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Who Edits Wikipedia?  (View post)

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

Monday, September 4, 2006
12 years ago6,624 views

And an Unintended Consequence is that Wikipedia has a disincentive to make it harder to have trolling and vandalism of people's biographies.

It's cost-shifting. Wikipedia gets the benefits of the low barriers. But the libeled people have to mostly bear the cost of being attacked (with extremely rare exceptions).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Wikipedia is definitely one of those 80% good things. But I wonder if false statements about public figures are made more often in Wikipedia or in mainstream news articles. Newspapers often misrepresent people whose politics they oppose – but as opposed to Wikipedia, "reverting" such an article isn't as easy.

By German law, newspapers are sometimes (after legal attacks by the unhappy party, which admittedly is a luxury of those who can afford lawyers) forced to print corrections in approximately the same space they printed false statements (e.g. on the frontpage). I wonder if something similar makes sense on Wikipedia. Let's just say Seth Finkelstein is being accused of stealing liquor, and this statement is in your Wikipedia bio for 6 months. When someone fixes this, why not run a visible correction for a similar stretch of time? "As opposed to what this article said for quite some time, Seth Finkelstein does not steal liquor."

R J Hawkins [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Yes, but why should outsiders trust Wikipedia, let alone get involved in it? The essential idea is flawed: that anyone can write anything and it's presumed to be correct.

So now we have – according to this – the outsiders writing the content, while the self-appointed guardians of knowledge spend their days tinkering with the grammar and the punctuation. Sounds credible, based on my experience. Who are these people? And haven't they got anything better to do?

How they have the nerve to call themselves `editors' is beyond me. I work in the media; I know what a real editor does. Just writing stuff and blurting it onto the internet doth not an editor make.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> The essential idea is flawed: that anyone can write
> anything and it's presumed to be correct.

Quite the opposite, I think that what you write on Wikipedia will often be presumed *incorrect*, i.e. other people will fact-check articles well-knowing that parts of the article may be speculation or hasty edits. In the end, I believe the results at Wikipedia speak for themselves though – people do get involved (because they care about a topic), and they do create 80% good stuff.

R J Hawkins [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Why would anyone put speculation on the internet? Or anything they didn't know for certain to be true?

I believe the results speak for themselves, too, from bitter experience; hence my opposition to the whole damn thing. And for something that claims to be an information source, 80% is not good enough.

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

"But I wonder if false statements about public figures are made more often in Wikipedia or in mainstream news articles."

Sometimes I think I should make a FAQ about being smeared on Wikipedia, and why it's not like newspapers or magazines or anything else:

WIKIPEDIA ALLOWS ANY TROLL, VANDAL, GRUDGE-HOLDER, OR HATER TO *ANONYMOUSLY* LIBEL SOMEONE!

Newspapers *don't* *do* that. Magazines *don't* *do* that. Real encyclopedias *don't* *do* that. They do not let anyone in the entire world throw mud at a person *and* then present that mudslinging with the institutional credibility of the publication. Wikipedia does. Because it's an implication of their development model.

Splasho [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

>>How they have the nerve to call themselves `editors' is beyond me.
Come on, they call themselves editors because they edit! Notepad.exe may not be as good at working in the media as you but I'm still going to call it a text editor.

t xensen [PersonRank 4]

12 years ago #

I guess I have to stipulate I'm not in favor of libel before I can say that I agree with Philipp. Obviously if I was seriously researching something I would go to authoritative and original sources. But 80 percent of the time Wikipedia yields "rule-of-thumb" information that is good enough for general purposes; sometimes this is handy to have, for all its flaws (and I admit I've seen some real bloopers).

But what I wonder about is why Google has set Wikipedia's trust rank so high that it is one of the top results for almost any Google search – that seems excessive. Any theories?

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Theory: .EDU links build trust. Many students have the idea that they should cite to "an encyclopedia", and they confuse Wikipedia with one :-). Thus it amasses a huge number of "academic" citations (which shows how badly Google's trust metric can be fooled).

Again, note this is speculation.

