Feeds

Who owns your Wikipedia bio?

Web's favourite RPG hits the headlines

The Power of One Infographic

#3 - Yes: The Case of Cory Doctorow

But what if you are not the founder, but merely sympathetic to the Wikipedia cause?

In the case of one Cory Doctorow, the answer appears to be an emphatic yes.

"The picture is horrible. Any chance of a less supercilious looking one?" asks a fan. "I think this one is better..."

Not good enough, thinks Doctorow.

"The one you think is better is the one the original poster was complaining about (and it's about 4 years out of date) -- Cory"

Off goes the fan, and soon another offering is made at the shrine, and this one wins the subject's approval.

"PS: I think the photo is great" enthuses Doctorow.

One happy Wikipedia subject

At one stage a Wikipedian questions the masturbatory exercise:

"Frankly it's a little discomforting to have the subject write about himself."

This earns a snappy rejoinder:

"I don't see why not -- it's abundantly clear that I have more domain expertise on things like 'Cory Doctorow's views on copyright' and "the commercial fortunes of 'Cory Doctorow's books' than you do", writes er, ... Cory Doctorow, who adds -

"The Amazon sales-rank example (which I believe you inserted to begin with) is nonsensical and proves nothing. I've cut it."

Then, bizarrely, we discover that the references to the self-references were removed because they violate the Self-Reference policy.

(If only the EFF had a self-reference policy...)

Conclusion:

From this example, we can conclude that you can edit your Wikipedia entry - but it will leave you looking very silly indeed. Which probably wasn't what you had in mind when you set out to buff up your reputation.

Why bother?

Where faith triumphs rationality, it isn't unusual to see cult-like characteristics emerge. You could conclude that Groupthink is one of the surefire "emergent properties" once a web initiative is described as "emergent". The enforcement of Wikipedia's biographical guidelines seems less random and more like a loyalty test for participants.

"The results are ... handled by selective enforcement, where popular people are given a pass, while strict wording can be used against those less popular. Moreover, the implications can quickly become perverse, in favoring those with friends who are comfortable with Wikipedia - or perhaps those who are skilled at constructing sock-puppets," observes Seth Finkelstein, in an ongoing discussion.

Or as Brandt puts it:

"All the rules are cancelled if they like you, and all the rules are enforced up the hilt if they hate you."

One thing appears to be certain. Trying to massage one's reputation out on the toxic wastelands of the web can go one of two ways. If the attempt is successful, it leaves you looking as foolish and vain as Doctorow. If unsuccessful, it guarantees an energy-sapping defeat.

The real loser of the Seigenthaler episode in the short-term is the web. In the longer-term, both Seigenthaler and Wales agreed yesterday, there's a greater danger that government will step in and demand media regulation. What an ironic legacy from these unwitting Utopians.®

Related links

Seigenthaler and Wales on CNN [transcript]

Wikipedia Review

Wikipedia Watch's page

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.