William Connolley, now "climate topic banned" at Wikipedia

http://himaarmenia.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/wikipedia-logo.jpgBishop Hill had the news first, which is fitting since Mr. Connolley is based in Britain.

In a vote of 7-0, The most prolific climate revisionist editor ever at Wikipedia, with over 5400 article revisions has been banned from making any edits about climate related articles for six months.

Here’s the details at Wikipedia. After that time, he can reapply, per the Wikipedia rules seen here in remedy 3

This is of course just a shot across the bow, and there are easy ways to circumvent such a ban, but it is finally a factual realization by Wikipedia that the sort of gatekeeping and revisioning wars in the climate change information business are being recognized and dealt with.

Personally, I’m encouraged by some of the recent changes brought to my attention by Peter Tillman, an editor who left a comment here.

Perhaps we no longer need to disengage from Wikipedia, but rather engage it and work to make it better.


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The whole problem is getting someone in that “field of expertise”.
Same problem with peer review.
By the time they have “expertise”, they have an opinion.
Anyone with “expertise” is going to be hard pressed to pass something that makes them look wrong.

Harry Bergeron

Ding Dong, the witch is dead….for now.


A step in the right direction, finally!

Well, they’ve put new sanctions in place in the CC topic area and banned basically every skeptic.
Several key AGW members were ignored and if anyone jumps in I expect they will be banned using the same tactics WMC’s group has always used (revert, bait and then whine to admins).
Do those of us who submitted evidence against WMC in this case get special WUWT medals? 😉
REPLY: I wish I had them to pass out, but with budget cuts…oh, wait, I have no budget. – Anthony


For six months? The issue goes back to the late 1960s. How about banning him for six years or even sixty years?
REPLY: Wikipedia was formally launched on 15 January 2001, how about we limit the scope to the venue? – Anthony


They’ll just find excuses to let him continue, as they’ve done before.


He’ll probably re-register himself as Conal M Williams or some such. Like dog’s doings on your shoes, the smell will hang around and just won’t go away


OT, sorry, but too good to pass up: Friday Funny material for you Anthony
From the LA Times: UFO’s descend upon Manhattan. “…believers cite a September 13 press release for the book Challenges of Change by retired NORAD officer Stanley A. Fulham, which predicted a fleet of UFOs would descend upon Earth’s major cities on Wednesday, October 13.
Fulham stated the extraterrestrials would neither land nor make any communication with Earth on Wednesday. But their presence would be “the first in a series intended to avert a planetary catastrophe resulting from increasing levels of carbon-dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere dangerously approaching a ‘critical mass.’ […] They are aware from eons of experience with other planets in similar conditions their sudden intervention would cause fear and panic.”
He asserts their contact with Earth is part of their process of leading mankind into accepting the “alien reality and technologies for the removal of poisonous gases from the earth’s atmosphere in 2015, if not sooner.”

P.F. says:
October 14, 2010 at 4:47 pm
“For six months? The issue goes back to the late 1960s. How about banning him for six years or even sixty years?”
No, it is technically indefinite, but we can all appeal after 6 months.

P Walker

OK , but how receptive will Wiki be to corrections ? Connolley must have fellow travellers there .


It should be noted that this 7-0 vote is against a co-founder of RealClimate. Speaks volumes.


I’ve had run-ins with this clown on Wiki. Can’t tell you how happy this news makes me.

Leon Brozyna

Amazing … Mr. Connolley got himself a time-out. Tsk,tsk.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Atmosphere

The present level is higher than at any time during the last 800 thousand years,[3] and likely higher than in the past 20 million years.[4]

3. “Deep ice tells long climate story”. BBC News. 2006-09-04. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
4. Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis
Anyone who wants to correct that, especially with it citing such illustrious unquestionable peer-reviewed references as the BBC, feel free to try. We’ll see how long it’ll stick “now that Connolley is gone.”

