, Good or bad
Wed 11th January 2012, 6:55pm
I have as much free time as a Wikipedia admin!
Joined: Tue 18th Dec 2007, 9:25pm
Member No.: 4,212
WP user page -
I noticed the mail below on one of the Wiki-lists (public). It seemed immediately that there was much wrong with the logic, but I wonder what others think?
The first argument that occurred to me was that, if his argument was valid, then the same conclusion would apply to banks, public companies, charities and so forth. Yet we require public companies to publish the names of their directors, likewise charities. But that begs the question. Why do we require directors of companies, charities, etc to declare identities?
 On second thoughts, the analogy with companies and charities is imperfect, because of the point he makes about every action being transparent.
This post has been edited by Peter Damian: Wed 11th January 2012, 7:01pm
----- Original Message -----
From: Happy Melon
To: email@example.com ; Functionaries email list for the English Wikipedia
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 1:21 PM
Subject: Re: [Wikimediauk-l] [Functionaries-en] Edward Buckner/Peter Damian& W
What possible need is there to know the personal life story of a community member in order to "scrutinise" their actions on-wiki? In an environment where every action is quite deliberately laid open for transparent 'scrutiny', *precisely* to engender a culture where members are judged on their actions, not any personal characteristic? Why is it any more important that the name, birthday and home address of the admin who blocks "established editors" is known publically, than the same of the admin who 'only' blocks IPs? Why does knowing the marital status of your arbitrators help you or anyone else to "scrutinise" their behaviour? There is absolutely no justification from the "ends" of outing to justify any means.
Conversely, those members of the community who *have* "got further up the hierarchy" have done so with the support and endorsement of the community which is *well aware* of their pseudonymous status, anonymous or otherwise. They have done so in line with Foundation policy, which is fully protective of that anonymity. They have done so in a *legal* environment which is sympathetic to people's right to privacy and comes down hard on people who harrass others by breaking it. The entire structure is established, with increasingly broad mandates, on the basis that pseudonymity is acceptable and to be protected. What right does any single person have to declare that establishment 'wrong' and unilaterally overturn it?
Of course, I'm writing from an anonymous email account with a pseudonym that has always been in place, and probably always will. I've had things oversighted on five different projects, and removed from places where 'oversight' is far from standard practice, to protect that anonymity. Is the fact that you don't know my name, address and date of birth a concern to you? Is the fact that I've written code for the cluster, or administrated three ArbCom elections, a problem for you? Would you sleep better at night if I *hadn't* once had the Oversight bit? Please do tell me, how would your "scrutiny" of my actions be improved if my personal life was public record?
Wed 11th January 2012, 9:25pm
Joined: Fri 17th Nov 2006, 6:38pm
Member No.: 565
History has shown us that anonymity (and pseudonymity) can be an important factor in the ability to criticize and call attention to a corrupt regime. It has similarly shown that corrupt regimes often shroud themselves in various degrees of opacity and anonymity. This asymmetry befuddles some people, but it really shouldn't.
There is an argument that when Wikipedia was a fledgling startup website, no well-regarded person would want attribution for a couple of throw-away sentences typed into a somewhat quixotic experimental website styling itself as an "encyclopedia". And indeed, the earliest versions of Wikipedia had no user names, only IP addresses.
But now Wikipedia is
the establishment. Protecting anonymity and pseudonymity for editors of what might be the world's most-read (or most searched) source of trivia is foolhardy now. I might not care about the credentials of whomever typed in the cast list from Gilligan's Island (T-H-L-K-D)
, but knowing the credentials of someone writing about Dawn Wells (T-H-L-K-D)
, informs us about why they might spin things a certain way. This, of course, is vastly more important for topical issues of current events, certain long-running controversies, and any time someone might wish to damage (or enhance) the reputation of a company, person, or idea.
We rightly treat a press release differently than a news article, and both of them differently than an encyclopedia entry. Yet Wikipedia does not allow us to distinguish the motivation of the author of an article between these very different styles. This is one reason why Jimmy Wales becomes apoplectic whenever it is revealed that PR firms are editing Wikipedia -- it reveals for all to see the potential for abuse, and the structural inability of Wikipedia to avoid that abuse.
