1. Saturday, December 9, 2006

    below you will find a beautifully written explanation 

    of a Wikipedia Editor who writes about why he voted to delete the page about me in Wikipedia. some of you may have perhaps thought that i have been kissing the ass of Wikipedia when i said that i respect those who volunteer there, even most who have decided to give an opinion of delete. you know me well enough to know that i kiss nobody’s ass. plus the “vote” is not a vote, but a discussion that the closing Admin will read before he/she makes up their mind.

    hopefully this explanation will convince you why i have such admiration to those who volunteer their time over there. also, if this is the reasoning of the closing Admin then its something that i can totally live with. as ive said before, wikipedia is a living, breathing, ever-changing project, as we all are, so if i dont reach their standards yet as a blogger, perhaps i will later.

    either way i truly appreciate this person’s explanation and i hope you all read it with an open mind.

    Well, I’m sorry to tell you that I argued for deletion. On the bright side, I discovered your blog and enjoy it. I’m heavily involved with wikipedia and I wanted to bring some of that experience here. Specifically, I wanted to say that we’re not discussing your notability as a person. (Well, perhaps some of the more trollish people are, but they’re the typical village idiots). “Notability” for wikipedia generally boils down to having multiple non-trivial sources about the subject. There are several reasons for this, but one of them is that we need such sources in order to write verified biographies. This is especially important when it comes to biographies of living people. Another reason we require “multiple non-trivial sources” is that we don’t trust ourselves or others to confer “encyclopedic value”; we wait for traditional media outlets to do it. Being interviewed multiple times by the media is no small achievement and none of the reasonable wikipedians would say otherwise. The problem is that we cannot keep an article about everyone who has received press attention or accomplished a great deal. In short, ‘notability’ is the wrong word. Unfortunately, nobody has thought of anything better.

    Perhaps the grave error is in discounting blog references. Blogs and wikipedia are part of the same culture; we’re intimately related and we’re “making the internet not suck” together. I think the reason many of us typically exclude blogs as references is because we are acutely aware of how easy it is for anyone to write anything on the internet. I suppose both communities are facing the same issue when it comes to credibility. On wikipedia, we’re trying to deal with it by enforcing very strict verifiability and reliable source guidelines (which are obviously unrealistic or flawed in certain cases).

    Due to the size of wikipedia, we tend to generalize. We’ve invented a rather complicated set of guidelines, process, and precedent. Fundamentally, we operate by consensus and core principles such as ‘neutral point of view’. I believe that writing complicated, generalized guidelines is a necessary evil to this end. There are so many people editing wikipedia that local consensus is a very poor indication of global consensus. Furthermore, our large community is not nearly large enough! There are so many things going on all over wikipedia that the good, dedicated editors are spread very thinly. All of our guidelines and processes are intended to bring the views of the entire community down upon debates. They give us some solid ground. I think there is some degree of folly in writing a list of items which confer notability, but this is what we came up with. (We are not a democray, but an ad hocery.) Hopefully we’ll come up with something better in due time. It is very difficult to write inclusion guidelines that don’t accidentally destroy worthy articles. At any rate, you’re biography is a casualty of this generalization (if it’s even deleted).

    You’ve actually found yourself in the middle of one of the oldest, largest, and most divisive debates on wikipedia. If there were political parties on wikipedia, they’d be “inclusionist” and “deletionist”. There are humorous accounts of this debate on meta.wikipedia.org. Most wikipedians fall somewhere in the middle. Some of us have been pushed into the extreme by varying forces. Those of us who tend towards deletionism have various reasons, but many of us have their eyes fixed on the influx of newpages. (Refresh http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spe…pecial: Newpages a few times to see how rapidly they come in). Those who tend toward inclusionism are sick of seeing perfectly legitimate information discarded. Note that deleted pages are still stored in the database, so its not like this is a capacity issue. This is an interesting debate and I don’t think it’ll ever be settled.

    Finally, there is no war on blogs. That’d be like the New York Times declaring a war on the New Yorker. Most of us had never seen that ridiculous userpage until it showed up on the main page of digg. As I said above, wikipedia and blogs are complementary forces.

    Wikipedia, being free, belongs to everyone. Anyone with an interest should edit there. Well-respected editors can influence the course of these debates, so I would encourage those who are displeased about this turn of events to join wikipedia and get involved. Becoming well-respected in our community is a simple matter of making high quality edits and acting with the core principles in mind.

    Cheers!
    Wikipedian | Edit comment Delete comment | Homepage | 12.09.06 – 6:19 am | #