back to article Secret mailing list rocks Wikipedia

On the surface, all is well in Wikiland. Just last week, a headline from The San Francisco Chronicle told the world that "Wikipedia's Future Is Still Looking Up," as the paper happily announced that founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales plans to expand his operation with a high-profile move to the city by the bay. But underneath, there's …

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  1. private musings

    Back Channels continue to buzz

    Great article - fair and accurate in my view. I'm the user Durova linked to as being 'unaware' of the existence of the 'sekrit' list - and I'm currently banned from editing for 90 days for various reasons.

    You may be interested to know that the 'back channels' (posh way of referring to emails really) are really still buzzing over this one, and I think there may be more coverage to come - certainly many very well established editors seem to feel that a 'power grab' has been averted - but that further reform may be required.

    The inability of many editors to roundly condemn what Durova was up to (and even Durova's contrition is a little... er.. limited?) and the knee jerk response to shoot the messenger really doesn't bode well for the culture at the encyclopedia anyone can edit (unless you're banned).

    PM

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am not an expert...

    ...but my understanding of the Wikipedia project is that its strength comes from a vast number of people making small changes.

    However, the process self-selects to self-destruction - to wit, people who have lots of free time get the most power. But those people are usually the ones who are involved in order to gain personal prestige - the antithesis of Wikipedia in the first place. They're experts in the expert-less community.

    So the community automatically becomes run by unstable people who care more about their personal power than the results. And this becomes impossible to stop, because reasonable people by definition will not be obsessed enough to fight the tendency.

    And therein lies the doom of a good idea.

  3. Kristin McKechie

    Witch Hunting...

    Perhaps the admins of Wikipedia need to be directed to the entry for the Salem Witch Hunts... paranoia of that intensity become self perpetuating... it would be a shame to see such a useful project decend into repression and fear....

  4. Jim Westrich
    Coat

    Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

    It's chief weapons are fear, surprise and a length bcc: list.

  5. Bryce Prewitt

    Credibility?

    (I realize this is off-topic to the article, but I've missed the last few articles and this gives me a chance to bag on them and the REAL problem here on the whole. Wikipedia is only a symptom of the internet disease.)

    Wikipedia - and Jimbo Wales in particular - possess credibility? This is the sort of self-important pompous crap that only Web 2.0 and its associated internet figureheads could believe. I get so tired of reading about the power of the internet. Collective intelligence is one of the biggest scams ever pulled on the global populace. Everyone in the history of the world possessing half a brain knows that evolutionary breakthroughs, engineering marvels, social progress and artistic renaissances work best and most often succeed in tight-knit, less populated groups. Success never comes about as a result of committee.

    The problem here is that, collectively, the general populace is more arrogant, more self-important, more cocksure than any given individual itself. Everyone wishes they had something to say and believes that what they have to say is important. This is why you have entities like Wikipedia, and why it is riddled with paranoid, back-stabbing, pretentious twats that will do anything to ensure their continued importance.

    The internet is single-handedly the worst invention ever. Not because it is lacking in any technical sense or its value to humanity is vastly over-stated. It is one of the most amazing engineering breakthroughs in history both for what it is and for what it allows: near-instantaneous communication across an entire globe and, in the future, providing the blueprint for near-instantaneous communication across our galaxy. You don't get much more important than that.

    The unfortunate bit about it is that previously it was nearly impossible to gather an entire world's worth if stupidity together in a room. Now it is almost a guaranteed hourly phenomenon. All the brilliant minds in the world cannot possibly hope to fight back against the worldwide Idiocracy. Survival of the fittest - mentally, in this case - no longer applies. The world is amusing itself reading Jimbo's Big Bag o' Trivia because of what it promises to be, instead of what it really is. It's socialism all over again and they're getting away with it because of its feel-good marketing.

    Wikipedia, groupthink, hive-mind intelligence, and all the other monikers that the internet's collective intelligence goes by has all ready been addressed by an existing mathematical calculation: the infinite monkey theorem. The infinite monkey theorem states that a single monkey at a typewriter would, given an infinite amount of time, write one of Shakespeare's plays. Put 50,000 of them in a room together and you'll significally cut down either the length of time taken or the probability of a positive outcome during the same length of time. Not exactly a guaranteed outcome, mind you.

    The only difference between the two - worldwide collective intelligence and a room full of monkeys trying to replicate Shakespeare - is that the room full of monkeys lacks the ability to comprehend the futility of their endeavor and the pretentiousness of continuing to try.

    What's humanity's excuse?

  6. Somey

    A note from the so-called "enemy camp"

    It's a fine article, though from a purely selfish perspective it would have been nice if you'd asked for a comment from one of us over at The Wikipedia Review!

    As a humble member of the staff over there, I'd just like to assure everyone that our website is most definitely NOT involved in some sort of well-organized "conspiracy" to "disrupt" Wikipedia - they're perfectly capable of doing that themselves these days. And paranoia has long been a stock-in-trade among Wikipedia's "inner circle," along with the longstanding traditions of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and revenge. Regardless, Wikipedia Review is just a collection of disparate individuals who are, for the most part, concerned to varying degrees (and with varying levels of anger) about Wikipedia's impact on the internet and society at large, and how its mind-boggling system of rules and policies have been manipulated for the benefit of a fairly small handful of individuals with some rather questionable agendas. And a significant number of our members actually tend to defend Wikipedia, rather than criticize it.

    Still, it would certainly not be fair to characterize Durova as being in any way typical of the average Wikipedia administrator, most of whom are decent people with perfectly benevolent (if misguided) motives. Almost as soon as she gained administrator status, Durova began to exhibit almost shocking levels of self-aggrandizement, vindictiveness, paranoia, and incompetence that are already legendary in the annals of Wikipedian absurdities. The incident you've documented here is hardly isolated - it's just one of a long series of blunders, slanders, and attacks on undeserving volunteers whose only offense, in some cases, was to question her actions or motives. (And, in one particularly galling case, to ask for a simple apology for a statement that could only have been interpreted as outright libel.)

    The Wikipedia Review's purpose is to help expose the corruption, abusiveness, and hypocrisy that exists at the heart of Wikipedia. In a very small number of cases, that has - admittedly - involved exposing some information about the Wikipedians themselves. Ultimately, it's perfectly understandable that the Wikipedia hard-liners would come to despise us, publish all manner of lies and distortions about us, and attempt to censor links to (if not actual mentions of) us. After all, nobody likes being criticized, particularly when they're not being paid for it! But the degree of paranoia and vindictiveness we're now seeing is getting beyond all hope of rationality. Moreover, this is coming long after we've taken significant steps to remove offensive or potentially compromising information from public areas of our own website, if not to delete it altogether. (As it turns out, we don't care so much about our search-engine rankings. *Imagine that!*)

    We can only hope that Wikipedia finds a way to right its ship sooner, rather than later, but history suggests that we're in for a long wait.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    @Wiernicki

    So the question is, "was it such a good idea in the first place?"

