En-WP:Press Release / An Open Letter to ArbCom

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Subject: Astroturfing and censorship


This page is an Open Letter to the Arbitration Committee of the English Wikipedia and to interested third parties. It concerns astro-turfing accomplished by a "new account" on en.wiki.

In a separate section, I will address the recent disclosure (990 form) that Wikimedia paid $436,000 in consulting fees to Minassian Media (an S-Corporation which the web suggests may well be Craig & Shawna Minassian's family business). One of the people working through this corporation (Jove Oliver) preceded Craig Minassian as Chief Communications officer at the Clinton Foundation and has his own company, so it is odd that he chose to work through Minassian Media.

The reader should keep in mind that no claim is being made that the new account ("Sagecandor") involved in astro-turfing is directly associated with this company.

It is reasonably certain, based on extensive similarities in editing behavior and quirks of language, that a person named Cirt, a former administrator on several projects said to be a protégé of Durova, opened the Sagecandor account on Nov 17, 2016, six months after their last edit as Cirt. In the following month, they were one of the most prolific editors on the site from then until the 22nd of December, 2016. They focused primarily on DNC talking points demonstrating a remarkable mastery of some of the more complicated processes, syntax, procedures, rules and power centers on Wikipedia. (By early December many people both on and off wiki had identified them as a faux new account.)

During this time, they began work—in particular—on the entry "fake news webpage" (a page that the WMF's Victor Grigas was interested in at exactly the time Sage stopped editing as an IP through VPN and created an account (§ page history § )). This struck me, since Victor Grigas has worked closely with Minassian Media on projects in the past, and WP's "reliability" was a subject that the September 2016 Minassian media audit suggested should be a priority for WMF public relations. Sage's attention soon migrated to the "Russian interference in the 2016 US election" page which they worked extensively on.

They disappeared immediately after getting me blocked on December 19th, 2016. They returned in February 2017 primarily (I believe) to formally test the idea that Wikipedia entries about books are not easily deleted. With the verdict in (it is difficult), they took another break (by and large) until May, got back into "battlefield editing" for a while before turning their attention to the mass editing of three bibliographies:

  1. books by or about Donald Trump
  2. books by Malcolm Nance
  3. books about Russian spying.
19 book reviews averaging well over 20K each. This was a small, but not insignificant, part of their total editing during the period. Sagecandor nominated the majority of these Wikipedia entries for "good article" status (a very time consuming—and backlogged—process meant to identify articles especially worthy of readers' attention).

At 14:30 on the 22nd of June, I congratulated SC on their many book review reviews at "Talk:Bibliography of Donald Trump"; eight minutes later at 14:38 they plopped down 11K of an amazingly intricate complaint and began calling up the troops to have me blocked from Wikipedia for daring to question their "sources and methods". I was indefinitely blocked less than 20 hours later (archived "case"), and the substance of the complaint (astroturfing) was not addressed. This is how things are done on English Wikipedia. Paint any criticism as a personal attack...

All that for notifying Sagecandor that evidence of astroturfing was publicly available, and that it might be more helpful to Wikipedia as a project that they focus on community-identified vital pages, rather than "becoming wiki-voice" for a certain number of DNC talking points: Donald Trump & US-Russian relations.

update from back in July 2017: Sagecandor was credibly identified as the topic-banned former administrator Cirt. For more information see the Sagecandor Incident. I (& apparently at least one other person) communicated this to the Arbitration Committee.

In October 2018, after returning to add book reports on all of Mark Judge's books (for the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings), this evidence was finally presented directly on-wiki (§) and Sagecandor was interrupted while busily at work on Euromaidan Press offerings (contribs).

Archived info

Evidence of Astroturfing

Major Themes

The major themes that Sagecandor works on have varied over time. Just after the election the focus was on fake news and on the Russian interference in the US election story. Since returning, while it's true they've also been involved in the Whopper dispute and the United Airlines David Dao incident, they've remained focused on the issues that originally interested them (Seth Rich, Pizzagate, etc.):

Now, they have moved on to other issues, such as...

There is a lot more below, for the moment let's not get ahead of the story. The next section is quite important as it shows the professionalism of the operation.

