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Can Wikipedia Teach Us All How To Just Get Along? 191

Posted by kdawson
from the beautiful-day-in-the-neighborhood dept.
Ponca City writes "Alexis Madrigal writes in the Atlantic that for all its warts, Wikipedia has been able to retain a generally productive and civil culture. According to Joseph Reagle, who wrote his PhD dissertation on the history and culture of Wikipedia, members of Wikipedia actively work to maintain neutrality, even if that's sometimes nearly impossible. The community has a specific approach to people designed to promote basic civility and consensus decision-making. The number one rule is 'assume good faith,' and the rest of the site's rules are largely extensions of kindergarten etiquette. The idea is that to find consensus, you must see your opponents as people like yourself. Keeping an open perspective on both knowledge claims and other contributors creates an extraordinary collaborative potential, Reagle says. The features of the software help, too. It's easier to be relaxed about newcomers' editing or changes being made when you can hit the revert button and restore what came before. 'Like Wikipedia itself, which seems to tap our natural urge to correct things that we think are wrong, maybe our politics will self-correct,' writes Madrigal. 'Maybe this period of extra nasty divisiveness in politics will push us out of the USENET phase and into a productive period of Wikipedian civility.'"
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Can Wikipedia Teach Us All How To Just Get Along?

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  • [citation needed]
      • It's Fuckwad.

  • Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:22PM (#33990750) Journal

    Seems like the general perception of the Wikipedia community is anything but productive and civil. More like insular and deletionist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hedwards (940851)
      You're just mad because somebody deleted your entry for not being notable.
      • Re:Say what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:37PM (#33990900) Journal

        If it's notable enough that someone would search for it on Wikipedia, it's notable enough to have an entry in Wikipedia. The entire concept of notability for an electronic encyclopedia is bogus, and representative of the culture of Wikipedia these days.

        • Re:Say what? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by hedwards (940851) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:45PM (#33990968)
          Which is what's so odd about that. People regularly flag things as not being noteworthy and as such in need of deletion. Makes me wonder how they find those pages if they're not noteworthy in the first place.
          • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:53PM (#33991034)

            Random page. Just go through at random, and you will find the articles which should not be there.

            And you know they should not be there, because they contain no information, or are a terrible idea in themselves. For example: "Superiority of the Western Culture" is a terrible idea for an article. "My Widget Which I Am Trying To Sell" is another terrible example. "My Webcomic" (three entries and I am working towards a fourth) is yet another article which should not be there.

            • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:31PM (#33991460)

              "Superiority of the Western Culture" is a terrible idea for an article.
               
              Why? This is just an example of what is wrong with Wikipedia: I disagree with something, therefore it should be deleted. It is certainly a notable concept with plenty of references, and not just in neo-Nazi literature. Not so long ago such beliefs were considered perfectly acceptable and mainstream in many Western societies. Other civilizations, Islamic, Chinese, Japanese often considered themselves superior to others and there are plenty of references for that too. Would you also like to delete the articles on White Supremacy [wikipedia.org], Black Supremacy [wikipedia.org], Holocaust Denial [wikipedia.org] etc because those concepts are not politically correct enough for you?

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                Maybe you just want a redirection to Eurocentrism [wikipedia.org] (and related links in the article)? Academic titles for articles might seem "politically correct," but they are also an attempt at neutrality.
          • by blair1q (305137)
          • new created pages http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:NewPages [wikipedia.org]

        • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

          If it's notable enough that someone would search for it on Wikipedia, it's notable enough to have an entry in Wikipedia

          No, it isn't. Wikipedia is not for documenting every piece of stupid trivia that exists.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by wierd_w (1375923)

            So, by what criteria does one determine what piece of trivia is important enough to include, and what piece of trivia is "Stupid"?

            Seems to me that there is no really hard-set criteria for this distinction, and as such is left up to a collective decision process, which has an un-restrained "populist" bias, which is totally arbitrary (based on which group of editors happen to be deliberating at any given time.)

