Feeds

Who owns your Wikipedia bio?

Web's favourite RPG hits the headlines

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

#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"The one you think is better is the one the original poster was complaining about (and it's about 4 years out of date) -- Cory"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
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.