Here we go.
Sensitive Wikipedians should look away now - there's nothing so cruel as a world rejecting this fine gift:
I've figured out what it is I dislike about Wiki - it's like a religion. It's founded on unproven premises; it has become rigidly hierarchical over time and in contravention of its state aims; it vigorously (some would say fanatically) argues it's case with tortuous logic designed to misdirect our attention from its essential logical flaws; it lays claim to properties it does not possess; it's a talking-shop for people more interested in process than product and is devoted to convincing the world that facts which may or may not be true are fact, so there.
In fact, given that the information stored in Wiki is not limited to subjects covered by more traditional reference sources (eg, Klingon ffs), no doubt it will at some point claim to be the "The Truth". There shall be no other reference but We.
Also like religion, it's a load of agenda-driven crap dressed up as respectable thought. Wiki has the potential to be the last nail in the coffin of academic rigour, and the poster-child for the final dumbing down of human existence.
Just like evolution-deniers, we are already seeing the popular movement to sneer at 'experts' and 'academics' as if they've been oppressing us all through history with their malicious insistence on evidence. Might we one day see 'research-deniers'?
It is easy to show that Wikipedia is biased, inaccurate and powerful. The situation is growing more so with every day. Some day somebody at Wikipedia is going to pay the piper on this one but until that day arrives the amount of damage that is going to be done to people and to history will be intensive.
"The first, and the most immediately absurd of these two defenses, is that since nothing at all can be trusted, er, "definitively", then Wikipedia can't be trusted either." So does that mean we shouldn't believe those who make such a statement? Well, that's easy to fix, just delete the wikipedia.org DNS entry and we'll al be none the worse for it. It actually sounds more like the childhood riddle: "If I say "I always lie", can you believe me?"
So now everyone can be an expert in a field they know nothing about without having to back up any facts? What a strange way to create an encyclopedia.
These stories coming out about Wikipedia and how it is compiled make it sound more like a joke every day. Maybe this is just a big conspiracy to dumb down the population in some form of 1984 scenario :-)
PS. My dictionary wants to replace "Wikipedia" with "Wiped" or "Wimped". Seems a close enough match for me....
Reading your article made me think of something that I hadn't thought of in years. When I was first learning to drive at 11 or 12 on the farm back in rural Arkansas, my father's first words about driving, "a car, a tractor, a truck is a machine: it will go in which ever way it is pointed and will run over everything and everyone in its path until it is stopped. Machines don't think. People think."
My suspicion of the Wikipediac, Web 2.0, herd mind, etc crowd is composed of nitwits who have forgotten that it is all about the machines. They conveniently forget about the machines because they don't have any mechanical ability to speak of. When was the last time any of them actually fixed something and didn't "have their guy" fix it?
"It's the Hive Mind wot dunnit. Not me"
The next time the windshield washer fluid on their car needs filling let the herd mind do it. Or let the herd mind put together the Christmas gifts that require "some assembly" with instructions only available in often intelligible English.
The dream of the herd mindians is that they don't want to have do for themselves, and failing that, not have to deal with other people, figuring a machine that could do it, would call their manhood into question for not being able to connect their dvd player to their tv.
And if nothing else, please don't use that nonsensical phrase "hive mind" if nothing else it's an insult to honey bees who can at least make something. A "hive" and a "herd" are not that much different. And "herd" at least has connotations of bovines standing around in an open field staring blankly into space as the world goes by.
There are two sides to Wikipedia:
- Wikipedia as website, which gets used as source of information by people (whether they are right in doing this is another discussion).
- Wikipedia the editing community.
Wikipedia-the-editing-community is just like any community, especially like any community that is enabled by some electronic means. Like any community, it will have outcasts. Like any community (especially the ones that form via some form of electronic communication) it likes to belittle 'newbies'. Like any community, there will be flamewars. Like any community, there will be the right way of doing things, inside jargon, inside knowledge (see/hear Adam Curry's rant about wiki markup and how that kept him from fixing the 'podcasting' entry) inside jokes, things that will improve your standing and things that will get you dropped like a brick. Just like the average web forum, or like a Usenet newsgroup, Fidonet echoes and BBS discussion boards.
But the webforum spits out a newbie, the Usenet newsgroup flames him/her to a nice crisp, and life continues with one irritated person.
Wikipedia-the-editing-community has more effect: they edit Wikipedia. In their style. The thing that struck me is that the line about John Seigenthaler Sr. was in a style that fits with Wikipedia. Hoax or not, writing "was thought to have been directly involved" sounds more Wikipedia than "is a <expletive>". So if you're an expert on a topic, simply writing your expert opinion as truth will get your writings removed fast because that's not the Wikipedia style.
This is why 'if you think it is wrong, just edit it!' will not work out.
Can this change? Probably not without offending a large part of the membership of that Wikipedia-editing-community.
Koos van den Hout
And if Koos is right, Wikipedia is working out exactly as designed.
I'm utterly sick of your publication's continued bashing of the Wikipedia. Truth by committee works god dammit! Just look at government!
The thing that all the techno utopians seem to forget is that not all things are like the Federation. Hell, even the writers of Star Trek weren't as unrealistic as to think that!
What those badger lovers have to understand is that even when 99.999% of your users act responsibly, you still have to act to keep the arseholes in check; and that the definition of an arsehole is not someone who suggests that a warp core breach is imminent... especially not when there are flashing lights and the link confirming the fact.