User:Beyond My Ken/thoughts

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My succinct WikiPhilosophy[edit]

Wikipedia exists for the people who use it or who will potentially use it, not for the people who edit it. Every edit should either improve the factual accuracy of Wikipedia or make it easier and more useful for the reader. Any edit which does not serve these goals is a waste of time and energy, and quite possibly counterproductive.

It is The Reader that we should consider on each and every edit we make to Wikipedia.

(Thanks to Alan Liefting)

Wikipedia needs good, accurate information, well presented.


Some things I've noticed...[edit]

...about Wikipedia and Wikipedians:

Policies, guidelines, rules and dogma[edit]

  • A tendency among some editors to treat policy guidelines as absolutes.
    • When guidelines are followed slavishly, with no allowance for deviation or experimentation, they are no longer guidelines, they are absolute rules. Since Wikipedia was made ex nihilo, if what was wanted was absolute rules, that's what would have been created – but, instead, we have guidelines, and the spirit of Wikipedia lies in treating them as such, as guidance and not as dogma. We need to allow them to breathe, to live and grow and, if necessary or desired, to evolve; but evolution cannot happen unless change is permitted, and change cannot happen if every time someone tries something very slightly different, their efforts are automatically snuffed out by those wielding the guidelines as if they were absolutes.
    • "[S]ometimes it's better to follow the spirit of a guideline instead of the letter." User: Wisdom89 on WP:AN/I, thread: "User_talk:Viriditas", 19 April 2008
  • There is also apparently a tendency to treat policy as saying what they want it to say, instead of what it actually says. This is somewhat similar to George W. Bush signing bills passed by Congress, and then changing the intent of the law by tacking on "signing statements" which fundamentally alter the way the law is interpreted.
  • The history of the United States since 2000 has demonstrated to most people of intelligence and perception the dangers inherent in acting primarily from ideological preconception instead of from practical and pragmatic concerns guided by logic, principle and rationality. Untrammeled ideology, of whatever kind, is dangerous, because dogmatism is blinding, and if the tenets of the ideology are mistaken or warped, the conclusions based on it will be wrong. The same goes for those who edit Wikipedia entirely from an ideological stance, instead of doing what is best for each article considered separately.

Wikipedia fetishism[edit]

  • An almost religiously fetishistic devotion by some to NPOV, regarding it as dogma rather than as an ideal that's impossible to maintain.
    • Ironically, in the one area where a semblance of righteous NPOV-attitude would be welcome, the management of Wikipedia, there's a distinct lack of it to be found. Wikipedia administration is a hot bed of bias, bullying, abuse of power and rank authoritarianism instead of an oasis of neutrality. (see below)
  • The same tendency towards fetishism applies as well to the proscription against "original research." While a ban on using Wikipedia to put forward novel theories that haven't been tested in the marketplace of ideas makes sense and is practical to enforce, the notion has been extended so far that it is being applied to simple observation and summarization, which are core requirements for any Wikipedia article. Not only is this ridiculous, it is untenable and unenforceable. If applied to the extent that some have attempted to, the entire encyclopedia would be gutted and unusable.
  • The preference for citation of second- and third-hand sources over first-hand knowledge (which is decried as being "original research" and therefore verboten) is rather bizarre. Apparently, according to this theory, Wikipedia is more likely to be accurate and factual if it relies on my representation that I read something that quotes an expert source, than it would be if it relies on my representation that I personally observed something or know it from life experience. (This is especially true for the description and analysis of fictional works.)

Tags[edit]

  • Wikipedia is undergoing a plague of overly prominent clean-up tags on articles.
    • The promiscuous tagging of articles, and the proliferation and expansion of tags, has contributed to tagging having become a new form of vandalism, one that's acceptable to the Wikipedia community because it appears, superficially, to be aimed at improving Wikipedia. It may be, however, that the impulse of at least some taggers is equivalent to the one that prompts graffiti in the real world, and the more prosaic forms of vandalism in the Wiki-world (blanking a page, inserting crude or personal messages, deliberate attempts to shock, etc.). It would be interesting for a survey to determine what percentage of Wikipedia articles is tagged -- I suspect it would approach 50% -- and for a concerted effort to be made to remove unjustified or petty tags. Perhaps tags should have a pre-set life, and run out if they're not renewed.
      • Many tags are essentially a vehicle for an editor to exert his or her POV without alerting the POV Patrol -- "opinion graffiti", in a very apt phrase. If you disagree with what an article says, you can edit it radically, and probably get caught up in an edit war, or you can slap a tag on it to discredit it without seemingly doing so. A "dispute" or "NPOV" tag will certainly raise hackles and might get one involved in extensive debate (or even an edit war), but since the vast majority of articles on Wikipedia are undersourced and poorly referenced, it is almost always true that one of the various "unreferenced" tags will be applicable, and that a decent case can be made in support of it. In this way, the article is discredited or marked as suspicious to the unsuspecting reader, without the tagging editor being accused of promulgating a point of view.
        • There are approximately 3 gazillion facts in Wikipedia, and 2.84 gazillion of them are unreferenced. An unreferenced fact is the norm, not a rarity. If someone comes across a fact they disbelieve or are suspicious of, they should research the question. If they find evidence that the fact is untrue, then they should remove the "fact", if, instead, they can't find any particular evidence to support the fact, then they are justified in putting a "fact" tag on it. Slapping a fact tag on something you question without researching it is simply asking that someone else check out your suspicions. It's sloppy editing.Talk:Dr. Strangelove 03:46, 11 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Without expressing any opinion whatsoever about whether the tags were accurate or necessary, I have a great deal of difficulty understanding why people can't fathom that if a person came to Wikipedia looking for information about [the film My Neighbor Totoro], and saw this, they would be totally disinterested in going any farther and looking at the article. These warnings are so incredibly off-putting, that they make a wonderful case for my contention that tags should be somewhere else other than at the top of the page -- on the talk page, at the bottom of the article page, on a seperate tab, almost anywhere else.

    Each and every Wikipedia article serves as an advertisement for the project and an inducement for people to return. A well-written well-structured, visually attractive article, with good, reliable information will encourage people to come back again and again, while the page above, where the tags take up almost the entire content seen by the reader, is a positive discouragement to people. I'm sure that the intent is to say: look how honest we are, all our faults are in sight for everyone to see, but what it actually says to people is "Look how shitty we are, this article isn't worth your time, go somewhere else."

    Please note, that I am not in any way dispargaing the motivation for placing these tags, I'm certain the only purpose was to help provoke a better article -- which, in this case, seems to have happened to some extent -- but we are well past the point where Wikipedia is in its infacy, and we need to be much more cognizant of how we present ourselves to the public. There must be a way that we can keep the goals and purposes of legitimate tagging without defacing articles and driving away our customers! Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Films#My Neighbor Totoro 20:33, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Consensus[edit]

  • It turns out that Wikipedia's vaunted "community consensus" really just amounts to counting the votes of the people who bothered to turn out for a discussion or debate, so the basic philosophical underpinnings of Wikipedia wind up being empty air — nothing more than mere arithmetic.
    • Update: To be more precise, according to its fundamental precepts, Wikipedia supposedly operates on a community-consensual model, where the consensus of the community as a whole is determined through debate, discussion and the history of editorial revisions, but it turns out that on a practical day-to-day basis, "consensus" is actually approximated (with no appreciable degree of accuracy) through a supermajoritarian count of the statistically insignificant group of editors who showed up to join the debate. With no inherent mechanism for determining whether this outcome is truly reflective of the consensus of the overall community, and with the severe restrictions on "canvassing" (i.e. getting people who might agree with your point of view to take part in the discussion), Wikipedia has apparently decided that the cure for the evils of democracy isn't more democracy, but instead randomness and self-selection. While that's an interesting (if odd) model for running an enterprise such as Wikipedia, it's vastly less interesting than true community consensus would be.
      • Further thoughts: Essentially, Wikipedia is an anarchy. Although it masquerades as being a form of democracy ("community consensus" being the putative mechanism), in actuality, because the policing powers of the administrators are applied according to each administrator's own criteria, and because the mechanisms for controlling administrator misbehavior are weak and also run by the same "community consensus" standards, there is effectively no coherent police function at all. Administrators aren't disinterested parties, trained to a code of conduct which avoids taking sides and treats everyone equally, they are participants in the debates, and are not shy about using their powers against their adversaries when it suits them. The tremendously complex and self-contradictory set of Wikipedia "policies" allows an administrator to pick and choose which policy to enforce against their opponents, because almost everyone is in violation of some policy at any particular time. What this brings about is a situation where policy is not a neutral guideline, but instead a set of clubs to be wielded by the administrator depending on their needs. Add to this the propensity for policy to be mis-interpreted to match the user's desires instead of by the "letter of the law", and the problem is compounded. As an anarchy, there is little or no protection for the editor who runs afoul of rampaging Wikideologues bent on shaping Wikipedia to their own desires.
  • It is often claimed that when an admin comes along to close out a discussion and determine what the consensus of the participants is, the quality of the arguments is taken into account as much, if not more so, than the quantity of the "votes", but this is not consistently the case, since quality of argumentation is generally overwhelmed by another unstated, but widely held de facto policy: Deletion beats retention. That is, arguments in favor of deleting something are almost always counted, whatever the quality of their presentation, while the most eloquent and logical arguments for keeping material are routinely ignored in favor of closed-minded and dogmatic enforcement of policies and guidelines. 22:41, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Ownership[edit]

See also: WP:STEWARDSHIP
  • Another contradiction inherent in Wikipedia's structure is the attitude towards "ownership" of articles. I fully understand that no one "owns" an article on Wikipedia, but the reality is that when someone works hard on an article, puts in a lot of effort, shapes it, researches it, smooths it, whatever, then certainly there develops a feeling of protectiveness about it. I've compared it to the feeling a parent has for their children, in a weaker form, of course. I don't own my kids, any more than I can own a Wikipedia article, but I'm protective of them, and want the best for them, and have to be convinced that someone else wants the best for them too before I allow them to do it. And that's important, because the reality is that if it weren't for the sense of what we might call stewardship that people feel for the articles they work on, Wikipedia would be in constant danger of devolving into a heaping mass of vandalism, high school hijinks and irrelevancies. It's a somewhat under-acknowledged fact of Wikipedian life that the project is dependent on the feeling of attachment that people get for the pages they contribute to, and yet Wikipedia's official policy does everything it can to discourage this attachment. Adapted from Talk:Dr. Strangelove 04:04, 11 February 2008 (UTC)
    • More seriously, this deliberate systemic discouragement of a sense of ownership flies in the face of basic human psychology. People connect to the things they own as an extension of their personalities, and that goes for the things they work hard on as well. Denying them this feeling is trying to negate or ignore an extremely strong aspect of the way we think and feel. It's worth noting that the last well-known system to attempt to survive despite ignoring a basic fact of human psychology was Communism, which tried to suppress the profit motive and, again, private ownership. The result was not pretty, and eventually the system crashed, since its fundamental foundation was unsound. Whether the same thing will happen to Wikipedia, or if the system will correct itself by instituting some official or semi-official acknowledgement of editor-control (or enhanced influence) over articles they've done significant work on remains to be seen. 21:07, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
      • The flip side of "ownership" is the problem of editors who come to an article with a particular agenda, make the changes they want to the page according to their preconceived notions of what should be, and then flit off to their next victim, without ever considering whether the page really needed the change they made, or whether the change improved the article at all. These hit and run editors certainly never take the time to evaluate the article in question, consider what its needs are, and spend the time necessary to improve its quality. Their editing is an off-the-rack, one-size-fits-all proposition, premised on the idea that what improves one article, or one type of article, will automatically improve every other article or type of article. In the grand scheme of things, "ownership" may cause conflicts when two editors take the same degree of interest in a particular article, and disagree with it, but mostly it helps to preserve what is best in an article. On the other hand, hit-and-run editing, including the plague of hit-and-run tagging that's defaced so many Wikipedia articles, is a much more serious problem, because it's more difficult to detect, frequently flies under the flag of the MoS (and therefore is presumed at first blush to be legitimate), and is more widespread. Wikipedians should worry more about those who hit-and-run, and less about those who feel stewardship towards the articles they work so hard on. 03:04, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

  • Scenario 1: I read a book on a particular subject, written by an expert. I take information from this reliable source and insert it into the Wikipedia article on that subject, rewording it so as to not violate copyright. The information, therefore, has been perceived by me by reading the book, synopsized by me, rephrased by me, and inserted by me, with a reference. Anyone who wants to verify the information goes to the source, reads what's there, and checks it against what I have written.

