On the 5th of September, the Lavrada Bannerman republished a joint statement made by officials from the Empire of Karnia-Ruthenia, the North American Confederation, the Republic of Glastieve, and the Grand Republic of Delvera. This statement sought to refute and renounce certain claims made by another micronational news outlet, the Austenasian Times, against Jordan Brizendine, Minister of the Interior of Delvera and Editor-in-Chief of the Bannerman.
Once this statement had been published on the Bannerman, it was shared on the news section of MicroWiki – a website which claims to be a neutral, Wikipedia-like place for micronationalists. According to their general disclaimer:
“MicroWiki is an independent, free and Internet-only encyclopedia established to document all facets of micronationalism. MicroWiki is in no way associated with any particular micronation, new country project or political movement and enjoys no official endorsement by any micronational movement. It is a third-party service that strives to collect information on micronations, micronationalists and assorted micronational concepts in order to provide a comprehensive and fair representation of the micronational world.”
However, only hours after the Bannerman‘s article was shared, it was removed from the headlines by Austenasian Emperor Jonathan I, adminstrator and “Imperial Overlord” of MicroWiki.
There was no mention of a breach of the rules or refutation of the evidence presented. Instead, his stated reason for removing the article was “I’m getting really tired of this. You literally admitted to ‘trolling’. You want to troll? Fine, but don’t use the headlines.”
The reference to “trolling” seems puzzling. The word appears only once in the article republished on the Bannerman, and in the following sentence:
“These claims of a coup stem from a conversation on Skype between “Iron Lord” Daniel Dankovsky, alias Pavle Savovic, Director of Austenasia’s State Intelligence Agency, and Mr. Brizendine, who was seeking information about goings-on in the Empire via trolling Mr. Dankovsky.”
The idea that a statement released jointly by officials from four different micronations was simply an attempt to “troll” seems to indicate a lack of comprehension, at best — or worse, a deliberate attempt to gaslight Mr. Brizendine or misuse of administrative powers in an attempt to skew diplomatic information.
Not long after this, Liam Sinclair of the Coprieta Standard posted his own report on the recent series of events between Delvera and Austenasia, and linked to it on MicroWiki’s news section as well. Despite being well-sourced and written by an impartial reporter, that link was also removed from the main page of MicroWiki by Jonathan I as well.
A public conversation then took place between “Austenasia” (the Wiki username for Jonathan I) and Liam Sinclair, which can be read in full here. Jonathan Augustus’ stated reason for removing the article was:
“As you can probably imagine, I’m pretty tired of the whole ‘spat’ between Delvera and the Empire. It’s my opinion that the best way to bring a matter like this to rest is to stop pouring fuel on the fire (although I doubt that was your intention), and so simply for the sake of community peace and quiet I’ve removed your article from the newsfeed. I do apologise for this, but things are going mad around here recently and some sort of metaphorical ‘curfew’ or ‘time out’ is sorely needed, I believe….
“Once again, apologies for the removal of the article. I hope you don’t see this as censorship of a particular opinion, but simply as the implementation of a policy of ‘okay everyone, enough already!'”
While Mr. Sinclair appeared to take the removal of his link with professional dignity, he also mentioned that “…it might be useful to remove all article references on both sides from the feeds…”, referencing the fact that the Austenasian Times article, which was almost certainly written by Jonathan I himself, remained prominently featured on the front page of MicroWiki.
While Jonathan I conceded that this suggestion “does seem to be the fairest all-round”, he then ended the conversation by saying he would “suggest it to the other admins”.
It should be noted that whether or not the removal of the Bannerman and Coprieta Standard links were discussed and approved by the other admins on the site is currently unknown. Also unknown is whether or not Jonathan I contacted them to discuss removing his own link from the site.
However, at the time of this article’s publishing, the Austenasian Times link has not been removed, nor has the article itself been edited to include any verifiable information or sources, nor have the incendiary allegations been retracted by either the Austenasian Times or Jonathan I himself.
