February 08, 2008

Wikipedia Roundup - Audit, Cult, dysfunctional dynamics

Accumulated linkage:

The Wikimedia foundation (the nonprofit which owns Wikipedia) Financial Report is finally released. Well, that was anticlimatic. It certainly took a very long time, for apparently very little. No scandals (that can be seen ...).

Literal Wikipedia cult (influence)! (in fairness: subject's reply).

And then the dysfunctional dynamics of Wikipedia get really strange, as a source for that cult-influence article posts regrets, and elsewhere goes off on a rant alleging a scandal on Wikipedia finances, retracts the charges gets indefinitely blocked, unblocked, reblocked for a week ... all in about a day. I can barely follow it.

I have barely scratched the surface of the weirdness that is the daily Wikipedia goings-on. Why bother even noting Jimmy Wales's flame-type lashing out at editors who've annoyed him, or the flare-ups over conflicts of interest? But this is the wisdom of crowds, so stand up and cheer the glorious collective farm (remember, digital sharecropping start-ups need IPO-exits).

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on February 08, 2008 09:53 AM (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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What kind of encyclopedia would you build, Seth?

Posted by: Hrishi Mittal at February 9, 2008 10:59 AM

I don't speak for Seth, but I think if he was building one he would not allow cult members to delete articles that they don't like or agree with.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 9, 2008 11:10 AM

Thanks Anonymous. But I'm hoping to get a positive answer, not a what-he-would-not-build answer because that he's already made quite obvious.

Posted by: Hrishi Mittal at February 9, 2008 03:52 PM

If you started a cult Seth, what kind would it be?

Give a positive answer now, not this under no circumstances would I build a Guyana-Waco-Hubbard-Wikipedia style cult stuff.

Posted by: anon at February 9, 2008 04:39 PM

Wikipedia is an organism that will eventually destroy itself, but not before it takes a piece of the internet with it, I think.

It's already been happening for the past few years yet. The inmates have taken over the asylum and people aren't liking what's happening behind the scenes.

Oh, and as for your article on Wikipedia for your "Wikipedia is more like a sweatshop" article, you may want to look into Wikia more. If Wikipedia is a sweatshop, then Wikia is something, uhm, else... it makes financial profit off of people, who work and labor on their various wikis (Memory Alpha, Wookieepedia, et al.) and do not get paid.

Frankly, I find that reprehensible. I can understand people donating their time to a non-profit organization like Wikia.... fine. But when people up at the top are rolling in the dough on unpaid labor?

Since Wikia is a for-profit organization, it stands to reason that their workers (contributors, admins, and the like) are all "off-the-clock", unpaid labor... Frankly, were it any other company, such acts would be illegal and the Department of Labor would be on them like vultures on a rotting carcass.

And let's not to mention the fact that Wikia profits off of trademarks... it profits from the Star Trek, Star Wars, and other wikis, the trademarks being owned by CBS/Paramount, LucasFilm/20th Century Fox, etc., etc.

The time will come when the studios -- after the whole WGA strike business is done an over with -- will direct their attention to sites like Wikia that have been profiting from their trademarks. And when that time comes, it'll be a sad day for all those fans who contributed to wikis that will be shut down by the studios because of their attachment to Wikia.

Posted by: Joe Beaudoin Jr. at February 9, 2008 10:24 PM

That's sort of like asking "How would *you* cure cancer"? That is, I may not have any idea how to do it myself, but that hardly implies I need to endorse any snake-oil peddlar who says "I'm trying to cure cancer (buy my stuff!), isn't that a noble goal?". Yes, it's a noble goal, but snake-oil remains snake-oil.

What I'm trying to get at, futilely, is that the motivations which drive Wikipedia are not mysterious, but have some deeply disturbing aspects. I don't know how to build a perfect society. But cults aren't it.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at February 9, 2008 10:34 PM

A minor, boldfaced correction to my previous post. The fourth paragraph should read: Frankly, I find that reprehensible. I can understand people donating their time to a non-profit organization like Wikipedia.... fine. But when people up at the top are rolling in the dough on unpaid labor?

I get the two mixed up sometimes... but maybe that's intentional on their part?

Posted by: Joe Beaudoin Jr. at February 10, 2008 10:38 AM

Thanks Seth.

Posted by: Hrishi Mittal at February 10, 2008 11:41 AM