person comments and individual opinions. Yet Rational Wiki claims to be an evidenced based website. Any user can, if they feel like it, call someone or some idea they don't like a 'crank' without any accountability and publish that opinion in what appears to be an encyclopedia for evidenced based claims.

The article on me here claims that I promote 'pseudoscience' and that I am a crank, even by the fact of being published on here alone, in addition to direct implications and distortions in the article. The evidence they provide for this is editing Rupert Sheldrake's biography on Wikipedia, comments I made protesting the removal of his TED talk on TED (a community of which I am a member of since I gave a TEDx talk), and designing a platform for collaborative curation that was used by Deepak Chopra, and an experiment in viral marketing I did more than 10 years ago.

Yet to verify their assertions of what I promote or endorse - they could just easily check my very public blog.

Why the witch hunt? Rational Wiki publishes articles, and article needs content. Rational Wiki's own policy encourages the content to be 'snarked' or be written in what they refer to as the Snarky Point of View. This creates a highly problematic culture on 'easter egg hunts' looking for content that can be published in that highly unusual voice for an evidenced based publisher.

Anyone in this community can target anyone online, find personal comments they leave on blogs, and publicly embarrass them leveraging this platform - WITH NO ACCOUNTABILITY. That's a shocking revelation for a site with a PR 5 ranking and a concern for a non profit organization that uses donor funds to sponsor such behaviors. (talk) 02:34, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Misleading biography article, harmful to my hard earned reputation[edit]

The first problem with the Rational Wiki article is the clear lack or disregard of evidence that is available about me online to anyone to fact check. The actual data online does not support this narrative they have published. Data available online about me is ignored, while cherry picking creative works I've done in the past, some 8 -12 years ago and no longer online are used to intentionally frame an embarrassing picture.

I've had a personal blog since at least 2008 - and anyone can see what I personally blog about and which kind of ideas I support. There is no mention of Rupert Sheldrake or Deepak Chopra, parapsychology or any new ago topic whatsoever. I have years of backlogged posts showing what I do actually promote. Yet this simple one click verification is not once used as a method to establish what I 'promote' on Rational Wiki.

Cherry picking and fudging[edit]

To establish that I promote 'pseudoscience' - they have to go through internet archive from websites from 2003, anonymous editing on Wikipedia, and comments I left on the TED blog to twist their story. They completely avoid the most obvious channels to verify their own assumptions, my blog where I promote things I endorse.

While painting a picture of me as some sort of 'crack pot' in addition to calling into question my integrity, the article on me fails to mention that I am a serial entrepreneur - having sold one company and with a new one currently funded with a US patent pending technology, have been twice CEO and held very responsible officer positions in various media or tech based industries. I don't need anyone to promote that, however if someone is claiming that I am a crackpot because of a comment they found on a discussion forum, and evaluate it against evidence which shows I build companies and teams, have a US patent pending technology, etc etc (things which require critical thinking and rational decision making) I would expect that writer to question their assumptions about me because of it. Additionally - this is not only professionally offensive, but its flat out shoddy research and reporting of evidenced based facts.

I've created media plans for Jennifer Anniston, that does not mean I endorse her films. I've created media plans for the nation of Brazil, that does not mean I endorse their politics. I've created technology for brands and publishers to use to promote content for the purposes of advertising and marketing - that does not mean I endorse those brands or those publishers. I've had dozens and dozens of highly unique and individual clients over the years, including characters such as Allee Willis.

That Deepak Chopra happened to hire me does not 'make' me a promoter, or an endorsee, of his views. He hired me not because of my work in 'pseudoscience' promoting, he hired me because I am a professional who creates media and technology and help others design and problem solve around it. That there was a presentation of the website 'Wikipedia we have a problem' at the EU conference means just that. It doesn't mean I'm 'interested' in EU, I never heard about them before that, and doesn't mean I endorse their views, which I don't...even care about.

