Revisionism on Wikipedia

 

By Hindi Ako Historian

I am a regular at JoeAm’s blog but the current political climate makes it necessary to adopt a monicker.

I am writing to inform people of the organized and well thought out historical revisionism that is being done on Wikipedia.

I will make the case via several graphs and screen shots:

wiki01

Figure 1

The above Figure 1 shows the edit counts per year on the Wikipedia page for Ferdinand Marcos. The numbers are not easy to read, but to give you an idea of the volume, there were 1,246 edits in 2016 compared to  375 in 2015.

w
247 vs 13

wiki02

Figure 2

Figure 2 shows the edit count per year for the Wikipedia article Martial Law in the Philippines. There were 247 edits this year compared to 13 in 2015.

That is an enormous uptick in activity this year.

The organized editing started during the Philippine election campaign period and continued at high levels after the election of President Duterte.

I’ll give a couple of examples of the edits taking place.

wiki03a

Figure 3a

wiki03b

Figure 3b

In Figures 3a, the excerpt is dated Nov 21, 2016. In Figure 2b, it is dated Dec 1, 2016.

I leave it to the readers to form their own conclusions, but would like to note that Wikipedia editors are trying their best to combat undisciplined edits. Nevertheless, it seems that a staff of volunteers vs organized and likely paid vandals/revisionist will likely not be able to keep pace.

Excerpts from the page Benigno Aquino, Jr., showing revisions

wiki04a

Figure 4a

wiki04b

Figure 4b

Figures 4a and 4b provide an example of an obviously malicious edit on the page of Benigno Aquino, Jr. The malicious edit was done during the high edit period. I believe the strategy is to make many small changes, some which invert meanings and some that try to create justification when the Wikipedia tone should be neutral. A small number of editors can’t keep up with the volume of changes.

I think that we need to form a Dumbledore’s Army in the style of Harry Potter. The Army was a movement by students who defended Hogwarts from the Death Eaters. Our youth needs to rise up and say “enough misinformation! We are fighting back!”

Wikipedia is part of Facebook’s Internet.org. The fact that it is accessible to the free Facebook crowd means it can be a source of misinformation. If we do not protect Wikipedia’s veracity and neutrality, we all lose.

 

Comments
53 Responses to “Revisionism on Wikipedia”
  1. andrewlim8 says:

    Yes, indeed. An army of white hats, army of light is needed to combat the evil forces of the Duterte-Marcos regime.

  2. edgar lores says:

    *******
    Most of these attempts are part of the Marcos juggernaut.

    The comprehensiveness of their efforts at historical revision is indeed staggering. No detail is too small, no truth too slight as not to deserve refutation, distortion or polishing by spinmeisters.

    (I recall Bill in Oz cited an edit in Wikipedia that referenced a quote in a book of fiction to prove a claim. I will try to find it.)

    Deception is the name of the game. And the prizes are the Philippine treasury and dominion over a land of happy fools.
    *****

  3. andrewlim8 says:

    In another development, in a clear case of propaganda, they (through PDP-Laban, the new KBL) have started operating “Duterte’s Kitchen”, which serves food to street children.

    Obviously, it is meant to soften the image of the regime, the one that wants to lower the age of criminal liability and does not care whether children die as collateral damage in the war on drugs.

    Hypocrisy to the max! Since when did you hear Gawad Kalinga referred to as “Meloto’s Kalinga”? Since when did you hear the charity works of the Catholic Church referred to as ” Tagle’s Charity” or “Villegas School for the Underprivileged”?

    You never advertise your name when you do good, false Christians!

  4. Thank you for this useful information. I for one am willing to join ‘Dumbledore’s Army’ to monitor and re-edit changes that bend the truth about the Marcos regime. Perhaps someone like you could act as team leader for this specific purpose.

  5. Bill In Oz says:

    I believe that Wikipedia can block unauthorised edits.I think the Wikipedia team can also arrange that autoritative version from before the Bong Bong apologists started work, be the default with changes from unauthorised editors being blocked.

    This would be far simpler than trying counter stroke each move by the Marcos apologists

  6. Fedelynn says:

    Count me in. But I think someone needs to inform the Aquino Family to protect the Wikipedia accounts for Benigno, Corazon and NoyNow Aquino.

  7. gerverg1885 says:

    The salivating for the highest position of the land started when BBM was elected senator.

