back to article Shapps launches probe into Wikimedia UK over self-pluggery allegs

Former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps, who lost his Cabinet seat after allegations sourced from Wikimedia UK were widely publicised during the 2015 General Election campaign, has filed a request under the Data Protection Act to find out what the organisation knows and wrote about him. While the BBC has (sort of) …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The relationship between Wikipedia and Wikimedia is sometimes complex and often fraught

    the Wikipedias (in this case the English language one) use the software of Wikimedia to create their encylopaedias. If Wikimedia makes changes to the software the wikipedias have to suck it down - the last couple of revolutions of the 'pedia editors against Wikimedia changes have been a bit unpleasant. In one, the Germans (if I recall correctly) objected to a change and "undid" it - Wikimedia programmers then used their powers to force it through.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Not quite. You're right that the WP community revolted, and made their own changes to disable the WMF's WYSIWYG (Visual Editor). But WMF buckled a few hours later, as it lacked the powers to force them to use anything.

      Since then, WMF has sort of given itself the power to override democracy if it doesn't like the decision:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I was thinking of the 'deployment' of MediaViewer as default which led to the "superprotect" to prevent it being turned off.

        There's also Wikipedia:Flow ( a chatboard like system to replace the current talkpages - that seems to be more hated than welcomed

  2. frank ly Silver badge

    "... Ashley van Haeften also refused to resign ..."

    It's not a good idea to appoint someone without a process being in place to 'disappoint' them.

    "... and the charity told us that it isn’t responsible for the actions of its employees."

    I thought every organisation was responsible for the actions of its employees, if they were engaged in the activity for which they are employed. Editing Wikipedia articles and using Wikipedia tools sounds like he was working. Wikipedia should have adequate procedures in place to enable anyone affected by a 'rogue' employee to have malicious articles and actions investigated and withdrawn.

  3. S4qFBxkFFg

    DoesDid Grant Shapps write for The Register?

    Why yes he doesdid!

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Your point being? El Reg pointed this out themselves in the last piece (about a month ago) on this.

      The story is that a WMF foundation employee allegedly used his position for political purposes, (i.e. smearing an MP during an election campaign) and got caught doing it, and WMF have done nothing about it. Even the censure came from others if I'm reading the article right.

      If I had done such a thing in my company I would be out of the door without touching the ground.

      Now Shapp's may or may not be a stereo-typical Tory Alan B'stard character but thats irrelevant to the point at hand.

      The guy smeared someone and got caught - some punishment is probably due - not that things have got that far .... Yet.

  4. JN

    One scandal a year?

    Wikimedia UK seems to average one scandal a year. Bamkin's Gibraltarpedia, the van Haeften ban, the Compass enquiry, the Symonds desysop in the wake of the Shapps allegations ...

    Significantly, the types of problems coming up generally seem consistent with the problems marring Wikipedia as a whole: amateurism and people misbehaving, driven by self-interest, bias and contempt for the people they write about in Wikipedia.

  5. Velv Silver badge

    "the charity told us that it isn’t responsible for the actions of its employees"

    We'll see if they feel the same after someone takes them to court and the court finds the charity liable. It's one of the reasons most businesses have very tight gross misconduct clauses because they know they are responsible for the actions of employees from company resources (computers, IP addresses, email addresses, etc)

  6. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Look again

    He has yet to receive either the data, or even an acknowledgement of the request.

    Has he checked Michael Green's inbox as well as his own?

  7. Blitterbug

    Toys rapidly exiting the pram

    WP has its flaws, and it's certainly very far from perfect, but there's really very little to dispute in this particular case. Politicians of every colour have been caught wiki-cooking during the run up to the last election, but this bozo takes the biscuit. Caught with his fingers in the figurative till, rather than gracefully admitting defeat, or just abandoning his alleged sockpuppet persona, he hung on for grim life in the face of ever-increasing evidence of his alleged activities.

    I've followed this closely for months, and read all of the WP talk threads involved. Not because I have a political axe to grind; I couldn't give a monkey if this guy was Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem - but because this twerp has been disingenuous to a fault throughout the whole sorry mess. That's what annoys me.

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Toys rapidly exiting the pram

      Except that isn't an accurate reflection of the known facts in this particular case, if you read any of the coverage beyond the Guardian's original credulous "oh look, naughty Tory" version of events. See here:

      Having just accepted personal liability for a potentially defamatory status by accepting your comment, I am duty bound to point this out.

      1. Blitterbug

        Re: Having just accepted personal liability...

        ...Odd response, that. Shouldn't you really have avoided personal liability? Why deliberately invite potential problems? But yes, I have read pretty much every piece of news about this including - as I believe I mentioned - scrutinising all the available WP 'evidence' first-hand.

        For many years I've had a keen personal interest in various examples of alleged WP misbehaviour, which I've often followed closely in n attempt to gain insights into why people do these sorts of things - aside from the obvious such as massaging a BLP article, and so forth. At first this simply seemed another such example. And, rather than blindly fall victim to biased news coverage, I went directly to the source, spending many interesting hours reading through the DIFFs and talk page comments. Ultimately my opinion is only my opinion, but the 'evidence' that I saw certainly seems to correlate largely with the opinions expressed by the Guardian.

        I think what I'm getting at here is Mr O's ongoing anti-WP stance as much as anything. I went to great pains in my previous post to point out my own political ambivalence, but this would appear to be the latest in a string of fairly anti-WP articles by the same author, and this intrigues me.

        1. gerdesj Silver badge

          Re: Having just accepted personal liability...

          Gaz t'Journo: Responds to your comment and links to a previous article from el Reg which I have just re-read and followed up some of the links.

          You: wave hands again, claim to have read from the source, claim a lack of bias and deep insights into teh issue.

          Me: I'll stick with a well researched article with links from a professional.

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: Me: I'll stick with a well researched article

            Cool, link me up!

            But srsly, reading the wikipedia mod discussions about this is better than any article. Where else exactly would the journos research?

          2. Blitterbug

            You: wave hands again, claim to have read from the source, claim a lack of bias

            ...Interesting use of 'claim'. AGF, anyone? :)

  8. twilkins

    Hey, that's not Grant Shapps...

    It's Michael Green!

    Hmmm, wait, it could be Sebastian Fox...

  9. ColonelClaw

    This reminds me of Al Fayed vs. the Hamiltons. To be on the safe side can we just find both parties guilty?

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