            Some people might claim that Leonardo DiVinci being a homosexual is stupid trivia. Others might clai

            • So, by what criteria does one determine what piece of trivia is important enough to include

              If it's verifiable to an independent reliable source, it goes in. For example, your band goes in if reliable publications have reviewed its album. A "non-notable subject" is merely one for which few or no facts are verifiable to independent reliable sources.

              • by wierd_w (1375923)

                It has been my experience reading talk pages on wikipedia articles, that article maintainers have a nasty habbit of redacting informative changes to documents under their control, for reasons that are not well explained by "notability", "lack of citations", or other perfectly resonable or respectable reasons for such redaction; but rather because the maintainer doesnt LIKE the change.

                (Strawman alert! I have not checked this article for this kind of shit happening. It does however follow for other articles I

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Hatta (162192)

            Fair enough. But then we need something that is. Documenting every stupid piece of trivia that exists is a useful goal. The problem for Wikipedia is that the set of all facts is a superset of the set of notable facts. So if we got some other group together to create an electronic encyclopedia without the concept of notability, it would completely supersede Wikipedia.

            In short, the notability policy will ensure Wikipedia's obsolescence if its not changed.

            • The problem for Wikipedia is that the set of all facts is a superset of the set of notable facts. So if we got some other group together to create an electronic encyclopedia without the concept of notability, it would completely supersede Wikipedia.

              Good. Find or start a Wikia or even a Go Daddy-hosted MediaWiki site about your pet subject area.

    • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by flaming error (1041742) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:27PM (#33990824) Journal

      Since when does "general perception" relate in any way to verifiable facts?

      • by bonch (38532)

        Well, perception is initially created by witnessing facts. It's not exactly a secret that Wikipedia is dysfunctional.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          perception is initially created by witnessing facts

          Far more likely by hearing/reading somebody else passing it along.

          Regardless, people don't so much witness facts as perceive them through the filters of beliefs, biases, and expectations they've accumulated over their lifetime.

      • Can you name an instance where the "General Perception" DOESN'T at least relate to verifiable facts?

        • Can you name an instance where the "General Perception" DOESN'T at least relate to verifiable facts?

          Congress.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dadioflex (854298)
      Well yeah, but if you delete anything you don't agree with, things can remain remarkably civil, wherever you control the edits.
    • by bersl2 (689221)

      Assume good faith: the Wikipedia community tries to apply its principles, but as with other human communities, it falls short often enough.

    • by PPH (736903)
      Don't label the entire Wikipedia community with the actions of a few Wikadors [urbandictionary.com].
  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:22PM (#33990762)

    Think what a different place the world would be if you could convince everyone to follow 'kindergarten etiquette', why is it stated so dismissively in the summary? As if getting everyone to show basic respect to everyone else is an easy thing to do.

    • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:43PM (#33990930) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps your kindergarten experience differed from mine, but I have explicit kindergarten memories involving:

      Kids eating glue.
      Kids eating sand.
      Kids throwing sand in each other's eyes.
      Kids hitting each other with sticks.
      Kids walking up to one another, and forcefully stealing their favorite toy from someone else.
      Kids screaming, crying, and positively shrieking for attention.
      Kids vocally calling each other out on one another's bodily functions (okay, I'll admit, that is actually pretty funny).
      Kids pushing each other off the swingset.
      Kids talking each other into trying positively stupid stuff just for the fun of it.
      ....
      And the list goes on.

      It's fun to sit around and fantasize about how easy life used to be as a kid (and in many ways it was). But I think we often forget about all of the things that weren't quite so positive when being a kid. We lacked the practice and development of social skills that came from years worth of peer-peer interaction. Young kids tend to have no problem acting as if there is absolutely no such thing as etiquette at all. Of course, that never stops teachers from trying to enforce simple common courtesy rules on children. But what those rules have in simplicity, they lack in applicability to more complex social interactions that form as a consequence of more developed social skills building on top of one another (flattery, imitation, anticipation, reaction, empathy, logical reasoning vs. emotional reasoning, etc.).

