Flat White

REVEALED: Inside the Dark Emu Wiki Wars

28 June 2021

3:00 PM

28 June 2021

3:00 PM

Readers may remember my abortive undercover mission in the People’s Republic of Wikipedia, specifically in the Protectorate of Dark Emu. 

In view of recent events, I strapped myself into my virtual U2 and conducted a high-altitude reconnaissance of the Protectorate, to see how they are handling the battle, in particular a new front that’s opened up on their Left flank. 

Clearly, this assault, under the command of Drs Sutton and Walshe, has come as something of a shock, emanating, as it does, from ideological soulmates. 


It seems the response is to accept that this assault does have some steam, so they are engaging in a strategic retreat, to allow time for other forces from the Left to eventually help them counter this new threat.  Hence, at the moment they are accommodating the newcomers.  But operations are not proceeding smoothly. 

My old adversary, Corporal Bacondrum, seems to have gone AWOL, but his comrade, HiLo48, is fighting a gallant rearguard action: 

Captain Noteduck 

Given that the debate over Dark Emu has become a lot more prominent recently, I think to good to start a talk page subsection specifically devoted to it that gives necessary space to the controversy while allowing editors an opportunity to discuss how to best address the now well-established evidentiary issues with Pascoe’s book.

To start with, I propose the following addition to the end of the header:

‘The accuracy of Pascoe’s book has been extensively discussed and disputed in the Australian media and political spheres, and several academic responses have largely rejected Pascoe’s thesis that Indigenous Australian society was based on sedentary agriculture rather than on a hunter-gatherer economy (put Sutton & Walshe, Keen and other relevant sources here as footnotes).’

Thoughts on this? I think the media debate should needs to be addressed as long as WP:RS is kept in mind: this means basing material on more respected sources like The Conversation, The Age and The Australian and less on sources with a less-established track record of reliability like Quadrant or The Spectator. This is a great resource for a list of RS sources: WP:RSP. The critical thing is keeping it all measured, thoroughly sourced, and in line with appropriate encyclopedic tone as per WP:TONE. Comments, suggestions etc welcome. 

Corporal HiLo48 

The debate over Dark Emu has NOT become a lot more prominent recently.  

Comrade Raider-Aspect 

I think the Sutton & Walshe book is a big enough deal to allude to in the lead. I’d go with:

The accuracy of Pascoe’s book has been debated in the Australian media and political spheres. Several academic responses have largely rejected Pascoe’s thesis that Indigenous Australian society was based on sedentary agriculture rather than on a hunter-gatherer economy.

Corporal HiLo48

I wouldn’t. It’s minor trivia. The book is hugely successful. The opposition to it is gaining no traction.  

Captain Noteduck

I think a full academic response is pretty significant. Federal education minister Alan Tudge now says he doesn’t want it taught in schools. A few more expert criticisms: historian Richard Trembath and a lecture by Sorbonne anthropologist Christophe Darmangeat (unfortunately I can’t read French, but some of the media sources have referred to it.

Corporal HiLo48

The opinions of a Liberal dinosaur count for nothing in debates like this. He is simply pandering to his conservative, right wing audience. He is NOT an expert on Aboriginal history. Fortunately, book choice is one made by state education departments. 

Trooper Cavalryman 

I have just added to the page then came here to discuss an additional sentence to the lead, and I see the good editors here are already on it. I agree something based on Sutton and Walshe is the lead is warranted, I like either suggested additions above, I do not think describing the debate as extensive is overplaying it.

Corporal HiLo48 

And I have reverted those bad faith changes. There is obviously no consensus for them. And implying that those who disagree with you are bad editors is not acceptable here. Please read WP:AGF. It’s sad that those so desperate to denigrate Aboriginal people are also unaware of Wikipedia’s relevant rules, and also choose to denigrate other editors. You MUST await others commenting on your proposal. 

Trooper Cavalryman 

Hello HiLo48, can I suggest you follow your own advice and read WP:AGF, describing those additions you reverted as bad faith changes is neither constructive nor civil. You seem to be the one who choose[s] to denigrate other editors. Now, I respectfully ask, please enlighten me on what was bad faith about either addition. 

