The turnover among Wikipedia editors is so high that most editors today have no idea of the conditions that existed during the first year that I tried to get my biography deleted. There was no policy on biographies of living persons during most of that year. The policy they have now is still much too weak, but it helped during the second year of my effort. Since many of the newer editors are unfamiliar with this history, this old "hivemind" page is preserved for the record. Daniel Brandt
hive mind v. Brandt
St.Petersburg, FL, USA
2005-10-17: about locking down Brandt's bio: "...an impossible and
2005-10-17: about two links Brandt deleted at Google_Watch: "Do not
remove them again."
2005-12-01: In a letter to Editor & Publisher, he refers to Brandt with
words such as "strange rant," "prone to incoherent rants,"
"he misrepresents everything about our procedures," and
"I don't regard him as a valid source about anything at all."
Then he claims Brandt is a "public person," in an attempt
to justify Wikipedia's invasion of privacy. But Brandt's
photo is nowhere on the web, he doesn't do conferences
or give speeches, and he's not on radio or TV.
aka Sarah McEwan
Swalwell, Alberta, Canada
born: circa 1961
2005-09-28: started article on Brandt (current version)
2005-10-12: responds to Brandt's complaint that he was not notified:
"We tend not to do that."
2005-10-15: "I apologize for what I wrote about you as a source."
2005-10-15: "Most of our editors edit anonymously, for reasons of
2005-10-16: "...stop editing this article ... don't delete valid references
or external links."
2006-04-21: instructs editors to remove posts from the Talk page that
may have been made by banned supporters of Brandt
2006-04-29: "Brandt is apparently trying to blackmail people ... it is ugly
behavior." (This libelous statement was prompted by the
fact that Brandt negotiated in good faith with one editor at
the editor's request, and they reached a compromise.)
2006-04-29: bans two editors forever for making comments supporting
Brandt, and then an hour later, now that they are unable to
respond, accuses them of being the same person
2006-05-07: admits that her bans are based not on hard evidence, but
rather on her "well-honed linguistic analytic skills"
2005-10-26: starts a new Wikipedia article on Brandt to replace deleted
article; this new article is quickly deleted
2005-10-29: a story about deletion is posted by Lenssen on his pro-
Google blog, and broadcasted by Google News
2005-10-29: note to Jimmy Wales: "...would like a comment regarding
deletion of the article on Google-watcher Daniel Brandt."
2005-11-06: hypes the story again on his pro-Google blog
Craig M. Anderson
Hialeah, FL, USA
2005-10-29: undeletes the deleted article
2005-11-01: referring to "Brandt and his fellow trolls," he comments
that "resistance is in fact futile."
John Doe #3
U.S. psychology professor
age:34; female; anti-Castro
daughters: Deborah, Emily
resides in Europe
2005-10-30 2005-11-05: dozens of edits, many of which are hostile
to Brandt, with many incompetent edits and additions, and
2005-11-02: "Brandt has no say in the matter whatever."
2005-11-17: "Please no more of this privacy nonsence [sic]."
Alex J. Schenck
North Scituate, RI, USA
2005-11-04: "He can cry about this until the cows come home."
2005-11-07: aborted the vote for deletion, normally a 7-day process,
after only one day
2005-11-08: deletes the open letter to Jimmy Wales on Brandt's user
page, knowing it won't be restored because he's blocked
2005-11-08: "...you truely [sic] are just a whiny has-been that never
was in the first place..."
2006-04-29: "Brandt has a tinfoil hat on top of his tinfoil hat."
2005-11-04: suggests that everyone "point and laugh" at Brandt's open
letter to Jimbo
2005-11-05: blocks Brandt for 7 days due to an alleged "legal threat"
2005-12-04: quotes Wales' letter to E&P in Brandt's bio: "I tried very
hard to help him, and he misrepresented nearly everything
about our conversation in his very strange rant." But
Brandt has never had a conversation with Wales!
2005-12-29: "[Brandt is] basically a bit of a goose, and in my opinion
aka Broken S
Wellington, FL, USA
2005-11-04: blocks Brandt for 24 hours
2005-11-07: "If he acts up he'll just get blocked again."
2006-09-10: an editor deletes the Wales quote after Brandt explains
why it is inaccurate and unreliable, and that Wales must
have Brandt confused with someone else. BrokenSegue
restores the quote, explaining that "it is what Jimbo said,
and that's all that really matters."
