Tag Archives: Wikipedia

Has Wikipedia Been Running with the Wrong Crowd?

In response to my last post, Captain Obvious came swooping in to point out what had been hiding in plain sight. While I was focussing on the potential dangers of predators lurking in the darkest shadows of the Wikipedia community, I failed to see the very real danger right in front of me: Wikipedia itself.

Could all the free, multilingual, educational content Wikipedia provides, paired with underdeveloped judgement, put children at risk? As a former bored, judgement-impaired, pubescent boy, I knew exactly what how to find out. I searched on “Sniffing glue“. And here’s what I found:

 

Kids Huffing Glue

 

WTF? There is absolutely nothing OK about this picture. These are children. I understand that there is a problem with children huffing on the streets in certain parts of the world. It needs to be acknowledged and addressed. But I will thank you as a father for not spreading that problem around by showing smiling, relaxed, seemingly “mature” kids sticking faces in a bag and casually flipping off the photographer. If this article on such a dangerous act was incomplete without a visual aid, couldn’t you at least have looked for a picture of an adult to kick things off? Maybe a picture that reflects the incredibly destructive aspect of huffing would be more appropriate. And, while we’re at it, we should probably dig up something that doesn’t make huffing look cool to kids. Maybe this?

 

Gold Paint Adult Huffer

 

What follows amounts to a manual on huffing all kinds of extremely dangerous gases. If my son looked this up, he wouldn’t just figure out the best technique to sniff glue, he’s also be turned on to:

The Smorgasbord

Grab a bag and take your pick.

  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene
  • Propane
  • Butane
  • Toluene
  • Xylene
  • Acetone
  • Hydrofluorocarbons
  • Chlorofluorocarbons
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Alkyl Nitrites
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Diethyl Ether
  • Enflurane
  • Methylene Chloride
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Benzene

 

 

After going over this smorgasbord of inhalants, the article covers a few pro-tips for abusing them:

Inhalant users inhale vapors or aerosol propellant gases using plastic bags held over the mouth or by breathing from an open container of solvents, such as gasoline or paint thinner. Nitrous oxide gases from whipped cream aerosol cans, aerosol hairspray or non-stick frying spray are sprayed into plastic bags. When inhaling non-stick cooking spray or other aerosol products, some users may filter the aerosolized particles out with a rag. Some gases, such as propane and butane gases, are inhaled directly from the canister. Once these solvents or gases are inhaled, the extensive capillary surface of the lungs rapidly absorb the solvent or gas, and blood levels peak rapidly. The intoxication effects occur so quickly that the effects of inhalation can resemble the intensity of effects produced by intravenous injection of other psychoactive drugs.

The article wraps up its description of the whole experience by mentioning that all of these substances are at best dangerous and at worst fatal. Cross your fingers that your child look below the fold before they stick their face in a bag.

Safety concerns aside, it’s a pretty good article. For a responsible parent, it might provide some desperately needed answers to the problems created by a child’s abuse of inhalants. For an irresponsible child, it could create the problems themselves.

There’s only one thing we can be sure about. Whatever happens, Wikipedians won’t be taking responsibility for it.

I think it’s time we did.

,Wil

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Wikipediocracy’s List of Demands

Every time I witness the almost reflexive reaction of some Wikipedians when the word “Wikipediocracy” comes up in polite conversation, I’m left in disbelief. To some, we might as well be talking about a full-fledged terrorist organization. I checked; they’re not. Despite all the doxxing, shit talking, personal attacks, and scandalizing they do over there, the guys and gals on Wikipediocracy are pretty fucking smart, and they spend much more time than a lot of Wikipedians might realize actually talking about ways to improve Wikipedia. In fact, some of the worst perps provide some of the most productive comments if asked. Early on in my Wikipediocracy days, I created a new thread and asked a very simple question: What would you do if you were emperor of Wikipedia for a day? That thread was several pages long by the time I left. Initially, I promised to send the list to Lila after I had collated and cleaned it up a bit. Alas, it was a promise I felt I could no longer keep around the 857th time someone told me how freaked out everyone was that I might be providing some special channel to Lila. Sorry, Wikipediocrats, my eardrums just couldn’t take it anymore. What these concerned Wikipedians haven’t realized is that Lila doesn’t pay attention to me all that often. In fact, she never bothered to read anything I put online until she started getting briefed on every comma I would post to Wikipediocracy by WMF staff. So, who knows? Maybe she’ll get briefed on this list, too. As you go through these solutions, please keep in mind that I do not necessarily support solutions on this list; they are suggestions from one or more Wikipediocrats that I have collected, hoping that more Wikipedians will see what Wikipediocracy is all about when they are in the zone constructive-criticism-wise.

