Tuomas is a Finn, born in Stockholm in 1981, who left Sweden in 1983 and returned after 15 years. (His father's employer had the odd idea that the employees' families better switch country every third year.) Tuomas now lives in an all-male collective, sort of, where most members are students, postgrads or otherways connected to the Universities in Malmö/Lund and Copenhagen. The next neighbour is the University hospital of Malmö.
Currently a student at the University of Lund, after three years of studies hovering about international relations and political science, he was supposed to write a lengthy paper to get an exam. It stalled while re-focusing on studies in Arabic.
Early experiences of Wikipedia
Tuomas found Wikipedia in May-June 2003, and registered after having made a few edits to pages within his field of study. He was never a particularly frequent contributor, aiming at improving both disposition and factual correctness with quality rather than quantity, realizing that his lack of having English as mother tongue is a considerable handicap.
After a dozen edits, in his own opinion factually correct and rather successful attempts in NPOV-editing, he found himself accused of slandering and compared to User:JoeM (seemingly a "vandal" on "auto-revert") by a leader of the wikipedia community, there was little else to do than to back off and wait and see in what direction the wikipedia adventure will develop and if the underlying flaw would be addressed — which was facilitated by forgetting the chosen password to Wikipedia.
View of Wikipedia
Tuomas' basic attitude towards Wikipedia is that this is a long term project. It doesn't matter if an article is sub-standard or even factually wrong in the short term. Eventually that will be fixed.
What matters, however, is the long term tendencies. Do Wikipedia articles gradually increase in encyclopedic qualities, or do they evolve in directions that harm Wikipedia's aimed reputation as factual and neutral? It matters thus greatly how corrections and additions are handled by more experienced Wikipedians. Wikipedia:wikiquette can't cover over a basic aggressive attitude.
While vandalism, as exemplified by inserting nonsense or blanking articles, must be treated promptly, it is rather counter-productive to revert or edit away early attempts by new wikipedians to change the factual content of an article. Wikipedia:be bold is a good advice for new and anonymous contributors, but totally out of place for established Wikipedians.
User:Wik was maybe the most visible example of a behavior that both in the short and long run is detrimential for the accuracy and neutrality of Wikipedia. It doesn't matter in how many cases Wik's reverts restores truth, or the world view dominant in Wikipedia, if he fails to persuade and contribute in the consensus decision-making. The problem is not solved by any actions specifically directed against Wik. Wikipedia must find solutions that hamper this kind of unwanted behavior.
Persuasion is a quality too often neglected by the Wikipedia community. If the majority (or a larger vociferous group which often goes under the name of Wikipedia:consensus) acts as a mob, or a flock, or a pack, that feels what is right or wrong and identifies what is wrong with what is alien or unheard of, then Wikipedia is built on prejudices rather than knowledge and will be perceived as valid only by populations who are culturally close to this dominant wikipedia-mob. Tuomas' view is that experienced Wikipedians who can not persuade, those are bad Wikipedians and in the long term a dire danger for Wikipedia.
— However, experienced Wikipedians who can not let themselves to be persuaded are not much better either.
Possible bones of contention
I have no positive thoughts, whatsoever, reserved for Joseph Stalin. But I hold it for important to remind myself and others of how the peoples he ruled were at least equally much victims as were the peoples that came to suffer under Soviet imperialism, and that during WWII Soviet soldiers and civilians suffered a fate even worse than those of other nationalities struck by the war. I find that much contemporary debate on the history from the Munich Crisis to the fall of the Berlin Wall suffer from a too obvious need by many commentators to advocate the positions taken by the nations and/or political wing they solidarize with. Thus, to some Wikipedians some of my attempts to balance articles of bias may appear as pro-Soviet, anti-West, or pro-Arab — although an unfortunate illusion.
How to refer to entities in Finland
Finland is a tiny country, and the Finland-Swedes are a tiny minority in that country. To explain the basic principles behind some of my edits, I feel a need to make the following statement somewhere:
- Finnish is such an ambiguous adjective. I recognize that Finland-Swedes increasingly refer to themselves as "Swedish speaking Finns," and even more that the usage in Sweden is drifting back from "finländsk" to "finsk" again, but until this process has run its course, I plead for pedagogical and courtesy reasons (with foreign readers with limited interest and knowledge of things Finnish in mind) to strive for alternative wordings to the usage of "Finnish" — for instance, using "of Finland" or "in Finland" — whenever possible, as long as it doesn't create awkward prose.
- I am no unconditional friend of mandatory education in secondary domestic languages, but its abolition risks to either harm the minority's access to governmental institutions or give the minority a strong overrepresentation among governmental officials. At this phase in history, Finland could serve as a good example for neighbouring countries, for instance Latvia, Estonia and Sweden. In this context it's important to emphasize the existence of a Finland-Swedish minority in Finland — and the legal framework for its cultural survival.
My assessment is that a combined linguistic and political mainstream opinion holds the Standard Swedish as spoken in Finland and Sweden as expressions of one single language, the Swedish language, although the Standard Swedish as spoken by some 2 million inhabitants of southernmost and westernmost Sweden is hardly mutually understandable with the Standard Swedish as taught in school to some 5 million Finns or spoken as mothertongue of some 300,000 Finland Swedes. Attempts to classify as a separate language either the Swedish as taught in Finland or south-west Swedish dialects, including the prestige dialect associated with Lund and the Lund University, are in my sincerest conviction to be considered as provokations from fringe political groupings with murky motives.
One would tend to believe, that Finns and Poles share the awareness of a lurking danger from the direction of Russia's, and in many respect would view the world similarly. 2003–2004, I've however come in closer contact with Poles for the first time in my life, at the same time as Polish foreign policies have made their entrance in international news reports. In great astonishment, I notice that Poles are the first nationality I myself realize to have evolved prejudices against (and a feeling of profound alienation to). I apologize in advance to any Wikipedian who in the process of editing or debate get hurt by me jumping to conclusions on their understanding of the European Union, the (limited importance of other) Baltic Sea countries, the roles and deeds of Jews, or the meaning of the Golden Rule. I on my behalf will do my best to avoid this.
I would like to express our (collective) great gratitude to all Wikipedians who correct grammatical errors and unidiomatic expressions from pages where ESL-wikipedians have put their mark on the prose. Some foreigners' English is worse than others' — this is not politically correct to state, but I do it anyways — and that of Finns is some of the worst.