Milly [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp:
> Aaron Swartz analyzed who was mostly responsible for adding the
> gist to a typical Wikipedia article, and his findings show that
> [...] it’s mostly outsiders (people doing only occasional edits,
> often unregistered).

Hmm. His analysis treats all non-registered and low-edit-count contributors as outsiders. He doesn't mention the effect of ephemeral and/or multiple accounts (which may 'be' the same high-content-edit-count contributor), nor of multiple content edits by the same not-logged-in contributor. The true status of the former is probably unknowable, and the latter only partially knowable by the recorded IP address (which is a relatively recent and unreliable addition, I think, which he doesn't mention trying to correlate).

I'm not an insider by any definition, but I guess I've edited content on more than fifty articles (maybe twice that, I don't know), all without logging in, and started maybe half a dozen more, all with different (made up on the spot) logins. Maybe there are *lots* of people like me, or who contribute much, much more, while not bothering (or wanting) to get on the radar?

So, how big is the population of insiders (contributors who are actively adding and editing *content* on many articles), but who aren't identified as such because they don't maintain a single consistent identity (and don't bother with the housekeeping)? We can guess, but as the respective guesses of Jimmy Wales and Aaron Swartz has shown, that may not a sound basis for policy.

Philipp:
> [...] Let's just say Seth Finkelstein is being accused of stealing
> liquor, and this statement is in your Wikipedia bio for 6 months.
> When someone fixes this, why not run a visible correction for a
> similar stretch of time? "As opposed to what this article said
> for quite some time, Seth Finkelstein does not steal liquor."

LOL – I'm not sure that's much less of a slur ;). Besides, how can anyone but Seth affirm or verify such a statement?

Anyone who knows about a now-deleted libel can find the circumstances on the Discussion page, can't they? For those who don't already know, the libelee is probably better served by not mentioning it. Unless the bunfight itself has become a notable part of the public record, in which case it should part of the article itself anyway.

That doesn't solve the disproportionate publicity issue, I appreciate. I don't know what might.

Seth:
> "But I wonder if false statements about public figures are made
> more often in Wikipedia or in mainstream news articles."
>
> Sometimes I think I should make a FAQ about being smeared on
> Wikipedia, and why it's not like newspapers or magazines or
> anything else:
>
> WIKIPEDIA ALLOWS ANY TROLL, VANDAL, GRUDGE-HOLDER,
> OR HATER TO *ANONYMOUSLY* LIBEL SOMEONE!

Yes indeed, but that doesn't answer, and only obliquely addresses, Philipp's point. Despite the much greater access, is Wikipedia in fact the source of false statements about public figures more often than mainstream news? I rather doubt it, and certainly not if you factor in some measure of consequential general public awareness.

And correcting/reverting such (persistent, self-cleaning-resistant) falsehoods is surely generally much easier and cheaper in Wikipedia than in mainstream media (or even on A-list or A-list-echoing blogs). (I'm sure there are bad exceptions).

And why the stress on anonymous libels? If and as I understand it (not in great detail, I admit), if the libel (basically) fails the NPOV and verifiability policies then it should be deleted. If not, it should stay. Other than reducing short-term vandalism/stupidity, what would precluding anonymity achieve? Is there a shortage of people prepared to try to libel in their own name?

Seth:
> [Newspapers|Magazines|Real encyclopedias] do not let anyone in the
> entire world throw mud at a person *and* then present that
> mudslinging with the institutional credibility of the publication.
> Wikipedia does. Because it's an implication of their
> development model.

I certainly see the drawbacks, and the potential for more mud (since most Wikipedia mud will be in addition to mainstream mud, if any, not instead of). But ... are they so bad – taken alone, or set against the volume of valuable work – that something ought to change? If so, what? No Wikipedia bio articles on living people? On living or dead people? No Wikipedia?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> WIKIPEDIA ALLOWS ANY TROLL, VANDAL, GRUDGE-HOLDER, OR
> HATER TO *ANONYMOUSLY* LIBEL SOMEONE!
>
> Newspapers *don't* *do* that. Magazines *don't* *do* that.

