Spat overshadows MicroWiki community

An effort to advance micronationalism has instead caused a diplomatic spat between two leading MicroWiki nations that has gripped the community as it descends into pettiness.

The growing war of words between Austenasia’s Emperor Jonathan Augustus and Delvera’s Consul Dylan Callahan, and other officials in their governments, originated in an unlikely venue: the Congress of Colo. That intermicronational organization billed itself as an effort to “bring stability … through structured diplomacy, economics, and sovereignty;” ironically, it instead spawned the current turmoil.

The spat, which became public through state media in each micronation on August 30, is largely a result of scheduling conflicts and semantics on the part of each side as opposed to any objectively serious issue.

In the former case, Callahan felt slighted by Augustus when, despite “months of advance notice, reminders, and suggestions [that Austenasia name more than one delegate],” Augustus, his nation’s sole delegate to the Congress, was unable to attend its first meeting. His absence caused the meeting to fail to meet a quorum, irking Callahan. That frustration increased as Callahan’s follow-up inquiries regarding Austenasia’s further participation reportedly went unanswered. In his defence, Augustus cited urgent personal matters for his absence.

When Augustus was later provided with a draft of what would become the Resolution on Micronational Sovereignty, he felt insulted as the document did not correctly cite his customary title as Emperor. He was further incensed by a re-draft to fix the error, when he read that it referred to the Congress participants as “micronations” as opposed to “sovereign states.” When he objected to the perceived semantic slight, Augustus, writing in his state media blog, noted that Callahan replied rudely which led to him promptly withdrawing Austenasia from any further involvement in the Congress.

Initial platitudes calling for further discussions to resolve the spat were customarily extended by both Austenasia and Delvera, but proved meaningless as the conflict boiled over onto the MicroWiki community forums and permeated state media in each micronation. The latest accusations include a Delveran agent attempting to engineer Augustus’ overthrow as monarch, Augustus abusing his power as owner of MicroWiki to censor Delveran state media, and vulgarity on the part of an Austenasian official. Practically-speaking, it has become a “tit-for-tat” situation in which each side strives to find fault with the other’s latest assertion and score credibility points before the wider community audience.

That semantics over the correct use of “micronations” as the term applies and impatience over missed appointments, plus the ensuing clash of personalities, have so severely undermined the relationship between the two micronations suggest that it was not viable in the first place. To that end, Austenasia announced today that it was cutting relations and communication with Delvera. As of press time, Delvera had not made a similar decision.

Interview: Lancelot Rice

Q: The latest controversy concerning anti-Muslim comments by Markus Abernathy has become a polarizing affair. Can you tell our readers more about your involvement in the controversy and why the Universal Triumvirate has taken to boycotting the MicroWiki community in response?

A: Well, I suppose that Markus has always sort of been very open with his remarks, as people tell me it goes back way before now. When I first arrived in March of this year, I always kept him on the peripheral, but he wasn’t as active during that time of year. Recently in June, I started to gear back up into activity as the Universal Triumvirate neared its summer elections. As we all know, a very tragic event happened just a few short days ago with the Orlando shootings, leading to a plethora of opinions being voiced against Muslims or against homosexuality.

In a thread titled “I am a Muslim so that makes me?”, Markus really came all out with his prejudiced comments by saying that they were a race “tainted by their religion”. Of course, this all tumbled downhill and people began giving him negative reputation for such comments. The last straw for me really was when he said in a round-about way that they were an inferior race. Now, I’ve known Muslims before, and I had a friend who tried to kill herself because people always thought of her as a terrorist, or they would spew racial slurs at her. I began to publicly voice my opinion, calling for a ban on Markus. Eventually, we started boycotting the wiki because I didn’t want to be around Markus and his hate speech.

The last straw really came when I woke up one morning and saw that Jonathon of Austenasia had said to simply ignore Markus. At that point, I realized that I just couldn’t be involved with a website that refused to take action on hate speech or even tell Markus to lower the rhetoric. I respect Jonathon’s opinion, he pays for the website and all, but I felt that he just really dropped the ball with that decision.

Q: The “ignore” option suggested, all the same, might accomplish more by alienating Abernathy’s participation. After all, if he is a troll, one would expect him to move on to whichever website would next provide him a stage and an audience if he is not gaining the attention he seeks at MicroWiki. Is it fair, then, to suggest that MicroWiki’s administration team are condoning hate speech by inaction?

A: Well that’s the thing, he’s found a group of people that indulge him and he knows he can come back at any point to provoke a response. He’s been around for years at this point. I don’t think the whole “ignore” solution is the right avenue because I don’t see him leaving anytime soon.

I don’t know if it’s fair to say they condone hate speech. I’m sure they’re all nice enough and level-headed people; however, when you fail to reprimand someone for hate speech in a place like an Internet forum where you have the distinct ability to ban them, it really shows a big failure to do what is right. I think somewhere near 60% of people polled said they favoured some sort of punishment for Markus, and that’s a clear majority of the community.

