The internet has always been a favorite place for those who enjoy the odd bit of irrational hyperbole now and again, along with the occasional complete breakdown of logic, and of course the ever-popular just-plain-wierd utterance. (Disclamer: The Wikipedia Review isn’t immune to this, though there’s nowhere near as much of it here as we’ve been accused of having - at least in some quarters.)
Hardcore users and administrators on the English Wikipedia have a variant of the English language all their own, full of acronyms and jargon, as well as some rather creative redefinitions of popular terminology.
A good example of the latter is the term “conflict of interest.” This normally refers to a situation in which a person has a vested interest in some enterprise, usually involving some degree of fiduciary or employee responsibility, and another enterprise whose interests conflict with the first one. A good example might be a politician who owns stock in a defense contractor, or a reporter who is a member of a church or charitable organization that’s the subject of an article being written by, well, that same reporter.
On Wikipedia, a “conflict of interest” means just about anything that conflicts with Wikipedia’s interests or policies. That is to say, when you log in to Wikipedia, you’re supposed to be a Wikipedian first, and everything else…? Preferably, not at all. Your business, your profession, your family, even your own personal reputation must take a back seat to Wikipedia’s internal vision of itself. Some of the more committed Wikipedians have even gone so far as to suggest that anything less is “unethical,” as if persons representing a website open to editing by anyone with an IP address can legitimately make such claims in any way whatsoever. So that’s another word cleverly redefined by Wikipedians: “ethical.”
Wikipedians also like to use the word “pseudonymous” to refer to their adoption of fanciful user names, as opposed to the more widely-understood term, “anonymous.” The argument is that these user names develop reputations and clout after a while, and in effect, deserve at least some of the considerations that real, identifiable people might receive - at least within the context of Wikipedia itself. Sounds fair, doesn’t it? And indeed, it often is, except that they also believe that adopting the word “pseudonymous” means they can summarily reject the word “anonymous.” That, of course, is wrong. A person using a pseudonym can do so anonymously, or not. They’re not mutually-exclusive terms.
Another popular redefinition among Wikipedians is that of the word “stalking.” In the real world, “stalking” usually refers to the act of following a person to their home or office, lying in wait, and generally trying to intimidate the person for a variety of reasons that often include deep psychosis and sexual deviancy. On the internet, the term “cyberstalking” is slightly less disturbing, usually referring to the act of sending threats, particularly physical ones, to another person via e-mail or some other mode of electronic communication - which could conceivably include a Wikipedia talk page.
However, Wikipedians like to use this word for nearly every action by another user that they consider unpleasant, or even just inconvenient. For example, let’s say you’ve been working on an article about your hometown, and someone comes along and accuses you of deliberately lying, or some such terrible thing. Naturally, you’re interested in what that person might be saying about you elsewhere on Wikipedia, so you go to that person’s contributions list. You might find that he or she has, indeed, been posting terrible things about you elsewhere too, but what you’re more likely to find are similar accusations made against other people. (Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.)
Naturally, you’re going to want to go to some of those other pages and point out this objectionable user’s pattern of “incivility” and general unpleasantness - but then you would be “stalking,” according to the Wikipedian definition. You would also be “stalking” if you (for example) corrected that person’s consistent misspelling of a word, which he or she had painstakingly screwed up in a series of articles found by his entering the correct spelling into the Wiki’s internal search engine and changing it in every result he (or she) could find.
Needless to say, it’s difficult to take people seriously who are so prone to misappropriation of common English terms and phrases. And, in fact, we usually don’t.