Bitcoin’s most vocal critic is also a Wikipedia editor who helped push through a ban on Wikipedia articles citing crypto news sites.
The author of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain, Gerard has also been a Wikipedia editor since 2004.
But he’s one with an axe to grind, stating baldly in his just released advice for editing Wikipedia article on cryptocurrencies: “I hate them”.
He thinks “crypto is absolutely and thoroughly a field full of spammy cranks, who try it on at Wikipedia.”
When Liz Bagot from Ditto PR said last week: “The truth is, many crypto projects are having issues with Wikipedia because a few influential no-coiners have admin power and are intentionally censoring crypto” it was a pretty thinly veiled swipe at Gerard.
To be fair, there are lots of spammy cranks
To be fair, plenty of ‘spammy cranks’ have tried it on and Wikipedia has faced a veritable onslaught of cryptocurrency spam and promotionalism, thanks to various coin shills and bad actors.
It was bad enough that nineteen editors got together to vote for ‘general sanctions‘ on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
There’s also a laundry list of specific sanctions and bans that prevent edit wars breaking out between supporters and opponents for entries on Binance, Dodgecoin, ‘cryptocurrency exchange’, Bitcoin Cash, Satoshi Nakamoto, EOS, Craig Wright and dozens more.
But some of the ‘rules’ advocated by Gerard reduce the chances of reliable coverage in Wikipedia.
In the piece, Gerard outlined how “regular editors in the crypto area” – of which he is one – ‘have come to a rough working consensus on sourcing — we stick to strong reliable sources. Mainstream press or peer-reviewed academic sources.
“No crypto blogs, no crypto news sites — because these look like specialist trade press, but they’re really about advocacy: promoting their hodlings. Many are blatantly pay for play, and very few ever saw a press release with “blockchain” in it that they wouldn’t reprint.”
Absolutist thinking is invariably partly wrong
Now, we’re not attacking Gerard, and find his newsletter a very enjoyable read with its weekly examples of idiotic, cult like behaviour, scams and cybercrimes in the blockchain space.
But he’s either black or white on pretty much every topic and tends towards absolutist thinking.
It’s a logical mistake to conclude that because there are lots of scams in crypto, it means that everything is a scam in crypto.
And just because there are lots of low quality churnalism sites, doesn’t mean that every crypto news site is unreliable.
Wikipedia should absolutely ignore the crypto rewrite sites, anyone taking money for coverage or pushing an agenda (hello CoinGeek).
But it’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater to avoid sourcing information from quality sites with high editorial standards including The Block, CoinDesk and CoinTelegraph.
Gerard even concedes the point, saying he writes for crypto sites so some of them must be good: “I know my stuff is good, and my editors are good, and my friends are good journalists!”
Well that sounds like it should be considered a reputable source then.
Mainstream press can’t afford specialised blockchain reporters
Ignoring experts as sources in favour of a general news reporter knocking out some Bitcoin clickbait as one of six articles they had to write that day for a mainstream site seems likely to reduce the reliability of information, not enhance it.
Wikipedia’s rules also consider holding a cryptocurrency to be a conflict of interest for editing an article about it.
While this makes sense on one level given the number of coin shills on Reddit – it also virtually guarantees that anyone writing about a cryptocurrency knows nothing about it.
It means for example that Vitalik Buterin wouldn’t be allowed to contribute to an article on Bitcoin, Dogecoin or Zcash.
Gerard’s potential conflict of interest
Gerard is of course just one editor among many, and while he’s influential, as he points out: “I don’t have any special powers to declare how a topic area should be edited.”
But there’s arguably a conflict of interest in gatekeeping Wikipedia articles about cryptocurrency and blockchain, when you’re the author of a book about “why cryptocurrencies and blockchains are terrible – all of them ” and penning a weekly newsletter with the same theme.
Surely by this point he has got too much of his personal reputation tied up in being anti-blockchain/crypto to want to see favourable coverage of them in Wikipedia articles – or for any of his claims to be proven wrong?