Not YoursI’ve had an interesting journey this past week or so which began, as most journeys do, unexpectedly.

In my professional work, one of my functions is in investigating how to integrate newer knowledge management technologies in ways that are unique within our business (which isn’t to say that it’s always ‘cutting edge’ technology, but sometimes it is). One of these technologies I decided to do a bit deeper dive into recently was with some targeted wiki’s. So, the first place I started was the public wikipedia. Because I work with some technophobes, I was trying to evaluate some of the “user-friendliness” of basic functions, which led me to play around with editing pages (without saving them) and looking at the content management processes around them.

I’m sure you’re probably yawning by now, as I was starting to, when I read a comment on CRN.Info that caught my attention:

Ken (Silva) says: “I was flattered to see that the Lord has seen fit for Apprising Ministries to show up on the Wikipedia entry for Emergent Church Pastor Rob Bell”

So I went to the Rob Bell page, and it looked like this (without the stuff at the top). So, I made a few quick edits just to put my toe in the water without changing too much. Then, I ended up getting busy with some other things, and forgot about my wiki experiment for several days.

The Plot Thickens

Well, eventually, I remembered the experience on the wiki page, so I went back to check it out. What triggered the visit was that I had just read an article on Wikipedia about how blogs cannot be used as verifiable sources, especially in articles for Biographies of Living Persons.

Material about living persons available solely in questionable sources or sources of dubious value should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all in biographies of living people, either as sources or via external links.

Self-published books, zines, websites, and blogs should never be used as a source for material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject of the article

So, I went back to the article, and all of the changes (minor as they were) had been reverted by an anonymous user. In a breach of protocol I was unfamiliar with, I went ahead and edited out all of the blog-sourced material from the article (located primarily in the “Criticisms” section, though there were some blog reviews of VE and Bullhorn in the links section), and started going through some other things, when I realized that someone else was editing the page right back as I was changing it. I was warned for making “vandalism” edits because the changes I was making weren’t being discussed on the Rob Bell Discussion page (silly me), and that I had participated in a Revert War and needed to stop.

So, using this new bit of information, I started (clumsily) using the discussion page and requesting that the other anonymous user(s) who continued to revert any and all changes made by me and other people please discuss this with us on the discussion page. Finally, the other user was warned by the admins and everything calmed down for a few days. We proposed a number of changes on the discussion page and gave them a day or more elapsed time before making them to the main page.

But all was not well.

Revert War Deux

Finally, the anonymous user logged in as “[REDACTED]“, a user who had made a number of caustic changes over the previous month, while refusing to engage anyone on the discussion page. He started reverting the page again, referring to me – by name – in the comments section. After multiple requests to [REDACTED] to discuss changes, we received this message (on an edit) in response

There is nothing to discuss with the unreasonable: your crowd opposes ALL criticism. Stop censoring.

That was about all we were going to get out of him in reasonable discussion. To make a very looooooong story short, [REDACTED] refused to talk, completely, escalating his complaint with our changes to Arbitration (which is kind of like appealing a traffic warning to the US Supreme Court).

A group of religious misfits [...] have arrived to remove all substantial material content found by them to be even remotely critical in nature. They are now screaming to “discuss” the situation on the article’s talk page yet their actions in reverting [...] efforts to preserve critical viewpoints demonstrate their capacity for reasoning with opposition.

Opposing views are not tolerated and are routinely removed by this gang of Preterist buddies. This same group has removed unbiased revisions by many other users over the past year. Any discussions on the article’s talk page are dominated by the gang and only accepted terms between these buddies are deemed final, as if a real process of discussion actually took place. I will admit that in my efforts to suppress the weight of their overwhelming presence, I have broken revert rules. For this I apologize and am now motivated to take this issue to the proper channels – namely, you.

You may or may not be familiar with their religious sect, but in sum, they belong to a radical element of Christianity called the “Emergent Church” which holds to a Preterist eschatology whose desire is to bring “justice” to earth by forcing heaven (”the kingdom”) to come down in their rendition of social justice…..apparently they view winning this Wiki-war as one part of their war for “restoration” – yep, you read correctly…..please….help.

