Croatian language Wikipedia was created on February 16, 2003, alongside Serbian language Wikipedia. Serbo-Croatian is a commonly intelligible pluricentric language in Southeastern Europe, written in both Cyrillic and Latin scripts and presently covered by four different Wikipedia language versions: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and the original Serbo-Croatian language Wikipedia that was temporarily archived for a couple of months in 2005.
This version has been struggling with content and conduct-related challenges, causing repetitive concerns in the global volunteer community for more than a decade. Through the support of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees and the external expert assessed the challenges faced by the project.
Wikimedia Bans Administrator of the Croatian Version
The report says, “ A group of administrators and editors have held de-facto control over the project for more than a decade. The evidence suggests that administrators have deliberately distorted the content presented in articles, abused power, and systematically obstructed or accepted global Wikipedia community practices”.
As a result of the investigation, a series of administrative actions against some of the concerning administrators resulted in one global ban and revocation of their administrator privileges.
Editors and administrators acted out of the belief that the purpose of the Croatian language Wikipedia was not to provide the total of all human knowledge in the Croatian language but instead is intended for the nation-state of Croatia and should therefore reflect conservative, patriotic points of view.
In general, the existing academic research into attempts at mounting organised disinformation campaigns on Wikipedia has focused on ‘detecting edits’ frequency and ‘filtering out suspicious editors’.
It is suggested that the Croatian language Wikipedia might send out a message to some of the troublesome editors that project capture may well be the best path to change the content without raising too many alerts in the established global community and complementary Foundation processes.
In the absence of timely attention and action by the community, a consolidated group of administrators, holding key positions in one language project, may be able to create, shape, profile, and modify large amounts of the content contrary to the five pillars.
The Wikimedia Foundation involved the previous year following which it was discovered that the administrator of Croatian Wikipedia had been using sockpuppet accounts to manipulate discussions and staff elections on the site.
“The administrator, identified as ‘Kubura’, was globally banned from Wikipedia in November 2020, and new management was permitted to take roles on the site”, according to the announcement published from the Wikimedia Foundation.
In history, this is the second major Wikipedia scandal of the previous year. In September 2020, the Wikimedia Foundation mentions that it banned a public relations (PR) firm that had created and used a network of sockpuppet accounts to edit the site on behalf of its customers.
- Encouraging the Croatian-speaking community to continue re-establishing a robust local governance system, requesting oversight and support from the rest of the Wikimedia movement as needed.
- Encouraging the affected communities to discuss unifying community elections for admin and functionary roles across the involved wikis (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, and SerboCroatian).
- Encouraging the affected communities to discuss the possibility of re-merging Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian language projects into the original Serbo-Croatian language projects to re-align with the practices of other pluricentric languages with unified Wikipedia projects; including but not limited to Chinese, English, German, Spanish, Tamil, Korean, and French language Wikipedias.