The curious case of Miroslaw Magola
On april 8, 2010 an anonymous contributor started an article in dutch, i classified as an advertorial. In the commentline a reference was made to the english wiki and i got interested. The argument "hey, i'm notable, i'm in en.wiki.org" seemed a little thin.
I found him in a lot of places. Most articles started by an anonymous contributor whose IP address traces back to Thailand. The blatant claim of supernatural powers made on the dutch wiki was such that I cannot help feeling a bit of suspicion here, despite all the benefits of WP:AGF.
The article boasts some "literature" but i suspect if you check it, you will find no mention of Miroslaw Magola, but you will find explained how exactly the trick works. The foto of the artist also proved informative since it lead me to the accounts where the article was (apparantly) prepared. They are noted below, where applicable.
|article||Date started||starter||other notable contributors||remarks||status|
|de:Miroslaw Magola||17:26, 21. Mär. 2010||126.96.36.199||Article was very neatly adopted by the german community, who rid the article of typos, fitted categories and swallowed it hook, line and sinker.||deleted|
|en:Miroslaw Magola||4 February 2009||en:User:Jahking||en:User:Halloburma, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124||article gets vandalized and promptly restored. Later on the wikipedia community started to smell a fish and watered down the supernatural claims significantly.||deleted.|
|fr:Miroslaw Magola||7 mars 2010||126.96.36.199||188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206||deleted (copyvio and notability cited)|
|es:Miroslaw Magola||23 dic 2009||220.127.116.11||es:Usuario:Halloburma, 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199||es:Usuario:Katarzyna Boiwka/Pruebas.||deleted|
|it:Miroslaw Magola||2 apr 2010||188.8.131.52||184.108.40.206||deleted|
|nl:Miroslaw Magola||apr 8, 2010||220.127.116.11||18.104.22.168||deleted|
|pl:Miroslaw Magola||20 gru 2009||22.214.171.124||pl:Wikipedysta:Halloburma, 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52||deleted|
|ru:Мирослав Магола||25 января 2010||184.108.40.206||ru:Участник:Halloburma, 220.127.116.11||ru:Участник:Белоусов Павел||article deemed non-encyclopedic stylistically.|
Using whois i traced the origins for the ip-adresses used. An odd local interest in this artist seems to permeate from Thailand, in fact, almost all contrubutions to the article, apart from categories, templates and fixed typos come from this place... weird.
|18.104.22.168||es||ADSL HuaweiBB TrueLocal Infrastructure True internet||Thailand|
|22.214.171.124||en||Comcast Cable Communications||US|
|126.96.36.199||en, es||Proxad / Free SAS||France|
|188.8.131.52||fr||Total Access Communication PLC||Thailand|
|184.108.40.206||en, es, fr, pl, ru|
|220.127.116.11||en||Maxnet, Internet Service Provider, Bangkok||Thailand|
|18.104.22.168||nl||Total Access Communication PLC||Thailand|
|22.214.171.124||en,es,ru||True Internet Co., Ltd.||Thailand|
Observations and remarks
One thing that struck me is the ease the articles get included. The original postings make pretty wild claims, but they are fiercely defended against vandalism, typose get fixed, and bots add a lot of interwiki's, which, sadly lends instant credibilityin some cases. The pattern of proliferation of the wikipedia articles and their contributors indicates to me that they are part of a concerted effort to glorify Mr Magola, and, given the quality thereof, should be nominated for deletion, unless allready tuned down at least three notches (as on en.wikipedia).
From es:Usario:Beat 768 i received a tipoff. It seems that the originator of the articles actually pays to have the spam translated into various other languages. See es:Usuario_Discusión:Gusgus/04-2009_Bis#novato_busca_tutor for details (it's in spanish,though).
The literature section
- Nancy Polette, "Stop the Copying with Wild and Wacky Research Projects", Libraries Unlimited, 2008, ISBN 978-1-59158-696-8
- A childrens introduction into basic physics. Probably explains how the "trick" works.
- "This is a fresh and appealing approach to teaching upper elementary and middle school students how to present their research creatively and without plagiarism"
- Marie Sellier, "The Paranormal Sourcebook" (Roxbury Park Books), Lowell House, 1999, ISBN 0-7373-0308-5
- "Clairvoyance, telepathy, time travel, divination, physic healing, dream interpretation, ghosts and poltergeists are some of the topics explored in this investigation of the strange and inexplicable. Includes listings of research centres, websites, associations and other contacts."
- Keith Tutt, "Unexplained Natural Phenomena" (True-Life Encounters Series), TV Books, 1999, ISBN 0-517-54700-7
- Interestingly, this yields _two_ books.
- True Life Encounters Unexplained (True-Life Encounters Series)
- "In this era of conservative science, Tutt explores the wealth of unexplained natural phenomena, including near-death experiences, telepathy and psychokinesis, and reports of vampires and zombies."
- Fabulous Fallacies: More Than 300 Popular Beliefs That Are Not True
- "More than just trivia, Fabulous Fallacies is a collection of more than 300 popular beliefs, unceremoniously debunked! If you think Noah took animals on the ark only in twos, you'd better read this book."
- Николай Николаевич Непомнящий, "100 великих феноменов" Вече, 2009, chapter: Мирослав Магола, попирающий законы гравитации. ISBN 978-5-9533-2412-0
- Ok. I'll need someone who speaks russian, but i surmise it will fit the pattern of completely inadequate sources.
- Kathryn Walker, Brian Innes "Mysteries of the Mind", Crabtree Pub Co, 2009, ISBN 0-7787-4149-4, ISBN 978-0-7787-4149-7
- 32 pages, Reading level: Ages 9-12 (amazon).
As it turns out the "literature" section just lists a number of books that deal with the general subject of parlortricks and claims of the supernatural. That this gentleman is mentioned in any of them seems highly unlikely.
A contributur coming from the US placed a significant amount of copyrighted material in the article on the english wiki. It was a straightforward Copy&Paste job from the website of the artist. The material was, however, Copyright 2006 Miroslaw Magola, and hence unusable for wikipedia.
- A person (or persons) in Thailand is suckering various Wikipedia's into elevating a non-notable artist with a parlourtrick to notability. It is perhaps good to note that the only "claim to faim" of this "artist" is a number of appearances on german television
- The literature mentioned are thouroughly unreliable.
15:52, 8 February 2012 (UTC) Since the above he article has been recreated and subsequently deleted (dd. May 20, 2011) on he english wiki, recreated (Oct. 31, 2011) and nominated (Feb. 8, 2012) on the German version.