At the same time this was going on, the community side of the MicroWiki was also experiencing similar censorship. In the forums provided for micronational discussion and diplomacy, Dylan “Deelambs” Callahan posted a link to the official joint statement.
Shortly after the above screenshots were taken, and around the same time that the link to the Bannerman was removed, this entire forum thread disappeared. No explanations or warning was given, and there seems to be no reason to assume that any rules were broken.
Not surprisingly, Callahan mentioned the deleted thread and Bannerman link in another thread. Much of the thread was screenshot by myself before it, too, vanished without a word of acknowledgement or explanation from anyone on the admin team.
At no point did Jonathan I himself engage in the conversation, which centered around whether or not he was abusing his administrative status to hamper diplomacy and freedom of the press, as the MicroWiki claims that “In all their work on the wiki, Administrators are expected to be impartial and always put their duties before their individual micronational obligations.”
Callahan expressed his thoughts on that issue by stating:
“This is an issue between nations, not admins and users. [Jonathan I] is using his power as the owner of the venue to prevent my government from informing the community as a whole as to our side of this issue. Which is compounding tensions. If only his side is allowed to be widely published… isn’t that an problem?”
The Bannerman reached out to Dylan Callahan to ask whether or not he had received any private communication explaining why either of these threads were deleted, and he confirmed that there was none.
Following these events, Callahan requested that his account be deleted. When another admin volunteered to simply block him instead, which would have allowed his other threads to remain intact, Consul Callahan responded:
“I am leaving because this is Austen’s website. Austin’s [sic] wiki. It isn’t a neutral meeting ground. It isn’t a neutral place for respected nations to have their voices heard. I think it used to be… but now it simply isn’t.
“I take my micronation seriously. We are going places with Delvera, and we are trying to bring about reform with our Congress of Colo. We’re gaining traction, and we have no more time for distractions such as this.
“Austenasia and Delvera and the NAC and Karnia-Ruthenia had a diplomatic matter arise, and it led to some inescapable conclusions about how Austenasia is run. Our attempt at documenting the course of events, for the sake of history and diplomatic legitimacy, was met with indifference, censorship, and accusations which are phony in the extreme. And we aren’t even allowed to defend ourselves on the wiki or forum?
“This forum and this wiki are the personal collections of Jonathan Austen. He is the self-proclaimed overlord. And I and the rest of my nation are no longer welcome.
“He is using his ownership of the platform that this community uses as a diplomatic weapon against any who criticize Austenasia. They can simply have their voices silenced with the click of a button, and his admins will justify it by saying, ‘Well, he owns it, so you have to expect censorship.’
“That’s why I’m leaving.
“You’re concerned about nullifying archives. That is a legitimate concern. My concerns are similar.
“I want my profile to be removed, because I no longer wish for myself nor my micronation to be a part of Jonathan Austen’s personal collection, to be edited or deleted like a Cool Barbie script, whenever the narrative become inconvenient.
“So to be abundantly clear, if you’re concerned about the integrity of the record, so am I.
“Please delete my account.”
Following this, Consul Callahan also contacted the administration to request that all articles directly pertaining to Delvera be removed from MicroWiki. This request was respected, and the articles were promptly deleted, on September the 8th.
However, Jonathan I temporarily restored the articles again, prompting Consul Callahan to state, once again, that MicroWiki is not a neutral website:
“Delverans do not want any of our articles to be part of this website. We believe the rules and licenses have been repeatedly violated, and there is no substantive neutrality. The owner of this website has used his powers of administration as tools of political power in censoring our content, as well as the content of others. Further, we view the ownership as treating this website not as a neutral encyclopedia but as a personal collection of articles. We do not want ourselves nor our micronation represented here. Please delete.”
Jordan Brizendine, primary author of most of the Delveran pages on the website, also requested that the pages be deleted once again:
“As the original author, and with the approval of the government, I officially request the deletion of this article as well as all remaining related articles which I have helpfully marked for deletion. Thank you.”
The articles were removed once again this afternoon by Jonathan I, and it is expected that they will remain deleted this time.
Reporter: Hannah Callahan