"Great brilliant works are built by individuals.
Groups of people can only create average works.
Propaganda can be brilliant. It can be convincing, touching you deep in
your heart, forcing you to act, to do something about some horrible wrong
that needs to be righted. Wikipedia does not work that way. Our articles
are generally unemotional. NPOV sucks out the juice, the emotional
adjectives, the manipulative imagery, the damning headlines.
But NPOV is a different goal, and we definitely have the potential to
attain brilliance in that particular goal. I want us to provide the most
neutral presentation on controversial issues that is possible to get, with
all the facts and arguments from both sides presented in a manner that is
easy to understand.
I want Wikipedia to be a tool for those who ask questions and are
undecided about where the "truth" is, and I want us to be genuine and
honest in helping people to search for their truth and find it. Above all,
I want us to help people think for themselves, rather than telling them
what to think.
In many ways, I think these goals are more difficult to reach than to just
create great propaganda.
If you had told me a few years ago that I would be working with people who
oppose homosexuality, abortion rights, evolutionary theory, separation of
church and state, I would have taken that as an insult. But Wikipedia
brings these people together in - not always, but often - reasonable
discourse, united behind a common goal. The progress I have seen on some
articles shows that this goal *can* be reached, that we *can* reach
brilliance in areas where few have ever reached brilliance before.
That our process will work is by no means self-evident. It requires
constant discipline and oversight, and because we are in uncharted
territory, we can and will make mistakes. But only those who do nothing do
not make mistakes. And they will never experience the amazing feeling,
that satisfaction that you get when you succeed in reaching a true, fair
consensus where you know that, together, you have created something that
What is perceived as a brilliant piece of advocacy by those who already
agree with the points made, or are on the fence, may be seen as mere
propaganda by all others. The "average" tone of Wikipedia articles helps
us to move the discussion to the rational level, so that an argument on
abortion rights is no longer based on who has the most convincing embryo
photos, but rather on the facts for and against the matter.
We don't try to trick people. We are all seekers of truth, and we are all
united behind that altruistic goal of helping one another to find it.
And that, I believe, is true brilliance.