Wikipedia is a useful resource. More often than not, it is my first port of call when confronted with a topic about which I know little or nothing. It is generally trustworthy as a start point for research into historical or geographical matters, for instance. Of course, I have always been wary of it in relation to anything contentious, particularly in regard to climate change/global warming.
Nonetheless, the subject of Bruce Pascoe – admittedly a contentious topic – tempted me to venture into the bowels of the beast. I have been frustrated by the determination of the Pascoe cheer squad – effectively everyone on the Left – to ignore the existence of my expose of his faux history, Dark Emu. I had noticed that the Wikipedia article on Pascoe made no mention of my book Bitter Harvest, which is the most authoritative, almost the only, counter to his blatant nonsense, misquotation and fabrications. I had also noticed that the article canvassed the issue of his dodgy Aboriginality and so it occurred to me that there might be a place in the article for a mention of the existence of Bitter Harvest.
So I jumped in and registered as a Wikipedia editor. The process was not without its glitches. I was required to provide a user-id and I first proposed my own name. That, of course, had already been taken, as had every conceivable variation that approximated my name. So I chose a childhood nickname, PetroAntonio.
Under that name I posted the following addition to the Pascoe Article:
Pascoe’s claims in Dark Emu have been challenged in a 2019 book by Peter O’Brien, ‘Bitter Harvest – the illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Brue Pascoe’s Dark Emu’, published by Quadrant Books.
My edit appeared for an hour or so and then disappeared. So, thinking I had maybe stuffed up in some way, I re-posted the entry. Later that day, I received an email from one Bacondrum informing me that I had been engaging in an ‘edit war’, and was at risk, if I continued down this path, of being barred from editing. This was the essence of the message:
You currently appear to be engaged in an edit war; that means that you are repeatedly changing content back to how you think it should be, when you have seen that other editors disagree. Users are expected to collaborate with others, to avoid editing disruptively, and to try to reach a consensus, rather than repeatedly undoing other users’ edits once it is known that there is a disagreement. Points to note:
Edit warring is disruptive regardless of how many reverts you have made;
Do not edit war even if you believe you are right.
If you find yourself in an editing dispute, use the article’s talk page to discuss controversial changes and work towards a version that represents consensus among editors.
I responded to Bacondrum to the effect that I could not understand why my contribution had been deleted as it was factual, uncontroversial and non-abusive. I signed the email with my own name.
I had received no notification from anyone as to why they found my addition unacceptable.
Subsequently, I realized that I should have initially submitted my edit via the article’s ‘talk’ page, wherein a cabal of gatekeepers would decide whether or not it was acceptable.
So this I did. Here is the exchange that eventuated:
I am new to Wikipedia and it seems I did not understand how to process an edit. I inserted the following passage:
‘Pascoe’s claims in Dark Emu have been challenged in a 2019 book by Peter O’Brien, ‘Bitter Harvest – the illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu’, published by Quadrant Books.’
which was subsequently deleted. I did not receive any feedback or suggestions as to why this happened. I guess that was because I did not use this forum initially.
I would like to request that my edit be re-instated. It is a factual comment, it is relevant, it is not controversial and it is not abusive.
Thank you — Preceding unsigned comment added by PetroAntonio (talk • contribs) 01:05, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
Bacondrum assembled some lies and dived back into his efforts to make a silk purse out of Pascoe’s sow ear. He responded:
Peter O’Brien is not a subject matter expert, the book was panned/sold poorly, poorly received by academics and published by an unreliable source of which Peter O’Brien is also a regular contributor. You have a serious conflict of interest issue which has not been declared and you should not be editing this article. Bacondrum (talk) 01:45, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
I did not write ‘about’ my own work. I simply pointed out its existence. My book has sold out its first print run and I invite you to identify who has panned my work and on what basis.
Bacondrum, an aspiring sophist, next tried this on for size:
If an editor is pointing out the existence of their own work then that editor is obviously writing about their own work and it’s not permitted. Please see WP:PROMOTION and WP:CONFLICT. Bacondrum (talk) 01:53, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
At this point I was reminded of the old joke that God must surely love fools because He made so many of them and it was clear I had encountered one of this sub-category of humanity’s masterworks
Bacondrum, it seems to me that this article is deficient in that it fails to mention the existence of a serious, well-researched 300-page book rebutting Pascoe’s claims. It should not matter whether it is me or someone else who rectifies that omission. However, since you did not know I was the author at the time you first deleted my contribution, it is clear that the real reason you objected is because the book is published by Quadrant. Regardless of your personal ideology, Quadrant is a serious and successful publication that survives without any help from the public purse and represents the views of a significant portion of the Australian populace.
However, I realize I am wasting my time here and I don’t really care enough to waste any more time on this matter. I am busy putting the finishing touches to the second, expanded edition of my book which will be in production shortly. Adios. — PetroAntonio
As a dog returneth to his vomit, Bacondrum regurgitated more of the same lies:
Yes, of course Peter O’Brien thinks his own books are great and his publisher is great. However, Peter O’Brien is not a subject matter expert, the book was panned/sold poorly, poorly received by academics and published by what is widely considered an unreliable and highly partisan outlet. One does assume though that they have some ethical standards and would never try to surreptitiously promote an obscure book they published as encyclopaedic content, surely they’re above that? Bacondrum (talk) 05:49, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
To which I replied, more in disgust than anger
As I said, I no longer care about this article but I cannot let those slurs go unanswered. If the subject matter is history, then, yes, I concede I am not a historian. But then neither is Bruce Pascoe and it does not take a historian to check Pascoe’s sources and discover that he almost uniformly distorts or misquotes them.
