[WikiEN-l] a perhaps instructive tale

herostratus at comcast.net herostratus at comcast.net
Thu Feb 9 07:58:33 UTC 2006

A small but perhaps instructive example of the law of unintended consequences:

Short version:
1) If I read it correctly, an administrator spotted a pedophilia userbox in userspace and deleted it with an edit summary of "WTF? NO!"
2) This resulted in the destruction of a small but carefully constructed attempt to remove POV (mostly pro-pedophile POV) from article space -- probably not what that administrator desired.

Long version:
1) On December 31 2005 the article "Childlove movement" was put up for AfD.  It survived (albeit with two name changes; it is now called "Pedophile activism") on January 6 2005.
2) Unhappy with what I considered an overly pedophilia-friendly point of view in the article, I began to look at some of the source materials and talk to a couple of editors about making a project space to work on this and related articles.
3) On January 20 2006 I created a project (WikiProject Pedophilia) in my userspace and began to populate it  with links, references, and so forth.  I defined the project scope as "...to get articles on the subject out of protection, disputation, and tagged status and create excellent, encyclopedic articles which have broad consensus and may remain stable.", and the first task as "...to work on, first, developing an agreed-upon stable sourced terminology." 
5) On February 7 2006, having aquired a new prospective editor who had found the project the hard way, and having the project pages in reasonable shape, I moved the project pages from my userspace to Wikipedia:WikiProjects. (In doing so I made two egregious errors, but that is not germane here.) 
6) Meanwhile -- this is key -- some kind of idiotic wheel war was going on, of which I was vaguely aware, about a pedophilia template in userspace, which was apparently started by a couple of hothead admins.
7) On February 7 2006 WikiProject:Pedophilia was put up for MfD and was subjected to sharp criticism, with a great deal of reference to #6 above, and will certainly not survive (and even if does, no editors remain whom I am certain are non-POV, and no sane neutral person would likely join now). I think at least some of my colleagues where reacting somewhat emotionally, perhaps not even realizing that project was basically created to *oppose* pedophile POV in article space (a worse danger than whatever goes on in userspace IMO), and that this tendency was significantly exacerbated by the wheel war.

It's NOT a big deal, but just a small example of how ill-considered actions can lead somewhere else in the system to results opposite of what was intended.  Complex systems work like that, so please try to consider your actions carefully, thanks.

(details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Miscellany_for_deletion/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Pedophilia)

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