Wikipedia is the world’s biggest encyclopedia and is a resource for billions of people around the world to learn about literally anything. The only way for such a large encyclopedia, with just the English encyclopedia having over 6.5 million unique encyclopedic entries as of writing this article is for it to be edited by the tens of thousands of volunteers who get paid virtually nothing to create new pages, edit existing pages and monitor against vandalism that is very easy to do due to the openess of this platform allowing anyone without an account to make edits on Wikipedia.
In order for the platform of Wikipedia to work, you need to back up what you write with sources that need to meet the necessary requirements in order to be accepted and trusted. Otherwise anyone will be able to write anything and more importantly Wikipedia will lose its value as an encyclopedia that you can trust.
It is uncommon to see on topics that are controversial between two different groups of people such as the page of Taiwan which sees frequent ‘edit wars’ between mainland Chinese nationalists and Taiwainese Wikipedia editors about whether Taiwan is a province of China or an independent country. Another good example is Nikolai Tesla, with Serbs, Croatians and even Hungarians and Austrians arguing about his nationality due to the complex geopolitical circumstances that existed at the time.
This however is nothing compared to the disagreements that Bulgarians and Macedonian nationalists and the poorly educated from Macedonia who argues over the ethnicity of multiple famous figures such as Gotse Delchev, Yane Sandanski, Krste Misrikov and Vasil Chekalarov to name just a few.
Why North Macedonian Nationalists Are Insecure About Their History
The modern nation of North Macedonia is in a very unique position that only a handful of other nations are in, like Moldova, North Macedonia is a new country that has been created by during the times of communism. And it is not just that the territory was assembled together but a whole new ethnicity was assembled all together, in order to guarantee loyalty from their new subjects and eliminate Bulgarian self-consciousness, their Yugoslavian overlords forged a whole new language and history that has a continuity according to some Macedonian nationalists before the time of Christ. The same happened with the Moldovans who were led to believe that they are a separate identity to the Romanians.
After the fall of Yugoslavia, this new Macedonian identity was in trouble, there was no longer the powerful Yugoslavia (which at one time was the largest and most powerful nation in the Balkans) to protect the Macedonian identity from the doubters both within and outside North Macedonia.
Today there remains a divide in the historical narrative within North Macedonia and the wider Macedonian diaspora. With nationalists generally believing in the fairytale that the Macedonians trace their roots back to the Ancient Macedonian Greek city-state which is the equivalent of saying that Madrid is separate from Spain. While the better educated Macedonians have an understanding of what the situation is but often are not able to voice their opinions on such matters due to a fear of being ostracized by their Macedonian relatives and friends especially if they live inside North Macedonia. After all, calling a person that you disagree with a ‘tatar’ is pretty common within the nationalist Macedonian circles, even though the Tatars as a society were formed 241 years after the formation of the First Bulgarian Empire.
Despite their being the common myth between Macedonian nationalists that Macedonia is the oldest nation in Europe. The revolutionary history that took place before most of what is today North Macedonia was annexed by Serbia is by far the most contentious. With figures such as Gotse Delchev and Krste Misirkov worshipped in North Macedonia as founding fathers of the nation, there is nothing at all wrong with that, where the issues and the topic of contention lie between Bulgarians and Macedonians is their nationality.
Both men were born in Bulgarian families and saw themselves as Bulgarians during their lives. Macedonian nationalists however still cling on the communist Yugoslavian propaganda that somehow they are some kind of distinct Macedonian identity with pseudohistorical theories such as that all Macedonians were called Bulgarians due to ignorance of Western journalists and travelers which makes little sense when they talk about their claims of Macedonia being one of the oldest nations on Earth. My favorite theory of all is that the Bulgarians and Greeks control the narrative by bribing historians and creating fake evidence to back up their claims.
United Macedonian Diaspora
After this fairly long excerpt on what Wikipedia is and the origin of the quarrels of North Macedonian history, we come to the protagonists of this sage, the United Macedonian Diaspora. It is a self-described organization that claims to fight for the rights of Macedonians all over the world with the organization currently operating in Canada, the United States, and Australia.
United Macedonian Diaspora was founded in 2004 in Washington D.C. by Meto Koloski, a North Macedonian political science graduate that has worked in lobbying since 2003 with his first job as an Eastern European studies researcher.
