the wikipedia review

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Should we feel sorry for the Jay-man?

with 6 comments

No, of course not!

That’s the simple answer, at least. After all, Wikipedia’s User:Jayjg is Bad News Personified: He’s a POV-pushin’, article-ownin’, checkuser-abusin’, personal-attackin’ son-of-a-whatever. And what’s more, he does it all completely anonymously. In effect, he’s the epitome of Wikipedia’s most questionable aspects, and yet he can hardly be said to be “getting away with it” - he’s at the center of a disproportionate number of nasty incidents that occur on Wikipedia, embattled, criticized, bashed, and targeted by pro-Wikipedians and anti-Wikipedians alike, on a near-constant basis. Very few people actually like him, sort of in the way nobody ever likes the dictator’s right-hand man, even while everyone seems to think the dictator himself is a “pretty good guy.”

And yet, I can’t help but feel rather sorry for him. Why is that, I ask myself?I’ve thought long and hard on this problem, and I think I’ve finally developed a workable theory.

Jayjg represents the pinnacle, the apotheosis if you will, of how far an anonymous person can get on Wikipedia. As it turns out, that’s pretty far indeed - Jayjg has practically every administrative power in the book. This is the promise of Wikipedia, the thing that draws people in: You can change things to your liking, you can influence the way the world’s most extensive encyclopedia-like website presents information, and if you work hard enough at it, you can specifically prevent others from doing that, too. Put simply, you can <em>control!</em> For the average interweb nerd-boy, that promise of control is Wikipedia’s flimsy lace nightgown, a teaser for what lies just beneath the surface, if only you can manage to get there. For people who have never had a taste of that kind of control, and who crave it, it’s like manna from Heaven. Once you’ve tasted it, you’re hooked, you can’t give it up, you just can’t get enough, as the song goes.

Meanwhile, you tell yourself it’s really your “duty,” your “responsibility” to ensure that Wikipedia is “accurate” and “troll-free” - and that you’re doing the world a favor by helping to ensure those things. After a while, you actually start to believe that yourself, and you might even start to tell others that too. And since it’s Wikipedia, most people are compelled to believe you - not doing so would be against the rules, after all. And nobody who breaks the rules stays around for long. (You’ll see to that!)

So, how much work, how much sheer effort, has Jayjg expended on Wikipedia? It must be hundreds of man-hours, maybe even thousands. After all, 6 hours a night, 6 days a week, for 3 years… math was never my forte, but that’s a lot of hours. Some people get paid as much as $250 or more for each hour of their time, but Jayjg puts those hours in gratis. And this is the thanks he gets? Near-constant bashing, allegations of misuse of his administrative “tools,” and accusations of unwarranted censorship? Who do these people think they are, he must wonder! The very thought of it must drive him bananas.

And yet, it’s almost undeniable now that the best thing that could happen, for all concerned, would be for him to vanish from Wikipedia forever. Indeed, as I type this, he’s been gone for over a week, and things are calming down, getting back to normal, and generally turning more pleasant. “Drama,” Wikipedia’s Official Public Enemy Number One, has declined significantly (though admittedly, it’s far too early to take any real meaning from such a decline).

But he’ll be back, I’m sure of it. After all, it’s his duty, his responsibility, and he’s doing the world a huge favor… right?


Written by Somey

August 12th, 2007 at 7:01 pm

6 Responses to 'Should we feel sorry for the Jay-man?'

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  1. 6 hours a day x 6 nights a week = 36 hrs/wk. Times 52 weeks a year = 1872 hrs/yr. Times 3 years = 5616 hrs all up. If we assume he’s on a pretty normal wage of $20/hr (like you’d get $240/hr editing Wikipedia - I don’t think so!) then that’s 5616 x $20 = $112,320 that he’s owed.

    Now, if you do that, you either enjoy it a lot, are getting a lot of power out of it, or else perhaps you’re getting paid in some other way for doing it.

    He doesn’t seem to enjoy it much, from what I have seen, and while he disappears a lot of things, he isn’t really power tripping as much as a lot of other people are. So either he’s totally insane and doing it for no earthly reason, or else he’s getting paid somehow.

    Anyway it was good to have a new blog post, our first for a week. I guess we couldn’t think of anything to write about.


    12 Aug 07 at 8:11 pm

  2. That is an accurate summary of Jayjg and his issues, Somey. Forget all this paid editing nonsense and daft conspiracy theories. They’re not true. The poor guy was/is addicted to a website and the power it bestows.

    He’s been caught in a compulsive task of Sisyphus regarding Jews and Israel. The more he got involved, the harder the task became. He’s the most aggressive - and probably the most formidable POV-warrior on the site. But that apartheid spectacle was a step too far - even for Jayjg. It stepped on too many people’s toes and put him up against too many credible WP heavyweights. And, of course, it was totally corrupt.

    For everyone’s sake I hope Jayjg calls it a day. He did some terrible things he will probably regret in time, he did the odd decent thing. It’s not a matter of life or death in the end. I hope he resumes living a real life again and moving on from this business.


    12 Aug 07 at 9:44 pm

  3. I agree with Kato. But I wonder who the POV warrior will be that takes Jay’s place, with the same amount of “clout” (speaking in WIkipedia terms of clout). Will one emerge, can one emerge?

    On the decline in drama: would a long term, substantial decline in drama cause users to leave wikipedia? I’ve often got the impression that many thrive on the drama, and if it is gone, is Wikipedia still as big as it is now? Or is the premise that drama may increase the user base faulty?


    13 Aug 07 at 6:28 am

  4. There are 3 core groups:

    1) Those who use Wikipedia as a reference

    2) Those who edit Wikipedia as a hobby

    3) Those who like to make fun of Wikipedia

    The people who use it as a reference is the primary group that gives Wikipedia credibility. This group does not want drama.

    The group who edit Wikipedia as a hobby realistically probably don’t care, or might enjoy it, but they recognise the primary goal, to make it a credible site, and hence try to bury it.

    The group that likes to make fun of Wikipedia probably likes it having more drama.

    Overall, Wikipedia is significantly harmed by any negative publicity that it receives. At this stage, they are not in the “all publicity is good publicity” stage, as they are too well known. Because they managed to hide major faults for so long, it is like a dam about to burst.


    13 Aug 07 at 10:17 am

  5. It’s pretty easy, I think, to feel sorry for Jayjg. He’d been hired to cover up some pretty horrible things in a venue in which, apart from the annointings he received from Jimbo Wales, he had no particular advantage. There was no advertiser boycott to organize, no reliable Security Council veto to fall back on, etc. Just Jayjg, a few other part-timers, and some volunteers. And he had to promote stuff that he clearly knew was dreck. I suspect that, if he is departing, it is not a coincident that the Hasbara Fellowships are kicking in at the same time, and I further suspect that Jayjg has been pleading with his employers to start something like the Fellowships for a couple years now.

    While I think he knows very well that he has been, for all intents and purposes, a liar, he probably thinks its necessary in order to protect the Jewish people. Maybe he’s right, although I sincerely doubt it.


    14 Aug 07 at 3:53 am

  6. Moulton

    28 Sep 07 at 9:24 am

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