[WikiEN-l] Worst. Userbox. Ever.

Peter Mackay peter.mackay at bigpond.com
Mon Feb 6 01:40:05 UTC 2006

> From: wikien-l-bounces at Wikipedia.org 
> [mailto:wikien-l-bounces at Wikipedia.org] On Behalf Of David Gerard
> Someone created {{User pedophile}}. While almost anyone would 
> think this was created as a vehicle for trolling and personal 
> attacks, the creator actually did create it for the purpose 
> of finding and blocking paedophiles from editing, since *of 
> course* they would put it on their own page.
> Someone went "wtf" and killed it. Then someone else RECREATED 
> it. Then it was put on TFD. Then someone else killed it. Then 
> someone else recreated it *because it was in the process*.
> A sample of the depths of Wiki discussion can be found at:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:AN#Blocking_self-identified_pedophiles
> What happens is that really really stupid ideas get floated 
> and discussed, but people who aren't stupid avoid the 
> discussions because their brain will fall out if they try ... 
> so then the people who like the stupid idea consider they've 
> formed a 'consensus' amongst all those interested, and think 
> it's the will of the community to push the really stupid idea.
> I think we really, really need a Wiki Stupidity Patrol to go 
> to really dumb discussions and attempt to inject sense into them.

Actually, all of the above is kinda funny and kinda tragic. And much as I
admire you in volunteering to lead the Stupidity Patrol in their spiffy
uniforms, David, I think that you're just putting a bandaid on a major
problem. More work and an ongoing battle between the stupids and the
self-nominated non-stupids, which probably equates to just one set, if you
tot up the points of view of the participants. Very few people (apart from
me) will publicly admit to being publicly stupid.

The "major problem" is that anyone can edit Wikipedia, even if they are
stupid or ignorant or unable to see anyone else's view but their own.

The Wikimethod for getting rid of stupid or ignorant or malicious edits to
articles is that the edits pop up on the watchlists of people who know
better, and they fix the bad edits, hopefully in a patient and productive
manner and with due reference to sources.

On policy matters like this, perhaps the problem isn't that people won't
dive in to fix obvious stupidities, but that ordinary editors assume that
management is looking after it because that's what management is for, and
management doesn't want to get involved.

If you don't want to get involved, and I can appreciate that you have better
things to do than be continually stamping out stupid little fires, why not
get (say) half a dozen editors you trust to have sensible heads on their
shoulders, point them in the direction of the stupid little problem and ask
them to keep an eye on it. Pick a different half-dozen each time. Think of
it as an unofficial jury duty. Solid, steady, experienced editors are going
to do the right thing, quench the flames, monitor the situation and if
things get out of hand, they will call for assistance from their own
resources. In effect, they put the thing on their watchlists.

Maybe this amounts to the same thing as your Stupidity Patrol, but the
appearance of a posse of citizens using common sense arguments would work
better than some SWAT team who would inevitably lose patience and fall back
on their appointed authority.

Peter (Skyring)

More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list