I 'won' the edit war on Wikipedia/Deepak Chopra, so skeptics think I'm a woo over editorial arguments[edit]

One user here stated that "I should choose my clients more wisely", reprimanding me for a professional choice I made. Seriously... WTF? Utterly speechless that this is their process for deliberation over assertions I am making about online site harassment on Rational Wiki. That's none of Rational Wiki's business and RW is not in any moral position to question or harass me about it anyway.

This user also stated that I 'promoted pseudoscience for the money' as his reason for this type of abuse, as if I am selling out my principles, not theirs. Seriously... WTF?

Maybe I'm spoiled, but I live in Southern California, we seem to be a little more tolerant with people who do yoga and meditate. Sorry to inform the Rational Wiki community, but we are not too concerned that we are betraying Rational Wiki's principles by engaging with them. I shouldn't feel threatened by a community because of an entrepreneurial decision I made.

I created an online collaborative library for Deepak Chopra because I am passionate about creating online collaborative platforms, and would do it for the Pope too if he asked me, and trust me I'm not a Catholic either.

I wasn't hired by Deepak Chopra to 'promote' his ideas, I was hired to help with his very legitimate Wikipedia problem, which directly involves my work.

I'm not ashamed of making Deepak Chopra's article more neutral on Wikipedia. I won that wiki war - and my arguments had third party confirmation on Wikipedia with the support of senior Wikipedia editors and admins. If I was a troll on Wikipedia, I hardly think I would have had that success. The skeptic editors on Wikipedia not only lost that wiki war - they lost all their attempts to ban me, and even received admonishments from admins there. I was only banned on Wikipedia as SAS81 when one user stalked me online in social networks that I was Tumbleman from Sheldrake's wiki war.

The evidence clearly shows this extreme improvement on the page and it is directly attributable to my work. I'm proud of that editorial work. That has nothing to do with some 'chopra/parapsychology' tit for tat skeptics have with him, or me. I could care less. My problem is with their horrible, quite frankly crappy encyclopedia writing and harmful effect they have on genuine online consensus building.

I've attempted a rational, reasoned based discussion with them, with standard simple logical questions, which most of them cannot even offer a direct and clear answer to. Their closing argument to me regarding my professional work with Deepak Chopra was;

This is not a pre-Nürnberg war crimes trial; superior !orders are not a defense here. PacWalker 06:10, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

If it's not a Nazi war tribunal - then why compare my argument to Nazi's defending themselves? Self contradicting statements are bad enough - but that their argument closes with a perfect Goodwin's Law ending completes the full experience of Rational Wiki's 'reasoned argument' deliberation process.

I've demonstrated directly that my approach online is effective in online problematic environments on Wikipedia. That's what the evidence shows. Before SAS81. After SAS81.

I could go on about SAS81 and what happened on Wikipedia editing Deepak Chopra, but I'm saving that for my next report. I probably won't take on another major Wikipedia project in the areas of the mind/body problem, it distracts from the real problem I'm trying to address. But I will be back on Wikipedia, on another topic and addressing abuses on that platform, because online collaboration - and the breakdown thereof, is what I am passion about at fortunate enough to get funding to research, investigate and develop.

I find attacking me simply because I do not share extreme views about individuals this website criticize about even more worrisome. It means people can be targeted for even the appearance of supporting an 'enemy' of Rational Wiki. For most people, that's probably pretty disturbing, but I'm not sure this gets any genuine reflection on this website's community.

I think most reasonable people would find it highly draconian that I should be shamed because of people whom I may associate with in a professional setting - and believe that is evidence that shows a corrupt and toxic culture publishing on Rational Wiki.

Creative works.[edit]

Ironically - the article on me fails to note my highly creative background in viral marketing, digital media and comedy. Taking creative works out of context to 'shame' people publicly is something I though reserved in the early 20th century. By failing to inform the reader of my background, they are able to take creative works and distort them to make it appear like I am making a thesis on a topic.