R. de Haaan

A very wise but inevitable decision. This man was giving Wikipedia a bad name, a very bad name.
I wish the Wikipedia’s DMU and management all the success of the world with their project.

Doug in Seattle

007 says:
October 14, 2010 at 5:30 pm
It should be noted that this 7-0 vote is against a co-founder of RealClimate. Speaks volumes.

I wonder what happened to make these 7 change their minds? This is not the first time Connelley has been called up and they gave him a slap on the wrist before.


One suspects that Stoat and RC will be deadly silent on this issue and “moderating” any posters that dare mention the ban.
Problem is that he can easily start editing under another name, from another IP, another email address, and through various “sock puppets.” The ban is a symbolic gesture as best, but I applaud it as thus. His edits were indiscriminate and in many cases poorly argued. That Wiki let it go for so long despite his obvious PoV bias beggars belief.


… as such * … dang it is first thing Friday morning. The beers haven’t kicked in yet >.>


Good news that Wikipedias finally actually noticed.
That should inconvinience him for several minutes until he activates his sockpuppets.


Hopefully this will not turn into a case of “better the devil you know…” although it is difficult to imagine someone being more biased than Mr WC.


I say leave him there…. all these guys including Romm, Hansen, Tamino, Pachauri, Nature (climate science), APS et al (climate science), are the skeptics allies/best friend, due to their inherent capacity to do things that eventually bring them and the whole scam down.

Editing Wikipedia is largely a waste of time because it is flawed by design and nothing more than truth based on who edits last.
The Anti Wikipedia Resource

The Wikipedia Paradox
1. At the time that you are looking at a page how do you determine it’s level of accuracy?
2. How do you determine if a page is “good editor” corrected or “bad editor” inaccurate?
3. Who decides who a “good editor” is? How are their qualifications determined?
4. What is the time frame for a “good editor” to correct a page and how is this time frame determined?
5. If more then one “good editor” wants to make completely different changes to a page who wins? Could it be the last one who edited it? But which is the truth?
6. If more then one person is “watching” a topic for changes and they both want to make completely different changes to a page who wins? Could it be the last one who edited it? But which is the truth?
7. Are there more expert or non-expert people with Internet connections on a certain subject that can edit that subject’s Wikipedia page?
8. With no value assigned to level of expertise for editors per Wikipedia page how is the accuracy of the edits determined?
9. How is a “neutral point of view” determined on Wikipedia pages and who makes this decision? Could it be the person who edited it last? How is this a “neutral point of view”?
10. If Wikipedia is so accurate then why would anyone ever need to make corrections to it?

Capn Jack Walker

Personally I disagree, with the removal of the ban.
I was once an avid supporter of group networking to solve issues, but the behaviors of collective disinformation and defamation, have caused serious injury.
There has been no apologia (yes that is what I wrote) it was not a single issue of conflict it was a series of issues that would have made middle age inquisitors proud.
As a brand new voluntary project in information management, the story of the behaviors in Climate needed to be observed and reported as factual and not as partisan player.
Pinning a tail one one malicious donkey and calling that a fix, is not rigorous librarianship.
How many people defamed? How many careers destroyed? And the defence of the failed philosophical position of the precautionary principle?
Encyclopedia are to report accurately even in conflict.
Me I will continue to avoid like the plague, this discredited project. It was joined at the hip top the last witchhunt instead of historically recording the conflict. A pox on it’s ignoble house.
Librarians in society have significant duties of care to make sure books are not burned and knowledge destroyed. To report outcomes and discussions and debates.

Jimmy Haigh

007 says:
October 14, 2010 at 5:30 pm
Yesh Double O sheven. It doush shpeak volumesh. What wil Connolly do in hish shpare time now?

I agree that this is somewhat of an admission by Wikipedia that there has been bias by WMC regarding the topic of Climate Change. I suspect that other members of his “team” will continue Connolley’s effort, but now it will not be as easy to hide.


The wikipedia pages on Global Warming and Climate Change need to be completely re-written to include both sides of the data. (ie:unadjusted for example?). Hope somebody herein can do this….

