Conservapedia site crashes after posting an embarrassing “hit list”. This blogger adds 2+2, gets 5.

UPDATE: My speculation was incorrect. TK does think the editor was a parodist, particularly because of the choice of username, and the user has been blocked. The site really did have a normal early Wikipedia-style crash, and TK says that QWest will again be blocked when Conservapedia sorts out its systems issues. How many Conservapedia editors are real?

A few days ago the political satirist Wonkette noticed a very odd article on Conservapedia. It said:

The Constitution provides that if a senator is unable to complete his or her term then the governor of the state will appoint a replacement Senator. Below is a list of Senate Democrats from States with Republican Governors. Currently the Democrats hold a 58 seat majority in the Senate. If these Senators were unable to complete their terms and were replaced by qualified Republicans by their Republican governors, the Republican Party would regain a commanding majority in the Senate sufficient to prevent Barack Hussein Obama from socializing medicine, nationalizing the financial and auto industries, and creating a socialist wealth redistribution scheme.

There followed a list of about 14 Democratic Senators. Wonkette remarked on the peculiar wording, calling it a “Helpful List of Senate Democrats To Assassinate, So Republican Governors Can Appoint GOP Replacements”.

A few days after that the article was replaced with a message from an administrator called “TK”:

This “Article” Was The Work Of An Internet Parodist/Vandal

Conservapedia in no way sanctioned it, and cannot, because of the wiki format, completely stop the work of political terrorists, who are intent upon, dedicated to, mocking our conservative, Christian-friendly encyclopedia

Thank you.

–₮KAdmin/Talk Here 16:34, 24 January 2009 (EST)

Here, TK states outright that the article was created by an internet parodist or vandal.

Well sure, wikis are prone to unwanted text, often malicious, and creating spoof articles has even become a minor sport. But was this such a case? I decided to find out, so I looked at the history of the article. I found that the article had actually been created by a user called QWest, an established user who has contributed much content to Conservapedia. He alerted Conservapedia to Obama’s “My Muslim faith” gaffe, he contributed “Abstinence only sex education doesn’t work” to “Liberal Myths About Education”, he added items about the bacterial flagellum, consciousness, symbiosis and the bat to “Counterexamples to evolution”. He repeatedly tried to add Barack Obama to a list of prominent Muslims in the “Islam” article. He started the “Obama and socialism” section in the article on Barack Obama.

Now to some people, these may sound like crazy things to do, and so accordingly they may suspect that QWest was a parodist. I’m really not so sure. In fact, knowing the site, I’m pretty secure in the opinion that QWest is a real person and those are his real opinions. Site founder Andrew Schlafly himself believes Obama is covertly a Muslim, and the article on Obama still says that he “may be the first Muslim President”. The additions to “Counterexamples to evolution” are mostly absurd, but seem to be based on typical creationist misconceptions about evolution. And most people on the religious right still cling to the belief that abstinence-only education works.

I also noticed that TK had neither blocked QWest from editing, nor approached him on the wiki to communicate with him about his creation of inappropriate content.

I left a message on TK’s user talk page, informing him of his apparent error in blaming the creation of the article on a vandal or parodist, and outlined my findings about QWest’s history of good faith editing.

Shortly afterwards, the Conservapedia website started showing the following error message to all visitors, and refused to display any articles.

MediaWiki internal error.

Original exception: exception ‘DBQueryError’ with message ‘A database error has occurred Query: SELECT page_id,page_namespace,page_title,page_restrictions, page_counter,page_is_redirect,page_is_new,page_random,page_touched, page_latest,page_len FROM `page` WHERE page_namespace = ‘0’ AND page_title = ‘Main_Page’ LIMIT 1 Function: Article::pageData Error: 1033 Table ‘./conserv8_media/page’ was created with a different version of MySQL and cannot be read (localhost) ‘ in /home/conserv8/public_html/includes/db/Database.php:606

As I write this, the Conservapedia site is back up, but not for editing. It appears to be redirecting to http://www.conservativeencyclopedia.com, which is running the wki from a locked copy of the Conservapedia database dated 19 January, 2009, shortly before the “hit list” article appeared. The most recent edit on the site is 22:13 GMT, or 17:13 EST.