I disagree – it's very common that some VIP magazine puts out false statements, citing anonymous sources ("someone close to Tom Cruise said that Tom ..." etc.), and they then get sued by the VIP. So, IMO newspapers and magazines *do* do that. This is not to say that there may not be ways to improve the situation on Wikipedia...

Tadeusz Szewczyk [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Well, this article really confirms my impression I expressed here earlier. I provide the content but core wikipedians delete it. So if I were a core wikipedian deleting all day contributions by newbies I'll be very active too.

In fact I really think twice before contributing anything after I my contents were deleted so often. It didin't happen to me in any other internet medium that frequently. So the main problem of Wikipedia is how can they get more democratic (again) to fulfill the promise they made.

I think edits that delete or revert something should be monitored very closely. In most cases my contribution was edited after a few minutes or hours for reasons like "no source cited" or "irrelevant" in cases where the change was news in all the major media outlets.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Wikipedia works on the assumption that the average contribution is more likely to increase the overall quality of Wikipedia than to decrease it.

So far, that seems to have worked. Year by year Wikipedia has been improving, despite the occasional glitch along the way. Most people are not trolls, libellers etc.

The more strictly you regulate something, the harder you make it for the honest folk to work with it. The spammers and scammers don't care about the regulations and will always find a way around them.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

See also "Is Wikipedia a legitimate research source?" at Web-Owls:

web-owls.com/2006/05/12/is-wik ...

Splasho [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

"Wikipedia works on the assumption that the average contribution is more likely to increase the overall quality of Wikipedia than to decrease it."

Great description, I've never heard it put so well before.

R J Hawkins [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

>Wikipedia works on the assumption that the average contribution is more >likely to increase the overall quality of Wikipedia than to decrease it.

Yeah. Shame that the very idea of Wikipedia means that can't be guaranteed.

>Come on, they call themselves editors because they edit!

No, they write and they tinker and they bicker and they get deeply pompous, but they're not editors. I know and work with editors. Editors are people with a high standard of editorial judgement, extensive journalistic experience, finely-developed writing skills, elevated abilities in management, team leadership and decision-making, an informed understanding of media law ... and talent. They're not editors, any more than I'm a chef because I can make cheese on toast.

>No Wikipedia?

That would be my choice, certainly.

charlie williams [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Who are you kidding? 'i'm an editor, you're not', my view of reality is correct because i learnt it from someone else... where did the idea get lost that definitions are redefined all the time – by people who live in a world that is changing all the time. No, no-one thinks that wikipedia is always going to be 100% right because no-one believes that the contributors are 100% right – or the editors... but it is a forum where an ever malleable world can be represented by the people who live in it (except, obviously editors who consider themselves better than anyone else).

charlie williams [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Yes, Phillip – it does allow people to be unfair. Oh, but sorry – that's life isn't it? If you don't want someone to malign you in some way – keep quiet.

Splasho [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

ed·i·tor (ĕd'ĭ-tər) pronunciation
n.

   1. One who edits, especially as an occupation.
   2. One who writes editorials.
   3. A device for editing film, consisting basically of a splicer and viewer.
   4. Computer Science. A program used to edit text or data files.
----
ed·it (ĕd'ĭt) pronunciation
tr.v., -it·ed, -it·ing, -its.

   1.
   1. To prepare (written material) for publication or presentation, as by correcting, revising, or adapting.
   2. To prepare an edition of for publication: edit a collection of short stories.
   3. To modify or adapt so as to make suitable or acceptable: edited her remarks for presentation to a younger audience.
   2. To supervise the publication of (a newspaper or magazine, for example).
   3. To assemble the components of (a film or soundtrack, for example), as by cutting and splicing.
   4. To eliminate; delete: edited the best scene out.
--
By that definition a wikipedian is an editor.

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp, regarding "I disagree – it's very common that some VIP magazine puts out false statements, citing anonymous sources ...", that's different from Wikipedia, since in that case it's someone at the *VIP magazine* making a decision to put out the false statement. A reporter, or an editor. Of course it happens. But it's a very small number of people who have that power. A troll can't simply call up the magazine and say "I'd like to libel this person – I want you to put this anonymous libel in their profile", and have it work. But they can do exactly that with Wikipedia.

