Why Wikipediocracy?

I’m the partner of Lila Tretikov, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. This isn’t how I’d prefer to kick off any post- much less a major reboot of my blog- but it seems to be the most relevant thing about me to most Wikipedians. If you’re wondering what I mean by “partner”, it’s simple: we’re not legally married in the State of California. We have a family, a house, and a life together, so it’s a bit more than a boyfriend thing. BTW, my name is Wil.

While we’re doing introductions, we might as well say hello to the elephant in the room. A lot of people are upset that I’ve been posting on Wikipediocracy. And I can see why. Visting Wikipediocracy is kinda like walking in to a Wild West saloon. There are some outlaws that have been banned or indef blocked from various projects sitting at the bar. Whether they’ve been served justice or not, they can’t go back to their former lives in more “civilized” parts. They’re talking shit about the people they don’t take a liking to or have some unsettled business with, and a bigger group of settlers- about twice the number of outlaws, to be precise- who have headed out West because they like the freedom of the open plains. They’re listening and putting in a few words of their own. Some of those settlers have even taken another name to get a fresh start in the new territories full of opportunity. There are a couple of idiots sitting at a table in the corner gambling with their eyebrows. Sometimes it gets so rowdy, the bartender/moderator speaks up and says “now I don’t want no trouble.” I hear that occasionally people have been kicked through those shutter-like doors to the curb of the dusty road. It occurs to us that we’ve always wondered what is up with those shutter doors. Why bother putting them up in the first place if they aren’t going to keep anything in or out? Is it just for the dramatic effect of a small creaky noise? It then occurs to us that this analogy has already gotten old, so we stop now.

Now back to what all of you seem to care about. Why am I participating on Wikipediocracy and WTF was I thinking when I started there before Wikipedia itself? Am I a total asshole or something? The answer is yes. I am something. Something complex like all people, and, like all people, worth learning more about.

So, (That’s right, I’m from the SV. And I represent!) technically speaking, I have. 7 years ago. But that’s a total cop out. I didn’t really engage in any meaningful way back then, and my edits would be considered blatant COI’s now. And there’s no denying it: I got back in the game because of Lila’s appointment. This time around, there were some very good reasons for me to get involved with another site about Wikipedia out of the gate, however, and stay involved. Here are a few of them, ordered by how much I give a damn.

#1: The peeps at Wikipediocracy helped me with a personal matter that is nearest and dearest to my heart. I won’t get in to specifics here, because it’s about as personal as it gets. Suffice it to say, I had to drop everything for a few days to take care of it, and I have a debt of gratitude to those Wikipediocrats who cared enough to help me and my family.

#2: I believe everyone deserves to be heard. And I will seek out opinions wherever they are voiced, because I think it’s obvious that we don’t all feel comfortable saying everything in every forum. I’ve heard from many Wikipedians who are scared shitless to voice dissent on the wikimedia-l list, as just one example.

#3: I want to establish my own identity in the community from the get go. Lila typically seeks the mainstream opinion first and works within it to affect change, and I seek the voices that are having a harder time getting heard to make them louder; it’s one of the many things that makes us very different people. Get used to it, because that’s not about to change.

#4: I figure this will probably be passed around to discredit me in various forums, so allow me to package it up in a convenient, concise, and completely damning quote for those that might find it useful: “I just plain like the people on Wikipediocracy. I already consider some of them friends.” Now for the stuff that probably won’t be quoted- I’ll go a bit more freeform here. I don’t like everything that is said there, to be sure. And just because I frequent a site doesn’t mean I agree with everything that everyone posts on it- Wikipedia included. In fact, I think that almost all of the personal stuff on Wikipediocracy is bullshit, and I don’t take heed- even if I waste a couple seconds of my time accidentally reading it. But when these folks get constructive, I think they are on-point and very eloquent. They provide ample evidence in the form of links- mostly on-wiki- which I personally appreciate, as I look for secondary sources before believing anything. Moreover, they are all interesting and funny people. I’ve had some good times there. Sorry. . . we’re back in to the guilt-by-association gold. Allow me to make that a little more quotable: “I’ve had some good times on Wikipediocracy, the go-to site for criticizing Wikipedia.” Here’s another quote for you: “I- that is, Wil Sinclair- had a less-than-fun experience on wikimedia-l.”

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot more involved on-wiki. I’ve taken some very good advice from some very good people and found forums full of those contributors who are, like me, not big fans of politics. Rather, they’re heads-down making Wikipedia better day-by-day and edit-by-edit. I’ve been having some fascinating conversations with other contributors about how we can all work together on the bigger issues. I’m really happy I’ve found the fun part of Wikipedia, and hopefully people have started to forget that I’m anything other than myself: a total n00b. Come visit me on my talk page. Or, if you’d like to talk to me in a different setting, you can mail me at wllm@wllm.com, set up a Skype session, or catch me on Wikipediocracy.

