User:Moreschi/Wikithoughts, Wikimorality, Wikiphilosophies

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In no order of importance whatsoever, this is just a collection of random thoughts and ideas accrued from my time here thus far. It is most certainly not to be taken seriously. Feel free to add your own here under a new section: this is a wiki, y'know.

  1. Like hyphens, if you take Wikipedia seriously, you will surely go mad.
  2. If you hear someone mouthing off about hive mentality, do remember that they have probably already been banned or are about to be banned. Such people are not to be taken seriously.
  3. Talking in officious legalese may make you seem important and clever. You will not seem so important or clever when you get blocked for violating WP:NLT and the block gets roundly endorsed at ANI. Legal threats of this type are a particularly despicable form of bullying.
  4. If someone is "deeply hurt" - or some other emotive adjective - by you nominating their article for deletion, the whole thing is either a hoax or they have a COI in the matter. Probably.
  5. Those who attack the community on external websites of vices they are invariably guilty of themselves will never recognise their own hypocrisy.
  6. Redlinks are good: they encourage newbies to get going and start experimenting.
  7. Good-faith newbies almost never abide by WP:V and WP:RS at first. This is not a problem, so don't bite them for it. Much of what they are writing is probably true and verifiable, just not verified. Let them develop into productive contributors over the next few months and they'll come back to fix their own newbie mistakes.
  8. Fixing your own newbie mistakes is an excellent exercise in humility.
  9. Wikipedia is a lousy therapist, what with all the trolls and personal attacks floating around. Using Wikipedia as a therapist is a very bad idea: you probably need professional help.
  10. Wikipedia is also a lousy place for social networking, same reasons as above. If you find yourself using Wikipedia in this way your real life needs serious sorting out.
  11. "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."[1] Trolls like to make martyrs out of indefblocked trolls. Don't be fooled.
  12. If a troll says that you are doing a bad job: be reassured, you are doing a good one.
  13. The POV-pushing agenda of those with commercial usernames is to be found in their sales catalogue. See this for a good example.
  14. There is a wrongheaded but entirely forgivable tendency among Wikipedians to think that every single fact about a notable cultural figure is worthy of inclusion in this encyclopedia. Wrong: some facts are not of encyclopedic importance.
  15. On-wiki solipsism is clearly a self-contradictory bad idea, yet a surprising number of people persist in regarding their fellow Wikipedians as nothing more than electrons on a computer screen.
  16. Online communities should DefendEachOther. Those who AttackEachOther, either here or off-wiki, need either to be strongly dissuaded from doing so or kicked out altogether.
  17. Never run after taxis, girls, or departing Wikipedians, because another three will be along in a minute.
  18. It takes 5 minutes of scrawling on a keyboard in high school to churn out an article of some description. It takes months of careful sculpting, often (though not always), to fashion a contributor who can actually write a good article. Hence, the base of good contributors is not expanding at the same rate as the number of articles. Ergo, retention of important contributors is important: though once they start going, there's not much you can do other than say goodbye. The trick is to keep them happy while they're here.
  19. The better an article gets, the harder it is to edit.
  20. Like most other spheres of human activity, the writers of Wikipedia articles are often divided into Berks and Wankers. Berks add a good deal of content, but sometimes their grammar is sloppy and they forget to add references: sometimes the tone is a little unencyclopedic, and quite often they completely forget about this whole business of extra care being paid to some articles. They are, as is universally agreed, a lower class of Wikipedian than oneself. Wankers, on the other hand, are equally annoying. Ferocious copy-editing is not really Wankerism, but typical Wanker traits involve having your infoboxes just so, your microformats beautifully presented: every single subordinate clause must be provided with an inline citation; and never, ever get a Wanker started on the subject of citation templates. Wankers are often mistaken for a higher class of Wikipedia than oneself. Left to the Berks, Wikipedia would die of unreferenced articles and lawsuits. Left to the Wankers, nothing would ever actually get written, and Wikipedia would die of uneditability and overfussy articles. The great trick is not to be a Berk, and not to be a Wanker either (a chap I know suggested "banker" as a compromise).
  21. The nationalist trolls are the worst. Always. No exceptions.
  22. The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.[2]
  23. The law is designed to save, not to destroy.[3] Amazing how many people forget that. The aim of every Wikipedia rule is the preservation of the encyclopedia; not as a stick to get Bad Guy of the Week blocked.
