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Can Wikipedia Teach Us All How To Just Get Along?

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the beautiful-day-in-the-neighborhood dept.

Wikipedia 191

Ponca City writes "Alexis Madrigal writes in the Atlantic that for all its warts, Wikipedia has been able to retain a generally productive and civil culture. According to Joseph Reagle, who wrote his PhD dissertation on the history and culture of Wikipedia, members of Wikipedia actively work to maintain neutrality, even if that's sometimes nearly impossible. The community has a specific approach to people designed to promote basic civility and consensus decision-making. The number one rule is 'assume good faith,' and the rest of the site's rules are largely extensions of kindergarten etiquette. The idea is that to find consensus, you must see your opponents as people like yourself. Keeping an open perspective on both knowledge claims and other contributors creates an extraordinary collaborative potential, Reagle says. The features of the software help, too. It's easier to be relaxed about newcomers' editing or changes being made when you can hit the revert button and restore what came before. 'Like Wikipedia itself, which seems to tap our natural urge to correct things that we think are wrong, maybe our politics will self-correct,' writes Madrigal. 'Maybe this period of extra nasty divisiveness in politics will push us out of the USENET phase and into a productive period of Wikipedian civility.'"

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Yes (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | about 4 years ago | (#33990714)

[citation needed]

Re:Yes (0)

gront (594175) | about 4 years ago | (#33990726)

[citation needed]

No. And your post is OR.

Re:Yes (2, Funny)

toastar (573882) | about 4 years ago | (#33990868)

No. And your post is OR.

the neutrality of this post is disputed

Re:Yes (2, Insightful)

Stargoat (658863) | about 4 years ago | (#33991020)

Article is locked.

(translation - Only the admin's whose pet project / particular ideological belief is this article can edit)

Except (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33990742)

Except when the 'contributors' actually just delete others' articles as a way to gain rep.

And out of the USENET phase? Where did USENET end up?

Say what? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33990750)

Seems like the general perception of the Wikipedia community is anything but productive and civil. More like insular and deletionist.

Re:Say what? (2, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33990758)

You're just mad because somebody deleted your entry for not being notable.

Re:Say what? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33990900)

If it's notable enough that someone would search for it on Wikipedia, it's notable enough to have an entry in Wikipedia. The entire concept of notability for an electronic encyclopedia is bogus, and representative of the culture of Wikipedia these days.

Re:Say what? (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33990968)

Which is what's so odd about that. People regularly flag things as not being noteworthy and as such in need of deletion. Makes me wonder how they find those pages if they're not noteworthy in the first place.

Re:Say what? (4, Insightful)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about 4 years ago | (#33991034)

Random page. Just go through at random, and you will find the articles which should not be there.

And you know they should not be there, because they contain no information, or are a terrible idea in themselves. For example: "Superiority of the Western Culture" is a terrible idea for an article. "My Widget Which I Am Trying To Sell" is another terrible example. "My Webcomic" (three entries and I am working towards a fourth) is yet another article which should not be there.

Re:Say what? (4, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 4 years ago | (#33991460)

"Superiority of the Western Culture" is a terrible idea for an article.
Why? This is just an example of what is wrong with Wikipedia: I disagree with something, therefore it should be deleted. It is certainly a notable concept with plenty of references, and not just in neo-Nazi literature. Not so long ago such beliefs were considered perfectly acceptable and mainstream in many Western societies. Other civilizations, Islamic, Chinese, Japanese often considered themselves superior to others and there are plenty of references for that too. Would you also like to delete the articles on White Supremacy [] , Black Supremacy [] , Holocaust Denial [] etc because those concepts are not politically correct enough for you?

Re:Say what? (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 4 years ago | (#33991442)

If it's notable enough that someone would search for it on Wikipedia, it's notable enough to have an entry in Wikipedia

No, it isn't. Wikipedia is not for documenting every piece of stupid trivia that exists.

Re:Say what? (2, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 4 years ago | (#33991600)

So, by what criteria does one determine what piece of trivia is important enough to include, and what piece of trivia is "Stupid"?

Seems to me that there is no really hard-set criteria for this distinction, and as such is left up to a collective decision process, which has an un-restrained "populist" bias, which is totally arbitrary (based on which group of editors happen to be deliberating at any given time.)

Some people might claim that Leonardo DiVinci being a homosexual is stupid trivia. Others might claim it has modern cultural significance in light of modern trends toward embracing alternative sexualities. Who is right? How does Wikipedia decide which is which, and do so in a neutral, productive, and riggorous way?

Last time I checked, I saw what went on with the "Malamanteu" article, and saw LOTS of ego, LOTS of dick waving, and VERY VERY little true compromise or consideration. (It basically boiled down to a hard-line of "No, We wont include it, We dont care about your "supposed" justifications, our decision is final, stop questioning it; any attempt to re-create the article will be met with instant deletion." It wasn't that the article was deleted, it was the mentality as to WHY it was deleted-- A mentaltity that refuses to compromise, and assumes itself correct by default, and unquestionable.)