59 thoughts on “Why Wikipediocracy?

  1. Tim Davenport /// Carrite /// Randy from Boise says:

    Nice post, Wil. Your analogy of WPO as a Wild West bar populated both by “outlaws” and “settlers” is pretty hilarious and not far off the mark. Of course, taking your analogy further, all the “righteous church-going folks” at the city council meeting on Monday and gossiping at the sewing circle on Wednesday and gossiping over dinner in the fine hotel restaurant on Friday night and gossiping after church on Sunday are gonna reckon that you, like all the other “settlers” are yourself an “outlaw” for frequenting such a place as that particular saloon. And you might as well get a WPO tattoo, because you’re gonna wear that reputation with those people forever…

    Still, really on point about the strengths and benefits of WPO and don’t take the shit-talking some of them are doing about you in your absence at all seriously. It’s part of the hazing process, I went through it myself both there and at the predecessor site, Wikipedia Review — which was a REALLY rough bar! They will judge you on your deeds in the end. And a couple of them will never like you either, or getting along will them will be a work in progress that will take a long time. As with all human relationships.

    Good luck editing at WP and don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you want a “backstage tour” of WP’s various intricacies or if you have a question about either the technical editing process or the political culture there.

    tim

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    • wllm says:

      tim, your church analogy really got me thinking. It’s a surprisingly accurate description of Wikipedia. First, you have the lofty goals that motivates true believers to do good works for their fellow (wo)man. They dutifully go to church every Sunday and practice what is preached throughout the week. Of course, when the collection plate is passed around, they throw in a few coins. They are generally quiet, content, and uninterested in conflict. Then you have those who want to organize to do even greater works. They might go out and get donations to help destitute members of the church, for example. Once those organizations are set up, some might see them as political opportunities to wield power over the rest of the congregation, and they might decide that some people shouldn’t be invited to the bake sale. And, as you mentioned, there are always those who go to church to assume the superficial trappings of righteousness, which might be used to assert dominance in social situations both inside and outside the chapel.

      The thing that I love most about this expanding analogy is that in every Old West town, the saloon and the church were part of the *same community*.

      Do you mind if I borrow your analogy for the next post: “Why Wikipedia?”

      ,Wil

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      • Tim Davenport /// Carrite /// Randy from Boise says:

        Take it wherever you want to go with it.

        I’d say this though: you’ve got a certain circle that go to the official church, believe the official things, and who sanctimoniously gossip about the perceived deeds ad misdeeds of others throughout the week. And you’ve also got another, bigger, group of people who believe what they want to believe, living their lives as they see fit and caring not a whit about either official church religion or the mutterings of grumpy drunks in the town saloon…

        It’s harder to see the earnest independent folks because they don’t congregate for group smugness festivals or raise a lot of hubbub in bars…

        t

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        • wllm says:

          That’s exactly it. Of course I’d like to know about both of these places as they are part of the community, but most curious about what the rest of the town looks like. Please, if you’re one of these townspeople, tell me about your world.

          ,Wil

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          • Tim Davenport /// Carrite /// Randy from Boise says:

            You’ll have to find them, they’re not going to be here — only the churchgoers and the saloon seatwarmers will make the trip. Find some well written articles and check out the edit histories to learn the names.

            t

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    • TungstenCarbide says:

      “might as well get a WPO tattoo”

      No, wwlm, don’t get a tattoo.

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      • wllm says:

        So now we’re going OT with tattoos on my own blog?! 😀

        But you’re too late. I already have a tattoo. And it is the dumbest tattoo that has ever disgraced human skin. Think about the stupidest tattoo you can imagine. You’re not even halfway there yet.

        ,Wil

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        • Abd says:

          Wllm, you are brilliant. Pleased to meet you.
          You have nailed it, above. Yes, you are meeting the full community, that is, the full spectrum, not just the smug, self-congratulatory, outsider-hating scum who dumped on you on Wikipedia-l, or the other immiscible scum, the rejected slimebags, POV-pushing trolls, who sometimes hang out on WPO, and you will meet, if you take the time as advised, the actual core that creates Wikipedia, quietly. However, I’m not so laudatory of that core. It’s responsible for the domination of the scum, it tolerates and allows it, and sits quietly by while the few abusers pick off and convert their victims, and especially those who notice and speak out against abuse, into more rejected scum. It’s easy to blame the scum for what the full cesspool creates. That’s backwards. We are responsible for what we allow.

          We are the problem, until we aren’t.

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          • wllm says:

            Wise words, to say the least.