John Doe #6
Bristol, United Kingdom
2005-11-04: "It's reassuring to know that the subject of an article has
been unable to successfully be the final arbiter of its
Bronx, New York, NY, USA
2005-11-04: referring to Brandt: "Poor baby."
2005-11-04: "Frankly, you're deluding yourself if you think any court will
care in the slightest. Nevertheless, that sounds like a legal
threat. I'd be careful if you want to avoid being banned."
John Doe #8
2005-11-04: "Perhaps we should find a picture of Daniel Brandt with
some babes to put on our page about him."
St.Paul, MN, USA
2005-11-04: "You're right, it isn't a privacy problem. But he is very
2005-11-04: "And in any case we have different inclusion standards."
St.Louis Park, MN, USA
2005-11-03: "Oh for goodness sakes, stop with the empty threats and
stop violating WP:NLT."
2005-11-07: "Him not wanting an article here about himself is no reason
to delete this."
Jeffrey O. Gustafson
Brooklyn, NY, USA
2005-11-08: blocks Brandt indefinitely, primarily as a reaction to this
page you are now reading
2005-11-11: deletes a highly-relevant quotation from the Florida
Supreme Court about invasion-of-privacy, which appeared
on Brandt's User_Talk page, on the grounds that it is an
"anonymous legal threat"
Victoria, BC, Canada
2005-11-09: "...batshit insanity is not a criteria for deletion."
Tampa, Florida, USA
2005-11-06: added true but objectionable facts from many years ago,
which is a violation of Florida's invasion-of-privacy statute
2005-12-18: quotes Wales' letter to E&P in Brandt's bio: "I tried very
hard to help him, and he misrepresented nearly everything
about our conversation in his very strange rant." (Brandt
has never had a conversation with Wales, and this is the
second time an administrator has inserted this.)
2006-04-05: vandalizes Brandt's user page and bans him forever,
because Brandt explained a new federal law that applies
to Wikipedia vandals who fail to disclose their identity
2006-04-05: "He's an attention whore..."
2006-04-25: warns editors, in a new box at the top of the Talk page
for the Brandt article, that "you may become the victim of
internet stalking, harrassment [sic], or legal threats by
the subject of this article"
2005-11-10: "Ironically enough, I think this whole affair qualified him for
his own article."
Anaheim, CA, USA
2005-11-11: "Nutcases like Brandt aren't the norm."
John Doe #11
2005-12-04: reverts Brandt's effort to deny that he and Jimmy Wales
ever had a conversation, causing Wales' negative reaction
to a nonexistent conversation to remain in Brandt's bio
Juneau, AK, USA
2005-12-05: "...a complete kook..."
2006-04-05: "He [Brandt] is sometimes refferred [sic] to as an 'expert'
in matters of privacy. That makes him a public figure,
which means his right to privacy is significantly curtailed."
2006-04-25: "He can whine all he wants..."
Fremont, CA, USA
2005-12-13: "Can you imagine the numbers of ppl [sic] in his long life
that his poisonious [sic] personality has bludgeoned?
Brandt's uppance [sic] must come."
Joseph Crowley 3rd
2005-12-13: added "See also: Outing" to Brandt's page, with a link
to a Wikipedia page by that name, in an apparent attempt
to falsely suggest that Brandt is gay
Delaware, Ohio, USA
2005-12-12: starts Brandt-watch.org
in response to this page, and
provides a one-click link that visitors can use to launch a
denial-of-service attack on the Wikipedia-Watch server
John Doe #15
2005-12-16: "Brandt is inherently non-notable... Frankly, I am weary
of Brandt's hatemongering..."
John Doe #16
2005-12-16: "...trolling and petty tantrums ... I bet that Brandt is one
of the most successful trolls in history."
Dundas, Ontario, Canada
2005-12-17: "Brandt needs a wake up call ... privacy ain't what it used
John Doe #18
2005-12-12: sends Wikipedia-Watch a hoax email, pretending to
identify (and defame) another user on this page; the name
was posted here for several hours; some Wikipedians think
it's cute so he starts an anti-Brandt blog to brag about it
aka Dan T.
Daniel R. Tobias
Boca Raton, Florida, USA
2005-12-20: "We should basically ignore all his sniveling..."