The United Macedonian Diaspora is undoubtedly a small organization, with a tiny office in Washington D.C that is running mainly on funds raised by its supporters through frequent fundraisers that raise just a few thousand at a time. One of their biggest if not the biggest donors is John Bitove Jr. who donates around $100,000 every year to their Generation M program that sends young people from a Macedonian background to North Macedonia to get acquainted with their roots. Another major donor is the Turkish Coalition of America which is said to have donated a $150,000 Friendship grant to the organization as well as matching all donations up to $50,000 for 3 years from 2008, the Turkish Coalition of America is an organization that is often criticized for its denial of the Armenian Genocide and received significant coverage between 2010 and 2012 for suing the University of Minnesota after a history professor listed their organization as an untrustworthy source of information on the topic, their lawsuit and its appeal were both rejected by the American judges. United Macedonian Diaspora also frequently collaborates with another Turkish organization called the Turkish Heritage Foundation with United Macedonian Diaspora’s founder and leader Meto Koloski appearing in many of their videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP7haWj78oE), (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyduuYj_U_g) and (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHthAvpwqiI). Some Greek media outlets have accused the United Macedonian Diaspora of receiving funding by the Turkish government in order to destabilize northern Greece but there is no solid evidence to support these claims.
However, under this veil of innocence and generosity stands a surprising amount of toxic nationalism and hate. United Macedonian Diaspora is an organization that fights for the rights of Macedonians, while at the same time opposing the Albanian language bill in North Macedonia that ended up passing anyway unphased by their Youtube videos on their 600 subscriber channel. Furthermore, the United Macedonian Diaspora opposed the Prespa Agreement with Greece as well as the Friendship Agreement with Bulgaria. At the same time name-calling North Macedonian politicians that they disagree with as Serbs and criticizing Serb influence in North Macedonia on Twitter.
You see, United Macedonian Diaspora subscribes to historical revisionism and negationism, they believe that certain historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Tsar Samuil, St Cyril and Methodius and Gotse Delchev are some kind of Slavic Macedonian identity that simply did not exist at the time.
The Wikipedia Army
It all began when the official Wikipedia page of the United Macedonian Diaspora was deleted. The reason behind the deletion was made for the stated reason that this organization is not notable enough to have its own Wikipedia page. It is important to note for further down in the article that the first deletion discussion received very little traction.
And it wasn’t long that members of this organization began to plan their retaliation, a member called Mario Hristovski posted on his Youtube channel Mario’s History Talks a 52-minute video about how Wikipedia is controlled by Bulgarian and Greek editors that are funded by their respective governments. In this video appeared another character, a female called Elena Sekulovska who spoke at the beginning of the video about how the Wikipedia page of the United Macedonian Diaspora was deleted. Remember the name Elena Sekulovska.
A video later, titled ‘MEDIEVAL MAYHEM: ON SLAVS & BULGARS’, the host Mario Hristovski proclaims the creation of a Wikipedia Taskforce that will ‘battle the delegitimization of the Macedonian people’. And less than a week before that the Wikipedia article of the United Macedonian Diaspora was re-created and then re-nominated for deletion on the same day.
United Macedonian Diaspora’s Wikipedia War
Within 2 hours of the United Macedonian Diaspora’s being nominated for deletion for the second time within a few months, a bunch of brand new faces appeared from pretty much nowhere. These Wikipedia editors are Dikaiosyni, Тутуноберач, and Macedonia1913. It was going to be a long Wikipedia War, after all the average deletion discussion on Wikipedia takes 2 weeks and this was not going to be any ordinary deleting discussion. We will have to keep the identity of the Wikipedians that shared this data with us a secret in order to protect them from harassment and retaliation.
What is particularly interesting is that Macedonia1913 hadn’t edited anything from the 30th of May 2020 until his next edit on the 17th of June 2020 where he happens to stumble upon the United Macedonian Diaspora deletion article within just a few hours of its nomination.
The other user Тутуноберач had not edited anything since the 2nd of June 2020 and then on the 17th of June 2020 within a few hours he replies to the deletion discussion of UMD. Interestingly enough just 10 minutes at 16:08 before the first comment after many days of Macedonia1913 at 16:18, without a doubt confirmed that they are part of United Macedonian Diaspora’s Wikipedia Taskforce that was just set up a few days before.
While Dikaiosyni’s may have consistently edited pages almost daily, she did send a ‘baclava’ award with the label ‘Testing’ to user Тутуноберач on the 22nd of May 2020 almost instantly after the Тутуноберач Wikipedia account was registered which is an admissible piece of evidence that they know each other outside of the platform which some may label a moment of coincidence but it really is not when you take into account that there are 39.3 million registered Wikipedia accounts as well as tens of million unregistered editors on Wikipedia.