At first I thought they had simply messed up a planned dbms upgrade, but there seems a little too much coincidence here.

41 Responses

  1. As much as I know Conservapedia has a conservative view point, I highly doubt that the article was created by a normal user.

    I think the site is down now maybe to make it so only certain people can edit. Like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wishes to do.

    I really don’t think there is any conspiracy here, but I think it’s obvious people want to make that site look bad, because of it’s strong right leaning agenda.

    But considering Wikipedia contains tons of bias, not just from liberal sources, Conservapedia is a breath of fresh air just for being different. I hope it’s not been hacked by that stupid loser group.

  2. People don’t dislike Conservapedia just because it is right-leaning (and leaning is an understatement), people don’t like it because of the extreme and malicious wingnuttery. Let me list some examples:

    1) The owner repeatedly claiming that Obama is cryptomuslim, citing “proof” such as how you don’t see him spontaneously dancing very much.
    2) Apologetic stances for Pinochet, McCarthy, and other such notables.
    3) Incessant posting of various Hitler pictures on the theory of evolution entry.
    4) Claiming that liberalism is both the result of and cause of mental illness.
    5) Claiming that liberals just made up the idea of black holes in order to sell magazines.
    6) Referring to President Obama as an “affirmative action” president.

    This can be summed up with an analogy: if Wikipedia is accused of having bias, then let us then compare it to, say, the New York Times. If Wikipedia is the New York Times, then Conservapedia is the Weekly World News.

  3. Oh Daniel, of course QWest is a regular and normal contributor to Conservapedia. I’ve watched that site for over a year now (mostly for the lulz) and QWest’s views and attitudes are well known by the number of articles edited and created by him. At no point was he blocked for the creation of the infamous article (and, as you know, Conservapedia is more than happy to weild ye old Banhammer for such things as repeatedly insisting that there is no evidence that Obama is a muslim, or that the evidence for an old Earth is overwhelming, etc), and make no mistake, the powers that be at Conservapedia knew that the article existed and that they approved it because every new article is vetted by at least one sysop to see if it is Conservapedia worthy and not another attempt at vandalism.

  4. This may be just a coincidence. Conservapedia has had a lot of server trouble in the past and doesn’t seem to have very good back end understanding of the mediawiki software.

    Conservapedia also has a history of deleting content without anything resembling process simply when it becomes inconvenient. Given that, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do the same thing in this case instead of taking down the servers or such.

    Furthermore, behavior like that of Qwest does not mean the editor is not a parodist. They’ve had very subtle parodists before. Take for example User:Bugler who was a long-standing admin and pretty virulent who turned out to be a parodist. The fact that it is difficult to tell who is a parodist and who is not says something disturbing about Conservapedia by itself.

  5. Nice, logical thought, Tony. Due to the crash, I never saw your post to my talk page. I did in fact block “Qwest” and the IP’s he edited from. If the user block wasn’t showing, I don’t know why.

    If you did the check post-crash, the version being used is 19 January’s, not a current one, so all of “Qwest’s” work would still be there, and won’t be able to be removed until CP’s server issue(s) are resolved. The host at one point told us it was a disc failure.

    The user, “Qwest”, when I ran the “Check User” on him, showed, coincidentally enough, that the ISP he used to edit from was Qwest Communications. One IP (of the two he used) was Qwest, Phoenix, AZ. The other was Qwest in Denver.

    Given the content of his/her posts, and the moniker they chose as an editor (being that of their ISP) I blocked the user.

    I never saw the “Hit List” article until I saw it mentioned on “Wonkette” and used the link they provided. My first thought was they had used some unfortunate language, and that some would indeed be inferring what the poster on Wonkette did. One Admin deleted it totally, I restored it a few minutes later with the explanation you reference, because I thought given that Wonkette had posted the screen cap, and a link, deletion would only lead to speculation of “burning the evidence”.

