"However desperate the situation and circumstances, do not despair. When there is everything to fear, be unafraid. When surrounded by dangers, fear none of them. When without resources, depend on resourcefulness. When surprised, take the enemy itself by surprise." -- Sun Tzu
One idea I have had for a bit was what would it be like to have a non-Wikipedia wiki where everything was different, from who owned the servers, to what the point of view policies would be, to what the structure of administration would be. I have discovered, via User:Fennec that there are other wikis out there that are more up my alley. Perhaps everything is not 100% the way I would want it on them, but they are definitely more on my wavelength than here.
Anyhow, me exploring these sites (especially one particular one) has taken time away from my campaign here. So now, the time I allot for Wiki activity is now half on other Wikis, on which I get along with the "power structure" better (the power structure being more rank and file, user supported etc.). I am still spending half of my time here however, it just irks me that people are going to go to Google and find a Wikipedia page with some total BS, and hear a claim that it is a supposedly neutral point of view article with "facts" on whatever. I have won some victories "in the open" (e.g. known user names), as I had too much consensus on my side about certain things, and I am happy about these, and am happy about my less well known edits as well.
So that is where I stand now. My time spent here has been halved, which shall be a relief to some. But I am not yet gone. There are certain articles where I am absolutely not going to let some of the BS said be stated as if it were a fact. I would prefer however to be part of a wiki that is (or is more) user-owned, user-run, user-controlled, and watch Wikipedia crumble under the weight of its own authoritarianism, centrality of control, lack of working processes and so forth. In other words, I would prefer, as these alternative wikis become more viable and more popular, to contribute positively to them, have all the sane people slowly leave here (unless things are radically remade), and I myself start abandoning the struggle here so that only the nutcases would take over. In fact, if a user-run alternative to Wikipedia grew to be equal to it, I think I would abandon Wikipedia completely, save for perhaps noting on some frustrated user's web page that there are alternative wikis out there that may be more to their liking. Richardchilton 02:57, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I'm going to put my thoughts on Wikipedia here, as well as some other things. This account is going to be on a hiatus in terms of editting articles, although I may engage in meta-discussions.
Anyhow, when looking at the power distribution of Wikipedia, one may ask, what is the distribution of power? Obviously, the average user currently has a degree of power. Admins have even power. And who has the most power? The person who controls the means of production, Jimbo Wales. Lets start with the users.
If one looks at the demographics of the world, half of human beings in the world get by on less than $2 a day and are either chronically malnourished or have serious concerns over where their NEXT meal is coming from. On the other hand, if you look at Internet user demographics, the most average user would be a white, white collar American man. It can be seen a number of ways on Wikipedia which don't have to be gone into here. Anyhow, this makes for an America-centric, white collar worldview. It is quite obvious to me that this view is sometimes disconnected from reality. I sometimes think of Orwell's ministry of information, where the ally of one day turns into the enemy of the next, and the glowing portraits of them have to be replaced by propaganda caricatures. An example might be Saddam Hussein, whom the US armed, who at one point "gassed his own people"...and kept getting arms from the US! It's quite a wonder how the tragedy of this was not discovered in the US until a few years later. But this is the type of thing you find regularly on Wikipedia, anything friendly to the bourgeoisie is all goodness and light, anything not is a demon who the wildest accusation against deserves a prominent place on their page.
One thing I've noticed is that among the worst enemies of the US elite, even the right to name themselves has been stripped, and some pejorative or propaganda name is stuck on them. For example, the Communist Party of Kampuchea becomes the "Khmer Rouge". The Communist Party of Peru becomes the "Shining Path". Anyone in the popular front (National Liberation Front) fighting against the South Vietnamese government is called "Viet Cong", e.g. Vietnamese communist, whether they are communist or not. It seems to be the case where the most extreme propaganda smearing is going on that the US government and corporate media starts pegging these pejorative names on these groups, despite their protestation. I discussed this on Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (common names), that it seemed logical to me to call a group what they call themselves (e.g. the Boy Scouts are called the Boy Scouts, The UK's Labor party is called the labor party and so forth). People came out of the woodwork to say this is not to be the case - the proper place for the name of a group is not from the group itself. The US corporate media, which is controlled by the wealthiest <2% of Americans (who are relatively wealthy themselves) is what is to determine the name of these things. They can get the name from the Pentagon psyops department or the State department or whatnot, disseminate it, and this is what we now must have as our authority of what to call something. Going back to 1984 again, this reminds me of the Newspeak dictionary, where words like freedom become thoughtcrime. Luckily we can still call french fries french fries for now, instead of being required to call them freedom fries (or eventually thoughtcrime fries). Such is Wikipedia.
