MicroWiki logo competition underway

MICROWIKI – Micronational artists have a chance to leave their mark on one of the more active community forums as MicroWiki has begun a six-week competition to replace its current logos.

“The current logo is a bit rubbish,” said Kit McCarthy, its creator, tongue-in-cheek. “Everyone uses that same globe icon.”

So what’s in a logo, in the eyes of the MicroWiki administration team? The successful submission will be “stylish, clean and modern, but quirky and distinctive” according to the competition guidelines published by McCarthy. Whether the logo appears on the forums or on the wiki, it must maintain a consistent brand image. Importantly, the logo cannot be interpreted as politically-biased or micronation-specific. For those with a festive personality, the submission may also include seasonal variations, such as for Christmas.

Everyone with an interest is eligible to enter the competition by October 1. Each entry must include a forum header image, a wiki logo, and a favicon.

The MicroWiki administration team will prune submissions down to a shortlist that will ultimately go to a public vote, though a timeframe has not been published for that phase as of press time.

Boycotters found “MicroWorld” forum

The MicroWiki boycott movement, started by the Universal Triumvirate on June 14 in response to perceived management inaction on Markus Abernathy’s controversial anti-Muslim comments, has become more entrenched with the founding of its own community forum.

Created by Horatio Eden, the “MicroWorld” forum is meant to provide a place for individuals participating in the boycott to congregate and discuss matters of common interest. As of press time, eleven individuals have registered accounts with the forums, including other prominent participants in the boycott such as Kit McCarthy, Henry Twain, and Lancelot Rice, though fewer have begun active involvement in its discussions.

Admittedly little different from the existing MicroWiki community forum in structure, MicroWorld features a less-comprehensive ruleset for participants, with the major rule being a requirement to be respectful toward each other’s opinion and not derail discussions with irrelevant comments. Eden has promised to enforce that rule “ruthlessly”, given the group’s perception that the MicroWiki administration team was failing to do the same with Abernathy. The MicroWiki administration team instead encouraged its members to ignore hateful comments by Abernathy, which would serve as a means of discouraging him in the future (by depriving him of his audience); however, that measure failed to satisfy certain individuals’ desire to see Abernathy more sternly punished.

Since its creation just days ago, the forum has already attracted criticism from one member of the MicroWiki community. Julian Shelley, the President of Lumania, colourfully suggested that MicroWorld exists “because you guys couldn’t grow up and take a little hate.” He encouraged the participants to “[not] be baby’s [sic]and be real political leaders,” by ignoring Abernathy’s hateful comments and returning to MicroWiki’s forums.

Twain dismissed the criticism. “We are very much acting like real political leaders … real political leaders do not affiliate with the sorts of behaviour … that has been going on [at] the MicroWiki,” he said.

Analysis

The founding of the MicroWorld forum suggests that the boycott movement is seeking to attain some longevity, by providing a more convenient means of communication between its participants. The forum’s small base will need to remain dedicated in the long-term if the forum is to last and grow as a community in its own right.

If its creation is meant only as a measure in a protest movement, it may ultimately fade into history as hurt feelings and sensibilities pass, and participants seek to reintegrate with the larger MicroWiki community. That said, with Markus Abernathy unlikely to be punished as demanded, and even more unlikely to leave the MicroWiki community forums, MicroWorld may become a fixture in the wider micronational community as time moves forward.

Still, as a protest tool, it is unlikely to succeed in pressuring the MicroWiki administration into taking action against Abernathy, given that the MicroWiki community forums retain a healthy base post-boycott. As such, it’s better that MicroWorld be less motivated to be billed as a less “hate-filled” alternative to MicroWiki, and instead focus its energies on determining how it can provide a relevant service to its participants and taking the necessary steps to provide the same.

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.

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 []