Proof of Concept

To test whether it was easy to delete book review reviews or not, in February 2017, Sagecandor nominated a couple of books for deletion.
In Wikipedia jargon, he "initiated an AfD" (Article for Deletion) for the following books:

One account present in both deletion discussions was Captain Raju, who appears to work in that area of Wikipedia. (Cf. linkspamming event)

Book Reviews / Did you know (DYK) / Good Article (GA) / Donald Trump template

These book reviews were authored from 2 Jun to 23 June 2017. For new ones, you can look at their contributions, though they seem to have taken a break now that their astro-turfing has been identified. A fellow critic estimated that each book review might take around 4 hours, and assuming that they have a reasonable system of vacuuming up references and converting them to Wiki-syntax automatically, I would be ready to believe that (though it is much, much faster than my own rate of production).

So, 19 book reviews x 4 hours each (min.) = 76 hours of work from 2 June to 23 June. Most likely the work was actually done after the test of concept in late February. Given the 7-10 hour editing days in May and June, with major texts being plopped down in a matter of minutes most days, it would be very difficult to believe only a single person was involved with the account. More logical, given the consistent prolix style (from what I've read), is that the articles were mostly written between March and June after it had been established that book entries were tough to delete.

As an added bonus, these articles qualified Sagecandor for "autopatrolled" rights (explanation) and page mover rights.

  1. Disinformation: 2 June 2017 | history | 16K | 27K | (DYK nomination), self-nominated it for GA (awaiting review)
  2. The KGB and Soviet Disinformation: 3 June 2017 | history | 18K | 18K
  3. Dezinformatsia: 3 June 2017 | history | 21K | 23K | self-nominated for GA (KA Coffman passed it)
  4. The Case for Impeachment: 5 June 2017 | history | 28K | 31K | Sage nominated this entry for GA, which it failed.
  5. The Plot to Hack America: 7 June 2017 | history | 26K | 31K | Sage nominated this entry for GA (review not yet undertaken)
  6. Defeating ISIS: 8 June 2017 | history | 25K | 24K | AFD nomination, withdrawn from GA consideration, DYK nomination
  7. Final Report of the Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel: 10 Jun 2017 | history | 28K | 29K
  8. The Terrorists of Iraq: 9 June 2017 | history | 21K | 23K | self-nominated for GA (awaiting review),
  9. An End to al-Qaeda: 9 June 2017 | history | 20K | 20K | self-nominated for GA (awaiting review),
  10. Terrorist Recognition Handbook: 10 June 2017| history | 22K | 22K | self-nominated for GA (awaiting review)
  11. Trump: The Kremlin Connection: 11 June 2017 | history | 20K | 20K | self-nominated for GA (awaiting review)
  12. Think Big and Kick Ass: 13 June 2017 | history | 38K | 38K | self-nomination for GA (awaiting review)
  13. Why You Want to be Rich: 14 June 2017 | history | 20K | 22K | self-nomination for GA (awaiting review)
  14. Midas Touch: 15 June 2017 | history | 23K | 24K | self-nomination for GA (awaiting review)
  15. Insane Clown President: 16 June 2017 | history | 30K | 30K | DYK nomination | self-nominated for GA (awaiting review)
  16. Time to Get Tough: 17 June 2017 | history | 31K | 30K | self-nominated for GA (awaiting review)
  17. Trump Tower: A Novel: 20 June 2017 | history | 18K | 21K | DYK nomination, indefinite full move protect request
  18. Trump 101: 22 June 2017 | history | 23K | 23K | self-nominated for GA (awaiting review), DYK nomination
  19. Trump Revealed: 23 June 2017 | history | 42K | 41K | DYK + GA nomination

Total new book review text (as revised): 468K (counts only reviews themselves, this does not include talk pages, GA self-nominations, GA QPQ, DYK, DYK QPQ, noticeboards, talk pages of those who challenge their edits, author pages, book review outlets, book publishers, RS/N, AfD, welcoming newbies to WP, awarding barnstars, etc., etc.). Sage added many of his book reports (example, see page history for more) directly to the Donald Trump template visible in all articles related to him. Of course, his topic ban from BLP of US politicians (as Cirt) was long forgotten by this point.

page view analysis for 6/20-6/25 for 10 books

Emphasis added (bluelinks)

There is a separate page of examples linked below, from which I've taken 2 examples here. First:

The author writes about Donald Trump's campaign style, "He can do plenty of damage just by encouraging people to be as uninhibited in their stupidity as he is." Taibbi refers to Trump as an ignorant individual engaged in confidence tricks, "bloviating and farting his way" along the trail of the 2016 election. The author recalls Trump, "saying outrageous things, acting like Hitler one minute and Andrew Dice Clay the next." The book offers a positive assessment of the campaign of Bernie Sanders for president.