As such, I find Wikipedia's claims of being unbiased, et al, as being just so much hot air, hubris, and puffery. I might as well take a politician at face value as take such a claim, since it has been repeatedly demonstrated that these claims are false, if you would just pay attention.

Re:Say what? (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33991614)

Fair enough. But then we need something that is. Documenting every stupid piece of trivia that exists is a useful goal. The problem for Wikipedia is that the set of all facts is a superset of the set of notable facts. So if we got some other group together to create an electronic encyclopedia without the concept of notability, it would completely supersede Wikipedia.

In short, the notability policy will ensure Wikipedia's obsolescence if its not changed.

Re:Say what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33990788)

having your edits reverted oftentimes feels a bit like being beaten like Rodney King

Re:Say what? (3, Interesting)

toastar (573882) | about 4 years ago | (#33990892)

having your edits reverted oftentimes feels a bit like being beaten like Rodney King

I concur, I posted on a page where I'm sort of an expert in the field and it got reverted.... I even had references, even though it wasn't that linked up, it could of easily been wiki-ified. After that I haven't made an edit to Wikipedia since, It isn't worth my time to provide that useful info if no one will ever see it.

Re:Say what? (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | about 4 years ago | (#33991066)

As anyone knows who's ever actually interacted with Wikipedia, the supposed rules [] mean about as much there as a turd sandwich. Reagle is pie-in-the-sky clueless, and it's easy to see why. Wikipedia's not set up to "assume good faith." Quite the contrary, the following trends are very much evidence that it is anything but:

- the number of "patrollers" of unblock requests who are anything-but-civil and who do nothing but slap each other on the back about how rude they can get away with being until they provoke someone into crossing a "ban line." You know, kind of like stuff like this [] where they keep poking and prodding merely because they can.

- the way that organized gangs play the "kill them one at a time" and "get our pet admin to declare them sockpuppets or meatpuppets" games. Look at the Wikipedia articles on Felafel and Za'atar; a group of deranged, racist muslims got together and decided they wanted to strip any reference to "evil jews" about the food. And, since they had a couple of racist administrators on their side, their will was done. These days, even the two FOOD articles look like slanted attack articles.

- The way that certain entrenched personalities get away with abuses at will, especially playing "scarlet letter" games and falsely accusing people of being sockpuppets. Even worse, the way that many of these have - since they play to the political or racist sympathies of other entrenches - have climbed the ladder and are now administrators or worse. "Orangemike" and "Dreamguy" are two nasties, Dreamguy particularly being one who shows major ownership issues on any article related to fantasy or mythology and who is not above accusing people - without any evidence or proof or even editspace collision - of being "Enviroknot", or any one of another dozen names that are instant, without question or proof, ban words.

- The fact that corruption got to the point where the Checkuser tool is now an "orf wiv 'is 'ead [] " guilty-only attack. Get accused of being a "sockpuppet", and you're done, no matter what. There IS no proving your innocence of this charge, and the only administrators who will ever even touch an unblock request are the totally corrupt ones like Fisherqueen, Bwilkins, Tnxman, Smashville...

- Then there's the fact that the corrupt admin sector of Wikipedia organizes secretly [] to keep their hit-list up to date, as do the various entrenched POV-groups that maintain control on many articles.

Re:Say what? (2, Funny)

Hope Thelps (322083) | about 4 years ago | (#33991396)

I posted on a page where I'm sort of an expert in the field

There's the problem right there. Already I can sense violations of:

WP:OR []

Enough for an indefinite block and a talk page full of patronising comments. In future please stick to editing articles you know nothing about.

Would you post to Slashdot if you'd read the article? No, of course not. So please show a similar respect for Wikipedia and avoid editing subjects you know anything about.

Re:Say what? (1)

Grapplebeam (1892878) | about 4 years ago | (#33991566)

WP:OR should be renamed to WOPR to keep with the trend.

Re:Say what? (4, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | about 4 years ago | (#33990824)

Since when does "general perception" relate in any way to verifiable facts?

Re:Say what? (1)

bonch (38532) | about 4 years ago | (#33991046)

Well, perception is initially created by witnessing facts. It's not exactly a secret that Wikipedia is dysfunctional.

Re:Say what? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33991628)

Can you name an instance where the "General Perception" DOESN'T at least relate to verifiable facts?

Re:Say what? (2, Insightful)

dadioflex (854298) | about 4 years ago | (#33990890)

Well yeah, but if you delete anything you don't agree with, things can remain remarkably civil, wherever you control the edits.

kindergarten etiquette (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33990762)

Think what a different place the world would be if you could convince everyone to follow 'kindergarten etiquette', why is it stated so dismissively in the summary? As if getting everyone to show basic respect to everyone else is an easy thing to do.