    Imelda Marcos will not stop until she will have a taste once more of the power she held with a firm grip during their long stay in the Palace.

    She wants to relive the years when she traveled in style in refurbished PAL wide body airplanes (McDonnell Douglas DC10s) where she is the only who has the room to sleep on and a shower room for her exclusive use.

    And to top it all, a standby aircraft of the same model awaited in standby at the hangar ready to fly at a moments notice in case of trouble on the one she’s flying with.

    Habits, for some, are really hard to forget. Particularly if they’re being financed by the people.

    • Waray-waray says:

      Sir, is it not remote to think that once the Marcoses are completely back they would wrestle back ownership of PAL from the LT group? I pity PAL just like our country there had always been a tug of war within to the detriment of its employees.

      • gerverg1885 says:

        As far as I know back then, they did not own the airline. The government had 60 % shares while the private sector 40%. But the Marcoses were so callous and unabashed in utilizing the services every time Imelda wanted to travel which costs soared to something like US$130M plus, all on credit. Which remained unsettled until their departure and brought the airline to bankruptcy.

      • chemrock says:

        PAL is just one of many. Didn’t you detect the venom in Imelda’s voice in the vedeo taped interview long ago she she boasted they owned practically the whole of the Phil’s? She will certainly try to wrestle back those companies. Simply push all cases to SC.

  8. andrewlim8 says:

    This is the best stance to take on the recent developments:

    http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/154557-robredo-liberation-millennials-rising

    “We must increase our ranks so that democracy and human rights will be successfully defended. There will be tough times ahead, maybe even martial law. We must stand together when that happens.”

    “The rising up of the millennials and the liberation of Leni Robredo is not coincidental. It’s a gift for Christmas. It gives us hope. ” – Dean Tony LaVina

    • I wrote this on my blog:

      7++ years ago I made a no money value bet against one of my closest friends.

      I bet that in 20 or 25 years; I have conveniently forgotten the exact time frame, that our country would be awesome/great not as shitty as it was currently. That was a fearless forecast if I may say. We were smack in the tail end of the election stealing president with no true leadership in sight (Well I believed in a few people then but let’s keep this simple). I believed I would win because of Before Sunset and Chuck.

      There was this hopefulness that Jesse’s character had discussing how hopeful he was because even a decade ago protecting the environment was not part of the conversation and now it is front and center. The other half of what made me hopeful was an insight that Chuck had. The generations that grow up after EDSA would be different. They would be better.

      The successes of the last 3 years of the GMA administration and the strides of the economy and government tranparency during the Pnoy administration made me think I would win the bet.

      The election of PDuts and the utter lack of outrage for the Extra Judicial Killings happening left and right made me realize I was overconfident.

      The burial of the Philippines Biggest Thief led me to despair. It has made me face something that I wrestle with during times when I can collect my thoughts and the most that I can say about this is that I am considering leaving the Philippines for freedom.

      But as the cliche goes the night is darkest before the dawn. It is still not dawn but in this darkest of nights a few tens of thousands of lighters light the night up.

      In their conceit, the Marcoses miscalculated. In their thirst for power they made such a fundamental miscalculation. They made people make a stand. When they could have just counted on their loyalists, their money and their power to catapult them to the highest elected seat in the land, they had to force a burial. They had to demonstrate their power over their lapdog. They had to reveal the true colors of the false gods on black robes along taft avenue.

      Now the force of social proof is working against them. It has become fashionable to stand for something. Little by little the values of a modern democracy is being taught through the classroom of the streets and social media.
      When faced with a choice between good and evil I am one of those who believe that people will choose the good. I also believe when choosing good is hard people will choose to do nothing. They should have just made people stay in the sidelines. They should have just buried the biggest thief of the Philippines when one of them were in the iron throne. Stupid.

      By making people take a stand they have unleashed the youth.

      Never forget the wise words of Margaret Mead that I first heard in the awesome first season of The West Wing:

      Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

      • andrewlim8 says:

        Hear, hear.

        There is much hope – when today’s youth leaders discuss scalability of their anti-burial protests, when they hijack Imee’s #SalamatAPO till it becomes a tribute to the songs of the Apo Hiking Society adapted to the protest movement, when it becomes a battle of knowledge over disinformation- these aren’t your parent’s slogan chanting activists in the 60s.

        They are sophisticated, smart and difficult to defeat.

        http://opinion.inquirer.net/99785/marcos-dividing-line

        • NHerrera says:

          Yes.

