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The BADSITES initiative

Days later, the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee began discussing an effort to ban the mention of certain "BADSITES" on the encyclopedia. And AntiSocialMedia.net was at the top of the list.

"Sites such as Mr. Bagley's - sites that strongly criticize members of Wikipedia - were being associated with stalking and harassing and practically everything up to threatened rape," says Dan Tobias, a regular Wikipedia contributor based in Florida. "People were greatly exaggerating what the danger was from these sites, and even going so far as to insist these sites were so evil that shouldn't be able to link to them under any context, for any purpose, anywhere."

Tobias refuses to take sides in the Bagley-Wikipedia squabble, but he's adamant this initiative was ill advised. "I don't want to be portrayed as being on Bagley's side. I'm just in favor of being fair and balanced with everybody," Tobias says. "I very strongly dislike censorship and any attempt to control what people can say and what they can read."

"I thought this whole thing was vastly overblown and unfair," he adds, "especially on a site that's devoted to the free exchange of information and neutral point of view and considering all view points. It just made no sense."

Meanwhile, Bagley is sure that this initiative was launched simply because Wikipedia's inner circle didn't want anyone to see the evidence he'd posted against SlimVirgin. "They were trying to make sure that if I published more evidence, no one would ever hear about it - because no one could link to it from Wikipedia."

Bagley is not alone

In the end, thanks to objections from Tobias and others, the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee decided against an official ban on AnitSocialMedia.net and other BADSITES. But it would seem that an unofficial ban is very much in place.

Another regular Wikipedia writer, Charles Ainsworth, confirms that anyone outside the site's inner circle is not allowed to edit the articles on Overstock.com, Patrick Byrne, naked shorting, or Weiss.

"If you compare Wikipedia's Byrne article to the Weiss article, the difference is huge," says Ainsworth, an American editor living in Japan. "Weiss and his friends have added tons of negative information to the Byrne article. They really don't like the guy. But the Weiss article? It looks like it came off the jacket of one of his books."

Ainsworth has contributed more featured articles to Wikipedia than all but six other writers. But in October, when he attempted to edit the Weiss article, he was immediately banned from the site for 24 hours by an administrator known as "Durova" - the administrator at the heart of the secret mailing list scandal.

And Durova's ban was seconded by none other than Jimmy Wales.

"Durova [has] my full support here. No nonsense, zero tolerance, shoot on sight," Wales wrote on the site. "No kidding, this has gone on long enough."

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Next page: Wikipedia responds

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