June 16, 2007

Wikipedia's Long Daniel Brandt Nightmare Might Be Over (?)

I didn't post about this immediately, and waited for the dust to settle on recent events. But it looks like peace is breaking out, or at least major breakthrough in the peace process, in Wikipedia's long-running and most contentious biography removal request. In the legendary (in certain circles) dispute between Wikipedia and Daniel Brandt, over his request to have his biography deleted (a request I should note I fully support), on the fourteenth iteration of the Wikipedian argument-fest that passes for internal process, he was finally permitted to opt-out from having a biography page.

And there should have been much rejoicing. But skirmishes rage on, over what to do with the URL for the old page (Brandt wants it to be a nothing-here notice, it's currently a redirect to his longest-existing project, NameBase). And of course, nothing gets done on Wikipedia without some faction disputing it (Wikipedia does NOT operate by "consensus", it operates by classic factional power-struggle). But this time he's got much support from Wikipedia administrators, so whatever the ultimate result, it's unlikely there'll be a reversion to the status quo ante.

I've got to give credit to the brave Wikipedia administrator who actually took it upon himself to render a decision in this mess. And rammed through a technical compromise where the internal details were one of the best real-world accommodating of bitterly opposing factions, that I've ever seen myself. He couldn't have made it "stick" without the support of a small-but-powerful administrator faction, but he apparently managed to avoid deeply offending the weaker but very loud "ideologue" faction (of which the most extreme inevitably contested the result, but they seem to be pretty isolated). Well done. Really well done.

Note to academics looking for paper-fodder: Stop writing those fluffy articles about how great it is that a cult can get people to work for free. I know that's where money is (and the attention). But there's a whole group-dynamics case study laboratory just sitting there for examination (though note some of the best material goes on in private meeting, where it's not easily documented).

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on June 16, 2007 03:04 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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