Aiki Wiki is a platform I'm building and the library component of this is up on the web. The website clearly states that 'gamification' is applied to the process of discussion engineering and present the rules of gamification. The platform is currently in development, and probably wont be complete for another year, yet somehow a few members here already know it's a 'crank' idea before there is even anything for them to review. When I ask them to substantiate that claim, the only answer I get is that it's self evident. That's not evidence based editing, that's public shaming and harassment.

Google Consciousness declares in the opening of the talk that this is a story about the meme google consciousness. That's right, the talk is about a 'meme', how it started, how it grew, how the subject matter it even got the invitation for a TEDx talk. We do not claim that Google's search algorithm is sentient, and it's baffling that someone could watch the full talk and declare that was our message. We then launched the meme on stage, because as the talk clearly states, that's what my partner and I did, we created and launched memes for brands and agencies and have no idea what we're talking about when it comes to consciousness.

It has a clear narrative structure. Additionally, we tell the audience it's a story at the top of the talk. It's not a 'thesis' and we clearly have a giggle at the idea of google being sentient - and then inform the audience directly it's a metaphor for us for social media evolving into a more open and collaborative process for governments. That's what the talk is about. My biography article fails to mention the actual thesis of the talk. I don't mind fair criticism, but why avoid criticizing the one thing I actually promote as a concept?

No where in the talk do we state that 'memes are spirits' - there is only a question on one slide 'are spirits just metaphors for memes?' which we offer no answer to as we analyze to completely different world views on consciousness. My biographical article informs the reader in a manner as if we are offering theoretical or practical concepts in areas that are not attributable in the actual TEDx talk. The meme went viral, was the number #1 most popular TEDx talk in the world for eight months, was TED editors 'Pick of the Week'.

OS 012, AL 012 was a creative project 12 years ago that took place on around 5 discussion forums. It was performance art, anonymous and experimental. I also disclosed that in those conversations. It was a 'show'. I was transparent about the nature of those discussions. I've been very transparent about them here. Additionally, this is not even on the internet anymore - the only sources for OS 012 are in internet archive. At that time, I created an internet persona called 'Bubblefish, Flame Warrior' that was so over the top it's hard to believe people can take it seriously 12 years later. Yet this fact is removed from the article. By taking the 'character' I created 'Bubblefish' out of the picture and replacing it with 'Viharo says x , y, and z' they irresponsibly mislead their reader to fit a narrative that results in public shaming.

I also have a history of creative writing, viral marketing and comedic mediums, using humor and set ups as part of particular brand of creative writing. In 2001, I created the persona 'The Fifi Bastard', a fake music producer from France, to promote myEMI recording of the same name. Years later, I further experimented with 'The Fifi Bastard' in blogs and various forums.

Additionally, I created a fake 'Morgan Freeman' cigarette commercial, and 'Barack Obama in college' with comedian Freddy Lockhart. Clearly this shows a pattern of a literary device that I have used often.

By failing to inform the reader that of my involvement with creative, comedic and viral medium - they take creative mediums out of context, fluff them off as either trolling or promoting pseudoscience, and assert them as my critical point of view in a manner that seeks to shame me and embarrass me. By cherry picking websites no longer available on the web - they wind up being the sole promoters of the very content they claim they are warning others about.

Rational Wiki claims to invite 'reasonable debate', does it?[edit]

On my talk page last year, an online friend who came in to help noted that there were 9 voices who supported the page deletion and six voices who wanted to keep it.