  24. Those who cry "admin abuse" are usually wasting their breath, simply because they haven't taken into account that human psychology has a well-conditioned reflex to deal with abuses of power by those who wield it - or at least in societies run on a democratic model. Admins are slaves of the community. It is their extra buttons that keeps most admins on such a tight leash: to be an admin is to swing forever back and forth between cratship, a barnstar, a lynching, and a banning. As a result, most admins are incredibly cautious with their tools, and current process strongly urges them to be so! It's the old relationship between master and slave again: masters are kept in servitude by their slaves, not only because there are invariably more slaves than there are masters, but also because the masters are human. No human master can be content with the mere fear of his slaves: it is human nature to crave love and free recognition. Wagner[4] was correct to assert that the price of domination is lovelessness: either that, or the only true master is one who - like Caesar - is not only feared for his wrath but also loved for his bounty and clemency. Therefore, the community has little to fear from its admins, who are well-muzzled enough as it is.
  25. The most dangerous fool is he who has learnt wisdom by rote.
  26. Is the cynic the only true believer?
  27. Any user whose first edit is to jump straight into the middle of a revert-war should be blocked indefinitely, instantly, and without fuss. Throwaway vandalesque single-purpose accounts are given way too much liberty.
  28. As a general rule, don't discuss before you do anything (controversial blocks being an obvious exception). Wikipedia's user base has got far too big for any general agreement on anything to be reached before something is done. Reactive consensus is now all that is possible. If you want to set up a new noticeboard, or propose a new guideline, or alter some aspect of Wikipedia policy or process, do so. Then talk, and be prepared to defend yourself. This does not apply to making controversial edits to controversial articles, but it does work for internal projectspace activities.
  29. A wiki is a means to an end (in this case building an encyclopedia), and not an end in itself. That something is "unwiki" does not mean that it is A Bad Thing: in fact, it is likely to be A Good Thing, since systems of pure ideals, without adulteration, pragmatism, and compromise, never work.
  30. Those who can't face reality flee to the internet.
  31. Within a closed group, social interpersonal friction will never increase nor decrease. This is the law of the conservation of personal problems.
  32. In an open group which is expanding, social interpersonal friction will always be on the increase. This is the law of the expansion of personal problems.
  33. There are 3 steps on the ladder of religious cruelty. Firstly, they sacrificed their loved ones as burnt offerings to the Godking, if those loved ones broke the holy commands. Later, they sacrificed their own most deep passions and desires - for the sake of the Godking. And then what was left? In their final passion of frenzy, of brutal, nihilistic cruelty, didn't they then have to sacrifice the Godking himself? On the altar of repression and stupidity?
  34. We must - absolutely must - be completely principled in our resistance to the loathful concept of principle, in all its forms.
  35. The vast majority of Wikipedia's Russian nationalists are not members of the KGB internet trolling squads - if they were, they'd be much more competent and do a far better job of not getting banned. For precisely the same reason, I am not the Wikipedia branch of the Secret Intelligence Service - and nor is any other editor whose Wikipedia career is not marked at all times by universal popularity.
  36. First I shall teach you that most contemptible of the new men, the Ultimate Man. He is as one of the herd, and how he shares in their values! How he loves the true democracy and consensus of Wikipedia! He decries the truth-sayer as the madman - and sends him to the madhouse! He neither loves nor hates - or if he does, he does so with no fervour. He neither rules as a master should, nor obeys as is fitting for the slave - all is in healthy (for he is never sick) moderation. One herd, one value-set - and no shepherd. "I have discovered policy" says the Ultimate Man - and blinks.
  37. But now - ah, but now - I shall teach you the Preterman, and you shall hear the music of the man who goes beyond! How he sings! Wikipedia is something to be overcome - what have you done to overcome it? The Preterman loves as he hates - with a passionate fire that cleanses the dirt and burning flood that washes away iniquity; in him there's a heart of steel, and despite what may be his mask of love, he rules with steel and axe and the iron glove that cloaks his clenched fist. He has left guilt behind, and policy, and many other things too - for what is done from love surpasses morality. The Preterman is he who is self-determined - and he will not be caught by the traps men create to enslave and ensnare themselves! In his heart there's a world and a man and a universe incarnate - do you not fear him yet, you men? Well, you may have your fear but never envy - for if you envy the Preterman, you shall never become him.