    Scenario 2: I watch a film on DVD. I take something that happened in the film and insert it into the Wikipedia article on that film, describing it as accurately as I can. The information, therefore, has been perceived by me, described by me, and inserted by me, with a reference to the film it came from. Anyone who want to verify the information goes to the source, views what's in the film, and checks it against what I have written.

    These scenarios are identical. Describing what occurs in a media artifact, such as a DVD, VHS, CD, LP or book is not original research, as it involves no more original work that the use of information from a reliable source. It is observation not "original research". There is no more reliable source for the contents of a media artifact than the media artifact itself. 21:28, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Images[edit]

Image policy[edit]
  • An effective image policy is important to Wikipedia, but the policy must have the consensus agreement of the community, and the methods used to enforce it must also be backed by consensus.
  • Wikipedia in general needs to do a better job of explaining its image policy to all editors, admin and non-admin, and, as importantly, to make explicit to admins the limits of their authority and the accepted methods to be used in policing images, and to editors their responsibilties for insuring that the images they upload are compliant with policy.
  • The responsibilty for image compliance lies with the uploading editor, but admins working in the image arena should endeavor to use their knowledge of image policy to help editors fulfill the mechanical requirements of that policy if it's possible to do so. There is no excuse for an admin to delete an image that they know can be made compliant by a simple change in a license or fair-use rationale.
  • In the most flagrant and blatant cases of image policy non-compliance, an individual admin can and should act to delete images, but when reasonable objections are raised, the admin should immediately back off and allow normal procedures (IfD, DRV) to deal with those images. There is no rush to remove images, there is time to allow process to take place.
  • Individual adminsitrators do not have the authority to overide a local consensus discussion when the discussion has been reasonable and expressed in terms of image poicy compliance. The community's understanding of policy, expresssed in consensus discussions, overrides that of individuals, no matter how knowledgable and proficient in image policy they consider themselves.
  • Abuse and harrassement of any editor by any other editor, admin or non-admin, is not to be tolerated, but admins who deal in image policy should understand that they are working in a contentious topic area, and be as sensitive as possible to the concerns of editors who primarily work in the content area who have uploaded images for use in articles.
  • Admininstrators, who have been given addiitonal powers by the community, must also maintain the trust of the community, and must always deal with other editors as civily as possible. With their additional power comes the additional responsibility of maintaining civil behavior. Talk:Requests for comment/Future Perfect at Sunrise 23:04, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Image sizes[edit]
  • I know there is a school of thought which holds that images should be placed in articles in thumbnail form, without hardcoding the size, which allows registered users to control the image size by setting the thumbnail size in his or her preferences, but I think this is antithetical to providing the encyclopedia's users with a good article layout, and also work against the long-term interests of the project.

    My primary concern (as always) is with the user, and specfically not with registered users and those who are familiar with Wikipedia, but with the users who come to Wikipedia as a reference source without knowing, or wanting to know, anything about the project. They're not here to edit or register for yet another website, they're here to find out something about a particular subject. These people are our target audience, because if Wikipedia seems to them to be a good source of reliable information which is well-presented, they'll come back again, and perhaps, at some point, get more involved in the project, and they'll reccommend the site to others.

    It's the "well-presented" angle that I'm aiming at here. The naive user will come to Wikipedia with no specific preference settings, and what they'll see if the images are not hardcoded with a specific size are tiny postage-stamp sized pictures which are often hard to see or difficult to make out what's in them, which, in that state, hardly contribute at all to a well-presented article - if anything, they can be said to distract from it.

    If an image is included on a page, it should be shown at the minimum size necessary to make it visually comprehensible without overwhelming the text. In short, it should enhance the text, and neither pull focus nor appear to be an afterthought. This requires that editors take some care in the placement and arrangement of the images, as well as in their size, and speaks against leaving them in their raw thumbnail state.

    I appreciate that those who want images to remain uncoded for size are doing so in the spirit of individual choice, but I think they're overlooking the fact that if Wikipedia is to be a success and become the first choice for immediate online information, it needs to serve not only the people who hang around and know its ins-and-outs, but also all those who may come by only occasionally just to dip into the well. Talk:Dr. Strangelove 16:33, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

  • Also, please recall that Wikipedia's MoS guidelines are meant to be descriptive and not prescriptive: they are supposed to reflect what current editing consensus actually is, and not set up an inflexible set of rules to be followed dogmatically. I haven't looked at the current batch, but the last time I took a sample, 7 out of 10 Featured Articles from the front page used hard-coded image sizes, a very good indication that the "no hard coding" rule is not reflective of current editorial choices, but is a remnant of an older idea which has been, in effect, by-passed by consensus. That's not unusual: the MoS is inherently conservative, and therefore frequently out of date. The bottom line, however, must be whether edits improve the content or presentation of the article... Talk:Pickett's Charge 20:57, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Pop culture[edit]

  • In 1997, in his book Virtuous Reality, journalist Jon Katz observed:

    Americans have an extraordinary love-hate relationship with the rich culture they've created. They buy, watch and read it even as they ban, block and condemn it.

    This paradoxical relationship can easily be observed in the way that Wikipedia deals with pop culture. On the one hand, the project's coverage of pop culture is much more extensive that any print encyclopedia would ever allow (both for fear of being quickly dated and because of snobbery), and the coverage tends to be extremely in-depth. This is a natural result of being an on-line resource primarily written by young people, who generally give such subjects much more attention than older people, and a consequence of being easily updated so as to not fall behind the current fads and styles. On the other hand, Wikipedia has instituted – or attempted to institute – controls on the way pop cultural references can be used within non-pop culture (or semi-pop culture) articles. While superficially reasonable, and in line with ordinary Wikipedia policies about verifiability and notability, the underlying purpose of the controls is to be used as a tool to remove pop cultural references entirely from those articles, since the standards promulgated are generally next to impossible to meet.

    It is difficult to say why so many Wikipedians object to pop cultural references so vehemently, but I suspect that both snobbery and a fear of not being taken seriously enter into it. The former is unfortunate, but probably an inevitable push-back from older editors against the prevalence of younger contributors, but the latter, the fear of the project not being taken seriously, is quite ironic, since it's much more likely that those hackles would be raised by Wikipedians' sometimes ridiculous pseudonyms than by a few carefully selected and edited pop cultural references. 21:31, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

  • An expression that has some currency on Wikipedia is "not encyclopedic" or "unencyclopedic", which is used to reject content that an editor feels is not worthy of inclusion in the project – and with some frequency, it's pop cultural material which is being rejected. Unfortunately, while the expression certainly sounds good, it's basically meaningless; or, rather, it refers not, as appears to be the case, to a carefully defined set of standards as to what should and shouldn't be included in Wikipedia, but to the amorphous and constantly changing collection of opinions, essays, guidelines and policies which serve to try to regulate Wikipedia's content. (Much of this collective wisdom is more concerned with what Wikipedia is not then with what Wikipedia should be.) Since these "standards" are flexible, malleable and a constantly moving target, what "unencyclopedic" ultimately means is "I don't like it, and I don't want it included." The phrase serves to dress up an editor's opinions in what appears to be an official uniform, but which is, in actuality, nothing but rags. The anarchy which is Wikipedia is thereby given the illusion of stability and structure.17:24, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

References[edit]

  • For some strange reason, many Wikipedia editors have a difficult time with the question of what to do with an article's references, and the Manual of Style is less than helpful, since it totally ignores standard conventions that can be easily observed in any serious non-fiction book or article. Here are some simple points to keep in mind:
    • In-line citations which use superscripts and are enumerated in a list elsewhere are universally called "Notes", or, occasionally, "Citations". Notes which are listed at the foot of a page are called "Footnotes", those which are listed at the end of the book or article are "Endnotes". Since the notes in a Wikipedia article are both at the "bottom" of the page and at the end of the article, either name is valid, but the simple "Notes" is cleaner and less fussy.
    • In-line citations are, however, not called "References". They are indeed a type of reference, but so are other things, such as an entry in a Bibliography or List of Sources. "Reference" is general, "Notes" is specific.
    • Notes can either be simple citations of sources, or they can contain more extensive information, and both types can either be mixed together or presented in seperate lists. In that case, they can be differentiated as "Explanatory notes" and "Citations", or whatever names make the distinction clear – but there's absolutely no reason why both types of note can't coexist in a single list, and it's foolish to segregate them unless there's a clear necessity to do so.
    • In any event, there's no reason to call explanatory notes "Footnotes" and citationary notes "References". They are both notes.
    • For these reasons, the format I believe best serves Wikipedia articles is to call the list of citations that most articles have, which are generated with {{reflist}}, "Notes". If there is a Bibliography or List of Sources, this should be called "Bibliography" or "Sources", and should be included along with "Notes" as a sub-section of a "References" section. It's not necessary to have a "References" section with a "Notes" sub-section if all there are in the article are notes - the extra-layer of hierarchy is superfluous.
  • The structure for references presented above is entirely consistent with the way things work in the real world, and there's no reason that Wikipedia should exist in its own wiki-world about references. Editors should also remember that the Manual of Style presents guidelines to assist us, not strict rules to be slavishly followed with dogmatic intrasigence. The presentation of references should be judged as every other contribution to Wikipedia should be judged: Is it clear? Does it present the information in an unambiguous and coherent manner? Is the visual presentation clean and uncluttered? If it meets these conditions, then it should not be reverted: almost nothing on Wikipedia is more lame, or reflect worse on good-faith editors, than edit-warring on the basis of "The MoS says so!". 01:50, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedians[edit]

  • Gene Spafford's remarks about Usenet, which are generally applicable to any online community, specifically apply to the Wikipedia community as well.
  • Having probably spent a majority of their lives believing in nothing in particular, when post-teens (18-25 year olds) finally believe in something, they really believe in it. Since Wikipedia is swarming with these folk, including many of the people supposedly in charge, and is subject to the usual problems of an online environment, which mitigate against moderation and compromise, it's practically impossible to sway anyone's opinion in a Wikipedia debate.
  • It appears that there are people on Wikipedia who spend large parts of their time going through articles with an eye towards removing information that they feel is too unimportant to be included. Their ability to differentiate between what is important and what is not seems to be limited to what has been labelled as "trivia" and what has not.
    • Although some editors don't seem to understand it, there is a distinct semantic difference between "trivia" and "miscellaneous facts" -- one implies triviality, while the other denotes factual items that either do not fit readily into existing sections, or that are interesting or important enough to be noted, without being weighty enough to justify further exposition.
  • Another group of editors works entirely from a negative perspective. Their watchwords are "Wikipedia is not a [insert particular phobia here]," and they work overtime to delete (sometimes systematically, and often using their powers as administrators) anything that smacks of their personal bete noire. While they are often correct in an absolute sense, they are at the same time totally wrong. Wikipedia may not be a social networking site, for instance, but that doesn't mean that it can't or shouldn't have aspects about it which are similar to a social networking site.
    • It's amazing that these obstructionist editors can be so definite about what Wikipedia is, considering that Wikipedia is an entirely new kind of thing, and its nature is still in the process of being determined. By slamming the door shut on a specific evolutionary pathway, these editors are, in fact, forcing their personal point of view on the project. When they say "Wikipedia is not [whatever]," what they are really saying is "I don't want Wikipedia to be [whatever], and I'm willing to force my preference on everyone." Their actions are the result of prejudices and closed minds, and their actions do a disservice to the project.
  • It's a bit disturbing that so many Wikipedia editors, who, as a group, are probably fairly young, when they come across something they're not familiar with, in the way of article formatting or layout, do not ask "Does this work?" or "Is this good for the user?" or even "Is this best for the encyclopedia" but instead ask "Do the rules allow this?" Such a tendency towards groupthink doesn't bode well for the continued value of the encyclopedia: how can such a group, collectively, produce work of true utility? - 06:57, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
  • There's a style of editing on Wikipedia which consists primarily of looking up "rules" (that is, guidelines, but the distinction is lost on this kind of editor), and then applying the rules, whether or not they're appropriate, and whether or not the circumstances call for some amount of independent thought. Considerations of what is best for the reader, the article and the encyclopedia never come into play: there's a "rule" and that's that. We might call this style of editing knee-jerk nickel-and-dime authoritarianism.00:04, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
  • It appears to me that a fair amount of editing on Wikipedia is rather semi-random; that is, editors move through the project, doing various things, but without a clear sense of what the purpose of the project is and how their edits help or hurt that purpose. They either have no overall editing philosophy, or their philosophy is so constricted and limited in scope that it might as well be non-existant. I get very little sense that many editors ever ask themselves "Is what I'm doing now good for the project? Does it advance the interests of Wikipedia? Will this make the encyclopedia better?" 21:00, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
  • It's often said "Those who can't, teach." That's an unwarranted slap at educators, but it can certainly be said on Wikipedia that "Those who can't edit, review." 07:01, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Backstage, and getting sucked in[edit]

