User:Wehwalt/Alger Hiss controversy

The Alger Hiss controversy stemmed from allegations made by Whittaker Chambers that former State Department official Alger Hiss had spied for the USSR. The allegations were made in testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1948 and Hiss’s denials of Chambers’s allegations resulted in his conviction for perjury in 1950. Among the key players in the affair was freshman Congressman Richard Nixon, who closely questioned Hiss before the Committee and who urged HUAC to pursue the investigation. As a result of the investigation, Congressman Nixon became known nationally.

Chambers alleged that Hiss had spied for the Soviets in the late Thirties, and stated that he had helped get Hiss’s information to the Soviets. When HUAC subpoenaed all relevant documents in Chambers’s possession, Chambers took the investigators out into his garden, and retrieved five canisters of microfilm from inside a hollowed-out pumpkin. The continents of these canisters became known as the "Pumpkin Papers".

Because of the Pumpkin Papers and other evidence, Hiss was prosecuted for perjury for denying he knew Chambers and for denying he had passed papers to Chambers for transmission to the Soviets. Hiss’s first trial ended in a hung jury; but the second jury convicted him on January 21, 1950. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and, after his release, spent the rest of his life trying to vacate the conviction and convince the world of his innocence. Chambers died in 1961.

When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, Hiss asked whether his name appeared in Soviet files. A Yeltsin aide conducted a search and announced that he had found no records stating that Hiss was a Soviet agent, but it subsequently turned out that only a small part of the records had been searched. A more thorough search revealed evidence of a Soviet agent known as "Ales", who was an American whose travel movements appear to fit Hiss’s. Disputes continue today as to whether Hiss was Ales. While the weight of opinion is that Hiss (who died in 1996) was a Soviet agent and was justly convicted of perjury, the matter is still the subject of passionate debate.


Voice your opinion (talk page) (0/0/0); scheduled to end 21:59, 12 April 2009 (UTC)


Kww (talk · contribs)I am proud to introduce Kww to the RfA community. Some of you may know him, as he has had two prior RfAs, I won't spend much time discussing them, I believe he will in his acceptance and statement, but I will note that on each of the two times he was unsuccessful (although receiving a majority each time, consensus was not achieved) he has taken his licking and gone back to the serious work which he has done in many areas of WP, from vandalism prevention to his invaluable work on charts, which, since I am involved in several band articles, I've taken advantage of on more than one occasion. He's also a strong article builder; he and I worked together on Natalee Holloway, a controversial and difficult project which we and AuburnPilot took to FA and then to the Main Page. Whenever they show that movie about her, the article gets about 10,000 hits, so it is a valuable article for WP. Since the last RfA, Kww has waited six months and continued his work. He will be a tremendous net positive with the mop and I strongly urge the community to give him the equipment to clean up that mess in Aisle 12. This is my first nomination, and I really believe it should succeed.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:05, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