    Wikipedia is essentially another in the long list of Utopian

    schemes pursued by humanity. As always happens, the

    revolution against an establishment becomes itself an

    establishment, which is generally no less self-interested or

    moral than what came before. An inner circle that is not self-

    promoting has a competitive disadvantage against one that

    is. The same selection bias explains why popular religions

    need to absorb (or subjugate if necessary) the rest of the world.

    This is just how [groups of] people work.

    "Wikipedia inner circle" has the same ironic ring as "Communist

    party insider".

  8. Ben Shurey
    Coat

    Obvious really

    TANSTAAFL!

  9. yeah, right.

    Fraud

    Wikipedia is a fucking fraud. All hype, no substance. Anyone using their stuff for "research" deserved to be laughed at. No rigour. No actual peer review.

    Now this? Fuck 'em. It's a nice scam, but why oh why have so many people fallen for it?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    need t be mentioned?

    A typical fansite would be a better place to get information compared to Wikipedia.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Well that's a good example

    I have now the perfect example of what I call a Wikinazi. Secret lists, secret tribunals, information on need-to-know basis that you never need to know, all the typical behavioral patterns of an organization that has none of the goals referenced under "freedom of information", "justice", or even plain old "common sense".

    It would appear that common sense is not so common after all.

    In any case, behavior like this is the very reason why I despise Wikipedia : ignoramuses who abuse their powers remove all credibility from anything they touch. I'm sorry for all the people who honestly work to contribute to this failure of a model, but I approach Wikipedia with just as much circumspection as I would approach an angry rattlesnake.

  12. Adrian Midgley

    knitting tightly until recently

    "Tight knit groups". I suspect throughout history most failures have come from small tight knit groups, as well as most successes, because anything bigger was hard to produce.

  13. A. Lewis

    Inevitable result of the psychology of systems.

    In any system for work, the larger the system, the more time and effort it spends on the system, at the expense of the work.

    Or to put it another way: people are a problem.

  14. Smell My Finger
    Flame

    Wikipedia = rubbish

    Wikipedia is the very worst kind of self-important bollocks you find on the Internet where a select group try to cultivate a media career mostly from the work of other people. Lots of people on the Internet start web sites, forums or mailing lists in the forlorn hope it'll bring them some kind of career. It's become an Internet byword for rubbish.

    Some of the articles I've read on Wikipedia on subjects I have some expertise in are laughably and deeply wrong. I mean not just slightly wrong but profoundly wrong and I'm not correcting this shite because (a) I can't be arsed (b) I have no interest in either their objectives and (c) I'm not correcting the fact they have no editorial control. In olden-day speak it's vanity publishing by any other name.

  15. Duncan Hothersall

    A ripened sock

    Well I usually find stories about Wikipedia entertaining, but there's something especially lovely about an organisation which dismisses its detractors as "ripened socks".

    Nothing new here of course. Plenty of real-world organisations have an idealist basis and an avowed intention to do good, but end up doing nothing but in-fighting because control over what is done has become more important than what is done. Human nature innit.

  16. Ian Dennison

    Technology outgrowing ability to manage it

    Seems Wiki is suffering the same problem as the recording industry - a technology has been introduced that allows free flow of information, yet the security model and user management "science" have not adjusted to best manage the results.

    Kind of a shame that one of the "poster boys" for the new information age hasn;t figured out how manage its technology.

    More research on social science, psychology and trend analysis needed? Better "filters" to remove "false positives"?

    Share and Enjoy!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Decree from the desk of the Supreme Leader

    It's all going a bit comunist isn't it? How long until Jimbo (The Supreme Leader) starts describing people as lickspittle, reactionary, 'the hated former comrade-contribiter "!!"' etc. etc.

    I think that they should implement a five year plan, or some sort of era of change.

  18. Andrew Moore
    Coat

    And to bring the discussion into the gutter...

    A user with 100 DYKs. Fnarr fnarr

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Mage Silver badge

    It's a sect

    I used to edit and my account got "damaged"

    I have experienced that if you add a significant content to any established article it is reverted.

    After annoying myself for a few days again, I not editing again. It's too much hassle.

    The way they implement the NPOV is madness too.

  21. Paul

    Comrade Durova?

    Dose this whole thing remind anyone of the USSR? A bold an laudable Idea, no matter how right or wrong in its basis, brought to its knees by a ruling elite, who were put there to "make sure everything runs smoothly". People who were given power, and when they abuse it they are fine, but when they are caught they are shunned until it all goes away.

    Next thing? They will become so arrogant about there power that they wont care who knows about the abuse, and start ranting that they are doing what they do to "keep the stability of the community" and that they "did nothing wrong. You are listening to the outsiders, who are trying to undermine us".

    They are doomed.

  22. Kevin Johnston

    @AC Revolutions

    From Terry Pratchett....Don't put your trust in revolutions. They

    always come around again. That's why they're called revolutions

  23. Pete

    publish this (on Wikipedia)

    This article sounds like it belongs on Wikipedia, as a reminder of what can go wrong when a small number of people assign themselves unaccountable power over others.

  24. Phill
    Boffin

    Something wrong in general

    In Wikipedia (Community Encyclopedia) were seeing secret lists and power-seekers in groups attacking other people. It's sad that community ideas are corrupted by the few.

    We see the exact same thing on Digg.com (Community Propigated (?) News). Of the million members there are a few people who's submissions are upmodded to fuck. Mr BabyMan springs to mind. http://www.digg.com/users/MrBabyMan/history/submissions Nothing he submits fails anywhere short of popular, all 7 submissions yesterday did.

    Then there's what everyone calls the massive success, the pinicle of sharing, Open Source Software. What's the one thing saving Open Source Software? It's a feature I call "Forkation" that isn't possible with those listed above. That's why they fail where Stallman succeeds. It's not the only argument. Software is measurable against metrics, much more so than the written word so where as your submission seems better than someone elses you can only compare code, not articles.

    In the long run, I think Wiki's reputation will go downhill (And it should. It's full of trolls and empowered idiots) and people will run out of steam for it's development.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anon Coward

    "ironic ring as "Communist party insider". .. or maybe "fat capitalist whoremonger"

    ahhh .. you pays your money you takes your choice

  26. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Given Google, Why Wikipedia?

    If have any expertise in a subject and the time and inclination to express that as a web page or two, why would I then place the article under someone else's editorial control, when I could place it on my own site. Search engines will find it and, though they have their own problems with self-publicists trying to bias the results, they are evidently much fairer than *any* human editorial process yet discovered.

  27. Count Ludwig
    Unhappy

    Growing Pains

    We are witnessing the development (growing pains) of a democratic experiment. The teenage arrogance of some of the Wiki elite is off-putting, but I persevere and contribute occasionally. When Wiki is 50 there will be a rule that all inner circle members will have to have had the corners rubbed off them e.g. must have visited X countries (or Y continents if countries no longer exist).

  28. Aidan Thornton
    Unhappy

    Very nearly official policy

    Shortly before Durova banned !!, there was an attempt to make it official policy that users could be banned forever as sockpuppets for suspicious activities like knowing too much about Wikipedia workings for the amount of time spent on the site, making too many edits, that sort of thing - basically, for being suspiciously good editors. I think it was devised by Durova, and it was supported by admins well-known to WR readers like SlimVirgin.

