- Charles Hoskinson, CEO of Cardano, is the latest crypto grandee to assert that Wikipedia is censoring his platform.
- David Gerard, a crypto-hater and Wikipedia editor, says that Cardano is self promoting, and needs to be covered by the mainstream media, not the crypto press.
Here we go again. When you're a cryptocurrency that has seen 99% of its value vanish since the crypto bubble of 2017 to early 2018, getting an article—or even a mention in Wikipedia—can feel like an insurmountable task. Or it can feel like censorship.
To Charles Hoskinson, it feels like the latter. The founder of Cardano has taken to YouTube to complain about Wikipedia. In a 9:46-minute rant, he accused the community-run free encyclopedia of bias. He claimed that the site is hostile toward crypto—specifically, his crypto project—and threatened legal action.
At issue is a proof of stake Wikipedia page, which Hoskinson claims is “badly out-of-date.” He said that when certain “Cardano community members” (he didn’t specify who they were) tried to edit the page to include a blurb on Ouroboros—the consensus algorithm that powers Cardano—Wikipedia volunteers promptly removed the changes.
“This is another example of the existential danger to an industry when people rely on things that appear to be open but are actually controlled by a few people who are incredibly biased and who are not accountable to anyone else,” he said.
Few people? Who is he referring to? We discovered that one of the offending editors is nocoiner gatekeeper David Gerard. Other crypto projects, notably Decred (which has since slipped five more ladder rungs to 41st cryptocurrency), have complained that Gerard has barred them from Wikipedia.
“Yes David Gerard is the one who has been a censor. It has been going on for years since the Ethereum days. I don't know why he hates us so or where his ego comes from,” Hoskinson, former CEO of Ethereum, tweeted.
Yes David Gerard is the one who has been a censor. It has been going on for years since the Ethereum days. I don't know why he hates us so or where his ego comes from https://t.co/GekBMwFZgw
— Charles Hoskinson (@IOHK_Charles) March 25, 2020
Gerard, though, is not the only editor who has taken issue with the Ouroboros blurb.
In recent days, three other Wikipedia editors also removed the blurb—only to have Cardano members put it back in again—while a fourth editor removed proposed links to the blurb.
Why? Wikipedia says the content is promotional and therefore verboten.
“The text proposed above is hardly neutral—it talks about ‘diligent research’ and ‘innovative features’ which ‘lend credibility to it's[sic] claim’, etc.,” an editor named “Bonade” wrote on Tuesday. “That kind of wording is not appropriate in an encyclopedia, even if the content should be acceptable.”
Is Cardano being targeted?
Hoskinson countered (during his video rant, which he also posted to Twitter) that’s not the only instance where editors targeted Cardano. A Cardano Wikipedia page even enjoyed a brief existence before Wikipedia editors rudely snuffed it out in November 2018.
That’s unfair, especially, when “historically, we’ve had a market cap larger than SpaceX,” he argued, referring to Elon Musk’s aerospace project. “It is very anti-crypto.”
Hoskinson claimed the edits are unsubstantiated and hostile. What does Wikipedia want that the “Cardano community” isn’t proffering up? “Tell us the standard and we’ll meet that standard...We are not afraid to have a debate. We are not afraid to represent our technology, and our progress," he said.
Here we go again
In fact, Wikipedia, which has been around since 2001, does have well-documented standards. For starters, to warrant an article on the site, a topic has to be notable. That means the topic needs to have “significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject.” Reliable sources include mainstream press and peer-reviewed academic presentations.
“The way to get coverage in Wikipedia is to have substantial coverage in a high-quality mainstream source—not the crypto press,” Gerard told Decrypt, which is “crypto press.” [ex, Josh Quittner, founding editor: “What are we, chopped liver, Gerard?"]
Crypto media does not count as a reliable source because “they're really about advocacy: promoting their hodlings,” he wrote in an article detailing why Wikipedia editors are harsh on sourcing for crypto articles. Crypto projects are an “ongoing firehose of spam,” he wrote.
“It is quite possible Cardano is adequately sourced; the next stage is an article entirely sourced from good sources,” Gerard said.
But from Hoskinson’s position, that’s simply unjust. “Where coins like Spankchain can have an article on Wikipedia. A lot of other cryptocurrencies and top 20s apparently have articles, and that’s perfectly fine. But then we are not allowed to have an article for some reason, even though we have been mentioned by the US Congress. We’ve been mentioned by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.”
Spankchain does not have a Wikipedia page. We tried to find the “reliable sources” that Hoskinson listed but we couldn’t find anything in mainstream beyond the slightest passing mention.
Meanwhile, citing Hoskinson’s posted video—and the potential for a flood of Cardano fans to now rush in and defend the story—Gerard has put the proof-of-stake article under extended confirmed protection. That means that from now on, it can be edited only by those who have at least 30 days' tenure on Wikipedia and have done 500 edits. And another editor has initiated an investigation into “sockpuppetry,” meaning one person in the Cardano community may be making edits to Wikipedia under different aliases, which Wikipedia does not allow.