First off, no one can help but notice the little "3" there on the nomination title, so it needs explanation. Yes, I've gone through this twice before. The first was around 50%, the second was around 70%. Both RFAs failed primarily due to a statement I made in April 2008, and a subsequent attempt to topic ban me from all arts related articles. Those events are real. I can't state that they didn't happen, so I won't. I am wholly responsible for the wreckage that is my past.
As for my sentiments, they were incredibly poorly phrased. I should never have used the word "vandal" in that context. Still, the point I actually intended to make was valid: people shouldn't pick and choose which guidelines and policies they will follow, and which they will not. If they think a guideline needs changed, they should attempt to get it changed. If they think a policy needs changed, they should attempt to get it changed. They should not routinely ignore a policy or guideline because they find it unpleasant. I don't care much whether we are talking WP:BLP or WP:N, chronic violators are a problem.
The blocks in my block-log are quite old. The Sept 30th, 2008 one is easy: an admin noticed a series of reversions, and did not notice that the thing I was reverting was an explicit exemption to the 3RR rule: the other editor was making obvious violations of non-free content policies. You'll notice he reversed the block and apologized quite quickly, with the explanation in the unblock as "my error".
The older block is a tad harder to explain. I discussed it with User:AuburnPilot, and here is the link to his talk page discussion. I'll let that discussion speak for itself.
To recap my editing thrusts: I'm not heavy on the content-creation side of Wikipedia. I've worked on one featured article (Natalee Holloway), and worked very hard to get What the Bleep Do We Know!? beaten into reasonable shape. The first article that I worked on heavily was Humanzee, and the first one I created was chromosomal polymorphism. Looking at chromosomal polymorphism today, I'm a bit ashamed of my work, and may take some time to improve that one.
In terms of editing difficulty, What the Bleep Do We Know!? was probably the most difficult article I've ever worked on, and I became aware of the pseudoscience issues on Wikipedia as a result. I was truly astonished at how hard people would work to try to portray nonsense as defensible. I don't directly work much on pseudoscience articles, but I do monitor a few to make sure that they don't turn completely into support of nonsense. I'm not well liked by the pseudoscience crowd.
I spend most of my time in what I think of as "damage prevention". I scan for vandalism, unsourced material, poorly-sourced material, guideline violations and policy violations and revert or fix such edits. Most of my effort in the last year has been on record charts, which is truly a problem area. What I noticed was that the charts had degenerated into essentially random lists of countries and numbers. There wasn't widespread agreement as to which charts were good and which were bad, and there weren't any standard places to verify figures, making it difficult to detect and repair vandalism. I started a discussion about creating a consolidated list of charts to be avoided, which ultimately resulted in WP:BADCHARTS. I produced the bulk of WP:Record charts/sourcing guide, aka WP:GOODCHARTS, which worked at it from the positive direction. 15,000 edits later, and the record charts across Wikipedia are in much better shape. This is work I'm proud of, and it illustrates what I think is the right way to tackle major problems: gain consensus as to direction, and then proceed quickly and efficiently. For those that concern themselves about such things, all my edits, including those, have been done manually: no scripts, bots, Twinkles, or Huggles. I'm currently working on using templates to generate the charts that will allow bots to automatically detect and repair chart vandalism. If I can get that to work, I think the music area will be in much better shape.
My first edits to Humanzee were done as an IP. I'm also Kww on commons and Dutch wikipedia. I have edited on some of other wikis as (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log). Apparently once here, too, but I fixed that quickly:[1].
Administratively, I have always focused on vandalism and sock-puppetry, and expect to continue that focus into the future.
As for administrative contributions, I'll let them speak for themselves. These hiding tables show my activities on the major areas (SSP, AFD, ANI, AIV) over the last year. These are manually constructed, and believed complete. Let me know if I missed anything.

Questions for the candidateEdit

Dear candidate, thank you for offering to serve Wikipedia as an administrator. It is recommended that you answer these optional questions to provide guidance for participants:

1. What administrative work do you intend to take part in?
A: Pretty much what I do today: revert vandalism and keep the Disney and music articles from turning into a quagmire of blog-sourced gossip. I use WP:AIV, WP:SPI and WP:RFPP extensively today, and that's where I will probably focus. Socking is an area where I am specifically hampered by not having administrative tools: right now, I can't even see where someone has made deleted contributions, much less see the contents of them to use them in putting together evidence.
2. What are your best contributions to Wikipedia, and why?
A: I think my best contributions to date have been WP:GOODCHARTS and WP:BADCHARTS. Imposing some order on such a problematic area was sorely needed, and I suspect that this will be my most lasting influence on Wikipedia.
3. Have you been in any conflicts over editing in the past or have other users caused you stress? How have you dealt with it and how will you deal with it in the future?
A: What the Bleep Do We Know!? represented the peak of stress for me. There is something about that article that brings out the worst in editors from both sides of the pseudoscience conflict. Ultimately, it took a strategy of just going through the lead sentence by sentence, and getting everyone to agree on a version that didn't make them angry enough to revert it, and making sure everyone understood which policies would prohibit and allow what. Once people focused on making sure each sentence conformed to policy, we got to a version that no one felt compelled to revert. We put the change in with {{edit-protected}} macros, and then left the thing protected for six months. Ugly and bloody, but it worked.
The one I wish I had handled better was Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Sadi Carnot. I allowed myself to get goaded into anger. I learned from that. I may still get angry at times, but you'd have a hard time seeing it from the words I write.
That whole surreal arbcom experience.
Of course, I would be lying if I said that WP:Requests for adminship/Kww and WP:Requests for adminship/Kww 2 weren't pretty stressful as well. Not much I could do there but stay calm.

General commentsEdit

RfAs for this user:
    {{Special:Prefixindex/Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Kww}}

Please keep discussion constructive and civil. If you are unfamiliar with the nominee, please thoroughly review Special:Contributions/Kww before commenting.


  1. As nom.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:05, 9 October 2009 (UTC)