We have similarly seen incidents of people stopped at borders based on inaccurate Wikipedia entries. If we cannot know that governments are manipulating Wikipedia articles, how can we evaluate the reliability of the information we read? In one well-publicized case, Wikipedia deliberately (and for noble and humanitarian reasons) willingly suppressed information about a journalist held captive in the Middle East. But all such suppressions of information -- or insertions -- are unlikely to be equally benign.
We already see operatives for both sides in various Middle Eastern conflicts, notably the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, warring over various topic entries, trying to spin them in a favorable way for their side. These become clearer when we know the identity of the partisans (and they do tend to drive away less partisan nobodies), but we still do not know, for example, whether Jayjg (T-C-L-K-R-D)
is simply a concerned citizen writing about Israel, or a paid propagandist. The same can be said for his alter-egos on the other side of the argument.
This is not to say that encyclopedias are unbiased. Everything is biased, always, culturally, if not in other ways. Britannica
is biased from a Western, British (despite now being American), Enlightenment, Scientific point of view. This is a point of view most of us understand, and the limitations of which educated people understand as well. Encyclopedias produced by the Vatican, the People's Republic of China, or the John Birch Society would have different, but discernible, biases.
Anonymity is completely incompatible with the concept of an encyclopedia. This is not to say that every author or critic at every stage of the process need be noted, biographied, and held to account. But someone
must be accountable -- an editor, publisher, -- someone
. But in Wikipedia, there is no editorial process, there are no standards that are above manipulation, there is no consistent editorial voice about which we can deduce policy or leaning. In Wikipedia, no one is accountable, and therefore, nothing is reliable.
Wed 11th January 2012, 9:42pm
Joined: Tue 30th Nov 2010, 4:43pm
Member No.: 34,482
Anonymity is one of the privileges (and disadvantages) of the Internet. Some users even on WR, myself included, enjoy the benefit of being nameless because it at least means we don't risk the possibility of being harassed off the Internet. And I use harass in the very loose manner that Wikipediots do. If people weren't so fanatical about Wikipedia, and being stalked or annoyed wasn't a major concern to most anonymous people in the Wikipedia circle, I hardly see why I should remain anonymous. But I don't want some wiki-freak making false complaints to my boss about my participation in this site. I participate because I can enjoy anonymity, to a point.
Many Wikipedia editors should not be anonymous for reasons such as exposure of COI or "abusive" editing, or just to satisfy our own curiosity. I've tried to find out the identities of quite a few editors, but it doesn't really matter in the end. We all know that the people running Wikipedia are either nerds or underqualified jobsless authority-mongers. Daniel Brandt isn't needed to show us that.
Wed 11th January 2012, 11:36pm
Joined: Wed 19th Jan 2011, 12:39am
Member No.: 38,992
QUOTE(EricBarbour @ Wed 11th January 2012, 5:35pm)
I think it's well-known by the people only reading Wikipedia too. Anonymity of the writers is one of the first problems of Wikipedia recognized by most people who know any meta-information about the website at all. Almost all of the rest of Wikipedia's problems stem from that easy-to-come-by critique. However, even though many in the consumer class grok this problem, they also assume the internet is likely to be full of shit anyway, so they see no difference between Wikipedia and any other random website that shows up in a search engine.
Wikipedians tend to say their allowance for anonymous editing it is their best recruiting tool. They say they can get readers to join the cult because the readers will want to "fix" the problems they see. This isn't even close to being universally true. Most people when they see problems on the internet do not immediately think to themselves that it is their job to fix it. The interesting mental virus aspect of this is that it is the very arrogance of Wikipedians that make them fall for the fallacy of composition. The faulty logic goes that because Wikipedia's accessibility suckered their own arrogant self-importance, every single other consumer will always feel the same tug of needing to show they're right. This is the primary means by which Wikipedia tries to attract new editors and what you get is a ship of fools by design.
What's funny about this trope is that today the market is saturated, all who want in are already in, and the Wikipedia community is not-so-subtly obsessed with protecting the territory of those already in the door. The arrogant types at that website are hoping to become masters of their particular domain of knowledge. They think they're writing for posterity. What they are instead doing is maintaining a website that takes the hard work out of research in a laughable way that even very casual readers of Wikipedia recognize as a major flaw. Whether Wikipedia survives or not is beside the point. Even if its around for a long time, it will always be more-or-less a punchline like so much of what is found on the world wide web.
