Online reputation management is a big deal these days. There’s one place you can see debates vital to peoples’ online reputations acted out – click the “View History” tab on top of a person or organization’s entry on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is – on one hand – a freewheeling place where anyone with an email account can sign up and start editing an article. But on the other hand, it is a community of highly-active, tightly-knit editors who zealously patrol entries to align them with Wikipedia’s editorial mission of objectivity.
These community norms are especially important in cases like Ronald Weinland, who is either (a) the true Prophet of God or (b) a deluded and dangerous crank, with, really, no possible middle ground.
You can see how this quest for editorial objectivity plays out in the entry for Weinland’s church the COG-PKG, which has been edited 23 times in the first three months of 2012.
Most changes involved subtle but important word choices that establish the tone. For instance, is COG-PKG:
a small quasi-[[Christian]] sect that claims
Or is it:
a small [[Christian]] church that claims
The sect is led by [[Ronald Weinland]]
The Church is led by [[Ronald Weinland]]
Who is making these calls? One of the most active editors in these debates goes by the handle “Shadowflare.” A bit of Googling on the name brings up the strong likelihood that he is the same “Shadowflare” who is an avid goer-after-er of Scientology, the Westboro Baptist church, and other “dangerous cults.” He sometimes posts to messageboards run by the hacker collective Anonymous. (In fact, the Internet being the Internet, his real identity, job, current location, and picture are all find-able if you search hard enough, but I’m not quite enough of a dick to post that).
It’s a problem for putative prophets like Weinland that their online reputations are managed by the secular, sarcastic, and tech-savvy members of Anonymous.
But for Weinland, the unkindest cut was made back in 2006, when his own Wikipedia page was deleted for lack of notability. Some argued his case -
DesertSky85451 voted to keep the entry. “This individual is not a local pastor. His books have been distributed in dozens of countries and his weekly sabbath sermons listened to by individuals around the world.”
But Emeraude just mocked these claims. “Listened to by HUNDREDS! Definitely non-notable. Delete (but maybe reinsate him in a few years if his prophecies come true).”
Edison concurred. “No newspaper articles or news stories or other oobjective evidence of notability.”
The community consensus? Delete per Wikipedia’s notability guideline for inclusion.
On the plus side for Weinland, if his predictions come true on May 27, Emeraude is holding out the possibility he’ll change his vote…