Oliver D. Smith gets his day in City Journal
Mainstream media throwing some light on the internet stalkers problem
City Journal has just published its piece a piece on notorious online stalker Oliver D. Smith: The Cancel-Culture Troll with a Neo-Nazi Past. Readers of this blog may be familiar with him as the RatWiki guy. This is somewhat misleading because RatWiki ("rationalwiki") is not owned or run by Oliver D. Smith. It is run by a psychology professor in New Mexico (USA) called Trent Toulouse. He works at New Mexico Community College, and is listed on the faculty page. Still, he is only part of the mostly pseudonymous team running the RatWiki organization (RationalMedia Foundation), the organization owns and runs the website. It works in the standard Wikipedia format site, where they let anyone edit, at least in theory. This community-sourced material status gives them a kind of legal liability cop-out for the material they host, in the same way that Youtube isn't responsible for the comments people post.
Oliver D. Smith is the master of abusing this legal situation. RatWiki started as a science or leftist response to Conservapedia, which is just about what you think it is (creationism, religious right Wikipedia alternative). As the New Atheism movement slowly metamorphisized into the Woke movement, RatWiki followed suit. Because of its high search ranking (high placement on Google etc.) from having a lot of useful articles on stuff like homeopathy, it was the perfect place to put hit pieces on people you want to harass. As the City Journal piece explains:
Smith’s and Metapedia’s far-right ideologies may have seemed a natural fit for one another, but trouble was afoot. After a feud with a fellow Metapedia administrator, Smith announced that he was quitting the site, with the following explanation:
I’ve renounced most my former views, and no longer support the aims of the Metapedia project. For this reason I request my account to be permanently blocked. Since I extensively read and process information quickly, my position on race has changed. . . . Fixation with race has also deteriorated my mental health, since I suffer from various disorders, and it is something I am no longer wasting time with.
As per his request, Smith’s account at Metapedia was then permanently blocked from editing. After this, he no longer argued for any of the neo-Nazi positions, such as white nationalism or Holocaust denial, that he had previously supported. In light of what came later, though, his announcement that race was a topic he was “no longer wasting time with” proved ironic.
Over the next few years, Smith completed his journey from one end of the ideological continuum to the other. With his Metapedia account now blocked, Smith shifted his focus to creating attack pages at RationalWiki. From 2016 onward, these attacks had a new target: people involved in the field of intelligence research, especially (though not exclusively) if their research included publications about differences between race or sex averages.
Oliver D. Smith realized that he could maximally harass people using this platform, which has a much better search ranking than his previous attack vector Metapedia (a kind of 'neonazi' Wikipedia alternative). So since about 2016, he has been targeting various individuals using this platform. He mostly has been doing this by creating pages under their name using his pseudonymous accounts, often making usernames in their name to taunt them (and then blaming them for making them). Alas, eventually Smith's mental problems got him in trouble with the admins of even RatWiki, and they banned him. (He got in trouble for making up a theory that two of the admins were in fact the same person, whom he then sought to doxx, Dysklyver.) He is still formally banned, as a person, but since the admins take a lackluster approach to enforcing this ban, he is able to keep editing there under new accounts. It is actually quite easy to track him once you get into the habit of this (I don't recommend!). First, you take any currently popular figure that talks about intelligence without the typical leftist academic bias. Say, Richard Hanania. Look at his page:
The page is basically compilation of the most outrageously sounding tweets and minimal quotes from Hanania. Often if one checks the context of these, they turn out not to be so crazy, but leaving context out of quotations is the modus operandi of RatWiki. To find out who's behind a given page, just click the "Fossil record", which is the history of edits on a page:
So there are only 2 users who made all the content. These are Griffina and Johns. For Griffina one can see the obsessive nature of the editing. If you click on one of them ("contribs"), you can see their other edits:
Alright, so this person is only editing pages on people for attacking purposes. There is only one such person in the world and that is Oliver D. Smith. The other account (Johns) shows the same pattern. If we look over these two users alone, we can see that his current (June-July) attack targets are:
Richard Hanania (political commenter)
Edward Dutton (intelligence researcher)
Emily Willoughby (intelligence researcher)
Erik Ahrens/Gegenuni (his company)
Monitoring Bias (Twitter HBD account)
Emil Kirkegaard (yours truly)
Quillette (center right magazine)
Anatoly Karlin (Russian HBD blogger)
Scandza Forum (Nordic nationalist movement)
Noah Carl (intelligence researcher)
Tim Noakes (don't know him)
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax (a long time target of Oliver D. Smith)
Bronze Age Pervert (Twitter HBD account, and author)
All edits to their pages were done since June this year. This is important to note because Oliver D. Smith always lies and claims that he has stopped editing in [some random time ago], and will often mark his users as "retired". This is never the case, Oliver always keeps editing.
