10 February 2008

My Screw Up (Wikipedia Episode)

Remember when everyone started to use Wikipedia? It was the promised land. The Fountain of All Knowledge. Everything was going to be on it. It was to be an encyclopedia with some modern real world significance. And we, the people, were to build and maintain it.

It sounded an awful lot like democratic or organised communism. Which is cool, because true communism works. Indeed, it's my firm belief that Total Democracy is the only workable form of governance. But that's a story for another time.

Something has gone wrong at Wikipedia. It's been simmering below the surface for a while. The often joked-about rivalry between the vast majority of users (The casual ones) and the die-hard Admins, the Wikipedians. You know the type.

Ever heard the phrase "This article is a candidate for speedy deletion"? How about "This article requires cleanup to meet Wikipedia's guidelines" (Or some variation thereof)? Or the now infamous "This article includes a trivia section. Trivia sections are disallowed under Wikipedia's Article Guidelines. Consider integrating the contents of this list into the rest of the article or deleting it entirely." (I forget the exact wording, it's an overly long message).

That's Wikipedian handiwork. It's annoying and distracting. And frankly, I'm sick of it. Wikipedia has ceased to be the democratic Fountain of All Knowledge, built and maintained by we the people. Now it's just another encyclopedia, except it's run by an elite club sitting around coughing up guidelines left and right, enforcing them as law and begrudgingly letting us discuss perhaps maybe editing an article in its Talk Page.

This feeling has been boiling beneath me for a year - in fact I did not once edit an article on Wikipedia in 2007, nor did I consider it - but it came to head earlier today.

Whilst watching an Episode of Scrubs, I got thinking about another episode which had a song I wanted to hear in it. Unfortunately, I did not know the song's title (Scrubs is a major way I discover new songs. Such as Light & Day / Reach for the Sun). No problem, I got the songs I wanted from Scrubs episodes previously ina very simple way. I set my Firefox Search Box to Wikipedia and typed the title of the episode in.

So that's what I did. And what do I discover? The Scrubs episode pages have been deleted. Long story short, this argument has been going back and forth for about 2 months with the articles being deleted and un-deleted.

And why? The higher-ups have deigned that articles which do not do certain things must go. TV Episode pages have to meet ludicrously stringent regulations which actually effectively limit the information they provide. Scrubs seems to be the testing bed for an all-new and highly draconian interpretation of Wikipedia's regulations.

Wikipedia has ceased to be a fountain of knowledge. Never mind all knowledge. Anything which limits what I can learn from Wikipedia in anyway is, in my book, not cool. It is against the spirit of the site.

And it gets worse. As a get out, the higher ups say we should look to http://scrubs.wikia.com as the new resource for Scrubs information. Firstly, that is impractical and ludicrous. Wikipedia is visited by millions more people than any Wikia Wiki. The Scrubs Wikia is essentially a fansite, limiting the number of people who will be aware of it and thus reducing the quality and use of its content.

Secondly, and I can't emphasise this enough: Wikia is a for-profit enterprise. I don't care if it is based on Wikipedia. It exists to make its owners money, which means it is far from being "The People's Encyclopedia" as Wikipedia is meant to be.

But here's the truly troubling part...Wikia is a for-profit entity containing many Wikis which are plastered in ads to make Wikia's boss, also Mr Wikipedia, money. And now Wikipedia is being managed in such a way as to promote visiting Mr Wikipedia's meal ticket, Wikia.

Do you see the problem yet?

Jens Out

1 comment:

Joshua Issac said...

"And now Wikipedia is being managed in such a way as to promote visiting Mr Wikipedia's meal ticket, Wikia."

I never thought of it like that. It does make sense, but isn't it the administrators (and some users) who make up the rules, not Mr Wikipedia.