Re:kindergarten etiquette (5, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#33990930)

Perhaps your kindergarten experience differed from mine, but I have explicit kindergarten memories involving:

Kids eating glue.
Kids eating sand.
Kids throwing sand in each other's eyes.
Kids hitting each other with sticks.
Kids walking up to one another, and forcefully stealing their favorite toy from someone else.
Kids screaming, crying, and positively shrieking for attention.
Kids vocally calling each other out on one another's bodily functions (okay, I'll admit, that is actually pretty funny).
Kids pushing each other off the swingset.
Kids talking each other into trying positively stupid stuff just for the fun of it.
And the list goes on.

It's fun to sit around and fantasize about how easy life used to be as a kid (and in many ways it was). But I think we often forget about all of the things that weren't quite so positive when being a kid. We lacked the practice and development of social skills that came from years worth of peer-peer interaction. Young kids tend to have no problem acting as if there is absolutely no such thing as etiquette at all. Of course, that never stops teachers from trying to enforce simple common courtesy rules on children. But what those rules have in simplicity, they lack in applicability to more complex social interactions that form as a consequence of more developed social skills building on top of one another (flattery, imitation, anticipation, reaction, empathy, logical reasoning vs. emotional reasoning, etc.).

As we grow as social animals in age, so, too, do our social interactions and, thus, the complexity of the social situations we find ourselves in. We meet more people. We gain more freedom. We learn more basic laws about the nature of reality. As a result, social interactions involve more players, more observers, more factors to consider, and have further reaching consequences (a kindergartner doesn't need to consider whether or not eating sand will ruin their ability to support their family or not). Therefore, the etiquette we choose to follow, and the rationalizations we make to justify our actions to ourselves, grow ever more complex and nuanced. This is the natural progression of the human mind dynamically adapting as a structure evolved to ensure the survival of a very social species.

It's fun to trot out lines and ideals like, "Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten..." and what not. But when childhood is observed from a non-romanticized perspective, it is easy to see why we do not remain as children in our actions, thoughts, or abilities. This is as true for social skills as it is for anything else. If everyone followed kindergarten etiquette, large social entities like national governments, guilds, international clubs, unions, cities, and even, probably, advanced schools would not be possible.

Re:kindergarten etiquette (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991072)

If you mod me up, I'll be your best friend and you'll be invited to my birthday party!

Re:kindergarten etiquette (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#33991382)

Hmmm, that sounds a lot like the Wikipedia I have experienced.

Re:kindergarten etiquette (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 4 years ago | (#33991544)

Kids eating glue.
Kids eating sand.

Kid eating cardboard and dying of cancer at the age of 7.
True story.

Re:kindergarten etiquette (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 4 years ago | (#33990944)

Think what a different place the world would be if you could convince everyone to follow 'kindergarten etiquette', why is it stated so dismissively in the summary? As if getting everyone to show basic respect to everyone else is an easy thing to do.

It's easy to do when face to face with another person. Total strangers who nearly bump into each other on the footpath/sidewalk will instinctively apologize. Separate them either with the bodywork of a car or using the anonymity of a keyboard, and it's a whole different matter because the other person can't get at you. I drive a convertible and I find a huge difference in the way people treat me when I take the roof down.

Look at segregated sports events like English professional soccer where the authorities don't dare let the spectators mingle with those of opposing clubs. Fans in other sports like Gaelic games mingle all the time and there's never any crowd trouble.

It's all about that face-to-face interaction. You just don't have it on Wiki, so asking people to be civil is necessary.

Re:kindergarten etiquette (3, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33991482)

So, is chatroulette the next thing that can teach us all how to just get along? ;)

(actually, could be interesting to check what seeing on Wiki the "other person" would bring...even if in gross way)

Re:kindergarten etiquette (5, Insightful)

dadioflex (854298) | about 4 years ago | (#33990988)

Kindergarten Etiquette falls down when you're arguing against assholes who refuse to accept your carefully reasoned refutation of their insane ideas. That's why "Kindergarten Etiquette" doesn't work, in general. If everyone is polite and open to new ideas, an asshole with a crazy scheme will own you. No matter how politely you argue the counter-point, they will win because they have no boundaries on the tools they will use to break what you say. So, "Kindergarten Etiquette" actually leads to less civility, because it encourages sinful behaviour, like greed and anger. Obviously, and classically, Kindergarten Etiquette has been involved in the majority of the most egregious sex crimes committed in the twentieth century. When it's wrong to disagree with an adult, what isn't wrong?

No (1, Funny)

falzer (224563) | about 4 years ago | (#33990768)

You're a jerk, a complete arsehole.

Re:No (2, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 4 years ago | (#33990950)

[citation needed]

Re:No (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991186)

You're a jerk, a complete arsehole.

[citation needed]

Let's get a third opinion and then take it to mediation. After a few weeks I'm sure we can settle on "arsehole whose completeness is still undecided" before someone else comes along, changes it back again, and points out that the mediation doesn't have any binding effect whatsoever.

FTFY (5, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#33990776)

Wikipedia has been able to retain a generally productive and civil culture.