    As to what my friend, Joshua posted above, I would submit it is far easier for a conservative to detect conservative parody than for a liberal to do so, and vice-versa.

    If you want more information, Tony, Ed Poor can give you my number.

    –TK

  6. […] to differentiate between real conservative writing and someone making fun of conservative writing. Tony Sidaway tries to sort it out. He earlier had arguments which seemed to show this was a real article, but […]

  7. […] Tony Sidaway thinks not, and did some investigating: I found that the article had actually been created by a user called QWest, an established user who […]

  8. This all looks like typical winger revisionism.

    You even have TK engaging in the typical winger denials.He never saw your post and he never heard of QWest before the other day.

  9. Something eating at you, “Fred” about an administrator not knowing one of a hundred vandals? Sorry to disappoint you. Not.

  10. I’m not getting into a pissing match with the host of winger hate wiki.

  11. and the moniker they chose as an editor (being that of their ISP) I blocked the user

    Why would the fact that the user’s moniker was the same as their ISP be incriminating?

  12. With regards to the crash, our server had a disk failure. Fairly routine and an investigation is underway.

  13. “As to what my friend, Joshua posted above, I would submit it is far easier for a conservative to detect conservative parody than for a liberal to do so, and vice-versa.”

    Yeah, you was so great in catching bugler. you let him harass users for who knows how long all because he kissed Andy’s behind. Anybody who doesn’t conform to Andy’s beliefs is classified as a liberal, like that is a bad thing. For as much as Andy has utter contempt for Karl Marx he breaks people into dichotomies except instead of the Bourgieousie and the proletariat it is liberal and conservative. Anybody who does not agree with him is either labeled liberal or is labeled as not having an open mind. The very conceptualization of this website is based on a utter contempt for logical discourse. Conservapedia instead of fostering a great debate on what conservatism truly is, has become a pawn for a man who still harbors animosity toward anybody and everybody who disagrees with him.

    This animosity is most evident with his page on Barack obama. I don’t know what Obama did to him in law school at Harvard but get over it. the very act of calling him an “affirmitive action president” who has not had any real achievement is to ignore the will of the people who have elected him state senator US. Senator and President. I often wonder if Andy secretly envies Obama for everything he has achieved Andy believes he should have received.

    Conservapedia is neither conservative but just an outgrowth of one mans insane rantings and paranoid beliefs that everybody within education, the media, the government, the entertainment industry, scientific research, and the gay rights movement is out to destroy christianity and convert people into athiests and non-believers who want to create a socialist enclave in America.

    In the words of Andrew Schafly

    Godspeed

  14. And mighty convenient!

  15. I have to agree that the page on Barack Obama is a poor advertisement for the site. It reads like something that might have been written by that mad woman at a McCain rally who said “Obama’s an arab.”

  16. I’m surprised you crawled out of your rock, TK. It must be difficult not wielding the banhammer and crushing all dissent in sight.

    But anyway, I do have sincere respect for you. You must be shaking in your boots from having to come into the real world where discussion is free and people aren’t silenced simply for voicing their opinion. (In other words, that world with the liberal bias)

    I admire your courage.

    But honestly, do you think that simply editing the article and apologizing for it is doing something? The very fact that many people thought it was sincere should be disturbing to you. You have immersed yourselves in so much nuttery, that the only way you and us liberals can distinguish parody from your version of reality is with an alert from a relatively well-known website. (And the following edit of course. I still thought it was sincere until you changed it)

    And the fact that he made other significant edits, and yet they were kept, should also be appalling to you. Do you honestly think Barack Obama is a Muslim, or that these silly creationist arguments hold intellectual merit? If I were you, I’d be rushing to revert these edits as they were apparently made by a parodist.