      As we grow as social animals in age, so, too, do our social interactions and, thus, the complexity of the social situations we find ourselves in. We meet more people. We gain more freedom. We learn more basic laws about the nature of reality. As a result, social interactions involve more players, more observers, more factors to consider, and have further reaching consequences (a kindergartner doesn't need to consider whether or not eating sand will ruin their ability to support their family or not). Therefore, the etiquette we choose to follow, and the rationalizations we make to justify our actions to ourselves, grow ever more complex and nuanced. This is the natural progression of the human mind dynamically adapting as a structure evolved to ensure the survival of a very social species.

      It's fun to trot out lines and ideals like, "Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten..." and what not. But when childhood is observed from a non-romanticized perspective, it is easy to see why we do not remain as children in our actions, thoughts, or abilities. This is as true for social skills as it is for anything else. If everyone followed kindergarten etiquette, large social entities like national governments, guilds, international clubs, unions, cities, and even, probably, advanced schools would not be possible.
      • Kids eating glue.
        Kids eating sand.

        Kid eating cardboard and dying of cancer at the age of 7.
        True story.

    • Think what a different place the world would be if you could convince everyone to follow 'kindergarten etiquette', why is it stated so dismissively in the summary? As if getting everyone to show basic respect to everyone else is an easy thing to do.

      It's easy to do when face to face with another person. Total strangers who nearly bump into each other on the footpath/sidewalk will instinctively apologize. Separate them either with the bodywork of a car or using the anonymity of a keyboard, and it's a whole different matter because the other person can't get at you. I drive a convertible and I find a huge difference in the way people treat me when I take the roof down.

      Look at segregated sports events like English professional soccer where the authoritie

    • by dadioflex (854298) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:47PM (#33990988)
      Kindergarten Etiquette falls down when you're arguing against assholes who refuse to accept your carefully reasoned refutation of their insane ideas. That's why "Kindergarten Etiquette" doesn't work, in general. If everyone is polite and open to new ideas, an asshole with a crazy scheme will own you. No matter how politely you argue the counter-point, they will win because they have no boundaries on the tools they will use to break what you say. So, "Kindergarten Etiquette" actually leads to less civility, because it encourages sinful behaviour, like greed and anger. Obviously, and classically, Kindergarten Etiquette has been involved in the majority of the most egregious sex crimes committed in the twentieth century. When it's wrong to disagree with an adult, what isn't wrong?
  • FTFY (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:24PM (#33990776) Homepage Journal

    Wikipedia has been able to retain a generally productive and civil culture.

    Unless the page being worked on is about some particularly controversial topic which is at the forefront of the public mindset....at which point civility and productivity go out the window in lieu of the typical pseudo-anonymous dick waving that happens everywhere else on the internet.

    And that doesn't even begin to address those many instances of a Wiki moderator (or whatever the hell they are called) falling in love with some pet page and refusing to let legitimate edits be made to it....

    • by Stargoat (658863) *

      MOD parent up as generally awesome and completely correct.

    • Re:FTFY (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pharmboy (216950) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:08PM (#33991164) Journal

      It also doesn't count those of us who LEFT Wikipedia because of the authoritarian admin issue. Sure everyone will get along if you run everyone with a different opinion off or ban them. They haven't found a way to get along, they just had twice as many people than they needed and ran off the half that wouldn't agree with them in exchange for being allowed to belong to the admin club.

      Don't get me wrong, you have lots of good admins on Wikipedia, but they simply tolerate the bad ones who have the loudest voices and a bullying attitude. Not everyone rolls over so easy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      Hell it don't even have to be a controversial page, it can be just the fact that someone is phobic or just a prick. The first time I heard of wiki I thought it was a great idea, basically use crowdsourcing to find errors, since everyone know a little bit about everything, as long as they cited their sources everything would be golden. Or at least I thought that until I found a page with an error. it wasn't a big error, it just said a writer's intention on a show was x when it was y. I knew it was y because

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:24PM (#33990782)

    A few years ago, no one imagined that we'd have accomplished what we did here on Wikipedia. Compared to the entrenched encyclopedia companies, we were far behind, and we always knew the climb would be steep. But in record numbers of entries, we came out and wrote so many articles. And with these articles and discussions, it was made clear that at this moment - in this fight for intellectual freedom - there is something happening on the Web.

