Wikipedia Purged a Group of Feminist Editors Because of Gamergate
For nearly as long as the antifeminist culture war known as Gamergate has raged across the internet, a microcosm of the battle has taken place on Wikipedia. Should Gamergate defined as a push for ethics in gaming journalism, or a paranoid campaign against women in gaming? This week, Wikipedia’s highest court made a major decision in favor of the former.
If the phrase “Wikipedia’s highest court” surprises you, you’re probably not alone. Theoretically, the free encyclopedia is a purely democratic operation—anyone can edit Wikipedia, after all—but there is a byzantine and largely unseen hierarchy that governs disputes among editors, culminating in a Supreme Court-style panel called the Arbitration Committee. The committee’s latest decision: to punish a group of five editors who fought to maintain a Gamergate page that presented the “controversy” largely as an assault on women—that is, who fought to present Gamergate as it actually is.
Mark Bernstein, a blogger and Wikipedia editor, notes that the so-called “Five Horsemen” were not only barred from contributing to Gamergate articles, but from any articles relating to “gender or sexuality, broadly constructed.” By contrast, the only pro-Gamergate users punished by the committee, Bernstein writes, were “disposable accounts created specifically for the purpose of being sanctioned.”…
…The episode punches a neat a whole in the idea that Wikipedia is a neutral and democratic platform. The Wikipedian community is something like 90 percent male, and if Bernstein’s numbers are correct, its highest ruling body has a similar demographic makeup. That the world’s seventh-most popular website would look at Gamergate and decide that what’s needed is a silencing of feminist perspectives is depressing, but it’s hardly surprising.