Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dastardly vicious attack by Nihiltres (aka "Alex") on Yahoo! Answers

Almost as often as people ask in the Men's Health category of Yahoo! Answers whether their member is big enough, in the Wikipedia category people keep asking if Wikipedia is reliable or accurate. Each time that question comes up, Nihiltres is ready with his multiple Yahoo! accounts to respond that yes, Wikipedia is 99% reliable. Several different people have been trying to educate those who read Yahoo! Answers that in fact Wikipedia is 0% reliable. What's the reaction of Nihiltres?

Waaah! Waaah! Not fair! How dare they! Waaaaaah! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Here's me playing the world's smallest violin.

So, as "Alex," he posted the question "Why is the wikipedia section on Yahoo answers only answered by people who hate wikipedia?" yesterday. Then, today, as Nihiltres (we're getting to the dastardly part now), posted an answer saying that there are three reasons people contribute to Yahoo! Answers; the first is altruistic, the second is balancing, and the third is to push a point of view. And that the third reason is the reason why the "Wikipedia haters" keep answering questions in the Wikipedia category, according to Nihiltres. (It couldn't possibly be altruistic to want to keep other people from feeding themselves false information from Wikipedia.)

Here's the dastardly part: Nihiltres says that "Gregory Kohs earlier admitted privately to me that he had used multiple accounts to cheat on Yahoo! Answers, and there's nothing stopping this from happening again, assuming it isn't already." Oooh, what a bastard!

The feint is hardly original. Robert, an answerer who spoke up two hours after the dastardly attack, pointed it out: "Of course Gregory Kohs admitted that to you privately, and not publicly, where others can scrutinize for themselves the exact wording of the admission. That's a play straight out of the Wikipedia secret manual. I bet you also have server logs to prove Greg's misdeeds, but out of privacy concerns, you can't show them to us."

Meanwhile, Nihiltres logged out his main account, got back in his car, drove to another WiFi hotspot, and logged in Alex, who then promptly chose the answer from Nihiltres as Best Answer. Supposedly because "it was ballenced [sic] and well reasoned." Please! Even Gregory's answer was more balanced, and Greg is the guy who still can't let it go that Wikipedia rejected his article about Arch Coal.

In the big picture of things, it doesn't really matter if I'm wrong about Alex being a sockpuppet of Nihiltres on Yahoo! Answers. The fact remains that thousands of people are still blissfully ignorant of Wikipedia's awfulness, and all the efforts of college professors, late-night comedians and "haters" on the blogosphere are still failing to wake the ignorant up to the truth: Wikipedia sucks; it's not worthy of use for any purpose whatsoever.

Dastardly as the actions of Nihiltres were today, since they took place outside of Wikipedia, they don't qualify him as a brutal Wikipedia warrior of the week.


  1. For the record, I don't have any sockpuppets on Yahoo! Answers. Descending to the level of what I oppose would defeat the purpose of argument about it. It is somewhat amusing, however, that you make the assumption of me. There are a number of users who are conducting pro- or anti-Wikipedia campaigns on Yahoo! Answers, but I'm around primarily because I noticed that people on Yahoo! Answers weren't getting good answers to their questions.

    I suppose I do come off as strongly pro-Wikipedia, and that's because I am for the most part, but my narrative wouldn't be half as strong were I not forced to contradict people who come along saying "OMG WIKIPEDIA IS USELESS FOR EVERYTHING AND COMPLETE BOLLOCKS" or more eloquent versions of the same. What I'd like to see would be a fair game: no voting wars, no silly sockpuppets, no trolling back and forth over the silly issue. Then I could voice my own concerns about Wikipedia, which I'd love to voice but will not in an environment where agitators will magnify them beyond their scope.

    People should behave like grown-ups, and it's unfortunate that not everyone there is doing so (on either side of the debate), but I'm not going to let myself get sucked into this mess past contradicting those who want to push the point of view that Wikipedia's a cesspool. I'll continue to provide good, informative answers, and let people make their own decisions. The way that most people ignore their questions and let them slide into the vote-spammed oblivion says to me that my answer is about as effective without getting the "Best Answer" carrot that Yahoo! dangles. The only thing that marginally bothers me is the thumbing-down of my answers: it's clear that this is being done with me in particular in mind (rather than the merit, or lack thereof, of the answer) and I find that to be rather inappropriate, to say the least. Attacks on individuals won't cure any problem.

    Wikipedia isn't a cesspool, but it isn't perfect, either. It has serious unresolved problems! But if you attack the problems, time and time again you will not see an improvement against the problems but a defense against the attack. This is true of many organizations. As I've suggested to Greg before (and been ignored), you'll get better results if you raise your concerns quietly and politely, rather than through screaming that Wikipedia's a scam or evil or anything like that. The latter, in particular, causes one to come off as a crank.

    I'm glad to see that you acknowledged the truth of what I said about Greg in a later post.

    Here's a tip: consider Greg's comments on the Akahele "answers" post. (Incidentally, I admire Akahele and wish that he'd post there more often, because he makes good commentary there and mostly trolls elsewhere.) Check out the answers he links there and you just might notice something interesting about my presence in them.