    There is something happening when men and men pretending to be women in Des Moines and Davenport; in Lebanon and Concord come out of their basements to write and rewrite and edit and correct because they believe in what this medium can be. We can be the new majority who can lead this world out of a long intellectual property darkness - Communists, Free-marketeers, and Furries who are tired of the high prices of Britannica and the inadequacy of Funk and Wagnalls; who know that we can disagree without being disagreeable; who understand that if we mobilize our voices to challenge the money and influence that's stood in our way to knowledge and challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there's no obscure minutia we can't illuminate - no minor character we cannot flesh out.

    Our new Web encyclopedia can end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable encyclopedias in our time. We can bring doctors and patients; workers and businesses, Democrats and Republicans together for discussion and consultation; and we can tell the big name encyclopedia players that while they'll get a seat at the table, they don't get to buy every chair. Not this time. Not now.

    All of the inclusionists and the deletists on this site share these goals. All have good ideas. And all are valuable contributors who serve this website honorably. But the reason Wikipedia has always been different is because it's not just about what I or they will do, it's also about what you, the people who love knowledge, can do to increase it.

    We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the years to come. We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of the world false hope and bad information. But in the unlikely story that is Wikipedia, there has never been anything false about participation. For when we have faced down increasing attacks on our credibility; when we've been told that we're not a valid source, or that we shouldn't even try to be the be all and end all, or that we can't, thousands upon thousands of Wikipedia authors have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a free and liberated people.

    Yes we can.

    • by jaymzter (452402)

      What a horrible analogy.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      A few years ago, no one imagined that we'd have accomplished what we did here on Wikipedia.

      Um, if you mean that it's gotten more words in it, but it's become no less fractious a society and no more accurate a source of information, then, yeah. Sure. If that was the goal, then you nailed it. But I'm pretty sure I imagined it that way.

      • by takowl (905807)

        it's gotten more words in it, but it's become no less fractious a society and no more accurate a source of information

        Sounds like a description of /. ;-). Seriously, though, Wikipedia's become a vastly more useful source of information over the past few years. Don't forget that many of those 'new words' are on topics that weren't in Wikipedia at all a few years back. And many more are linking out to sources. If you know how to use it (i.e. treat it as a starting point, not as hard fact), it's invaluable.

        And while it's slow, it is getting more accurate, too. A year ago, it would tell you that unripe tomatoes were poisonous

    • Thanks BAG, you made my day!
    • For when we have faced down increasing attacks on our credibility; when we've been told that we're not a valid source, or that we shouldn't even try to be the be all and end all, or that we can't, thousands upon thousands of Wikipedia authors have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a free and liberated people.

      "Edit reverted."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Politics won't self-correct, just as Wikipedia doesn't self-correct. Whenever vandalism or POV hackery is removed from Wikipedia, it's because someone went to an effort to do so. If politics is to become civil or collaborative, it will require some effort from the people involved to make it that way. It's not going to happen all by itself.

    • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:51PM (#33991016)

      The difference- wikipedia actively makes it as easy as possible for people to make that effort and correct things in minutes.
      In politics it is set up exactly opposite.
      No individual no matter how much effort they're willing to put in can correct even the most obvious fuckup without investing months, years or ,most likely, decades to get into a position from which they can, and even then it's a long shot.

    • The only way to correct Wikipedia is pretty much the same way to correct politics. Sweep in with an enraged mob and hang 'em all from the lampposts.
  • I agree (Score:4, Informative)

    by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:26PM (#33990804) Journal

    I edit a lot of Northern Ireland-related articles on Wiki. A long-standing dispute is the name of one city and county. Catholics call it Derry, Protestants call it Londonderry. Politicians have raged for years on what to call it and never reached a compromise, it's a never-ending dispute. Wikipedians on the other hand have agreed to call the county Londonderry and the city Derry. That kind of compromise is a long way off among the politicians. In fact I sometimes think that Northern Ireland's politicians could do well to spend a few months editing on Wiki and learning how to get along with other editors. They'd be a lot more civil to each other if they did.