2005-12-30: makes false allegations about the legality of NameBase
on Philipp Lenssen's pro-Google forum
2006-04-07: incorrectly claims that Brandt edited Wikipedia under a
look-alike misspelling of his user name
2006-09-08: on Brandt's notability: "...our bar for inclusion is generally
lower than most of the mainstream media."
2006-09-09: "I'd like to see his whacked-out ideas tested and defeated
2005-12-24: "...[giving] Brandt control over who edits his bio [is]
Brian James Mingus
Boulder, Colorado, USA
2005-12-29: makes false allegations about PIR's tax-exempt status,
and the legality of NameBase, on Philipp Lenssen's
John Doe #22
Williamsburg, NY, USA (?)
works in management
age:in his 40s
2005-12-29: about Brandt: "He's not concerned about privacy; neither
his own, nor anyone else's. He's more interested in self-
promotion, and this is one good way of doing it."
City of Westminster,
London, United Kingdom
2006-01-01: Brandt deleted one sentence from his bio on the grounds
that it invaded his privacy, but Dbiv reverted Brandt one
Durham, NC, USA
2006-01-01: suggests that when Brandt lets the print press quote him
on privacy issues, that Brandt automatically becomes a
public person for purposes of one sentence about a
37-year-old unrelated incident that Brandt tried to delete
aka Sharon K.
Sharon Kershee Tahsequah
Oklahoma City, OK, USA
member of police dept
2006-01-02: about Brandt: "...no whining allowed."
2006-05-28: posts a long, tearful, and ultimately silly letter on Brandt's
talk page: "I cling to the hope that this incident may serve
you to think at least for a moment before sending another
inocent [sic] into the flames without a reason." (These
whiny remarks refer to Katefan0, an anonymous admin
who, it was discovered, is a professional journalist with
a Senate press pass. Katefan0 tinkered with biographies
of members of Congress on Wikipedia. Brandt claimed
that her anonymity on Wikipedia represented a conflict
of interest, and asked her to identify herself on her user
page. Instead Katefan0 left Wikipedia and suggested that
Brandt was malicious. Other Wikipedians chimed in with
support for Katefan0 and new denunciations of Brandt.)
John Doe #20
2006-01-17: Brandt tries to characterize himself as an activist on both
accountability and privacy issues, but Geni reverts him so
that Wikipedia continues to introduce him as someone
who is merely "monitoring privacy violations on the web"
(evidence suggests that
Pegasus1138 did this)
John Doe #21
Canterbury High School
New Milford, CT, USA
2006-02-12: noticed the new email address for this site and added it
to lists requesting ecommerce offers and similar spam
(one of the ecommerce spam bots included the perp's IP
address, and we also have exact times in our logs; this
sort of harassment is now a felony)
Brampton, ON, Canada
2006-03-16: reverted a comment Brandt made on User_talk:Kittenmarks
because as a Wikipedia spokesman, he had to suppress
a funny Harvard Crimson story about Wikipedia
Los Angeles, CA, USA
2006-04-03: after Brandt removed from this site an image of a letter,
this editor reposted it at a free photo hosting site without
permission, in order to sidestep Wikipedia's copyright
rules; next, she prominently linked to this image of the
letter from two Wikipedia articles
John Doe #23
2006-04-03: blocks Brandt for unspecified "vague legal threats"
2006-04-07: incorrectly claims that Brandt has edited Wikipedia under
ten different aliases
Kalamazoo College, ' 05
Kalamazoo, MI, USA
2006-04-05: referring to Brandt: "Wikipedia does not negotiate with
Kent, United Kingdom
2006-04-05: completely deletes Brandt's user page
Zachary K. Harden
Oceanside, California, USA
2006-04-05: "This guy is doing everything under the sun to bully his way
onto Wikipedia. He has threatened other users too, and I'm
not going to stand by and watch this happen."
trustee of the
(Angela Beesley, trustee
of Wikimedia Foundation,
is an ex-girlfriend)
2006-04-06: "[If] any person who doesn't like their biography could
request it to be deleted, [this] would result in huge gaps in
our coverage. WP is an encyclopedia which attempts to
accumulate the sum of all human knowledge, not the sum
of knowledge which people find tolerable." (vote to KEEP)
Michael M. Alber
Manchester, NH, USA
2006-04-06: lists Brandt on a special Wikipedia page that purports to
objectively discuss cranks, kooks, crackpots, and quacks
Reading, United Kingdom
2006-04-12: "The guy is a certified kook!"