    Fortunately, it got shot down. Unfortunately, I think it's been effectively unofficial policy for a while know.

  29. The Mighty Spang

    themightyspangs first law of humanity

    asshat+asshat = clique

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lord Of The Flies 2.0

    I once spent some time updating an article with accurate information. It was an area in which I have considerable experience and knowledge. In the process I corrected a number of basic mistakes in the information already present.

    A few days later I went to add some more information, only to find all my work undone with the explanation "rv" (which I found means reverted vandalism)! I restored the info and added my new updates. Within hours it was once again undone.

    At that point I couldn't be arsed any more. It appeared to be a battle of wills, with the winner being the person with a) the most time and b) the largest ego. Frankly I've got better things to do. I let the incorrect data stand and don't trust anything these days on the consensus reality that is Wikipedia.

    The most annoying thing is the way that it's ranked very highly by Google, and the world at large seems to embrace the truth (Truth?) of Wikipedia without question. I initially found this tedious, now I find it rather worrying. By definition, Reality According To Wikipedia will be written by the biggest, most obsessive control freaks out there, and Google is serving this shit up as fact without question.

    The whole Wikipedia architcture naturally graduates to this state of control freakery and clique power. It seems that the idea of collaberation works with small groups; with large, disparate groups, it becomes much more down to a desire to control.

    Welcome to Lord Of The Flies 2.0

  31. Klaus

    Sometimes wiki is good

    The only time I seem to use wikipedia is to find info from the hard sciences. As far as the posted information for science on wikipedia is concerned it is almost always 100% correct. But maybe that's just because it's such an objective topic it's hard to fudge it up.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Who cares, use it when needed

    I don't see the problem really, overall I just see this as an encyclopedia just on the internet thats all.

    Its only used to find out information or whatnot.

    You people arguing and moaning over the internet is pretty sad.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    lack of balance

    i think that some of the criticism of wikipedia lacks balance. i havent edited for months now and have no wish to, but my thoughts from when i was there - most people on there, including the admins, are good and mean well and want to do the best by the project, but a few people with serious power ambitions make it their business to have their noses in everyone else's business. i got blocked without even being asked any questions for being a "sockpuppet" of another contributor who i happened to know in real life. after it was lifted some person ran around trying to "investigate" us and it turned out the person wasnt even an admin and had their own skeletons in the closet which came out rather quickly... was quite funny to watch actually and im sure some of the WR guys were watching with some happiness too as this guy went after some of their people too. it seems we have another one whose come unstuck. the crazy bit is you have vandals and people with really distorted points of view running around and you cant get anything done about them (believe me i tried a few times) unless it turns out they are sockpuppeting. thats the magic word. sock... puppet. click. ban.

  34. Maksim

    Wtf is 'sockpuppeting'?

    Wtf is 'sockpuppeting'? Everybody else seem to know :(

  35. Ian

    It's a Cult. Quelle Surprise.

    That the inner workings of Wikipedia has turned into a cult, with obscure language, deified leaders, diabolic opponents and all mod cons, in the manner of Scientology or EST, will make for an interesting sociology PhD in a few years' time.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    The Ultimate Billboard

    The great thing about the internet is that it is the ultimate leveller. If you don't like how something is run or organised, set up an alternative and see if people use it. I've seen this happen several times with other online communities as the start-up costs are small. If people migrate, you know you're doing something right.

    At the end of the day, if you care enough about it, set up an alternative. Wikipedia does not have a monopoly on knowledge.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Wtf is 'sockpuppeting'?

    "Wtf is 'sockpuppeting'? Everybody else seem to know :("

    Here's your answer, straight from the horse's arse....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Sock_puppetry

  38. Francis Fish
    Black Helicopters

    Erm

    I was going to contribute something along the lines of "a group is its own worst enemy" (have a look at "Best Software Writing" to see a cogent explanation of this) but in the end I couldn't be bothered.

  39. Roger Lee

    WTF??

    I'm astonished that anyone, anywhere, takes wikipaedia seriously. I have never seen a more obvious mutual masturbation club - These saddoes exceed even Mensa in their pompous mediocrity.

    Why is this news? We've all (hopefully) experienced playground politics, but in the PLAYGROUND, which is where it belongs. That these losers would rather flick wet towels at each other than improve the lamentable quality of their "project" says it all for me.

    Sadly, this is typical Web 2.0. It's like the Pajamahadeen who read genuine journalism, where someone has actually done some work, and then bend it around their preconceptions and prejudices and turn it into dishonest and misleading bollocks (allowing for one moment that it wasn't in the first place). Even better, this tripe is then read by other pajamahadeen and, through the twin mechanisms of chinese whispers and profound personal dishonesty, it trancends all reality and even sanity.

    Consider Star Trek's Borg for a moment. Whereas it looks painful, and they obviously don't get out in the sun often enough, these are minor drawbacks compared to having all the dubious nonsense that their entire civilisation is thinking going through all their heads all the time. It seems to me that Web 2.0 has at least closed off that nightmare for us. In spades.

    Do you rate Web 2.0 as anything other than the largest communal waste of time that H. Sapiens (Ho Ho) has yet come up with? Then you're an idiot.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Examples of bias in wikipedia

    It was quite possible people are being blocked because their world view is not consistent with the majority of people (or people of influence) in wikipedia: http://www.conservapedia.com/Examples_of_Bias_in_Wikipedia

  41. Haku

    External linkage

    Apart from the info that Wikipedia contains, wether there's false information or not, one of the strongest points is one which the editors appear to delight in removing, the external links to sites that often contain better & more detailed info on the subject in question.

    It's like the admins are trying to stop people believing in the internet "nah nah nah nah, you don't want to go searching with Google, we've got all the info you'll ever need right here! We Are Your Internet"

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Maksim

    A sockpuppet is when you use a second anonymous identity on a forum or website, usually to cause trouble.

  43. Mike Flugennock
    Boffin

    @ Maksim re: "Sockpuppet"

    I first heard it on news.admin.net-abuse.email.

    For example, say you're a known, caught red-handed, unrepentant spammer trying stupidly to plead your case or debate the issue on n.a.n-a.e. Needless to say, you get nailed and shitcanned from the group.

    So, you create a new user -- or new users -- with different names who appear to be supporters or associates of yours coming to your defense, but which are, in fact, all you, and crassly, obviously so... you know, like putting socks on your hands and hiding behind a piece of scenery, like Shari Lewis & Lambchop (Shari's "sock puppet").

  44. Jon Awbrey

    Was sind und was sollen ein Sockenmarionette?

    A sockpuppet is an Improvised Entertainment Device (IED) for young moppets, much like Wikipedia itself.

  45. A. Lloyd Flanagan

    Intenet worst invention ever?

    Bryce Prewitt: "The internet is single-handedly the worst invention ever."