  38. There is a blond beast at the heart of every troll - and perhaps at the heart of many admins too, eh?
  39. Do not fall in love with your wisdom! It shall become as a crutch, a burden that prevents you from having a good, healthy, roll around in the trolling shit.
  40. Useful formula for determining the length of non-indefinite blocks - take the first number that occurs to you, double it and add 24 hours, just for luck.
  41. Woodrow Wilson, apparently, once declared that the hyphen was the most "un-American thing in the world". Twit. Apparently he didn't notice the inherent self-contradiction. The man who can hyphenate properly can rule the world - at any rate, certainly Wikipedians can't. Perhaps he was just lacking in extra marital sex at the time he made this particular statement.
  42. If your reaction to many edit wars is "How petty! How base!" - do not be surprised. Many edit warriors, almost by virtue of definition, tend to be rather ignorant people. As a consequence, in their ignorance of the bigger picture they are reduced to fighting over incredibly trivial and minor details that no one but themselves care about. Many nationalists, in particular, have a somewhat unnerving obsessive streak. Look on with appropriate scorn and laughter.
  43. "The big difference between open source and Wikipedia is that [with open source projects] you had to demonstrate that you had two braincells to rub together before we gave you commit access".[5]
  44. Don't treat your reader like he's a fool. No, really. It depends on the type of article, but most people who read Wikipedia know how to treat it with a pinch of salt - and they can read between the lines, too. No, you don't need to wikilink to sex or sport; everyone knows what those words mean. Similarly, everyone apart from diehard crackpots (who you'll never persuade anyway) will be able to work out that any "science" in films produced by such luminary institutions as the Ramtha School of Enlightenment is going to be quackery 10 times out of 10. So long as you tell your reader that the film is actually produced by said school, you really don't need to hammer the point home ad nauseam that said science is quackery. Quite apart from anything else, that will cause endless edit-wars by pissing the alternative medicine crowd off no end. Use tact and discretion. Everything deep loves a mask, remember? Again, most readers can tell when someone is trying to sell them some shit: 99 inline citations referencing one subordinate clause will instantly tip the reader off that, far from the matter being absolutely certain, there is a raving controversy that the writer doesn't want him to know about. This is painfully obvious, and one sees such failed tactics again and again.
  45. On "established users" - it is important to remember that the Wikipedia of several years ago was a much more innocent and trusting place, where subtle trolling went virtually unnoticed and even making 30 reverts on one article in one day got you only a 24-hour block. There is a very dangerous tendency to say "Well, he's been around for a while, therefore he must be An Acceptable Personage". The logical fallacy is obvious. Editors are not justified solely by length of time spent at the project. Perhaps a good man has become out of touch with the ever-changing cultural norms of Wikipedia. The angel of 2006 may have fallen from grace, become disillusioned and degenerated to a trolling devil. Or were they even that angelic in the first place? Look hard for hidden POV-pushing or well-concealed biases. Accept nothing on such weak authority as years of perhaps-dubious "service". This applies to administrators as well. Use your reason! It is your sole defense against the snares of cords that would encircle you, and the hands as bands that would hold you down.[6]
  46. We really do need to start distinguishing between different kinds of "content disputes". Some "disputes" are simply trolling, because there is no dispute to be had. Others, again, are genuine debates, where there is genuine difference of opinion in the academic world, and both sides have good sources to refer back to. The third - and most infuriating - kind occurs when the academics agree to disagree over something unbelievably trivial, and the Wikiwarriors fill up the talk page with 300kb of pointless squabbling.
  47. Internal Wikipedia politics, formally wholly insignificant, are now becoming something of a bigger deal. Organisations such as The Register are showing increasing willingness to report on our internal scandals and squabbles, which are having, in turn, increased real-life effect. The recent Israpedia affair also got widespread press. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean than the principles of decorum and professionalism will have to be adhered to more closely on ANI, ArbCom case pages, and such places - particularly by administrators, whom outsiders will perceive, for better or worse, as having a higher status and representing the site to a large degree.
