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Wikipedia Klan exposed

By John Donovan

Within literally a few minutes of publication yesterday of my article Ku Klux Klan culture at Wikipedia: secrecy and censorship a link to the article was inserted into the Wikipedia nominated for deletion page for the Wikipedia article…

This is the article under heavy attack by persons/ parties choosing to conceal their identities, motives and background.  The article in its current form was authored by a Wikipedia editor, not by me. I have not edited the article since June 2009.

Shortly thereafter the following message was inserted on to my Wikipedia User page…

This was instant retribution by persons/parties unknown in response to me exercising my right to freedom of expression/freedom of speech. An absolute disgrace.

Yesterday evening I received a message from the founder of MyWikiBiz which goes a long way to confirming that my concerns about Wikipedia articles relating to businesses being wide open to manipulation, so they end up being little more than adverts, are well-founded. This is true in respect of the Wikipedia article about Royal Dutch Shell. My own website, with publishes ALL news articles about Shell, negative and positive in nature, provides a much more accurate picture of Shell than the sanitized heavily censored Wikipedia articles.

I also received the following email from George William Herbert. He fired off his self appointed response alleging that I had edited Wikipedia articles about Shell in a highly critical, non-neutral point of view manner, inserting biased information, without providing any evidence to support his allegations. He has a problem since none exists.

I have put up with such smears for over four years.  The allegation has been repeated and used in various Wikipedia discussions to delete articles, even though it is untrue. It is repeated in the current deletion discussion. At least George William Herbert had the guts to make the allegations in his own name. Most have come from the hooded community at Wikipedia. No one to this date has ever provided any evidence in support of this allegation. It is entirely false.

Interesting to note that the majority of votes to delete the article come from the hooded community at Wikipedia, while those Wikipedian’s operating openly, using their own names, have mainly voted to merge the article with the Royal Dutch Shell article, or have voted to keep the article. If it is merged, then it can be deleted at the whim of anyone from the hooded community without any deletion nomination.

And it is mainly the Wikipedia hooded community, choosing to conceal their identities, backgrounds and motives, who make the final judgments in matters under dispute.

I said in my article that at least there is no racist element involved. However, for the reasons indicated in my article, those editors who choose to be open and honest are at a disadvantage to those who prefer to hide behind an alias, so that nothing is known about them. That is a recipe for abuse and scandal. No wonder big business donates to the Wikipedia Foundation – see “Jimmy Wales rattles the tin cup“.

No democratic country or organization would ever allow such a manifestly unfair, unhealthy situation to exist, which is wide open to manipulation, corruption by big business and victimization of the worst kind.

I may well start up a website devoted to this appalling state of affairs.


Please feel free to quote this letter in its entirety on your website. I would post this as a comment to your blog post, but it requires login, which I am not going to set up for this one purpose.  If you quote it in part but not completely, I will release the full unedited contents myself.

As a Wikipedia editor and volunteer administrator who has always used my full real name online, and has no affiliations to Shell that I know of (my 401k funds may hold some shares; I have no idea) I have investigated the situation with your account, postings and comments, article edits, and block.

You state that you have always attempted to abide by Wikipedia policy and edit in an open manner.  While I agree you are editing openly, you also have edited in a highly critical, non-neutral point of view manner, inserting biased information.  You are apparently having a hard time separating your blog role as critic of Royal Dutch Shell from writing in an unbiased manner on Wikipedia.

This is not an uncommon problem.  Many very opinionated people, especially bloggers and political and social editorial writers and pundits, have similar problems attempting to engage on Wikipedia.

The pseudonymous editors you have tended to bang heads with seem to have wide varieties of personal interests unrelated to Royal Dutch Shell.  I find it very hard to believe that Royal Dutch Shell would go so far as to create multiple sockpuppet accounts with such wide and varying interests and points of view, going back so many years, simply to frustrate your Wikipedia experience and contributions. It is much more likely that you are encountering normal Wikipedia editors and they are honestly responding, without any undue bias or outside control.

If you have identified particular users you feel have a usage pattern which may indicate that they are single-purpose focused on Royal Dutch Shell, or whose other interests align in a way that suggests to you that they are a Royal Dutch Shell employee, I can review that.

You have done one thing on Wikipedia that is flagrantly against the rules, and that is threaten individuals with lawsuits over their Wikipedia contributions. Your editing is not welcome while that threat is outstanding.

Also, your choice to refer to Wikipedia by analogy with the Ku Klux Klan has also rendered your ability to participate in the Wikipedia community in a constructive manner in doubt going forwards.  That terminology is grossly inappropriate and offensive.  Any reasonable person would have known that before posting such a blog comment.

What you chose to post on your blog is under your control and at your discretion.  I would hope that you remember the second clause there more going forwards into the future.

george william herbert

REPLY FROM JOHN DONOVAN 12 October 2010 21.06

Dear Mr Herbert

Is this an official reply on behalf of Wikipedia, or are you acting on your own behalf without authorisation from Wikipedia?

Could you please provide examples of where I have allegedly edited in a highly critical, non-neutral point of view manner, inserting biased information? I would like the opportunity to respond, but it is impossible to do so when you make allegations without providing any evidence whatsoever.

As to how far Shell would go, are you aware that Shell set up a global spying operation against its own employees in an attempt to prevent insider information from reaching me. I discovered this as a result of Shell internal correspondence supplied to me under a SAR application.  Reuters has already published an article on the matter. Shell has in the past admitted using undercover activity against its perceived enemies.

With regards to the Ku Klux Klan reference, I am entitled to express my personal views even if you deem them offensive.

Baffled by your reference to the second clause. A clue would be appreciated.

You will need to decide whether you wish to publish your allegations.



I don’t know what “Official” would be in this context.

I don’t work for the Wikimedia Foundation, and I’m not on the Arbitration Committee within the community for the English language Wikipedia.

Nobody asked me to respond.  I have no special authority.

Regarding your feelings of Shell conducting a campaign against you on Wikipedia –

Again – the editors you are apparently in conflict with are generally showing wide varieties of contributions and apparently long contribution histories, which would seem to contradict a theory of a simple naive undercover operation of theirs on Wikipedia.  It would not be beyond comprehension for someone to set up identities on Wikipedia and spend some years establishing cover identity, with an eventual goal of engaging you, but that’s quite an acusation to be making without clear evidence.

What they do “spying on their own employees” regarding communications to you in the real world is one thing – and entirely credible, many companies analyze or intercept phone or email conversations.  That’s not surprising to me at all.

Them going to the extent you seem to be claiming, on Wikipedia, would require multiple full time positions working for some years to establish cover identities.

I find that hard to believe.

REPLY BY JOHN DONOVAN 12 Oct 2010 21.30

I have authentic Shell internal emails stretching back to at least 2007 which shows that Shell was obsessed with my contributions to Wikipedia.

In March 2007, Shell set up a counter-measures team to combat our site and also enlisted the services of a cybercrime unit in Pittsburgh partly funded and staffed by the FBI. All of this information comes from Shell internal correspondence supplied by Shell.

Are you going to provide examples of where I have allegedly edited in a highly critical, non-neutral point of view manner, inserting biased information? It is not proper for you to make such allegations and expect me to publish them when you have not supplied a single example of what you claim.

I have challenged other Wikipedian’s over the years to provide such evidence. I am still waiting for any example to be supplied.


This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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