            I’d like to think that this core, whose members I’ll refer to as the “townspeople” in my next post, aren’t getting involved because they are too busy writing an encyclopedia. I’m going to start looking for these people to see what they are up to. But I challenge you to walk the walk, Abd. How bout you look for them, too. In fact, I challenge everyone who is reading this blog, no matter were you find yourself in our small-town Wikipedia community. If you are reading this, you are most likely not the average townsperson. Step out of the saloon. Open the doors of the church. Put down your gavel and see what’s outside the courthouse. Stop a stranger walking down the rough-cut wooden sidewalk to shake their hand. See if, when we take the time to ask them, they have something to say.

            ,Wil

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            • Abd says:

              Okay, good basic advice, but preaching to the choir. I don’t live in the saloon or the church. I’ve been banned from the church, as I was previously from a mosque (Okay, “we can’t keep you from coming, but *you are not allowed to talk to anyone.*”) and I sometimes avoid real life by holding forth in the saloon, but I don’t drink, so I’m an outsider there, too. Two years ago, in training, realizing that my life had become constricted, I spent six months walking about downtown (I live in the greatest small town in North America, certifiable) listening and talking with everyone who would talk, now, downtown, I always see several people I know, smiling faces, happy to see me. A few of them are homeless, most aren’t. Amazing people. But most people, walking about downtown, avert eyes, even in this very friendly town. After all, maybe someone who wants to talk is crazy, and isn’t that a communicable disease?

              My strongest community is in Boston and Connecticut; I can go to events there and will know, by sight and often by name, and be known by, the better part of hundred people, from all walks of life. Right now, though, I’m nailed to the ground in my town, my 12-year-old daughter came to live with me, and she dislikes being alone, she’s being walked through that stage. (For about two months she was disabled, in a great deal of pain, she couldn’t use crutches or a walker, so I was carrying her a lot, but we found the magic key, and she is now fully returned to physical function, back on track, a miracle (though perfectly explainable, look up Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) and she now bicycles downtown by herself, sometimes more than once a day. So I was home a lot, hence more time on Wikiversity and the meta wiki and WPO.

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  2. Just another wikipedian says:

    Hi Wil, could the fact you admit you are an asshole, seek out fringe elements and subscribe to their views, and simply don’t know when to be quiet, explain why you are unemployed?

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    • wllm says:

      Maybe. But I haven’t been looking for a job. I have to start looking soon, so I’ll get back to you on that one.

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      • Just another Wikipedian says:

        Why look for a job? You have a woman earning $200,000 a year you can sponge off. For how much longer, who knows — if she had any sense she would have kicked your ass to the curb long ago.

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        • wllm says:

          Well, that’s really getting farther in to my private life than either my partner or I care to go. Maybe you’re a close friend of ours, but I personally avoid expressing an opinion on anything as complex as a human relationship without knowing a lot about each end of that relationship and the relationship itself. It sounds like you have a different modus operandi on these matters.

          Best.
          ,Wil

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        • wllm says:

          Something occurred to me. Are you from WO or have some other reason to make Wikipedia look bad? Be honest. Because if that’s the case, you’ve seriously overacted the role.

          First off, there’s practically nothing more mean-spirited that could be said to demonstrate to everyone that people who don’t like me, what I’m saying, or what I’m doing are not acting in good faith. In fact, many, if not most, of them are.

          But the dead giveaway is the signature. “Just another Wikipedian”? Only some one who wants to imply that everyone believes what you’ve said would sign it this way. And, given what you’ve said, there is far more to gain for a “anti-Wikipedian” than a “Wikipedian.” Could this really have been written by a Wikipedian? Yes, but s/he would have to be very unintelligent to do so. Could it have been written by an anti-Wikipedian? Yes, because they would have to be intelligent- just a hair not intelligent enough to pull it off- to do so. Because, in my experience so far, everyone who would describe themselves as one or the other has been intelligent, I find it much more likely that it’s the latter case.

          C’mon. I caught you. Step out of the shadows. 🙂

          Edit: I just took another look at the writing style and thought about the fact that this person sought out off-wiki information or already knew that I was not working. I think I know exactly who wrote this. I’m not going to say, because it may not be her/him. But I know they are listening, and if I’m right they know for sure I’d be throwing out their name. So, in case I’m right I have this to say:

          Nice try, but I really thought you were smarter than this. Gotta try harder next time, I guess. 😉 Here’s a hint: people who are dumb enough to leave a note like this aren’t usually good at grammar and/or spelling and/or original research.

          ,Wil

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          • Captain Obvious says:

            Wllm, given the recent revelations of discussions about your relationship at Wikiconference USA and some of the recent mailing list messages from well-known and well-connected Wikipedians, I think you may wish to reconsider your theory about those comments.

