Wikipedia Signpost: Crypto and bitcoins and blockchains, oh no!

Wikipedia Signpost: Crypto and bitcoins and blockchains, oh no!

Decrypt ran a nice article this week on cryptocurrency Decred’s  decentralised efforts to fund a PR agency, Ditto, to get Decred sufficient publicity to rate a Wikipedia article. [Decrypt]

Ditto wisely demurred, saying that’s not how anything works — though Liz Bagot from Ditto did literally claim, and I quote: [Politeia]

The truth is, many crypto projects are having issues with Wikipedia because a few influential no-coiners have admin power and are intentionally censoring crypto pages.

I asked Trey Ditto to clarify precisely who Ditto PR meant here, in this official public statement from his agency — and just how on earth that was actually supposed to work. I’m sure Trey or Liz will reveal their important information on the Wikipedia nocoiner conspiracy, before the end of time.

(Ditto got paid in Decred tokens, by the way.)

This is completely standard — literally every crank field full of spammy idiots claims that there is an active conspiracy to keep them out of Wikipedia.

And crypto is absolutely and thoroughly a field full of spammy cranks, who try it on at Wikipedia — to the point that a poll of Wikipedia administrators unanimously supported harsh sanctions on the area.

Wikipedia despises spam. If you try to buy your way into Wikipedia, we despise you too. [Signpost]

As it happens, Smallbones, the editor of Wikipedia’s internal newsletter the Wikipedia Signpost, has been nagging me for several months to write something about cryptocurrency and blockchain, and the Wikipedia view of the topic — the short version being that even the pro-crypto editors are sick of the firehose of spam.

So I drafted about 500 words, spent the last two weeks running it past everyone — in the process of which it doubled in size — and here’s the piece: Crypto and bitcoins and blockchains, oh no!

My audience is Wikipedia people — talking about the problems of trying to edit well in an area targeted by floods of spammy cranks. The answer that worked for us was to get strict on sourcing.

“Off-wiki crypto advocates complain regularly, but the rule has stuck — because the Reliable Sources principle is solid, and what we’re applying here is basic Wikipedia rules.”

If you want your fabulous project written up in Wikipedia … get actually famous. You need genuine independent mainstream press — not just press-release churnalism — and maybe some peer-reviewed academic coverage too. Crypto sites aren’t enough — you need proper coverage.

Else, maybe you aren’t actually very noteworthy.



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2 thoughts on “Wikipedia Signpost: Crypto and bitcoins and blockchains, oh no!”

  • I have a problem with this policy and it might be one you may not have considered.
    About a year ago I became interested in an open source project called BTCPay that was gaining interest and adoption in the cryptocurrency community. Specifically it was a response to a large corporate bitcoin processor called Bitpay attempting to subvert consensus around the hard forking occuring in bitcoin around 2018.

    The project was great, churning out lots of code quickly and gaining lots of traction by entities online that wanted to accept cryptocurrency payments. Problem was when we wrote our article and submitted it to WP it continually got rejected for WP:RS, because of course no one was going to write about boring cryptocurrency payment processors doing the plumbing behind the scenes EXCEPT specialty cryptocurrency news sites. We got rejected, the project continues to grow and no one can read anything about it on WP.

    This is the gaping flaw in your mentioned policy above, and your article (which I saw on HN). Yes this policy works for you at cutting down spam, but at the cost of no articles in the knowledge domain that would be good worthy additions to WP. Have you considered this?

    • The short answer is that specialist topics that are only covered in questionable sources are unlikely to be WIkipedia material.

      Even CoinDesk is categorised as generally unreliable and not evidence for notability. Other crypto sources are likely to be of CoinDesk standard at best, in Wikipedia terms.

      This does arguably leave holes in coverage, and it’s unfortunate that spammers mean we can’t have nice things.

      But the spam problem has led to, e.g., a serious proposal for a moratorium on all new articles about businesses, of any sort. Because it’s really really bad – and crypto articles are the least of it. You may be a good guy, but consider the people hell-bent on self-promotion who aren’t.

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