Milly – The simplest solution is to let living people opt-out of Wikipedia bios. Wikipedia has steadfastly refused to grant that.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> Of course it happens. But it's a very small
> number of people who have that power.

But Seth, those mags often drive the scene... in Germany, the biggest newspaper (BILD) throws dirt at people all the time. They come up with nicknames and then systematically ruin a celebrity's image, or build it up to shine, whichever they prefer. I think what you're referring to is a *good* newspaper with *good* editors. But that's not what the system enforces, it's just one way to run a newspaper. Just like Wikipedia allows libel as well as good bios.

I think an opt-out solution is a problem, because every person who feels the public perceives them as evil will be able to silence publications.

One thing to consider: would it make sense to allow people to edit their own bios, though? Maybe disabling the "everyone can edit" rule produced a problem here? Just like with other edits, people could decide if the edit is OK or needs to be reverted.

Dan Tobias [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

I think this whole idea of giving a veto right over one's own bio in Wikipedia is unreasonable; either they're notable enough for a bio or not, but their own opinion shouldn't govern it.

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp, no, that's someone with a large amount of power – a reporter, an editor – making a decision to throw the dirt. I am not making the argument that newspapers don't libel people. I'm saying Wikipedia lets any troll libel a person, with the full force of the credibility of the publication, and newspapers and editors *do* *not* *do* *that* (they reserve that power to very few people who work for them :-(). The opt-out solution could be more refined, with guidelines as to "major" public figures who can't opt-out, but not subjecting everyone else to endless hassle.

Dan: It's very easy to fight to the last drop of someone else's blood.

R J Hawkins [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

>One thing to consider: would it make sense to allow people to edit their own bios, though? Maybe disabling the "everyone can edit" rule produced a problem here? Just like with other edits, people could decide if the edit is OK or needs to be reverted.

And yet if people try to edit their own biographical entries or – better yet – try to delete them completely, they get accused of `vandalism' (sic).

>I think this whole idea of giving a veto right over one's own bio in Wikipedia is unreasonable; either they're notable enough for a bio or not, but their own opinion shouldn't govern it.

Why not, exactly? If someone doesn't want to have anything to do with the wretched thing, why should their views be ignored?

Dan Tobias [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

As far as I'm aware, nobody has the right to opt out of being mentioned in the New York Times, should the editorial staff of that publication decide he/she is newsworthy enough to be written about.

Dan Tobias [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

For that matter, does anybody have opt-out rights regarding this or any other blog, should the blogger decide to write an entry about you (perhaps one that is highly critical)?

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I keep saying this: Neither the New York Times, nor this blog, allows any random flamer to write dirt and then have it laundered to appear under the name of the organization. Why is this such a hard concept? Comments are listed as comments, not put on the front page as "The authoritative blog Google Blogoscoped says about Dan Tobias" ...

That is your answer. I have responded to your argument. I have engaged the point you brought up with an explanation of the difference in properties. Yet the discussion doesn't ever seem to progress past that point.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I have refrained from actually barging into this converstion ..my hands were itchyin from the morning.. but kept strong .. :)-

Seth is making a good agurment. The Walled garden of editors in the MSM make the decesion on what gets in print or not. Thats the power of the editor and sub-editors etc. Even op-ed's are not all that open!!

Philipp: "would it make sense to allow people to edit their own bios, though?"

Did we all not see the edit of podcast wiki , which resulted in slanted results and a big noise within blogsphere and an eventual public apology when 'fingered' with the audit trail ? The Curry tale is worth while in this disucssion. Vested interest can be at play,.

Dan : "does anybody have opt-out rights regarding this or any other blog, ?" – No , in fact nobody has that preorgative. But there preogrative would be to seek a recourse of legal action, when the facts are not presented corrected or in due course also Libel. J

Just because one can speak – it does not make them intelligent, and just because one is dumb, does not make them stupid.

a classic delimemma within this sphere of conversation is shoemoney story "landmark-blog-case-slander-in-comments" – heres the linky

shoemoney.com/2006/09/01/shoem ...