Posts in this topic
Peter Damian Anonymity Wed 11th January 2012, 6:55pm Emperor Interesting topic. I don't think it's bee... Wed 11th January 2012, 7:14pm Peter Damian
Leadership roles like checkuser and ArbCom it... Wed 11th January 2012, 7:26pm SB_Johnny
Leadership roles like checkuser and ArbCom it... Wed 11th January 2012, 7:30pm thekohser
Leadership roles like checkuser and ArbCom it... Wed 11th January 2012, 7:33pm GlassBeadGame
I noticed the mail below on one of the Wiki-lists... Wed 11th January 2012, 7:44pm lilburne At issue I believe is to have a is legal liability... Wed 11th January 2012, 8:13pm GlassBeadGame
At issue I believe is to have a is legal liabilit... Wed 11th January 2012, 9:01pm EricBarbour
In the real world would we allow anonymous accuse... Wed 11th January 2012, 9:02pm dogbiscuit There are a number of issues:
1) The audit trail ... Wed 11th January 2012, 9:20pm EricBarbour
4) It is interesting that Wikipedians hold their ... Wed 11th January 2012, 9:36pm Eppur si muove I'd like to push things back slightly from the... Thu 12th January 2012, 2:09am lilburne
It would be nice to force anyone editing a BLP t... Thu 12th January 2012, 9:10am tarantino http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikim...ary/0... Thu 12th January 2012, 4:29am Eppur si muove
[url=http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimed... Thu 12th January 2012, 11:06am EricBarbour "Dopey Fruit". Very good. I'll keep ... Thu 12th January 2012, 4:36am mbz1 An interesting conversation that really took place... Thu 12th January 2012, 7:59pm jd turk
An interesting conversation that really took plac... Fri 13th January 2012, 12:30am dogbiscuit
An interesting conversation that really took pla... Fri 13th January 2012, 12:57am radek
[quote name='jd turk' post='293725' date='Fri 13t... Fri 13th January 2012, 1:56am jd turk
The problem is that Wikipedia is not that world. ... Fri 13th January 2012, 8:18am gomi And that brings me back around to why anonymity is... Fri 13th January 2012, 8:40am radek
And that brings me back around to why anonymity i... Fri 13th January 2012, 11:49am EricBarbour
[i]Grown-ups, when writing an encyclopedia, or so... Fri 13th January 2012, 9:00pm thekohser
You are both lame fucking juvenile idiots.
The w... Fri 13th January 2012, 1:08pm radek
[quote name='gomi' post='293749' date='Fri 13th J... Fri 13th January 2012, 4:15pm thekohser
Except that WR itself is not exactly known for it... Fri 13th January 2012, 5:01pm radek
Except that WR itself is not exactly known for i... Fri 13th January 2012, 8:23pm Cedric
[quote name='thekohser' post='293773' date='Fri 1... Fri 13th January 2012, 10:07pm radek
[quote name='radek' post='293796' date='Fri 13th ... Sun 15th January 2012, 11:42pm thekohser
Last I checked Greg didn't put his name behin... Mon 16th January 2012, 5:09am radek
Last I checked Greg didn't put his name behi... Mon 16th January 2012, 6:12am thekohser
Let me be a bit more rabid and irrational: how ab... Mon 16th January 2012, 2:19pm radek
[quote name='radek' post='293978' date='Mon 16th ... Mon 16th January 2012, 7:06pm thekohser
...And hell yes, if I was one of your client... Tue 17th January 2012, 5:27am Fusion
...And hell yes, if I was one of your client... Mon 23rd January 2012, 12:38pm thekohser
[quote name='thekohser' post='294077' date='Tue 1... Mon 23rd January 2012, 1:20pm SB_Johnny
As much as you try and fool yourself that your ca... Mon 16th January 2012, 2:57pm Cedric
This is some fucked up shit - when people who run... Mon 16th January 2012, 1:04pm No one of consequence
Wikipedia is what it is because of anonymity. ... Fri 13th January 2012, 5:58pm Peter Damian Responding to the argument that editors should not... Fri 13th January 2012, 6:13pm gomi Wikipedia editors are also susceptible to attacks ... Fri 13th January 2012, 6:34pm mbz1
For better or worse, Ira Matetsky (Newyorkbradan... Fri 13th January 2012, 6:38pm gomi [quote name='gomi' post='293782' date='Fri 13th Ja... Fri 13th January 2012, 6:50pm mbz1
[quote name='mbz1' post='293783' date='Fri 13th J... Fri 13th January 2012, 7:53pm radek
Wikipedia editors are also susceptible to attacks... Fri 13th January 2012, 8:29pm lilburne
The thing is, that for every two cases like the o... Fri 13th January 2012, 9:08pm gomi The thing is, that for every two cases like the on... Fri 13th January 2012, 10:32pm radek
The thing is, that for every two cases like the o... Sat 14th January 2012, 12:41am Kelly Martin Wikipedia stopped being an Internet chat room some... Fri 13th January 2012, 5:39pm jd turk
You are both lame fucking juvenile idiots.
