Friday, June 6, 2008

Wikipedia Review, reviewed

I have been confronted over and over by people who are furious that there are those who have negative feelings about Wikipedia Review. I wanted to describe my own feelings about this website.

*I have no problem with anyone who wants to review Wikipedia or point out problems with Wikipedia. Clearly, Wikipedia has plenty of problems and I have been actively involved in discussions to try to improve Wikipedia at Raymond arritt's Expert withdrawal page and Raul654's Civil POV pushing page and at the WP Challenge and several other research projects.

*Of course many respected Wikipedians have decided to go to Wikipedia Review for a variety of reasons, and although it is not something I would do, I understand the desire to read their hidden threads, or to try to engage them in a dialogue or to calm down the craziness that erupts there.

*I have some uncomfortableness with rumors that Wikipedia review collects IP addresses and rumors about what those IP addresses have been supposedly used for.

*I have some uncomfortableness with some of the activities of some of the more extreme members at Wikipedia Review. In particular, reports that some Wikipedia Review members have used spyware, or outed anonymous Wikipedians is not particularly reassuring.

*I am somewhat disquieted by the "attack threads" that target prominent Wikipedians at Wikipedia Review

*I am dismayed by the repeated vilification of Wikipedians in good standing at Wikipedia Review for really trivial or nonsensical reasons.

*I am uncomfortable with the organization of attacks on Wikipedia from Wikipedia Review.

*I am not happy with the threats against Wikipedians from those at Wikipedia Review.

*I have seen people who are very friendly to assorted Wikipedians on Wikipedia speak very badly about the same Wikipedians on Wikipedia Review. This two-faced behavior really takes me aback.

*I have had some people try to tell me that Wikipedia and Wikipedia Review are identical and just two sides of the same coin, or even mirror images of each other. If so, I want to know where is Wikipedia Review's Encyclopedia? Does Wikipedia Review have a foundation and raise money? Does Somey, the founder of Wikipedia Review, have just as many google hits as Jimbo? Has Somey given testimony in front of Congress? I guess I missed that Congressional hearing.

I have noticed a tremendous defensiveness about Wikipedia Review among some Wikipedians. They feel bad that Wikipedia Review has acquired a negative image. Well do you think part of that might be due to some of what goes on at Wikipedia Review? Do you think that some of the discussions there and threats and attacks and unethical behavior (approaching criminal activity in some cases) that finds a haven at Wikipedia Review might not create a negative image? Do you think that the fact that some of the worst trolls and POV pushers and disruptive editors that Wikipedia ever had are regulars at Wikipedia Review might help to create a negative image? Is any of this surprising to you?

If you do not like the fact that Wikipedia Review has a negative image, change the things that have given it a negative image. Do not demand angrily that no one think bad of Wikipedia Review while the reasons that people have misgivings about the website are still in place. If you are unhappy about the current situation, you can change the site, or leave the site.

I do not demand that everyone else like strawberry-flavored ice cream. You should not demand that everyone else accept Wikipedia Review as an innocuous carefree environment full of misunderstood peaceful productive souls who only want the chance to write wonderful encyclopedia articles. It will not happen. And you can hold your breath until you turn blue in the face and pass out, and it is not going to happen. Get over it.

My understanding of BADSITES
I gather that there is, or was, some sort of policy, or proposal for a policy called BADSITES about what sort of websites Wikipedia could link to. I also gather there was a fairly large and rancorous debate at Wikipedia about BADSITES.

I was not part of this debate. I was not part of any discussions about BADSITES. I do not know when or where the BADSITES discussion took place. I do not know who was involved in the BADSITES discussion. I do not know what sides various parties were on in the BADSITES discussion. I do not know what the arguments were or are about the BADSITES policy. I do not know explicitly what sites were or are considered to fall under the BADSITES policy. I know very little about BADSITES and frankly, I do not care to know very much about BADSITES.

I have some personal beliefs about what sorts of sites that Wikipedia should not link to, which might or might not have anything to do with BADSITES. I do not know since I do not know the BADSITES policy. I think that Wikipedia should probably not link to sites that install malware on people's computers. I think that Wikipedia should be careful about linking to sites that are involved in criminal activity, such as planning terrorist attacks or trading child pornography or planning hacking attacks or trading hacking information. Are these types of sites covered under the BADSITES policy? I have no idea. And I am in no rush to find out if they are or if they are not covered under the BADSITES policy.

Badmouthing and Threats
I have been attacked for making comments about Wikipedia Review. Frankly, I am much more concerned with some of the activities that take place at Wikipedia Review than Wikipedia Review itself. Here are two that give me pause:

*Orangemarlin worked very closely with an admin at Wikipedia on several articles in paleontology and together, they brought these articles up to FA standards, and had a lot of fun doing so. Later this admin went to Wikipedia Review and joined in a discussion talking about how awful Orangemarlin was and incompetent and made many other negative assertions about Orangemarlin, discussing Orangemarlin's editing of some medical articles.

This was very hurtful. It does not matter whether the discussion took place at Wikipedia Review, or on Wikipedia itself, or on a blog, or another kind of website, or in the newspaper or in a magazine, or on a radio show or a podcast or on television or in a live panel discussion or in email or in the regular mail. It really has nothing to do with where the discussion took place. What matters is that the discussion took place, and someone who had supposedly been Orangemarlin's friend and who had worked closely with him, joined in on an attack on Orangemarlin. Frankly, this was hurtful.

*Cla68 made some fairly overt threats against members of the ID Wikiproject on Wikipedia and Wikipedia Review. As far as I know, making threats of the form "Do X or I will do Y" are bannable offenses at Wikipedia [1].

Again, it does not matter that part of these threats took place at Wikipedia Review or somewhere else. It does not matter whether the threats took place at Wikipedia Review, or on Wikipedia itself, or on a blog, or another kind of website, or in the newspaper or in a magazine, or on a radio show or a podcast or on television or in a live panel discussion or in email or in the regular mail. It really has nothing to do with where the threats took place. What matters is that the threats were made. And a threat is a threat is a threat. Period.

No comments: