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Censorship

+ - Wikipedia's flaws and bludgeons

Submitted by
Parker Peters
Parker Peters writes "In a long past history at Wikipedia, I was at one point an administrator for what I thought was a grand and noble project. I blocked "trolls", I "reverted vandalism", I wrote articles and corrected flaws, I did all the things a good editor and admin are supposed to do. Unfortunately, like all administrators, eventually the power got to me — I did things I'm not proud of, using my powers to help friends and attack people who wrote things I disagreed with.

When I came to my senses, I left wikipedia, leaving behind my goodbye message, which has since been mirrored on Wikitruth and multiple blogs.

I stayed out for some time, and still haven't reclaimed my dormant account. I see as long as the same systemic abuses I complained about are there, it won't be a good encyclopedia.

But I'd like to open this up for a new crop of people to discuss, because it needs discussing. There are three main problems I see:

1) A culture of "admins are always right." In the old days, Jimbo Wales proclaimed that adminship was "no big deal" and admins were "just a user with a few extra buttons." Those days are long gone. Today, the group of 1000 or so admins is an incestuous and self-aggrandizing lot, and any criticism of administrator behavior that doesn't come from another administrator is met with cries of "omg a rouge admin lol" and bannings of the complaining user. I've seen users banned indefinitely based on nothing more than certain agenda guilds who have administrator members taking a dislike to them, or for trying to appeal a block placed on their account in bad faith by these same groups.

2) A culture where games are played, and where the focus is the game. Wikipedia's got a famous set of directives such as AGF (Assume Good Faith) and NPOV (Neutral Point of View), as well as RS (Reliable Sources). Unfortunately, instead of working as intended, these are used as bludgeons. A user who catches another user lying is not to report it, because reporting someone for lying is a violation of "Assume Good Faith." NPOV and RS are used as bludgeons by groups who have agendas to push, making damn sure that only their accepted sources — no matter how good the other side's are — are allowed, and twisting "NPOV" to mean "Our Point of View" by force of numbers.

Worse yet is the prohibition on "wikilawyering", which is inevitably used just to attack new users; if they bring up that an administrator or editor did something against the rules as posted, they'll be banned and harassed for "wikilawyering", even while other users slap "warnings" on their message pages telling them that they're in danger of... breaking the rules.

3) "Consensus" at the expense of accuracy. If one group with an agenda insists that something they don't like — even if it's 100% true — not be in the encyclopedia, it won't ever be in, no matter how valid the source can be provided for it, because including it is "against consensus." At its extremes, this has driven off many good contributors from the project, including research scientists and doctoral experts in their field.

Every day, this goes on. Wikipedia, once a noble goal of providing a free and accurate encyclopedia, has turned into a travesty where little admin-lords control articles along with their editor-group fiefdoms.

My question to the Slashdot readers is: Can it be fixed? Is it possible? Or is it inevitable that it will fall, maybe not today or tomorrow, but after more ongoing scandals and the revelations that it is not a "sum of human knowledge" as the clueless Jimbo Wales claims, but rather a compendium of biased and inaccurate fluff crafted by one too many people with an agenda to push?"

Wasn't there something about a PASCAL programmer knowing the value of everything and the Wirth of nothing?

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