Unless the page being worked on is about some particularly controversial topic which is at the forefront of the public which point civility and productivity go out the window in lieu of the typical pseudo-anonymous dick waving that happens everywhere else on the internet.

And that doesn't even begin to address those many instances of a Wiki moderator (or whatever the hell they are called) falling in love with some pet page and refusing to let legitimate edits be made to it....

Re:FTFY (1)

Stargoat (658863) | about 4 years ago | (#33991028)

MOD parent up as generally awesome and completely correct.

Re:FTFY (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 4 years ago | (#33991164)

It also doesn't count those of us who LEFT Wikipedia because of the authoritarian admin issue. Sure everyone will get along if you run everyone with a different opinion off or ban them. They haven't found a way to get along, they just had twice as many people than they needed and ran off the half that wouldn't agree with them in exchange for being allowed to belong to the admin club.

Don't get me wrong, you have lots of good admins on Wikipedia, but they simply tolerate the bad ones who have the loudest voices and a bullying attitude. Not everyone rolls over so easy.

Re:FTFY (2, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 4 years ago | (#33991420)

Hell it don't even have to be a controversial page, it can be just the fact that someone is phobic or just a prick. The first time I heard of wiki I thought it was a great idea, basically use crowdsourcing to find errors, since everyone know a little bit about everything, as long as they cited their sources everything would be golden. Or at least I thought that until I found a page with an error. it wasn't a big error, it just said a writer's intention on a show was x when it was y. I knew it was y because I had the box set where the writer specifically said it was y, and he even wrote about it on his blog. so i corrected the error, cited the sources, and got banned. Apparently an admin is a fanboi of the show but has a problem with characters that aren't what HE wants, so anything that doesn't fit his worldview gets changed.

So now I simply treat wiki like a gossip column, completely worthless for any sort of information except for the most basic of facts like what voltage PCI runs on or what wires are which on an Ethernet cable. Anything else and the data simply can't be trusted, as they've allowed too many admins with agendas to own pages and morph them to their liking. Sorry wiki, but if even little errors properly cited equal bans if you don't kiss some admin ass your site is broken.

Deletionist, Inclusionists, and the Goal (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 4 years ago | (#33990782)

A few years ago, no one imagined that we'd have accomplished what we did here on Wikipedia. Compared to the entrenched encyclopedia companies, we were far behind, and we always knew the climb would be steep. But in record numbers of entries, we came out and wrote so many articles. And with these articles and discussions, it was made clear that at this moment - in this fight for intellectual freedom - there is something happening on the Web.

There is something happening when men and men pretending to be women in Des Moines and Davenport; in Lebanon and Concord come out of their basements to write and rewrite and edit and correct because they believe in what this medium can be. We can be the new majority who can lead this world out of a long intellectual property darkness - Communists, Free-marketeers, and Furries who are tired of the high prices of Britannica and the inadequacy of Funk and Wagnalls; who know that we can disagree without being disagreeable; who understand that if we mobilize our voices to challenge the money and influence that's stood in our way to knowledge and challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there's no obscure minutia we can't illuminate - no minor character we cannot flesh out.

Our new Web encyclopedia can end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable encyclopedias in our time. We can bring doctors and patients; workers and businesses, Democrats and Republicans together for discussion and consultation; and we can tell the big name encyclopedia players that while they'll get a seat at the table, they don't get to buy every chair. Not this time. Not now.

All of the inclusionists and the deletists on this site share these goals. All have good ideas. And all are valuable contributors who serve this website honorably. But the reason Wikipedia has always been different is because it's not just about what I or they will do, it's also about what you, the people who love knowledge, can do to increase it.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the years to come. We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of the world false hope and bad information. But in the unlikely story that is Wikipedia, there has never been anything false about participation. For when we have faced down increasing attacks on our credibility; when we've been told that we're not a valid source, or that we shouldn't even try to be the be all and end all, or that we can't, thousands upon thousands of Wikipedia authors have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a free and liberated people.

Yes we can.

Re:Deletionist, Inclusionists, and the Goal (1)

jaymzter (452402) | about 4 years ago | (#33990978)

What a horrible analogy.

Re:Deletionist, Inclusionists, and the Goal (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33991074)

A few years ago, no one imagined that we'd have accomplished what we did here on Wikipedia.

Um, if you mean that it's gotten more words in it, but it's become no less fractious a society and no more accurate a source of information, then, yeah. Sure. If that was the goal, then you nailed it. But I'm pretty sure I imagined it that way.

Re:Deletionist, Inclusionists, and the Goal (1)

takowl (905807) | about 4 years ago | (#33991462)

it's gotten more words in it, but it's become no less fractious a society and no more accurate a source of information

Sounds like a description of /. ;-). Seriously, though, Wikipedia's become a vastly more useful source of information over the past few years. Don't forget that many of those 'new words' are on topics that weren't in Wikipedia at all a few years back. And many more are linking out to sources. If you know how to use it (i.e. treat it as a starting point, not as hard fact), it's invaluable.