CC/BY/SA: 7&6=thirteen / Sagecandor source

Sagecandor has copyedited since and has not felt it necessary to revert those blue-links 7&6=thirteen added to his text (well to Taibbi's text in fact). This is misquoting, of course, unless Taibbi also blue-linked to the Wikipedia entries on Hitler and Andrew Dice Clay, which I'm guessing his book doesn't. 7 & 6 = 13 returns to another Sagecandor creation in November 2017 to add links to John Oliver jumping on the whataboutista bandwagon. (Oliver was part of the Fake News team at Comedy Central). I'd almost forgotten about the Minassian connections (cf. Craig's comments at the Clinton school of public policy below). :-p

Sagecandor's own blue-link contributions to the 2nd paragraph of the lead were in line with Minassian media goals (see below): fake news, alt-right, reality television, post-truth politics, publicity.

In another book entry, it is neutrality™ that gets pushed into blue-links, both in the lead and in the body (this is taken from the body):

Kirkus Reviews praised the neutral-point-of-view seen in the authors' journalistic objectivity to describing Trump in their biography, writing, "{texte sous droits}"

text CC/BY/SA: Sagecandor, 23 June 2017 source

An analysis of the blue-highlighting / links deployed in this article shows that the The Washington Post is mentioned 18 times in wikitext, and is blue-linked five times. The word rapists is blue-linked twice, sexual is blue-linked three times, twice related to sexual misconduct assertions made by women against Trump, once to the Boston Catholic sexual abuse scandal (which is unrelated to the subject). For the full survey of press organs double blue-linked please see: Trump Revealed (textual analysis).

Categories created

Because it is quite time-consuming to list all the categories, I've focused on just a very few of those that they've created this month (these were created in the space of a few minutes). There is little point searching for all of the categories they created... I did notice these in particular, though... No other person in human history had any of the following "critical of" categories currently dedicated to them at Wikipedia at the time this was written. There is a deletion discussion currently in progress for the one (1) other human taxed with a "Parodies of" page (Sarah Palin). SC !voted k(r)eep.

  • Music critical of Donald Trump (history)
  • Works critical of Donald Trump (history)
  • Films critical of Donald Trump (history)
  • Books critical of Donald Trump (history)
  • Parodies of Donald Trump (history)

NB: these pages have since been deleted or redirected, covering up Cirt's creation of them to all but administrators.

Miscellaneous pages
  • Memorandum of Conversation: 17 May 2017 | history | 1K | 4K
  • Great America Committee: 19 May 2017 | history | 11K | 11K (This page, as originally written, was clearly a take-down piece / hack-job. It is studied more closely on page 1 of Sagecandor's editor thread at Wikipedia Review
  • 2016 Trump Campaign Leaks: 30 May 2017 | history [ 36K | redirected | AFD nomination (for redirected article), content originally from another en.wiki page Sagecandor has worked extensively on.
  • TrumpiLeaks (website): 7 June 2017 | history | 19K | 19K
  • Roy Godson: 3 June 2017 | history | 3K | 6K
  • Clint Watts: 3 June 2017 | history | 6K | 31K | self-nominated for GA (awaiting review)
  • Michael R. Caputo: 8 June 2017 | history | 18K | 18K | self-nominated for GA (awaiting review)
  • rewrote the Wikipedia entry for the New York Journal of Books (post rewrite), quintupling its size (original) because it was the only entity that had reviewed The Plot to Hack America.
  • rewrote Malcolm Nance (contribs)
Link-spamming Sage's book reviews to political opponents' BLP pages

One example I noticed because I follow Tulsi Gabbard's page.

Captain Raju added the link to Sagecandor's book review of Malcolm Nance's Defeating ISIS to eight pages (including other BLP) using the same method.


I am aware that I am not the only person that Sagecandor has attacked and others have told me that they are willing to share their stories. I am not in contact with all of the people I have seen bullied or misrepresented by Sagecandor along the way. But I do know of at least five current or former Wikipedians journalists (or Arbitrators) could contact for comment.

