Monday, May 18, 2009

How to pervert Wikipedia's policies

As mentioned in the previous post, every single one of Wikipedia's policies can be perverted through selective enforcement, playing off against other policies, falsification of computer logs, and sometimes just plain ignoring what the policy actually says. But you can pervert the policies only if you're a member of Wikipedia's ruling class.

Here's a look at some of the most popular pervertible policies:

* WP:3RR Members of Wikipedia's ruling class can revert as many times as they want, making each revert slightly different. Reverts by non-members, regardless of how many differences there are between the current and previous reverts, is the same revert. A non-member who violates this policy may be blocked. A member of the ruling class who violates this policy can have the article protected, and locked to his last revert.
* WP:CIVIL Any criticism of Wikipedia's ruling class is uncivil. But members of Wikipedia's ruling class can insult anyone not in the ruling class and it's perfectly civil.
* WP:CONS If there is concensus in Wikipedia's ruling class, that's all that counts. Concensus among non-members of the ruling class, even if they're more numerous than the ruling class, is irrelevant. Concensus outside the ruling class can quashed through the application of WP:3RR, WP:CIVIL, or WP:SOCK.
* WP:DELETE This is perhaps the most sacred of Wikipedia's policies. In the past there was voting to delete articles, with each user having one vote. But now it's supposed to be a tallying and weighing of reasons, not of voters. But the fact is that it's still a matter of tallying voters, but the vote of a member of the ruling class counts for double, triple, maximum if need be. Furthermore, the members of the ruling class can have their sockpuppets agree with them, but making sure to put in one sock that disagrees. But those outside the ruling class who dare disagree with them on a deletion debate run the risk of being exposed as sockpuppets themselves, and then their votes then count for nothing, regardless of whatever reasons they may bring to the table. Given how riddled Wikipedia is with falsehoods and omissions, the exalted, sacred status of the deletion process is utterly ridiculous. Deletion debates are not marketplaces of ideas, but instead showcases for Wikipedia duckspeak and doubletalk. A lot of idiotic-sounding WP:ACRONYMs are tossed around as if they were policies (and to be fair, a few policies such as the ones mentioned here also get trotted out). Also, a lot of votes are just "Delete per nom" (meaning the user who nominated the article for deletion). Those votes count when they come from a member of the ruling class. But if it comes from a non-member, suddenly that non-member is reminded that it's not about voting.
* WP:IGNORE This one is just precious. "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it." Supposedly it's neither "a trump card nor a carte blanche." It is if you're a member of Wikipedia's ruling class! Anyone else who ignores Wikipedia's rules will be dealt with. Ignorance of the rules is no excuse for violating them.
* WP:NOR On the face of it, no original research on Wikipedia sounds like a good idea. But who is the arbiter of "original research"? You guessed it. Wikipedia's ruling class. If you present one scholarly citation, you will be accused of being the author of that paper. And if you then present multiple citations by multiple different authors, you will have violated WP:3RR. Don't dare appeal to the common sense of the ruling class, much less suggest that they lack it; that's a violation of WP:CIVIL. Expertise in any field is a liability. Wikipedia can't attract top-notch experts to contribute to it, so, being a bunch of sour grapes, they punish any near top-notch expert who dares contribute according to his expertise.
* WP:NOT This one details things that Wikipedia is not meant to be. Ideally, Wikipedia is not anything other than an encyclopedia, although one lacking the limitations of standard encyclopedias like Britannica. But in reality, Wikipedia is not anything its ruling class doesn't want it to be. If its ruling class doesn't want it to be a complete reference on, say, MacGyver, but does want it to be a complete reference on Brideshead Revisited, then by golly, it will be a complete reference to all things Brideshead but have less information on MacGyver than
* WP:NPA Supposedly, no one should make personal attacks on other users. Criticism should be of the content, not the contributor. Well, when a member of the ruling class reverts an edit by a non-member, calling it "utterly worthless junk," or "total cruft," or "vandalism," it's a little hard not to take it personally. But don't dare criticize a member of the ruling class for this: anything said to a member of the ruling class that is slightly less than respectful counts as a personal attack against said member of the ruling class.
* WP:OWN Supposedly, no one owns any Wikipedia articles, which is why Wikipedia articles don't have bylines at the end (the way reliable encyclopedias do), much less at the beginning like newspaper articles. The truth is that each article is owned by Wikipedia's ruling class. If the ruling class doesn't like how an article is being edited, they can "protect" it in order to enforce their ownership of it.
* WP:PROTECT When there's concensus outside the ruling class about article content, an article is "protected" so as to enforce the concensus of the ruling class.
* WP:SOCK Only one person in the world is dumb enough to disagree with the ruling class. Any other users who disagree with the ruling class must be sockpuppets. Supposedly very few users have "CheckUser" power, and even they only see IP addresses in "hash" form. But in truth, they have full view of the IP addresses and can falsify them at will, and they can also falsify edit dates and times. Don't forget that Wikipedia is the source that smeared John Seigenthaler, they have no compunction about smearing you. However, they know well enough to use this one as a last resort. At the same time, several members of Wikipedia's ruling class have sockpuppets they use to make their opinions look like the concensus of the Wikipedia "community."
* WP:VANDAL This is the tool to deal with newbies. Any edit made by someone new to Wikipedia is vandalism. If a newbie is not discouraged by being labeled a vandal, it's time to move on to other policies to discredit them. Members of the ruling class are wising up to the fact that they really can't use this one against the more established users, because the "community" will see clearly that it is a misapplication of the policy. But never fear, there's plenty of other policies to use against those users who haven't been discouraged by the initial rough treatment of newbies.
* WP:VERIFY This one establishes a hierarchy of reliable sources, with blogs at the bottom and peer-reviewed journals at the top. Fair enough. But with the ruling class, anything is possible: they can decree a particular peer-reviewed journal is not a reliable source, and that a particular blog is! The reliability of sources is directly correlated to how close the Wikipedia user is to the ruling class: any source brought forward by a member of the ruling class is reliable, while any source brought forth by a newbie is worthless.

Note that WP:TRIVIA is not actually an official policy. But the way the ruling class invokes it, it is treated as such.

Here are some policies that are routinely ignored, under the authority WP:IGNORE gives the ruling class:

* WP:HARASS You can't harass anyone else on Wikipedia. Unless you're a member of the ruling class, in which case you can harass any non-member by perverting any policy. Whatever they do in a misguided attempt to abide by "concensus," they have violated some other rule. It's a can't-win scenario for anyone outside the ruling class, and one of the most effective methods of harassment on Wikipedia.
* WP:IMPROVE "Wikipedia is a work in progress" and "try to fix problems: preserve information." Forget about it. A wikiruler can tag an article then delete any content he disapproves of the very next second. The tag is just for the sake of appearances.
* WP:LIBEL Did I mention how Wikipedia smeared John Seigenthaler? If they know your name, they can smear you. People wealthy enough to hire publicists can appeal to Jimbo Wales and the libel will get "officed" out. But what about poor people famous enough to smear on Wikipedia? Mother Theresa would be powerless to do anything about a wikismear.

The take-home message is: Wikipedia is about stroking the egos of its ruling class. If any usable reference material is created in the process, that's by accident and not by design.

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