    Wow, even worse than democracy? You seem to believe that power should be left in the hands of the Privileged Few who can handle it. Beware the unwashed masses!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    sock puppet

    ; An account on a web forum, or wiki which is created for the purpose of trolling or other misbehavior while still retaining ones good name in the primary account. I suppose it can also be used to hide a known enemy of the site or project but I don't why a site, or project, would have enemies. It seems to me some of the people commenting here have sock puppets for El Reg which is pretty odd considering how little they care what we write . AC is not a sock puppet since the forum knows who you are supposedly anyway. I think that sock puppets are also used for astroturfing creating a false consensus usually for/against a product paid for by a corporation, but others could also be doing it. Finally, if for some reason you get yourself banned you use a sock puppet account to participate anyway.

  47. peter Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    I've seen these kind of tendencies in real organisations...

    There's nothing uniquely Web 2.0 about this. I've seen similar behaviour in Real World 0.9 organisations, as well. And actually, it's a lot more frightening face-to-face.

  48. Joe K

    Always happens

    This is why, once its reached a certain size, your average guild/clan/forum/mailing-list eventually always implodes thanks to a negative chain reaction of backstabbing, paranoia, power-hunger, conspiracies (and accusations of), ect, ect.

    Welcome to the Internet.

  49. Adam Sinclair
    Unhappy

    This...

    ... is why we can't have nice things.

  50. Larry Gonick
    Jobs Halo

    results

    I think Wikipedia is GREAT. Like almost any other information source, it has omissions and occasional biases, but any reader should be prepared to compare its articles with other sources. The "distortions" are often trivial--like those cited by Anonymous Coward. But where else can you open a series of pages (in tabs, take that, IE users!) that develop an amazingly full account of a subject? By following in-story links, one develops an understanding (let's say of a historical period or episode) based on conceptual threads. Try that with a paper encyclopedia!

    I'm not privy to the thing's inner workings, but based on results I'm inclined to agree w/ Wales: a tempest in a teapot. Please, Wikipedia editors, don't give up!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK, sock puppet I get...

    ...but what the hell is a "ripened sock"?

    Or, is it something I really do not want to know?

  52. Dick
    Thumb Up

    SFO, what a perfect choice of location

    Sounds like Wikipedia is going to feel right at home in it's new San Francisco home. It's a toss up which is a more dysfunctional organization, wiki, or the city government. So far though the city is ahead on sex and booze scandals...

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Larry Gonick

    Erm. IE has tabs...

  54. Natalie Martin

    Conservapedia's evidence of bias?...

    ...More like "evidence of not being restricted to fundamentalist Christians".

    Conservapedia's examples of bias, linked a few posts above, are hilarious. Number 14 is especially awesome: "Wikipedia has a lengthy entry on 'Jesus H. Christ,' a term that is an idiotic mockery of the Christian faith." Wait... So, an encyclopedia does *not* base its coverage on the old superstitions of a small desert community? What other standard could they be using instead? You mean that people who "mock" Christianity by using a silly epithet *aren't* stoned to death, and if that epithet becomes well known an encyclopedia might report on it?

    Not to mention that "Wikipedia promotes suicide with 21,544 entries that mention this depravity". ZOMG!!!!1 People sometimes kill themselves, and Wikipeida has the gall to mention that fact! How terrible. But you know libruls, they're always doing ridiculous things like reporting facts.

    Wikipedia has a lot of problems, many of which converged in the event discussed in this article. But to suggest that the fact that Wikipedia doesn't enforce Christian laws, or the fact that articles about obscure conservatives are vandalized sometimes, is the fundamental problem with Wikipedia is just plain stupid.

  55. David Cornes
    Unhappy

    Porcine equality?

    Does anyone else see more that a few parallels with the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm here? A glorious egalitarian dream slowly subverted and corrupted from within as power went to the heads of those in charge..? :-\

  56. Vic

    never mind sock puppets

    Sockpuppets are the same person making (sometimes multiple) accounts to get 'false consensus' or something - or using them to evade bans.

    A ripened sock would be a secondary account of someone already contributing that's been around for ages....and is kind of established.

    Never mind sockpuppets though, did you know that you can get banned for suspected 'meatpuppetry' - i.e. you convince some real people you know to go on to Wikipedia and back your views. How *do* they know?

  57. Colin Jackson

    Shock Horror

    Basic tribal in-group/out-group behaviour in human organisation! Bless me, who'd a' thunk it?

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Re: Examples of bias in wikipedia

    And you quote Bushopedia as an example of unbiased data?

    Hoo-hoo-haa-haaaaaah....

    Anybody notice that AManFromMars' private icon is gone?

    I am so sad...

    Mars, we hardly knew ye...

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look at me! I'm KING of Wikiphalia!

    ..but that's not enough for me! Soon, I'll be the sultan of Youtube!

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    'meatpuppetry'

    <retch>

    FFS, that just gave me a mental image that has put me off my tea.

    "Now try and clap your hands..."

  61. tony trolle
    Thumb Down

    re:'meatpuppetry'

    and the rest of the punchline is.....

    " tight ain't I "

    dependent on the joke of course.

    Over half my wikipedia edits have been removed, not going to try any more

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's a Good Life

    I wonder if this means that The Register is now a BADSITE? Wikipedia often puts me in mind of that episode of The Twilight Zone, where the kid with god-like, psychic powers kills anyone who disagrees with him, or displeases him, in any way. He "wishes them into the cornfield" for the tiniest, most arbitrary reasons, and makes snow fall even if it ruins the crops.

  63. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Unhappy

    TEMPEST @ ITs Work?

    "Anybody notice that AManFromMars' private icon is gone?"

    :-( Very Durovan of the Register.

    Was it something IT said? :-) .... or was something said?

    Thanks for the Future Memory, El Reg. PhAIse III salutes you.

  64. Roland Korn
    Coat

    Meatpuppetry

    Heh .... that one brought a visual flashback of "Earl" in MIB.

    Now that was a badly fitted suit sort of Like Wiki.

    As to the comment on the Hard Science being correct or even valid - wish again and buy a few dozen more lottery tickets - those entries are just as fraught with self-stroking-egos as any other - Same goes for biographies updated and corrected by the still living persons at hand who for a second actually gave a damn being reverted due to the editor not knowing the subject matter. Some defamation suits are still in process I hear.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Channelling Gonzo?

    Durova: "I am very confident my research will stand up to scrutiny. I am equally confident that anything I say here will be parsed rather closely by some disruptive banned sockpuppeteers. If I open the door a little bit it'll become a wedge issue as people ask for more information, and then some rather deep research techniques would be in jeopardy."

    Replace "research" by "actions", "banned sockpuppeteers" with "members of ACLU" and "deep research techniques" with "sensitive information on terrorist surveillance" and...

    Hey presto! ROBERTO GONZALES!

    What _is_ going go?

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    citing wikipedia is like ......

    ... saying a guy I met in a bar told me that .....

