There were a lot of good comments in the sock puppet post, and I’m going to just pull out bits without giving proper credit, because I’m a bit tired today, and actually not feeling all that great.
I am in the Wikipedia now. Does this make me an insider who is an outsider? Or an outsider who somehow sneaked in? I appreciate those who spoke up for me, and those who didn’t. The experience was illuminating. I don’t plan on following changes to the page frequently–watched pot and all–but I’ll also not hesitate to edit information in error, or add links to new material. This purist, “I never touch the stuff” is for wankers.
Oh, I don’t mean to be insulting to those with such high moral standards. But I’m not sure who invented this ‘rule’ of not editing your own entry, other than it, like most of the guidelines at ‘Pedia are usually preceded with “Jimbo says”. If you see an error in any page, shouldn’t you correct it? If it’s your page, dropping a note in discussion hinting that it would be rather nice to see so and so corrected strikes me as overly coy, and I don’t have much patience for coy.
The guidelines state that the Wikipedia reflects a neutral POV (point of view), but there is no neutral point of view. History is nothing if not colorful; forming, gradually, when each person daubs about with their own favorite hue. Wikipedia will either eventually end up the world’s largest list of bullets and be very, very accurate and very, very dull; or it will continue as it is: a mix of views, fact, and fiction; some cleverly written, some not.
As for the rest–the Jimbo says, Jimbo says, Jimbo says… I’m too old to be a follower, and too young to be led. I appreciate this toy, this weed, this wonder that Jimbo has loaned us; but hey, there you go: I can’t take anything seriously that starts with Jimbo says…
(Why ‘loaned’? Jimbo Wales position in the Wikipedia Board of Directors is not open for vote by members of Wikipedia. Ultimately he and two other non-elected members of the Board control the destiny of Wikipedia. As such, we can never consider Wikipedia anything more than a loan to the public.)
What interests me the most, though, is the interpretation of the individual editors about these ‘rules’ and guidelines. For instance, in the voting (excuse me, discussion page), my bonafides were established by the fact that I am an author with an audience of over 5,000 people. What validated this, though, is that O’Reilly is a publisher of several of my books; O’Reilly is, from what I could see in the discussion, a publisher that has already gone through some validation process, and therefore their validation added weight to my own validation, by association.
However, there was disagreement about my worth because I’m a writer of technology books–comparable to a person who writes toaster manuals. But if a toaster manual writer is successful, and with a high enough audience, does this preclude them getting an entry?
Regardless, I also found out during this process that entries for death row inmates invariably get accepted. If I get too much the big head, I can remind myself of this fact.
As for the openness of the Wikipedia, well, as we found there’s open and then there’s open. Is a hierarchy forming in the management of the Wikipedia? Yes. Does this preclude the occasional moment of rebellion? No.
Humility was also mentioned in the sock puppet comments, and that did catch my attention. It’s not that some people are pushing back at Wikipedia because of what it is, but what’s being said about it. We hail each new innovation as if we’re re-inventing the printing press. As mentioned, the concepts behind Wikipedia are not new–it is the execution that is unique, and that helped along by enough money to fund storage until the beastie took off.
I think, though, it would be wonderful to see more humility around our little efforts, but this is not a humble world. No, there is no such thing as a humble Wikipedia editor; nor, to be honest, a humble weblogger.
The truly humble person is a selfish git who would not dream of sharing. Luckily, we’re all less than perfectly humble, and perfectly willing to share. (Though some of us are persist in holding on to the ragged remnants of humility and will only share grudgingly, and with many caveats.)
I digress (I do this frequently in today’s writings). I did enjoy the discussion about deleting the page. I have a lowering feeling that the page, itself, will not end up half so interesting as the discussion about deleting it was. As such, I must link to the AfD — if only to add character to a page that sounds very factual, and, as a consequence, somewhat dull.
What else can I say about the Wikipedia page? No matter the facts listed there, it will never say as much about me as this weblog. If you ask me if all I write here is the truth, I’ll say, “Yes”. If you ask me if it’s all a lie, I’ll say “Yes”. However, I promise not to play such games at the Wikipedia.
Oh, but I must add the entry about being a masseuse in Salt Lake City…