Since most people don't understand how this operation works, it is difficult to do anything about. I famously tried suing Oliver D. Smith in his own country (he has a whole website about this episode) for tweets and blogposts he made in his own name. Why not for his lies on RatWiki? That's because under the UK legal system, one can only sue for libel for utterances made the last year. So if Oliver starts writing about you under some pseudonym in 2020, and you only discover this in 2021, well, too bad! You can't sue for that because it is now too old. And that's on top of the problem of convincing the court that he is the one behind the various pseudonyms (without having their server logs). Oliver D. Smith has 1000s of online users on sites like RatWiki, Reddit, Twitter, and increasingly Substack. Any site that has open participation will immediately get Oliver to sign up and spam his latest RatWiki links or content to increase their search ranking. That's because the search engines don't realize that behind all these pseudonyms is just one person, so they think there's a lot of interest in these pages whereas there is just one person spamming them across the internet.
Taking the broader picture, we can hope that this piece in City Journal helps people understand one of the bad aspects of the internet: The internet is fueled by obsessive people. Your influence on the internet is to a substantial degree a function of how much time you spend on it. And who has the most time to spend on the internet? Losers. They don't have jobs (Oliver is unemployed, living at his parents house), or families to spend time on. So naturally these people can spend all of their time on socially destructive behavior, akin to the Spiteful Mutant theory of Michael Woodley (naturally, Oliver Smith hates this theory). Cat lady Nancy McClernan who runs Pinkerite (a hate site against Steven Pinker) is another example of this unfortunate tendency. Historically, the response of civil society to such losers would be to excommunicate them, or send them to the nut houses. As these options no longer exist, they are essentially allowed free roam on the internet to everyone's detriment.
What can be done about this? Well, the main solution to the RatWiki problem would be to launch a legal lawsuit against it. The site has tons of libelous information and copyright infringement. The organization behind it is rather poor, so while it might be difficult to win in court in the same way it was done with Gawker, the foundation would quickly be drained of money and forced to shut down. This approach would require a benevolent billionaire to step in, as Peter Thiel did the last time. RatWiki does in fact have a page on Peter Thiel already (which Oliver or his brother edited), so perhaps someone reading this could reach out. Another option is to change the law that regulates liability on the internet. That law is:
Section 230 is a section of Title 47 of the United States Code that was enacted as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which is Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and generally provides immunity for online computer services with respect to third-party content generated by its users. At its core, Section 230(c)(1) provides immunity from liability for providers and users of an "interactive computer service" who publish information provided by third-party users:
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
Section 230(c)(2) further provides "Good Samaritan" protection from civil liability for operators of interactive computer services in the good faith removal or moderation of third-party material they deem "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected."
The RatWiki foundation is clearly in violation of this law already, but perhaps not enough so to bring it to justice under current interpretations.
Until one of these happens, I'm afraid that intelligence researchers and other unlucky souls will have to live with mentally ill people like Oliver D. Smith roaming the internet and defaming them.