A Wikipedia Dissenter's Credo
I swear by Zeus and Apollo and all the old gods who we don't believe in anymore (which is doubtless why the world is so screwed up) that I will make the following changes, as regards my further use of my longstanding, and still active, Wikipedia name-user account.
These vows for action I take in protest of the way Wikipedia is handled. Wikipedia runs without any acknowledgement of any accountability by its board of directors at the WikiMedia Foundation (WMF) for its content, particularly its content regarding biographies of living people. At the same time, WMF continues to retain effective power over any of Wikipedia's content, by means of retaining the ability to make any change whatsoever in the site's policy, or its present content, or its records of past content.
WMF also continues to retain ownership of all software and hardware in connection with Wikipedia, making the issue of final responsibility in any long-contested question of content or policy, physically obvious. WMF does have the plugs and connectors and programmers, and thus they do have complete power, on all timescales longer than ordinary human-organization reaction time. And they will say so, in any ultimate contest of strength, except when temporarily legally convenient to claim otherwise. This is the problem.
This level of hypocrisy has become untenable to me. Even if the legal system of my country, the United States, has not (yet) recognized it in terms of libel law.
THERFORE, henceforth, I will take more honest steps toward my own Wikipedia editing, to ensure that I myself do not follow the hypocrisy which I criticize in Wikipedia. I do not ask others to do the same, but provide my own thinking, in the hope that it may save others some time if they happen to be upon the path that I am on.
 I swear by Zeus to make no further edits to Wikipedia, other than those which give me artistic pleasure and/or please my ego in creating something which pleases me by its very existence, for its own sake. I will edit for the same reason I may play the piano or violin, when I am alone. I will henceforth edit for no other reason.
 If accused of editing merely for myself, to please my own ego or aesthetic sense, I will keep quiet. I may say to myself "Quel était le premier indice pour vous, M. Poirot?"
[What gave you your first clue, Sherlock?], but I will not argue with Wikipedia. Let them think what they will.
 I will attempt to make editorial changes on Wikipedia that appear by comparison so necessary, and are so clear and pure in language, that it will not even occur to future readers to change them. I find this goal worthy, and I do it because it is interesting and difficult. I do what pleases me. Your mileage, as to what work on Wikipedia pleases you (if any), may vary.
 I abjure and renounce any belief that editing Wikipedia is necessarily an altruistic enterprise. This remains an open question. To what extent it may be, is impossible to tell. In any case, I wish to hear no more about poor children in Africa. I observe that the altruism of contributing to a third-world-helping project can be used as a stick, to beat guilty Western volunteers with, to get them to work for somebody else's gain, for free. I swear that I will never let this argument as regards world poverty and Wikipedia, influence me, ever again.
 Because of Wikipedia's deliberate policy of encouraging and coddling anonymous vandalism ("anyone can edit"), in part by simply failing to require emailed password protection to ensure that name-users have traceable email accounts, I swear I will never revert another Wikipedia vandalism. The exception is as they happen to occur coincidentally as byproducts in the course of making an edit in which I am interested in for its own artistic sake. Likewise, in a similar way, I swear I will not fix isolated spelling or grammatical errors, or copyedit Wikipedia, again except as happens in the course of making some change more interesting to me personally.
Vandalism problems are largely the result of poor choices by Wikipedia and those who run it. By helping to fix their consequences, I realize that am helping to enable folly. After proper warning, "enablers" in some sense deserve what they get, and that is (as a rule) that they find themselves used for someone else's selfish purposes. I acknowledge that many enablers (of Wikipedia and in other spheres) work from love, which is not to be belittled. But a person may love the mountains without the mountains loving them back. Wikipedia, as an artificial and somewhat fluid and sociopathic enterprise, has some of the same characteristics of inanimate objects. It is wise not to invest in "relationships" with inanimate objects.
 Because of Wikipedia's encouragement of allowing nonprofessionals and the ignorant to edit academic subjects, I hereby swear I will no more edit articles on which I am a formal and citable academic expert. This leads only to conflict and no lasting pleasure for anyone. It has led to infuriation for me. I therefore leave these articles to those who would deface them. Editing Wikipedia is a Buddhist exercise in learning to let go of that which one inappropriately is attached to.
 I will made edits which I know to be true and worthy of citation, but unless citation is easily at hand, I will not bother to add it. This is unproductive. If an edit of mine is obviously true, or better worded, or both, a citation will be found by someone else quickly, or the statement will stand without a citation indefinitely. If the statement is not
popular, a citation rarely helps. In any case, I will not waste the time to try to prove that which people do not want to believe, by this means. This wastes time, and causes unpleasantness.
 Nor do TALK page arguments convince fools. I will therefore not argue on talk pages. If one argues with a fool, chances are that he is then doing just the same. I vow to avoid arguing with fools on Wikipedia, but will let them have their way. I will instead go on to find, and perhaps work on, other articles of less general interest. Nothing, time-wise, is worth an ArbCom hearing, or even RfC. These procedures, in a semi-democratic setting of anonymous entities protected in their anonymity by Wikipedia policies, are so deeply flawed in so many ways, that it is best to keep away from them altogether. In a game such as Wikipedia where power is held by those without responsibility, the only way to win is not to play. I will not play at power games on Wikipedia.
