Feeds

Who owns your Wikipedia bio?

Web's favourite RPG hits the headlines

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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"The one you think is better is the one the original poster was complaining about (and it's about 4 years out of date) -- Cory"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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.