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links for 2006-10-27

4 thoughts on “links for 2006-10-27”

  1. It’s really tragic what’s happened to Wikipedia. Power-crazed admins, whose main areas of knowledge include speaking Klingon, are in control. Jimbo Wales is responsible for this state of affairs, having never criticized an abusive admin in his life. Indeed, he appears to encourage them.

    The German Wikipedia has a much higher quality, largely due to the fact that there is no Jimbo:

    Jimbo is no Diderot.

  2. I’m saddened, shocked, upset to hear about the doings at Wikipedia. As an academic bystander, I’m not clued in on the inner workings, and have used Wikipedia primarily to find obscure scientific explanations outside of my field, such as ‘what is a quantum dot?’ When I’ve checked on entries in my field (biology), I’ve been amazed at the quality and breadth.

    But I suspect science isn’t where most of the heat is generated. And the situation sounds like what you get when it’s the beginning of the end in academic departments (and everywhere, probably). It would be a tragedy, a real tragedy, if such a magnificent resource for the whole planet was crushed by stupid power plays.

    I want to yell, “Somebody! DO something!”

    I wish I could contribute something more useful. The big problem in all organizations, once they get old enough to have entrenched power structures, seems to be honest feedback and how to make sure it is heeded. If I had an answer, I’d be in line for a Nobel Prize (if the entrenched power structures didn’t deprive me of it).

    Maybe one thing worth trying would be anonymity. If all the people surrounding Jim Wales and/or abusive admins had some way of making their voices heard without personal risk, it might be a start.

    Given what Wikipedia is, I would imagine there’s only the pressure of the community to make sure the more useless members reform or resign. Maybe an open source solution would work? Have a “moderate the admins” button at the top right of every Wikipedia page, and people who felt like it could read through the controversy and rate the admin. It wouldn’t work with a small sample size, but with thousands and millions of Wikipedia readers, I would imagine it would be hard for the “sockpuppets” to take over the process completely. (But who knows? Spammers are said to be way more than half of all email traffic, so with enough dishonesty anything must be possible.)

  3. I’m not sure that Wikipedia’s in crisis at present, but I linked these stories because I’ve started to worry about the strength of admins in the Wikipedia community. I’ve been doing a lot of work with NGOs, trying to get them to take Wikipedia seriously and to contribute to the articles on topics they’re knowledgeable about. I’ve discovered that it’s almost impossible for me to start a new article on Wikipedia without having an admin take it down, often within minutes, even if the article is on a topic Wikipedia doesn’t cover at all and should be covering. I’m trying to track some of these complaints and concerns in the hopes that if I join you, Quixote, in shouting “Do something!” I’m confident about who to shout at and about what…

  4. “Maybe an open source solution would work? Have a “moderate the admins” button at the top right of every Wikipedia page, and people who felt like it could read through the controversy and rate the admin.”

    Yes, this sort of thing is what’s missing. Right now, senior admins tend to overlook the wrongdoings of other senior admins.

    Have a look at this graph:

    The red line in this graph is what would happen if admins were actually accountable on Wikipedia. But this will never happen, as the reason why people become senior admins is that they agree with the status quo. It’s a self-perpetuating downward spiral.

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