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            • wllm says:

              FWIW, I don’t watch the mailing list; it didn’t seem very useful when I did. And I’m the one who revealed those those discussions. I know that there are some Wikipedians who would say such things, and it’s possible that some might be thick enough to say it on my blog and sign it “Just another Wikipedian”. My speculation has far more to do with writing style, the focus on money, and the fact that the comment was based on information that was publicly available but required a little digging up either now or sometime in the past. I happen to have seen many comments that fit this pattern from one person. I could be wrong. It would be interesting if someone verifiably stepped up to claim it, but that seems improbable.

              ,Wil

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              • Captain Obvious says:

                If they are “thick” enough to have those conversations at Wikiconference USA and they are “thick” enough to talk about your relationship on public mailing lists, then they are “thick” enough to post similar comments here identifying themselves as Wikipedians. But you are free to believe that someone is trying to make WIkipedia look bad by making comments very similar to those made by known Wikipedians on public mailing lists. What’s the name of that guy with the razor?

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              • Abd says:

                His name was William of Obvious, or possibly Captain Occam, who is currently indeffed on Wikipedia. Occam’s razor is double-edged, and can be difficult to properly use, because we mistake being able to label something with a single word for “simple.”

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  3. wllm says:

    You’re extension of the analogy is more hilarious. I was wondering what Wikipedia would be in this whole story. Maybe some of us could take a page from “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” and write (wiki-style, of course) “The Church and the Saloon” about Wikipedia.

    Everyone’s shit-talking about me. 😦

    JK. I figured I’d get it when I said I was outie. I’m looking forward to a serious tongue lashing when I come back. Some of the put-downs are truly masterpieces of hysterically funny disdain. Vigilant, in particular, puts the Freude in Schadenfreude.

    Like

    • Tim Davenport /// Carrite /// Randy from Boise says:

      I thought Vigilant hated me for a long time. I finally figured out that he just doesn’t like me very much!

      t

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  4. Abd says:

    You can expect, with what you are doing, to get a lot of comments from anonymous cowards, small-minded and vicious. Good luck on the job search, if it matters to you. Indeed, good luck with everything that matters to you.

    Like

  5. Zoloft says:

    *wipes down the bar with a disreputable rag*
    We’ll have a new drink in your honor for whens ya come back, sor. She’ll be called ‘A Shot in the Back at WP.’

    Like

  6. […] could consider this post a sequel of sorts to my first. I’m quickly moving along to the next big question that more and more people are asking me: Why […]

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  7. Edward Trunk says:

    You are missed at WO.

    Like

    • wllm says:

      Thanks for the note, Edward. I miss WO, too. It’s a fun place to hang out.

      Not sure if you heard my explanation on my talk page. Besides the fact that the points I’m trying to make in the community, including WP and WO, would be fundamentally undermined by the idea that the WO community might be able to manipulate me, the idea that I might be manipulated by anyone is one that I find particularly odious. So, I see only one way that will absolutely guarantee that I’m not being manipulated, and that is doing things that are random enough that even I’m surprised by them. 🙂

      I’ll be back soon enough. In the meantime, it’s left me enough time to set up this blog, which I hope will provide a bit of a neutral area for WP’ers and WO’ers to talk about how we can all do our part to bring this silly WikiWar to an end. That is, until we have something better.

      Best.
      ,Wil

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  8. Edward Trunk says:

    Re Church. Larry Sanger and I corresponded a while back – I mention it here http://wikipediocracy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=19518#p19518, and Larry commented here http://wikipediocracy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=21969#p21969, on the subject of the sanctimonious. “Feigned piety or righteousness; hypocritical devoutness or high-mindedness”

    Like

    • wllm says:

      Hey edward, I think I may have accidentally unapproved this comment. I’m still getting used to the interface here. :/

      Anyways, I’m thinking there is a short book here a la “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” (popular in open source programmer circles), only focussing on social phenomena around building a massive free content database instead of open source software. Imagine the sub-stories that could be told! Not just the controversies, but stories of almost superhuman devotion. What books are out there already, and how current are they?

      If this is an idea that could be rallied around, I suggest it’s done on a wiki. Maybe meta or a completely neutral domain. We could even get all meta ourselves and dedicate the last chapter to building the book itself. Of course, this would be a factual book that looks at all sides of a story, and, I’ll admit, I’d like to see something like this start clearing the air on old issues, since some grudges seem to go *way* back and were never resolved. Off the top of the dome, such a wikibook would be the best way to put these conflicts in the bigger picture, where they are likely to seem much less significant. As it is built on a wiki, it would always be current; we could just provide global diffs if someone has already read it but wants to catch up. Is there such a book already? If not, is anyone interested in contributing to something like that?