A long overdue step in the right direction but the admins are going to have to be vigilant lest some creep back with a new name/account.


Just some details about ban:
3.2.1) Editors topic banned under this decision may apply to have the topic ban lifted or modified after demonstrating their commitment to the goals of Wikipedia and their ability to work constructively with other editors. The Committee will consider each request individually, but will look favorably on participation in the featured content process, including both production of any type of featured content, as well as constructive participation in featured content candidacies and reviews. Applications will be considered no earlier than six months after the close of this case, and additional reviews will be done, unless the Committee directs otherwise in individual instances, no more frequently than every three months thereafter.


How can they use “pedia” in the title, if information is withheld.
Another good idea, gone bad.


Not to state the obvious but who will unwind the thousands of biased edits?

Eric Dailey

Beware! Watch for this decision to be amended and reduced in a few weeks when they think no one is looking. Folks need to mark the calender to follow the status of this guy. He’ll be back at it in a jiffy. Keep your eye on this.

Kip Hansen

Good riddance!
For a fine example of his abusive behavior, see the talk pages of William Gray’s biography page.
Much of his behavior was in direct contradiction of Wiki policy and all intended to forward his own opinions, at the expense of the reputations of others.

Poptech says:
October 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm
Editing Wikipedia is largely a waste of time because it is flawed by design and nothing more than truth based on who edits last.
Hmmm … sounds very much like the much vaunted IPCC “expert review” process.
The climate change game … Monopoly: the IPCC version

Ooops, sorry … looks I forgot to close something … URL for above:

This is yet another response to reasoned blogland. On we go.

Capn Jack Walker

The emails were the not the worst thing in science history. (Let’s all face it bastardry occurs in academe’ all the time, no one actually got put on the rack or had hot pokers placed in places not suitable).
Wikipedia had become an information resource.
Until they recognise and address their librarianship issues they cannot be supported let alone be recommended.
I used to be a high risk reconstruction manager, the important trick is to get the client recognising real issues not emotions. My job was to sit down with technically savvy intelligent business people in all kinds of Industries and technologies, get them to concentrate on the real issues not personal or inter personal issues.
Wiki has not recognised issues let alone tried to address to address them.
To be fair, this blog has better standards of librarianship. Than Wiki.
I said a pox on their ignoble house and I meant it.
Snip if you wish.

How can somebody make that many edits and not be a professional propagandist? I encountered the same thing on digg and reddit. You guys think you are winning because you talk to people who are enlightened and have at least a passing understanding of science. The AGW people have an army of propagandists. Most people never heard of “climategate”! I use Wikipedia allot; but, never as a the only source and I am aware of their bias.


I suggest they just ban the topic. Period.
The mess that’s been created is irreversible, in my opinion. Because as
trbixler says:
October 14, 2010 at 6:43 pm
Not to state the obvious but who will unwind the thousands of biased edits?


Reminds me of the second time the Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed. There’s me, scrolls in hand wondering who could remember the last 4,000 years of collected knowledge – plus that awkward bit about Atlantis, and the true but hard to believe chunk on Alien visitors being the root of all religions.
Needn’t have worried, the dark ages reset human kind from slowly evolving to stalled, and then the renaisance went and wrecked it all….bloody enlightenment.
Now we have WreckMePedia, which is kind of like the dark ages …but darker….Darker Ages,…perhaps with a hint of red and green…

There was a problem with William Connolley. I made an edit about a week ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming#Increased_freshwater_flow (I rarely edit in this area). And right away he’s on the talk page putting his two cents in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Effects_of_global_warming#Increased_runoff_etc It’s not that he’s wrong; it’s like he’s hovering over everyone. That what WP:OWN: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Ownership_of_articles is about. I don’t think him being gone for a while is going to change much; we’re still not going to allow poorly sourced biased information, but maybe you can accept this as evidence that we are trying to provide a fair statement of generally accepted knowledge in this area.


