As well as tracking developments on Salvia divinorum Scotland's pages I've
also been monitoring and contributing to the open encyclopaedia at
in particular to
the article about Salvia divinorum and
the entry about Brett Chidester.
Even if it is somewhat prone to vandalism Wikipedia is a great concept.
I've spent time on it in addition to (and to some extent at the expense of) my own site's development as I see it an
excellent way of getting facts across to (and receiving responses from) a wider audience.
For example, although the 'Open Letter' to Brett's parents on my site received
no reply, I did get some reaction via Wikipedia, particularly from a user identifying
themselves as Brett's aunt, and claiming to represent Brett's family and close
circle. - A user with the id of 'Britbarb'.
Britbarb's entries in Wikipedia - particularly in
the discussion section of the Brett Chidester article - are quite revealing.
However, the Wiki format does have some limitations which Brett's group
have tried to exploit to conceal facts that do not suit their own preferred
version of the story so I'd like to document some aspects of that further
In the first instance, following some initial points of contention, Britbarb's complaints spooked one of
Wikipedia's moderators into completely deleting the Brett Chidester article.
Their principle gripe in this case was, seemingly, the inclusion of
a discussion group remark that claimed Brett had also been experimenting with cocaine and Ecstasy.
It was argued that the source here was not
reliable - being simply a forum post that could have been made by anyone.
Yet the supposedly offending comment had already been removed at the time
of the article's deletion. Ironically, what the Wikipedia moderator ended up
deleting was an article containing, indeed, far too many unreferenced points,
but for the most part, ones which had been included by Britbarb herself.
I personally reinstated the whole article after retrieving the content from
The second main point of contention came after a telling comment was found
on the Brett Chidester memorial group pages. - A MySpace remembrance group set
up by Brett's own friends.
In response to invitation for stories and reminiscences about Brett, one of
his pals had posted...
"i remember at work he would steal unopened bottles of wine or liquor
almost everytime he worked. ill never forget the night he gave me absinthe.
and he drove home so fucked up he was puking out his window while he was
driving. im really going to miss the crazy stuff he did. RIP Brett"
This message was originally put up only a few days after Brett's death, before any
furore had kicked off about Salvia.
Britbarb made repeated deletions to any reference to this quote. There was
no argument being made about the quote's validity. - No attempt to suggest it was a
fake. - Just repeated deletions of reference to it in Wikipedia.
As I suspected would happen (and I would argue, further verifying the quote's original
source as being substantially true), it was not long before the original MySpace group pages
themselves were re-edited. Thus the Wikipedia article's main reference to it
could no longer really be sustained.
Like I say, I did rather suspect Brett's circle would soon close ranks
here, so I took the liberty of first copying the MySpace pages in their
original uncensored form, before any alterations had taken place. You can see
them via the following link.
Brett Chidester Memorial Group - postings prior to
the group's convenient alteration
Your Wikipedia involvement
I would encourage anyone thinking of making their own Wikipedia contributions, but I
must stress, especially for newbies, I've been making edits, mainly to the
Salvia divinorum article, for a while now. It took me some time to get my head
around Wikipedia's NPOV (neutral point of view) philosophy, which at first can
seem rather constraining, but, after working with it, I now appreciate it and
understand that it checks opposition arguments far more than our own.
I think overall the Salvia community should come out of careful and considered
Wikipedia involvement better than some others do, as long as we keep it
factual and cool.
Of course, you still get people coming along complaining on the discussion
pages for example that the Salvia divinorum article is too pro-Salvia. But,
when asked, they can't usually come up with a great deal to support their
accusations. It's usually resolved with some minor rewording.
So feel free to make your own contributions. But please remember, very
important, no ranting.
I know it's an emotive subject, but rants in a main article will only end up
getting edited out by someone else (usually sooner rather than later) and,
even if put on a discussion page, will only end up being counter-productive.
Even if you don't think you are really ranting, be careful not to appear biased in your choice of words. For example, in the Salvia article (under
State legislation section) someone put "Senator Karen Peterson exploited the
opportunity" [of Brett's death] "to pass Senate Bill 259 (aka "Brett's Law")".
- Now, I think in a Wikipedia context the word 'exploited', though quite true,
is better left as 'used' - that way it reads less as if it was written by
someone with a particular agenda.
Also, remember that all prior edits are usually retrievable through the
history pages, so bear in mind if you do write something hot-headed - or
simply something that could be misconstrued, it could come back to haunt.
Think about it before you submit any edit.
Maybe have a read of some of the Wikipedia style and philosophy guides first
I would also recommend you setting up a Wikipedia user account in favour of
submitting anonymous edits. Anonymous edits (leaving I.P. address in the edit
history) are allowed, but user signed in submissions are usually considered
Stick with some other forum if you just want to let off steam. However, if
you've come across a wee snippet of verifiable information or otherwise have
something constructive to add then go ahead and make a contribution.