  • Bureaucracies are a necessary evil, but have a tendency to get caught up in the mechanisms and details of the rules and regulations they run by, to the exclusion of the work they were initially created to accomplish. This condition may be exacerbated when the bureaucracy is dominated by people who have only recently matured (or are on the cusp of doing so), with no wide experience of life to temper their youthful enthusiasm and arrogance. In this situation, the actual purpose of their enterprise -- for instance to make a free online encyclopedia that is a trusted and usable reference resource -- may be forgotten in favor of an emphasis on tweaking policies, burdening articles with multiple obtrusive tags, and other internal matters of little interest or importance to users of the encyclopedia.
  • As with sausage-making, the less one knows about the process by which Wikipedia is produced, the better off one is, and the more authority it will have as reference work. Getting involved in behind-the-scenes activities (other than simple copy-editing or the correcting of mistakes in articles) will only detract from one's regard for the project, the people who have taken it upon themselves to shape it, and the encyclopedia itself.
  • The path of editors on Wikipedia is to gradually get more and more sucked into the non-editing processes that clutter it up: the requests, reviews, notices and arbitrations. These things make the claim that "Wikipedia is not a social networking site" ridiculous on its face. A survey should be done to determine what percentage of edits in the project are actually devoted to what is supposedly its primary purpose, the writing and editing of an online encyclopedia -- I suspect that the number would be quite small, perhaps 20 - 25% Editors who enter with the intention of making articles better sooner or later run into the many barricades and detours that Wikipedia's policy labyrinth and culture of confrontation create, and begin spending more time dealing with ancilliary issues and less with article editing. The balance between these two needs to be redressed, if Wikipedia is to reach its fullest potential. This may not be possible, because the structure of the project, and the choices made in setting it up, work against an emphasis on serious encyclopedia building. Especially damaging is that editors are not required to use their real names, and that anonymous editing is allowed. These turn what should be a serious project into a gigantic multi-player role-playing game. 07:16, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
  • I've had a couple of unpleasant experiences taking what I thought were legitimate grievances about admin behavior to AN/I, and I've read an awful lot of what's been posted there by other people as well, and I've come to the unfortunate conclusion that it is virtually impossible to get relief or satisfaction by bringing a complaint against an administrator on AN/I or AN.

    When you think about it, it makes perfect sense, since the people who hang out at AN/I are, by and large, admins or their friends and hangers-on, and it's almost inevitable that, either consciously or without being at all aware of it, they are going to be biased in favor of other admins. When a civilian brings a complaint about an admin, there is a distinct tendency to reject it out of hand as sour grapes or a deliberate attack, and, to a large extent, the wagons get circled.

    This is not to say that admins don't come in for their share of criticism on AN/I or AN, but almost invariably it comes from other adminis or those closely associated with them (maybe we should call them "neo-admins"). When this happens, it's then sometimes possible to insert a civilian grievance against that admin and have it be dealt with seriously, but even that is not assured.

    Unfortunately, although I've observed this behavior, I haven't yet figured out what alternate methods are efficiacious in getting a grievance against an admin seriously considered. There's no umbudsman, Requests for Comments are virtually useless, and ArbCom will only take serious problems or those involving fairly well-known users. For the middling editor with a problem, there really doesn't seem to be anywhere to go for relief in the kind of instance you outlined.

    [...] I don't know if Wikipedia can or will evolve an institution which gives the civilian editor a fair chance against an admin [...] but I certainly don't see one existing at the present time. User talk:Ed Fitzgerald 21:26, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

The nature of Wikipedia[edit]

  • An encyclopedia, to be worth anything as a work of reference, should have as close a relationship with reality as is possible, but Wikipedia's design of using consensus as a determinative engine unfortunately conflicts with that goal. While any number of social facts may be determined by group consensus (but by no means all of them), scientific facts (even though they may be determined by consensus of relevant scientists) are not, nor, for the most part, are historical facts. Wikipedia's reliance on group dynamics over scholarship, expertise and the scientific method — the most powerful engine of knowledge ever invented in the history of mankind — will prove to be its continuing weakness; whether that weakness turns out to be fatal remains to be seen.
  • There's a confusion among some editors between a Featured Article (FA) or Good Article (GA) and a good article. They're not the same thing at all. The community-consensual standards for Featured Articles and Good Articles do not guarantee a good article, and especially do not necessarily promote a well-written article.
  • I find it absolutely extraordinary that apparently intelligent people cannot seem to understand the simple idea that Wikipedia exists for the people who use it, and not for the people who edit it. In fact, these people will vigorously and vociferously deny that there is any difference at all between those groups — and even some who accept the precept that every user is merely a potential editor and not necessarily an editor-in-fact, deny that Wikipedia owes those users anything at all, such as ease of use or a clean and functional layout.
    • Another circumstance where the functionality of Wikipedia articles to users takes a backseat to internal policies is in the fight against "spam". Like "terrorism" in the real world, "spam" in the WikiWorld is such a terrible thing that almost any action is justified in fighting it. Administrators can act as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner all in one, and rubber-stamp their own complaints to block users who are perceived as spamming -- and the definition of spam extends, apparently, to posting links to useful websites onto relevant articles.
  • Wikipedia's in a bind, because the philosophy behind its creation - "The Encyclopedia That Anyone Can Edit" - is also the root cause of many of the problems which bedevil it, and which may (possibly) be eating it up from the inside. If this is true, then the only way to solve these problems is to change the essential structure of the project in ways that are anti-thetical to its founding philosophy. For instance, some suggestions (which, I'm sure, have been made by other Jeremiahs in Wikipedia's past):
    • No anonymous editors - there goes a significant amount of vandalism right there;
    • A one-year probationary period for new accounts, during which the editor has more or less full access to Wikipedia (although there might be value in placing some aspects, like image-uploaging, off-limits), but during which any incident of vandalism or bad faith editing earns a lifetime block. Not many people are going to hang around being good citizens for a year just so they can go off the deep end on the 366th day. (And, of course, there should be due process controlling all of this, but a simplified system before specialized administrators serving as judges -- perhaps they might even be elected to those posts by the general population, instead of self-selected by other administrators? Oooh, that's a good idea -- let's call it "democracy".)
    • A significant reduction in the amount of policy, and a consistent and predictable approach to the policing of it. Policing needs to be stricter, to cut down on the problems, but everyone has to know in advance what's OK and what's not. Right now, the interpretation of policy skews all over the place, depending on who's administering it and what ox they plan to gore. There's much too much leeway for administrators to act in a way that brings about the result they want. Administrators need to be neutral, and that seems to be rarely the case, especially when the issues get controversial. Less administrators, better trained, to a more coherent ethos, enforcing clear and understandable policies. 09:00, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Somewhat without realizing what they've done, Wikipedia has created a new class of super-users who have the capacity for making wholesale changes to Wikipedia, essentially without any practical oversight. I'm referring to bot-operators and users of semi-automated programs such as AWB. Because these users are able to make a large number of edits to Wikipedia in a short period of time, they're able to make significant changes to the encyclopedia without any effective restraint. - 21:04, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Like many other addictive, compelling and consuming online experiences, it is tempting to think of Wikipedia as a self-contained world, different and separate from the "real world". This is not an unreasonable response to submersion in an artificial experience such as this is, but regardless, it's important to remember that however set-apart and distinct we feel the project is, the point of contact with the real world is the user of the encyclopedia, the person who pops into Wikipedia to find some needed information or just to browse a bit, and couldn't care less what the Wiki-world experience is like to those inside of it. It's for those people, the users, not for ouselves, the editors, that the encyclopedia exists, and we forget that at our peril, and the project's. 13:35, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
  • In general, Wikipedia cares more about precedent than it does about quality or accuracy. Consistency is valued more than getting it right. 21:53, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
    • There are also, however, editors who preach the entirely opposite idea, that Wikipedia doesn't need to follow precedent at all!
      • It's human nature to follow examples of what's been done before as a guide and justification for how to behave now. Wikipedia will be no more successful at waving its hands and saying "Precedent doesn't matter" than Communism was at denying the existence and power of the profit motive. Precedents do matter, and we'd all better get used to the idea that things we do now will potentially be used as models for things done in the future. WP:AN#Appropriateness of allowing multiple banned sockmaster Dr.Jhingaadey to return 14 June 2009 (UTC)
        • The moral of the Fall of Communism is not that Democracy or Capitalism is stronger than Socialism or Communism, it's that if you plan to alter human nature, you must do so within the boundaries of its innate capabilities. Communism's basic error was nothing political or strategic, it was the vain attempt to pretend that the profit motive wasn't a basic part of human programming, and could be ignored or forced into submission. 22:00, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia maintains an interesting relationship to the Anglo-American legal concept of "Innocent until proven guilty." On the administrator noticeboards WP:AN and WP:AN/I, for instance, any grievance posted about an admin by a non-admin is almost automatically considered to be harassment of the admin, probably by a troll or sock-puppet. The admin is presumed to be innocent, and the complainant is assumed to be guilty. On the other hand, any accusation of sock-puppetry by an admin or well-known editor is almost automatically assumed to be valid: the accused editor is presumed to be guilty and his or her vociferous objections are brushed-off as mere quackings to be ignored.

    (One of the great failings of the Wikipedian system of governance is that there is no mechanism for processing and impartial evaluation of complaints about admin behavior by civilian editors; the net result is that adminiship is effectively a life-time appointment. Only the most egregious misbehavior by an admin will get any action, and then only if it is reported by another admin. Non-admins are effectively powerless against admins, which means that a reasonable reaction would be for non-admins to vote against every candidate who wishes to become an admin, on the grounds that until there is an effective way to control wayward administrators, no more of them should be appointed. This will not happen, of course.)

    In the case of images, any image nominated for deletion on even the flimsiest of policy grounds is automatically assumed to be guilty of violating image policy, and will most likely be deleted, no matter how many reasonably presented !votes to keep the image are registered. The presumed policy violation trumps both rational evaluation of arguments and the expressed wishes of the community. Such a system presents to the sophisticated vandal an ideal mechanism for harming Wikipedia: simply nominate as many images as possible for deletion on policy grounds, and then sit back and let the process take its course. The end result will be numerous deletions of images which enriched the project, and a resulting diminution of the quality of the encyclopedia. 22:43, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

    • There's also the interesting question of how far one should take the Wikipedia proscription to Assume Good Faith (AGF). I like to relate it to this passage by Carl Sagan from The Demon-Haunted World (1995):

      Keeping an open mind is a virtue - but, as the space engineer James Oberg once said, not so open that your brains fall out.

      Assuming good faith is useful when two explanations of an editor's actions are available, and both are equally likely; then, AGF requires us to pick the one which reflects the best on the editor's motivations. But AGF should never carry any weight of its own. That is, once the evidence indicates that one explanation is more likely than the other, AGF shouldn't "rebalance" the scales to make drawing a conclusion impossible. AGF only comes into play when the two choices are equally probable. 05:09, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
  • By its very nature, Wikipedia is an eternally unfinished project: the encyclopedia will never be "complete" and there will always be work to be done on the articles which make it up, and new articles to be written. Unfortunately, many editors expend more energy on altering Wikipedia's policies then they do on improving the encyclopedia's contents. This creates a great deal of frustration among those editors whose primary concern is to work on improving articles. User:SteveCrook put it well when he wrote:

    My last major Wikipedia edit was towards the end of 2008 when I got fed up with people changing the rules on what was acceptable. Many times I would add something, an image or text, making sure that it observed all the standards current at the time. Then they changed that standards, so I had to change a lot of things to prevent it all from being deleted. When this happened for the third time I realised that Wikipedia is FUBAR. People are spending more time changing rules and making everyone else follow those rules than in adding any useful information or preventing vandalism.

    The frustration this constant moving of the goalposts creates is difficult to contain, and probably accounts for a great deal of "burnout" among Wikipedians. This phenomenon, of long-time editors being pushed past their limits by the frustration of simply trying to make Wikipedia better, is widely accepted as just part of the working environment. There is little understanding or acknowledgement that Wiki burnout is a malignant systemic artifact that is indicative of a serious problem in the way Wikipedia works, and is, in fact, a direct result of the libertarian origins of the project. 19:21, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Essentially, editing Wikipedia is a frustrating experience because the rewards of working on a project that has such fantastic potential are constantly being overwhelmed by the feeling that one is swimming upstream against a current of vandals and unhelpful editors. Strangely, the vandals are easier to cope with than the editors who clearly don't have a clue about what's best for the encyclopedia, but stick to their positions like glue nonetheless. These are the kinds of folks who consider any policy or guideline to be akin to Holy Writ, to be defended to the last edit, without any particular consideration of whether a posited alternative might actually be an improvement. These editors come in two basic flavors, those who do what they do out of ignorance or stupidity, and those who pursue their editing with malicious glee, and go out of the way to butt heads with their opposition. This is the core of what I've come to think of as Wikipedia's "CIA" problem – that is, the unfortunately large number of Children, Idiots and Assholes who inhabit its precincts.