    • by Altus (1034)

      I wish I were back home in Derry.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      If there weren't a feudal hierarchy to decisionmaking that would never have happened.

      And it's wrong, by the way. Which is why feudal hierarchies aren't any good at decisionmaking. Especially where the decision is what facts are true. Most especially then.

    • Re:I agree (Score:4, Informative)

      by jgtg32a (1173373) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:01PM (#33991100)
      You should have been a little more descriptive of what was actually done because I wrote a long rant about "who the hell is wiki to decide that city is called Derry and the county is called Londonderry.

      What actually happened is there was a compromise on the "Article Names" and both articles start the same. The city article Derry "Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland..." and the county article starts "County Londonderry or County Derry is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland..."
    • Wikipedia was great. Wikipedia is broken. And it's broken because of f**kery like the above post, extolling how wonderful it is that Wikipedia has managed to split-the-hair and call the county "Londonderry" and the city "Derry." Here is a post by a Wikipedia insider, bragging that Wikipedia does not reflect REALITY.

      Wikipedia was great.

      Wikipedia is broken.

      Smart people like me cannot correct facts or grammar, without being reverted.

      Wikipedia is broken.

      Wikipedia WAS great.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:28PM (#33990830)
    I mostly get along by not contributing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I know there's loads of controversy about the system itself, and whether it's really as nice as it sounds. I'm not even going to address that, because most of this /. discussion will be about that anyway.

      I mostly get along by not contributing.

      That's exactly the key -- Wikipedia works because people who don't fit the system (whether it's good or bad doesn't matter) can get bored/frustrated/mad and leave the editing side. They can still get the benefits of other people's work within the system (or not if they choose), but there are no demands on t

  • No, just no.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by molo (94384) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:28PM (#33990834) Journal

    Wikipedia is full of people with agendas, and they have different camps.. inclusionists, deletionists, plus all the real-world politics on top of that.. And there is really not much recourse when admins have taken actions that you disagree with. Procedure is followed haphazardly. Many admins are undisciplined (in several senses of the word). Wikipedia doesn't seem to be self-correcting.

    There are few ways politics self-correct, and very few of them don't involve bloodshed. I don't see how wikipedia is at all relevant to that.

    -molo

    • Re:No, just no.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:36PM (#33990888) Journal

      But the great thing about Wiki is the sheer amount of guidelines. No matter what agenda you're trying to push, there's a guideline somewhere that you can cite in support of your edit. Discussions often become a battle to see who can cite the most compelling WP guidelines. In fact I often find the discussion pages more interesting than the actual articles themselves. Ever seen the EV1 discussion? It's as if someone from GM is doing battle with a load of people who watched Who Killed the Electric Car?

      Please remember to be WP:CIVIL when replying...

    • by Altus (1034)

      That still sounds considerably better than much of the rest of the internet.

  • by drsmack1 (698392) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:37PM (#33990896)
    It seems to be that a significant quantity of the people with power over there revel in the power of controlling "what truth is".

    The is wildly inconsistent application of rules relating to context and verifiability.

    Many articles on even non-controversial subjects are watched by editors who seem to have a hardened POV agenda and will revert well-sourced edits that don't fit their world-view.

    I found articles that were very thin and fleshed them out considerably, only to have them completely reverted by such individuals for a single missing reference. One that would have taken them all of a minute to source themselves.

    This is in direct violation of the rules involving non-controversial subjects.

    This same guy then went through every edit I made on other articles with a fine-toothed comb and reverted many of them for officious reasons.