      ,Wil

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      • John Lilburne says:

        Eric Raymond said this of wikipedia: that it was a disaster, “infested with moonbats”, “The more you look at what some of the Wikipedia contributors have done, the better Britannica looks”, and believes that the open-source model doesn’t work for an encyclopedia, as there is no object objective standard.
        http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/07/31/060731fa_fact

        All of which is the primary criticisms on WO.

        As for the religious analogies: “Give me the child for seven years, and I will give you the man.” You spent 7 days on WO and cultists always think that the Devil can do the job much quicker. In order to see the cultists ‘truth’ you need years of study. which you are being told to do here and on your talk page.The Devil on the other hand only has to pull back the curtain.

        In the bazaar of ideas, like in all bazaars, the cheap commodity is almost always a contrick, where you are encouraged into the back of the shop away, into the bosom of the merchants family and employees, to examine the product in a dim light.

        Like

  9. Neotarf says:

    Hi, wllm. I see you have been getting your feet wet in various places in the Wiki-sphere. BWT, I consider a healthy grapevine to be a necessary component of job effectiveness — so your comments at The Other SIte are doubly interesting as an example of what permutations this can take in the virtual world. Unlike some of us, you still seem to be genuinely enjoying your participation in the whole Wikipedia thing. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    I have been waiting for someone else to ask these questions, just in case the answers turn out to be really obvious, but so far no one has. 1) If your name is “Wil”, why is the sig “wllm”? 2) Why is there a comma before your sig and a period after the closing salutation?–your English syntax and punctuation otherwise seem pretty standard. 3) What is an SV, as in “I’m from the SV”?

    Cheers.

    Like

  10. wllm says:

    Great questions! They’re all significant. They’re also evidence that everything I do online is usually pretty well thought through- tho it’s not always apparent- in case anyone wants to get to know me better. 😉

    1) My first name is William. When I got the domain name, I think the longest domain one could register was 4 characters. I wanted something as short as possible, so I just removed the vowels from my first name. It also makes it relatively easy to explain over the phone. When I write it a certain way- the name of this blog would be an example if the capital l’s were replaced with lower case l’s that are either straight lines or mirror symmetrical, the whole logo can be 180 degrees rotationally symmetrical. You’ll also see “wllm” if you look carefully in the logo that I’m currently using- the one that looks like a blip on a soundwave. I use this all over the place. You can also msg me questions @wllm on twittr. 😉 I’m *really* in to design.

    BTW, I used it on this blog to represent the tragic path of some of the most valuable Wikipedians. It starts with the logo for Wikipedia, gets disillusioned somewhere in the “L”s, and ends with the logo for Wikipediocracy. 😦

    2) That’s the logical reverse of how someone would use a comma to address a communication with me. They might say “Wil,” to start their msg to me, so I basically end mine with “,Wil” to reverse the meaning and end my own msgs. I’m also *really* in to little logic games.

    3) SV simply means Silicon Valley. The term “Silicon Valley” is more about a cluster of technology hotspots in the Bay Area. This was the case almost out of the gate, when most people included Palo Alto in that pseudo-geographical area. It’s common in the media nowadays to include San Francisco, Marin, and the East Bay in that mix. I have lived in Silicon Valley for about 20 years.

    ,Wil

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    • Neotarf says:

      Eh, I didn’t notice the wllm in the sine wave, that is nice.

      Not so sure though about the progression of editors from WP to Wikipediocracy. It doesn’t make sense that those who come to the project as volunteers would have the same kind of motivations as those creating multiple fake accounts in order to write content for pay. Although the paid editing issue is I’m sure more complex than that.

      Like

      • wllm says:

        Are you originally from Canada, by chance? 😉

        Anyways, the sort of person you’re describing would make up a very small percentage of the people active at Wikipediocracy. In fact, going through the comments here, almost everyone- and I suspect all of them ;)- are active there. And every one of these people has a completely different background from the other; I would hardly be surprised if their motivations were different, as well. For example, tim here is active on WO, and he is a *very* active contributor at WP: https://tools.wmflabs.org/supercount/index.php?user=Carrite&project=en.wikipedia. Looking through his top page edits, he also seems like he might also be a very active Socialist. 😀

        One of the things that may attract such different people to Wikipediocracy is something that might make most Wikipedians do a double take: its tolerance. Sure, people pull no punches there. The language and imagery can be. . . colorful. A lot of talking shit and a certain echo chamber effect makes it seem like an unwelcoming place that isn’t about to let someone who disagrees with the majority there speak their mind. But they do let you (possibly because there is no majority as such there). And then half of them will throw your comments back in your face, or compare you to someone or something that most people there dislike, and/or just tell you you’re an idiot.

