[Foundation-l] 2010 Wikimedia Study of Controversial Content

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 11 15:11:10 UTC 2010

--- On Sat, 11/12/10, ???? <wiki-list at phizz.demon.co.uk> wrote:

> People don't read they react. In the UK a couple of years
> ago there was 
> a petition that gathered 50,000 signatures against a
> proposal to ban all 
> photography in public spaces. As a point of fact there was
> no such 
> proposal.
> This received over 10,000 responses and a huge number of
> point ny point 
> rebuttals despite the fact that it is obviously a joke
> based around the 
> Brady Bunch.
> http://www.adequacy.org/public/stories/2001.12.2.42056.2147.html
> As the respondents to the above were pretty much the same
> constituents 
> as wikipedians (young, male, technically savvy) why would
> any one think 
> that exactly the same thing isn't going on with those
> currently voting?

There is that, and there is also something Scott MacDonald wrote a couple 
of years ago; he said it in relation to BLPs, but it applies more widely. 
It's one of the most perceptive things I've read about WP:

'Wikipedia isn't governed by the thoughtful or the informed – it is 
governed by anyone who turns up. There are a small core of people who like 
playing wiki as an in-house role-playing game and simply deny real-world 
consequences that might limit their freedom of action. There are a larger 
group who are too immature or lazy to think straight. And then there are 
all those who recognise "something must be done", but perpetually oppose 
the something that's being proposed in favour of a "better idea". The 
mechanism is rather like using a chat-show phone-in to manage the 
intricacies of a federal budget – it does not work for issues that need 
time, thought, responsibility and attention. I doubt this problem can be 
fixed – since it needs structural change to decision making – which is 
impossible for precisely the same reasons.'

Put that together with our demographics 


and there is no reason to be surprised by anything. And thus we plod on ...

I sometimes think the most addictive thing about Wikipedia is that there
is so much wrong with it. It's like seeing someone pushing a huge load on
a three-wheeled cart, which is about to topple over. It's a natural 
instinct to run over and lend a hand to stabilise the thing. Meanwhile, 
there is another person who actually *wants* the cart to fall over and 
starts pushing from the other end ... et voilà, two new editors. 



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