 I will not criticize bad administrators or their actions on Wikipedia, nor even vote "no" for RfA candidates I do not like. This only generates vendettas which last for months or years, and are not worth it. Most bad administrators on Wikipedia are not bad people--they are simply bad administrators. Bad administrators tend to self-destruct, and those that don't, have social connections outside of Wikipedia which make them impossible to get at, with Wikpedia tools anyway. In few cases is getting involved a productive use of my time. I will limit my participation in RfCs to simple one-line support votes for candidates I very much like of reasons of my personal noting of the quality of their work.
 I reserve the right to criticize, ridicule, or otherwise satirize Wikipedia and those who run it, in other media, where the time penalty is small, and vendettas to punish such criticism are not mobsterish. Time doing this on other websites, such as Wikipedia Review, is also possibly wasted in terms of changing Wikipedia. However, criticism is an art form also. I do it for the pleasure of it, even if perhaps it changes nothing. The odds that criticisms made about Wikipedia in other venues will be effective is much higher, since Wikipedia defends itself against criticism posted on Wikipedia itself. Do not write in water.
 I will not attempt to change Wikipedia policy by arguments on Wikipedia; after seven years of sameness, I have learned this is a particularly fruitless exercise. In particular I will stay away from anything on the "perennial proposals" list, realizing that it is perennial because usually it is a good idea suggested by many people before me, but yet still a proposal because shot down by an eternal cadre of incompetents or the socially-challenged, many times before. Why should I repeat this cycle again, but this time wasting my own time?
 Realizing that web-biography of unwilling living people, at least those who are not already exceedingly world-famous, is immoral, I will have nothing to do with it, in any way. I will not attempt to fix these bios, since this leads to reactionary wars, and wasted time. I will not start or contribute to such articles, and will not support those who do.
I will, however, support unauthorized biographies of Wikipedia living-biography editors THEMSELVES, in other venues, as an exercise to open their minds, regarding the difference between giving and receiving pain.
 Perhaps it is needless to add that, given the above, I will not request administrator-ship on Wikipedia nor accept any Request for Administratorship, if a nomination is offered me. Nor have I ever done so, and I realize now, why not. Administration of Wikipedia involves so many automatic chores of a completely unnecessary nature, that I believe it is deplorable, and unworthy of sapient human beings. To be sure, the same may be said of whittling, playing video games, or staring into a log fire. But these things rarely have the hold on life which Wikipedia can take.
It is true that even without being an administrator and while making edits which please only me, I may enable WMF and Jimmy Wales, to some extent. However, since I also enable myself aesthetically and emotionally with such edits, as in the production and reproduction of all art, I am in no danger of being used, and there is balance from the outset. I do not wait for a reward, for the reward has been given at the time I edit. All administrators, by contrast, are in severe danger of being used, for few of them spent most of their time contributing artistic content for the sake of seeing the content remain.
 That said, I refuse to belittle those who, with open eyes, take more of a role in administrating WIKIPEDIA, cleaning up vandalism, fixing spelling errors, moving pages, making templates and adding them, and the like. If this truly makes them happy on the spot, and not for the sake of future reward of promises of a future world-changing enterprise, then let them do it. But likewise, if it makes people happy to be bound in leather and fitted with an inflatable rubber mouth gag, then let them do that. I urge only that all people connected to Wikipedia not to let themselves be used. I advise all persons not ever to sacrifice themselves for any person or cause, unless they have the expectance of a long and permanent relationship, which is reciprocated. Most people and causes are not worth the effort, and when they turn out not to be, the person who has invested in them finds they have sacrificed part of your lives for nothing, on behalf of something which never cared about them. Therefore, in most cases, edit Wikipedia only when you wish to be alone for other reasons. Wikipedia is not your friend and will not substitute for a friend.
 Likewise, I will refuse to criticize those who go farther than I have, and will have nothing at all to do with editing Wikipedia. If these people don't like to edit, or else they DO enjoy it, but are protesting in the manner of a "hunger strike," then whatever pleases them, is fine with me. But do me the same courtesy as regards my own editing, please. All of us will face the future of our time choices eventually.
 I reserve the right to change my mind when Wikipedia's policies eventually change, as eventually they must. Since I now have some thousands of edits over more than several years on Wikipedia, I expect to have many of my old former edits still surviving in what is the new Universal Online Encyclopedia, when it appears many years in the future. A good edit should transcend authorship and should transcend the media and the many users of it for one reason or another, for many years. And if this does not happen for many of my own edits, then it may well be that I'm not the writer that I think I am, and that learning experience will be useful, too. Life is education and entertainment, and I am willing to take the first with the second. But entertainment rules my editorial involvement with Wikipedia, from this day forward.
 In all cases, I swear by all the gods that from now on, the minute I don't enjoy being logged into Wikipedia, is the minute I log off and move on to something else. I have not always done this in the past--- this I confess! But this is part of the reason for this credo. Bad experience teaches, and it is never too late for learning and change.
 Reminder to self: get a life.
June 8, 2008 This post has been edited by Milton Roe: Sat 17th October 2009, 3:52am