    Children, of course, can grow out of their deficiencies, but there's little reason to allow them they kind of free reign that Wikipedia does: whatever benefit the project gains from the energy and enthusiasm they're capable of bringing to it is more than offset by their callowness, inexperience and lack of impulse control. And while idiots can be more easily forgiven their idiocy, which presumably is not their fault, assholes are the bane of the existence of the conscientious editor, since they combine the idiot's fecklessness with a maliciousness that can sometimes border on sociopathy.

    Fortunately, there are some solutions to help ameliorate these problems, although I doubt they can be eliminated entirely. One major step would be to eliminate the cover of anonymity and pseudonymity by which CIA editors are encouraged in their actions. It's so much easier to misbehave, act out or reject compromise when one is hiding behind an IP address or even the avatar of a pseudonym; the protection this provides encourages misbehavior. The solution to this is clear: no IP editing, stricter registration requirements, usernames that are recognizable names and not clever aphorisms, goofy inventions or ridiculous expressions, and steps to help insure that any one person edits under only one name. This will encourage a sense of responsibility for one's edits, and help eliminate the sense that Wikipedia is some kind of elaborate multi-player game in which one can behave however one pleases, and success is marked by how many people you annoy and how much useful editing you can prevent. 22:34, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

    • Lest it be taken, by those unwilling to extend the benefit of the doubt, that my claim is that CIA editors make up a majority of Wikipedians, that is not the case. Most editors are much more benign, many of them do good work, and the pleasure of collaborating with those that understand the true meaning of the word is one of the many positives of laboring here. Unfortunately, the effect of the CIA editors is so strong that it's virtually impossible to contribute to the project for any significant length of time without running into them, and having one's experience spoiled by their behavior. In effect, the sum total of their actions, and the defensive responses required to counter them, is so egregious as to define the Wikipedia experience. One comes away imbued not with the pleasure of collaborating with other humans to contribute to a worthwhile project, but with the frustration and annoyance of one's run-ins with CIAs. 00:49, 2 June 2009 (UTC)


BMK:EWAD[edit]

(Beyond My Ken's Evolving WikiAntiDogma)

Executive Summary[edit]

  • Being human requires a point of view.
  • Facts and accuracy are more important than neutrality.
  • Fairness is better than blandness.
  • You can't vote about facts.
  • Results outrank rules.
  • Err on the side of inclusion.
  • Artifacts speak for themselves.
  • Observation is observation, not original research.
  • Counting is counting and calculation is calculation, not original research.
  • Guidelines are good, dogma is bad.
  • When guidelines are followed slavishly, they become rules.
  • "Avoid" ≠ "Do not".
  • Editors are good, drones are bad.
  • Users and editors are not necessarily the same set.
  • Wikipedia exists for the users, not for the editors.
  • Tagging is goading someone else to do work you should do yourself.
  • If it's better, it's better.
  • If you're not making it better, you're making it worse.
  • Good information, well presented.
  • For Wikipedia to stay alive, it must evolve; to evolve, there must be change; for there to be change, new things must be tried and allowed to see if they can flourish.
  • Civility is good, but competency is more important.
  • Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from deliberate trolling.

Explication[edit]

  • It's not possible to be human and have no point of view -- being human requires a point of view. Attempting to write about anything without a point of view is the same as trying to write about it without thinking about it.
  • I'd rather have a source that honestly admits to their prejudices but works hard to be fair, than one which pretends not to have any prejudices at all, because that source is a liar, and will be unreliable.
  • Facts and accuracy are much more important than neutrality – and facts, especially scientific facts, are not determined by counting noses.
  • The best and most authoritative sources of information about books, films, CDs, TV shows and other media artifacts are the artifacts themselves. It should not be necessary to find a secondary source to say something which you've just seen or heard or experienced for yourself directly from the primary source, since the artifact can always be consulted to confirm the observation.
    • "[T]he purpose of adding a reference is to allow someone to know the source of a particular bit of information. It should be implicitely obvious that when you are describing the plot of a work, the source of the information is the work itself. Thus, no reference is necessary." User:Raul654 18 May 2006
  • Observation is not "original research", observation is observation. Counting something is a form of observation, and it is not "original research" either. Simple calculations are part and parcel of life, a more complex and extended form of observatiion, and are not "original research".
  • Guidelines are good, dogma is bad. Dogma is absolute, guidelines are advisory. Wikideology should never override logic, practicality and rational choice. But even guidelines should not be followed slavishly. It's better to help make an article good, no matter what it takes to do so, than it is to mechanically follow guidelines trying to make a "Good Article" or a "Featured Article".
  • If everyone is forced to follow guidelines all the time, with no allowed deviation, they are no longer guidelines, they are absolute rules.
  • Be careful when following guidelines to understand what they're trying to tell you. For instance, "avoid" does not mean "do not".
  • If Wikipedia's policies have become so complex and convoluted that an editor can shop around for a justification for an act he's already decided to do, rather than following simple guidelines to find guidance as to what to do, then they've become useless and counter-productive, and the net result will be that Wikipedia is doomed to dissolve into irrelevance.
  • We have a word for doggedly following procedures and policies determined by committees, without due regard for individual evaluation of functionality, utility or aesthetic values — it's called bureaucracy. Results should outrank rules.
  • Wikipedia may be doomed to dissolve into irrelevance in any case, because it fails to acknowledge the inherent contradictions of its tenets, and because no online community can survive for long when the inmates are in charge of the asylum.
  • The value of Wikipedia in the future may well depend on whether it decides to be a reference resource or an online community. The apparatus and paraphernalia of a community - the cliques, the wrangling, the territoriality, the awards, the quasi-religious disputes about official dogma - are all counterproductive if the goal is to produce an accurate, factual reference resource, and not to provide a place for people to hang out online.
  • Wikipedia needs editors not drones. We have plenty of bots to do rote work and mechanically apply rules, the last thing we need is a bunch of human robots who go about their work by slavishly applying rules without ever actually looking at what they're doing or evaluating what's best for an article. Editors use good judgment, drones just go by the book. Unfortunately, there are far fewer editors around Wikipedia than there should be, and way too many drones, who make editing the encyclopedia a chore akin to slogging through knee-high molasses with ten-pound weights hanging from your belt.
  • On Wikipedia, there are users, and there are editors, and although the twain do indeed meet, they are still generally two separate communities with distinct needs. If Wikipedia is to succeed in the long run, this distinction needs to be recognized, and the needs of the user made paramount. If Wikipedia exists primarily to service the desires of the editors, it will, eventually, become unusable and irrelevant. Wikipedia must exist for the users, not for the editors. Any Wikipedia policy which doesn't serve the primary purpose of doing what's best for the user is dangerously flawed and needs to be radically rethought.
  • Tagging an article should be approached conservatively, and clean-up tags, in particular, should appear at the end of articles and not at the beginning. The current plague of tags is detrimental to the acceptance of Wikipedia as a reference source, as they tend to reduce the user's confidence in what they're reading. If tags are to be placed at the beginning of articles, they should be redesigned to be less prominent. (Perhaps each tag template should insert two elements, a large informational one at the bottom of the article, and a smaller one at the top which points to the bottom one.) Tags, especially clean-up tags, are basically internal memoranda addressed to Wikipedia editors, and should be treated as such, not as warning labels for the general user. In this instance, transparency gets in the way of utility and the diffusion of Wikipedia's acceptance.
  • It appears to me that many times the use of the "Fact" (citation) tag is an indication not of a lack in the article, but of the ignorance of the tagger.
  • While Wikipedia needs all kinds of people with all different kinds of involvement — people who create new articles, people who whip old ones into shape, copyeditors, researchers, stylists and word geeks — it perhaps has an overabundance of people who spend more time tagging articles than they do editing them. If all the Wikitaggers would put the time they fritter away defacing articles with multiple layers of tags to use simply editing the article and fixing the perceived problem, Wikipedia would be in much better shape, and the articles wouldn't look like a refugee camp for dispossessed electronic post-it notes.
  • It is much more important that Wikipedia be inclusive, even at the fault of occasionally including information that might be considered (by some) to be "trivial", than it is to be exclusive, at the penalty of not including information that it interesting and informative. When in doubt, information should be published rather than suppressed. The general rule of thumb should be err on the side of inclusion.
  • If an edit makes an article better, then it's counterproductive to undo it simply to follow some guideline. If it's better, then it's better, and undoing the edit is hurting the article.
  • There must be agreement that the purpose of Wikipedia is to provide an accurate, interesting, useful, convenient and user-friendly free encyclopedia for the general Internet public, and not to serve as the playground or fiefdom of the people who edit it. All edits should be judged on this basis: Every edit should either improve the factual accuracy of Wikipedia or make it easier and more useful for the reader. Any edit which does not serve these goals is a waste of time and energy, and quite possibly counterproductive.
  • The ultimate goal for Wikipedia should be good information, well presented.

(under construction -- I'm sure there'll be more)


A personal prescription for surviving Wikipedia[edit]

1. Concentrate on editing. The social networking aspects of Wikipedia are a quagmire, and much too easy to be gradually sucked in to. Wikipedia may be a community, but it's a highly dysfunctional one that's it's best to remain aloof from, at least as much as humanly possible.

2. Cut back your watchlist as much as possible. Only watch articles which you've created or substantially improved, or which are very important to keep from being ruined.

3. Cut back on monitoring noticeboards. They're a snare and an illusion [sic], and very wasteful of time.

4. For any future RfCs, AN/I reports, etc. make one brief response, then ignore them as much as possible. Some short additional replies may be warranted, but be careful not to feed the opposition with too much information.

5. Drop any effort that proves not to be worth the energy.

6. When challenged, give it one more try, then drop the effort and go away; it's not worth fighting them.

7. You cannot win against an admin who really wants to win.

8. Remember: They are armed, you are not. When two admins tell you that black is white, it is fruitless to continue to try to show them that black is black and white is white. You don't need to accept their idiocy, just realize that there's little you can do about it, and continuing will just get you punished in some way.

9. Don't get comfortable, stay a little bit wary at all times. Comfort just encourages you to let down your guard, which can lead to trouble.

10. Stay below the radar. Edit reasonably and responsibly, and always with the goal of improving the encyclopedia, but, just as important, as much as possible, edit without drawing attention to yourself. Attention means trouble.

11. On the other hand, don't be an unknown, make sure that enough people are aware of who you are that you won't be treated like a clueless newbie.

12. Thinking of going to AN/I for relief? THINK AGAIN! If, after considering the pros and cons, you still want to post on AN/I - think again, again. Never post a complaint on AN/I if you haven't thought about it at least three times, and never post if there's the least chance that it will be turned against you. The culture of AN/I is biased towards WP:BOOMARANG gotchas, and it is not unusual for the complaintant to be dealt with more harshly than the supposed subject of the report.. Never assume that the person who responds to your complaint, admin or otherwise, will be able to make the fine judgments necessary to accurately evaluate the merits of the situation; in fact, it's best to assume that they won't. Remember that by complaining, you are drawing possibly unwanted attention to yourself.

13. Learn the lesson that collectively, Wikipedia doesn't want to be saved, it's not even very concerned about being fixed. It is quite happy being what it is, flawed or not.

14. Most importantly: Stay uninvolved, learn not to care.

Commentary[edit]

While Wikipedia has many editors who are reasonable and willing to discuss things rationally to reach a compromise, or perhaps even change their minds, it also has more than its share of rigid, dogmatic, inflexible, unimaginative people who are unwilling or unable to see value in anything except their own fixed ideas. Interacting with these people will, eventually, grind you down, because while there are only a limited number of ways to improve an article, there are many, many ways to screw it up, some of which are, unfortunately, supported by wrong-headed Wikipedia policies. For all these reasons, it's best to do your editing and then move on and DON'T LOOK BACK. Looking back only opens the possibility that you'll find out that one of those rigid and dogmatic people has undone your work and is willing to go to the mat to prevent it from being fixed. You can't win with people like that, and the attempt to do so will only raise your blood pressure and aggravate you.

