Thursday, August 27, 2020

Kevin Hague: Wikipedia editor

As requested by Professor John Robertson, a quick post about the Wikipedia entry on GERS.  Until I mentioned this on Twitter a few hours ago, the three most recent edits to the page were made by none other than Kevin Hague.  The most significant edit was to the "criticisms" section - a standard feature on Wikipedia to provide balance on any given topic.  Before Hague's intervention, the section briefly summarised a number of criticisms of GERS, exactly as it should have done.  Hague changed that in an attempt, at considerable length, to undermine the criticism made by Professor Richard Murphy.  This is what was added - 

"When pressed by a Holyrood parliamentary committee, none of the assembled panel agreed with his criticisms, he admitted that even if GERS were restated as he suggests the impact would only be "a couple of percentage points or so of the stated Scottish deficit ... maybe" and conceded that he could think of no example of a country following the accounting technique he was advocating."

To state the obvious, Hague's rather garbled edit was wholly inappropriate.  The criticisms section is not there to mock the people making the criticisms, or to put them in the dock.

Incidentally, Hague incorrectly labelled another of his edits as "minor" - implying that it was merely a spelling correction or a similar unimportant change.  In fact it added an entire sentence intended to bolster confidence in GERS.  He also made a "minor" edit to the entry on the Barnett Formula to add the following - 

"More recently, during a time of low absolute spending increases, application of the formula has in fact lead [sic] not to a "squeeze" but to a divergence in spending per head in Scotland's favour."

Oh, and just for good measure he also put in a propaganda link to the "These Islands" website.  Pretty "minor" stuff, huh?

Monday, August 24, 2020

In-depth interview on the Holyrood voting system

Exactly one month ago, I was interviewed on IndyLive Radio about the Holyrood electoral system and the perils of attempting to game the system.  I've just spotted that the programme is now available (in slightly edited form, I think) on YouTube, so you can listen to it at your leisure HERE.  The first half is Dave Thompson making the case for gaming the system, and the second half is me making the case against.  It's fair to say the issues involved are explored quite thoroughly, so if you've yet to make your own mind up, it's not a bad place to start.

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A couple of weeks ago I announced I was changing this blog's settings to only allow comments from people signed in to a Google account.  I know some of you were delighted by the change, because it seems to have finally put a stop to contributions from GWC and his ilk.  However, from my own point of view it hasn't worked out, because the pornographic spam on older posts has continued unabated - to my surprise that seems to come from Google accounts, and no matter how many times I mark it as spam, it just carries on.  Additionally, as you've probably seen, a Jockophobic troll from south of the border has been copying and pasting the same handful of comments (including extreme racist and homophobic language) up to several hundred times a day. 

There's no simple solution to this.  Individual accounts can't be blocked or banned on the Blogger platform.  All that's open to me are crude options such as switching on pre-moderation (which kills the flow of conversation), or turning on word verification (which irritates people).  In the hope of giving myself a short break from deleting hundreds of comments a day, I'm going to try word verification for 48 hours or so, and then I'll review the situation again.