          On the relatively young protesters, here is what Nery wrote:

          They were clear about the help they needed, especially in processing the terabytes of information they were receiving, both online and off. But one of the students shared an organizing principle that helped guide their decision-making process on Nov. 18, the day the Marcos family carried out the burial. “At what scale,” he said they had found themselves asking, “will we make an impact?”

          We didn’t ask penetrating questions like these when it was our turn to take to the streets a generation ago; I believe this generation is in very good hands.

      • NHerrera says:

        Gian, to your note above — ! ! !

  9. bauwow says:

    After criticizing the VP for not resigning early, it was BBM who showed his true colors. One that is terrifying and “pity inducing” at the same time. The Marcoses will not stop and will not spare anyone until they come back to Malacañang.
    Today marks the day that we will have to stand behind Leni Robredo. She will be there to help us win the battle against historical revisionism.
    Problem is, Duterte is granting all the wishes of the Marcoses. May his mother visit him every night, and kick his ass and remind him that she fought the Marcos dictatorship.

  10. caliphman says:

    Wikipedia by its nature cannot be a trusted reference. There is a concerted and deliberate effort to reedit Marcos and martial law related material so that this tyrant and his rule is falsely shown in a favorable light. This is the takeaway from what is presented in the current blog.

    It would be quite a huge and difficult undertaking to successfully fact check, correct and counteract this insidious effort to distort Marcos history. The likely result will be the same as the goal of those who buried his supposed remains at the Libingan ng Bayan.

    And that is to deceive those who can and are willing to be deceived about the truth concerning a clan who refuses to let go of the wealth and political power stolen by their infamous patriarch. Until the country can somehow manage to rewrite its official history books and school textbooks to reflect what really happened, too many will believe whatever is written in Wikipedia or other unreliable but supposedly authoritative sources. Unfortunately, the Duterte regime is too complicit in mai taining the Marcos myth.

    • Great point, man. If you’re reading Wiki and not going anywhere else, then you need to be revised, LOL!

      Personally , I plow thru Wikipedia for their notes & references under each each page , sometimes it goes to some bs blog or website, but many times it goes to some very arcane library or group with said interest/expertise—- I remember stumbling on some China/Burma WWII history website, I guess ran by WWII vets (sadly they’ve taken it down), but it was museum/academic grade stuff from personal archives.

      Part of earning your PhD in Googling is to know where to find information and be able to cross check it, as to render said info valid, strong, weak or invaled. Then I’d say the next step is to present your case or opinion, after analysis, in from of a panel of smart people likely to disagree, and then pursue and defend your stance (this forum). This isn’t a passive activity. Research is adversarial, apathy is not participating. 😉

      • NHerrera says:

        Yes, even science or technology oriented topics are subject to distortion in Wikipedia pages. And you are right about how to pursue the topic on something new to one, using Wikipedia. Go to Wikipedia, scan the item, keeping suspicious of what it says until further readings. Using some of the references is indeed useful. And of course a topic googled does not show only Wikipedia items. Go to the other references too, bypassing Wikipedia according to one’s inclination at the moment. The discerning of course has his own algorithm in the pursuit of knowledge or truth. The relatively young are on to this thing too, I believe. That should be the first lesson in googling.

        An example — nuclear power: its advantages and disadvantages.

        • I tend to agree w/ Francis below, NH, the revisionism isn’t really the problem,

          it’s the thing itself, the narrative, the product, the truth… whether it’s too complex, or because much of the truth is in the abstract, or hidden, that the story isn’t being sold, or told, well enough.

          Hence the problem.

          I agree with Francis also, that people are more skeptical these days, hence the decline of regular media and the rise of blogs and podcast, as well as satire news (ie. Daily Show, the Onion, etc.). There’s cognitive dissonance I’m sure along with confirmation bias, but IMHO

          it all boils down to a simple story. The failure here is in story telling, it’s easily revised because there’s really not much of a story being told.

          • NHerrera says:

            There’s cognitive dissonance I’m sure along with confirmation bias, but IMHO it all boils down to a simple story. The failure here is in story telling, it’s easily revised because there’s really not much of a story being told.

            That line conveys “a story” too. There are lots of stories out there. Some jibe with our thinking; others do not. Our thoughts here at TSH convey different story approaches. May be more productive is to specify the story that one believes will be viable, along the concept we have in mind.