As to my book, I again invite you to quote those critics who ‘panned it’. When I registered to be a Wikipedia editor I tried to use my own name or something close to it, but I could not do so. So I chose an old nickname. When I responded to one of your emails, I made no attempt to disguise who I was, signing my response Peter O’Brien. So, no, I did not try to surreptitiously promote my book. — PetroAntonio
Then came Wikipedia editor HiLo48, whose Wiki background page will strike some as a huffy and extended testament to self-absorption.
Quadrant is not regarded as a reliable source for Wikipedia content in general … In addition, it’s credibility on this topic was extensively discussed on this Talk page before. It really does seem to be a waste of time to be discussing this again. – HiLo48
So far, no substantive response to the points I raised. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PetroAntonio (talk • contribs) 09:08, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
And you have made no response to the archived material I linked above. Please stop wasting out time. HiLo48 (talk) 10:03, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
You first. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PetroAntonio (talk • contribs) 10:14, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
“I don’t really care enough to waste any more time on this matter” lol. Bacondrum (talk) 11:17, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
The intellectual heft of Mr Bacondrum can be judged by the fact that he apparently thinks quoting my own words back at me and the use of ‘lol’ puts an argument beyond doubt.
Mr Bacondrum describes himself thus:
I’m interested in death cults, fascism (decidedly anti-fascist), monsters and the ways in which history and politics intersect with the morbid … obscure music, politics, history, art, culture, geography etc. Living and working on the land of the Wathaurung people of the Kulin nation.
He’s a self-proclaimed anti-fascist, anti-monarchist environmentalist socialist who does not believe in human races except as a social construct. He supports Marxist economics and wants to soak the rich to provide education, health care and welfare for everyone.
Having engaged in this exercise vis-à-vis Bruce Pascoe, I thought it might be worthwhile to look at the Wikipedia Dark Emu article’s talk page. And to my surprise, there was some discussion about including a mention of Bitter Harvest in that article. And not to my surprise the most vociferous opponent of this proposal was Mr Bacondrum.
Here are some of his contributions to the debate:
There’s a general consensus that Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu is a hatchet job, a stridently biased work with an agenda, it’s not reliable, views expressed are fringe – it’s an attack piece. It is published by Quadrant. Peter O’Brien has dedicated a lot of time to writing defamatory and deranged attacks on Pascoe in Quadrant, such a vitriolic and stridently biased punter cannot be considered for inclusion
Bitter Harvest is published by an unreliable source. Bitter Harvest hasn’t been refuted because no one takes it seriously enough to bother.
Bitter Harvest is about as obscure as a published work can be, there’s no grounds for it having an article. Bacondrum (talk) 00:50, 13 March 2020 (UTC)
Actually, I just had a look at Peter O’Brian’s (sic) work and I’ll be opposing any inclusion of any of his work as it is essentially deranged stalking. Just look at the time and effort this man has put into defaming Pascoe:
and there’s plenty more of this unhinged ranting. Completely unacceptable to include the criticism of an author who has clearly been fixating on and stalking Pascoe, such stridently biased and unreasonable views are beyond fringe.
Scott Davis had this to say:
I have not read either book, but have followed this and discussions like it across several talk pages. Since there seems to be some support to mention Bitter Harvest, and a bigger push not to give it too much emphasis, but no proposed words, here is a quick first draft to work from to keep the conversation moving on content. I would expect it to follow the paragraph beginning “The main criticism…”.
Another criticism raised by some parties is an allegation that Pascoe has omitted, misinterpreted or over-emphasised some of the original material. Much of this criticism is collated in a book named Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu by Peter O’Brien.
Bravo, Scott Davis! But the prolix Mr Bacondrum was having none of it, launching into a diatribe that makes one wonder if anyone, even shouty sorts who cannot spell their target’s surname correctly — can become an online encyclopaedia editor. Apparently Wikipedia accepts all comers.
Despite the overwhelmingly positive response, the many awards and accolades this work has received, I’m okay with the inclusion of mainstream criticisms from reliable sources – but not Quadrant and Peter O’Brians (sic) vitriolic rubbish, I know it is harsh, but I’ve actually had a read and to put it politely, it’s tedious (no I didn’t read it all, because it’s a woeful excuse for a book).
Who is Peter O’Brian? A regular contributor to Quadrant, an unreliable source. Who publishes Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture? Quadrant, an unreliable source. How many units has Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture sold? Hardly any. If criticisms are to be included they need to come from reliable sources. The inclusion of this poorly written, unpopular, stridently biased, unreliable attack piece is not on, it is massively WP:UNDUE, a blatant hatchet job produced by an unreliable source that’s barely sold a few dozen copies. I’ll fight its inclusion with all means available.
Bitter Harvest deserves no mention at all, any mention would be completely undue – the book is awful, hardly anyone one has read it. I do also agree with Scott that calling detractors (no matter how tedious their tired old agenda driven clap trap is) “discredited and convicted bigots and liars” would not be even in the same dimension as a reasonable inclusion. Only mainstream and reasonable criticisms should be included, really. The argy-bargy with Bolt et al is really a feud between Pascoe and the “usual suspects”, it’s covered in the Bruce Pascoe article, this article is about a widely acclaimed, award winning book which posits arguments that have been very well received by the overwhelming majority of Pascoe’s peers, even those peers that have questioned his assertions have gone nowhere near the vitriolic response of O’Brian and the other “usual suspects”.
Hardly an objective editor. I would bet pounds to peanuts that Mr Bacondrum has not read my book, but I’m damn sure he suspects that it is devastating to Pascoe’s credibility. And that would be true of every other Pascoe cheerleader, including Professor Marcia Langton.