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Sockpuppeting civil servant Wikifiddles himself

Multiple personality face stealer suspended

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Wiki-Kabuki

Then, early this month, more than two years after Chris Selwood first complained to the Wikipedia help desk, he received an email from Timothy Usher saying that a photo of his girlfriend had reappeared on the site.

After being banned from Wikipedia, the person behind the Taxwoman, Poetlister, and Rachel Brown alter egos had taken up residence on various sister projects, including Wikiquote, Wikisource, and Wikinews - all run by the not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation. This person continued to use the Poetlister handle, while creating additional sockpuppets with names like "Cato" and "Yehudi."

But this puppetmaster continued to claim that all these identities were separate people, using a different IP address for each one. Eventually, Poetlister became a "bureaucrat" at Wikiquote - and the site's de facto head - and after a year of good behavior on the quotation site, the account was reinstated at Wikipedia by the site's Wikicourt.

Some lobbied for the reinstatement of the other banned accounts as well, including Taxwoman. An editor named "Shalom Yechiel" even fashioned a protest page where he re-posted photos of Chris Selwood's girlfriend and various other women, insisting the banned accounts had been wrongly accused.

Meanwhile, the puppetmaster had moved several of his alter egos onto Wikipedia Review - a site dedicated to discussing the backstage drama on Wikipedia itself. In many cases, Timothy Usher says, the sockpuppets would convene in their very own discussion forum, talking to nobody but themselves. "One moderator [at Wikipedia Review] has described it as kabuki theatre - or a Barbi and Ken doll game."

Taxwoman reappeared on Wikipedia Review. And she turned up on Wipipedia, continuing to use a photo of Chris Selwood's girlfriend. "So there was my girlfriend, and it looked like she had written all these things about how she likes to be tied up and raped and chloroformed," Selwood says. "What if someone reads that? I really began to fear for her safety."

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