        But for as long as I’ve been there, they have *never* asked me to shut up. Once you get past what I might call hazing – except it never seems to end; I just got used to it after a while 😀 – you start hearing some *very* intelligent people talking *very* candidly about *very* big problems facing Wikipedia. Even the snarkiest of them will get super-constructive if you bother to ask them what they think might make a dent in the issues they care about. Then there’s the fun-factor. These people can laugh at themselves, and after I learned to ignore all the personal shit about others (I find the personal shit about me funniest, actually), some of these people are just fucking hilarious. Finally, there’s what matters to me most: the being aware that they are not perfect and are willing to step up to admit when they’ve been wrong. I’ve seen this happen multiple times there already. Sincerely apologies. People being won over by sound arguments. People changing their behavior for the better. There is a certain self-healing aspect- or at least a potential self-healing aspect- in that community. Maybe that happens on-wiki, too, but I certainly didn’t see any examples of that in my brief, but intense experience on wikimedia-l.

        Another thing people don’t realize is how many prominent Wikipedians lurk there. I know, because I hear from them privately. Just look at the number of guest at any given time at the bottom of the page. The most common refrain I’ve heard from them is that they don’t want to openly participate for fear of retribution on-wiki. And who could blame them? Just look at what happened to 28bytes/Mason!

        I’m not suggesting you or anyone else get involved there. And I *most definitely* do not endorse everything that is said there. I just wanted to give you my experiences with the people there to contrast with your more specific characterization. But, as always, YMMV.

        Thanks for dropping by again!
        ,Wil

        Like

        • Neotarf says:

          Um, the edit count you linked to was for you, not for Tim/Carrite/Randy from Boise. I suspect Randy is mostly interested in the Peloponnesian War. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Randy_in_Boise

          I would be the last person to claim that Wikipediocracy is without any value, But it does have a reputation for flaming people. Royals like yourself and the arbs who have commented there may be approached with a measure of cynicism, and an expectation of accountability, but are not subjected to the kind of hostile, personalized comments reserved for mere content creators like myself. I find it both more caustic than Wikipedia, and easier to dismiss.

          It is impossible to know how many of the participants are part of Kohs’ group of paid writers, but Kohs.himself makes no secret of creating several undeclared alternative accounts every month and of editing Wikipedia for clients for pay, all without making the conflict-of-interest declarations required by policy. Off the top of my head, I can name 5 or 6 other participants who are known to have non-policy-compliant accounts, including Morning277.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Long-term_abuse/Morning277 https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/11/19/wikimedia-foundation-sends-cease-and-desist-letter-to-wikipr/

          I would be the first to admit I don’t understand all the nuances of the paid editing issue, but it’s clear enough that this is a threat to the basic integrity of Wikipedia. Imagine if Consumer Reports accepted advertising–it would be destroyed. I may make a few measured comments over there, for my own reasons–and there are probably those who would see me as less neutral as a result–but for now at least, my disillusionment with Wikipedia does not extend to drinking the Wikipediocracy Koolaid or carrying out their agenda for them.

          What “happened to” 28bytes? Look again at how that actually went down. Who knows what might have happened if 28bytes had gone forward and tried to claim a seat on ArbCom. It would have made for some popcorn at the very least. But instead he stepped down voluntarily and resigned his bit, then easily got it back again, in the process probably gaining even more respect than he had in the beginning.

          Like

          • wllm says:

            Of course you were right about the link. It’s fixed now. Check out the monthly stats. McCarthy would have had a field day with you, tim. 😀 Let me be perfectly serious in this next comment, however: tim is a huge asset, and he’s the lifeblood that the project can’t afford to lose.

            I would hardly be surprised if you’re also a big-time contributor and easily qualify as lifeblood; you obviously care about the project. I agree with you 100% on your overall characterization of Wikipediocracy. I admit I don’t know what it is like to approach that site without the context of my private life, although I have seen many new users heartily welcomed on many threads. Have you had a bad experience there? Do you know anyone who has? Could you send some links my way? I would very much like to show the participants there exactly what makes so many write them off. Any help on this is greatly appreciated.

            We’re getting in to Greg Kohs’ actions and paid editing, which are certainly issues worth talking about. Let me completely clear about this once again: *I do not agree with everything Greg says or does*. I want to hear what he has to say, as is the case for what everyone else in the community has to say. But if we’re talking about Wikipediocracy as a community, my perception is that this particular issue doesn’t touch most of the people there. Many of them simply feel more comfortable expressing their concerns there instead of on-wiki.

            What do you mean by “drinking the Wikipediocracy Koolaid or carrying out their agenda for them”?

            As for 28bytes, my point is that his participation on Wikipediocracy was an issue on-wiki, despite his support or qualifications. If it worked out well for him in the end, then of course I wish him well and hope he can participate wherever he wants openly.