Remember: by definition, unreasonable people can't be reasoned with. Assholes and idiots abound – don't look back, they might be gaining (and probably are). 15:01, 8 April 2009

And, yes, this juggling act is very hard to pull off. Presumably, a serious editor works on Wikipedia out of a desire to make it better, so it can be very difficult not to be protective about the work you've done, and not to try and undo damage which has been inflicted on it. Nevertheless, because of the way Wikipedia is structured, which empowers idiots and assholes while discouraging creative solutions to problems, it's essential that one learn not to care too much. 21:33, 8 April 2009
It's very striking that Wikipedia, a project founded on libertarian principles, shares a prominent characterstic with Communism, in that they both intentionally ignore a major aspect of human psychology, the urge toward ownership, and that both did so quite deliberately in the apparent conviction that such a basic component of our makeup can be ignored without serious problems. It didn't work for Communism, which today survives only in a form that neither Marx nor Lenin would recognize, and it's doubtful that, in the long run, Wikipedia can survive unless it too comes to terms with the ownership principle – which it very well may, since the evolution of the project clearly indicates a general trend of undercutting the founding libertarianism by the formation of a governmental apparatus. Of course, which direction that government goes, toward dogmatic authoritarianism or pragmatism, remains to be see. 20:04, 14 April 2009 (UTC)

It should be said that the prescription is intended as a remedy for Wikipedia as I find it, and is not intended as an expression of the ideal editing behavior if the Wikipedia experience was everything that it could be. The fact that the prescription is so difficult to follow with any consistency is a strong indication that the remedy is forcing one to behave in a way that's just not in sync with human psychology. ("Here, spend all your free time researching, writing and editing these articles: but don't feel possesive of them!" It that were possible, we'd be overrun with succesful hippie communes from sea to shining sea.) The remedy is bizarre, but necessarily so, because of the idiosyncracies of the Wikipedia system. That's why I need to keep reminding myself to follow the presecription over and over again. 03:56, 22 October 2010 (UTC)


Summary judgment[edit]

The ultimate question about Wikipedia always seems to be: given the number of problems associated with it, their severity and continuing nature, is it really worth the effort to edit it? Does its great potential justify the Sisyphean struggle to improve it when the hill just seems to get steeper and steeper?

Unfortunately, the answer changes from day to day and month to month, depending on how strong the tide of incompetence, dogmatism and reaction are at that moment. So far, the lure has always returned, eventually, no matter how great the frustration has been. Whether that will always be the case is anybody's guess.



Appendix (2010)[edit]

  • It appears that Wikipedia may be an example of The Tragedy of the Commons, where the decisions made by individuals are perfectly rational and justifiable on their own terms, but the cumulative effect of all those decisions is the destruction of the common resource that each is attempting, in their own way, to protect. This, too, is a result of the libertarian roots of the project, which holds that the wisdom of the group is superior to the wisdom of any individual who might have been given control of the group, even when the leadership is determined by democratic processes. Unfortunately, the problem with groups is that unless they have a coordinating intelligence, they're just as likely to do nothing, or the wrong thing, as they are to do the necessary thing.

    All too often, the function of the leader is to make the decisions that no individual is willing or able to make, and for this they are honored (if they're lucky) or castigated (if they're not). Having no leader, and no functional equivalent of a leader (the prevailing ideology prevents there from being one; whenever ArbCom comes close to approaching that role, howls of protest are sure to follow), Wikipedia depends on randomness instead, and for random (or semi-random) processes to arrive at a positive result requires not only a great deal of time, but also some controlling mechanism which guides things in the appropriate direction. Whether Wikipedia's mechanism (its editors, especially its administrators) is sufficient for the job is still an open question, but it's increasingly doubtful whether it has enough time.      05:43, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

  • The situation is complicated by the unusual relationship between Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, and the project. Wales sees himself as a "constitutional monarch", but is, in fact, much more of a benevolent despot. The Jimbo problem is that while he is not involved with the project consistently enough to be the leader it probably needs, on occasion he swoops down from on high and interferes with the normal functioning of the community. These ex cathedra insertions almost always are of the ignore all rules nature, and inevitably bring about a negative response from the community, which is used to being touted as the ultimate authority, and does not take well to being usurped. If the project had a well-defined leadership position (which would not necessarily be an indiviudal, but could be a committee, cabinet or council), the community would, over time, get used to the new arrangement, and the leadership would be able to invoke IAR without nearly the level of negative reaction that Wales now provokes.

    What makes Wales' involvement more disturbing is that his changes often seem more concerned with protecting the legal or public relations position of the Wikimedia Foundation rather than improving the encyclopedia per se. Granted, the continued existence of the Foundation is a necessity for the continued survivial of the encyclopedia, but, on balance, Wales' exertions of power seem more focused on the former to the detriment of the latter, the current moral panic over biographies of living people, and the public-relations panic over "pornography" on the Commons being another. With the current situation, Wikipedia gets the worst of all worlds: no leadership on a continual basis combined with massive ad hoc interference from a "leader" more or less beyond the reach of popular ire.      19:56, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

  • Legal scholar Tom Tylor believes that, in general, people follow the laws they live under not so much because of the cost of not following them – fines, imprisonment, loss of social standing – but more because they think it's the right things to do. They're more interested in the inherent fairness of the process, which establishes its legitimacy, then they are with the outcome – at least when the outcome is fairly minimal, such as the results of a hearing in a traffic court. Their respect for the law is dependent not on a calculation of their best self-interest, but on a perception of legitimacy based on how fair the process is. A major element of fairness is, of course, consistency, how often the system arrives at the same or similar result given the same or similar circumstances. A system which is obviously inconsistent, returning widely disparate results for similar cicumstances, is perceived as corrupt, which leads to disrespect for the system and widespread disregard for the laws the system is designed to uphold.

    This is largely the case with Wikipedia. The complexity of the project's policies and roles, their sometimes contradictory nature, the very existence of a "rule" which encourages ignoring all rules, and, most importantly, the wide discretion allowed to individual administrators in their interpretation and implementation of the rules, all help lead to widely varying results when the rules are broken. Editor A breaks the rules and is scolded or warned, while Editor B breaks them in exactly the same way and is blocked indefinitely. Such instances aren't hidden or difficult to find, on any given day one can see any numbers of cases on the Administrator's noticeboards, where the protests of those who are dealt with harshly are routinely ignored or disparaged, while other editors – better known, better connected or just more tolerated – break the rules with impunity until, finally, they go too far and their behavior can no longer be ignored or justified. While each individual instance of such disparity can be explained or justified, the net result of a system with such laxity of control for consistency is the perception of corruption, and general disrespect for the rules, which only leads to more disruptive behavior.

    While Wikipedia's insistence on the necessity of coming to the right result, regardless of the process used to achieve it, is understandable in a project set up to create an encyclopedia and not to be a social system, the project's very emphasis on "community", "consensus" and so on as vital parts of creating a desireable atmosphere in which people will want to help out and contribute underlines the danger of having a system of social control which is not seen as legitimate by the participants. Whether Wikipedia likes it or not, it needs to provide a comfortable environment in which people (who are, after all, volunteering their time and labor) can help expand and polish the encyclopedia, and that means having a system of social control that is perceived as legitimate, one that is fair and consistent. The project's unwillingness to see itself as both social environment and encyclopedia project, and its insistence on ignoring the inequities in its system of social control is yet another weakness the effect of which, over time, will be to continue to drive people away from the project.      07:28, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

  • Start with an article that looks like shit and reads like it was written by a high-school dropout. A hundred edits later, take another look at the article – and it still looks and reads like shit. That's because the intervening edits did useful things like replace m-dashes with n-dashes, capitalized the first letters of template names, added interwiki links, vandalized and reverted the vandalism, made sure that bold text was being used as laid down in the manual of style, removed extraneous blank lines and miscellaneous other actions which did not, in any fundamental way, improve the article. This is the problem with eventualism: it assumes that, somewhere along the way, someone's actually going to fix the real problems and not just niggle around the edges. 07:00, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
  • The notion that POV pushing, paid editing or the editor's intent doesn't matter is posited on the very dangerous notion that Wikipedia is a perfect machine, catching all biased edits and invariably correcting them. This is obviously empirically untrue. A POV pusher makes as many edits as possible as often as possible, most get caught and negated, some get through, and the net result is a small amount of movement in the desired direction. Rinse and repeat, and the POV has successfully been implanted. As long as POV misconduct is not given as high a priority as behavioral misconduct, our NPOV policies are in danger of being subverted. If ArbCom confines itself to conduct without dealing with biased content, POV wars will be settled on the basis of who has the best control over their behaviorial impulses, as opposed to whose content contributions hew closest to NPOV. It's a real problem that's not being dealt with well at all. AN:Breach of General Sanction by User:Triton Rocker 01:55, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
  • I often hear the charge that Wikipedia has a liberal bias. Here is a particularly cogent refutation of that charge:

    The "house POV" of any serious, respectable reference work is going to be that human activity contributes to climate change. (That's the "house POV" of Britannica, for example). Just as the "house POV" is that HIV causes AIDS, that tobacco smoke causes cancer, that vaccines do not cause autism, and that the attacks of 9/11 were staged by Al-Qaeda rather than the U.S. or Israeli governments. I use scare quotes around "house POV", because this isn't really an editorial POV. Any honest effort to represent the current state of human knowledge will end up "favoring" these perspectives, because they are heavily favored in reputable sources.

    In each case, there are significant dissenting points of view which deserve mention, but serious, respectable reference works are generally expected to prioritize mainstream thought and knowledge, rather than to provide an uncritical echo chamber for minoritarian talking points. To people who are personally invested in a particular minoritarian viewpoint, that can look like a "house POV", I suppose. But it's actually part and parcel of creating a serious reference work, as opposed to a search engine. MastCell Talk 16:25, 15 September 2010 (UTC) posted on Wikipedia talk:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Climate change/Proposed decision#Possible_Sock_investigation

  • Another very perceptive comment I've just run across:

    Wikipedia's edifice is built upon foundation laid down on a house of sand, largely because it was the creation of philosophers concerned with the nature of "truth" rather than by historians with a professional grasp of the concept of bias. Official Wikipedia doctrine, which was not brought down from the mountain 5000 years ago by Moses but which was created by Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales less than a decade ago, states that it is not the task of an editor to report what is objectively true and to leave by the wayside what is provably false, but rather to blindly and blithely transcribe the various assertions of so-called "reliable sources" and to leave it to the reader to sort through the various falsehoods to arrive at what is true for them. That's not verbatim, but a basic stating of their position and I don't think I do damage to their argument.

    Fortunately, virtually nobody follows that model in real life. Virtually every content-creator on Wikipedia makes innumerable judgments about whether a fact is objectively true or provably false in the selection process, and the errors and distortion are left by the wayside. The small minority behaving according to the Flawed Original Model quickly find their intentionally-inserted errors cleared away. In their real world behavior, Wikipedians adhere to these three "pillars": VERACITY + VERIFIABILITY + NPOV. There's no drama in that observation, those are facts. Carrite (talk) 16:38, 20 August 2010 (UTC) posted on User talk:Carrite#ANI

  • Some timeless, but petty, Wiki-truths:
    • Any block against Giano will eventually be described as "indefensible", or something similar. (Apparently, no block issued to Giano is ever warranted.)
    • Anyone who disagrees with Malleus Fatuorum is wrong. 05:49, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

Appendix (2011)[edit]

  • Unlike the Anglo-Saxon justice system, which posits that some version of truth will emerge from a battle between two advocates, we cannot be assured that every SPA will have an anti-SPA, or even that a SPA's activities will be noticed by unbiased editors, so our articles are move likely to be warped and unbalanced by the [SPAs] out there then they are to be helped by the provocation. SPAs and paid editors are a much more serious problem to the project than unsourced BLPs, or improperly justified non-free images, or some of the other topics which have gripped the moral panic crowd.      posted on Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents#Topic ban User:Sktruth 16:01, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
  • It might actually be more important to the project to concentrate on making editing Wikipedia more rewarding for our valuable and experienced old users, rather than worrying overly much about getting in new users, who naturally bring with them a learning curve for dealing with both the policies of the place and the culture of the community. The time and energy that's put into shaping (and culling) a random group of newbies could better be spent on tweaking policies and accepted behaviors in such a way that experienced editors are not driven away through burnout or exasperation. We've somehow come to accept that our best people will periodically need to take "Wiki-breaks" to prevent the eccentricities of the place from getting to them, when we should be looking at ways to make the project less debilitating and frustrating for the people who actually contribute the most to it.      posted on WP:AN 06:51, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
  • There's always a chance that the Foundation will be forced into [requiring registration to edit] when a commercial competitor picks up and adapts the Wikipedia model, without, of course, the acceptance of a high background leverl of vandalism and nonsense which sucks up time and energy. A commercial operation will want more forward movement, and less drama overhead, so tolerance for shenanigans will be much lower and non-registered editing will be disallowed. Such a setup would attract a significant percentage of WP's content contributors, those who are actually interested in helping to create an encyclopedia and not in playing a MMORPG.

