Monday, February 27, 2006

The Problems of (the Greek) Wikipedia

Wikipedia is great as long you are not part of its community. As long as one uses it just as a reference point or information source and does not try to edit it, wikipedia is fantastic!

What happens when one starts to edit this free encyclopedia is that one is bound to read its guidelines, rules, policies, come in contact with friendly or not so friendly users who help one out and becomes part of a community. I have met some great individuals through it.

Wikipedia owes its success to its freedom. Anyone can edit it, that means you and me and anyone can contribute in various ways, through personal research, ideas, suggestions, medias and translations. And thats what made wikipedia so great in so little time.

Unfortunately, no matter what the wikipedia slogan wants to declare, nothing is free in this life and wiki has to pay a big price for all its positive aspects. The price is a chaotic community, chaotic discussions, inaccurate information and insults. "Anyone can edit" means that anyone can use its pages for promoting hatred and insulting people. And that is a major matter where the greek wiki let me down. The admins inability of recognizing insulting content and removing it, makes me believe that even greater things are about to be tolerated in the same way, making wiki not trustworthy and unreliable. And that is not the wiki I want to be part of.

I came across a wiki-userpage of a very clever individual who describes the problems of wiki in a brilliant way. As he pointed out in an email to me

"I do feel that Wiki has a lot to offer and a lot of useful information; I also feel that Wiki is hitting a point where the original policies no longer work; a new set of policies need to be implemented or Wiki will degenerate in to the morass that Usenet is."

His userpage and blog with some interesting entries. Read this one, this one and this one.

9 comments:

a said...

Once the legal system holds people accountable fiscally for slander than one will be more careful what one writes on Wikipedia.

Nice to see you posting again my dear.

viruswitch said...

One day the system of wiki will inevitably change or just collapse.

I shouldnt have posted but I just had to let it out... Looking at my list... its soooo long.

Indeterminacy said...

These are excellent posts you found, and very professionally written. I was aware of this negative aspect of Wikipedia, especially the using it for defamation, slander and misrepresenetations. I realized how open it was, but thought there was enough moderation in place to hold things in check.

The articles I've read have seemed to me to be objective and complete. But my impression that there are also very many trivial articles, things that dont really belong in an encyclopedia. That increases the content that has to be moderated and makes it more difficult to concentrate on the important articles.

I also heard about a somewhat mediocre author who listed himself in the Wikiedpia as a comic author on the level with Joseph Heller and John Kennedy Toole. Which he ain't.

Indeterminacy said...

Now I remember, there was an article aobut American politicians tampering with Wikipedia content:

www.washingtonpost.com

viruswitch said...

ACtually there is no moderation in wikipedia as we mean it. Anyone can write anything as you see, and that is especially valid for userpages. The reason I left the greek wikipedia is because I saw a userpage with an indian erotic painting of three people engaging in sex. I didnt mind the painting (even though one should take into consideration that there are many users from 11-13 and up years old who contribute a great deal). But what really bothered me was the comment under the picture:

"Genital Discussion: In the perverse country of India they do such disgusting acts."

Above this picture was one of friendly parrots used to indicate the right type of discussion. Well I didnt find that funny at all.

I posted in wiki saying that this comment is an insult to a great civilization such as the Indian one. But the majority of users believed this is satiric and it should stay there. Well, since that stays I go, because I am have too deep admiration for the culture, philosophy and people of India. Before that I wasnt aware that there is no moderation in wikipedia and that administrators are not there to delete offensive content. Now that I really know how it functions... no thanks.

Indeterminacy said...

That doesn't fall under the definition of satire. It falls under the definition of primitive trash. Something like that is an embarassment to the Wikipedia concept. Incidentally, humor and satire have no place in a reference work. This doesn't even meet the definition of humor for the Uncyclopedia, the Wikipedia parody you posted about.

It seems like now that people have discovered the Wikipedia, the group of dedicated and sincere people who started it off has been irretrievably dilluted.

Indeterminacy said...

I keep thinking ybout your post here and coming back to it, because it is so unbelievable to me that a source of information would be misused in this manner. I think you should collect more examples of this and submit it to a newspaper/magazine. I don't really have an overview of the German wikipedia to be able to judge what's there. It's considerably smaller than the English language version.

viruswitch said...

It really surprises me that they think its ok. Wikipedia is generally not "beliebt" to the press. I used to wonder why they write so many negative things about it but now I know why.

Indeterminacy said...

I can't remember how I got this link. But it was in my dropdown list of sites that I had visited:

http://www.wikipedia-watch.org

Might be interesting to you. I think you should document your reasons (online) for leaving Wikipedia.