And while it's slow, it is getting more accurate, too. A year ago, it would tell you that unripe tomatoes were poisonous (citing an old book). Now it's got newer information (still with citations).

Re:Deletionist, Inclusionists, and the Goal (1)

Grapplebeam (1892878) | about 4 years ago | (#33991570)

You didn't have to change that many words, did you? That speech works for everything!

No... Wikipedia Deletes Useful Articles (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33990794)

Wikipedia lets smug users go around deleting content deemed by these pencil dick morons to be 'not notable'.

As if any of these basement dwelling serial masturbaters has ever even done anything notable other than deleting useful articles from Wikipedia...


Not "self-correcting" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33990802)

Politics won't self-correct, just as Wikipedia doesn't self-correct. Whenever vandalism or POV hackery is removed from Wikipedia, it's because someone went to an effort to do so. If politics is to become civil or collaborative, it will require some effort from the people involved to make it that way. It's not going to happen all by itself.

Re:Not "self-correcting" (3, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 4 years ago | (#33991016)

The difference- wikipedia actively makes it as easy as possible for people to make that effort and correct things in minutes.
In politics it is set up exactly opposite.
No individual no matter how much effort they're willing to put in can correct even the most obvious fuckup without investing months, years or ,most likely, decades to get into a position from which they can, and even then it's a long shot.

Re:Not "self-correcting" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991388)

The difference- wikipedia actively makes it as easy as possible for people with time on their hands to make that effort and change things in minutes to what they want.

Re:Not "self-correcting" (1)

perpetual pessimist (1245416) | about 4 years ago | (#33991298)

The only way to correct Wikipedia is pretty much the same way to correct politics. Sweep in with an enraged mob and hang 'em all from the lampposts.

I agree (3, Informative)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 4 years ago | (#33990804)

I edit a lot of Northern Ireland-related articles on Wiki. A long-standing dispute is the name of one city and county. Catholics call it Derry, Protestants call it Londonderry. Politicians have raged for years on what to call it and never reached a compromise, it's a never-ending dispute. Wikipedians on the other hand have agreed to call the county Londonderry and the city Derry. That kind of compromise is a long way off among the politicians. In fact I sometimes think that Northern Ireland's politicians could do well to spend a few months editing on Wiki and learning how to get along with other editors. They'd be a lot more civil to each other if they did.

Re:I agree (1)

Altus (1034) | about 4 years ago | (#33990938)

I wish I were back home in Derry.

Re:I agree (5, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33991000)

Can't get enough of that Derry air?

Re:I agree (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 4 years ago | (#33991126)

Sir, my hat off to you.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991032)

You mean Londonderry

Re:I agree (1)

Altus (1034) | about 4 years ago | (#33991114)

sorry but it breaks the rhythm of the tune.

Re:I agree (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33991092)

If there weren't a feudal hierarchy to decisionmaking that would never have happened.

And it's wrong, by the way. Which is why feudal hierarchies aren't any good at decisionmaking. Especially where the decision is what facts are true. Most especially then.

Re:I agree (3, Informative)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about 4 years ago | (#33991100)

You should have been a little more descriptive of what was actually done because I wrote a long rant about "who the hell is wiki to decide that city is called Derry and the county is called Londonderry.

What actually happened is there was a compromise on the "Article Names" and both articles start the same. The city article Derry "Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland..." and the county article starts "County Londonderry or County Derry is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland..."

Oh Please (1)

Mephistophocles (930357) | about 4 years ago | (#33990822)

What a load of horseshit. "Maybe our politics will self-correct?????" Maybe the sky will rain flowers and chocolate and we'll all dance off into the rock-candy-mountain sunset singing kum-by-fucking-ya. Wikipedia only works because there are droves of well-meaning people guarding it constantly against nihilistic saboteurs. Applying some delusional happy-happy utopian vision to the cut-throat world of politics is kindergarten logic.

Re:Oh Please (1, Funny)

bonch (38532) | about 4 years ago | (#33991056)

You just need a bigger injection of Hopenchange(tm).

How I get along (3, Funny)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 4 years ago | (#33990830)

I mostly get along by not contributing.

Re:How I get along (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991042)

I know there's loads of controversy about the system itself, and whether it's really as nice as it sounds. I'm not even going to address that, because most of this /. discussion will be about that anyway.

I mostly get along by not contributing.

That's exactly the key -- Wikipedia works because people who don't fit the system (whether it's good or bad doesn't matter) can get bored/frustrated/mad and leave the editing side. They can still get the benefits of other people's work within the system (or not if they choose), but there are no demands on them.

So you wind up with all the people who like/tolerate the system working within it, being happy and getting along, and people who don't being utterly uninterfered with by it, and getting along. And trolls, of course, but that's a cosmic background phenomenon.

Politics, on the other hand, is an aspect of government, and government fundamentally works by taking shit from people and spending it to benefit people. If you get along with the system, bully for you, but if not, there's no easy opt-out. You can disregard politics, sure, but this is a losing proposition since the government that is steered by politics will now take your taxes and spend them as others choose. So if you don't like how the government is run, you more-or-less have to fight it.

