Why this Site?

  • Our Mission:
  • We exist to shine the light of scrutiny into the dark crevices of Wikipedia and its related projects; to examine the corruption there, along with its structural flaws; and to inoculate the unsuspecting public against the torrent of misinformation, defamation, and general nonsense that issues forth from one of the world’s most frequently visited websites, the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”
  • How you can participate:
  •  Visit the Wikipediocracy Forum, a candid exchange of views between Wikipedia editors, administrators, critics, proponents, and the general public.
  • 'Like' our Wikipediocracy page on Facebook.
  •  Follow Wikipediocracy on Twitter!

Press Releases

  • Please click here for recent Wikipediocracy press releases.

Happy New Year 2015

.

   

by the Masked Maggot


I saw something today that reminded me that we Wikipedia critics should remember something: the vast majority of the volunteers who write the encyclopedia-article-like pages are in general just good people interested in learning and sharing knowledge. Here’s what I saw (an excerpt from this):

When asked by people why I contribute to Wikipedia my response is not based on altruism (a useful side product), but on pragmatic utility. Wikipedia functions as a “magic notebook”: when I come across an interesting fact which I would like to remember, Wikipedia offers an extension to my natural faculties. I can record the fact, along with any appropriate reference, on the relevant Wikipedia page. I can even start a page where no page existed before. And I don’t even have to remember where I made the note. If I have put in suitable links from broader topic pages, I can use the links to find my way back to the information I recorded. But that’s not all. I often find that others have contributed more information. The seed I planted has grown, has been watered by many hands. My knowledge expands. And in time I have become part of a global community that shares my interest in learning. That is a public good which is very far from being “nothing”. Thanks Fabian aka Leutha

 

.

That’s pretty much what Wikipedia is at its best, both for the contributor and for the reader. Geeks like me geeking out and writing Wikipedia articles about the things we geek on. That’s why there are thousands of articles about comic book characters, Pokemon, Dr. Who, Star Trek, minor celebrities, and yes, porn stars too. Crowdsourcing is great when the people writing the articles all agree about the subject being of interest and of being just awesome.

It doesn’t work so well for serious subjects (see last week’s post), but I’ll refrain from bitching about that this week… we do that all the time and you people never seem to listen. Just try to remember that most of Wikipedia’s authors are just enthusiasts of one sort or another, and we respect them for that. While we criticize the players, predators, hangers-on, circus barkers, snake-oil salesmen, and just plain leeches that are ruining it for everybody, we still respect the real enthusiasts.

So happy 2015. Hopefully Wikipedia will, well, nevermind. And we maggots in the den wish the real Wikipedians an especially happy 2015. Don’t worry, we’ll put up a real blog post soon.

 

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

8 comments to Happy New Year 2015

  • Radiant Orchid

    Wikipedia is also a great place to write articles about yourself and your projects. Sadly, Fabian Thompsett has been expunged from English WP, but only as a subject, not as a person. As a person, Fabian has two accounts, one for personal use and onefor use as a employee of Wikimedia UK. You see, WP is not just a good memory aid, it’s also a bit of a cash cow for some people. (By the way, WMUK, isn’t Fabian’s contract over now? You should update your site.)

    • Radiant Orchid

      I should add that Fabian’s role at WMUK was as a “volunteer support organiser”. This is not a volunteer position, this is a paid position (a 4 month contract in this case) supporting volunteers. WMUK already employs a full-time “volunteer support organiser”. WMUK has fewer than 300 members.

    • Radiant Orchid

      It’s nice to know that someone from WMUK reads the comments here. Fabian Thompsett’s time at WMUK appears to have been extended. His role is “currently under review”. Perhaps someone could update the “Reports” page now? It’s now January 2015, but the last listed report (“being drafted”) is July 2014. I don’t know who is responsible for that, but there are two full-time office support staff who might take that on. If they aren’t too busy doing, um, whatever it is they do…

  • Ross McPherson

    Yes Wikipedia is like a jellyfish, a colony of zooids functioning as a single organism. Many of the zooids are charming little creatures, if you get to know them really well, but who can get that close to a jellyfish without getting stung? Also I am not sure you are going to cause any disaffection in the blubbery ranks with comments like this:

    “but I’ll refrain from bitching about that this week… we do that all the time and you people never seem to listen.”

