Archive for March, 2008
“If people can write a functional open source operating system, there is no reason why they can’t write an encyclopaedia.”
This comparison keeps turning up, and while it sounds reasonable on a sloganeering level, its fundamentally wrong.
The driver for the development of Linux is real and pressing - the movement of mass computing to a monolithic, corporately-controlled standard is stiflingly unhealthy, and OSS breeds diversity and invention. Particularly, had LAMP [Editors note: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP] not been created, a lot of the web innovation of the last decade likely wouldn’t have happened. Good-quality developers were drawn to OSS for good reasons, and established a decent level of governance because you just can’t engineer software without it. Because the technically incompetent don’t last long, Linux benefits from a virtuous circle: better software = more users = more developers = better software.
On 23 March 2008, Canadian journalist Rachel Marsden posted the below to her user space on Wikipedia, she posted the same thing to Jimbo Wales’s talk page. Marsden had conducted a brief affair with the Wiki God-King, who then ordered changes to her biography on her behalf. In early March, Wales posted a long personal message on Wikipedia detailing the end of their relationship. Marsden’s response some three weeks later, posted to the same place, was hastily deleted by Wales’s Wiki-minions and Marsden was unceremoniously blocked from the site.
Rachel Marsden : As anyone who has ever cared about Jimbo here knows, the only way to have any sort of rational or caring discussion with him is in the Wikimatrix here. Alright, fine. Game on, sweetheart. Newsflash: Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia; it is a cult. I wouldn’t even be included in a real encyclopedia. I want the Wikipedia entry about me deleted. I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept to accept.
This post was submitted to the forum by The Review’s resident Wikipedia Watcher Daniel Brandt. The post was in response to a piece in The Register by Cade Metz researching Roger McNamee, the major donor to the WikiMedia Foundation.
Daniel Brandt: The New York Times yesterday quoted Florence:
Florence Nibart-Devouard, the chairwoman of the Wikimedia board, who has never met Mr. McNamee, did not sound enthusiastic.
“It’s not a huge concern right now, but I am not comfortable with the concept,” she said, of venture capitalists consistently making donations to the foundation. “I would much prefer a varied diverse base of donors, some could be large, some could be long-term friends, who help in finding new friends. I hope the foundation won’t rely on these relationships.”
She said that she had proposed a resolution, passed recently, to require that any donation larger than 2 percent of revenues be approved by the board. And she said she would “make some noise” if a venture capitalist were to try to become a board member.
In the same NYT piece, Jimbo very strongly stated that Wikipedia will always remain nonprofit, and he will continue to show the door to greedy venture capitalists.
I think there’s a conspiracy going on, and Florence’s reaction is reasonable, but too little and too late. She’s in over her head. Jimbo is pushing bullshit to distract from the conspiracy. It’s sort of hard to tell, because Jimbo is almost always unbelievable. Maybe that’s by design!
Wheel-Warring in WikiDrama, like political give and take everywhere, follows an oft-observed model. The model presented here applies in general to all WikiDrama at any level of intensity, from a simple reversion to clamorous kerfuffle and brouhaha. It has 5 stages.
1. Mimetic Desire for One’s Point of View
One editorial clique establishes their Point of View as an editorial objective and other editors react with a countervailing drive for their complementary Point of View.
2. Mimetic Rivalry for More Prominence
Now the editorial cliques begin competing for prominence. Whatever winning strategies emerge, the less experienced editors copy them. To survive in Wikipedia, an editor must become deft at gaming the labyrinthine rules of the system.
Recently we focused on the plight of Overstock.com representative Judd Bagley, and his efforts to have Wikipedia acknowledge that feuding journalist Gary Weiss was using a number of aliases to “control” articles related to the company.
Other media sources have examined how Wikipedia came to be used as, in Bagley’s words, “a literal weapon against me and others”. Here we examine how a group of leading Wikipedia administrators, some of whom were in private email communication with the journalist, acted as opinion leaders in the Wikipedia community, thus implicitly sanctioning and encouraging others to side with Weiss and against Overstock.
Bagley and Overstock became known as “Enemies of the Wiki” for exposing the details of Weiss’s edits. And like a cult on the attack against “heretics”, the inner core of Wikipedia administrators set to work demonizing Bagley. Bagley’s perfectly legal and legitimate efforts to highlight the anonymous targeting of Overstock were twisted into accusations of “stalking” and “evil harrassment” from Wikipedians. Characterization of his methods eventually became so exaggerated by the Wiki-cult that they mutated into blatant falsehoods, reminiscent of the lies propagated against Wikipedia critic Daniel Brandt. Below are examples of this systematic character assassination by leading administrators taken from Wikipedia’s talk channels:
(It should be noted that Bagley’s claims regarding Wikipedia were later proved beyond reasonable doubt in an extensive evidence collecting process by concerned administrators. The wider claims regarding the US financial markets, which were at the center of the dispute, were in line with measures taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission this year. This week, Bagley will be appearing with Wikia CEO Gil Pechina on a panel, discussing “Web 2.0: The Emerging Law of Wiki, Blogs and Social Networks and Its Impact on Traditional Business and Entertainment”, where the matter will no doubt be discussed.)
[Bagley] is an obsessive troll. And I thought we’d learned our lesson about “sleuthing” established editors. It’s got nothign to do with that other site you’re involved in, other than as the venue for Bagley publishing his possibly fraudulent evidence. I don’t know why anyone would give him the time of day, he’s so obviously off in laa-laa land on this subject.