Policy

  • Comprehensive Child Protection Policy across all projects with no volunteer triage
  • Comprehensive Harassment Policy across all projects with no volunteer triage
  • Acceptable Content Policy for Commons
  • Policy-streamlining task force, whose mission is to eliminate redundancy, bloat, size, and quantity of policy, including, but not limited to, policyish essays such as “WP:DUCK.” “WP:ROPE,” “WP:DICK,” “WP:DIVA,” “WP:DENSE,” etc. to create one Standard Guidelines document.

Content

  • Article accuracy above all else
  • Article quality, including pertinence, clarity, concision, comprehensiveness, and style, along with appropriate success metrics
  • Call out articles on a company or organization that have been edited by principals, employees, or agents of that organization with a potential Conflict Of Interest
  • Acknowledge the amount of adult material on Wikimedia projects and comply with all applicable laws and rulings for the jurisdictions under which it is collected and distributed
  • Establish a workflow to ensure that content problems are promptly addressed
  • Address article ownership by the WikiProjects
  • Redesign the main page with more relevant content and a more engaging design
  • Prepublication review of all article submissions by at least one other editor
  • Articles that attain Featured Article and Good Article status should be vetted by experts and kept in a “stable” state with a badge or banner calling them out, backport critical updates if necessary, creating a reference version alongside an unstable, possibly more up-to-date version
  • Quality control initiatives in cooperation with academic institutions
  • Reduce systemic bias for developed nations and dedicate more effort, funds, and awareness to developing nations
  • Consider new sister projects of Wikipedia that are appropriate for children and/or optimized for accuracy
  • Establish editorial boards with the authority to resolve content-related disputes
  • Opt-in, or even opt-out, search filter on Commons for potentially offensive or age-inappropriate material
  • Guaranteed reliability and quality of medical articles as a public safety measure, along with a prominent disclaimer

Governance

  • Annual or biennial election of all advanced permissions, including but not limited to admin, project admin, bureaucrat, checkuser, and steward
  • Admin tools more easily granted and taken away
  • Eliminate “founder” status
  • Allow for content editors of a given category to petition for independent administration
  • Whistleblower complaints process with anonymity protection for the whistleblower and no intervention by admins
  • Amnesty for all blocked editors, except for those blocked threatening violence or raising child-protection concerns
  • Make checkuser logs publicly searchable by target, checkuser, and mandatory policy-backed rationale
  • Every block automatically forwarded for appeal via random selection of any three admins, who are to review the evidence at hand, including violated policy, relevant diffs, and an explanation for the block with no interference from the blocking admin

BLP

  • Opt-out BLP Policy for people of marginal notability
  • End anonymous editing on and add pending changes to certain sensitive articles like BLPs and commercial enterprises

Chapters

  • Comprehensive review of chapter grant program and mission
  • Define the purpose of chapters, establish reasonable governance to facilitate that purpose, and limit each chapters’ activities to that fill that purpose

WMF

  • Biennial election of WMF Board of Trustees
  • Discontinue the Wikipedian-in-Residence program
  • WMF employees hired with arbitration experience to replace AN/ANI/ARBCOM and other drama boards, who can also police the admins
  • Raise average pay for employees at Wikimedia HQ to SF Bay averages or above to attract top-notch talent
  • Programs of outreach to active editors who are not active in governance to make them aware of decisions they can help decide in community-wide votes
  • Programs to build trust with the larger community
  • Hire staff at the WMF who have credentials and experience in information science, knowledge management, machine-based text recognition and content recognition
  • Review priorities of all current and future engineering projects in collaboration with the community, along with potential features going forward
  • Be honest about financial status during fundraising

Alternatively, Just Fork It

  • A Wikipedia 2.0 fork administered by an international academic umbrella organisation that gradually takes on real editorial responsibility for the content

