Yesterday morning, March 7, a software developer employed by the Wikimedia Foundation was compelled to turn over his Wikipedia administrator toolkit, when it had become clear that he had been caught using a "sockpuppet" account to badger another editor on Wikipedia. Ryan Kaldari, a nearly four-year employee of the organization that runs Wikipedia, made his confession at an "Administrators noticeboard" on Wikipedia. Kaldari admitted that he had "avoided scrutiny" by setting up a fake account on Wikipedia that he used to harangue another editor named Eric Corbett. Using sockpuppet accounts to disguise your ulterior motives on Wikipedia is a long-standing policy no-no.
Kaldari marks the second Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) employee in as many months to come under fire for breaking Wikipedia's own rules that govern good behavior on the site. (WMF employee Sarah Stierch was let go in January after she was discovered to have been taking money on the side to edit Wikipedia articles.) However, the trouble doesn't seem to be over for Mr. Kaldari, as his critics discover more and more damning evidence against him personally. Most notably, Kaldari was discovered to have hosted a perverse website called "Snuffster.com", which was intended as a parody of Friendster, but soon became a haven for Internet trolls to mock murdered children and to glorify the butchering and burning of women. Kaldari said today that his only mishap with Snuffster was "not pro-actively censoring the offensive content". Yet, he hosted the site and paid the domain registration for it for about ten years, which would be a long time not to notice the pages mocking Anne Frank or JonBenet Ramsey (for example). Also, when clicking through some of Snuffster's worst pages (before Kaldari took them down yesterday), beneath the descriptions that mocked the death of non-fictional children you'd have found comments from one user named "Ryan". When one clicked on Ryan's name, it led to Kaldari's own profile; so, it would appear that Kaldari was not only not censoring the offensive content, he was himself adding fuel to it. (Kaldari did not respond to Examiner's request for interview. Meanwhile, the Wikipedia criticism site, Wikipediocracy, is maintaining screen captures of some of Snuffster's most disturbing pages.)
It seems hypocritical that the Wikimedia Foundation would issue a cease and desist order to a company improperly using sockpuppets on Wikipedia, when one of its own employees would shortly thereafter improperly use a sockpuppet on Wikipedia.
And there's another strange irony behind the Ryan Kaldari incident. Kaldari changed his legal name around 2003 from Ryan Corbett Smith, then opened a website that poked fun at murder. In 2014, he would hide behind yet another name-change to criticize an Eric Corbett, whom Kaldari said was "belittling the tragedy of suicide". Is there any place other than Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation where one can one find so many highly-placed individuals who are so lacking in self-awareness?
Your comments are welcome below.