(Talk about paranoia and not knowing who you’re talking to…) This was the sum total of his Arbitration, which was, as I predicted to him, denied. It was followed up by a temper-tantrum on the Rob Bell discussion page. I won’t repeat it here, so as to save [REDACTED] (who I could have sworn was Ken due to his refusal to discuss and his “Tsk, Tsk” homilies) a little bit of dignity.

Needless to say, our changes stuck after review by a non-biased third party, the Rob Bell page is now in a Neutral Point of View, and so long as folks keep watch on the page now and then, it should remain free from Apprising “Ministries” (sic).

The unbiased third party wrote back to us:

This really doesn’t need a third opinion. The suggested version by Lyonscc clearly cleans up the original research and lack of a neutral point of view. If the reverts continue I suggest taking the issue to the admin notice board. Although, the proposed change still has some weasel words (”some evangelicals criticized some comments made in the book”), but it’s certainly better than the alternative. Justin 19:44, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Once we were done, I had this section added to the discussion page, should it be needed for reference in the future:

The Unsuitability of Apprising.org as a source

One thing that needs to be settled once and for all in this particular discussion is the complete unsuitability of apprising.org links and/or information as source material.

1) It is a blog. This, in and of itself, is reason enough for it to not be a source. Per Wikipedia:BLP#Reliable_sources

Self-published books, zines, websites, and blogs should never be used as a source for material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject of the article (emphasis mine)

2) Apprising is poorly sourced: Apprising.org is a blog for Apprising “Ministries” (sic), a one-man show run by Ken Silva, the “pastor” of a church of 5 people in rural New Hampshire. It has been documented that more than two thirds of his “research” is simply self-referential links to his own sites, and that the remaining third of his “research” is to sites he contributes to or other blogs [1].

3) Material from the apprising site in unhinged. He has claimed that God raised him up to bring down Rob Bell, in particular, and if you pick out articles at random from his site, like this one [2] it becomes completely apparent that this site is not of the quality required for a W:V verifiable source.

Per Wikipedia:Verifiability#Self-published_sources_.28online_and_paper.29

Self-published sources should never be used as third-party sources about living persons, even if the author is a well-known professional researcher or writer;

What Was Gained

Well, besides keeping a Christian brother’s wikipedia page slander-free and likely having [REDACTED] blocked from ever editing Bell’s page again, I learned a whole lot about wikipedia and its policies around Neutral Point of View, Verifiability, Biographies of Living Persons, No Original Research and especially Coatracking (which will keep all of the VE and Nooma review links off, as well) – all things which will keep pages like Rob’s clear of watchdoggie abuse. It looks so much better now.

Oh, and just to be consistent, I cleared the junk off of Erwin McManus’ page, as well, making sure to add a note about Apprising in its discussion page, as well.

And so, I must say that I am flattered that the Lord has seen fit for me to have a small hand in the events leading to Apprising “Ministries” (sic) no longer being able to mar the wikipedia article for non-emergent pastor, Rob Bell.*

No sense in sending poor unsuspecting souls from wikipedia to such an unreliable source…

*If you don’t understand the reference, please click the link.

Update (6/17/2011): One of the individuals mentioned in the previous version of this article sent me a very gracious apology, along with a request that I remove his name (and, I would also assume, some specific identifying links) from the article for the sake of his future progeny. I think it is reasonable to do so, and so I have.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 at 1:37 am and is filed under Commentary, Ken Silva, ODM Responses, ODM Writers, Original Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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34 Comments(+Add)

1   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 5:47 am

I do not believe you will receive a Christmas card from Ken this year. I read the entire narrative and as always I am in envy of those whose left brain can traverse the internet while guys like me rejoice in recognizing the alphabet on the keyboard.  

And by the way, Chris, I need my pharmaceuticals to be reliable so do not neglect your day job!

