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 firstname.lastname@example.org, set up a Skype session, or catch me on Wikipediocracy.