            • “May be more productive is to specify the story that one believes will be viable, along the concept we have in mind.”

              EXACTLY, NH! but you guys who lived thru it or have love ones who lived thru it all, you guys tell that story—- make it personal!

    • I think the problem lies with the impressionable young minds who have not grown a sensitive enough BS meter, and also their knowledge finding internal algorithms.

      My fear is that a 8-12 year old surf wikipedia and believes the revisionism

      • karlgarcia says:

        My kid is more on youtube viewing.
        But he discusses, and asks questions.
        I often reply just google it, so back to square one.
        What if every parent answers just google it?

        • I’m not so sure about academic stuff, but if the buying habits of youngsters (8-12 years) , at least over here, that they tend to shop around, reading reviews after reviews of an item they intend to purchase. If that’s any indication, I think the current generation is more prone to hearing a variety of information, than not.

          Now whether getting a good deal on something, translates to their ability to analyze information and ideas well, I’m not sure, but the ability to surf different sources and weigh reviews and opinions about something , is definitely there. So it’s there, personally I don’t think one or the other are such big leaps, whether an actual market place or the market place of ideas,

          youngsters these days, shop around, period. But i think if you blow smoke up their asses, ie. by always bracketing ideas as binary, as either or or ; or Good vs. Evil, you’ll instead drive ’em away, the very opposite of what we want to accomplish, no? 😉

          • karlgarcia says:

            At least by googling,they never go binary.

          • Francis says:

            Yes. It is a wonderful thing that we have so much information and that we choose to hear them in not only such magnitude, but also such variety. And the fact that the current generation have a robust sense of skepticism (i.e. reading and cross-referencing reviews at Amazon) attests to that.

            Skepticism is good, I don’t dispute that. But when is too much, too much? Skepticism in the 21st century (asymmetrical information streams–internet, social media–coupled with worldviews that treat nothing as sacred, i.e. postmodernism, moral relativism) is like eating the Apple of the Tree of Knowledge or opening Pandora’s Box. Tastes good. Until the aftertaste.

            In our Philo 1 class–we were told that as critical thinkers, we have an “epistemic obligation” to take nothing at face value. Yet, I can’t help but wonder that, in an era where people get as much news from Mocha Uson’s blog as they do from the Inquirer out of some belief that “yellow bias” must be countered or something, whether that “epistemic obligation” is enough. Especially when people today are developing a unhealthy fetish for skepticism–that is: contrarianism.

            I took Grab once. The driver was a very polite guy. Chatty. Eventually, the conversation went to Martial Law and Marcos–and the driver told me that “research” online told him about how Marcos’ wealth may not have been so ill-gotten because he got his wealth from a really rich client who entrusted his wealth to him, or something along those lines. Yes, it sounds ridiculous. Who would believe this?

            Yet, perhaps…the question should be–in a world where politicians now openly hit the media for being “crooked” and citizens now see their newspapers as “bias” sources–who wouldn’t take this with at least a grain of truth?

            Can’t help but think to myself, half-sarcastically: maybe people have been going at it all wrong. Maybe the problem isn’t that revisionism is wrong. Maybe the problem is that truth is not being sold well. Maybe if truth was the “hipster” thing to do–maybe when revisionism is the mainstream, truth can be “cool” and therefore popular. Maybe we’ll all get into a “I’m the more obscure and hip one!” debate. I’m half-joking, of course.

            • Yeah, I agree, Francis. Both skepticism (doubting reality) and cynicism (doubting what’s good) I lump as the same rabbit hole. There’s a great post by edgar about this phenomena, wherein he essentially concedes that all this (Marcos, EJKs, local events to world events), if you pan out means nothing—— in the bigger scheme of things, the universe will go on (or not).

              re Skepticism, you only have 5 (maybe 6 😉 ) senses, it’ll be the greatest act of arrogance to say you “know”, or I “know”. “about how Marcos’ wealth may not have been so ill-gotten because he got his wealth from a really rich client who entrusted his wealth to him, or something along those lines. Yes, it sounds ridiculous. Who would believe this?” Did you offer a more realistic scenario? and more importantly, would you be able to to “prove” to this Curb driver that your scenario trumps his? chempo’s written about Marcos’ stolen wealth, but it’s been 30 years… and our understanding of this stolen wealth is still pretty abstract, so I can totally understand your driver’s perspective (though I know he’s wrong)…

              based on your 5 senses (hell even 6 😉 ) you or I or chemp can’t make this wealth materialize. Hence, the “validity” of your driver’s view IMHO—- of course, probability-wise we know , but it’s just so damn difficult to “prove”, not to mention proving where Marcos actually stole from (so in a way maybe your driver is right, ie. if Marcos stole from all of Philippines, why not from its wealthy also, the idea’s not mutually exclusive, is my point)

