* Posts by Somey

6 posts • joined 4 Dec 2007

Jimbo asks online folk to play nice, be civil

Somey
Headmaster

I'm shocked!

The sheer, unbridled arrogance, hypocrisy, narcissism, and utter lack of self-awareness being displayed by Mr. Wales and Ms. Weckerle here are... well, totally predictable and par for the course, actually!

The thing is, on Wikipedia, accusing someone else of failing to be civil is, itself, considered a "civility violation." Wikipedia doesn't have a civil or civilized community, what they have is <i>enforced</i> civility, and the people enforcing it are usually 15-year-olds who are given ban-buttons and precious little else with which to do it. Meanwhile, the current motto on Ms. Weckerle's <a href="http://andreaweckerle.com/">personal blog</a> is "Attack life, wait for nothing." Yeah, that sounds really civil to me, too.

Sockpuppeting British politico resigns from Wikisupremecourt

Somey
IT Angle

Technically speaking...

Editing from multiple accounts isn't really verboten - they can't really prevent it, so they don't really try. All they can do is take ineffective punitive measures against those who are "caught" doing it "abusively," though of course, to avoid getting caught it's best not to seek election to the Arbitration Committee in the first place.

After the Essjay scandal of two years ago, Jimmy Wales put up a lot of talk about "credentials verification," which turned out to be vaporware, as usual. The media fell for it, though, hook line and sinker - giving Wikipedia all the benefits of media coverage without the inconvenience of their actually having to fix anything. (The media didn't follow up on it, either.)

I just hope that whatever happens in the wake of this little kerfuffle, reporters won't just accept whatever nonsense they're told about how Wikipedia "intends" to deal with such abuses. I can assure any journalists and bloggers reading this that they intend to do nothing whatsoever, for as long as they can possibly get away with it.

Wikipedia COO was convicted felon

Somey

@Ani

>Judge not, and be not judged. The woman passed checks and drank...so, she's bad, and can't be trusted with anything. Right?

I wouldn't say "anything." Maybe we could just keep it to "hundreds of thousands of anonymously-donated dollars."

>And what about the organization that hired her? They're bad, and can't be trusted either, right?

Right! By Jove, I think you've got it!

>Hey, what is the point of this expose? That Wikipedia has a dark side, and can't be trusted?

Sure seems that way, doesn't it?

>I think the point, really, is that Wikipedia pisses people off -- mostly, it pisses people off who don't like it that it's an open, free, and 99% reliable information source. Right?

Wrong - if Wikipedia were any of those things, it wouldn't piss people off so much. It comes reasonably close to being "free," at least, but hey, you get what you pay for.

Wikipedia black helicopters circle Utah's Traverse Mountain

Somey

Luckily, we don't want to do a better job

>>'I'm sure the people who criticize Wikipedia's administration

>>couldn't do a better job of administering things. The "critics"

>>of Wikipedia who run web sites like Wikipedia Review are

>>mostly nutters.'

Speaking as one of the "nutters" (and hey, thanks for the free psychological diagnosis!), I'd have to agree with you. Luckily, we're not trying to take over the administration of Wikipedia, as some Wikipedians seem to assume for some reason. (Most of us want nothing to do with it, in fact.) The majority, perhaps even the VAST majority, of WP administrators are decent, fair-minded, competent people - they may all be in over their heads, but everyone knows it's a big website, and nobody's perfect.

The problem is that a small group of very bad apples has gained too much power and influence, becoming far too abusive and secretive in the process, and there seems to be no way to make them go away. In fact, the system seems to be designed in such a way as to make it easier for the bad apples to entrench themselves, not leastwise by their ability to cry "harassment!" and get off scot-free any time someone criticizes their actions. There do seem to be some positive developments in recent weeks, though - but only at the expense of a significant PR backlash against WP that they may not recover from for quite a long time.

What we've found is this: The *real* problems Wikipedia has, which are far more serious than just the behavior of a few bad apples, can't be constructively dealt with as long as the bad apples dominate the agenda - squelching constructive attempts at reform, and generating tons of time-wasting, useless "drama." Getting them to leave the "project" is a prerequisite to anything good happening over there, like it or not. That's just how it is.

Secret mailing list rocks Wikipedia

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.

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.

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