Censorship: An "outsider" gets blocked, TP-Gagged, and defamed

On the 22nd of June, 2017 I posted a list of WP book entries to the Talk:Bibliography of Donald Trump page, congratulating the author for their productivity (while suggesting that they work elsewhere to avoid univocity on Wikipedia (the idea being that "Sagecandor" should not be "wikivoice" on all things Trump). Rather than reacting with pride regarding their contributions and humility regarding the suggestion, Sagecandor began a prosecution at AE within 10 minutes and seems to have contacted all of his protectors off-wiki to make them aware of the situation. Within 20 hours of their prosecution, I was indefinitely blocked for attempting to advise Wikipedia readers of the authorship of many of the WP book entries referenced on the Bibliography of Donald Trump page. As noted on the talk page since—by an uninvolved contributer—there was no conceivable "personal attack" in the comment that Sagecandor reacted so violently to, and the same person said the suggestion that they also edit elsewhere was a good one.

I do grant/confess/admit that there was some suggestion of Trumpster-turfing. It seemed that Talk:Bibliography of Donald Trump was the place to talk about it.

I was blocked from writing on my talk page by a guy pseudo-named Boing! 2 who said I had "soap-boxed".

post-gag comment: My second comment introduces further evidence not mentioned at the show trial or in my first comment: the surprising correspondence between the "jury" in TParis v. Snooganssnoogans and in Sagecandor v. SashiRolls. In fact, the admins Goldenring and Dennis Brown (admins are traditionally "judges" at AE, for lack of a better word) participated in both cases. I only participated in the latter case (as the defendant).

My revelations were in line with the current discussion concerning working to expose COI 1 (posted to the ArbCom Noticeboard Talk page). There are other further policy justifications for this call for attention to inappropriate behavior, including the 5th pillar of WP:5P itself, which is sometimes interpreted as "ignore all rules" (see the Wikipedia essay) for the greater good of the encyclopedia. Claims that I have violated NPA (no personal attacks) by providing verifiable evidence (cf. WP:V) arguably have some potential grounds, though it is difficult to imagine exposing the problem without making some claims of wrongdoing. Being smeared from all quarters without evidence, I do not know how I could have responded without stating conclusions that reasonable uninvolved participants can draw from actual evidence rather than ad hominem statements. (see "expert testimony")

Finally, I have written to Golden Ring, Boing! said Zebedee, Jimmy Wales, Dariusz Jemielniak, & Katherine Maher to request that the defamatory statements concerning "harassment" and "intimidation" be removed from my user page. I deny both charges. Any actor who decides to anonymously but publicly edit Wikipedia is a public actor. I have demonstrated that this public actor is a political actor (regardless of whether they are paid or not, part of some grand cabal or not). An investigative reporter has the right to look into politicians / political actor's public actions and statements without being labeled as having committed real world crimes. The general public gets the idea that some sort of court case must have taken place from the scales of justice image. I have tried to insist politely but firmly that these accusations be removed. I have said that during my "appeal" to what is best understood as a "gang bang at AE" I do not object to WP:NOTHERE as an explanation for my block. Given the reaction of Boing! to my polite private attempts at dispute resolution, I've had to contact the legal department.

1 Conflict of Interest traditionally means working for some organization. Here it can also be interpreted as conflicting with the overriding interest of neutrality, which is one of the 5 pillars of Wikipedia. It is an amusing sidenote that the author of these pillars is an anonymous guy named Neutrality, who, though he formerly served on ArbCom, remains unknown to the community. He insists that Islam (notions of zakat, shahada, etc.) had no place in his thought-process when rechristening the founding tenets of en.wiki. I suppose that's almost plausible given what I know of "Neutrality" (which is that he, too, will misrepresent facts situations)
2 Boing! has blocked 3,181 contributors. How many he has gagged does not seem to be information that is publicly available. (I could be mistaken, but I don't know where to look.) In any case, Boing! is a bit of a bouncer who hangs out in that Bishosphere beyond the ken of common serfs like me. I object strenuously to the damaging libel he and Golden Ring have written on Wikipedia concerning me.

For purposes of comparison, Cirt (Sagecandor) blocked over 9,000 contributors before being "defrocked" as an administrator.

"Cuisine Interne" / "Inside the "sausage factory"

Much of the Wikipedia "Game" as practiced these days consists of smearing your opponent without evidence at various venues.

Sagecandor's "court of choice" is Arbitration Enforcement. In 85 days, they were involved in at least 17 cases, 7 of which as a prosecutor, 10+ as "expert witness" / "juror", and 0 as a defendant. They also sought out admins to ban at least one of their other opponents outside of the AE apparatus.