              “Maybe the problem is that truth is not being sold well. “ There’s times when people think in probabilities, ie. the weather or in casinos, but usually they don’t, so I agree there is a failure in story telling, and it’s related to this skepticism you’re talking about, Francis, which in turn doubles back to cynicism since the two are one and the same,

              how do you tell a story about Marcos’ stolen wealth, not as either or or, binary, but in terms of probability that’s more palatable to the regular guy on the street. There’s the rub. Do you know gov’t corruption enough, and the international industry for hiding wealth, to be able to explain all this to the layman? I certainly don’t, nor chemp’s articles.

              man, I hope karl, know’s the edgar comment I’m talking about or maybe edgar can re-write it here, re context and the bigger picture and the concepts of reality & good/bad. Yeah, skepticism and cynicism, edgar’s your man, Francis… he’ll rock your world.

        • yeah that is my fear. Pero yung bigger fear is that Internet.org by facebook which pays for the internet accessed by free facebook and free wikipedia means yung mga taong walang pang internet at nais matuto ay maloloko lamang.

  11. Wikipedia pages that are often vandalized are usually locked in some way – one major example is the page on Adolf Hitler. Don’t know enough about the editorial structures on Wikipedia though.

    • Here is the page:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Protection_policy#Full_protection

      A few online groups are working with some historians to get a neutral version of these pages published and to get administrators to issue a full protection on these wikipedia pages.

      I hope they succeed because this would not be easy to do.

      • NHerrera says:

        Gian,

        Thanks for the link. This may be the link edgar, karl and others at TSH are after.

        So protection of wikipedia pages is possible. This link is a service to credible historians with the credentials to convince wikipedia of the need to protect.

        • karlgarcia says:

          What we are looking for is in a parallel universe. 😉
          Thanks, Gian.

          • the whole point of Wiki is that it’s supposed to be open, it’s crowd sourced. I know they’re starting to ask for donations, but if they start locking up pages, then what’s differentiating them from some random guy’s website? I think the Wiki model only works if it remains open—- I’m sure they have a bunch of karl equivalent tanods over there , but unless Wiki finds some for-profit model, it’s gotta stay open. Its value is in that.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Their validity had been questioned a lot, and they can not say it is always due to vandalism, they need to protect themselves.

  12. Peter Penduke says:

    I will not be surprised if the Marcos family will hire scholars that leans on their sied to mount an aggressive edits to wikipedia. It worked (and still effective) in Facebook and Twitter, so. However, they are cunning enough to know that their FB crowd warriors will not do for wikipedia.

    Much like in their glory days, they have a think-tank that do these kind of stuff. Scary in the sense that elementary and high schools students uses wiki as source.

    • madlanglupa says:

      > I will not be surprised if the Marcos family will hire scholars that leans on their sied to mount an aggressive edits to wikipedia.

      Unfortunately, Imee as governor has apparently created some “extracurricular” school programs for which to indoctrinate young Ilocanos in believing that they’re virtually a royal family deserving to reign over the country.

      This is more apparent in their celebration of FM’s birthday.

  13. Bing Garcia says:

    House Republican leaders signaled on Monday that they would not support President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to impose a heavy tax on companies that move jobs overseas, the first significant confrontation over the conservative economic orthodoxy that Mr. Trump relishes trampling. New York Times

    • 1. Trump isn’t a conservative (if you notice in his speeches, especially his victory speech, not one mention of God, or thanking God, so he’s no evangelical either)

      2. The Republicans (and non-Republicans) who voted for him picked him, not for his Christian or conservative values, but his stance on globalization.

      3. Republican leaders have been opposing Trump from the beginning.

      4. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan & Wisconsin, Rust belt states, who tend to vote Democratic because of unions carried Trump.

      5. The name of the game is to deliver results to the Rust belt.

      Globalization is in question, whether that pans out, I dunno,

  14. LG says:

    1 for the expose’.

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