    But you can’t, can you? Because this is what you actually believe. (Flashback of the South Park Scientology episode)

    So by this very action, you’re trapped. By acknowledging that the edit was a parody, and reverting it, you must either force yourself to either revert every single edit by this person, and consequentially, any similar edits by other users, or keep or edit the article. (Make assassination a little more family friendly. ;D)

    Please, wake up to the world you live in. Take the red pill.

  17. […] a comment » As Conservapedia sysop TK kindly reported on the comments area of my last blog entry, Conservapedia’s outage was due to a simple disk crash. TK has taken me to task for hanging […]

  18. more like conFAILapedia, amirite?

  19. Conservapedia is a huge verification of Poe’s Law. Half of the editors are parodists and no one can tell who is who, and as a result a lot of true wingnuts get banned on suspicion of being pranksters. Wonderful place.

  20. Well, I know I am doing something right whenever the hate-posters turn out.

    Midnight, your obviously sincere concern for the “wingnuts” is touching. I am certain there is a special place reserved for you in Heaven. :p

    On any site, the admins are not infallible, but given the howls from the parodists and trolls, my average is better than most. And the private emails sent to me by those I have “caught” confirm this. In the end, I know we will be fighting the same battle another day.

  21. P.S.: I understand that “Poe’s Law” is the catch phrase dejour among the (mostly) student base of liberal wiki’s, but please save the rest of us from that now too shop-worn and inaccurate analogy.

  22. Conservapedia is a belly laugh and a half!

  23. “Well, I know I am doing something right whenever the hate-posters turn out.”

    That’s a terrible lapse in logical thought. If a lot of people don’t like you, it doesn’t mean that you’re right. It means you tick people off because you’re doing something in an offensive way. If that’s the way I ran my blog, I would do nothing but spew hatred from my posts because obviously, the more hate I generate, the more right I must be according to your logic. Likewise, Barack Obama must be doing something right because of the amount of hate he gets on your site. Again, it’s your logic I’m working with here, not mine.

    If this is how you truly think TK, it’s little wonder that Conservapedia is and always will remain exhibit A of right wing paranoia rather than a discussion of classical, modern and neo-conservative thought.

  24. Very well said, gfish!

  25. gfish, it is billed as an encyclopedia.

    Your lapse of logic is in thinking it is there for you to debate, or there for anyone to debate or exchange ideas.

    That isn’t what an encyclopedia (no matter what anyone wants to think) is for. There are boards and discussion forums are for that.

  26. “Your lapse of logic is in thinking it is there for you to debate, or there for anyone to debate or exchange ideas. “

    Did I say debate? No. I said discussion. If you allow people to contribute to your articles, you have a discussion. You bill yourself as an encyclopedia but you espouse the opinions of a group of people, many of which are contradictory to factual evidence or are spin of the factual evidence in a certain direction convenient for you. Then, you personally pride yourself on getting hate comments and taking them as proof of your correctness.

    How many editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, say they’re proud of hate mail and take it as proof that they’re doing something right? This is not how you run a legitimate encyclopedia. It’s how you choose to protect yourself form things you don’t want to hear.

  27. I have personally heard Richard Dawkins say he was “proud” to be known by the people who attack him, gfish.

    You continue with your logical fallacy by stating a site/encyclopedia/wiki/board that bills itself as conservative and Christian-friendly has some kind of obligation to entertain thoughts or ideas contrary to what they believe. There has never been such a right in the long history of the world.

  28. Gfish, many Wikipedia admins and long-time editors make comments about the hate mail they get which are essentially identical to those made by TK.

  29. Poe’s law can be generalized as a law of parody.

    On the Guardian talk boards, there is a poster who uses the monicker “leftandproud”. His speciality is parodying left wing excesses. He does it in an obvious way, which in some ways is more irritating than subtle parody. A typical posting by him goes like this:

    Obama’s wisdom astounds. He knows there are no terrorists, but just people feeling hurt and disenfranchised. Much like the British government apologized and reached out to the IRA and made peace, Obama will do the same. Bush and company are the real terrorists.

