Who edits Wikipedia and why? (video)

Via the BBC’s Focus magazine, a video interview with myself and two Wikipedia colleagues. This was filmed at the Watershed on the day of Jimmy Wales’ visit to Bristol for the free encyclopedia’s tenth birthday.

My answers on the spot didn’t capture the true reasons why I contribute. A main factor is that people regard what they find in Wikipedia as fact, so I’m horrified that so much of it is incomplete or misleading. I’ve also come round to the view that this is a project that is genuinely changing the world for the better.

The Jimmy Wales interview filmed on the same day is a truly excellent overview of current issues facing Wikipedia:

  1. #1 by metasonix on April 20, 2011 - 10:18 am

    Mr. Poulter:

    I have been participating at Wikipedia Review, and criticizing Wikipedia, for more than three years. And it is my opinion that Ed [redacted because of the nature of this discussion. He’s not kept his name secret, but it doesn’t seem in his interest to publicise it further -MLP]’s article in ASKE is actually quite conservative with regards to the unreliability and bias of Wikipedia.

    There is a private area on Wikipedia Review where I have been posting Wiki-atrocities and Wiki-disasters. Almost every day I dig up another one. EN-Wiki is a massive mess, in my honest opinion. Ed could have, and perhaps should have, gone further.

    The dominant thread that runs thru most of en-Wiki’s bias is a strongly corrupt internal culture, politically liberal and anti-corporate, opposed to religions and cults, and absolutely not “neutral” in even the most generous definition. I’ve seen the POV violations routinely committed by powerful administrators like [Names redacted. You’re welcome to comment on my blog, including saying things I disagree with, but please don’t use it to harass or smear individual editors – MLP]. I’ve seen the rotten tricks played by pro-Israel editors to get their opponents banned for life, and good reliable information removed. I’ve seen thousands of biographies of living people that were being edited by their subjects—openly, with impunity, because nobody’s watching; because Wikipedia pretends to be “not censored” while presenting false information; and because flagged revisions, a system used with success on the German and Japanese WPs, is not even up for discussion on the English WP. Because it’s “unpopular”. Because Wikipedia is “not censored”. And mostly because certain administrators would lose power if flagged revisions were implemented.

    Sir, some of your admin friends lie to you every day. They lie, and they get away with it. They stab good contributors (like Ed Buckner, and thousands of others) in the back, every day. Because they want to control certain articles, and because they must be devious and corrupt to do it. The place is set up for corruption.

    I’ve seen mountains of crap text on Wikipedia–embarrassments, that sit there year after year. Massive tomes, about utterly trivial and unworthy subjects, written by a single crazy person. No one can touch them because some lunatic admin will protect the crap, by playing dirty, at all costs. One hand washes the other, and facts are not important.

    I’ve also seen the messes on Commons photo servers–of hundreds of amateur close-up photos of men’s penises, of commercial porn, of blatant copyright violations, and of things verging on child pornography. All carefully protected and championed by certain crackpots who bleat that Wikipedia is “not censored!”. Because they like the porn and the stolen content. (Yes, there are even a few pedophiles editing Wikipedia, making it more positive about the “virtues” of adults raping children.)

    Why did this mess come into being? I”ll be blunt: it happened because Fearless Leader, Jimmy Wales, is a pathological liar and manipulator. He is not an honest man. And when he set up Wikipedia’s internal administration scheme (especially Arbcom), he installed equally dishonest friends and allies. These people are not interested in writing a general-interest encyclopedia, they are interested in their own personal biases and obsessions and madnesses.

    I’d go into more detail, but there simply isn’t room here. If you create an account on Wikipedia Review, there are dozens of regular users on it who will be happy to run down more details for you. Including some things that will disgust and outrage you, I can practically guarantee it.

  2. #2 by Martin Poulter on April 21, 2011 - 3:56 pm

    Welcome Metasonix. Thanks for your concern that I’m being lied to. I think I’m experienced enough to decide for myself who the liars are, who is biased and who “plays dirty at all costs”. [I’ve redacted a statement here. -MLP]

    The complaints that I see on Wikipedia Review are just as tangential and bizarre: I’ve long known about the site. Your own comment has a familar mix of hysterical-sounding attacks without articulating what your complaint is. You and I agree that there is a large proportion of poor quality content on Wikipedia: I gave a talk about this at the weekend, and I put time into improving the articles. I disagree strongly with your attacks on individuals, on claims of an anti-corporate culture (too much corporate PR is one of the problems) your prudishness about men’s private parts and your speculation about people’s intention. I do not experience admins protecting the poor-quality content you’re talking about.

  3. #3 by stanistani on April 22, 2011 - 12:57 am

    [I’ve now removed this after a request from Ed. I think it was a fair representation of what Ed said, and valid context for his complaint, but happy to be corrected. – MLP.]

    What a vile thing to say about a fellow human being without substantiation.

    By the way, Wikipedia Review is a forum whose goal is not to destroy Wikipedia, but to critically review it – if you speak freely on Wikipedia itself, you may be banned. Do not confuse the aims of a few radical members with the goal of the site.

    I am a member of both Wikipedia and the Review. I do not aim to destroy Wikipedia, but to reduce the harm that its BLPs (Biographies of Living Persons) can cause to their subjects.

    I also try to bring a lighter atmosphere to the Review. I’m not feeling very light-hearted today in view of your calumny.

  4. #4 by David Wilson on April 22, 2011 - 6:15 am

    Martin Poulter wrote:
    [I’ve now removed this after a request from Ed – MLP]

    Dr Buckner has flatly contradicted these allegations in this post on Wikipedia Review. If the above-quoted allegations are based on nothing more than the remarks which Dr Buckner there implies were apparently your only possible basis for them, then you are guilty of a flagrant misrepresentation of what he wrote.

    Even if your account of what Dr Buckner wrote had been accurate, it would still have been completely irrelevant to a proper evaluation of his ASKE article, and your gratuitous publication of it on your blog is precisely the sort of ethical breach on the part of Wikipedia’s participants which keep providing grist for Wikipedia Review’s mill.

  5. #5 by Martin Poulter on April 22, 2011 - 11:02 am

    Welcome Stan and David. In the course of defending statements about Wikipedia, Ed asked for the Foundation to do a particular thing. It seems that’s not part of his public complaint against the Foundation, and we’re not supposed to mention that thing. Happy to be corrected, and apologies to Ed. My own opinions are being misrepresented: I’ve never stated that WIkipedia Review’s goal is to destroy WIkipedia. That’s unfair and unethical to represent my view in that way, but I don’t seek to censor that, just correct it.

  6. #6 by stanistani on April 22, 2011 - 2:27 pm

    ‘In the course of defending statements about Wikipedia, Ed asked for the Foundation to do a particular thing. It seems that’s not part of his public complaint against the Foundation, and we’re not supposed to mention that thing.’

    You’re still misrepresenting comments made in another venue.

    Now that you have stopped throwing toxic mud, however, instead of attacking the messenger, could you consider the message?

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