[WikiEN-l] Jimmy Wales should reconsider

doc doc.wikipedia at ntlworld.com
Sat Apr 21 00:08:45 UTC 2007

Seth Finkelstein wrote:
>> Slim Virgin
>> Let's face it, it's kind of odd that we assume the right to expose a
>> living person to the whims of anyone of any age anywhere in the world,
>> people who don't have to use their real names, don't have to
>> understand the policies, don't even have to be able to spell. It's a
>> lot to ask of that person that they should simply acquiesce and
>> dutifully check their bios every day for the rest of their lives, in
>> case some 10-year-old, or a malicious enemy, has added insults or
>> libel that thousands of people might read before it's fixed, and which
>> Google may continue to distribute anyway.
> 	At the risk of being tedious and repetitive, I strongly
> endorse the above view:
> http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/story/0,,1882027,00.html
> 	A Wikipedia biography page is an attractive nuisance and a
> weapon of asymmetric warfare.
>        	I wish it weren't so, but that's how it works.

I consider our current attitude to the biographies of living persons to 
be positively immoral. We know people are being adversely affected, 
libeled and harassed. We know people are having to check their articles 
daily because of the danger of malicious attacks. And yet we hide behind 
the belief that we are legally untouchable and we refuse to take any 
real steps to reduce the harm, on the basis that 'it isn't how we do 
things', it might upset our users, or it might inadvertently take out a 
precious article on a webcomic as collateral. Well, the collateral to 
real people, in the real world, is now unacceptable.

We greedily insist on retaining as many articles as we can when we 
evidently cannot properly monitor them. That is immoral. We should not 
be hosting articles on people that we cannot reasonably service.

When a dreadful article is pointed out - it is kept on the basis that it 
can be fixed - even if it isn't actually fixed. And even if we fix it, 
we know we cannot sort all of them. Yet we allow the bios to keep being 
created. Even when people are hurt, we have no means to say it will not 
happen again next month.

Daniel Brandt is a bad case study, because he merits no sympathy, and 
his wiki-notoriety means that his article is well maintained. But, 
beyond that, he's profoundly correct.

I'm now frankly disgusted. Quantity has triumphed quality at every 
juncture and this callous community is more bothered with its in-house 
rules, and myopic power games. We demand our rights, we patriotically 
denounce 'appeasement' as if we were some little state within a state. 
Well actually there's a real world out there - and people like Brandt 
(only nicer) don't want editing rights in our little happy utopia - they 
want our face out of their lives.

Wikipedia has a tremendous power for good - but I'm fast reaching the 
point where I think the human costs are just too high.

No, I don't have the panacea, but we need to start by saying 1) the 
status quo is NOT an option 2) radical solutions must be contemplated - 
up to and including deleting all biographies of living people who are 
not in Britannica. No, I don't think that's necessary, but only if we 
start there and work down to see if anything less drastic will make a 
significant difference, might we have a hope of getting there.

Yes, I know ethics are POV. But amorality isn't attractive either.

"Attractive nuisance" - not so attractive I fear.

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