    Omarcheeseboro was the guy that particular time. Pointing out the literally *thousands* of articles that had problems many times worse than what I supposedly introduced was a complete waste of time. The arbitration process is hopelessly broken.
    Basically the net affect of all this is that you have to be a Wikipedia etiquette expert to hope to make any changes of substance - or you can expect hours of work to be thoughtlessly reverted as part of petty jealousies and personal POV dominions.
    • by Raenex (947668) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:06PM (#33991134)

      Ok, you named the person who reverted your edits, but you didn't say what page or link to the revert. For all we know this person was doing the right thing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by takowl (905807)

      Predictably enough, /. commenters line up to hate on Wikipedia. And yet, somehow, despite this apparent culture of obstructionism which will send it down the drain in short order, Wikipedia seems to still be going strong. Thinking back for a moment, I first heard of this free online encyclopaedia in around 2005. That's just five years ago, and Wikipedia is now the de facto starting point for finding information on almost anything. It's come a long way, and doesn't seem to be grinding to a halt any time soon

      • by gknoy (899301)

        People with complaints, especially when other people have acted in ways that seems jerk-ish, tend to be more vocal than those who have entirely pleasant experiences.

        I'm afraid to post to Wikipedia. Most of the time I know nothing about it, but sometimes I find the occasional spelling error, or word choice error, or find that a link to a book in the series is incorrect (e.g., there IS a wikipedia page on said book, but the series article doesn't link correctly to it). I don't bother to change them specific

  • by Rix (54095) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:42PM (#33990924)

    Where as the world often can't. Abortion is either legal, or it's not. Taxes are either at one rate or another. We either provide universal health care or we do not.

    Wikipedia can present all valid views. The world can't implement all possible policies.

    • by Tom (822)

      Wikipedia can present all valid views. The world can't implement all possible policies.

      Not in the same place. But the world is pretty large, why can't we have abortions legal here and illegal over there and you move to wherever the laws are the way you want them? Ah, I see, the problem is that those kinds of people think their truth should be everyone's truth. An anti-abortionists couldn't sleep knowing that abortions are legal across the border.

      But that's got nothing to do with the world. In fact, in this regard Wikipedia actually is a start (some of the time) in teaching them that theirs is

  • Yah! RIIIIGHT! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chas (5144) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:43PM (#33990928) Homepage Journal

    So long as you conform to the opinions of the moderators there, right, wrong, or otherwise, you can get along.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Meshach (578918)

      So long as you conform to the opinions of the moderators there, right, wrong, or otherwise, you can get along.

      Except that Wikipedia does not have moderation.

      • But there are admins. And people with admin friend.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DaveV1.0 (203135)

        No, Wikipedia has cliques and admins.

      • by Chas (5144)

        The fuck they don't!

        If you happen to add something that is both true and well sourced, if someone doing the editing and/or monitoring doesn't like it, it gets whacked for "neutral POV" or "unsupported" or some similar BS reason and gets, if you're lucky, reverted. If they're being especially douche-y, they even remove your edit.

  • Bollocks. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vague disclaimer (861154) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:47PM (#33990982)
    Any appearance of civility is caused by the inherent wiki problem: arguments are won by those who just won't give up. Those with better things to do, give up, go and never look back.
  • Not a chance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:52PM (#33991026) Homepage Journal
    People will continue to argue, yell, insult, and generally be rude to each other. Besides half of the people believe that wikipedia is itself a tool for the other side to spread their message (that first half then sponsored conservapedia, naturally). So no, wikipedia won't teach us how to get along.

    Oh, wait, are we talking about the slashdot sense of "us", or a greater collection of people?
    • Re:Not a chance (Score:4, Insightful)

      by takowl (905807) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:18PM (#33991304)

      But for all that, I believe it's doing us a service by forcing us to have the arguments. We have to confront the views we don't like. Because there's only one 'current' version of any page, conflicting factions cannot produce their own versions* and simply ignore each other. And, most of the time, that results in some form of compromise. People aren't always nice to each other (although that's encouraged), but by and large, it works.

      * Yes, I know, Conservapedia, Citizendium, and so on do have their own versions. But a) it's much easier to edit Wikipedia than it is to set up your own version, and b) almost nobody uses any of the alternatives.