  67. john doe

    secret/ private mailing list?

    typical illuminati syndrome. the wikipedia should be completely transparent. I spent a couple hours every week to contribute what I can but now learning all this "behind the closed doors" activity, I will never ever contribute anything. I call everyone to boycott wikipedia until these power hungry, corrupt, self-righteous, hypocrites are removed completely, that is, everyone who were registered on that mailing list!!!!!!!

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Geeks need to get Out More

    You get that kind of whacked-out thinking when you spend all your days in front of a glowing box and don't associate with humans using old fashioned "face time."

    She needs help, or a date with THIS chap:

    http://www.pensierini.net/immagini/sysadmin.jpg

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Ridiculous

    This article was absolutely ridiculous and in no way neutral, now the author reserves the right to not be neutral but in doing so did he really have make it read almost exactly like an article from the Sun? This really was blown way out of proportion. Just as you would find in the Sun, the Register has been shoving its dislike ever so lightly into every article they could... but then when they got an EXCLUSIVE scoop, they had to make an almost biblical revelation of the whole thing.

    I do contribute a bit on Wikipedia myself but couldn't care less for the politics backstage (if such even exists), and I think it is a very useful online tool. The Register used to be where I'd come to escape from "tabloidary", but it seems such has become impossible...

  70. Marc-Oliver Kalis
    Pirate

    Hitler Syndrom

    It is disgusting to see, how a great project like Wikipedia is being killed of a by a few paranoid idiots, who just see conspiracy after conspiracy!

    I call it the Hitler-Syndrome

    The moment you get more power than you can handle, it feels too good to be true and one thinks that everybody is out to get you.

    Hitler had exactly this problem! He got too powerful, and then all aof a sudden saw enemies where there were none, which in the end caused him to make decisions, which lead to his downfall (Thank th Lord for that!!!)

    Unfortunately he also caused a lot of harm and mayhem through these decisions.

    Some of these paranoid admins, are on the virge bringing this great project down!

    I personally feel so strong about it, that I think, since Wikipedia is really a community project, every admin that was on this secret mailing list, should be banned for at least 90 days!

    best regards from Germany

  71. john doe

    all are equal....

    but some are more equal than others...pompous asses...

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    New El Reg rule?

    Absolutely anyone using Wikipedia as a reference in a comment has said comment removed.

    Second?

    Anyone?

  73. Thomas Swann
    Thumb Down

    Well....

    http://despair.com/idiocy.html

    QED.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Not surprising

    Q: What do you get if you cross "Animal Farm" with "Lord of the Flies"?

    A: Wikipedia/internet forums

    Nearly every moderated community on the Internet is based along the same model, and they all tend to go the same way in the end. They turn into self-appointed cliques of admin/mod members, plus their followers, who have nothing better to do with their lives and so end up taking the "community" far too seriously. We're talking about people who would be bereft of meaning if they were no longer a part of the group.

    Dare to dissent against such a clique and pay the consequences, ganged up on and maybe banned. Dare to defend the dissenters, or even point out that the hive mind is over-reacting or being a tad unreasonable, and you're guilty by association and treated the same way. Can't have reason or sanity if it disagrees with the clique, now, can we? In really bad cases, paranoia takes hold and perceived enemies of the site are everywhere.

    Of course if you're in the inner circle, you get to be as much of an asshat or troll as you want to be.

    The scary thing is, they seem to think that being cast out of the community is some form of terrible punishment, and perhaps it would be for them, but most normal, sane, rational people will just say "bugger that for a joke" and go get on with their real lives. Siberia and the Gulag it isn't, though the forum-addicted might believe otherwise.

    Wikipedia is no different, except people actually think it's some sort of reference site. It'll implode eventually, when all the sane people have seen right through it and ignore it for the nuthouse it is, and the only people left involved are those who have no life outside of Wikipedia and whose core competency is being a micro-fascist.

  75. M1rth

    Wikipedia is like

    seeing sausages get made.

    The fact of the matter is that Wikipedia is dying from within. It's dying because Jimbo explicitly wants an "elite few" running it and considers himself a "benevolent dictator" - but there is no such thing in the long run since Power Corrupts.

    It's dying because on any given article, the content is not controlled by "community consensus" but by any organized group who want to kill the messenger and are organized to lock off anyone who disagrees with them.

    See this for more:

    http://parkerpeters.livejournal.com/3130.html

    Quote:"Interestingly enough, the BITE policy has a telling statement: nothing scares potentially valuable contributors away faster than hostility or elitism.

    Why is this interesting? Because this is precisely the goal of the abusive administrators. They want, no, need, to drive away anyone new who disagrees with them, because if they did not, then ultimately they bear the risk of enough new users coming in to overturn their bogus "consensus" on the articles they control."

    Parker Peters is probably the best ex-admin wikipedia has had, and it's a crying shame the elite jerks of the site kicked him out rather than hear his criticisms.

  76. Anonymous from Mars
    Joke

    Wikiality

    "Many of its core contributors are extremely unhappy about Durova's ill-advised ban and the exposure of the secret mailing list, and some feel that the site's well-being is seriously threatened." [citation needed]

  77. Jean Stone

    Secret research techniques?

    Would these be the kinds of things all students learn by their first year at university (at the latest) or have the inner circle at Wikipedia learned some sort of techniques not available to us peons?

  78. mike

    what p****s me off

    about Wikipedia are the editors who act like Nazis.

    Wikipedia is not egalitarian, nor is it fair. Their rules are arbitrarily applied by whoever's whim you happen to fall under. Having a bad day? Piss off a particular editor? Good luck EVER getting anything up on Wikipedia. All your competitors are there but you're not? Good luck ever getting your information alongside theirs.

    Wikipedia must take this more seriously since it's becoming often the top result in Google - which affects the bottom line of a lot of companies.

  79. Marco

    Guide to using Wikipedia (if you must)

    1. Type the subject of your interest into Google

    2. Click on the Wikipedia entry about it, which will be in the top 3 of your search results.

    3. Click the link and immediately close your eyes.

    4. Keep your eyes closed and scroll down for as long as you deem necessary to reach the end of the page.

    5. Follow the links presented under "External Links"

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Holy crap, Cliff Stoll was right!

    Actually, I'd hope that Wikipedia would be bought out by Google...

    And that of instead of being run by some nutty cabal, it'd be run by paid workers who actually have lives outside of their job! Haha.

    And if they want to be a legitimate reference site, then the people making the edits to the articles would have to be actual authorities on the subject, and not just in their own minds.

    It's so funny that Wkipedia is trying to remove trivia sections. The whole damned site is one big trivia section!

    You want a true info source, go refer to a REAL encyclopedia. Or even... gasp... go to a library!

  81. Rick Brasche
    Joke

    the First Rule of Wikipedia Mailing List:

    ..is that you do *not* talk about Wikipedia Mailing List.

    the Second Rule of Wikipedia Mailing List: if this is your first edit, you *have* to ban someone!

    Now, I see bunch of new editors here, which means a lot of you have been breaking the First Rule....

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Re: Not surprising

    You said it quite well.

    That's the real problem: Pathetic people with no lives and terrible self-image, terrified that their tenuous grasp on the onanistic handle of "power" could slip.