Caleb E [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

In reference to research and wikipedia, you should *never* cite *any* general knowledge encyclopedia in a *real* research paper. Wikipedia is a good place to look for sources (because they cite their sources (usually)). But the bottom line is, don't cite wikipedia but also don't cite the encyclopedia britannica. They're both secondary sources and not good sources for a research paper.

I think the magic of wikipedia is that I can't find information on facebook, let alone the recent criticisms of the new layout (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook ...) in the encyclopedia britannica or the world book.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Seth:
> I keep saying this: Neither the New York Times, nor this
> blog, allows any random flamer to write dirt and then
> have it laundered to appear under the name of the
> organization. Why is this such a hard concept?

The NYT makes it harder for outsiders to get involved, yes, but this can be for better and worse: it's harder for you to correct their articles, and it's harder for you to throw dirt through their newspaper (compared to a wiki). But basically, you seem to have chosen a newspaper you more or less like to support your point (the NYT) – and I've chosen a newspaper I dislike to support my point (German BILD). German BILD allows random staff members to throw dirt, in fact, they've got an agenda to throw dirt – I never saw this kind of agenda in Wikipedia. Maybe you can try to make your point of a "healthy" editors system by choosing a news outlet you dislike, say, FOX news (if you dislike it).

Maybe the main problem you see is that at Wikipedia article pages, there's no big disclaimer like "all content on this page can change all the time, and is written by random people; it may contain errors"?

Milly [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp:
> One thing to consider: would it make sense to allow people
> to edit their own bios, though? Maybe disabling the
> "everyone can edit" rule produced a problem here? Just
> like with other edits, people could decide if the edit is
> OK or needs to be reverted.

Auto-editing is only discouraged, not prohibited.

"Dealing with edits by the subject of the article en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedi ...
While Wikipedia discourages people from writing new articles about themselves or expanding existing ones significantly, subjects of articles remain welcome to edit articles to correct inaccuracies, to remove inaccurate or unsourced material, or to remove libel.

Jimmy Wales warns other editors to think twice when encountering such attempts: "...reverting someone who is trying to remove libel about themselves is a horribly stupid thing to do." [4]

Anonymous edits that blank all or part of a biography of a living person should be evaluated carefully. When the individual involved is not especially notable, such edits usually are not vandalism but rather an effort by the subject of the article to remove biased or inaccurate material. "

Milly [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

R J Hawkins:
> > I think this whole idea of giving a veto right over one's own bio
> > in Wikipedia is unreasonable; either they're notable enough for a
> > bio or not, but their own opinion shouldn't govern it.
> Why not, exactly? If someone doesn't want to have
> anything to do with the wretched thing, why should their
> views be ignored?

The Wikipedia system isn't to ignore their views, only to not grant them a veto. "Why not" is no reason, when the world defaults to not granting people a veto over what is published *about* them. So why should they have a veto, exactly?

Milly [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Seth:
> Milly – The simplest solution is to let living people
> opt-out of Wikipedia bios. [...] The opt-out solution could
> be more refined, with guidelines as to "major" public
> figures who can't opt-out, but not subjecting everyone
> else to endless hassle.

Already it's less simple. I see the attraction of differing treatment for public figures, analogous to the reduced protection public figures have (in the US) against defamation and libel. But I think the rest of that analogy is instructive too: Wikipedia already affords *any* person protections and safeguards and remedies against defamatory and libellous bios (as does the law, er, probably sethf.com/infothought/blog/arc ... ;). Why should that be extended to a veto (for non-public figures) over *any* biographical information? Because of the potential for imperfect or costly (in time and hassle, mostly) remedies or preemption? Because of the spurious authority many will attribute? That would seem a disproportionate response, to me.

> [...] I keep saying this: Neither the New York Times, nor this
> blog, allows any random flamer to write dirt and then
> have it laundered to appear under the name of the
> organization. [...] That is your answer. [...]