            Again, sorry this went to moderation. That link limit was news to me. Thanks, as always, for the note. Keep ’em coming!

            Best!
            ,Wil

            Like

        • Neotarf says:

          What, your blog has put me “in moderation”???!? Oh, and I’m American.

          Like

          • wllm says:

            My apologies. I don’t know why it did that for your last comment. I’ll look in to it and get back to you here when I fix it.

            I was going by the “Eh, “, but now I remember that Canadians put that at the end of sentences. 🙂

            ,Wil

            Like

          • wllm says:

            It looks like that post was sent to the moderation queue because it had more than 2 links. I guess this setting is about avoiding link spamming. My apologies. I jacked it up so that anyone who are just using links in good faith like you shouldn’t have a problem.

            Sorry.
            ,Wil

            Like

            • Neotarf says:

              Thanks for digging me out of the dungeon. I figured there was a two-link limit, that’s usually the default, but decided I would rather risk trying to put all my links in and then try to get my comment out.

              The issue with 28bytes was not his participation in Wikipediocracy, it was that it wasn’t revealed during the election. He did reveal it voluntarily after the election, otherwise no one would have known, at least, no one at WP.

              Wikipedia is not a social networking site (in theory at least) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:What_Wikipedia_is_not#Wikipedia_is_not_a_blog.2C_Web_hosting_service.2C_social_networking_service.2C_or_memorial_site but in many ways, Wikipediocracy is. It probably works to WP’s detriment that there is no apparent social order for newcomers to hook into.

              Like

              • Tim Davenport /// Carrite /// Randy from Boise says:

                28bytes (WP)/Mason (WPO) was the top vote-getter in the last ArbCom election and had access to the inner sanctum of WPO, where internal discussions happen. The accounts were not linked, the connection was secret, and when “Mason” discovered that “28bytes” was to be the subject of a blog post relating to undeclared COI editing, the jig was up for him.

                The WPO inner circle felt he was being duplicitous for not making the connection between the account clear to them.

                Even though he was demonstrably the most “friendly” towards WPO during the campaign (i.e. this was rewarded by the voters, not punished), one or two of the more extreme members of the cabal went off on him on Wiki, demanding his resignation. 28bytes couldn’t take the heat and got out of the kitchen, resigning the post to which he had been elected.

                The cabal, in essence, felt he had been duplicitous for not declaring his connection to the inner circle of WPO so they could have sank him in the election like they sank Elen of the Roads (now retired), a year earlier.

                Morals of the story: (1) Transparency is good; (2) The cabal never forgives and never forgets; (3) There is a sort of mirror logic and symbiosis between the “hardliners” at WPO and the “hardliners” at WP.

                tim

                Like

              • Neotarf says:

                Ah yes, he edited his own video game article. I had forgotten about Duck Attack. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_Attack His disclosure at AN must have short-circuited the planned WPO piece. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators%27_noticeboard/Archive258#Conflict_of_interest_disclosure

                Like

              • Neotarf says:

                EOTR was not necessarily sunk by WPO, there were other currents at work there as well. Risker would have seen the same if she had run again. Both were seen in some quarters as block-happy.

                Like

              • wllm says:

                I find it interesting that both Wikipediocracy and Wikipedia would think it’s a problem that 28bytes didn’t disclose his alter-ego of Mason. Or, rather, I find it interesting that anyone really cared. The “us” vs. “them” mentality seems to have pervaded both sub-communities.

                So, my question is, who was 28bytes- if that is his real name- working for? Was he a double agent? Triple agent, maybe? Who do we have to waterboard around here to find out?

                ,Wil

                Like

              • John Lilburne says:

                Your question is misplaced. 28bytes/Mason is/was his own person. WO’s concern was whether, once the identity had been made, to keep it secret or not. No one at WO thought that 28bytes/Mason was a WP spy, nor did anyone want him to be a WO spy either.

                Like

              • wllm says:

                You have a great point about the complete newbie experience at WO vs. WP. Of course, I came in to both completely disclosing relevant details of my personal life. No doubt I got special treatment on both sides. But WO was definitely easier to plug in to.

                One factor was the direct human interaction, which can definitely cut both ways if you’re showing up there with a back story like mine. But the more significant factor for me was the interface on that interaction. The best thing about wikis is that they can be used for almost anything. The worst thing about wikis is that they do 99% of the things mentioned above like a turd on steroids. Threaded discussions are just one- albeit critical for early user retention, IMO- thing that wikis suck at. One could certainly build a reasonable threaded discussion user interface on top of a wiki, but for now users come to WP being encouraged to use software for what it was never designed to do using syntax that was never designed for the average human who has better things to do than sit in their parents’ basement learning wikitext. I think your parenthetical comment gets to the heart of this matter. Wikipedia is not a social networking site, yet obviously tons of people network socially on it. Just in a *really* awkward and archaic way. It seems like the software is in complete denial of what its users actually want to do.