To make government run like Wikipedia, you'd need at the very least some form of voluntary outlaw status, where in exchange for paying no taxes, you forgo all government services. Some services can be excluded that way, but people won't because it's believed to hurt everyone, not just the ones you deny the services to (e.g. schooling); others simply can't be excluded (police patrolling a beat, national defense), and still others can be (and in some cases are) excluded, with no harm to others, and a lot of people still get superpissed about it (that firefighters-watch-house-burn story from a couple weeks back). Of course, some level of this is generally what libertarians want, and they believe it practical, but anyone short of anarchism agrees there is some core of government services that must be provided for (i.e. forced on) all.

No, just no.. (5, Insightful)

molo (94384) | about 4 years ago | (#33990834)

Wikipedia is full of people with agendas, and they have different camps.. inclusionists, deletionists, plus all the real-world politics on top of that.. And there is really not much recourse when admins have taken actions that you disagree with. Procedure is followed haphazardly. Many admins are undisciplined (in several senses of the word). Wikipedia doesn't seem to be self-correcting.

There are few ways politics self-correct, and very few of them don't involve bloodshed. I don't see how wikipedia is at all relevant to that.


Re:No, just no.. (4, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 4 years ago | (#33990888)

But the great thing about Wiki is the sheer amount of guidelines. No matter what agenda you're trying to push, there's a guideline somewhere that you can cite in support of your edit. Discussions often become a battle to see who can cite the most compelling WP guidelines. In fact I often find the discussion pages more interesting than the actual articles themselves. Ever seen the EV1 discussion? It's as if someone from GM is doing battle with a load of people who watched Who Killed the Electric Car?

Please remember to be WP:CIVIL when replying...

Re:No, just no.. (1)

Altus (1034) | about 4 years ago | (#33990958)

That still sounds considerably better than much of the rest of the internet.

Re:No, just no.. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#33991280)

Funny, but it sounds like the rest of the internet to me. It also sounds like every other clique-laden environment I have ever seen or heard of.

Re:No, just no.. (1)

Stregano (1285764) | about 4 years ago | (#33991172)

I completely agree. I am personally a game collector and have a degree in Computer Science, but apparently if I can't cite a source (when I am the source), then deleted. It gets very irritating that the mods on Wikipedia just can't seem to understand that I know enough to where should be able to cite myself. I am not famous, but neither are alot of sources. Whatever their definition of what a source is, is just dumb. Some of the facts for stuff is just completely wrong for some video game stuff. I remember one day I corrected, easily, 20-30 issues with just the Sega Saturn stuff alone. Not even an hour later, they all went back to the mistakes.

Also, why can't we make a Wikipedia page about ourselves? I thought it would be awesome if you could find me on Wikipedia (by sheer chance, I have the same first and last name as a rockstar, so that might have something to do with it, but it is WP, so I doubt it). Apparently, we can't make WP pages about ourselves unless we make a certain income, or are on MTV or something. Now I understand that if they let all of those pages fly through, the flood of horrible stuff would come in, but my own WP biography page I made sure to work on to make it legit.

Mods that refuse to let anybody edit specific pages, weird rules about what can and can't be added. WP is just like any other community on the net. They people that have been around for awhile and/or mods have much more power than everybody else. I don't see why it is any greater

Re:No, just no.. (3, Insightful)

ACS Solver (1068112) | about 4 years ago | (#33991416)

I've had some similar experiences here (and a fun occasion when I cited my own site and that was fine), but to play the devil's advocate, how are the mods supposed to know if you really know your stuff or are full of shit? So you know about video games, but mods can't tell that. They also can't tell if you really have a Computer Science degree or not (besides, it's not like the degree automatically makes you an authority - I also have a CS degree and there's plenty of CS stuff I don't know).

Then again, there definitely are people who know enough and should be able to edit accordingly. Maybe Wikipedia could use a system where editors can (privately) provide proof of being an expert in an area, and then they get tagged as such by the moderators, provided they also have a positive history of contributions.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33990858)

No. Next Question.

real life vs wikipedia (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33990874)

There is a difference in wikipedia population and real life. The kind of people that are willing to spend time sharing knowledge on wikipedia generate a different kind of conflicts than those in real life.

Not civil at all behind the scenes (5, Interesting)

drsmack1 (698392) | about 4 years ago | (#33990896)

It seems to be that a significant quantity of the people with power over there revel in the power of controlling "what truth is".

The is wildly inconsistent application of rules relating to context and verifiability.

Many articles on even non-controversial subjects are watched by editors who seem to have a hardened POV agenda and will revert well-sourced edits that don't fit their world-view.

I found articles that were very thin and fleshed them out considerably, only to have them completely reverted by such individuals for a single missing reference. One that would have taken them all of a minute to source themselves.

This is in direct violation of the rules involving non-controversial subjects.