They have been brought to ANI (a more generalist wiki-court) as a defendant twice. The first time was for smearing (actually denouncing by innuendo) a couple of contributors (including me) as Russian propagandists at the neutral point of view noticeboard. The second time was for being (frankly) a condescending jerk to a long-time user. Both cases were quickly closed by a power administrator User:Black kite. ( 1 | 2 )

What possesses someone to go to AE at least once every five days present in the projects? What causes them to canvas administrator's with talk page messages and barnstars? Quid pro quo (QPQ)...

From a credential-establishing point of view, their choice to keep their first ever interaction with Ser Amantio di Nicolao highly visible (a Christmas userbox sent out of the blue 24h after I got blocked Dec. 19) for 5 months might be of interest since Time has, rightly or wrongly, identified Ser as one of the 25 most influential people on the internet. Monsieur Ser would later narrowly dodge having his very own en-wiki page as a result of that article.

The last thing the "Sagecandor" did (as of 1 Nov) was to get sockpuppets attracted by the article he created [1] on Michael R. Caputo banned. A press article was duly written for the Daily Beast with a headline suggesting that Caputo was scrubbing truth out of his BLP: [2].

Evidence of inconsistent sentencing in POV cases

This has been a notorious problem of long standing on Wikipedia. Many thanks to User:James J. Lambden for the work on this very thorough table recapitulating the major "trials" and associated sentences.

En-WP: Sentencing


I have contacted Arbcom + Jimmy Wales through the contact mechanism to appeal my block. (26 June 2017) The suggestions which follow relate to processes and policy. As of 23 November 2017, I have had no acknowledgement of receipt of my appeal (nor have I received acknowledgment of receipt of my request to legal to remove the defamatory prose on my "block record" / contributions page).

Conclusion on Sagecandor

Regarding their edits, I think they should be proud of their work. They've shown the Wikipedia community a lot; studying their edits *is* educational. Were they to write essays on their method it would certainly be helpful to scholarship on Wiki[m|p]edia. I cannot in good conscience however skip mentioning the psychological damage they have done in getting several long-term Wikipedia editors blocked. This information of a more RW personal nature is available to those who present a serious, motivated inquiry. The titles picked to accomplish "proof of concept", their way of intimidating and purging those who want them to slow down to "encyclopedic time", the redirect of "sources & methods" to "clandestine human intelligence", all converge to paint a very focused and somewhat concerning point of view on what is and is not encyclopedic knowledge, and of what is and is not "fair play".

Suggestions for preventing astroturfing

  • Policy. Messengers should not be shot. In particular the behavioral guide WP:LINKLOVE is quite repetitive, containing more than two dozen occurrences of the root "harass" for a single occurrence of the radical "criti[c|q]" (hidden in a table).
  • Topic blocking. WP could better employ the terms "block" and "ban". One could be (temporarily) blocked from topics for showing too strong an SPA profile pending contributions recognized as positive elsewhere, but could be banned from the site for bullying members by engaging in admin shopping, recycling stale diffs, canvassing an identified cabal, etc.
  • "Sentencing": sentencing should be productive to the encyclopedia. For example, people who paint others as being something they are not (like, say, Russian propagandists rather than "encyclopaedia enthusiasts") could be asked to create articles about historical people falsely accused and punished, like, for example, Hersilie Rouy (fr.wp).
  • Authorship info should appear on ever page. I have proposed a simple solution at the 2017 Community Wishlist.

Conclusion concerning myself

I am willing, as I said in my cover letter to Arbcom, to avoid any and all conflict on political articles and will leave WP if I cannot manage to do so through the means I have privately suggested to ArbCom (basically avoiding the people I mention in the cabal appendix). I do not feel that I should have to forego the right to be one of those anyones who can improve the brave new encyclopedia just because I stumbled onto a problem during the 2016 election. I felt it needed attention from the community at a time when media and "sources and methods" seem to be evolving rapidly. I'm sorry if I caused anyone any (real) pain in doing so.

I would also like to thank all of the many people who have helped in digging up this information and for educating me on some of the larger structural issues concerned. These informants include globally banned users and a member of the board of trustees who goes by the name Pundit, and whose Common Knowledge: an Ethnography of Wikipedia has been particularly helpful in understanding this new media actor.

October 2018 appeal

In October 2018, the Arbitration Committee removed the second layer of block they had placed on me to solve the problem of the smear about "harrassment and intimidation" being broadcast to anyone who clicked on my user-name.

As such, I feel bound to appeal in an effort to give the good folks on the good ship Wikipedia to correct that smear.