However, trawling through this talk page, I find both that the number of people who have expressed a desire for the page to be deleted is greater than those who have expressed desire for it to be kept, and that the arguments for deletion are far more compelling. Keeps: Bob, Scream!!, Kels, PowderSmokeAndLeather, The Madman (all at Talk:Rome_Viharo/Archive4#Delete), plus RBryant (at Talk:Rome_Viharo/Archive3#Delete_template). Deletes: Evolutionist, RomeViharo (both at Talk:Rome_Viharo/Archive4#Delete), Human, Leuders (perhaps changed mind later, since seems to be happy editing the article - won't count in the tally) GrantC, Weaseloid, PowderSmokeAndLeather (but later changed mind as voted for "weak" keep - won't count in tally) (all at Talk:Rome_Viharo/Archive3#Delete_template), Gecko (at Talk:Rome_Viharo/Archive3#A_reasonable_suggestion), Laird (at Talk:Rome_Viharo/Archive4#An_argument_for_deletion, Tielec01 (above). That gives a total of 6 keeps and 8 deletions, plus 2 later-change-of-mind deletions. It seems that the majority is actually for "delete". --Laird (talk) 21:02, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Adding the new delete vote from WeirdStuff here brings the tally to 6 keeps and 9 deletions. --Laird (talk) 23:53, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Did rational wiki delete my page? No. Not only is Rational Wiki engaging in abuse, it can't even respect it's own consensus building mechanism of evidence based gathering when it comes to personal grudges. There is no solution to the problem of online harassment and distortion here. Any cranky poster can leave a comment to support a vote. (talk) 06:02, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Even other members on Rational Wiki not involved with the issue noted the same.[edit]

I'm not involved one way or the other, I have no axe to grind and I know next to nothing about the issue - but I think you should have waited to get some kind of consensus before deleting Rome Viharo. --Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 17:13, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
There's never going to be 100% consensus on a subject like that, but most comments were in favour of deletion, excepting a couple of noobs & troublemakers making the rather uninspiring argument "let's keep this article so we piss this guy off". WėąṣėḷőįďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:47, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Pretty obviously you're not going to get a 100% consensus on anything on RW. As I said, I know little about the issue, but given its contentious nature a vote before deletion wouldn't have been a bad idea.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 17:55, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Good riddance to bad rubbish. Yet I have a feeling a guy who compares himself to rape victims after rightly getting tossed off WP will find himself back on RW eventually. Leuders (talk) 18:32, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

On a very personal side of this issue - I have actually used women's rape twice as a metaphor in my writings about online collaborative harassment. While I am certainly not saying the trauma this has caused me is equal to a trauma caused to a woman by rape - it's still been a very personally emotionally upsetting experience. However I've not used rape as a metaphor for my feelings - I've used ridiculous arguments about woman's rape to parallel the ridiculous arguments I get to my assertions that what I experienced on Wikipedia and Rational Wiki is harassment and abuse via public shaming and reputation distortion.

A few people suggest that I deserve to be treated this way as a human being because of the things they believe they have evidence of to determine, i.e. what my personal beliefs and intentions are. They believe that I promote pseudoscience - and to them that is all they need to know to throw human dignity out the window. Clearly this is a parallel argument of 'she was dressed for it, so she should expect to get raped'.

I believe that people who express abusive behaviors are quite often unable to self reflect normally, so I anticipate a negative reaction with those type of psychologies. Such psychologies I believe are often blind to their own abusive behaviors. Perhaps to an abusive psychology, I believe a claim of harassment does not have much hope for a fair hearing.

The abusive psychology would suggest that if I claim I am harassed - it's properly contextualized in an evidence based encyclopedia as 'promoting conspiracy theories against skeptics'. That's a ridiculous argument from my perspective, just like telling a women she is promoting conspiracy theories about getting raped by men. As someone who actually had to experience the emotional turmoil of being harassed online, I find those type of comments offensive.

Rome Viharo, Los Angeles 2015
Publisher: Wikipedia we have a problem
Founder: Aiki Wiki

PS: Rational Wiki community member Stunteddwarf Spirit of the Cherry Blossom responds: " #Keep. Anybody who winges like this gets a vote from the goat to keep. If you need another reason then meh, whatever, looks good enough to keep." (talk) 02:16, 18 April 2015 (UTC)