[WikiEN-l] Quitting Wikipedia and wanted you to know why.

Tony Jacobs gtjacobs at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 6 09:04:41 UTC 2006

>From: "Parker Peters" <onmywayoutster at gmail.com>
>Reply-To: English Wikipedia <wikien-l at Wikipedia.org>
>To: wikien-l at wikipedia.org, jwales at wikia.com
>Subject: [WikiEN-l] Quitting Wikipedia and wanted you to know why.
>Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 21:38:18 -0500

There's a lot of truth in that email.  I'm disappointed with David's 
response, which is to question the examples given, and basically evade the 
point.  The point is not wrong, and it's that we've allowed ourselves to 
develop a culture of disrespect, contempt, and dickishness.  We haven't made 
it a priority to insure that Wikipedians, especially admins, treat one 
another with respect and dignity at all times.  We're actually developing a 
reputation as a place of arrogance and nastiness, a place of heavy-handed 
thugishness, a place where people treat each other quite badly.  That's bad 
for the project.

Rather than defensively trying to say why Parker Peters is wrong, we should 
be introspectively asking what we can do to make Wikipedia a better work 
environment.  I see no reason why Wikipedians shouldn't set a standard for 
excellent treatment of contributors.  In Jimbo's Statement of Principles, I 
read #7: "Anyone with a complaint should be treated with the utmost respect 
and dignity."  We seem to be very quick to revert to the final sentence of 
the paragraph, which says, "I must not let the "squeaky wheel" be greased 
just for being a jerk."  The trouble is in being too quick to decide that 
someone is "just a jerk".  When you decide someone's just a jerk - they 
often become one, and I don't blame them!

I've seen admins treat regular users like dog shit way too many times.  Why 
doesn't ArbCom come down on admins who fail to respect contributors?  Why 
isn't that a high priority?  We're not in an early development stage at this 
point, where the whole cowboy, run-and-gun mentality is all that valuable.  
We've reached a plateau where other things start to matter a lot - things 
like maintaining an atmosphere in which good writers will want to contribute 
their valuable time.  Wikipedia's grown up a bit, and we should really start 
acting like grownups.

The email from Parker Peters makes me sad, because it hits so close to home. 
  If we don't start demanding civility, not in some hollow sense where we 
manage to avoid personal attacks, but in a real sense that involves treating 
people with actual dignity, we're going to start seeing a lot more fallout.

I'm not citing any examples, or getting specific, not because I can't (I 
could go on and on), but because I don't want people to focus on attacking 
whatever particular case I bring up.  The point is that more and more people 
are thinking of Wikipedia as a place to go and get showered with abuse, with 
little or no provocation.  Is that what we want?

I suggest we take a cue from those great philosophers from San Dimas, and 
make it a site policy to "Be excellent to each other".

Tony Jacobs/GTBacchus

More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list