    These people need therapy. Desperately. There have actually been people who have killed themselves because of online "communities," and there will be more and more as the meme rots, er, matures.

    I just walk away from "communities" where I encounter this behavior. While they are slapping themselves on the back for "driving out a troublemaker," I'm taking my multiple decades of experience, education and authority away from them.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Libelous conformists

    So, Wiki is tiny group of people embracing certain boxed-in perceptions who desire the rest of us see things their way. Nothing is permitted outside of their boxed-in walls. They have so far gotten away with outrageous anonymous libel against individuals, and I hope someone will soon take them to court. I am a writer and best-selling book author and have attempted to correct some of their slander against people I know only to have my wrists slapped and my corrections removed. After this, and after reviewing their often lopsided "research," (which always seems to pop up at the top of google), I decided to never use them professionally as a reference because they are anything but professional.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm disappointed.

    My first comment on this topic never made it to the list... Apparently I was 'dunova'd'... <sigh>

  85. Morely Dotes

    The solution is obvious

    I implemented it quite some time ago; it's a firewall rule:

    iptables -A INPUT -s 66.230.200.0/24 -j DROP

    My users don't know that Wikipedia is still on the Internet. None of them seem to care. I know I don't.

  86. J
    Coat

    Hey

    "Hey presto! ROBERTO GONZALES!"

    Is that some relative of Alberto, the US Attorney General? (former? soon-to-be former?)

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Wikitology

    "...by some disruptive banned sockpuppeteers" -Durova

    How is it that the term "Wikitology" has not yet appeared in this thread? Replace "disruptive banned sockpuppeteers" with "suppressive persons" for the Tom Cruise angle. [I happen to think that Tom Cruise looks like a penguin.]

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Don't you just LOVE it, when someone thinks they know whats bad for you?

    @Morely Dotes

    "I implemented it quite some time ago; it's a firewall rule:

    iptables -A INPUT -s 66.230.200.0/24 -j DROP

    My users don't know that Wikipedia is still on the Internet. None of them seem to care. I know I don't."

    Could be because www.wikipedia.org is on another IP? Looks like it from where I'm sitting.

    You are entitled to your opinion on Wikipedia, but should you really make that decision on behalf of all your users?

    What will you block next? The IP of the website of a political party you wouldn't vote for yourself?

    Looks like you have too much power, in a sad sort of way. And doesn't know how to use it correctly.

  89. Maty

    its a tool

    wikipedia is a tool - no more. Know its limitations and its incredibly useful. I find information all the time on wikipedia, and use it in my work. Do I trust it? Not a bit. Every item I find on wikipedia I verify in a 'real' reference source. But - and this is the point - without wikipedia I'd never have known that information exists.

    Like most users, I don't give a sh*t about the internal politics, and find the Reg's campaign against the site a bit bizarre, but the web would be a lot poorer without wikipedia. As someone previously remarked - wikipedia is about as trustworthy as what some person tells you in a bar, but I have often got good ideas and suggestions while having drinks with experts in my field.

    Moral - wikipedia is great. It's just not an encyclopedia

  90. John Sullivan

    Fork?

    I think a fork would be a great idea. All the material in Wikipedia is GFDL:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About#Trademarks_and_copyrights

    That would be awesome if somebody cloned the contents and used it to start up a competing site, except with an attempt to make less dysfunctional rules for differences of opinion among editors.

    I find those "citation needed" thingies extremely irritating. It feels so much like a pre-emptive justification for removing material you don't like.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    conspiracy theory

    This Durova is very clever - accusing others of trying to bring wikipedia down from the inside while she trys to bring wikipedia down from the inside.

  92. 0D0A

    I wonder

    So much for free speech

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Not a surprise

    I tried to improve a page once - with better data. It was changed back almost immediately with a "don't trash Wiki" reply. (Their data was wrong!) I have not tried to edit at wiki again.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia

    Is the short bus of the Internet.

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    TINC

    If it weren't for Wikiwossname I'd get /very/ bored in the afternoons.

  96. Coyoty

    Block-heads

    The user page of !! continues to have Dunova's ban message even though it supposedly was unbanned after 75 minutes and the block history says it's unblocked. The discussion page for the user is redirected to the main page, and it's been locked by an admin who wonders why people are still trying to edit it.

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    wikipedia is forked

    http://en.citizendium.org/

    "Articles that originated in part from Wikipedia are available under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2."

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    durova's quite the character

    I just browsed "her" article on Joan Of Arc ... the discussion reveals a bit more about her personality. Dismissing others offhandedly, restricting discussions etc etc.

    Then she gets a Mcdonalds star type thing for her diligence in preventing changes.

    The wikipedia discussion pages are always worth reading for a lesson in pomposity.

  99. Tim Tylor

    It has its uses

    For all its behind-the-curtain social pathologies, sickypedia's still pretty darn useful for a poor layman trying to get their head round PPPoE and Dynamic Host Conflagration Protestcull and suchlike. I'd never quote it as an authority, but then I'm not a student and I don't have a college library to hand.

  100. Gus Swan

    lack of self referentiality

    I thought that by now the controversy of this event might have featured on Wikipedia's entry on itself. After all, evictees from the X Factor are updated about 2 minutes after the show ends. A whole day passes and amazingly there is nothing there. Has no one tried to edit it, or are the self-appointed Guardians at the Fount of All Human Knowledge hanging over all the edits?

  101. Gilbert Wham

    Awesome...

    .."obscene trolling [and] free range sarcasm and troublemaking."

    Fantastic. I am going to put that on my resumé under 'Hobbies & Interests'.

    BTW, why does the Developer comments section remember my details, yet this one requires me to log in every time? It's very annoying.

  102. Mike Crawshaw
    Flame

    @ Maty

    "As someone previously remarked - wikipedia is about as trustworthy as what some person tells you in a bar, but I have often got good ideas and suggestions while having drinks with experts in my field."

    Problem being that a lot of the Wikipedia articles are edited and controlled by people who are NOT experts in the relevant fields. Or even amateurs. More frequently, they seem to be people who once read a Reader's Digest article about something a bit similar some years ago in a waiting room. Whenever an edit appears that doesn't agree with their existing bias, or corrects an error made by them or their friends, an RV occurs.

    I've got a fair knowledge in *some* fields. When I look at Wikipedia, I see glaring errors. Big ones. Out-and-out fabrications and unsubstantiated opinion in some instances. Do I care enough to bang my head against a wall by trying to correct it, knowing I'll get nowhere? I do not.

    There should be a disclaimer at the top of every article: "For Entertainment Purposes Only".

  103. Seán

    Fascist regime

    Wikipedia is a product of americans and therefore is innately corrupt and addled with secret societies. Jimbo has set himself up as king/president and the sycophants call the shots. Political articles read like cold war propaganda due to the vast amount of reactionary right wing meatpuppets.

  104. Peter Blaise`
    Heart

    A wiki that anyone can edit?

    I'm concerned about the elitist, self-inflicting, mini police-state that has evolved around Wikipedia/Mediawiki administration, and all the ongoing noise about banning (see the support mailing lists for endless necessary discussions not possible within Wikipedia).