Kat Walsh, user
Mindspillage, is a
DeLand, FL, USA
2006-04-16: After six months of failing to get any of the half-dozen
articles about himself and his sites taken down, Brandt
starts detecting visitors from Wikipedia and redirects
them to Wikipedia Review. Since Wikipedia has already
blacklisted WR, that means all of Brandt's sites need to
be blacklisted. This includes the research site NameBase,
which has been cited as a reference in a few dozen
Wikipedia articles. Greg Maxwell instantly refers to Brandt
as someone who "vandalizes huge numbers of pages on
Wikipedia ... in effect, [he] has spammed hundreds of
Wikipedia articles in one fell swoop." But Brandt did this
without even touching Wikipedia!
2006-04-29: keeps deleting a screen shot of the top of this page on
copyright grounds, even though there is no conceivable
legal problem whatsoever with the image
2006-09-09: Brandt deleted several lines in his bio that he considers
actionable under Florida law, and explained why on the
Talk page; minutes later Greg Maxwell reverted Brandt
and deleted his Talk explanation on the grounds that
Brandt is a banned user
aka James F.
James David Forrester
London, United Kingdom
2006-04-23: "Brandt's self-puffery isn't worth our time including."
Sir William R. Arbuthnot
2nd Bt of Kittybrewster
London, United Kingdom
2006-04-25: Brandt holds the copyright on an autobiographical essay
he wrote in 1992. On 2005-12-15, Gamaliel linked to a
library in Ohio that had posted it without permission.
On 2006-04-12, Brandt got the library to take it down.
On 2006-04-15 Jokestress found the essay on Google
Groups and linked to it. On 2006-04-24 Google took it
down at Brandt's request. Today Kittybrewster finds that
the library's copy is duplicated at Archive.org and links
to it. Brandt sends a take-down request to Archive.org.
Akron, Ohio, USA
2006-04-25: an editor deleted the Archive.org link as a copyright
violation, and Jareth reverted this editor without giving
2006-09-10: deletes from the Talk page Brandt's explanation of why
the Wales quote is inaccurate and unreliable, on the
grounds that Brandt is a banned user
aka Maru Dubshinki
John Doe #28
Riverhead, NY, USA
2006-04-26: "Seigenthaler never had a case, save in the court of public
opinion, where (the judgement of various uninformed and
erroneous pundits to the contrary) he has decisively lost.
I can't imagine you'll do much better. But go ahead and
make your empty threats, or sue. It'd be nice to have a
good solid precedent to use against cranks like you."
2006-05-13: deleted Brandt's defense against Berlet's criticism so as
to sabotage the poll taking place on the Talk page about
whether to include this criticism in the main article
aka Cyde Weys
Univ. Maryland, USA
2006-04-29: banned editor Strangeland forever, because this editor
posted a screen shot image of the top of this page in an
appropriate place on Brandt's article, and then when
another editor deleted it, Strangeland had the audacity
to point out that all the copyright requirements had been
fully met for this image
Quincy, MA, USA
2006-05-06: "In the manner of all good kooks, Mr. Brandt has his own
cadre of fans... Brandt has found that he can get a lot of
attention by bashing Wikipedia."
John Foster (Chip) Berlet
wife:Karen A. Moyer
Burlington, MA, USA
2006-05-13: claims that the article Brandt wants deleted is a "sanitized
version, lacking sufficient criticism of Brandt," and then
proceeds to attack Brandt on the Talk page because the
late L.Fletcher Prouty was on his advisory board at the
same time that Berlet himself was on it (1989-1990)
Yonkers, New York and
Spokane, WA (parents)
2006-06-15: offered chat logs to this site that were counterfeit, for use
on our hive mind chat room search engine. Geoff Greer
specializes in scraping content and scrambling it with Perl,
and owns a domain (abughrai.be) that was registered
under a false name.
West Sussex, U.K.
2006-07-14: "You know, no matter how much I try to irritate Brandt,
he still doesn't add me to that page of his like he threatens."
