Monday, May 18, 2009

Inaugural blog post

This blog will chronicle the most brutal warriors on the English-language version of Wikipedia. Think Wikipedia is a democratic encyclopedia anyone may edit? Think Wikipedia is a factually true and complete reference? Think again. What Wikipedia really is, despite all protestations to the contrary, is a battleground. A ruling class has emerged, and that ruling class will stop at nothing to remain the ruling class. The founder of Wikipedia, Jimbo Wales, is OK with this, and pretends to allow the democratic process to take place without input from him. In fact, the reason he does not meddle is that he wants to be a spectator on the gladiatorial arena. That Wikipedia turned out to be a reference so many people accept blindly was just a bonus.

How does the fighting take place? It's intellectual and psychological (e.g., mind games) rather than physical. Rules and policies have evolved, which the wiki ruling class has consistently shaped to maintain its dominance. Every single policy, even those that sound perfectly fair on the face of it, are routinely perverted through selective enforcement, playing off against other policies, falsification of computer logs, and sometimes just plain ignoring what the policy actually says.

Each Tuesday, this blog will name the Wikipedia Brutal Warrior of the Week. Every fourth Wednesday, the Brutal Warrior of the Month. And every fifty-second Thursday, the Brutal Warrior of the Year. To nominate a Brutal Warrior, just reply to a blog post. But refer to them by user name only, not their real names, even if you know them. We're talking about people who are most likely too physically weak to defend themselves in a physical conflict. I won't be held responsible for some brutal Wikipedia warrior getting beat up offline.

A little bit about me: I've edited Wikipedia ten or twelve times from three different IP addresses, all from the same ISP, without registering for a user name. Each time I wrote something true, and backed it up with something from Google Books, Google News, or Google Scholar. Each time my edit was reverted and I was branded a vandal. I have a couple of friends who have user names on Wikipedia. They're not treated much better. Aside from a canned welcome message, they get all the same accusations of vandalism, and on to add insult to injury, accusations of sockpuppetry. If you can't get into Wikipedia's ruling class, your edits are worthless, regardless of any scholarly or professional expertise you may have on the topics you edit on. I don't edit Wikipedia anymore, and I don't recommend that you do either.

But do look at talk pages and edit histories. You will see perfectly good and true information deleted just because it offended someone on Wikipedia's ruling class. You will see all kinds of idiocy on talk pages.

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