Q: Since the announcement of the Universal Triumvirate’s boycott, while several individuals and micronations have followed suit, there has been a backlash from others who feel that the boycott goes too far. What’s your response to those people?

A: To those people, I would like to say this: there is a difference between our movement and the movement of the New Starland government. The New Starland government claimed that the “old guard” were the problem and that she was a “lion” leading the new guard.

I do not believe that. I believed that a sensible approach had to be taken, and one which all of the community could agree on. An example needed to be made that you could not promote hate speech against a certain race and get away with it unscathed.

I closed my embassy to the website in order to avoid Markus – because it’s the internet, I’m not going to stay on a website that hosts someone who advocates that racism – and as it turned out, a few people decided to follow me for various reasons of their own. This is a boycott by a group who collectively believes there should be more action by the part of the site moderators, and until then, we’re going to stick together.

Q: What specifically needs to happen for the Universal Triumvirate to lift the boycott in the immediate term?

A: Simple – an immediate ban of Markus for any period greater than two weeks. I feel like this action would make me come back immediately and praise the action of the forum moderators, and apologize for boycotting MicroWiki. It’s just a simple matter of doing what is right instead of doing what is popular.

Q: You suggest a minimum ban for two weeks, but it seems as though the administration team aren’t open to this option at present. Is there any room for the Universal Triumvirate to be flexible in this demand, are you willing to accept an alternative approach if proposed?

A: Sure, I’m not an unreasonable person and I could accept some form of punishment. The problem seems to be at this point that they are ignoring him and trying to close their eyes to make the problem go away. Any punishment for Markus would give me a strong reason to open back up relations, but continued inactivity and indecisiveness on the moderators’ part seems like their choice of action at this moment.

Q: How can the community, its administrators and participants, work together to prevent a future recurrence of this episode?

A: I don’t think there’s one thing that would immediately solve the problem. The forum has a bad habit of people derailing threads, being loose with curse words and other offensive language, and the occasional troll.

Ironically, the solution that I can think of which would solve the problem has roots in the business we are in: government. I think the moderator team needs to sit down at least once every two weeks in a chat and talk about all of the things they can do to better the website, as well as who should be banned and what new rules need to be made. This team should be unbiased and should really try to work for the betterment of the community in general. I think that the forum can be saved, but we really need a group of people who will devote themselves to keeping the forum clean.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: I hope that this interview sheds some light on our movement, and hopefully the members of the MicroWiki forum will stop berating us for doing what we think is right. Thank you, Mr. Sinclair.

Comments provoke MicroWiki angst

Controversial comments by New Israel’s Emperor, Markus Abernathy, during religiously-charged conversations on the MicroWiki forum has triggered significant backlash, resulting in some micronations and micronationalists announcing a boycott of the community until he is disciplined.

The controversy began on June 11 when Bradley of Dullahan, in reviving an inactive community discussion on Islam, launched into an emotionally-fuelled tirade against Islam in which he suggested that it was “the single most evil and despicable and destructive [religion] on the planet”, describing its god as an entity who “treats humans as slaves”, and its central prophet as “a pedophilic warlord who caused the destruction of the Roman Empire”.

Bilal Irfan, who practices Islam, issued a measured response to the comments, refuting the content of the tirade; however, this only served to provoke Bradley, an apparently staunch Christian, further. “Your religion is heresy. Why on God’s earth would God send another prophet after the Messiah which is following the Torah and the Bible the LAST prophet and the saviour of mankind!” he charged.

On June 13, the day of the Orlando, Florida, mass-shooting, during which a Muslim killed 49 individuals, the row escalated when Abernathy became involved. Abernathy, both rhetorically and randomly, in response to Irfan’s attempt to explain the meaning of sections of the Quran that had been quoted by Bradley, asked if Irfan “would have been happier had the Mohammedans won in the Battle of Tours … and destroyed Christianity?” Abernathy went on to suggest that Christianity is at war with Islam, by no fault of the former. Irfan took offence to the comment, expressing his belief that Abernathy was insinuating that, because he was a Muslim, this implied that he was either a terrorist, a killer, or a preacher of hate.

The argument subsequently spilled over, with other community members becoming involved in support of Irfan and in opposition to Abernathy and Bradley’s opinions on Islam. Decorum quickly exited the stage as the “your religion is right and pure, yours is wrong and evil” pronouncements of Abernathy in particular triggered strong responses, including from Abernathy’s fellow Christians.

Yesterday, the spat escalated further when Suzuki Akihonaomi called for the community to exclude Abernathy, as well as Bradley, and Paolo Emilio, on the basis that those two individuals were highly thought of by Abernathy. Collectively, she accused the group of “[upsetting] the balance of the micronational community,” and suggested that their actions would serve to cause a permanent split in MicroWiki. Akihonaomi called for the membership to refrain from commenting on any post made by the three individuals, and for the exclusion to be enforced by the recently-revived Grand Unified Micronational intermicronational organization. The exclusion would only cease if the individuals agreed to “end their flame warring and personal attacks”.