The 2nd deletion nomination of the United Macedonian Diaspora’s Wikipedia Page took place at 14:58 on the 17th of June 2020, with Dikaiosyni replying at 15:22, Тутуноберач at 16:08 and Macedonia1913 at 16:18. After voting to oppose the deletion of this article, these 3 users undertook heated discussions with other Wikipedia users. With a point that was frequently raised being the Wikipedia Taskforce that they so cheerfully promoted online, all 3 new Wikipedians vehemently denied that they were associated with the United Macedonian Diaspora in any way, they instead somehow all stumbled upon the deletion discussion within 2 hours of each other.
As more and more experienced Wikipedian editors voted to delete the page, the infamous trio started to cry out racism against Macedonians, hinting at some kind of a global Wikipedia conspiracy against the United Macedonian Diaspora and eventually resulting to accusing the opposing Wikipedia editors of being Bulgarians and Greek.
They then went on a spree where they removed the word ‘Greek’ from the 2004 Alexander the Great movie, added false statistics on the Macedonians in Bulgaria article that said that there between 5,000 and 25,000 Macedonians in Bulgaria where according to the latest census there were just 1,654 and also removed ‘North’ before Macedonia in multiple articles and removed the Albanian etymology in an article about an Illyrian king. All these edits were quickly reverted by other Wikipedia editors and warnings were handed out to the perpetrators.
Almost two weeks after this whole debacle begun, a fourth user came out of the blue. He is was called MuzoKral, he was a fresh spawn, a brand new user with zero edits. Yet he somehow managed to also find the United Macedonian Diaspora Wikipedia page and start editing it.
But this was no ordinary Wikipedia user, this was another member of United Macedonian Diaspora’s taskforce. He started adding quotes from a United States government representative but more crucially added an image of United Macedonian Diaspora founder and leader Meto Koloski with his fellow members. This image was not available anywhere on the internet and was yet another crucial clue who this person was, what was even worse is that when this user known as MuzoKral submitted this photograph into Wikipedia’s image library he wrote that the author of this image or in layman terms the person that gives Wikipedia copyright of this image as Meto Koloski or in other words the founder of this very organization, a 40-year-old plus political lobbyist may have created an account on Wikipedia in one last attempt to save his organization’s Wikipedia page from being deleted for the second time in a few months following the subpar attempts by his teenage sidekicks in his self-title Wikipedia Taskforce that to be clear is against Wikipedia rules.
But unfortunately to what may have been Meto Koloski or simply another disillusioned teenager that simply wrote him in as the author, it was to no avail. In total the user MuzoKral made just 4 edits before two of them were removed and the other two were flagged as a conflict of interest. Furthermore, whoever was behind MuzoKral forced a Wikipedia admin to enforce protection on the Wikipedia page which only allows users with accounts older than 30 days or over 500 Wikipedia edits to make any changes to the United Macedonian Diaspora Wikipedia page, effectively stopping Meto Koloski’s Wikipedia Taskforce right in their tracks.
Unveiling Dikaiosyni As Elena Sekulovska
Dikaiosyni was the most active Wikipedian out of the three editors, despite 99% of all her edits being ultimately reverted due to either adding false information or not being constructive such as removing the word ‘Greek’ in articles associated with the Alexander the Great movie that was released in 2004.
Apart from being the most active, Dikaiosyni was also the most vocal and aggressive one, often disagreeing with warnings that were given to her for her behavior. Eventually emboldened, she started posting on the profiles of other Wikipedians arguing about their position which rather than changing their position just made them more interested in her.
With the content posted by this organization criticizing Wikipedia on Youtube and social media, calling it biased, and accusing individual Wikipedia editors of being paid propagandists they did not prepare themselves a warm reception to the platform that they so wanted to have an article on. Multiple experienced editors were wary of these new accounts that in perfect synchronization arrived in the deletion discussion to all oppose it.
After a thorough investigation of the content posted by the United Macedonian Diaspora, as well as the creation history of Dikaiosyni which showed that she had a strong interest in the city of Bitola located in the south of North Macedonia as well as an interest in the University of Melbourne. And it all clicked into place when Dikaiosyni stated that she was a female, a couple of Wikipedia editors remembered going through a profile on Twitter that was being re-tweeted by the United Macedonian Diaspora’s Twitter account of a female called Elena Sekulovska who had been the very same girl that had appeared in the video on the channel of another United Macedonian Diaspora member called Mario Hristovski otherwise known as Mario’s History Talks.