This same guy then went through every edit I made on other articles with a fine-toothed comb and reverted many of them for officious reasons.

Omarcheeseboro was the guy that particular time. Pointing out the literally *thousands* of articles that had problems many times worse than what I supposedly introduced was a complete waste of time. The arbitration process is hopelessly broken.
Basically the net affect of all this is that you have to be a Wikipedia etiquette expert to hope to make any changes of substance - or you can expect hours of work to be thoughtlessly reverted as part of petty jealousies and personal POV dominions.

Re:Not civil at all behind the scenes (3, Interesting)

Raenex (947668) | about 4 years ago | (#33991134)

Ok, you named the person who reverted your edits, but you didn't say what page or link to the revert. For all we know this person was doing the right thing.

Re:Not civil at all behind the scenes (1, Interesting)

takowl (905807) | about 4 years ago | (#33991148)

Predictably enough, /. commenters line up to hate on Wikipedia. And yet, somehow, despite this apparent culture of obstructionism which will send it down the drain in short order, Wikipedia seems to still be going strong. Thinking back for a moment, I first heard of this free online encyclopaedia in around 2005. That's just five years ago, and Wikipedia is now the de facto starting point for finding information on almost anything. It's come a long way, and doesn't seem to be grinding to a halt any time soon.

Why do so many people here seem to have had bad experiences with Wikipedia? I've spent a fair bit of time editing articles, and even started a few, and while I sometimes disagree with people, almost everyone I've interacted with has been perfectly mature, and ready to reach an agreement. Obviously stories of frustration and anger get told more often, and read more (people are strange like that), but even accounting for that, it seems that a lot of /.ers run into problems with Wikipedia. Maybe 'geeky' topics (computers, sci-fi, trains, etc.) attract editors with less social skills, or who're more convinced they're right, so they block other editors' changes. Just a theory.

I also find signing comments with my real name helps. I hope it reminds other people that I'm a real person, but I know it makes me more civil to them ("Do I want a future employer to be able to find me calling him a *****?").

Wikipedia can live and let live (3, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | about 4 years ago | (#33990924)

Where as the world often can't. Abortion is either legal, or it's not. Taxes are either at one rate or another. We either provide universal health care or we do not.

Wikipedia can present all valid views. The world can't implement all possible policies.

Re:Wikipedia can live and let live (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#33991348)

All valid views? Who determines what is valid? Which view is more valid? The truth is not relative and the idea that there is more than one valid view implies that what is true depends on what one's view is. Two diametrically opposed views can not both be true.

Re:Wikipedia can live and let live (1)

pclminion (145572) | about 4 years ago | (#33991528)

Who determines what is valid?

How about cold, hard logic? People may have differing opinions, but I'd venture to say that if your point of view isn't even internally consistent then it simply isn't valid. As in science, we cannot really prove that a particular view is correct, but we can certainly prove that it's not.

As an example, consider moron prosecutors who prosecute teenagers as adults for sending underage naked pictures of themselves to other people. This is a person who is not holding a logically consistent world view: he is treating the teenager as an adult and a child at the same time. I don't care what your moral perspective is on teens "sexting" each other -- that point of view simply isn't valid. A computer could make that determination.

We don't know everything (1)

Rix (54095) | about 4 years ago | (#33991562)

There are often multiple possibilities of which no one has been absolutely proven. Wikipedia also has the advantage of not doing original research, but only summarizing that done by others that can be cited.

Yah! RIIIIGHT! (3, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | about 4 years ago | (#33990928)

So long as you conform to the opinions of the moderators there, right, wrong, or otherwise, you can get along.

Re:Yah! RIIIIGHT! (2, Insightful)

Meshach (578918) | about 4 years ago | (#33991294)

So long as you conform to the opinions of the moderators there, right, wrong, or otherwise, you can get along.

Except that Wikipedia does not have moderation.

Re:Yah! RIIIIGHT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991572)

So long as you conform to the opinions of the moderators there, right, wrong, or otherwise, you can get along.

Except that Wikipedia does not have moderation.

Exactly. You will call them editors, or you will be wrong.

There is no place for wrongness on Wikipedia. Pay no attention to the original poster, he is a sock puppet.

Re:Yah! RIIIIGHT! (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 4 years ago | (#33991594)

But there are admins. And people with admin friend.

Re:Yah! RIIIIGHT! (2, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#33991616)

No, Wikipedia has cliques and admins.

Kinda obvious how it doesn't apply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33990940)

It's easier to be relaxed about newcomers' editing or changes being made when you can hit the revert button and restore what came before.

The analogy kind of falls apart right there. Real life doesn't have an undo button.

Bollocks. (4, Insightful)

vague disclaimer (861154) | about 4 years ago | (#33990982)

Any appearance of civility is caused by the inherent wiki problem: arguments are won by those who just won't give up. Those with better things to do, give up, go and never look back.