    Since the commerical outfit can, legally, start from Day 1 with Wikipedia's content as it then exists (as long as contributions are properly credited), they should get off the starting block pretty well, and the resulting competition will, unfortunately, drive Wikipedia into irrelevance, if not near extinction. That would be a shame, since I'd prefer a not-for-profit model, but even a non-profit can't ignore its core assets (its contributing editors) forever and get away with it. Such a scenario is not inevitable, but it seems to me to be highly likely: I've got to think there's an entrepreneur out there looking at the page ratings Wikipedia articles get on Google and salivating at the advertising platform it would make. (In fact, Google is my own personal bet for an organization which might just go for it.)

    The WMF can't seem to understand that they're no longer in their start-up days, that attracting large volumes of new editors is not nearly as important now as it was back when something was being created out of nothing. With the encyclopedia in its early middle age, quality is much more important than quantity, and contributing editors are much more central to the continued success of the project than batches of newbies, many of whom will be prone to vandalism and screwing around. It's not unusual for visionaries to be blind to changing conditions, and sticking to their ground-breaking revelation long after its time has passed.       intended to be posted on WP:ANI on 03:55, 6 June 2011 (UTC), but placed here instead

  • At some point (with so many edits over the years, I cannot remember where) I wrote that Wikipedia was a "semi-academic" encyclopedia, but I went back later and changed that to a "popular encyclopedia". We can never hope to reach anything approaching academic standards, the entire structure of Wikipedia mitigates against that, but we can be a very good, very accurate, very reliable popular encyclopedia. It is for this reason that those who attempt to strip Wikipedia of coverage of the popular arts and entertainment are wrong. Not only are their efforts almost entirely futile, but these subjects actively matter to a significant portion of our audience, and for this reason we must cover them, in a manner that is as encyclopedic as possible. The reader who comes to Wikipedia to find the backstory on their favorite comic book hero or video game will return again in a few short years to look up other, more adult and universal topics. We can bring them in with the former, and keep them with us with the latter. It serves entirely no purpose to artifically slice off popular culture from our purview, out of a misguided (and somewhat elitist) sense of what is "proper" for us to cover and what is not.      04:46, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Appendix (2012)[edit]

  • (@Hammersoft) Thank you for reminding us that our guidelines are intended to be descriptive of what actual article editors actually do and not prescriptive based on a theory about what some folks think they ought to be. That's a valauable lesson often forgotten. Too often, editors ask "Does this adhere to the rules that must be followed?" instead of "Does it improve the article and the encyclopedia?" Although it's often sneered at, that's what IAR is meant to convey, that we shouldn't get so hamstrung by our (admittedly well-meaning) regulations that we forget that we're here to make the encyclopedia better, more informative, more accurate, and easier to use for the reader, not to put our minds on autopilot and slavishly follow rules meant to help us, not to hinder us.     posted on Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/IncidentArchive757#Undiscussed mass image removals by Alan Liefting; block considered 02:33, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia presents an object lesson for why a certain amount of hierarchical authoritarianism is necessary for the efficient operation of any group of human beings, whether they're the employees of a corporation, a military unit, an athletic team, or a volunteer project to write an encyclopedia. (It's also a lesson in why direct democracy cannot work with large numbers of people, no matter what commnications and computer technology can do, and why representative democracy is the preferred form for anything over the size of a small town.) Because Wikipedia rejects almost every possibility of a final authority where the buck stops – the only counter-examples being ArbCom for the very worst behaviorial problems, the Foundation for question of higher policy, and Jimbo for whatever attracts his attention – an enormous amount of time, effort and verbiage is spent on nearly endless discussions about every issue, from the most trivial to the weightiest, all in search of a "consensus" decision which is, very often, extremely difficult to find. (It would be interesting to know how many bytes in the database are connected with these discussions, in order to compare it with the number of bytes in the encyclopedia proper.)

    In the long run, Wikipedia may find that its apparent success at bucking basic qualities of human psychology is, at best, a temporary thing, and the project might well evolve into a more authoritarian mode. What would be worse is if it is forced into that mode by some kind of existential crisis, in which case it is likely that the change would go too far, and Wikipedia would become something its creators would not recognize; such overreaction to a crisis is hardly unusual. It would be better if the Foundation were to recognize that the success of Wikipedia is not without its problematic aspects, and were to deliberately and consciously re-tool the project to jettison those philosphical precepts (such as "Anyone can edit" meaning no registration) which have become a drag on the project's resources, as well as to institute some formal light authoritarian hierarchy to keep things from getting out of hand, as they very often do in the current system. 04:21, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

  • Actually, the reason stuff likes this clogs up the servers is that that there's a class of libertarian and anti-authoritarian users who are hellbent on complaining about anything anyone with the slightest bit of Wiki-authority does, and another class of editors (with a significant amount of overlap between the classes) who spend more time commenting in Wikipedia space than they do creating, editing and improving articles in mainspace.      Prepared for posting on AN/I, but not posted. 19:02, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
  • [M]ore solidarity, and less unnecessary vituperativeness, between editors who actually contribute to the encyclopedia would be nice. At the same time, some more control over editors who appear to believe that Wikipedia is an online debating society, or a vehicle to right the wrongs of the world, or a neat place to get their jollies, would be nice, too.

    I'm beginning to feel that overreliance on AGF as a primary operating principle has lead us into a blind alley where it's practically impossible to effectively regulate truly disruptive behavior without first going through hours of repetitive palaver and jumping through multiple hoops, all to get to a conclusion – a block – that seemed obvious from the beginning. Why not cut to the chase and block first, and apologize later (if it's warranted)? After all, we're not a microcosm of society, when an editor is blocked here he or she isn't deprived of his or her civil rights, they're simply not allowed to edit a privately-owned website they have no right to edit in the first place.

    We're a project set up with a specific goal in mind, to make a comprehensive freely-available online encyclopedia, and yet we let political and philosophical principles get in the way of that goal again and again, to the point where volunteer editors spend a significant amount of their time not improving the encycylopedia, but simply battling the entropy created by vandalism, idiocy and advocacy, while at the same time having to dodge a minefield of regulations which steadfastly refuse to allow anyone to take a stand on what's what, instead focusing on who best dotted the I's and crossed the T's. It may not be insane, but it's definitely crazy.      posted on User talk:Drmies#Observation 07:16, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

  • [F]or a while I've been contemplating the notion that adminship should not be for life, but for a pre-determined period of time, say 5 years, at which time an admin would have to stand for "re-election". My feeling is that such a limitation would take the pressure off of the desire to de-admin someone, since they would be coming up for renewal in a relatively short time anyway, and would also be something of a check on admin misbehavior (which I do not perceive as being widespread) and malfeasance (which is somewhat more prevalent), since an admin's behavior would be subject to periodic review. The "renewal" process would not be as comprehensive as RfA -- in legal terms, there would be a "presumption of innocence" about the renewing admin, and renewal would be the expected result of the process, unless compelling evidence or commentary was presented to prevent it.

    It seems to be that Wikpedia's lifetime adminship policy was a reasonable one for a start-up project which had no idea how successful it was going to be, but now that Wikipedia is middle-aged and successful, a different standard should be applied.

    I don't expect this idea to take root immediately, but I'd like to put a bug in people's ears to perhaps inculcate the idea for the future.      posted on Wikipedia talk:Requests for removal of adminship#Term limits 08:34, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

  • Wouldn't it be great if we had context-sensitive hyperlinks on Wikipedia? So that, for instance, if you were reading a film article and clicked on a year, it would bring you to the article that told you what happened in film in that year, or if you were in an article about a book and clicked a year link, you'd go to the article about that year in literature? ... Oh, wait, we had that, but some incredibly myopic editors thought (bizarrely) that such links were Easter eggs, (which, of course, they weren't) and convinced enough other people that all such "date linking" was deleted, as were the templates which enabled them. Isn't Wikipedia so much better now? It's almost as good as not allowing multiple links on each line on disambiguation pages -- why should we make it easier for readers to get to where they're going via associative searching? Let's make them link through to "Be My Baby" before we'll let them link to The Ronettes, where they really wanted to get to. Sure, we could have linked "The Ronettes" on Be My Baby (disambiguation), but that would against MOS, and we all know that MOS can never be wrong. Fuck the readers anyway, Wikipedia exists for the editors, not the readers.      06:51, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
  • I wish there was a stronger mechanism for calling attention to - and eventually getting rid of, if necessary - editors whose primary purpose on Wikipedia seems to be to stir the pot, and not to edit articles. Those names who keep showing up on ANI, AN and at ArbCom again and again but who I never seem to run into on articles. The contrarians who don't know what they want, but know that "whatever it is, I'm against it", and feel free to argue their dubious points ad infinitum.

    People keep complaining about the "drama boards" and calling for them to be closed, but perhaps we should consider a new user right instead, the ability to edit the Wikipedia domain unless the right is removed, and start taking it away from those people.      In response to this nonsense, 03:43, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

  • Might I suggest that ... Shaz0t's entire purpose here is to harm the encyclopedia by using our policies as weapons against us. I don't know if the motivation is simply to fuck with "the man" (as Wikipedia has become, as the primary source of online information), the furtherance of anarchy, or an adolescent thrill with messing around with important shit, but it would behoove us to take editors such as this into our consideration as we discuss the future of Wikipedia, i.e. how can we continue to be as open as possible ("the encyclopedia that anyone can edit") and still deal effectively with those people who, for whatever reason, want to screw us over. I think this will require admins and experienced editors to become less naive about the dangers confronting us, and to recognize that WP:AGF must be an ideal and cannot be an absolute. In addition, the suspicions and concerns of long-time editors need to be taken more seriously, and our restrictions on CU investigations must be loosened. In short, we are no longer in the early idealistic period of our development, we have passed into middle-age and the hard realities of life -- and this needs to be reflected in our policies, and in the attitudes of our admin corps.      posted on Shaz0t's talk page after that editor was blocked as a disruptive troll, 07:48, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
  • (In response to Baseball Bugs writing: "Experience has shown that when a brand-new user ID, of someone who's obviously not a newbie, embroils himself in a controversy, then starts yelling "AGF!" when the subject of sockpuppetry comes up... 99 out of 100 times (at least), it's a sock.")

    That's absolutely correct, but, unfortunately, other editors tend to wave aside the experience that editors such as you and I have, which leads us to our suspicions, and get stuck on things such as WP:AGF, as if we weren't supposed to use our common sense and innate intelligence to evaluate the situation and reach a reasonable conclusion about the motives of disruptive editors. I sometimes think that many of the editors (and, unfortunately, admins) here are incapable of independent thought, and are utterly dependent on the rules and regulations before they can make up their minds; they have, in fact, no imagination and little ability for creative thought. As a result, their thinking is hackneyed and stultified, and their inability to see any further than their own noses damages the encyclopedia, albeit without any real intention to do so. Then, when someone comes along who really is determined to do harm, these people cannot rise to the occasion and see what is in front of them. Instead, they fall back on those comfortable memes which allow them to do nothing and still feel good about themselves. It's a damn shame, really; but, on the other hand, it makes me value even more those editors and admins I have come across who transcend those limitations and show their intelligence in their Wikipedian endeavors.       posted on User talk:Beyond My Ken#AGF, etc., 12:47, 21 November 2012

  • Dennis Brown: "I'm just saying ANI is like a night court where all the judges like to give life sentences, so it is best saved as a last resort."       Posted on AN/I 9 December 2012
  • (Response to an "expert" who refused to use his expertise to fix an article, because "Wikipedia is decidedly unwelcoming to experts.") I dismiss you, because your attitude is dismissive of us. You claim that we reject you, but you do nothing to correct the "errors" that you see. Quite possibly they are errors (I'm no expert), but if you're not willing to correct them, and would rather see the primary source for information on the Internet report misinformation because no one genuflected to your expertise and kissed your ring, then who, exactly, is at fault here? Fix it, or shut the fuck up.