    On the talk boards, this usually raises a wry giggle from the reader, and the reply “Shut up, Bryan.”

  30. ROFLMAO!

    If he causes just one person not to take himself too seriously, then that is a good thing, IMO. We can all use a little ego deflation now and then, a sharp poke to the ribs to remind us not to be too earnest.

  31. Poe’s law can be generalized as a law of parody.
    […]
    On the talk boards, this usually raises a wry giggle from the reader, and the reply “Shut up, Bryan.”

    Actually, this demonstrates why it isn’t really generalizable. Although there are plenty of people on the left who think that Bush & co are also terrorists, the first two sentences of the quote are giveaways that it’s a parody because they’re patently silly. The point of Poe’s Law is that with fundamentalism (and by extension, the kind of wingnut conservatism on display at Conservapedia and WorldNetDaily), you can’t parody it effectively because it’s already been done by themselves.

    If you don’t believe me, go read the entry on Obama, which includes a paragraph mentioning that he uses mind control techniques in his speeches.

  32. I should clarify – it’s common for people of any political persuasion (especially those lacking a sense of humor, which is likewise a nonpartisan trait) to take outrageous parody opinions as the real thing. If they didn’t, trolls wouldn’t be so annoyingly effective. But it only seems to be from among the Conservapedia/WND/creationist side where people’s real opinions are commonly thought to be parodies.

  33. “I have personally heard Richard Dawkins say he was “proud” to be known by the people who attack him, gfish.”

    So because another person makes the same logical error as you, that makes you correct? Also, In find your example very telling. What makes Dawkins right in many of his arguments is the science. His rhetorical outbursts don’t change scientific facts.

    “You continue with your logical fallacy by stating a site/encyclopedia/wiki/board that bills itself as conservative and Christian-friendly has some kind of obligation to entertain thoughts or ideas contrary to what they believe.”

    I said nothing of the sort. I questioned the quality of your scholarship and your absurd justification of it. I did not say you had to rush to correct it or that you have to listen to people to who you disagree. Encyclopedias are supposed to be objective and your site is the exact opposite. That’s all I’ve said.

    Gee TK, you’d think that when dealing with a public discussion you would at least realize that you can’t build your entire argument on falsifying what people who disagree with you say. WE can go back up to the post and check who said what in this own words. It’s like something out of Freudian psychology. Someone tells you A, you hear B and respond to B with condescending passive aggression.

  34. As someone who had argued long and hard on that site to try and fix some of the worse mistakes (it’s like arguing with a brick) I know that they have no problem with blocking people for no other reasons than having an opposing viewpoint, and that their bias is not only overwhelming but can often be dangerous. I doubt this was the work of a vandal (any more of a vandal then the rest of the editors anyway), this honestly seems like something that fits right in on their site.

  35. […] Conservapedia site crashes after posting an embarrassing “hit list”. This blogger adds … UPDATE: My speculation was incorrect. TK does think the editor was a parodist, particularly because of the choice of […] […]

  36. Not altogether shocking considering where it’s coming from, but interesting nonetheless.

  37. […] article claiming it was created by a vandal or parodist, the story had legs, and when I published an article speculating that Conservapedia’s subsequent outage was connected to the article, it was […]

  38. I’m the only one in this world. Can please someone join me in this life? Or maybe death…

  39. pyclerbiple, if you need someone to talk to, click on this link: Befrienders. You are not alone.

  40. hallo,

    ich hoffe hier im Forum kann mir jemand helfen!
    Ich habe aus versehen 27 bilder von meinem USB Stick verloren. Leider sind die Daten nicht mehr im meinem Papierkorb.
    Die Files sind sehr wichtig für mich! Ich würde die gerne zurückbekommen.
    Wer kennt ne Seite auf der ich Infos dazu finde, wie ich die Daten retten kann??

    Vielen Dank schonmal für eure Antworten

    danke

  41. I’m sorry, this isn’t a technology help forum and I cannot help you to recover your lost files.

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