    So long as any admin can ban anyone, especially as a resolution to a fight they themselves are in (or even started), there will be a nasty undercurrent of negativity and fear to the Wikipedia/Mediawiki experience.

    Wikipedia is not free and open to all.

    We all know banning is bad for the one banned.

    What few understand is that banning is also bad for the person who bans, and the community, makes us callous and full of ourselves as superior and elitist, and becomes a "Shoot first, permit no questions" police state, whenever an admin feels even slightly uncomfortable or challenged.

    Admins do not see themselves as service support staff, here to help everyone, anyone, and Wikipedia/Mediawiki is the worse for it.

    I will always see Wikipedia/Mediawiki content and community as full of holes due to the missing contributors, intimidated contributors, and compromised contributions from play-it-safe contributors, so long as Wikipedia/Mediawiki has not developed a work around to prevent banning, and to encourage admins to help, not hurt.

    Click!

    Love and hugs,

    Peter Blaise

  105. Britt Johnston
    Thumb Up

    Quality v. Shenanigans

    Well done guys, you even get quoted in the foreign IT press. http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/100097

    However, note that the article starts with a lead story in the weekly glossy Stern, comparing 50 entries with those in a standard 15-volume printed encyclopedia, Brockhaus. Wikipedia won 43:6, with 1 draw.

    While the German version is less politicised, it has also only a third of the number of articles. The German quality is not better, but content is independent of the game-playing, at least in the short run.

  106. Andy Worth

    Cult?

    From the sound of it, the Wiki admins sound almost like a cult, terrified of anyone who threatens their beliefs. It certainly looks like a dreadful abuse of power, and not so much like they have a slightest interest in the truth, but more like their own version of it.

    Sod em.

  107. Colin Wilson
    Black Helicopters

    Anti Wiki Bias?

    I don't understand why there are so many anti-Wikipedia articles on the Registry. Most of the time, Wikipedia articles are informative, well written, comprehensive and reliable. Occasionally they are rubbish. It's easy to tell the difference.

    I don't know why people are objecting to the trivia there either - and The Register readers too(!) At best it provides important and enlightening background information. Anyway it's fun.

    What's going on? Sour grapes from El Reg, or is these articles part of a darker conservapedia conspiracy?!

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    1 problem

    [citation needed]

  109. Kevin Campbell
    Coat

    Wikipedia = HGTTE

    To (mis)quote the late great Douglas Adams, "the [Wikipedia] contains much which is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate".

    Ergo, Wikipedia is the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Earth. Sad, really.

    BTW, I humbly and deeply apologize for using Mr. Adams and "Wikipedia" in the same sentence. I should probably be flogged...

  110. Peter Blaise`
    Heart

    Anti Wiki Bias? No, anti elitist, power-grabbing admin bias!

    To Colin Wilson - we're talking about different things.

    The article here is about the Wikipedia community, especially the admins (only a few hundred active), not the content of the encyclopedia (2 million pages and counting).

    We LOVE Wikipedia.

    That's why we're so upset by the few admins who have become spoilers, rather than acting as service support helpers.

    Click!

    Love and hugs,

    Peter Blaise

  111. Martin Owens

    HHGTTE?

    Wikipedia = HGTTE? Nah what did you think www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2 was for? it was the wikipedia before wikipedia and I should know because I got a nice email from someone asking me if they could use parts of my Widnes h2g2 article in the wikipedia article; for some reason you can get better results writing original works by researching instead of just browsing around the net collecting the nebulous information that's available. Who would have thought it.

  112. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Conservapedia's own little list

    I see some people have been listing Conservapedia's claims of "Bias in Wikipedia"; what you may not know is, hilariously, Conservapedia is guilty of the exact sin that they're accusing Wikipedia of, and of which Wikipedia is guilty here. Conservapedia's been run by a secret, vindictive, hard-line group for its entire existence: http://groups.google.com/group/special-discussion-group. Gotta love the Draconian name. So this seems to be a Wiki-wide phenomenon.

  113. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This sounds like....

    ....an Adam Curtis documentary.

    ElReg, please pass on a request to Mr Curtis to educate the world on the lunacy of Web 2.0 via proper telly. (The interviews were good, but the less enlightened need the full Curtis experience.)

  114. David Cornes
    Happy

    Blind spot

    Out of curiosity I just checked out this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_register

    How come the article omits any mention of El Reg's love of El Wiki and the beautiful new world of Web 2.0 (beta)?

  115. Joe M

    Take a valium

    Some of you guys should cool it! I don't get it. Why are you so upset and combative? Wikipedia is just another net resource like news sites, maps and auctions. If you don't like it, don't use it.

    As for me I always go there to give me an outline of the topic I'm looking for, and then I can go and do my work with deeper sources. It's useful and worthwhile. As for accuracy, it's quite simple: maths, science, technology, literature, music, arts, geography - mostly accurate, but check anyway! Sociology, history, languages, politics - caveat emptor. Religion, sex, the environment, personalities etc. - ha ha ha.

  116. Daniel B.
    Flame

    Wikipedia

    The whole thing has gone downhill since they started going trigger-happy with a lot of stuff. See their removal of "copyrighted" material and replacement with stupid pencil drawings. Or the jokingly "jerk wad" in the semen article (a topic covered in El Reg too). Or the "trivia" discouragement, even when some articles do need this. Notice that the original tag was {{toomuchtrivia}} but the actual text was "Remove this trivia section, d00d!", isn't that called "doublespeak" ?

    Sadly, it is still the only catch-all point for finding information, as search-stealing search engines and pagerank pimping sites have turned Google into a less-than-reliable source. Not that it was that much reliable; most of the "interwebs" is full of biased or unfounded claims, and its really, really hard to find real facts in it. And *if* you find something, there is still the matter of verifying if it's true or "something I pulled out of my arse".

  117. David

    Fork the pedia

    Call it OSpedia, grab the best editors, and put up some Google ads to pay for your work.

    In other words the editors should get together and take control.

  118. AM

    Huh?

    First, for all those talking about reliability, note that other encyclopedias are also rife with errors. This tends to happen when humans are involved, see History of the World for further details on where we screw up, note genocide and the whole Earth is flat fiasco for good examples.

    Second, since people seem to care about the reliability, I ask why? No one should be using this or any encyclopedia to do any serious academic/research work. Like hopefully your primary school teachers told you, use encyclopedias to get a general understanding of the topic and for a good bibliography to start your research paper with. And if you cite an encyclopedia, here is your F, and your job application for McDonald's. Now, it would be great if Wikipedia was accurate, but see the first part as to why this is more of a goal than something that exists in reality.

    Third, secret mailing list? So what? I'm in the top 1500 of editors by edit count I could care less. I'm not an admin and don't want to be. But on every user page there is a "email this user" option, and I do use it from time to time just like the admin cabal seems to be using it, though I can't block anyone. Somethings are just better left unsaid on Wikipedia where people can misunderstand statements, or being too sensitive. So, as a "major editor" or whatever the phrase was used by this article, I'm not looking to leave because of this, its actually the lack of quick and painful action by admins towards the vandals (and the related lack of protecting articles) that annoys me.