One thing I've noticed is there seems to be a systematic persecution of left-wing users on Wikipedia. Users who do nothing but make POV right-wing rants like User:Ed Poor get made admin. The only admin who tries to help protect left wing users from persecution, User:172, is himself persecuted (Wikipedia:Conflicts_between_users/172, User_talk:172/sysop_status). Other users who might be called left wing like User:Wik are also persecuted (Wikipedia_talk:Requests_for_arbitration/Wik,Wikipedia:Conflicts_between_users/Wik).
An interesting thing is that the right-wing users are all ultimately and leveraging their ultimate power - that Wikipedia's servers are owned by "Jimbo" Wales, who controls everything, doled out adminships and so forth. I should note that Jimbo, who controls Wikipedia's capital of servers, is a fan of the far right Ayn Rand. The right-wingers base what they want to do on authority - the authority of adminships, where they can ban users and so forth and so on.
I do not include myself with 172 and Wik because I do not care about the rules of Wikipedia as much as they do. I do have some rules of thumb for doing things though, and one of them is when embarking on something new to always follow the rules in the beginning.
An interesting thing to consider about myself and the effect I will eventually have on Wikipedia, structure more than content, is that I am not a vandal in terms of trying to deny service to Wikipedia, or replace entries with "I RULE" and whatnot, I am just primarily unhappy with some of the propaganda I see passed off here as Encyclopedia fact.
Furthermore as far as "following the rules", currently whether I do this or not is more at my discretion than something that can be forced upon me. Another interesting thing is that admins are given a lot of power, and all I need is one admin to really have it out for me if I'm following the rules, to among other things silence me completely. But their control over me only exists as long as I follow the rules, and I've come to the point where I am less interested in allowing them that control over me. I wanted to see how far things could be pushed and frankly was a little surprised at how authoritarian these people trying to push a certain POV on Wikipedia are. Well, I guess that's how it always is.
It's an interesting thing. User:TimStarling for one realizes that currently whether or not I follow the rules are really just an option for me, so he's gone to work to make Wikipedia more authoritarian, more under tight control and so forth. It's interesting, how limited my functionality is within the system, and how eager some are to expand the authoritarian nature of the system. It took me about five minutes to figure out one way of getting around the rules (proxy servers). It seems quite a lot of time is being spent trying to figure out how to build a wall to prevent this from happening and keep people from breaking the rules. I consider this a victory - if hours of time by the enemy has to be spent to prevent me from doing something I did in five minutes, I consider that I have won. Being as that I've been on the Internet for 15 years so far, and still remember when domain names resolved to sri-nic.arpa, I can tell you that after the hours of effort that will be spent on this is eventually successful, I will simply spend another five minutes and use some other method to mask my IP. I've been reading about dialectic materialism and I see all of this as being natural, I have a demand (that entries stop being so biased), and the power structure is fighting against this.
One interesting note is I faced the same sort of thing myself once. I once had a web site where people could upload anything. People often uploaded warez for others to download. My problems with this in order of importance were: it filled up disk space, it used up bandwidth, and I would get legal letters. On the other hand, I had limited time to fight against it and didn't want to make things too difficult for my normal users. The end result was I tightened things up so that maybe people would go onto the next loose haven to trade warez. But on the other hand, if someone did it on a small scale and cleverly they could usually get away with it, and frankly, as long as it was on something of a small scale and not wrecking my whole operation, I didn't really care. That's how things operate - retail stores could be like Fort Knox to prevent theft, but instead they use a certain amount of security, and as long as things don't go past a certain level they're OK with it.
Personally, although I'm sure this galls some, I consider Wikipedia as much mine as anybody elses, including Jimbo's. I do not see the admins as people trying to maintain balance and NPOV, but rather as commissars making sure people stick to the party line, in this case, whatever is the crap that pours out of the corporate media on television is taken as truth. I consider it my duty to fight against this, using any tools I have in my arsenal, and I'm afraid with the limited amount of ways to do things within the rules, and the ease of working outside of the rules, I choose the latter.
VeryVerily's detective work and accusations are going to matter a lot less now, what are you going to do about someone changing his IP every few minutes? Frankly, I have been a lot less restrained in the past few days. Before I would qualify and modify things I thought were POV. Now I just delete them wholesale and - most of the time no one stops me. I felt the need to go by the NPOV before, but now I don't, and I am a lot more successful in modifying Wikipedia now.
The fact of the matter is, Wikipedia's rules system is biased and unfair, especially taking the human element of it into account. There is not much enforcement power for it though right now, so in many ways it is up to the user whether he wants to follow the rules or not. So I'm going to keep living outside of the rules for a little while and see what happens.
I see that Lancemurdoch and Hectorrodriguez, two of my usernames from this IP address range were found, from detective work to some extent, as well as someone looking at the admin page. I had another name from another IP for a long while, I see that has been discovered, although I no longer use that one. Durruti was found but I went out of my way to show how I could break the rules so I wanted that to be found. I've been editting a lot of pages thusfar, and while I've had some reverts for individual pages, no VV type detectives have popped up on my trail reverting all of my pages yet. We'll see how it goes.