You might initially think that this issue pales into insignificance next to the million assumptions that simply must be made immediately about matters in Mumbai today, but I for one believe that the reliability of information is important across the political spectrum, and identity is often key to this online.
Take, for example, the comments about Andrew Gilligan and/or his articles that would look very different once confirmed to be from Andrew Gilligan or one of his close associates.
Take, as another example, the many newspapers desperate to belittle blogs and bloggers while simultaneously scrambling to get in on the action, and their typical approach to comment moderation; (refuse substantial criticism no matter where it comes from, and publish almost any damn thing that doesn’t harm them specifically… no matter where it comes from).
Most bloggers who have been talking about the Andrew Gilligan matter recently may have noticed a number of trolls seemingly designed to confuse the issue and mock concerns about the use of multiple false identities in the political arena.
Most if not all of these are the work of one man – Martin Wiesner – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Martin Wiesner is billed here as the man who looks after communications for the Watford Area Green Party. Martin also ran as a Green candidate in 2004 Watford Borough Council Elections.
You most likely know him as ‘Lobster Blogster’ (CiF), one identity he carried on with for an extended period before adopting ‘Tory Dipper’ and then semi-outing himself as ‘Martin’ or ‘Pogsurf’ (CiF)… i.e. he somewhat belatedly declared a connection between some of his sock puppets, using an old nickname that – with research – might someday lead you to his real identity and some information about his political affiliations that he really should have declared in any number of instances in the first place.
As Lobster Blogster, Martin sought to involve himself with the whole Paul Staines thing and even earned a blogroll link on ‘Guido 2.0′. Eventually it emerged that we disagreed on the crucial matter of identity and accountability (i.e. the issue at the heart of my problems with Paul Staines, aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) but it wasn’t clear just how fundamental our differences were until I had cause to explore the edit history of a few entries at Wikipedia, most notably the entry for Paul Staines.
And on that note…
Months ago, I asked Martin how many anonymous edits he had made to Paul Staines’ Wikipedia entry. His response can best be described as acidic distortion:
Hang on Ireland! You want my help now? Maybe you should have thought about that before you started slagging me off on the internet. (Tory Dipper stands accused of the most hideous of internet crimes, sock-puppetry. Tim has yet to present his case, but of course he has already been found guilty by Justice Ireland.)
Just for the record, Tory Dipper is completely unaware of any way to make anonymous edits on Wikipedia. The Dipper has edited Wikipedia in the past, but only ever using the methods described at Pseudonymity, so the correct answer to his e-mail is “none”.
Even with this ‘pseudonymity’ distortion in place (a pseudonym is often chosen for purposes of anonymity; only in some contexts are they separate concepts), Martin can easily be proved to be stupefyingly ignorant, forgetful, or a liar:
Most, if not all, of these anonymous edits were made by Martin Wiesner, who is clearly aware of how one might make anonymous edits on Wikipedia, but not wily enough, it appears, to avoid detection. I have evidence of my own that’s quite distinct from the assertions of experienced Wikipedia editors, and I’m willing to have it tested in court (not that Martin will want to do anything other than cast doubt upon that evidence, or me personally).
There’s more for those who care to poke around, but this response to his being indefinitely blocked from editing Wikipedia should be enough:
Please feel free to ban me again if you feel that is the right thing to do. There are many more names and IP addresses I could adopt, should the need arise.
Martin Wiesner is an unapologetic user of sock puppets (multiple false identities). This confirms it.
Sock-puppeting is regarded to be a harmless practice in some quarters, but not when sock-puppets are used in a way that impacts significantly on someone’s reputation, and certainly not when the democratic process is involved…
Haltemprice and Howden by-election, 2008
In the showcase by-election prompted by the resignation of David Davis, the Greens were significant players (in fact, their candidate came second).
Though he failed on the follow-through, Martin Weisner sought to involve himself in that by-election with a website that mocked David Davis. Most importantly, he did so without declaring his association with the Green Party. Especially in a field with so many players and the two main players bowing out, saying something like “It should be obvious I’m not a Tory” just isn’t good enough.
While the law has yet to catch up with reality (example), such antics are just as unacceptable as anonymous pamphlets in my view, and I suspect I’ll be just as busy dealing with this issue at the next general election as I have been during recent council elections and by-elections.
Martin’s current position on all of this is that I should be willing to live and let live… but this runs contrary to his actions that I’m objecting to in the first place, and even if I were to accept his reasoning on this front, we would still be left with the very real fact that I often get blamed for a lot of the crap that he does, which impacts on my reputation.
(Psst! Annoyingly, I even get blamed for a lot of the crap he does by a man who is himself an unapologetic user of sock-puppets; Phil ‘Dizzy’ Hendren.)
Martin is also prone to the use of outright distortion in his defence, and/or when throwing accusations in the face of his accusers (typically, just before retiring from the conversation).
One of the more worrying examples was his publishing a naked picture of himself (NSFW* link posted here) as ‘proof’ of his commitment to being more open about his identity in future or some such nonsense. When I referred to this bizarre action in a later email, the one-word reply from Martin was “Pervert!”
(*Link is also Not Safe For Lunch. You have been warned.)
Martin Weisner is currently dashing from website to website making a variety of attempts to confuse the Gilligan issue and/or mock Gilligan’s accusers, without declaring (never mind discussing or defending) his own position regarding the use of multiple false identities.
There’s more (so much more that the variety of attacks and the amount of time spent on these deceptions is alarming enough in itself), but this should be enough for most people who are considering the merits of banning Martin Weisner and his many sock-puppets from their weblogs.
Martin has 24 hours in which to respond under comments if he wishes to enjoy a right of reply, after which time he will be banned from this website.
If he persists with the use of distortions, diversions and groundless/irrelevant accusations, he will be banned immediately.
It is widely regarded as acceptable to blog on the subject of politics from behind a pseudonym, so long as your nicknames/accounts somehow clearly resolve to a single identity, you make it clear what your political allegiances are, and/or you avoid undeclared conflicts of interest.
It is widely regarded as totally unacceptable to use multiple/false identities in any act likely to impact on another person’s reputation, not least because you will have done so without banking your own reputation on what you have to say.
That is the act of a coward and a bully.
Where I come from, there is a clear difference between standing up to someone and punching them in the back of the head and running away.
There is no place for Martin Weisner’s antics in our community of political weblogs, and as long as he remains determined to continue with his antics, I would argue that there’s no place for Martin Weisner, either.
[This post will also be submitted to the Green Party as the body of my complaint about the conduct of this member.]
UPDATE (3pm) – Name fixed. It is Weisner, and not Wiesman, as some later sentences suggested before that fix. The variation resulted from my typing much of this on the train, and therefore going from memory on the name.