Wikipedia has admitted that one of its editors has been conducting a campaign to purge the encyclopaedia of all references to the occult and modern pagans.
The problem was first flagged by the pagan community in November last year when it appeared that someone had been flagging articles for deletion relating to Pagan authors, events, and notable figures.
The Wikipedia editor who went by "Qworty" seemed to have a personal grudge against Jeff Rosenbaum, co-founder of the Starwood festival, and created many of these Pagan-themed pages under the moniker of "Rosencomet".
Qworty had a habit of labelling people "wikispammers" when all they had done was write articles for the online encyclopaedia.
One of Qworty's notes on Stregheria, which is Italian for witchcraft, said that anyone who followed this path were "mentally ill, delusional people who are worshiping Satan and their dead Roman or Neapolitan ancestors".
Names were nearly deleted by Qworty included M. Macha Nightmare, Luisah Teish, Louis Martinie, Kenny Klein, LaSara FireFox, Ian Corrigan, Donald Kraig and Raven Grimassi.
Writing on his blog, Donald Kraig said that the practice of "revenge edits" and self-promotion by anonymous editors, not to mention Wikipedia's own disclaimers, reveals it has no authority.
Wikipedia-savvy pagans had their work cut out stopping Qworty, who turned out to be the writer Robert Clark Young. He was outed by Salon magazine and it seems that his campaign had been running for more than five years.
When cornered by Salon, Young insisted that he had manage to make all his edits in accordance with Wikipedia policy. This is quite possible. We have said for some years that editors with chips on their shoulders have been purging Wackypedia of some important names and data.
Young has finally been banned by Wikipedia, but only after he had made more than 13,000 edits, many of them done to pursue revenge against someone, or to protect his own page. His favourite tool was to have a small army of sock-puppets to support him in his various purges.
“Wikipedia is the great postmodern novel,” declared Qworty. “Wikipedia is ‘not truth’ … Wikipedia, like any other text, is not reality.”
Although his particular reign of terror did not wipe out modern paganism, he has to have done more damage to Wikipedia's image than Tomás de Torquemada managed for the Catholic church in Spain.