It has been suggested by an Arb that I follow the template for appealing that can be found at the en.wp guide to appealing blocks as closely as possible. So here we go:

  • State your reason for believing your block was incorrect or for requesting reconsideration.
I do not believe I should still be blocked for WP:NOTHERE. My record of contributions at fr.wp [3], en.wikiversity [4], meta [5], and even simple.wp [6] show that I've been able to improve WMF "knowledge" products while trying to contribute or just learn from meta-reflections and how-tos in more effective places. I have even contributed to en.wp occasionally through people who thought my proposed text was a reasonable improvement and added it in their own name. I have not violated any en.wp rules during the period of my block. Concerning the rest of the accusations in the block record, I will be frank. I do not believe I should have ever been blocked for "harassment and intimidation". That is simply smear.
  • Address the blocking administrator's concerns about your conduct (the reason given for your block).
After over a year of being blocked I have still had no further explanation from Template:Yo concerning the "harassment and intimidation" claims (no reply to any email in fact, so I stopped trying long ago). If he still stands by his block, I would be happy to hear why.
  • Give evidence.
Let's stick to the basics of the affair I was blocked over:
  1. I commented at AN/I when Crossswords drew my attention to an incident they had filed (§).
  2. I followed a bot notification to an RfC on a page called "and you are lynching Negroes" which caught my attention in American politics. I was blocked by Dennis Brown on Sagecandor's request (§) for 6 months as a result. Dennis Brown has since defended his block as being "community-based", although I suspect he might recognize that it was an error now.
  3. After being blocked I learned a fair bit about the history of the en.wp editing environment by reading the critical fora and continued to observe the political sphere. It was no secret that Sagecandor had begun writing a lot of book reports in the weeks before my return, and when I noticed them adding to the en.wp Bibliography of Donald Trump, I thought it wise to try to inform the readers what was going on. I was blocked indefinitely on Sagecandor's request (§) as a result of documenting this on the talk page.
  4. It has been suggested to me that a better approach would have been to start an SPI as was done when they returned to en.wp in 2018, after at least a half-dozen people had worked to compile the evidence adduced in that SPI. (§)
  5. I have remained interested in Wikipedia and its problems. I wrote an article and compiled a lot of data concerning Wikipedian sourcing § while blocked.
  6. In October 2018, the Arbitration Committee removed the second layer of block they had placed on me to solve the problem of the smear about "harrassment and intimidation" being broadcast to anyone who clicked on my user-name.
Again, if Goldenring (§) would like to defend the use of the words harassment & intimidation, I would listen to whatever they had to say, but I think the facts show otherwise. I remember reading in the guidelines not to leave out the background. Essential reading is Cirt's established MO of asking for action against so-called wikihounds on trumped-up charges. (§)
I would be touched if Goldenring would unblock me personally with an edit summary retracting his caricature of straightforward observation as "harassment and intimidation".

Thank you for taking the time to read this request for administrative review of the two blocks that Cirt requested be placed on my account.

Minassian Media, Inc. (the Clinton Foundation-WMF connection)

Some notes:

  • The WMF 2015-2016 990 Form shows a payment of $436,000 to Minassian Media, Inc. for public relations contracting work on the last page.
  • The WMF 2016-2017 990 Form shows a payment of $406,957 for public relations contracting work on the last page.
  • Minassian Media, Inc is an S-Corporation registered to Craig Minassian and listing two employees (perhaps a family business?)
  • The Clinton Foundation 2015 990 Form shows that Craig Minassian is already paid over $200K for 50 hr/wk as the CF's Chief Communications Officer (p. 43 of 117). The 2016 990 form doesn't show payment to any CCO on the page related to key employees (though Minassian is still listed in this capacity on the CF website (§) as of June 2018).
  • Communication WMF Quarterly Review 02 2014-2015: Minassian media is specifically tasked with developing and executing first media training module for c-level, director, managers and with Media/PR: Ongoing support for media events (60 Min, ACLU, emerging threats, etc.)(p. 7). In this document, Jove Oliver1, Helen Platt & Dasha Burns are identified as working for Minassian Media (p. 5). I asked for comment on this on 18 June from a number of WMF members on meta. The Communications head responded on the 29th of June without really addressing my question concerning the Clinton Foundation. Her response was to suggest they were doing work outside of the US. I have asked her if the WMF still employs Clinton Foundation staff, or if it was just for the election season [7]. I know that's not nice to insist. But the question needs to be asked; one can only hope it will be answered.
  • Victor Grigas collaborated with Dasha Burns and Helen Platt to make this spot in late 2014.
  • September 2016 Minassian media audit: substantive study (though not to the tune of $436,000) of press coverage related to the WMF. Going forward, the report urges focusing on the reliability and trust-worthiness of WMF news (WikiNews is dead, long live WikiNews)
  • "Fostering relationships with both friending and unfriendly journalists is recommended as way to improve media relations across the board." ( emphasis added )
  • "[T]he Communications team currently provides comment on articles infrequently, generally based on the tier of the outlet (i.e., we prefer upper-tier outlets over lower-tier publications and blogs), and whether a comment would shed positive light on our organization. In the future, it is suggested that we begin to check the sentiment, tone and the author and outlet’s history with Wikipedia. This will help us gauge whether it is worthwhile to offer a comment, should one be requested. For instance, given the articles written by Jason Koebler (Motherboard) recently, offering a comment would most likely do little to advance our messaging strategy". (p.38)

