[Foundation-l] English Wikipedia ethnocentric policy affects other communities

GerardM gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Sat Dec 23 14:59:58 UTC 2006

I am a person. I have a name. You know me by my nick, GerardM, you may have
deduced that I am known as Gerard Meijssen. You are not likely to know my
full name.

In the Netherlands in the second world war, people had to identify
themselves and always have their "persoonsbewijs" with them. At the end of
the war this was abolished. The Dutch government imposed itself by requiring
people to have a number and then to always be able to have some form of
identity with them. Many people resent this. I resent this. It is said that
it promotes security while in actual fact it makes government more
intruisive while it hardly helps .. mind you I have a background in

The Wikimedia Foundation allows people to edit anonymously. This means that
for someone who wants to contribute there is no need to provide any
credentials. We ask people to create a user because it HELPS to assess if a
contribution is likely to be vandalism or not. The requirement that a user
name uses only characters of one script is sensible. It does not detract
from who someone is. When you impose on people by requiring to accomodate
you in a way that is completely against the grain of culture of these
others. When you do this, when the basis of inclusion is that you know to
find the "edit" button, you ask too much.

The current policy will, when the English language Wikipedia insist in
keeping it, effectively sabotage the Single User Login. The proposal of
Anthere is a neat proposal because it effectively allows for metrics about a
user. This information provides much better information than a number and it
does not have the big cultural problems associated with it that numbers

The other thing that I have noticed is that in the proposals it is only the
people from outside the English language Wikipedia who are forced to do
things. When it is suggested that the en.wikipedia community may have to do
things as well it is flatly rejected. Admins who go overboard in their heavy
handed zeal of fighting vandalism get a blanket excuse because ``they mean
well``. The suggestion of loading fonts is laughed at because it is seen as
an imposition.

All in all, my conclusion is very much that, yes people say that the policy
is wrong, but no they do not want to accept that things will change. This
leads me to conclude that people in the English language Wikipedia see
themselves as a rule onto themselves and will not really consider the
arguments of others.

Any way,


On 12/23/06, Michael Noda <michael.noda at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 12/22/06, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
> > It was suggested that people were given a number. This is imho
> > dehumanising and I am dead against it.
> May I ask why you think displaying a number next to usernames is
> dehumanising?  You have stated this several times now, but I'm very
> confused as to why exactly you think this.  I know that, in my life,
> I've had an ID number in many contexts, and never saw it as anything
> more than an aid to indexing and search for whoever issued me the
> number, and never really gave the subject much thought afterwards.  So
> I'm struggling to understand where you're coming from when you react
> so strongly against assigning numbers, and would appreciate it if you
> could help enlighten me.
> -Michael Noda
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