* Part 1 post is on “Wikipedia Admins Abuse.”
I do not have anything against Wikipedia itself [my beef is against the way it's run / policed / (mis)guided by increasingly hostile Wiki Admins].
I was interested to see what Mr. Jimmy Wales (Wiki’s founder) would have to say, about some of the points people have been bringing up about Wikipedia, so I sent him a summarized version of the blog post (part 1), expecting a 50-50 chance of a reply. I had a reply by the end of the day. Will update correspondence if it continues.
I’ve pasted my original email here, since it’ll be easier to read it all at one go.
# # # CORRESPONDENCE WITH JIMMY WALES, WIKI FOUNDER # # #
from: Jess C Scott
date: Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 7:13 PM
subject: Query: What’s Going On With Wikipedia?
Dear Mr. Wales:
I think the concept of Wikipedia is brilliant — it has however, been compromised by the Wikipedian Administrators, who are becomingly increasingly aggressive and hostile towards “members of the public” without “admin” status.
There are several points which I would like to make, with regards to Wiki’s policies.
Interesting Point #1: Why is an admin granted power? Why are the opinions that they impose upon others more “credible,” when there is no definite way to prove that the admins are credible sources themselves (and yes, according to Wiki’s own guidelines!)? Admins can and should be around to delete obvious, blatant spam, and information that is inaccurate. But to have admins serving their own interests at the expense of others = abuse of power. Which = a serious loss of credibility for Wikipedia.
Interesting Point #2: An indie band or indie writer (anyone/anything independent) could achieve immense success, and contribute immensely valuable and innovative products to society, yet never be considered “notable” enough, because they haven’t been “extensively covered” by the mainstream media. Why should an immensely popular/influential, widely-read and highly-regarded blogger have less power/credibility today, as compared to a journalist who graduated from (insert elitist big name school), and is now working for (insert big name news company / keep in mind that newspapers are going out of business too)?
An indie band/writer could sell a million copies, and still not be on Wiki, and be regarded as “not notable,” as compared to a mainstream band or writer who sold 2,000 copies. In the latter’s case, what matters is that “he/she/they were published!” or “picked up by a major label!” and were therefore “verified by an “authority source!” Which brings us back to the whole point about bureaucracy.
With regards to artistes, the Wiki admins consider notable people to be people that have been either picked up by a major recording label, or publishing house (with regards to musicians, and writers). If you’re not known by the masses, you can’t cut it on Wikipedia. It is completely and conveniently swept under the carpet that the very concept and model of Wikipedia is based on: self-publishing. I find this very hypocritical on the part of the admins who police the website.
I have seen Wiki admins suggest to non-admins to “lobby for consensus” (with regards to the existing guidelines regarding “self-published sources”), if they want to make suggestions to the existing rules of the site. That’s not going to work when the majority of the admins are not open to change anyway (which would stop them from their power-tripping).
With regards to Wiki’s policy on “NOTABILITY” (I put “notability” in caps because it’s something the Wiki Admins seem to get very defensive about) — isn’t it against the Wiki guidelines to “self-promote”? If self-published media, such as books, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, personal or group blogs, Internet forum postings, and tweets, are largely not acceptable as sources — why is Ms. Elonka Dunin’s personal website allowed to be used as an autobiographical reference source on her page? Why has this not been deleted, when other external links on other pages have been, because they pointed to “self-published media”?
I have written a blog post about the matter, and included a group of external links at the end of the post, which voice similar sentiments/concerns.
[Email #2 (reply from Wiki founder)]
from: Jimmy Wales
to: Jess C Scott
date: Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 9:29 PM
subject: Re: Query: What’s Going On With Wikipedia?
On 11/16/10 7:13 PM, Jess C Scott wrote:
*Interesting Point #1*: Why is an admin granted power? Why are the opinions that they impose upon others more “credible,” when there is no definite way to prove that the admins are credible sources themselves (and yes, according to Wiki’s own guidelines!)? Admins can and should be around to delete obvious, blatant spam, and information that is inaccurate. But to have admins serving their own interests at the expense of others = abuse of power. Which = a serious loss of credibility for Wikipedia.
Can you give me a concrete example of #1?
On your point #2, you seem to have overlooked the hordes of self-promoting spammers of all kinds who would swamp the site if we didn’t have notability guidelines.
*Interesting Point #3*: *Elonka Dunin
I have no opinion about the notability of Elonka Dunin.
from: Jess C Scott
to: Jimmy Wales
date: Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 11:07 PM
subject: Re: Query: What’s Going On With Wikipedia?
2) “(I seem to be overlooking) the hordes of self-promoting spammers of all kinds who would swamp the site if we didn’t have notability guidelines” = one side of the issue. What about the other side of the issue (see point #3 below)?
3) If you, the founder, have no opinion about the notability of Elonka Dunin (in this instance) — how and why should anyone else have any opinions on the notability guidelines (which I would logically deduce be applied to the notability of Elonka Dunin, as an example)? Why is her self-promotional page allowed to be up on Wiki, while other pages are routinely deleted for not meeting notability guidelines? (some of which do have “credible sources” as references.) If you have no opinion as to whether her page meets notability, are you saying that the admins have more power than you, the founder of Wiki, that none of the admins “dares to delete” a “fellow admin’s” page — but they can do as they wish to non-admins (by pointing them to the maze of Wiki guideline pages, regarding Notability, etc, as you seem to sidestep by saying you have “no opinion”)?
# # # END OF CORRESPONDENCE # # #
Really? “I have no opinion”?
This whole runaround style of handling queries + “hiding behind the policy/ideology of neutrality” highlights how and why the Wiki policies + guidelines = twisted/misguided. This makes Apple kicking Steve Jobs out of his own company in 1985 look sensible.
P.S. Summary of deathgleaner’s (updated) link above — a Wiki admin decided to delete his user page, delete his talk page, block him indefinitely; without contacting him about it. Their reason: “personal attack.” It seems like everything on Wikipedia, etc. is a privilege, which includes editing your own user page, as if someone suddenly comes up to you and says “it’s a privilege to decorate your own house.” Furthermore, blocking should be used as a last resort, not a first option. Apparently admins only respect that when they want to. Another example of how Wikipedia’s “government” has gone to the dogs. Wiki admins and their rules.
Quote to summarize:
Looking over Wikipedia’s Notability Policy, it really seems to be worded just vaguely enough so that it can be interpreted differently depending on how you define “notable”.
Their policy for “speedy deletion” really boils down to making it easy for articles to be removed if an editor agrees with the person who marked said articles for deletion.
This story really highlights the absurdity of bureaucracy (in all cases, not just at Wikipedia). — Grae, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 3:17pm
* * *
External Links / More Info:
Wikipedia doesn’t need your money – so why does it keep pestering you? (The Register UK)
Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia (Salon.com)
Wikipedia’s Sexism Toward Female Novelists (NY Times)
Wikipedia Admins Abuse (Part 1, blog post) (Jess C Scott)
Wikipedia’s Structural Flaw (JCS / jessINK)
WikiLinks: Wiki’s Internal Politics (JCS / jessINK)
JCS: Wikipedia (history of Jess’s Wikipedia page)
A Note To Wiki’s Admin Bullies (JCS / jessINK)
How Wikipedia Should Be Used / Suggestions for Improvement (JCS / jessINK)