Again, I do not necessarily support all of these demands. More accurately, these are less demands than suggestions. Good suggestions on the whole, as far as I’m concerned. And I hope that after you’ve seen the brighter side of Wikipediocracy- and you’re one of the 3 Wikipedians who isn’t already lurking, if not posting there- to take a closer look at the site. That said, there is a threatening aspect to these solutions. It’s no secret that Wikipediocracy can inflict great harm on the project. Of the last 100 controversies, I think that Wikipediocracy and/or Wikipedia Review have been responsible for researching and publicizing about 100 of them. So, I’d say it’s less of a threat than a statement of the obvious: if Wikipedia doesn’t start addressing its biggest issues with some solutions like those above, the folks at Wikipediocracy will continue to publicize Wikipedia face plants that result from continually punting on them. Ultimately, we should address these issues because it’s the right thing to do. But if we can’t motivate ourselves to address them any other way, we should remember that Wikipediocracy has given us all fair warning with many precedents of what will happen if their demands are not met.

,Wil

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Why Wikipedia?

You 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 Wikipedia? Well, I’ve sworn not to say what I said in the introduction of my first post ever again, but if you guessed that had something to do with it, you’re right on. Yet, strangely enough, the biggest incentive to get involved in Wikipedia has become the biggest disincentive to continue. Many Wikipediocrats discouraged me from the beginning; now many Wikipedians have joined their call!

In my first post, I likened Wikipediocracy to a rowdy saloon in the Wild West. I broke it out as a two-dimensional caricature that might lend a mildly interesting narrative to the otherwise familiar story of Wikipediocracy. Then my friend tim, who is one of those prized “very active editors” on Wikpedia and a (highly prized by me) polite voice of moderation on Wikipediocracy, added a whole nother dimension to it. And it blew. my. mind. He liked the Wikipedia project to the town church, and some of the more political Wikipedians to occasionally catty, sometimes self-righteous, and always gossipy members of the congregation. That really got me thinking. This would be a much more profound, tho perhaps less colorful, analogy than a trite description of the town saloon full of all those disreputable types.

As we once again take ourselves back to these tougher times, we notice that religion counts for a lot more here. Most of the townsfolk in our community are true believers, and they do what good deeds they can through the church that rises from the very center of the town. They come to worship here, usually setting aside a good part of their weekends so they can really focus on being among the best of the faithful. When the collection plate came around, they drop a few coins in it. But they don’t have time to stand in the churchyard gossiping after service; they prefer to spend their only day off reading through the good book to learn how they might make their good deeds even better.

The thing is, most of these townsfolk keep quiet and reverent in the pews during service. They keep their heads down in humility as they walk down the street. During the week, they are spending their time behind an aging, albeit reliable plow trying to pull nourishment out of the reluctant earth to feed others in their community and beyond. They have no time city-slicker politics. And they sure as hell aren’t going to spend their precious time talking trash in the rowdy saloon. Most importantly, these townsfolk tend not to speak unless spoken to first.

Now, most of the people reading this can probably imagine where they fit in to this growing- and some might say, well overgrown- analogy. It’s a bit harder for me, tho. I’m new in town. And the first thing I did was set my soapbox down, stepped up right in front of city hall, and started yelling. I’d like to say folks pay attention to me because I have something worth listening to, but I realize that most of them are just curious about the guy who has taken up tenancy in the mayor’s mansion. Maybe I could fill the role of the itinerant revivalist preacher, banging on the good book, screaming verses of the lord’s prayer like “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” at the top of my voice, and calling everyone to question the establishment behind their faith. But I’m probably more similar to a snake oil salesman- as one Wikipediocrat has already suggested- selling a miracle cure for all of the community’s various ailments. I can say this: if there’s anything I would prescribe to this particular community as a miracle cure, it would be empathy. And I’m not selling it, I’m giving it away. Let’s take a quick gander how that scene might play out. Just a second, gotta set my soapbox down here. All right, stepping up. . . and. . .

Come one, and come all!!! Gather round!! The end to all your ailments is here! It is simple, and it costs you nothing! I call it Empathy. Guaranteed to work for men, women, and almost anything in between, or your money back!! All’s you have to do is rub some on your ego where it hurts; step out of the saloon, open the doors to the church, or put down your gavels to see what is beyond that courthouse; shake the hand of a stranger on the sidewalk; and see what they have to say!! For best results, think about where they’re coming from, and where they’re trying to go! Then share some of your Empathy with them!!

,Wil

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