[WikiEN-l] Unused userboxes
saintonge at telus.net
Fri Feb 17 01:15:59 UTC 2006
Jimmy Wales wrote:
>charles matthews wrote:
>>"Matt Brown" wrote
>>>I do suspect in the current climate that will just make a dozen people
>>start to use it, to protect it.
>>Something to that. Attention-seeking behaviour is sometimes best
>>treated by ignoring it, as parents know.
>Having said that, I heard today that the number of userboxes, and in
>particular the number of very problematic userboxes, has exploded. I
>think this is seriously Not Good For Our Loving Little Community.
>I am not doing anything about it just yet, but I am willing to concede
>that my nonviolent social request that people knock it off and think
>about what it means to be a Wikipedian has not gotten very far.
Regrettably, this kind of philosophical self-examination is not very
popular. My experience has been that the more thought is put into an
idea, the more readily it will be ignored. Still as much as I may be
justified in complaining that people don't pay attention to what I say,
I must confess that some of the most interesting (if somewhat prolix)
comments put me into such a paralysis of meditation that I fail to
respond with the careful attention that these comments deserve.
These user boxes seem to be the Wiki's answer to the 10-second
soundbite. Compact as much as possible into a tiny box to achieve a
particular effect. If need be sacrifice accuracy for the sake of
brevity. That kind of thinking would have gourmet cuisine epitomized by
I am no fan of the Bush administration, but I find the Cheney shooting
incident instructive. It says more about the way that such events are
processed than about any culpability that may be attached to those
directly involved. What difference did it make if the reporting was not
through accepted channels? There was no matter of public policy
involved, or any consequences that would plausibly affect anyone other
than those directly involved. Whatever fault I may find with the
current US administration let it at least be over real issues, and not
over the microscopic examination of a single personal event. Many more
meaningful incidents are discussed far less by the press than this
single accidental shooting.
The userboxes, and the media treatment of the shooting both reflect an
amazingly similar problem. The instantaneification of information is
incompatible with its enormousness. We want knowledge in quantities
that we can understand. We keep hoping that just around the corner we
will find that magical piece of software that will make it all as clear
as 42. Our addiction to virtual reality makes it difficult to
distinguish whether the person who has moved into the house next door is
Homer Simpson or Pikachu. Perhaps being a Wikipedian is seeking to
build the tools that will help us to cope with that reality.
>As far as I can determine, and I am very much aware that I am here
>prejudicing the terms of debate, this is a cultural battle between
>wikipedians and people who have stumbled into this cool site they heard
>about on CNN where you can write whatever the hell you want and argue
>with people for fun.
Participating in the debate is somewhat acceptable in guiding people to
their own decision. If people can be willingly guided into a consensus
it is always preferable to the application of "force majeure".
Reference: Paul Virilio, "The Information Bomb"
More information about the WikiEN-l