    Lastly, the wikidrama. All the drama is user created. If you go to Wikipedia with an intention to do anything other than contribute positively through content additions, then you should not be welcomed. You want to write poop or your favorite expletive, you want to push your opinion, or promote you/your company, then go start a blog, Wikipedia has better things to do than deal with you. If you have paranoia issues or a God complex, or just a big ego, then you should not be an admin. But above all, instead of spending hours writing ANI/RFC reports for a 75 minute ban: write a quick note about the problem, remember who did what and reward/punish where appropriate at a later time (e.g. RFA), and then get back to editing articles in the mainspace where there are 2.5 million plus articles and not even 1% at FA or GA level.

  119. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Re: Huh?

    "ANI" ... "RFC" ... "RFA" ... "FA" ... "GA".

    WTF?

    Tip: Try looking up 'English language' on your trivia database sometime.

  120. Somey

    Inaccuracy isn't really the problem

    The "accuracy issue" is a red herring. Sure, in a real encyclopedia you'd know who had made a given mistake, and you'd probably see a printed correction and perhaps an apology, whereas with Wikipedia you usually don't get any of those things. Still, everyone knows that mistakes are inevitable in reference materials. The problem is when *specific* inaccuracies are deliberately inserted, subtly and often maliciously, by people with questionable agendas. And when administrators help people do that, often by directly opposing those attempting to combat it via both content-editing and banning, then there's a serious problem. Which, again, might not be a problem at all if Wikipedia weren't so ubiquitous on all the search engines.

    More to the point, the paranoia we're seeing against Wikipedia Review is completely misplaced. Many WR members, including myself, are actually outspoken proponents of *stricter* controls against vandalism, *more* page protection, and more limits to what anonymous-IP editors can do. Wikipedia has been telling us that a "stable versions" feature is in the offing for almost two years now, but it remains nothing but vaporware. And believe it or not, most WR members would probably agree that the vast majority of admins actually do deal with controversial content in a fair and "neutral" way, but there's a small minority who simply don't. That small minority is - *surprise!* - the same group who are setting up secret "star chamber" mailing lists to combat imaginary "sock puppet invasions," supposedly by people who, in point of fact, barely have enough time to keep up with their near-constant blundering, much less run some sort of coordinated campaign of... whatever it is such campaigns are supposed to achieve?

    Those people should at the very least have their admin rights revoked, but few people on Wikipedia dare oppose them. (Articles like this do help, though.) Meanwhile, one good strategy for dealing with one's detractors might be to avoid ascribing capabilities to those detractors that they just don't have. Unfortunately, cults work best when they can easily identify an "implacable enemy" with super-gnarly powers who are "intent on destroying them." Having such an enemy promotes ideological conformity and helps quash dissent, and that's what Wikipedia thrives on.

  121. Death
    Pirate

    So the rot DOES go to the top.

    That anonymity talk is crap. The Check-user process is used frequently to force people give up their real life identities.I became active in Wikipedia in May. By June I had crossed some seemeingly pretty well protected old timers: I was check-user'd along with a group of people from the same country who dared to disagree with the ruling opinions of a group on certain set of articles, found guilty and banned for being a puppet master of several accounts older than mine, but exonerated within a day after going through all sorts of informal channels to get a second opinion and giving up my anonymity.If I hadn't given my identity up voluntarily nobody would have even looked twice at the ban. You will be forced to give it up yourself if you cross the wrong people. Another user banned under same case and later unbanned actually took to using his real life name on Wikipedia after that, the virtual identity was compromised anyway, there was no point.

    A system that looks who you are when forcing a policy is rotten to the core anyway...

  122. Carsten Cumbrowski
    Alert

    Wikipedia Politics and Procedures

    The ban of the user shows that too much power is given to individuals and that the use of the power is not or only rarely questioned. This allows the abuse of that power without repercussions for the abuser. That's a flaw in the system. I suggested a solution for this particular issue during the "Request for comment" about Durovas actions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Requests_for_comment/Durova#General_Flaw_in_the_System_and_Suggestion_for_a_Solution

    I am an editor with over 4,000 edits made over the past two years and I try to stay out of those bs politics inside of Wikipedia that do not help anybody and only cause the waste of time on stupid and pointless things rather than productive edits. The fundamental rules for Wikipedia are surprisingly simple.

    Also see

    http://www.searchenginejournal.com/how-to-add-content-to-wikipedia-the-white-hat-way/6067/

    It seems that a number of long term contributors forgot about those basic and simple rules and the general idea behind Wikipedia. This general idea is not a bad idea at all.

    Wikipedia was supposed to be working based on the principles of libertarian anarchism and not the principles of an aristocracy. Maybe editors need to rise up to remind those who assumed power, that they are the ones who have the explaining to do why their assumption of power is legitimate, because it is by default illegitimate.

  123. PT

    Helicopters traversing ..

    Did anyone notice in that other article, on which commenting is not allowed, that the photo from Gerard's page shows the Wiki commissars using Apple laptops?

    Everyone who's ever watched a movie knows that only the good guys use Apples - villains always have Windows machines. What a nice piece of subliminal propaganda from the Wikitbureau.

  124. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is nothing new under the sun, or even on the Administrators' Noticeboard

    Folks, this isn't a big deal.

    Anywhere people organize themselves into groups in devotion to a common purpose, you find the same thing. Some work on the common purpose; some criticize each other; some are rebels, some are conformists, and all of these different sorts of people form little subgroups and hierarchies, and some of them are secretive and self-important. It is a universal feature of people who work together to have "politics". As Wikipedia has increased in size and complexity, so have its inner politics.

    It's now much, much harder to work on the encyclopedia than it has been in the past, since all the big articles are written. The work yet to be done is tedious and difficult. Every day there are more newcomers. All that excess energy bubbles over into -- you guessed it -- conflict.

    Good Wikipedians ignore this crud. I've been with the project for four years and been an admin for three, and listen up: nothing is changing. Troubles come and go, troublemakers come and go, drama comes and goes, and many of us just smile and watch it all go by.

  125. Jared Spurbeck

    An Example of Irony

    Many here are deriding the whole Web 2.0 / million monkeys thing. But it seems that the problem we're criticizing has less to do with the "unwashed masses," and more to do with a power-hungry elite that's suppressing them.

    Was it inevitable that the elite should have arisen, or was it simply a case of poor judgment and people who couldn't be bothered to stop them? Was the design flawed from the get-go, in that it made this situation more likely? And is the idea of people working together so offensive that it needs to be mocked whenever it's brought up? Because open-source software is a popular target as well, but Linux companies are doing billions of dollars in business right now, and outpacing their competitors in what few performance metrics they haven't surpassed.

    What did the open-source community get right that Wikipedia didn't? Perhaps, as the article suggests, their decision to let anyone fork the project -- thus placing the power of self-determination in the hands of the contributors, rather than an elite few?

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