It's an inexact comparison, certainly. But just as Wikipedia has the special (unique, probably) drawback you stress, so it has special remedies. If and when they work as designed and intended and readily available [ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedi ...], aren't they sufficient? Does the extent to which they don't work, justify a veto as an appropriate remedy? Does the potential harm justify the chill?

Sure, if you think Wikipedia isn't worth much, and/or you're on the wrong end of a failure of the remedies for addressing a bad bio, or are contemplating the potential for that, then your personal balance may well be for a veto.

But if we're balancing the 'public interest', then I don't think it does, not nearly. I don't yet understand why you do.

Dan Tobias [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

Somehow, I don't think all those arguments that Wikipedia is wrong to allow bios of people who don't want them because they might possibly be edited to contain libelous or defamatory stuff at some time in the future would ever work in court:

JUDGE: Please explain to the court exactly what there is in the Wikipedia article about you that is defamatory or libelous.

PLAINTIFF: Well, your honor, there isn't actually anything defamatory or libelous in my entry at the present time. However, because Wikipedia allows anybody to edit it anonymously, there is always the risk that there will be something harmful there in the future.

JUDGE: But, if I understand you clearly, there is not any such thing there now?

PLAINTIFF: That is correct.

JUDGE: Has there been anything of that nature about you on Wikipedia in the past?

PLAINTIFF: Well, at one point the entry on me called me a "poopy-head".

[court audience starts laughing]

BAILIFF: Order in the court! [audience quiets down]

JUDGE: That appears to be more of an opinion than a libelous statement; we don't go suing elementary-school children for their schoolyard taunts, do we? How long did that stay up on the Wikipedia entry, anyway?

PLAINTIFF: About two minutes, I believe. But that's not the point; the point is that worse things could be posted in the future, and they could get indexed by Google where everybody can see them.

JUDGE: Unless you can provide evidence of some actual libel or defamation, instead of hypothetical scenarios, I'm going to have to dismiss this case.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

the wiki war's with no middle ground :)-

Association of Inclusionist Wikipedians, with 207 members
meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Associ ...

Association of Deletionist Wikipedians, currently with 144 members
meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Associ ...

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp: "German BILD allows random staff members to throw dirt ..."
But only the staff members. NOT ANY TROLL IN THE WORLD!
I keep saying this: German BILD does not allow any random flamer to write dirt and then have it laundered to appear under the name of the organization. Why is this such a hard concept?

Milly: Because it's "cost-shifting". Exactly – "if we're balancing the 'public interest', then I don't think it does,". Because it's not YOU. It's very easy to tell someone else: Sure, *you* got smeared. Sure, *you* got libeled. But *me*, I'm fine, so I've decided Wikipedia is such a great thing that I'm willing to volunteer *you* to get libeled and smeared so that Wikipedia can better promote itself.

Dan: If you like knocking down strawmen, there really isn't much to discuss.

usatoday.com/news/opinion/edit ...

John Seigenthaler

This is a highly personal story about Internet character assassination. It could be your story.

I have no idea whose sick mind conceived the false, malicious "biography" that appeared under my name for 132 days on Wikipedia, the popular, online, free encyclopedia whose authors are unknown and virtually untraceable.

R J Hawkins [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

> The Wikipedia system isn't to ignore their views, only to not grant them a veto. "Why not" is no reason, when the world defaults to not granting people a veto over what is published *about* them. So why should they have a veto, exactly?

Common courtesy? A concept that seems alien to most Wiki members I've encountered.

> Why should that be extended to a veto (for non-public figures) over *any* biographical information?

See above: common courtesy. Also, those who don't want to be associated with such a flawed concept wouldn't want people thinking they'd allowed or encouraged anything about them to be posted on the site. And, why should anyone have to keep checking the damned thing every so often to make sure that nothing inappropriate or inaccurate has been posted about them?

You can't compare W*nkipedia with proper media, because in newspapers (for example) there is a chain of responsibility and accountability; that is what the editor (a real editor) does.

Milly [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Seth, I accept your 'cost-shifting' reasoning, though I don't think inequitable cost-shifting alone is reason enough to warrant removing its cause, on balance. The publishing world is unavoidably awash with such inequities, whether or not they are exactly comparable to Wikipedia's position.

