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Press Releases

  • Please click here for recent Wikipediocracy press releases.

The dream that died: Erik Möller and the WMF’s decade-long struggle for the perfect discussion system

 

By Scott Martin. Scott began editing the English Wikipedia in November 2002, and became an administrator in September 2007. He was so disgusted with its management at the time of writing this piece that he resigned his administrator status to take an indefinite break from editing.

 

 

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The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has, in the last few years, embarked upon a number of major engineering projects intended to modernize aspects of its increasingly dated user interface, with the aim of attracting new participants to the ailing encyclopedia project. Referred to internally by the WMF as “Editor Engagement”, these have so far included VisualEditor, a “what you see is what you get” text editor, and Media Viewer. Both were foisted upon a largely unwilling audience of volunteer editors in an extremely unfinished and bug-laden state, leading to large amounts of discord and the generation of any amount of bad will towards the WMF’s “rock star” developers. The latest addition to the WMF’s hall of software fame is Flow, which looks to replace the complex — yet, to most editors of the WMF’s projects, familiar — method for editors to discuss changes in Wikipedia articles. The WMF plans to supersede the old, familiar method, “wiki text” editing of “talk pages”, with a threaded discussion system more akin to that seen in web forums, or the comments section on blogs and news sites. This decision has been no stranger to controversy, attracting much opprobrium from established editors who both see the existing system as good enough to get things done, and have no confidence in the WMF’s programmers after the disastrous experiences of earlier “flagship” projects.

Flow, however, is not the first time that the WMF has embarked on this particular road. For

…continue reading The dream that died: Erik Möller and the WMF’s decade-long struggle for the perfect discussion system

The Battle for Wikipedia: How Your Donations May Be Destroying the Crowd-sourced Encyclopedia

By The Masked Maggot

Just as the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) was wrapping up its annual show of “wiki-love” and idealism at London’s Wikimania 2014, the latest round of tensions between the foundation and the volunteer community reared its ugly head. The trigger this time was the forced introduction of the Media Viewer to the German Wikipedia, after the community of editors that work on that version voted to disable it. While a slight change to the presentation of images might seem like a minor issue, it points to a deeper and widening rift between the offices in San Francisco and the global community which they serve.

The WMF’s gradual grab, or How the Wikimedia Foundation is harming Wikipedia

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While there are all sorts of issues worth complaining about, Wikipedia really is an amazing thing. For 13 years, a vast collection of unpaid and unsung volunteers have written, organized, and advocated for an online encyclopedia-like website that pretty much everyone uses, naively or reluctantly. It’s been a long run where volunteer “editors” have not only created the content, but have also been enfranchised to have a say in how the site is run. Wikipedia’s “consensus” model, for all its problems, has been the real driving force behind getting the product to market, and the “Stone Soup” way that everyone brought something to the table (from content to structure to presentation) worked a bit better in practice than it should have in theory.

Those happy days seem to be coming to an end, and while the seeds for that end were planted at the beginning, the fruit is only becoming apparent now. The Wikimedia Foundation, which accepts all the donations and was (so the Wikipedians thought) dedicated to supporting the volunteers who write Wikipedia’s

…continue reading The Battle for Wikipedia: How Your Donations May Be Destroying the Crowd-sourced Encyclopedia

Media Viewer fails the grade

Wikipedia volunteers at war with the Wikimedia Foundation over new software feature

By Andreas Kolbe

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is facing yet another community backlash over the introduction of a major new software feature, the Media Viewer. One month after implementation, volunteer administrator Pete Forsyth unceremoniously switched the new feature off, only to find his change reverted by none other than the Wikimedia Foundation’s Deputy Director and VP of Engineering and Product Development, Erik Möller, who threatened to remove Forsyth’s administrative privileges. Möller in turn has now been hauled in front of Wikipedia’s arbitration committee, accused of overstepping his authority.

The spat follows similar controversies over other new software features the Foundation has tried to deploy in recent years, such as the now-defunct “Article Feedback Tool” and the “VisualEditor”, both of which were met with concerted resistance from the international volunteer community. The VisualEditor, too, was disabled by a volunteer administrator last year. Faced with massive community rebellion, the Wikimedia Foundation backed down then, allowing the change to stand. But this time, fearing a complete loss of authority, the Foundation seems to want to stand its ground.

The Media Viewer

Media Viewer zoom prototype

Media Viewer zoom prototype

The Media Viewer, a Facebook-like feature enabling users to view larger versions of images included in Wikipedia articles, had been in beta testing since November 2013. According to the Foundation’s 8-strong Multimedia team led by Fabrice Florin, the rate of favourable feedback had been “increasing across all languages over time”. This changed rapidly, however, when the tool was finally launched on June 3, 2014, becoming the English Wikipedia’s default image viewer.

Four days later, the English Wikipedia community began an “RfC” (Request for comment)

…continue reading Media Viewer fails the grade