2   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 8:47 am

I thought the comment about my “day job” was funny, too. It’s not like there aren’t programs (”bots”) that can inform you when pages you have on your “watch list” have been changed. (sheesh)

My job is cyclical between lots of team meetings & research and periods of documentation and reading. I’m currently in the latter cycle, which means I’m on the PC a lot more than usual, so I head a “ding” every time I get mail, and after enough “dings”, I check it…

3   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 9:29 am

Rick,

As to the whole “day job” comment of his (which did give a chuckle), almost all of actual writing, etc. stuff was done last weekend and in the wee hours of the morning. I have seasonal depression which keeps me up late into the night when it gets cold and grey and the days are short. He was primarily the victim of hitting me when I was awake and ready to be awake for a long time…

4   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 11:21 am

The reason I have the time to comment is obvious, the residual benefit of being sick. God has been good to me though and so I say to all:

Praise to the God-Child! (merry christmas)

5   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
December 15th, 2007 at 11:37 am

Haha, I never read Wiki. I’ve never seen Rob wear a Nelson Mendella shirt in the shed. Ever.

6   clearly    http://seeingclearly.wordpress.com
December 15th, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Chris,

Wait, the guy that was messing with you at Wiki was Ken Silva? I couldn’t understand if it was the student at [REDACTED] or if it was Ken Silva. Your article seemed to operate under the both assumptions.

7   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Sorry – For awhile I thought [REDACTED] was Silva (from the whole “tsk, tsk,” thing and the refusal to converse), until he slipped into h4×0r-speak, and then sent me his homepage link, where he identified himself as a LU student…

8   Ken Silva    http://www.apprising.org
December 15th, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Merry Christmas boyz! :-)

9   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 12:42 pm

I celebrated “Christmas” on September 13th.

10   merry    
December 15th, 2007 at 2:18 pm

My goodness.

From looking at the dates (back to May 29 2007) on that discussion page, it looks like [REDACTED] has been at it for a while.

Wow.

11   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 1:37 pm

I ended up having to scrub Brian McLaren and Dan Kimball’s pages, too, to make them Silva-free…

12   Chris P.    
December 15th, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Interesting….

So it is ok on wikipedia to de-fame the dead but not the living. If blogs are not reputable sources, that may come as a surprise to the well known and accredited political bloggers and scholars.
This is actually an organized effort, behind the secenes of course, by a bunch of presumptious people. The foolish lawsuit threat, which by the way only Mr. Jones could initiate, not his disgruntled spouse being part of this
I am truly waiting for private investigators being hired; so to pre-empt that I will have my wife post all my wrongdoings from 1984-85 when I became Christian.
Let’s see censorship, threats, subtrefuge……
Meet the neo-odmer’s.
Hey did McClaren, Kimball, and Bell thank you for this?

13   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
December 15th, 2007 at 2:11 pm

Chris P.
You need to up your med’s

14   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Chris,

Actually, the standards on wikipedia for biographies of dead folks don’t allow blogs either, but allow slightly more criticism (as the dead don’t threaten to sue nearly as often as the living).

Wiki is an encyclopedia that strives to maintain a Neutral Point of View (NPOV), and not as a launching point for people with axes to grind. Blogs have no editorial control on content, and (as Ken has proven), you don’t need to really know what you’re talking about in order to blog about it. And so yes, even accredited political bloggers and scholars cannot have their material considered “sourced” information unless it has been published in a peer-reviewed publication or in the public media (though, e-zines, newsletters, church publications, etc. don’t count as “public media”).

Hey did McClaren, Kimball, and Bell thank you for this?

No thanks necessary – just watchin’ the back of a brother…

15   Tim Reed    http://churchvoices.com
December 15th, 2007 at 2:24 pm

The nursery rhyme tells us what little boys and little girls are made of, but what are Chris P purpose driven drive-by comments made of?

Let’s take a look:

If blogs are not reputable sources, that may come as a surprise to the well known and accredited political bloggers and scholars.

One part modernism.

This is actually an organized effort, behind the secenes of course, by a bunch of presumptious people.

One part paranoia, and one part personal attacks.

I am truly waiting for private investigators being hired; so to pre-empt that I will have my wife post all my wrongdoings from 1984-85 when I became Christian.
Let’s see censorship, threats, subtrefuge……
Meet the neo-odmer’s.

One part McCarthy-esque guilt by association tactics, and another part of paranoia.

Add epic amounts of bitterness and season to taste.

16   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 2:26 pm

Chris P,

I find it interesting that even with Wikipedia’s (low) standards for being factual…

1. Ken was proud we was honored to be mentioned.
2. Ken’s research (now delegated to be only “opinions”) are not even considered to be quality enough to be considered high enough standard to be used.