Corporal HiLo48

They are bad faith because there is no consensus to add them.

Trooper Cavalryman  

Please direct me to the policy or guideline that states adding reliably sourced, neutrally worded information to an article without first specifically seeking consensus on the TP is considered bad faith. Per WP:AOBF, Without clear evidence … repeatedly alleging bad faith motives could be construed as a personal attack.

Captain Noteduck

HiLo48 whatever you think of Tudge, you can’t write off a prominent politician because of their political affiliation. Please review WP:Encyclopedic style and WP:NPOV. Sutton, Walshe, Keen etc are not “liberal dinosaurs” but respected academics. Another storied academic, Prof Tim Rowse, has described Dark Emu’s thesis as “demolished”[9] in the light of Sutton & Walshe’s critique. I’d also recommend reading the Good Weekend piece discussing Sutton & Walshe’s work before you dismiss it out of hand. I believe the material that you removed should be restored ASAP. If you were referring to my additions when you mention bad faith comments and desperate to denigrate Aboriginal people [sic] I call upon you to please apologise unreservedly and strike through your comments at once. There is nothing in my edits to indicate bad faith or any other bad conduct.

Commissar Bednarek

There is no consensus needed to add well-sourced material to any article. In fact, there has been consensus here for some time to include critical reviews. HiLo48’s attacks on editors who disagree with them by invoking AGF are self-defeating.

Corporal HiLo48 

It is clearly the time to await the thoughts of other editors. Far too much haste has been involved in these additions. 

Trooper Cavalryman 

HiLo48, the only editor who has objected so far is yourself. I took a cautious and consultative approach by bringing the new material onto the talk page. The new material was immaculately sourced and worded in a neutral, encyclopedic manner. Again, I call on you to apologise and strike out your comments above.

HiLo48, please explain to me how quoting a prominent Aboriginal human rights advocate and longtime campaigner for the rights of Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women and children, is the actions of someone desperate to denigrate Aboriginal people.  

HiLo48, I do not recall having any meaningful interactions with you before now, but you directly accused me of racism with this edit. If you will not do me the courtesy of replying to my enquires I will assume your accusation was an attempted WP:POVRAILROAD and revert you, explicit in WP:BRD is the D.

Captain Noteduck

Cavalryman in the absence of HiLo48 making an unreserved, substantive apology to both myself and yourself for what are, quite frankly, awful and cruel things to say about an editor who disagrees with them without basis, I agree with your interpretation of HiLo48’s behavior as WP:POVRAILROAD. Given that no substantive rebuttals have been offered against the inclusion of the new material and given the concurrence of the opinions of other editors in this thread I recommend restoring the material. 

Corporal HiLo48

Principled editors would now be seeking the opinions of other editors who have been heavily involved with this article in the past. See WP:DEADLINE.

Private Pete

Speaking of principles, can we adhere to WP:NPA please? We’re all adults, we don’t have to call one another names to write an encyclopaedia, surely? Dark Emu has come under considerable criticism for its lack of scholarship. I trust that we can all agree that it cannot simply be accepted at face value, and that well-researched criticism is a necessary component of this article.

HiLo, you seem to be fighting a one-horse battle here. Perhaps your calls for consensus ring a little false given that no other editors are supporting your scorched-earth tactics. 

What a laugh.  Cpl HiLo48 could teach Cpl Hideki Sakata, holding out in the jungles of Borneo, a thing or two.  It’s telling that when Austhistory99 and I were trying to inject some balance into the Protectorate, HiLo48 got pretty much a free rein with exactly the same sort of illogical, obtuse rant that we see above.  Yet they (their pronoun) have not been banned for disruptive editing or any other arcane Wikipedia infringement such as WP:BATD or WP:BBSC.  What are those, I hear you ask.  Read Cpl HiLo’s talk page and have a guess.  (Hint:  the ‘B’ stands for ‘Being’) 

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