  48. "Where is the righteous man who knows not fear?"[7]
  49. Do not take your problems to ANI anymore. You will probably not get an administrative response. You probably will get a wannabe administrative response, but that is rarely helpful. ANI has grown so massive that a too-thinly-spread admin corps cannot cope. Try other noticeboards, or the talk pages of specific admins.
  50. The luck of the Irish holds good on Wikipedia, so it seems. None of our Irish patriots ever get banned, no matter how badly they behave. This is, I suspect, largely due to the large American population sympathetic to the republican cause, combined with a fluency and skill with the English language far superior to many other poorly-behaved nationalists.
  51. These days, a good admin does not need to have memorised the speedy deletion criteria. He needs reasonable working knowledge of contemporary geopolitics (and the relating historical contexts), as well as reasonable working knowledge of contemporary science and scientific history. Knowledge of internal procedures, such as articles for deletion or the correct ranking of vandalism templates, is completely secondary.
  52. We haven't worked out a way to deal with VestedContributors yet. We probably never will.
  53. Route everything around the arbitration committee that you possibly can, with the exceptions of wheel warring and outstanding admin abuse. The admin corps, for all that it is fairly incompetent, is still better at solving problems than ArbCom.
  54. "It would have been a perfect moment to insist that the discussion be conducted with civility. Etiquette is not simply a set of rules about pouring tea or wearing white gloves. It is concerned with community harmony. Like the law, it has a serious if unrecognized ethical function. It encourages people to show respect for others who may disagree with them. The normal rules of reasoned discourse aren't tools of the oppressor. They're time-tested techniques of making progress and coming to new levels of mutual understanding, in the interests of preventing social discord. Etiquette does not deny the right to absolute freedom of speech, but it asks for a measure of voluntary self-restraint."[8]
  55. English Wikipedia has a curious radicalizing effect on certain contributors. An editor who would in other circumstances be a reasonably rational patriot, but by no means a nationalist, finds his quality dragged down by the battleground atmosphere here, whereby he is forced to associate with small-minded bigots of his own nationality whom he would normally avoid like the plague, just so the "other side" don't win. Constant association with such bigots may force what was an excellent contributor into some very uncomfortable positions. Curiosly, on his native-language wikipedia, said patriot may find himself in some equally uncomfortable positions due to being (by far) the least bigoted and most rational editor around.
  56. When doing this admin job, it is necessary to have the faculty of imaginative realism. Robert Conquest has written a wonderful description of what his phrase means[9] but in summary it boils down to this: decisions must be data-based but balanced with imagination.[10] As an example: his criticism of Neville Chamberlain, an eminently rational man if ever there was one, is that Chamberlain lacked the imagination to see that Hitler was not a man like himself; perhaps no one at the stage could have seen that Hitler was a genocidal maniac, but it was perfectly possible - with imagination - to see that he was not rational, and hence could not be trusted to act predictably.[11] Similarly, decisions administrators make, particularly as they relate to nationalist-tinged disputes, must certainly be evidence-based but must also bear in mind that the participants are rarely - quite - like us.[12]
  57. Ronald Hingley: "For it is surely true, if not generally recognised, that real prowess in wrong-headedness, as in most other fields of human endeavour, presupposes considerable education, character, sophistication, knowledge, and will to succeed".
  58. Upload your images locally (that is, upload them to the English Wikipedia). Commons is the proverbial asylum where the lunatics have taken over. There is a ridiculous proliferation of redundant porn and nationalist flamewarriors who have been permabanned from here are admins and bureaucrats. It's a cesspit. Stay away.

Extra[edit]

  1. ^ The Portrait of Mr W.H.
  2. ^ Corinthians
  3. ^ Steinbeck
  4. ^ The point of Das Rheingold
  5. ^ Kelly Martin (blog), on IRC.
  6. ^ See also the problem of induction.
  7. ^ Aeschylus: The Eumenides
  8. ^ Mary Lefkowitz, History Lesson: A Race Odyssey, Yale University Press, 2008.
  9. ^ Reflections on a Ravaged Century
  10. ^ The finest description I know of imagination comes from Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass: "That does not mean making things up. It is a form of seeing."
  11. ^ Conquest also pillories numerous political scientists, according to whom various state-sponsored massacres throughout history could not have happened because they would have been "economically unproductive"!
  12. ^ Assuming "us", of course, to be secular, patriotically apathetic, and from an educational background that has included a reasonable quantity of humanities.