Everything instantly clicked into place, they did not really feel that this evidence will make a big difference due to the already circumstantial abundant amount of evidence that existed out there about the ‘Wikipedia Taskforce’. But it still wasn’t plain sailing from there, as one of the Wikipedia editors posted his findings enthusiastically on a public Wikipedia investigation thread with the thread promptly being taken down due to Wikipedia’s personal details policy.
Despite this, the reaction of Dikaiosyni or to use her real name Elena Sekulovska sealed the deal, she accused the editor that had stupidly revealed Dikaiosyni’s identity publicly of bullying and began to frantically cite a few of Wikipedia’s many rules on privacy and user conduct. To give credit to her after 10 minutes of rage, Dikaiosyni did try to play it off like she was really concerned about someone else’s privacy and that it definitely was not her that was behind the account but everyone that was involved it couldn’t be more obvious.
A few of the editors that were involved, in the outing of the real identity of Dikaiosyni then received abuse within an hour later of this surprise reveal by no other than Тутуноберач who had not been active on Wikipedia for over a week but happened to come online right at this moment filled with anger. Тутуноберач began defacing the profile pages of other Wikipedia editors, accusing them of harassing ‘a teenage college girl’ and also accusing the unsuspecting Wikipedia editors of being Bulgarians which was not the first time but was still amusing to the Wikipedia editors involved. When Тутуноберач was asked how he knew about the identity of Dikaiosyni or Elena Sekulovska being revealed, he gave the excuse that he happened to be watching the page where this information happened to be revealed which is an incredible excuse when you consider that there are over 6.5 million Wikipedia pages on the English version of the site and also that Тутуноберач had not made any edits for over a week or shown any other signs of activity during that time. It was just another piece of evidence to link the now-infamous trio together as well as their assistants.
The identities of the other two users, Macedonia1913 and Тутуноберач are not known however there is a lot of evidence that shows that they are likely also based in Melbourne, Australia like Elena Sekulovska who is behind the Dikaiosyni account. Macedonia1913 submitted an article about an Australian born footballer from Macedonian heritage who holds citizenship from both countries called Aleks Taleski who is an unknown footballer that has played 9 appearances and scored 5 goals for the North Macedonian Under 19 team, we do not believe that Aleks Taleski is the user behind the account Macedonia1913 as there is no evidence of him being a member of the United Macedonian Diaspora organization.
However it is very likely that the user Macedonia1913 personally knows Aleks Taleski, another coincidence is that Aleks Taleski is born on the 17th of June 2000 which will put him in the same age range as Elena Sekulovska/Dikaiosyni who is aged 18 according to her Twitter header as of writing this article in June/July 2020. Due to this, we believe that Macedonia1913 is located in Melbourne, Australia, and may be a student at the University of Melbourne along with Elena Sekulovska/Dikaiosyn with the university having its own Macedonian student society that is associated with the United Macedonian Diaspora.
We also have our suspicions that Тутуноберач is associated with the Melbourne based duo of Elena Sekulovska/Dikaiosyni and Macedonia1913 because when Wikipedia editors exposed the identity of Elena Sekulovska/Dikaiosyni within 1 hour and started to deface Wikipedia profiles and call users Bulgarian. There is no solid evidence to link Тутуноберач to Melbourne, Australia, however, he is cooperating with the other two perpetrators that are likely based there so it is more likely than not that Тутуноберач is also part of United Macedonian Diaspora’s Australian operations.
As for the fourth member of the Wikipedia Taskforce, MuzoKral, he only made four edits and all of them were on the United Macedonian Diaspora’s page, we know for certain that he is either based in Melbourne, Australia or in Illinois/Washington D.C, United States as these are the only current bases of operations of the United Macedonian Diaspora.
Who won the United Macedonian Diaspora Wikipedia War?
After 3 weeks of debate, squabbling, and vandalism, a decision was made by a Wikipedia user called SpinningSpark who is one of the many users that volunteer and are responsible for deciding the outcome of Wikipedia page deletion discussions.
This user posted the following conclusion:
“The result was delete. This discussion was made much more difficult than it needed to be by a large contingent of clearly externally canvassed participants. Those organising such campaigns need to understand that they almost never have the desired effect. In fact, they are likely to have precisely the opposite effect. Wikipedia editors will become suspicious and start examining the article in much greater detail than they otherwise would. As it says in the hatnote to this discussion, this is not a vote; mere expressions of support for the article are ignored. What is needed is evidence of notability and this was either completely lacking from most on the keep side, or else they showed an utter misunderstanding of what Wikipedia’s definition of notability is.