1Jove Oliver preceded Craig Minassian as Chief Communications Officer for the Clinton Foundation. As mentioned above, it is unclear why he is working for the WMF through Minassian's S-Corporation instead of through his own company.

Craig Minassian on The Fake News

Minassian worked at Comedy Central. His wife Shawna worked as a White House "producer" for CNN five years ago and is currently a talent producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (where she's been for several years now). Just this week she retweeted a HuffPo journalist saying of an episode: "arguably the most impressive satire of the current administration to date".

A decade ago, Mr. Minassian went to Little Rock to speak at the Clinton School of Public Policy. The video takes you back to that time when fake news—at least for Minassian—was shows like The Daily Show, the Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher. Today he is counseling the WMF. The word "fake" does not occur in their September 2016 audit. However:

Given the record levels of partisanship/polarization and POV/opinion media (embodied perhaps most of all in the U.S. election), we have an opportunity to build on the neutrality message. The post-election space gives us an opportunity to do this, but does anyone think this is likely to change anytime soon?
  • Think about a post-election gag about getting "back to facts now."
  • Bring Wikipedia’s "Citation needed" to the media (both mainstream and fringe) by pushing out our balanced coverage of the most controversial subjects.
  • Think about introducing a breaking news Twitter feed that pushes out neutral content when controversy breaks.

text CC/BY/SA: GVarnum (WMF), citing Minassian Media, Inc. source

Though the phrasing may at times be a bit awkward, Sagecandor has added 5 blue-links to concepts related to these ideas in their Trump Revealed article (just after gaining auto-patrolled rights). Below are two examples:

Kirkus Reviews praised the neutral-point-of-view seen in the authors' journalistic objectivity to describing Trump in their biography, writing, "{ndlr: texte sous droits}"

text CC/BY/SA: Sagecandor, 23 June 2017 source

An analysis of the blue-highlighting / links deployed in this article shows that The Washington Post is mentioned 18 times in wikitext, and is blue-linked five times. The word rapists is blue-linked twice, sexual is blue-linked three times, twice related to sexual misconduct assertions made by women against Trump, once to the Boston Catholic sexual abuse scandal (which is unrelated to the subject). For the full survey of press organs double blue-linked please see: Trump Revealed (textual analysis).

If only Minassian were not already known for "infiltrating" media, this would be a source of considerably less worry.

When Minassian's email to John Podesta got w-leaked, many on Reddit reacted, so Colbert did a segment (from 5:09) on the email (titled "Pizzagate is an Alt-Right Fever Dream"). In it, Craig Minassian is never mentioned by name nor does his name appear on the screen:

The email in question is about my interview with Bill Clinton on stage during the Clinton Global Initiative at Washington University in 2013. Clinton's press rep wrote to John Podesta:
I hope you got a chance to see The Colbert Report's two special episodes i had them do about CGI U

Now I'm flattered that this guy considered it an achievement that he somehow booked Clinton on my basic cable news-parody puppet show, but because this staffer took credit for getting Bill on the show, they {ndlr: subreddit sub-geniuses} think I'm on Hillary's payroll. For the record: She can't afford me.

© The Stephen Colbert Report: source (from 5:09)

Rhetorically, the slightly scornful terms "Clinton's press rep" and "that guy" show distance between Colbert and Minassian. And yet, "that guy" used to work at Comedy Central and married the Daily Show with Trevor Noah's talent producer. I'm thinking that when those two see one another they probably don't struggle to remember one another's names...