                As for social order, it’s not that much different on either site from what I’ve seen. Basically, you get a warm welcome that encourages you to participate, and if you end up “participating wrong,” or saying something that the established oligarchs don’t approve of, you suddenly get shouted down. As far as I can tell, this is because of the polemic environment that has developed in the community and is hardly exclusive to on-wiki interaction. There doesn’t seem to be a disagreement that can’t be framed as an “us” versus “them” conflict. In the case of WP, it is especially jarring for a new user. A lot of well intentioned people on WP seem to believe that they can just ignore problems away. So a new user hears all about this utopian world where all editors work alongside each another in exclusively good faith to build an online encyclopedia. After this huge buildup, the let down is almost always fatal when it comes to further participation. WO, on the other hand, doesn’t have such pretenses. On the other hand, it exists as a reaction to the world’s online encyclopedia and not the encyclopedia itself; they can afford to wear their pettiness on their sleeves. And everyone knows how some of them prance around like court dandies in their finely embroidered overcoats of pure snark. Let’s face it- there’s plenty to find off-putting on every side.

                I don’t know how to solve these problems. But I do know that we have absolutely no chance of making headway if we don’t acknowledge problems in the first place. And that goes for both WP and WO. I’m waiting to see which one will step up to take the higher road first.

                ,Wil

                Like

              • Abd says:

                Wllm, you wrote: “I don’t know how to solve these problems. But I do know that we have absolutely no chance of making headway if we don’t acknowledge problems in the first place. And that goes for both WP and WO. I’m waiting to see which one will step up to take the higher road first.”

                It is hazardous to compare WP and WO. The WP community, as you know, is far larger. WO is a subset, preferentially populated by those who found WP problematic, it is explicitly a critical site. However, both are self-selected (and then community-selected) from the same larger population. WO has developed no structures to deliberatively and actually represent the entire community, just as WP has failed to do this as well. However, WO is explicitly and actually more inclusive. It’s difficult to get oneself banned from WO. One may be highly critical of the WO ruling clique without being banned; this is very different from WP. On both sites one may be “shouted down,” but only on Wikipedia is it common for critical voices to actually be excluded.

                Nevertheless, if you are looking for acknowledgment of problems, you will find this readily on WO, much more readily than on WP, but you will need to filter the material, because WO does not do that filtering for you. As to the “higher road,” that’s up to you. WO is in some senses taking the “higher road,” i.e., the more inclusive road, but if you are looking for neutral academic discourse, objective assessment of problems free from snark, etc., that’s not WO, as a whole. There are individuals on WO who generally do this.

                Like

              • wllm says:

                I think you said it perfectly in one sentence: “As to the ‘higher road,’ that’s up to you.” That’s exactly right. Each one of us individually must choose which road they follow. If enough people on one site or the other choose the higher road, then they are going to immediate influence the nature of discourse there and eventually the nature of the site itself.

                I’m no longer interested in WO vs. WP, because I see no conflict or useful comparison there. I just see a lot of bad blood and misunderstandings that will take a lot of time to work through. And, to be honest, not everyone is going to choose to participate in bridging this divide. Hopefully enough will so that we can get great editors back on the job, which is what they came to Wikipedia for in the first place.

                Like

  11. Tim Davenport /// Carrite /// Randy from Boise says:

    Most contributors to Wikipedia are never “Wikipedians” and most Wikipedians never become overt WP critics or are banned off to Wikipediocracy. Similarly, of the minority of WP contributors who become “Wikipedians” — or “power users” in the very insulting language in vogue in San Francisco — very few give a rip about anything outside of their specialized area of interest, be it Beany Babies or Baseball or Bridges or Baltimore.

    Still, the WLLM graphic is clever.

    Like

    • Tim Davenport /// Carrite /// Randy from Boise says:

      By “never become Wikipedians,” I mean that they never become significant repeat contributors to the site. They maybe will write one article about their job or a local landmark and then leave and never come back. (Your own COI initial editing is very typical, I think…)

      Like

  12. The Red Herring says:

    It’s good to see you’ve restarted your blog. Good luck to you, and to Ms Tretikov. The next few months should be interesting. BTW, Tim and I finally agree on something: the logo is clever. 🙂

    Like

  13. Homepage says:

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    Like

  14. […] fuck this analogy; it was already getting old halfway through the first post. The spoiler: I’m not posting to Wikipediocracy anymore. My username has been retired. […]

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