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

GerardM gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Sun Dec 24 13:59:28 UTC 2006


On 12/24/06, Andrew Gray <shimgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 24/12/06, Michael Noda <michael.noda at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On 12/23/06, GerardM <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Hoi,
> > > 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.
> >
> > Indeed.  But, would I really be in a different position if you
> > appeared in the recent changes log as GerardM (535367), which is how
> > you appear on Slashdot?  Does Slashdot reduce you to *just* a number,
> > or are you a name there as well?  To me, GerardM (535367) is as much a
> > name as GerardM, because it's the same name.
> Or, rather, GerardM is still the same name whatever we stick after it.
> (535367) isn't a name; it's an administrative convenience. My name is
> Andrew Gray; my name at university was still Andrew Gray, but - for
> reasons of administrative convenience, we having four Andrew Grays,
> one with the same  middle name and college - some records used the
> identifying code d037n8. When I did my second degree, some records
> listed me with 0402330 alongside my name. For reasons of personal
> convenience, I use a uniform nickname in many online systems - it's
> unique to me and unlikely to cause confusion.
> None of this was dehumanising, and it never infringed on my privacy.
> Per your second remark, we had identity cards too, in the UK, for
> fifteen years; we are fighting against having them now (and losing,
> damnit). But having a number assigned to you *for administrative
> convenience*, used only to help identify you in a computer system, is
> not even remotely comparable with requiring you to carry papers and
> present them to minor officials on a whim.
> We're not talking about making everyone change their name to fit a
> bureaucratic mould. We're not talking about increasing security, save
> in that by making people comfortable with unfamiliar scripts they're
> less likely to react stupidly to seeing them. We're talking about
> taking a number *which MediaWiki already uses, internally, to refer to
> you* and making it optionally visible in order to aid the use of the
> wiki by those who cannot read certain scripts.
> (It has wider benefits, too, even with users of the same alphabet - a
> screenreader program for the blind, in any language, is much more
> likely to render a six-digit number in a memorable manner than it is
> to come up with a decent interpretation of a "confusing" word foreign
> to it. God knows what average Anglo-American screenreader software
> makes of a moderately uncommon form of a Dutch or Turkish name at the
> best of times - many of them still think England had a king called
> "Henry Viyeiyeiye". Instituting the number would be marvellous *just
> to deal with silly signatures on enwp alone*, much less the beneficial
> effects on scripts!)
> I have a hard time seeing any significant privacy implications. The
> only additional information disclosed is roughly how old your account
> is - for accounts created since September 2005 we can tell this to the
> minute anyway, and there's nothing stopping us arbitrarily randomising
> numbers if this goes live.
> Gerard, your objections to dehumanising or ethnocentric actions are
> clear, but I'm not sure that this proposal is quite what you interpret
> it to be; it certainly doesn't seem to deserve quite this strong a
> reaction.
> --
> - Andrew Gray
>   andrew.gray at dunelm.org.uk

There is a big difference how it is perceived by people from your cultural
background and the way it is seen by those who have a different cultural
background. From your point of view it is clear, my POV seems to be
unreasonable. The problem is that for you to get a NPOV you have to address
the other POV as well. When people say that discrimination is blind, it is
meant that people do not understand how a certain attitude, opinion affects
others. For the record, I do not mean to say that you MEAN to discriminate,
if I did I would not respond at all. What I do say is that there are
sensitivities here, sensitivities that when not addressed will and do lead
to resentment.

Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation has a great reputation for its NPOV
and its wish to accommodate people with different backgrounds. The problem
is that because of expediency choices are likely to be made who clash with
these other backgrounds. If I do not protest now, if I do not fight for a
more acceptable solution now, the chance to be heard will be gone and we
will be stuck with a system like the one of /.



More information about the foundation-l mailing list