[Wikipedia-l] Edit Wars

Michael R. Irwin mri_icboise at surfbest.net
Wed Aug 7 06:28:57 UTC 2002

koyaanisqatsi at nupedia.com wrote:
> Well, he also said Larry Sanger was not a human and something else--I forgot what exactly--that sound very much like a threat.  That was the final straw, as it were: Jimbo banned him, and he's been banned ever since (and for good reason!)

Perhaps you should quote the entire argument or some context.

24 alleged the first thing Larry Sanger said to him was an attack.

The "threat" in context appeared to be rhetorical hyperbole
to me.  Further, it was stated in the form that people like
Larry (clearly referring to his attitudes and prejudices that
were being applied to "24", deserved to have bad things happen
to them)  It appeared to be an angry response to pretty intense
steady harrassment in the stacks because some regulars did
not like "24"'s material, beliefs, attitude, etc.   There appeared 
to be some rather abrubt deletion taking place.   Several times 
material that I was attempting to NPOV ended with abrubt 
deletion/erasure of the entire article or content in the middle
of my editing.

This got extremely irritating to me, I am sure it probably
bothered "24".   When I erased the biased [software engineering]
article in its entirety it seemed to provoke an astonishingly
intense reaction from "64" (maveric149) and Lee Crocker.  Perhaps
they were involved in writing it.

Later, when I reviewed this mailing list archive, several
"regulars" had started wondering out loud whether they should
fear for their personal safety.   Quite a leap in my opinion.
It clearly escalated the controversy.

Perhaps the reason for banning appeared to good to you.

To me it looks like "24" was banned because he had interests
similar to my own in participating in establishing or modifying 
the community standards and processes.    "24" appeared interested 
in methods that would support large diverse participation 
levels.  "24" was apparently interested in green issues and
other political activism.

"24" was interested in establishing community processes that
would be compatible or attractive to people who could help
fill in gaps in those areas.

You say he was banned appropriately in effect, because he would be 
not nice when Mr. Wales contacted him privately because the "community" 
complained of his behavior and opinions and good riddance.  

I say he was banned inappropriately because
when he brought up issues of community governance and content
completeness and attempted to add his own perceptions to the
gesalt he would not quietly roll over when arbitrarily
trumped by "long standing respected community members".
This appeal to authority persisted along with refusal to
engage in any meaningful dialogue regarding how to establish
a participatory process.   I do not allege that Mr Wales
actions were inappropriate but that the "community" created
the situation in which the controversy between "24" and others
were not resolved amicably.   Rather "24"s material and opinions
were routinely arbitrarily deleted and dismissed out of hand
by long term participants and their cronies.  When "24"s 
provoked behavior got offensive enough, Mr. Wales was called
in for totalitarian action and apparently "24" resisted his
attempts to exercise a calming influence.

The reasons were poor and, in my opinion, do not bode well for 
the unstated goal of Wikipedia to be a high quality NPOV 
encyclopedia.  The stated goal of 100K articles is quite 
achievable by a small closed "community", 35K and counting.

I wonder if, after passing the 100K mark, I will be able to
find anything authoritative, comprehensive, fun, informative,
wonderous, astonishing, etc. regarding the Amazon basin provided 
by native English speakers or translated from the Spanish
Wikipedia or if I will have to proceed to the English translation
of the Spanish Fork?


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