So, say what you will, but the only thing that seems to have come out of this is that Ken is more enamored by his own name than honoring Jesus and you being the semi-pelagian, man loving, purpose driven guy you really are, seem to back him in all his vain imaginations of himself.

I agree with Joe, up your meds…

iggy

17   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Please let it be known, my blog has now been approved as an authoritative research source. Feel free to reference FJL on Wikipedia because the council was not able to identify any errors.

It is hard being perfect, I leave myself open for criticism!

18   Keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
December 15th, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Now I know how Wikipedia works. Pretty interesting.

19   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
December 15th, 2007 at 4:05 pm

Ken,

2 questions for ya!

1) Did you proofrede [sic] the Wiki article?

2) Did you notice that you are still mentioned there?

Merry Christmas to you also!

20   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
December 15th, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Wait. You mean to tell me that not everything on the internet is true? I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked.

That’s it, I’m suing Al Gore!

21   Keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
December 15th, 2007 at 4:16 pm

Phil: For the record, here in Oklahoma, we don’t think Al Gore knows SQUAT about global warming…especially after the week we’ve had! 8^)>

22   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 4:28 pm

“I ended up having to scrub Brian McLaren and Dan Kimball’s pages, too, to make them Silva-free… ”

Thank you for the laugh of the day. I arrived home from the hospital and your comment gave me a laugh!

23   Christian    
December 15th, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Chris L,

Your work on this is probably the most profitable effort I have yet seen of protecting the innocent (Wikipedia readers) and the misrepresented from the likes of watchdoggies. (Not that this site and other stuff isnt’ valuabe.) Very well done.

24   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
December 15th, 2007 at 4:52 pm

Plus 50 points for a way cool post title!! :-)

25   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 7:55 pm

Now the day job part was OK, but I thought THIS one was the gem, Chris.

Emergent hippies/non-Jewish WASPs

I don’t think your desk is big enough for all your titles!! (grins)

26   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
December 15th, 2007 at 8:03 pm

Ok,I’m starting to feel left out. Where are you guys getting these quotes?

27   Robbo    http://goldcoastbereans.blogspot.com
December 15th, 2007 at 9:00 pm

Scotty, you missed the part where Chris L is described as a “middle-aged parent” and not being the “brightest crayon in the box”.

you can’t make this stuff up.

28   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 11:03 pm

Joe – [REDACTED]’s quotes are primarily on the Rob Bell discussion page, though there’s some on the Arbitration page and on the page where I put in a request to ban him from editing Rob’s page.

Here’s a fun tidbit – On Brian McLaren’s page, someone went back in and took several tries to add in a link to one of Ken’s articles on McL, and then (possibly in a fit of conscience – or a desire to not get her wrist slapped by wikipedia) took it back off. She was an anonymous user, 72.196.208.16, but a quick cross reference identified her as “Renee” who has graced our comments section a couple of times with pretty much the same cliche here and here.

You can see the (attempted) changes on the history page here.

Priceless.

29   Renee    
December 15th, 2007 at 11:39 pm

Actually it;s back, I wanted to post the right link to the article..

You can go back to scouring Wikipedia and wasting your time now children

I’ll add more for you if you need something to do

30   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 11:44 pm

Actually, Renee, it’s not – it lasted all of 60 seconds…

31   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 11:46 pm

Chris L,

Just think if people like Renee put all this energy in getting the Gospel out!

Sad really.
iggy

32   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 15th, 2007 at 11:49 pm

True, Iggy, but then perhaps slander IS their gospel…

33   Renee    
December 15th, 2007 at 11:52 pm

Yawn…

.. a lot of Gospel here I see…
bye kiddies

34   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
December 16th, 2007 at 3:48 am

My question is why does anyone who supports Ken allow him to continue in his sin?

And those that write for CRN distance themselves from Ken?

I think that 1 Corinthians 5:11 has much to say about how we need handle slanderers and even the other writers at CRN constantly state things like “I am not responsible for what Ken Silva writes”.

Also, “slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:10) is what I have been trying to get through to Ken for some time, but he will not even talk to me or anyone about his slandering of others… and so continues in his sin while many on his side stand around and condone it while distancing themselves from him.

is that enough “Gospel” for ya? = )

iggy