In any case, as the "rebel" trustee candidate Doc James has said (repeatedly), more transparency—in general—is needed. While I think he's referring to WMF --> en.wp community transparency, I would add that I think more en.wp --> WMF transparency also needs to exist on the matters exposed above.

Cabal appendix

To understand how the cabal works, it is important to compare the "expert witnesses" who answered the call to come defend "Snooganssnoogans"—who got caught mass-POV editing in late May (see TParis v. Snooganssnoogans)—with those who came to help Sagecandor attack me in June to avoid addressing the claims of astroturfing. Many of these "jurors" / "expert witnesses" are the same. In particular:

  • Bullrangifer: Also very motivated on Russian Interference in 2016 US elections. A renamed editor.
  • Neutrality: Author of Wikipedia's famous 5 pillars. Anonymous. Tarantino has associated him with a former Democratic Underground forumer. Very active admin and very media-savvy. Unfortunately also a bit partisan and quite good at dissimulation
  • Objective 3000: possibly more central than the account seems, Clinton talk page worker.
  • TimothyJosephWood: closely associated in my mind with Objective3000 and Calton: back-line defenders. my interactions with TJW have been very unpleasant. A renamed editor.
  • Volunteer Marek: famous member of EEML (EE = Eastern Europe Mailing List), called the "Whitewasher in chief" for his censorship work on CLinton pages, e.g. Clinton Foundation, Clinton Foundation—State Department controversy, protectors: Bishonen (perhaps the power admin), Drmies (ArbCom). A renamed editor.

Journalists or Wikipedians wishing to study this further would probably do well to look into the "editors" subforum at Wikipedia Review, but sadly it was blown up by Proboards fielding a complaint allegedly from Indians against Corruption who is/are indeed rather unpredictable. The deep-freeze cyrogenic chamber for the threads that someone found interesting can be browsed here. Specifically concerning a few of the aforementioned cabalista on DT/Russia you can taste some of their quotes in context for example: 1 | 2 | 3

Appendix to Cabal Appendix

By a fun coincidence, there is now a thought-provoking daily blog being run by Dysklyver called The Wiki Cabal. :)

Kolya Butternut & the Snoox

There appears to have been a continuation of this story. Someone emulating the behaviour of Cirt, perhaps Cirt themselves, has been very busy on-wiki litigating against me. Because a copyvio / civility comment at ANI caused a lot of the villagers to load their boomerangs (MrX, Tryptofish) and comment! R2, AWilley, Pincrete, and various new accounts, like Kolya Butternut got involved. We've now been discussed at ANI and ARCA, and BURob13's talk page and Robert McClenon's talk page and who knows where else? There's even Calton & JohnUniq playing along at the WP:HERE page, and O3000 at ARCA. Meanwhile, a Wired article on the Snoog and Brexit didn't look into Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, or Wikileaks much. Oversight when writing about a "turf war"? Well anyway here's a link to a Telos Cricket I've never met adding a charming roll-over link to illustrate my fact-check.

Matt Reynolds, "A bitter turf war is raging at Wikipedia", Wired, 29 April 2019 : § url §

Ze attack page

What follows is the attack page that was deleted from en.wp (verbatim, I believe, any wiki admin can check) It was originally titled SWAPP and was a preparation of some defense for the ArbCom case Kolya Butternut wanted to bring against me for pointing out some irregularities at AN/I (§: scroll up a bit for the beginning of the case.) ArbCom rejected it pretty quickly.

I eat trout. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:00, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
1) note to self: add tag-teaming to WP:NOTHERE, where Calton's ES is sweet. (§§) Aw, you shouldn't have.
2) Tryptofish went a bit bonkers on MayDay, not sure why. I was looking through their list of shades of shittiness on their CERFC page. I think their insinuations of my crackpotency a rather hurt- artful 5 on their scale.
3) what more need be said about the cutest little fish picture ever that they posted at AN/I (reproduced here for everyone's viewing pleasure)? Who are they threatening? Any would-be trout-wielding adminz? How fun.
4) Anyone interested in learning more about the history of attack fish on Wikipedia is welcome to contact me at Wikipedia Sucks, a site founded by a globally banned non-user who went to a wiki-mixer with a camera. & under a fake name. & possibly with one of those fake mustaches the posh Dali socks are twiddling these days. ^^
The evidence I eventually compiled was likewise deleted, despite being scrupulously documented.