Nov 5, 2021

Attempts at information control shut down Confic Wiki

In an event similar to the mid-October attacks and attempted censorship of the Confic Magazine and Lack of Lepers Medium blogs (see prior posts below), the Containment Fiction Wiki was recently reported to its now-prior host, Miraheze. The Wiki was suspended and locked from public view. Public statements from Miraheze confirmed that emails had been sent to their teams complaining of private and non-consensual information being shared on the Wiki, and that the Wiki's purpose was to expressly harass individuals. Read about how the information used on the Confic Wiki is not legally recognized as private, here. Read the highly-relevant and by-now prophetic mission statement of the Confic Wiki, whose goal at its inception months prior was (and still is) to combat this very sort of attempted information control by the political elite at SCP.

The attack tailwinds serendipitously with a recent political campaign and attempt on Miraheze's behalf to rid itself of problematic and infamous "Reception Wikis", more of which can be read about on our recent blog post, here. The primary offensive and inappropriate feature of these Wikis is a lack of citations; they don't use sources to back their claims. This is in direct contrast to the Confic Wiki, which is thoroughly sourced, with all claims backed by evidence, and in some cases outright proof.

Despite this (and likely from the perspective of the attackers, precisely because of this), the Confic Wiki was equivocated with a generic Reception Wiki. Miraheze preferred to avoid excess and unneeded drama or, as they saw it, potential legal trouble; Miraheze took the complaints almost at their word and suspended the Confic Wiki. Rationales included the publication of "private" chat logs, something established well in the US (Miraheze is UK based) as legally public, and "intent to harass users".

A long-time and invested participant of the Miraheze culture had this to say, once the situation was explained and the second, until-then quieted side of the story was supplied:

"Well, this is an unfortunate circumstance to see. I must admit I was rather curious when I first saw the wiki lock and the message as posted on Meta, as I keep fairly up to date with CVT and other such activities on the site. In particular, Miraheze has taken a stricter approach lately to problematic content and in particular the line 'A wiki must not create problems which make it difficult for other wikis.' The approach is merited given some of the content that has appeared on Miraheze in the past to abuse its very open nature, and has caused it some genuine reputational damage ever since.

"Although if what you say is true, that line is aimed towards the historic actual problem wikis [that have] no chance of being civil, well-written, or well-sourced. I fundamentally believe the policy permits people to be mentioned and even criticized as long as it's done from a relatively neutral point of view and comes with sources... If you have verifiable fact in particular, I would not consider there to be a problem... if the logs you mention are verifiable as public, that point could be moot. Again, I can't be specific without truly seeing the context, but frankly it is possible that they may have skimmed somewhat and taken the reports at their word, and by extension appeal of the judgement could be possible if a proper case is made.

"Ultimately the way content is enforced usually has less to do with a strict legality and more policy interpretation... I think it's worth looking at, perhaps arguing against, but I understand if you just don't want to deal with it since it can quickly become a sticky situation.

"To really have a good view of the Miraheze case I'd need to see the contents of the closed wiki so I could tell what was taken issue with and why, mainly regarding the 'attacking users' clause that are reminiscent of the reception wiki issues that no doubt came to the presiding steward's mind when reviewing [your] wiki. Tbh it's still entirely possible there was a mistake and he didn't look it over comprehensively enough."

We have reviewed the published pages on the Confic Wiki to assess which, if any, could be construed as 'attacking users', and the one in the mind of those who complained to Miraheze in emails is doubtless the article on ProcyonLotor, which is potentially telling information as to who must have leveled the accusations and complaints. In contrast to Reception Wikis -- again, the context and backdrop of the capitulation and sensitivity to anything reported as potentially questionable material of a critical sort -- the information on this page was backed up with proof, in the form of legally public and legally-obtained chat logs.

Thankfully, all of the information and sources on the Confic Wiki were easily and quickly ported to its new home, including the article on ProcyonLotor. Our Miraheze denizen's reply after the preserved page was given more than just the cursory examination given by the Miraheze staff:

"At this point a potential cause for [Miraheze staff] actions may be the perceived muddiness of the issue and an unwillingness to get involved to the extent required to fully verify, or even if it's fully verifiable to have the topics on Miraheze servers. There's the catch-all 'the wiki must not cause problems for other wikis' clause of the Content Policy which is technically supposed to be very conservative but can be used for a relatively wide set of circumstances, even including this one, even if they may not have quoted it directly... a solution like Miraheze is not necessarily ideal for the severity of [the] topics being discussed [on Confic Wiki], even on principle.

All said, procyon does appear to be quite a piece of work."

The Confic Wiki's official statement on the issue:

"Miraheze seemed like it wasn't dissimilar to the WikiDot markup and their stated goals seemed to dovetail with our own. It is unfortunate that the nuance and details of this case weren't considered more closely & objectively, and we are sad to be informed that we are not welcome on Miraheze for these reasons. A case of true information that painted individuals in a deserved and bad light was here misinterpreted as baseless harassment. However, we understand and wish Miraheze the best. We encourage any containment fiction community to consider them for future platforming, given that attention is paid to the cultural sensitivities there, and the rules abided by. We hope this has been an educational experience for others besides just us.

We will not be appealing the suspension, despite the case we likely have, as we have our own platform now and it is moot. The shot was quick and cheap but, like any hit below the belt, it was effective, if only momentarily. There is likely a first-reporter advantage in the attack that will be too difficult to overcome, and in reading the statement from Miraheze and why the Wiki was taken down, we recognize a successful appeal is about as improbable as getting a ban lifted in #Site17.

We believe that our opponents' resorting to dirty play to censor what can only be objectively described as the truth is its own commentary. As for any reputational damage on our end, we believe there is none; only those with something important to say are given such frantic and effortful desperation as what we have experienced in the last month. It is further confirmation that we are on the right track; someone clearly doesn't want this information out there, much less centralized and accessible on the Confic Wiki. We will continue our work, and with a renewed vigor; we are not as brittle as is hoped.

This was a lot of work to respond to, but we did it quickly, with the information only being unavailable for less than 24 hours. We are that much better for it. The new site has Wiki functionalities and provides everything the Miraheze did, potentially more. There is a lot more security now, and we should be more anti-fragile from such desperate and misleading attempts at censorship. We are in discussions and working closely with a specialized company to distribute the website onto blockchain technology, which will make any attempts like this in the future an utter impossibility.

All in all, this was a tickle that we needed; the goal was always to be in the independence of a dedicated site. The raiders, for lack of a better term, have helped us get there quicker and with more inspiration than we would otherwise have. So, thank you to them for the nudge."