A community poll started by Ned Greiner suggested that, as of press time, two-thirds of voters are in favour of taking serious disciplinary action against Abernathy; however, several questioned whether enforced banishment of him from the forums, as suggested by Greiner, was an appropriate response to the situation. “It’s every user’s choice to reply to [Abernathy’s] threads,” said Matthew Cummings. David Sarkozy further opined, “if people just totally ignored [Abernathy’s] comments … situations may not escalate so drastically. Don’t let him bait you into argument with his bombastic comments.” The owner of the MicroWiki website, Jonathan of Austenasia, was equally measured in his response. “I’ve been saying this right from the beginning. If somebody annoys or offends you, ignore them,” he told the membership.

Yet for a limited group of members and their micronations, the situation warranted a more severe political response that included a boycott of the MicroWiki community in an attempt to compel Jonathan and the forum’s administration team to discipline Abernathy.

In announcing its boycott of the forums, the Universal Triumvirate described it as a means of protesting “radical hate messages”. Triumvirate Chancellor Lancelot Rice suggested that his, and his micronation’s, continued involvement on the forum would amount to “sponsoring hate messages” and “racist sentiment” unless the administration team took action against Abernathy. Other micronations quickly followed suit, including Cinnamon Creek, Nedland, and Whestcorea. Several micronationalists also joined, such as Greiner, Dallin Langford, Kit McCarthy and Henry Twain.

There are indications that the community is starting to move on from the affair in spite of the limited boycott. Irfan, for his part, continues to participate on the forums, as do most participants, with the offending discussions slowly moving into the past. There is even hope that a key lesson can be learned from the episode – “We need to lighten the atmosphere. Create new threads not for religion, but for culture, diplomacy, economy and so forth,” suggested Nicholas Kaos.

Do you think the Universal Triumvirate led boycott is an overreaction?

  • Yes (64%, 14 Votes)
  • No (23%, 5 Votes)
  • Not Sure (9%, 2 Votes)
  • No Opinion (5%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

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Contention to remain over MicroWiki name usage

MICRONATION.ORG – The contentious use of the “MicroWiki” name by two distinct communities is set to remain following overwhelming opposition to a proposal to recognize its shared usage.

The dispute over which community is the real “MicroWiki” began in November 2010 when a large number of disaffected micronationalists at the former Wikia-based MicroWiki undertook a mass exodus to a private server (presently located at micronation.org) citing differences with Wikia’s administrators. While these emigrants brought with them to the new server the “MicroWiki” brand, a core group of micronationalists remained with the Wikia-based service, founded in 2005, and have since maintained their own claim to the brand. In the micronation.org case, the usage of the brand is based on a perceived belief that the “MicroWiki” brand collectively belonged to the community members who emigrated, while the Wikia-based micronationalists claim a historic right to the brand as it was the first to use it.

The dual-usage of the brand has caused contention between the two communities. The Wikia-based community administration, in particular, has in the past voiced displeasure over the micronation.org’s labelling of them as “MicroWikia.” This labelling is seen by that community as inaccurate, given that they were the first “MicroWiki.” It has also been considered by that administration in the past to be a propaganda mechanism of supporters of micronation.org’s entitlement to the brand that seeks to “depopularise” the Wikia-based community.1

This week, Emperor Jonathan I of Austenasia, the owner of micronation.org, raised the matter with that community’s membership. Specifically, he proposed that local references to “MicroWikia” on the micronation.org wiki be replaced with “MicroWiki (Wikia farm),” in a tacit acknowledgment of that community’s shared-right to the brand.

Jonathan himself, while voicing opposition to his own proposal, nonetheless called for a discussion and vote on the matter amongst the micronation.org membership. There was little interest in discussing the merits or drawbacks of the proposal evidently, as no further comments were posted by members and the matter moved quickly to a vote. In that vote, which as of press time has seven ballots cast, the proposal has been unanimously rejected, meaning that the use of the contentious “MicroWikia” will continue for the foreseeable future.

  1. As noted by Andrew of Sabovia in voicing displeasure at this news service’s usage of the term in a past article []

Administrative shake-up at MicroWiki continues

MICROWIKI (CS) | Less than two-weeks following the resignation of MicroWiki Administrator Billy Neil from the micronational service provider, the site has been sold to new interests.

The former owner and head administrator of the site, Pierre d’Égtavie, announced his intention earlier this month to transfer the ownership of the site to another party as he felt that he was no longer able to dedicate the necessary involvement to maintain it.

The Emperor of Austenasia, Jonathan, was successful in his subsequent bid to take over the site and moved quickly to “regulate” the administrative team, appointing six individuals to assist with its maintenance. The team includes d’Égtavie, allowing it to retain his wealth of administrative experience and expertise.

The service hosts many of the prominent MicroWiki micronations that split from the Wikia service of the same name nearly four years ago, as well as a community forum and news blog.