And t... Sat 14th January 2012, 1:13am mbz1
You are both lame fucking juvenile idiots.
And ... Sat 14th January 2012, 5:52am jd turk
You were "telling a personal story about bei... Sat 14th January 2012, 6:30am gomi [quote name='gomi' post='293749' date='Fri 13th Ja... Sat 14th January 2012, 6:50am jd turk My story had as many personal details as I'm g... Sat 14th January 2012, 7:18am LessHorrid vanU
[quote name='gomi' post='293749' date='Fri 13th J... Sat 14th January 2012, 9:19pm gomi I suspect that this will not bother you, not least... Sat 14th January 2012, 10:19pm Kelly Martin If you can't have a discussion without calling... Sat 14th January 2012, 11:07pm EricBarbour On the contrary, history is replete with effective... Sun 15th January 2012, 12:12am jd turk
Gomi, if Turk is too annoying, kick him. I don... Sun 15th January 2012, 1:14am Emperor Wikipedia is what it is because of anonymity. Tak... Fri 13th January 2012, 2:16pm Rhindle My own take:
If you fight The Man, it's ok to... Fri 13th January 2012, 10:23pm timbo I'm pretty much in agreement with Gomi on the ... Tue 17th January 2012, 2:39am EricBarbour
1. People should have to provide their real name ... Tue 17th January 2012, 2:55am timbo
1. People should have to provide their real name... Tue 17th January 2012, 7:01am pietkuip It gets tricky when some editors want it both ways... Wed 25th January 2012, 4:29pm TungstenCarbide
It gets tricky when some editors want it both way... Wed 25th January 2012, 5:07pm SB_Johnny
[quote name='pietkuip' post='294965' date='Wed 25... Wed 25th January 2012, 5:15pm pietkuip
But seriously, why are you wasting your time in t... Wed 25th January 2012, 5:22pm Emperor
Most hobbies are a waste of time. The only place ... Sun 19th February 2012, 2:12pm lilburne
Most hobbies are a waste of time. The only place ... Sun 19th February 2012, 2:56pm Fusion
Most hobbies are a waste of time. The only place... Sun 19th February 2012, 10:43pm lilburne
[quote name='lilburne' post='298231' date='Sun 19... Sun 19th February 2012, 11:34pm Peter Damian Well Jimbo has spoken (see below). What he is sug... Sun 19th February 2012, 11:39am thekohser
Well Jimbo has spoken (see below). What he is su... Sun 19th February 2012, 2:11pm lilburne
I guess it would be okay for me to post all o... Sun 19th February 2012, 2:52pm HRIP7
Most of the BLPs are a collection of publicly ava... Sun 19th February 2012, 3:21pm Kelly Martin It's interesting how Wikipedians' privacy ... Sun 19th February 2012, 4:58pm TungstenCarbide I guess it would be okay for me to post all of Jim... Sun 19th February 2012, 4:34pm Emperor
I guess it would be okay for me to post all of Ji... Sun 19th February 2012, 5:00pm thekohser
I guess it would be okay for me to post all of Ji... Sun 19th February 2012, 11:55pm EricBarbour
HE evidently doesn't understand HIS OWN posit... Sun 19th February 2012, 10:00pm Emperor
The entire Internet, in a nutshell. (Hey, so just... Mon 20th February 2012, 12:33am Selina But Flickr is anonymous too? *confused* Sun 19th February 2012, 11:52pm lilburne
But Flickr is anonymous too? *confused*
Flickr ... Mon 20th February 2012, 12:45am Selina so somewhere in the region of over 9000 I am guess... Mon 20th February 2012, 12:41am
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