  • After his graduation, Joseph Reagle has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Hogwarts to study unicorns.

  • I'm at peace with the world. I'm completely serene. I've discovered my purpose in life. I know why I was put here and why everything exists... I am here so everybody can do what I want. Once everybody accepts it, they'll be serene too.

    --Calvin [wikipedia.org]

  • Remember the "openxml" standardization travesty.

    Professionals exploit the rules, and the people playing fair are cheated.

    I suspect the thing about wikipedia is that none of the cheaters actually get onto the board.

    With society / elections it is different. Maybe because spending money on campaigns has an effect?

  • by br00tus (528477) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:21PM (#33991346)
    A case in point is the article Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani [wikipedia.org]. She is a woman in Iran who had the death penalty charged against her. The opening paragraph mentions nothing about her dead husband. The next paragraph at one point says - 'she has since recanted the "confession" made under duress'. Note the scare quotes around the word confession, the mention it was made under duress - as if confessions in American murder cases are not made to police "under duress", whatever that is supposed to mean.

    It also says "court was prosecuting one of the two men for involvement in the death of Mohammadi Ashtiani's husband". Yes "involved in the death", another way of saying murder.

    The slanting of this article is incredible. If a woman in Texas had an affair with a man, a man who then murdered her husband, and months later she had been convicted under a death sentence for conspiring to murder her husband with her lover, do you think there would be anything like this in the article? Do you think maybe you wouldn't have to piece together that she was thought to be a co-conspirator in those who murdered, I mean were "involved in the death", of her husband? A cursory read of this would make one thing this woman was getting the death penalty for having an affair.

    Then there's the canard - "Well, just edit it". Well, look through the history and discussion pages - people have, but their edits are reverted by the usual Wikipedia cabal. Their control of articles like this are backed up by the Arbitration Committee, and ultimately Jimbo Wales himself, whose devotion to Ayn Rand and the like are well known. Anyone with little involvement with Wikipedia might easily believe it is free and open. Even those heavily involved in uncontroversial editing of articles on science, math and the like might not see it. But a long-time observance of things is obvious. Just look at the enormously controversial and biased JayJG failing in the 2006 vote to make the Arbitration Committee - but Jimbo Wales appointing him to it anyhow. I pick that as JayJG is heavily biased against Iran. I am not Iranian, but I do find it laughable how the Americans who overthrew Mossadegh and the democratic government of Iran in the 1950s and installed a brutal dictator now whine about the Iranian government, and turn their eyes from their bloody Texan death rows to some far-off village in Iran and make some woman who conspired with her lover to murder her husband into some cause celebre.

    • "A cursory read of this would make one thing this woman was getting the death penalty for having an affair."

      A more thourough research effort would indeed confirm she was originally convicted of adultery and sentenced to death for it. The fact that such a primitive and barbaric law is still on the books of a so-called modern nation is the real travistry.
  • LOL (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tom (822) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @03:10AM (#33994666) Homepage Journal

    I'm not into chat-lingo, but "LOL" seems the only appropriate answer to the question asked in the summary.

    If Wikipedia were the model for a society, it would be a strict oligarchy covered in a thin layer of pseudo-democracy. And I mean even thinner than our current so-called democracies where you actually can become a part of the in-group through nothing more than popular support.

    It would also be a society hostile to science, dominated by porn on every street corner, and one in which a lot of people and sometimes even places "disappear" suddenly with only a note left behind saying "he wasn't notable" or, in some cases, just "WP:SD". If his wife complains to the authorities, she will find herself tagged "citation needed" and will have to supply several relatives who can vouch that she exists, or she will follow. Strangely, producing a birth certificate will be rejected as "original research".

    Also, the official language of the administration, that you need to speak if you want anything from the authorities, will not be the language of the land but a derivative full of strange acrynoms and grammar traps so any bureaucrat who doesn't like you can always find some flaw in whatever you said and reject your request based on formalities.

    No, thanks. Even though in many respects our current pseudo-democracies aren't too different, I still prefer them.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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