  • Tim Davenport/Carrite (WP)/Randy from Boise (WPO)

    The “magic notebook” analogy is very good. I use Wikipedia all the time that way when I bump into some historical or biographical detail that seems interesting or important in my reading of news sources and books.

    It’s also kind of fun when one bumps into a pdf of an arcane book to skim around in it until something important drops out. The next biography on my plate is of a guy named Harvey Scott, who drew coverage in one of those lame Gilded Age “short biographies of great men” type publications. He caught my eye because he was listed as the chief of the 1904 Lewis & Clark Exposition and I wondered (a) if he had a biography on WP; and (b) whether it mentioned that.

    It turns out that the guy was for four decades the editor of The Oregonian, my state’s newsapaper of record, and a person who was regarded by his peers as one of the most important figures of his era in shifting the divided ideology of the state firmly into the Republican camp. In short, a VERY major individual in Oregon history.

    Sure, it’s geeky to care about that. So what? I’ll throw three or four hours of spare time at the project, improving his weak biography, and WP will have another piece to be proud of. I’ll let the philosophers and cynics debate amongst themselves as to my various motivations, I couldn’t care less. My pastime will produce a positive public good and I will learn new things and be entertained.

    • Ross McPherson

      Tim I also found WP a good vehicle for self-education. Editing was like exam time, a focus for learning. Unfortunately, I soon discovered there were some cheats sitting for the same exam. They seemed to have special relationships with the people in charge. I then began to understand how the public good, which I hoped I was contributing to incidentally, could instead be turned to a public evil at the blink of an eye.

      Nothing you do there is yours, Tim. It belongs only to the moment and to whoever controls it. Yes that may be true of many things we do in this world but some organizations are better run than others. Joining WP is like joining a mafia-ruled neighbourhood. So they let you work in peace for a while, building credibility for them, like an honest shop-keeper, because they don’t want your words for the moment, only your obvious good faith. Or are you defending your work with help from your own gang? Either way, WP is a public disgrace and the world needs to learn about it more than you need to learn about – whatever it is you are learning about.

      • Tim Davenport/Carrite (WP)/Randy from Boise (WPO)

        Of course what one contributes at WP is not one’s own. That’s the trade we make, trading our work for the site’s readers. It’s not a problem when one deals with the arcane, it can be a big problem when one deals with the contemporary and controversial. If one is interested in writing on the latter, Wikipedia is a largely unsatisfactory vehicle — unless the “game” of fighting over content is appealing.

        Serious history people probably will have little trouble with any of this, however. Back to my 19th Century Oregon Republican example — who cares enough to fight over something like this? I’m not going to try to make contemporary political hay by denigrating him because he was a conservative, nor are modern conservatives going to leap in to convert biography to hagiography for the greater glory of their cause. It’s just an encyclopedia article and it will probably be accessed by a few dozen people a month.

        One absolutely must accept the doctrine of Neutral Point of View as a fundamental and essential premise for one to be a successful Wikipedian, I think. The minute one stops caring about neutrally written and balanced focus in content and starts fighting ideological wars trying to manipulate the thinking of readers, it’s over. Participation becomes a factional war between contending sides — which might be entertaining and fun for a while but which inevitably ends poorly for the warriors. Gladiators and POV-pushing Wikipedians don’t generally live to old age.

        tim

  • Ross McPherson

    Yes the roads are generally safe if there is no traffic on them. Enjoy your countryside ramble. Meanwhile stop inviting people to join you.

    But just suppose your appeals get a hundred good men and women to become Wikipedians. Will that change WP for the better? No, you need more than that. What it will do is put a hundred good men and women on the road to regrets. Even if they find themselves in a charming, lonely part of Wikipedia like you, what is in prospect for them? For the lucky ones – hours and hours working on articles nobody is interested in and nobody really wants to read. Isn’t there something better they can do with their time? But of course some will meet crazies coming the other way even out there, as I did. It is a question of luck.

    Some of your recruits will end up in the highways, where they will learn to hit and run like the others, bribe the traffic cops with favours, talk lies in court etc. Many will remain good people, get out of their cars and wish they had never listened to you (i.e. they will resign). But of course a few will have an accident and end up in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives (the indefinite block). As I did.

    Ever tried getting around the internet without encountering Wikipedia? It is impossible. The regrets never go away. But enjoy your ramble, Tim. Salute some cows for me.

    Oh and if you say driving always carries some risks but we shouldn’t let that stop us, that is true enough of the real world. But Wiki-world is designed for extremes.