And I accept that if I was the victim of a (persistent, resistant) Wikipedia bio libel, I might think differently (indeed I said as much). But as far as my imagination will take me, I think that would be because my objectivity and perspective had also been harmed, not because the scales had fallen from my eyes.

As for the public interest, your characterisation of that certainly isn't mine. I don't hold that Wikipedia is "such a great thing" that its promotion is of itself in the public interest. I do think it's often useful and valuable, to a lot of people, and freely available as a commons. And that the considerable public interest in not reducing its breadth and depth derives from those facts, not from any self-interest Wikipedia, or Wikipedians, or Wikimedians, may have.

A veto would preclude the publication of libel, for which other remedies (pretty good, though not as perfect) already exist. But it would also preclude the publication of accurate and impartial information, for which there would be no remedy. I don't think any individual, not even the subject, should hold that sway over a commons. I guess we'll have to agree to differ over that balance?

Milly [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

RJ, no encyclopedia (that I know of) extends that courtesy. If there were no other remedies for inaccurate, unsupported or libellous statements, then perhaps that courtesy would be appropriate. But there are such remedies, approximately commensurate with the extra freedom to contribute.

A veto to preclude people *mistaking* the subject's involvement, despite clear and ready evidence to the contrary, would surely be overkill.

No one has to keep checking it to make sure that nothing inappropriate or inaccurate has been posted about them. They may choose to, just as they may choose to keep checking Google to make sure nothing inappropriate or inaccurate has been indexed (and PageRanked upwards) about them. Google may have less perceived authority, but it has a much greater reach and audience. Do you rail against Google's unfairness and discourtesy too? Or accept it as a (largely beneficial) fact of modern life?

You can contrast Wikipedia with other media: it trades chain of responsibility and accountability for the freedom and checks of a commons. Both have their pros and cons.

R J Hawkins [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

> RJ, no encyclopedia (that I know of) extends that courtesy. If there were no other remedies for inaccurate, unsupported or libellous statements, then perhaps that courtesy would be appropriate. But there are such remedies, approximately commensurate with the extra freedom to contribute.

Proper encyclopaedias, prepared by professionals, don't need to; and most people would not object to being included in a proper encyclopaedia. I've tried the remedies, to no effect.

> A veto to preclude people *mistaking* the subject's involvement, despite clear and ready evidence to the contrary, would surely be overkill.

Why?

> No one has to keep checking it to make sure that nothing inappropriate or inaccurate has been posted about them.

They do, if they're concerned that such a thing might happen, as has happened to me in the past. Of course, they wouldn't have to do so if there were no W*nkpedia (my preferred option, see above).

> They may choose to, just as they may choose to keep checking Google to make sure nothing inappropriate or inaccurate has been indexed (and PageRanked upwards) about them. Google may have less perceived authority, but it has a much greater reach and audience. Do you rail against Google's unfairness and discourtesy too? Or accept it as a (largely beneficial) fact of modern life?

Google merely points people towards sites; it is not the site itself.

> You can contrast Wikipedia with other media: it trades chain of responsibility and accountability for the freedom and checks of a commons. Both have their pros and cons.

Yes; that's quite a contrast, as I'm sure you'll agree.

Dan Tobias [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

> Of course, they wouldn't have to do so if there were no W*nkpedia (my preferred option, see above).

It's always nice when the enemies who wish to destroy Wikipedia, rather than take constructive action to help improve it, are honest enough to reveal their true colors so they can be properly ignored or opposed by Wikipedians.

R J Hawkins [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

You can't improve it because the basic concept is flawed. I tried constructive action, and got flamed by some of the most pompous, self-important people I've ever come across, none of whom seem to have anything in their lives to do apart from tinker with W*nki and bicker with each other. What incentive is there for me to engage with the bloody thing in any other way?

Dan Tobias [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

Well, you apparently believe whatever you did on WIkipedia was constructive, while those over there who opposed you apparently thought otherwise. I have no way of judging it myself, since I have no idea what username you went under, so I can't look up the history myself.

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