Very late this ban, the man was practically given a monopoly on advertising his views on a public medium, were they sleeping?. This William Connolley was a big smudge on Wikipedia; keep him off.

After reading the whole thing, those guys were pretty lenient on him. As many times as he’s been the subject of disciplinary consideration, I would have leaned towards site banning him indefinitely, as he’s demonstrated a certain amount of zealotry, to put it mildly.


In all seriousness though…
How many Stubs,
could a warmista Mug,
if a warmista,
could Mug Stubs?
Now we know.
All of them.

Oliver Ramsay

Poptech says:
Well, paraphrasing… “I don’t think so highly of Wikipedia”
Fair enough, but perhaps you expect too much of it.
Treating any single source as an infallible oracle is unwise in a library, too.
I find Wiki a good first stop because it provides a host of potential search words, including names in the bibliographies, on a great breadth of topics.


There was a guy who did a series of tests with Wikipedia and wrote about his experiences – I remember he had one entry deleted within 60 seconds. Perhaps he can try again and report back.
As a canary perhaps someone could re-update the Hal Lewis entry and see what happens. One comment I read said that Wikipedia had a particularly good article on the Roman Warm Period which was removed [and still is]. Perhaps this could be reinstated as a test.
One possibility would be to organise a war with Wikipedia. Volunteers could agree to look after one or more entries and re-instate them if they are changed in an irrational way. If there were thousands of such volunteers then perhaps it would overwhelm them.
Perhaps Wikipedia could be persuaded to allow dual entries – skeptical and warmist – then users could check out both and form their own opinion. In effect to acknowledge there is [heated] dispute.


REPLY: I wish I had them to pass out, but with budget cuts…oh, wait, I have no budget. – Anthony
Aw, Anthony, at least bestow TheGoodLocust the “Order of the Purple Smiley”.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

The Wikipedia Methane entry
Previous version:

Methane in the atmosphere is a relatively potent greenhouse gas.

Connolley’s change:

Methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas.

His reason:

(Minor fiddle: ” in the atmosphere” isn’t needed, and is sort-of wrong: its a GHG whereever it is.)

LIQUID methane is a GHG?
FROZEN methane is a GHG?
Methane in water is a GHG?
And of course what is gurgling in my intestines that I want to release in his general direction is CERTAINLY a GHG!
Will someone who actually knows science please correct his scientifically-ignorant errors?

Oliver Ramsay,
No, I actually understand how it works and I think it is flawed by design. No site is more widely used as a “reliable” source of knowledge that allows any drug user who has had a lobotomy to edit it. Every computer illiterate user on the Internet references it as “fact” and none have any remote comprehension how it works. Wikipedia has done more to spread worldwide ignorance than anything in history.

I like Wikipedia. Before it came about, you had to buy a set of CDs from either Encyclopedia Brittanica or Encarta at an eye-watering price, which meant you weren’t getting the latest info on a fast moving subject.
There was an attempt to have an encyclopedia that only got contributions from well known scientists within a given field, but that didn’t work either, and would have been subject to the same problems as Wikipedia anyway, the inbuilt bias of the author.
I also like the fact that you can download the raw files that underlie the whole project, and put it in your own format, if you wish. And they are trying hard to get citations for any statements that are made.
Unfortunately, it’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest weakness. By making it open access, you can get the latest most up to date info on a given subject, but it also allows the propagandists to keep their point of view to the forefront on controversial subjects.
They should be using the fact that there are edit wars on a subject as a clue to the fact that the subject is controversial, and mark that subject as such. They should then give both sides space that cannot be edited by the other side, to put their point of view across.
It would then be up to the proponents on each side to put their best case forward, and for people visiting it to make up their own minds. It’s still not perfect, because in something like global warming, most of the money for research is on one side.
I’d hate to see Wikipedia fail, because the alternative is to go to Bing or Google, and parse through a mountain of crap before one finds the information that they need.