    And Kumioko, this person clearly knows what Wikipedia is, knows what some of its specific faults are, and yet refuses to step in and correct them, despite it being within his capability to do so. We're not in a position to have to grovel to such a person. Yes, we we would like and appreciate his help in improving the encyclopedia, but if he's not interested in doing so, I see no need to pretend that the loss is a significant one. Experts are, after all, a dime a dozen, as are amateurs, who often has as much knowledge as the pros, and are even more eager to share it. What we need to realize is that we're coming into a new regime where we are now one of the premiere channels for the propagation of knowledge, which means, sooner or later, the experts will come to terms with the fact that it's to their advantage to utilize us to spread knowledge about their specialities. When that happens, we'll see lot fewer of those like our geologist expert, and more willing to take it upon themselves to learn our system and adapt themselves to it.       posted on WP:AN#Main page error reports are ignored 12:23 - 12:38, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

  • Uncle G to Schrodinger's cat is alive: "You demonstrate exactly the sort of non-collaborative non-effort-expending attitude on the part of an editor with an account that makes editing so bad for so many, and that people rightly ridicule in cases like this where myopic Wikipedians foolishly fight to un-write the encyclopaedia. Calling someone who in no article edit did anything but add verifiable content and cite sources intended to support it a "vandal" is almost merely icing on the cake of how unproductive, uncollaborative, and un-Wikipedian that attitude is. Follow User:Uncle G/Wikipedia triage#What to do, which is the step-by-step guide taken from the verifiability and deletion policies of several years' standing, including its original 2003 formulation. If you see poor sources, put in the effort yourself to find better ones. You're supposed to be a collaborative editor. Stop thinking that your purpose here is no more than to sit in an armchair, mark other people's work, and use the undo tool, without otherwise lifting a finger to help when an article needs fixing. That is not our editing policy."       posted on WP:AN#Editor Dr. Blofeld, 03:22 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm sure there have been prophets of Wikipedia's impending doom ever since the project began, but I sincerely doubt that Wikipedia's demise will come about because of implosion from within. It's much more likely that it will survive until something better comes along, which, at this point, would probably have to be a commercial venture. At some point, some sharp cookie is going to see the profit potential in an online encyclopedia, and if they've got the bucks, a project set up to be a collaboration of volunteer editors, but with a more coherent and effective administrative and oversight structure, would probably spell the end of Wikipedia, since they'll have all of our faults to learn from.       posted on User talk:Drmies], 20:01, 30 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm sure they'd find some system of "paying" editors in points, or rank, or the equivalent of barnstars and Wikilove. If they're there to make money, the less they give away, the more they'd get to keep.

    What's more important is that a coherent and rational top-down system of rules would probably have much less individual interpretation of what is and isn't a transgression, and (I would suspect) some sort of sliding scale whereby newbie editors would be given a break, and well-established editors would be also be given some leeway in light of their value to the project - so that Drmies would never have been blocked in the first place. We almost have that de facto now, except for those foolish people who insist that everyone should be treated precisely and exactly the same, no matter have much they've given - a serious mistake, in my view, because we're here to create an encyclopedia, that's our paramount concern, and whatever "community" comes about is a mere by-product. It's the friction between those two viewpoints that fuels the periodic eruptions such as the one yesterday.       posted on User talk:Drmies], 23:15, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

Appendix (2013)[edit]

  • Wikipedia is a project to create and improve an online encyclopedia which is as accurate and as useful to its readers as possible. It is not an MMORPG, a debating society or an experiment to create the ideal online community. Activities which do not, in some direct or closely indirect way, contribute to that goal are a waste of the project's resources and should be minimized as much as possible.       posted as a banner on User talk:Beyond My Ken 21:08, 28 March 2013
  • Worth remembering – User:TParis:
    "Look, [Editor X], let me give you some advice. We get along well so I hopee you take it. And if [Editor Y] is offended by what I say, well so what. Anyway, my take on people is that I try to see their value. If they have none, then I dont bother with them. Viriditas is not the friendliest guy here. I've bumped heads with him several times, he's recently called me a troll, ect ect. He's not someone I'd go drink beers with. But, he's incredibly smart and usually has insight into particular issues that I don't. The way he articulates himself is clear and understandable. If I were on a debate team, I'd want someone like [Editor Y] with me. My point is this: find a way to get along. It doesn't have to mean agreeing, sometimes it means ignoring, but find a way to get along. You may have use of [Editor Y] some day, you might find yourself on the same side of an issue, and he can be a resource."       posted on AN/I, 13:24, 5 April 2013
  • Unusual insight – User:In ictu oculi:
    "[R]everting a redlink editor's repeated deletion of sourced content isn't a sin, it's a minor barnstar"       posted on AN/I, 22:21, 24 May 2013
  • On paid editing:
    For what it's worth, I oppose [the unbanning of a admitted public relations editor], since it's clear to me that the purposes of public relations people are antithetical to those of people who are attempting to write a NPOV encyclopedia. PR people serve a valuable purpose to the business community, and I have (indirectly) been the beneficiary of their work, but the usual course of business is that a PR person sends their info to some intermediary (a reporter on a newspaper, for instance), and the reporter decides how much of the info to use. It may provide a guide to the reporter for further investigation, or it may (in probably more cases than we'd like to know) be reported verbatim, but at least it has had the chance to be filtered through an intermediary who can use their independent judgment to weed out the worst of the promotional tendencies of the professional publicist. Reporters who pass along PR without vetting it have a tendency to be fired, or become PR persons themselves, because media outlets live and die by their reputations for accuracy.

    However, when a PR person has direct access to the means of dissemination, as is the case with Wikipedia, there is no longer an effective filter between their output and the encyclopedia. (Those who think that the cumulative result of all editors watching over he encyclopedia is an effective safeguard might be interested in doing a search of the project for "penis" to see the extent of the run-of-the-mill vandalism which hasn't been reverted by such means.) This is where the danger lies. If we allow public relations people to have clear and unfettered access to edit the articles in the encyclopedia, it is inevitable that we will eventually lose whatever reputation we have built up for neutrality and accuracy. Yes, people will still come to Wikipedia for information, since that habit has effectively been formed, but we will no longer be a free source of neutral information, we will be just another media vector for promotion and publicity. Those who think otherwise are, I believe, sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the blatant reality of the situation. Those who protest that we can't effectively police PR misbehavior are like inner-city cops who let crime get out of hand because it was just too hard to keep fighting against it. Yes, obviously, if we were to ban paid editing (as I believe we should) those editors would work overtime to get around our defenses, and that might require some policy changes on our part, such as loosening the restrictions on CheckUser investigations, but new strategies from the opposition require such responses on our part, and using such we can keep PR-fluff to a reasonable level.

    I am absolutely certain that the vast majority of those opposing taking steps against PR-editing are sincere in their beliefs, but I believe that are entirely and utterly wrong. The game changed when Wikipedia became the first stop of choice for many people when they want to get a quick bit of information, and such a vector cannot be ignored by people who live and die by their ability to get out their clients' message to the most people possible. We are no longer amateurs here, regardless of whether we get paid or not, we are professional information providers, and it's our responsibility to see that the information we provide is as accurate and unbiased as possible. To do that in a context where we give free reign to those other professionals, the PR people whose job it is to provide biased and celebratory information, is much more difficult, which is why we should not be unbanning any admitted PR person.      posted on AN/I 05:04, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

  • On leaving and coming back:
    Dennis: I'm not sure if you're aware that I work in the theatre as a career (huh, some career, more like a hobby given what I earn). The problem with "The Theatre" is that once you catch the "bug", you can never really get rid of it. It caused me to drop out of MIT, and leave behind what would probably have been a lucrative career in computer science; it keeps me working for small companies for peanuts because I enjoy the work they do, when I would earn more flipping burgers at McDonalds; and, worst of all, it makes me entirely unsuitable for doing any other kind of work at all.

    Well, Wikipedia is, I think, a lot like "The Theatre". Once it's in your blood, it's goddamn hard to get rid of. Oh, you can fight it, you can resist for short periods of time, maybe even for significant ones, but Wikipedia will call you back again -- and when you return you'll find that it's just as exasperating and annoying and aggravating and enervating and full of assholes and idiots as it was when you left. (If for no other reason, Jimbo Wales will burn forever in Hell because of Wikipedia.) But, like addicts everywhere, you won't be as concerned with the adulterants in your drugs as you will that you get that "kick" than only your personal monkey can deliver, so you'll stick around, at least until the next time you kick.

    Which is all to say: I appreciated you while you were here, I understand why you're gone, and I expect to see you again at some future time -- at least, I hope so. I'd really hate to see us lose one of the good ones.       posted on User talk:Dennis Brown 05:29, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

  • On BLP policy:
    "Do no harm" is an impossible standard to live up to and, if taken literally, would seriously harm the encyclopedia.

    Like it or not, facts, encyclopedic facts, may well be harmful to some living people: criminals, corrupt politicians and avaricious businesspeople, just to name a few. Any additional broadcasting of the activities of these people will be harmful to them, their reputations, their court cases and their families - but that's hardly the point. The point of BLP is not to try to avoid doing harm to anyone, it's to avoid doing harm to living people if the facts are not extremely well supported by citations from the very best of reliable sources. When that happens, when impeachable sources -- not tabloids, not scandal sheets, not TMZ or E! -- report something, and those reports are corroborated by other equally reliable sources, then it's out of our hands. Not to include those facts is a distinct disservice to our readers -- the people we are supposed to be serving here -- and an abrogation of our responsibility as encyclopedists in the modern world. That those facts will have a harmful effect on a living person is regrettable, but the additional effect of our including them when unimpeachable sources are reporting them is minimal.

    We are not a social services agency, here to make everyone feel better about themselves, we're here to write an encyclopedia in a neutral, straightforward, non-judgmental manner, with our information supported by citations from reliable sources. When we fulfill those requirements, we have fulfilled our obligations to our readers and to the subjects of our articles, to whom we owe nothing more than that: accuracy and neutrality. To say that we have another, overriding obligation, a blanket proscription to "do no harm" is a egregious misreading of the intent of the BLP policy, one that, if widely believed, would cripple our ability to do what it is we're here to do.       posted on AN/I 08:27, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

  • On Eric Corbett (Malleus Fatuorum):
    On Wikipedia there are policies, there are rules, there are guidelines, there are precedents, and then there are just plain-old facts of life. One of those facts is that Eric Corbett is untouchable. It doesn't matter whether he's untouchable because he actually never does anything wrong and is always baited into doing whatever he is said to have done, or if he's untouchable because too many people will support him when he does do something wrong and prevent him from being sanctioned, or if he's untouchable for some other reason or combination of reasons, it's simply a part of the reality of Wikipedia than Eric Corbett is untouchable. That's why getting involved in any discussion about his behavior is a complete and total waste of time. Maybe he's the poster boy for bad behavior, and maybe he's the best damn writer in the project, and maybe he's both or neither, it just doesn't matter - until Eric Corbett decides that he no longer wants to edit Wikipedia, he's going to be a locus of disruption, and arguments about him are going to be a massive time sink for anyone unable to ignore the furor. Personally, I don't give a damn about him, one way or the other, his being untouchable is simply something that's there, and pretending otherwise, from one side or the other, is just banging your head against a brick wall.       unposted 05:56, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
  • On editing under a topic ban – User:Laser brain, quoted by User:The ed17:
    "... I've a long-standing belief that we need to show editors who are fucking around that we mean business. Why do people get topic banned to begin with? Because they can't check their emotions at the door and edit within some topic matter like a normal person. At this point, if MarshalN20 finds himself editing any article related to anything that happened in the past in Latin America and starts getting all hot and bothered, he should walk away. Instead, he decided to get into an edit war. Is the article peripherally related to Latin American history? Sure, it's a gray area. But why push it? You'd better believe that if I got topic banned from articles about the history of New York and I found myself edit warring in an article about a historical New York sports rivalry, I'd expect to get blocked. It amazes me that people carry on like this and then act like they didn't know they were doing anything."       posted on AN on 14:06, 18 November 2013, quoted on WP:RFAR 18:32, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
  • On English-language competency:
    [Y]es, I am quite intolerant of people who edit English Wikipedia who do not have sufficient command of the language to do so. I would never think of doing an edit on another language's Wikipedia which involved the expression of ideas when I couldn't properly convey because of my own deficiency in that language. That would be a disservice to their efforts to build a quality encyclopedia. It so happens that English Wikipedia, because of its dominance and the world-wide influence of the language, is a magnet for people to come here and fight their ethnic and nationalistic quarrels. It's a total pain in the patoot and causes no end of troubles, clogging up our noticeboards and taking up the time of our Arbitration Committee. That's bad enough, but when a significant portion of those POV warriors edit with poor English-language skills, it makes things even worse.

