The Problem with Wikipedia - Oct. 20, 2007 (J.P.'s Random Ra

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The Problem with Wikipedia - Oct. 20, 2007 (J.P.'s Random Ra

Postby tmc_6882 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:42 pm

The problem with Wikipedia

There are two cornerstones of the user-generated content revolution on the Internet: Wikipedia and YouTube. And just like YouTube is under siege from copyright holders who wouldn't recognize good publicity if it bit them in the behind, Wikipedia is under siege from within its own site.

I used to be a Wikipedian. I joined really early - summer of 2002. Back then, the article about my hometown (a capital city of 50,000 people) was just a few lines, and the larger city to the south didn't even have one. I fleshed them both out the first night I joined. I spent a lot of time in 2002 and 2003 writing articles about various cities all across Canada, mostly using data from Statistics Canada and the websites of the city government, the chamber of commerce, and so on. I hoped they would be later expanded by local residents who knew more about their hometowns than I did; and for the most part that's happened. And I got a lot of credit for it.

A lot of improvements took place over the years - a better user interface, more users contributing better articles. This in turn required more administrators. I never became one, I never was approached to become one, I never really even wanted to be one. I wish I did now.

Back when I was on Wikipedia, having administrative privileges was compared to having a mop. All you did was clean up messes, not much more. I'm not sure what exactly happened to change that, but it did and the website spiraled out of control. I think I first noticed it in early 2006.

All of a sudden, I saw admins foaming at the mouth trying not to add information, but remove it. The size of the Articles for Deletion page ballooned. It wasn't just used to delete garage bands or weird lists like "All Movies with 3 E's in their name", but perfectly legitimate, sourced, factual information. Why? It was "not notable". How does something become notable? There's a lot of criteria out there, but it all comes down to subjectivity. And if the admin doesn't have a damned clue about the subject matter, all the better!

Traffic to the Articles for Deletion page became enough that the "proposed deletion" (or "prod") process started - where an admin slaps a tag on a page saying we are going to delete this article within 5 days unless you provide a good reason why we shouldn't. No reason is ever good enough. ("You can't get this info presented this way anywhere else!" "So?"..."This was featured in the New York Times!" "Yeah, but on page D7"..."she was on a nationally broadcast TV show!" "yes, but in Belgium".) I'd love to know how many person-hours of work have just fallen by the wayside because some people became such short-sighted.

I got the sense that some admins actually took joy in deleting other people's work. All of a sudden, the invitation to "write anything you want about anything" became hollow. And nobody high up within Wikipedia seemed to care.

The final straw for me was the great image purge of fall 2006, which, as far as I can tell, was spurred by a "re-interpretation" by some admins of Wikipedia's picture/image policies. Over the course of a few weeks, tens of thousands of images - politicians, entertainers, anything - were removed under the idea that a "free alternative" either was available or could, at some point in the future, be made available. So instead of good-quality publicity photos of pretty much everyone and everything you could think of, we had blurry photos of maybe 10-20% of them that just happened to be taken by a Wikipedian. The page about this project was called "Wikipedia:Fair use", which was abbreviated to "WP:FU". Somehow that seemed appropriate.

In November 2006, I left Wikipedia for good. Nobody even bothered to give me a farewell message or to ask me to come back.

I checked my user page a couple months ago to see what other crap others have had to say about me. I saw a notification that the Belleville, Ontario article; on a city of about 50,000 people, and that I first wrote back in 2003; was about to be deleted. It was saved, but the fact that it was even considered just speaks volumes about the direction that Wikipedia is taking.

I wouldn't dare join Wikipedia now. The first article that I'd write wouldn't last 2 days.

And although it's the biggest problem, deletionism isn't close to being the only one with Wikipedia. When I was a Wikipedian, even if I knew a lot about the subject at hand, I tried to "dumb it down", or at least write at a level that someone who didn't have a clue about the subject could at least understand it. I'm in the minority there. Scientific articles are especially bad for this. Unless you have a degree in math, try reading this.

My hope is that as the user-generated content revolution marches on, someone will come up with a mainstream alternative to Wikipedia, one where everyone is welcomed to write whatever they want, and if it's not up to snuff, it gets improved instead of removed. Is that too much to ask?

(c)2007 J.P. Kirby. All rights reserved.

To further establish his point, here's what Sir Kirby had to say on his site regarding my actions:
Quote from reganBuffalo on 08/06/09 at 20:10:49:
Quote from onairb2 on 08/06/09 at 19:45:58:
Well, some of wikipedia should be taken with a grain of salt, but that last one could have been true...see the threads about the late '70s Monday night syndicated 'NHL Network' telecasts. It's possible (though not likely) that hockey could have aired on that station.

No. I checked it out.

And 90% of that article was ripped off from my research, posted on the506. Most of the rest is dubious. I watched those games then, and would have remembered if Tom Brookshier was one of the commentators, as that wikipedia entry said.

I have gone into that article and removed pretty much everything but the first few paragraphs. It is policy that nothing from this site can be used on wikipedia.

Oh, he also thinks that I'm a plagarizing troll and proceeded to banish me from his site for daring to challenge him on Wikipedia! He also officially instituted the "no reposting of lists on other sites" rule.

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Postby Sthurmovik » Tue Mar 09, 2010 4:38 pm

I'm missing some context here. What does an outdated 4 year old rant about Wikipeida have to do with anything?

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Postby xodar » Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:52 pm

Sthurmovik wrote:I'm missing some context here. What does an outdated 4 year old rant about Wikipeida have to do with anything?

It's off topic? As in the forum title....
"You can believe me, because I never lie and I'm always right." -- George Leroy Tirebiter.
If a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody there to hear it I don't give a rat's ass.

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