Only Macedonia1913 made a fair attempt at presenting sources, but these were largely rejected by other editors. Rathfelder gave some support, but their rationale was largely an OTHERSTUFF argument which, as closer, I’m obliged to ignore. That may (or may not) be a good argument for changing guidelines, but it has no bearing on this AfD. The one source that was generally accepted as counting towards notability was the European Diaspora in Australia book. However, it was agreed that this by itself was insufficient to meet Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies). I also note that the book is published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing who have an extremely poor reputation for fact checking and editorial oversight and are on some versions of Beall’s List so this source is marginal at best.
There was some discussion of the dissertation being used as a source. Some editors seem to have confused this with a Doctoral thesis. It is not, it is for a Master’s degree, as clearly stated on its title page. Doctoral theses are peer reviewed and considered part of the accepted body of scholarly knowledge. Master’s theses are not. Nobody argued that this work “had significant scholarly influence” as required by WP:SCHOLARSHIP and pointed out by several particicpants. Its hard to see how they could have done since gscholar shows that it has no citations in other works.
Some editors requested that the page be salted. I’m declining to do that, this one is borderline enough that it may be possible to show notability in the future. However, I strongly recommend that any new draft is done by an experienced Wikipedia editor. A third AfD like this one will almost certainly end with the page being pernamently protected from recreation.“
The user Macedonia1913 who is part of United Macedonian Diaspora’s ‘Wikipedia Taskforce’ posted a series of messages on the profile page of the user that deleted United Macedonian Diaspora’s page for the second time. Macedonia1913 went off on a tangent about how certain sources were not taken into account and that there are “certain users that are viral on anything related to ethnic Macedonians”. These series of paragraphs were shut down by the Wikipedia admin, “No, your sources were not overlooked, and please don’t post any more rants like this on my talk page. I’m not in the least bit interested in your imaginary persecution.”.
The Wikipedia page of the United Macedonian Diaspora being deleted for the second time, even though they organized a ‘Wikipedia Taskforce’ which is known as canvassing or meatpuppetry on Wikipedia and is against the rules on the platform and looked down upon by the overwhelming majority of Wikipedians.
Despite this there were no winners in any of this, it was a massive waste of time for everyone involved, it is likely that the United Macedonian Diaspora will be recreated and next time accepted if it is created by an experienced editor as at the end of the day most Wikipedia editors involved agreed that it worth keeping the page for the sake of the ethnic Macedonian community.
The many attempts by the UMD’s Australian based ‘Wikipedia Taskforce’ of Тутуноберач, Elena Sekulovska/Dikaiosyni, and Macedonia1913 to enforce their historically inaccurate agenda by removing words such as Greek on the Alexander 2004 film article, removing Albanian etymologies on the pages of Illyrian kings and nobles, and changing the nationality of dead Bulgarian revolutionaries to Macedonian were all unsuccessful. Wikipedia has existed since the 15th of January 2001, the concept of people coming over and pushing their agenda is nothing new instead it has been going on for nearly two decades.
United Macedonian Diaspora’s ‘Wikipedia Taskforce’ came over with the belief that Wikipedia was controlled by some undercover organization of Bulgarian, Greek, Serbian, and Albanian Wikipedia editors that control the narrative. But to their surprise, they witnessed themselves that most of the Wikipedia editors reversing their vandalism were none of the nationalities above. It is likely that the ‘Wikipedia Taskforce’ may believe that these editors are paid by the propagandists by the ‘Greek and Bulgarian governments’ which is an actual belief pushed by members of the United Macedonian Diaspora’s social media accounts as well as that of their members such as Mario Hristovski/Mario’s History Talks.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a social media network, it does not care about freedom of speech or democracy but instead aims for accuracy enforced by verifiable evidence that is collectively weighed up to ultimately create the articles.
As some of the Wikipedia editors said that were interviewed during the creation of this investigation piece, vandalizing Wikipedia is not able to change the historic reality and the fact that North Macedonian government is working on tackling the problems with the North Macedonian historiography with the Bulgarian and Greek governments with key admittance always made by the North Macedonian historical commission such as that Alexander the Great and the Ancient Macedonians are Greek and that Tsar Samuil is a Bulgarian king. If senior members of the United Macedonian Diaspora ever read this article, it will be more beneficial to forge positive connections with your neighbors and open up dialogue, rather than sending teenagers to vandalize Wikipedia.