    So, either learn to communicate better in English or stop editing articles here in a way that requires other editors to fix your languager-related errors, or, preferably, edit the Wikipedia(s) in the language(s) you have better competency in.       posted on AN/I 18:58, 26 December 2013 (UTC)

Appendix (2014)[edit]

  • An unusually bad take on Wikipedia – User:James Carroll:

    You can't let the inmates run the asylum

    In the same way that MySpace was destine to succumb to FaceBook, Wikipedia – despite its current popularity – is destine to succumb to a future more robust competitor because of its fundamentally flawed management model.

    Within the software industry, which originally pioneered the concept of dynamically changing teams for individual projects, there was a realization that every project needs some temporary leader at all times to be able to quickly diffuse controversies among the team's members.

    The same way that a ship can only have one rudder, some project leader must always exist or a project’s team can easily degenerate into endless squabbling and eventual conflict.

    Unlike Wikipedia, software companies sought to encourage individuals with the most passion for a topic to take ownership themselves – at least during the start of a project – and also realized that as a project matures, new project leaders were likely to be assigned over and over again.

    Wikipedia’s central flaw was that it falsely assumed that if they wrote enough rules and documented them, that team members would instantly transform into trained and self-regulating lawyers, and be able to quickly and efficiently resolve project issues in a democratic and diplomatic style.

    However time would show that the large body of rules would ironically not clarify but only create a fuzziness that aggressive individuals with a false sense of entitlement would seek to exploit, sometime in concert with other aggressive individuals, in arbitrarily forcing their decisions and designs upon a project (an article) – sometimes dictatorially reigning in this power-play for years at a time while stagnating the project.

    The only salvation for Wikipedia to repair its broken management model by recognizing the continual need for some responsible and diplomatic individual to be always placed in leadership of a project, so that conflict resolution can happen quickly and diplomatically without festering into persisting irrational and emotional disputes.       posted by James Carroll on User:James Carroll 11:35, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

  • On "WikiQ":

    In the best of all possible Wiki-worlds, there would be a metric which weighed each editor's beneficial contributions to the project against their non-beneficial ones. Editors with a high WikiQ would be rewarded with more user rights and their opinions would carry more weight in discussions; they would also get a correspondingly greater "benefit of the doubt" when conflicts arise. On the other hand, editors who are, essentially, free-loaders, who spend all their time talking and debating and don't contribute productively would be warned when they reach a certain level of non-productivity, and kicked out when they didn't straighten up and fly right. Note that this is different from banning and blocking on the basis of misbehavior, I'm talking about making "pulling one's weight" a pillar of the place.

    That's all fantasy, and, of course, will never happen, but I do think it illustrates my take on how I feel editors should be dealt with when they, as you say, suck up too many community resources. I've long been concerned that Wikipedia may be an example of the Tragedy of the Commons, and that we're in danger of destroying what is most important to us simply by not taking steps to protect it.       posted on User talk:Beyond My Ken 18:44, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

  • Little by little...

    Wikipedia beats it out of you - the fun, the enjoyment, the pleasure of editing, improving, creating.

    When I first made an account here, I used my real name. I thought that was important, that hiding behind a false name in some way belittled the importance of the project. How could people take an encyclopedia seriously when it was edited by "Horse Faced Harry" or "Bandits at 12:00" or whatever? So I used my real name, and my user page was chock full of things that were important to me in my life: my work, my accomplishments, my first computer, my first online services, the books I read and the music I listened to and the films I liked.

    Of course, predictably, it got used against me. I was harassed and hounded, and the information I had shared was utilized ro plant false information which was then used against me in a dispute. I tried to get away from the harassment by changing names, got caught, got blocked, and got let off. I'm not complaining about that, I shouldn't have done it, and I'm grateful that I was allowed to continue editing. Of course, I wouldn't have had to do it if there was a reasonable process to deal with harassment and hounding, but there wasn't. There still isn't. It's still much easier for one editor to hound another then it is to prove that the hounding is going on, and harder still to get anyone to do anything about it.

    Just like it's easier to wield the banhammer than it is to actually dive in and try to understand what's going on, and sort out the wheat from the chaff, to see who's actually trying to improve an article, and who's just editing on reflex, like a robot, without thought or contemplation, just crossing Ts and dotting Is without ever considering whether perhaps other letters ought to be there in the first place. Nope, the BOOK says you gotta do it this way, and to hell with IAR, it's only a pillar. So the hardliners keep their lines hard, and those trying to bring in a little air, to make sure this project is a living, breathing, evolving entity get the shaft.

    Not every time, of course. As in any collection of people, the admins here probably fit a normal bell curve, or maybe because they're essentially self-selected and then thinned out the curve is probably skewed a bit to the front, which is why my experience is that the admin corps is, overall, pretty good; it's certainly not as bad as some make it out to be. But there are bad admins, and there are sloppy admins, and there are lazy admins, and there are admins who don't have the temperment or character to be an admin, and there are even admins who are just perilously close to being bad people.

    But, as I wrote to one of the Wikipedians I think highly of of earlier today, it wasn't an admin's fault that I was blocked - they were just the agent. It was my fault. But not necessarily because I "edit-warred" (a concept which really should be closely re-examined) but because I should have known better.

    I am, I say without false modesty, a very smart guy. I'm also a pretty old guy, almost 60, and I work in a field in which the exploration of emotions, motivations and the meaning of words and behavior is constantly ongoing. All of this means that I'm petty damn good at "reading" people, knowing what they're feeling, and why they're doing what they're doing. Of course, in an online environment like this, most of the cues which help one to make that evaluation are missing. One only has words, which few people really know how to use effectively and with precision, and a few feeble emotional indicators such as emoticons and <grins> and such. Still, even with most of one's senses cut-off, it's possible to get a read on the personalities of the editors here, when one has contact with them over a period of time. What I did was to forget what I knew about some of those editors, and based my actions on logic and reason and what's best for the article (which I, essentially, wrote), and it bounced back, right in my face.

    I'm a smart gut, but I'm human, I fuck up.

    But if Wikipedia wasn't set up to be a dog-eat-dog community (and yes, I know that the idea was that it was to be a civil and collegial community, but the harsh reality is that if you don't have an institutional framework that forces people to treat each other well, many of them are going to act like assholes - something that libertarians have never understood) - if it wasn't as "red in tooth and claw" as it is, there would have been nothing to fuck up, or, rather, the consequences would have been less stark. If the system wasn't such that hardliners can get away with murder, while those who want to use a little imaginative thinking end up swimming upstream against a hard current (yeah, mixed metaphors, I don't care), then it wouldn't have happened either.

    OK, it wasn't exactly the perfect storm, but a number of elements did have to align: the systemic bias, their behavior, my not being smart about how to deal with their behavior, and a lazy admin.

    So... so what? A 24 hour block, not exactly a big deal. It gave me a break, got me some sleep I needed. Not exactly a net positive, but not all bad. So why the geschrying?

    Well, it's just another thing, another of the little things that grind you down. Like the admin some years ago who after I reverted something one time, came on my talk page and told me if I reverted again, he would block me. No explanation of why, just a confirmation that he was serious. Of course, he's armed and I am not, so I had to do what he said. I don't even recall if what I did was valuable enough that it would have been worth another revert. (There's that concept of "edit-warring" again, gotta fix that.) I was just... taken aback, nonplussed. I don't even think I had edited the article before, and wham "It you make a move, mister, I'm gonna blow off your head."

    It all grinds you down, beats the fun out of you, makes it harder and harder to enjoy being here. Of course, you can't actually stop, it's addictive. (And when I wrote, saracastically, that Jimbo would burn in hell for creating such an addictive thing, some idiot actually demanded that I apologize for the remark - I can still feel the grinding from that episode every time I see the editor's name. So you learn to try to stay away from certain names, not to rub up against them, but then they always seem to be around, getting in the way, making things unpleasant, grind, grind grind, grind. Some of them are even good editors, but they're just too damn toxic for words.)

    So, like any good addict, I'm back, and it's unlikely I'll be going away any time soon. But I probably won't enjoy it as much. I'll try and force myself to stay away from the places where the jerks hang out (which, unfortunately, is one of the places I like to go -- grind, grind, grind), and I'll try to be smarter and not get myself blocked again, but it's undeniable that I'm a bit sadder, 24 hours later, kind of melancholy.

    I guess I've just had too much of the fun beat out of me.       posted on User talk:Beyond My Ken 22:15, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

  • On "In popular culture lists" - User:DGG:

    When notable cultural artifacts, or particular distinctive human activities, are used as significant elements in notable fiction and other notable cultural phenomena, then a discussion of them is encyclopedic. All that is necessary is to show that the activity or artifact is used in a significant way, and this can be appropriately referenced to the work directly.

    These references are needed, but they can be supplied. Any of the items that are not significant can be removed after discussion of the talk page of the article. Such a list is not indiscriminate, for it discriminates in 3 ways: the artifact, the notable work, and the significant use. Indiscriminate would be including every appearance whatsoever in any fictional work, however non-notable the work. But that is not the case here. There is no problem with WP:V, for the items are attributable--if it is challenged in good faith that the artifact is not in the work mentioned, that does have to be demonstrated. There is no problem with LIST, because more than the bare facts are given.       posted on Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in popular culture 02:28, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

  • On young editors:

    I don't think that we, as a community, have a good handle on how to deal with young editors. We've got WP:CIR, of course, but that's most often used as a reason for blocking, and there's very little that can be done before it reaches that stage, because, in general, we insist on treating all editors the same, as responsible adults, even when its clear that this is not the case. (I'm speaking in the abstract here, not particularly talking about ZackDickens12 and this minor incident.) It's somewhat reminiscent of the WMF's refusal to see that not requiring registration, and allowing IP editing, is, overall, a detriment to the project, and that much vandalism and quasi-sockpuppetry (editors with accounts logging out to avoid scrutiny) would be eliminated if they changed their policy to something reasonable, like pretty much every other website on the Net.

    Anyway, I'm rambling - my point is that it would be nice to have a way to deal with young editors somewhat differently than adult editors, other than the informal things that have grown up over time, such as the "Not Now" closing of [a young editor's inappropriate] RfA. If there were systemic restrictions on their editing, and they understood that when they began, then it wouldn't seem so punitive to have curmudgeons like myself wagging their finger at them. As it is now, by assuming from the beginning that all editors are going to behave like responsible adults, the negative response to childish misbehavior is magnified; and by the time it becomes clear that the behavior is childish because a child is behind the keyboard, everyone's already a bit put out, and inclined to be harsher than they (I) probably should be.       posted on User talk:Writ Keeper 17:51, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

  • On banned editors:

    [W]e should be careful not to glorify and enable banned editors who try to circumvent the will of the community by calling them "puppet masters" or "puppeteers". No, they are simply banned editors, and as such are pitiful [and pitiable] people, without honor and without shame at their behavior. They should ask themselves: if my parents knew how I behaved on Wikipedia, would they be proud of me? If my brothers and sisters were aware, would they pat me on the back and congratulate me? If my children saw what I do, would I be setting the best example for them? Perhaps if more banned editors were to actually think about what they are doing and how they are behaving, there might be less socking. Maybe not, if they are mostly self-centered egotists and sociopaths - but some of them must be normal people, simply led astray by circumstances and carried away by emotions.       Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/Kumioko 23:23, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

  • Some aspects of sociopathy - excerpted from "Profile of a Sociopath":
  • Manipulative and Conning: They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. ...
  • Grandiose Sense of Self: Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."
  • Pathological Lying: Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
  • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt: A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way. ...
  • Callousness/Lack of Empathy: Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
  • Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature: Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
  • Irresponsibility/Unreliability: Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.



Also noted[edit]

  • Another comment by DGG, from WP:AN/#WP:NOTABLE and Democracy:
    • Wikipedia is a new kind of encyclopedia, without precedent, and successful and useful beyond any prediction. To some extent we have achieved that because we match people's expectations based on the old forms, but to some extent also because we fulfill their openness to new ones. We need to have some level of significance in our contents, but we also can be-- and are-- more inclusive than any previous encyclopedia in both scope & currency. DGG ( talk ) 19:27, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

The eternal struggle[edit]

Skeleton-warrior.jpg

The Wikipedia philosophy can be summed up thusly: "Experts are scum." For some reason people who spend 40 years learning everything they can about, say, the Peloponnesian War -- and indeed, advancing the body of human knowledge -- get all pissy when their contributions are edited away by Randy in Boise who heard somewhere that sword-wielding skeletons were involved. And they get downright irate when asked politely to engage in discourse with Randy until the sword-skeleton theory can be incorporated into the article without passing judgment.Lore Sjöberg,"The Wikipedia FAQK"