Written By: - Date published: 8:53 pm, July 12th, 2013 - 20 comments
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An article about the editing of Judith Collins Wikipedia page has just been published on the NZ Herald site. Author Phil Taylor makes a creditable effort to maintain some balance, pointing out the apparent biases of both Brooking and Clarke43. He is asking for the identity of Clarke43, though, it looks like Clarke43’s bias is evident for all to see.
Come in Clarke43, whoever you are. Your time in the shadows is up.
Or is it? Clarke43 is the pseudonym of a volunteer Wikipedia editor who inadvertently came to attention in a “wikispat” between Justice Minister Judith Collins and a ministry critic.
Taylor goes into some background about how one or two politicians’ wiki pages have been manipulated in the past, but relies on Bryce Edward’s comments, in the concluding section of the article, claiming biased edits eventually balance each other out, and those with a “political agenda” eventually get exposed. He claims this makes politics interesting for “the masses”.
Along the way, Taylor argues that Brooking’s additions to Collins’ page was clearly biased, while Clarke43 seems to lean more toward politicians of the right:
The ruckus about Collins’ staff was triggered by Wellington alcohol and drug counsellor Roger Brooking, a critic of Collins and the Justice Ministry and a prolific Wikipedia editor now banned under the username Offender9000. Brooking voiced concerns that Collins or her staff might be behind edits he has made being slashed from lengthy articles to brief stubs but admits he had no proof.
Brooking pointed to the removal by Clarke43 from Judith Collins’ page of a passage he inserted that quoted Sir Bob Jones that she had displayed on the Binnie-Bain compensation matter “breathtaking arrogance without precedence” and was unfit to be Minister of Justice.
“It’s a perfectly usable quote and a source was provided, but its critical of her so he removed it,” says Brooking.
Then, on June 15, Clarke43 added a direct link to Collins’ Twitter account in the reputation section along with the following quote: “She is active on Twitter and tries to reply to people personally, believing that the interaction is a good way to reach young voters and inject some humour into politics.” Brooking suspects hagiography. “Twittering is nothing to do with her reputation … [Clarke43] is “always trying to paint her in a flattering light”.
Clarke43 stated his motive was simply to “maintain the integrity of Wikipedia as a resource”.
The NZ Herald put a message on Clarke43’s user page, asking hir to phone Taylor. The message has been deleted (presumably by Clarke43), but shi hasn’t contacted the Herald.
Taylor does tend to give Team Collins the benefit of the doubt in terms of their involvement in dressing her wiki page up to make her appear in a more favourable light. Taylor confirms that Collins’ staff,
having edited related pages a new photo was uploaded to the minister’s Wikipedia page and several paragraphs that her office says it considered defamatory were removed about her handling of David Bain’s compensation case. One of passages cut mentioned an “embarrassing public spat” between Collins and Canadian judge Ian Binnie, who reviewed Bain’s compensation case.
Collins’ office didn’t get into much bother because it declared its interest it chose the nom de plume “Jc press sec” and was upfront on discussion pages and this week stated that there had only ever been the two edits.
Did they acknowledge doing the edits, only after their clumsy choice of pseudonym was outed?
Clearly, though, Collins will need a very good PR team if she is ever going to make it to being Nat leader. Whether or not Clarke43 is linked to Judith Collins, hir attempt to provide serious support for Collins’ self satire on twitter won’t cut it.