Karl A. Krueger
East Falmouth, MA, USA
computer tech at whoi.edu
2006-07-18: deleted the
Wikipedia-Watch Accountability Project logo,
which illustrated adjacent text in Brandt's bio, stating that
the image was "goofy"
Mark A. Pellegrini
engineering grad student,
University of Delaware, USA
2006-06 to 2007-03: kept
six PIR websites on the Wikimedia Foundation
spam blacklist out of vindictiveness, despite protests from
Joshua (Josh) B. Zelinsky
Yale, class of 2007
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
2006-12-10: "There is no reason to let him [Brandt] edit this [Brandt's]
Dr. Jimbo and Mr. Hive
by Daniel Brandt, November 9, 2005
There is a problem with the structure of Wikipedia. The basic problem is that no one, neither the Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation, nor the volunteers who are connected with Wikipedia, consider themselves responsible for the content. If you don't believe me, then carefully read Wikipedia's disclaimer.
At the same time that no one claims responsibility, there are two unique characteristics of Wikipedia that can be very damaging to a person, corporation, or group. The first is that anyone can edit an article, and there is no guarantee that any article you read has not been edited maliciously, and remains uncorrected in that state, at the precise time that you access that article.
The second unique characteristic is that Wikipedia articles, and in some cases even the free-for-all "talk" discussions behind the articles, rank very highly in the major search engines. This means that Wikipedia's potential for inflicting damage is amplified by several orders of magnitude.
As someone who has been jostling with Wikipedia administrators for several weeks, I am very interested in whom I should sue if I wanted to sue. This assumes, of course, that I've decided I've been clearly libeled by Wikipedia's article on me, and/or the discussion page attached to it. At the moment, this is an intellectual interest of mine, and I am not currently claiming that I have been libeled. This could change very quickly. I maintain that I qualify as a "private person," which means that I do not have to show that the article about me is maliciously untrue. The bar for private persons is lower for a finding of libel, as compared to public persons. I also believe that if I ever succeed in a libel case, the fact that the article on me ranks very well in the big search engines will convince the jury to award damages.
Why did I put up the information about editors and administrators on this page? Simply because if I ever decide that I have cause to sue, I'm not sure who should be sued. The first step, it seems to me, would be to seek a subpoena for log information from Wikimedia Foundation. Administrators and editors who are involved, but who cannot otherwise be identified, could be traced through their IP addresses in the Wikipedia logs. If a court decides that a subpoena for these addresses is in order, then it would also support a subpoena for more information from the Internet service providers behind those IP addresses.
If there is a clear case of libel, I don't believe a court would decide that no one is responsible. If Wikimedia Foundation, and the specific editors and administrators who either inserted the libelous information, or failed to delete it, are all not responsible for the libel, then that would make the libel something akin to an act of God. The Wikimedia process doesn't quite qualify as God, as far as I can tell, although it apparently sees itself as approaching that status someday soon.
I think a probable outcome in court would place most of the blame on Wikimedia Foundation itself, rather than on editors and administrators. The very structure of Wikipedia is geared toward maximum anonymity and minimum accountability. The Foundation facilitates and implicitly encourages situations such as the one in which I find myself.
But I really don't know. What I do know is that the editors and administrators feel that they are untouchable, and the Wikimedia Foundation also feels that it is untouchable because it has a disclaimer. This is not a satisfactory situation for Wikipedia in the long run. If push comes to shove, it will not prevail in a court of law.
I'm hopeful that this controversy over the article on me will help clarify the need for improvements in Wikipedia's structure. There needs to be a greater degree of accountability in the structure, even at the expense of everyone's freedom to anonymously edit anything forever.
The privacy issues interest me even more than the libel issue. Unfortunately, the laws on privacy are less clear, and discussions on privacy will not be as focused. In Florida, where Wikipedia is located, there is an invasion of privacy statute that might apply in this case, even assuming that everything in the article is true. At issue would be the public disclosure of truthful private information that a reasonable person would find objectionable. Would a reasonable person find Wikipedia's mention of facts about my 1960s activism objectionable? Not at the moment, hopefully, and yet it wouldn't take much for this situation to change. Another act of terrorism on U.S. soil, followed by a stronger version of the U.S. Patriot Act, and "reasonable" people might feel that I should, once again, be watched by the FBI, CIA, and local police the way I was in the 1960s. Does Wikipedia consider issues such as this? Of course not information wants to be free, and nothing must stand in its way.
A greater degree of accountability in the Wikipedia structure, as discussed above, would also be the very first step toward resolving the privacy problem. For me, the two issues stem from a common problem, and both share the same first step toward a solution.
Hive chatter about Brandt
Esteemed encyclopedia editors
discuss the subject of an article
from #wikipedia IRC channel on Freenode