Re:Bollocks. (0, Troll)

Stargoat (658863) | about 4 years ago | (#33991068)

That was true about 2 years ago. Today, arguments in Wikipedia are won by admins. The problem is that the Wikipedia admins are by and large American WASPs and Eastern Coast American Jews. It's a bit of a problem for creating objective 20th century history articles. ;)

Tell that to Bsadowski1 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33990998)

He is a fucking bastard who rapes users on wikipedia all night long.

Not a chance (2, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 4 years ago | (#33991026)

People will continue to argue, yell, insult, and generally be rude to each other. Besides half of the people believe that wikipedia is itself a tool for the other side to spread their message (that first half then sponsored conservapedia, naturally). So no, wikipedia won't teach us how to get along.

Oh, wait, are we talking about the slashdot sense of "us", or a greater collection of people?

Re:Not a chance (3, Insightful)

takowl (905807) | about 4 years ago | (#33991304)

But for all that, I believe it's doing us a service by forcing us to have the arguments. We have to confront the views we don't like. Because there's only one 'current' version of any page, conflicting factions cannot produce their own versions* and simply ignore each other. And, most of the time, that results in some form of compromise. People aren't always nice to each other (although that's encouraged), but by and large, it works.

* Yes, I know, Conservapedia, Citizendium, and so on do have their own versions. But a) it's much easier to edit Wikipedia than it is to set up your own version, and b) almost nobody uses any of the alternatives.

When did that start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991040)

Did he study the same Wikipedia I sometimes contribute to?

Because I've had to stop using a named account entirely to keep from being harassed by the trolls they've hired as admins.

Pmdrive1061 and Nawlinwiki like sucking my cock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991062)

Wikipedia is communism covered in pelican shit. Vandalism forever

Willy on Wheels! MascotGuy, Runtshit, Grawp, Wik, Cplot, Bambifan101, Atlanticdeep, Pickmanbothlol, all just some of the amazing vandals that cannot be WP:DENY'd.

What's next for Joseph Reagle? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33991104)

After his graduation, Joseph Reagle has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Hogwarts to study unicorns.

I think Calvin summarized it best. (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 4 years ago | (#33991142)

I'm at peace with the world. I'm completely serene. I've discovered my purpose in life. I know why I was put here and why everything exists... I am here so everybody can do what I want. Once everybody accepts it, they'll be serene too.

--Calvin []

Openxml Travesty (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | about 4 years ago | (#33991174)

Remember the "openxml" standardization travesty.

Professionals exploit the rules, and the people playing fair are cheated.

I suspect the thing about wikipedia is that none of the cheaters actually get onto the board.

With society / elections it is different. Maybe because spending money on campaigns has an effect?

Re:Openxml Travesty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991578)

If you want some fun, try adding a "this page deals with a controversial subject" on the top of the OOXML page. You'll get instantly hounded down with loud cries of "oh no it wasn't controversial _at_all_!!
It's like a monty python sketch on IRC. "This isn't an argument!"

Wikipedia is not like that (2, Interesting)

br00tus (528477) | about 4 years ago | (#33991346)

A case in point is the article Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani [] . She is a woman in Iran who had the death penalty charged against her. The opening paragraph mentions nothing about her dead husband. The next paragraph at one point says - 'she has since recanted the "confession" made under duress'. Note the scare quotes around the word confession, the mention it was made under duress - as if confessions in American murder cases are not made to police "under duress", whatever that is supposed to mean.

It also says "court was prosecuting one of the two men for involvement in the death of Mohammadi Ashtiani's husband". Yes "involved in the death", another way of saying murder.

The slanting of this article is incredible. If a woman in Texas had an affair with a man, a man who then murdered her husband, and months later she had been convicted under a death sentence for conspiring to murder her husband with her lover, do you think there would be anything like this in the article? Do you think maybe you wouldn't have to piece together that she was thought to be a co-conspirator in those who murdered, I mean were "involved in the death", of her husband? A cursory read of this would make one thing this woman was getting the death penalty for having an affair.

Then there's the canard - "Well, just edit it". Well, look through the history and discussion pages - people have, but their edits are reverted by the usual Wikipedia cabal. Their control of articles like this are backed up by the Arbitration Committee, and ultimately Jimbo Wales himself, whose devotion to Ayn Rand and the like are well known. Anyone with little involvement with Wikipedia might easily believe it is free and open. Even those heavily involved in uncontroversial editing of articles on science, math and the like might not see it. But a long-time observance of things is obvious. Just look at the enormously controversial and biased JayJG failing in the 2006 vote to make the Arbitration Committee - but Jimbo Wales appointing him to it anyhow. I pick that as JayJG is heavily biased against Iran. I am not Iranian, but I do find it laughable how the Americans who overthrew Mossadegh and the democratic government of Iran in the 1950s and installed a brutal dictator now whine about the Iranian government, and turn their eyes from their bloody Texan death rows to some far-off village in Iran and make some woman who conspired with her lover to murder her husband into some cause celebre.

Streisand effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33991418)

Will this curiosity prompt people to screw with Wikipedia, perhaps wrecking something good for everyone?
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