Comments: There Is A Wikipedia Cabal (or at least a Secret Mailing List)

Even beyond any secret e-mail lists, I've always been annoyed that known e-mail lists are used to discuss and arrive at consensus on major policy issues. All discussions should be open on on-site, not off on some external e-mail thread that I don't have the time to follow.

Posted by Michael Zimmer at December 4, 2007 06:46 AM

> But I decided that was living
> dangerously and would just make him mad at me.

Yeah, and posting that mail on a public blog instead will ensure Jimbo never reads it :)

Do I understand the story right, Wikipedia admins used a private mailing list to discuss stuff? Is there a huge scandal in there? I'm not sure I get it. But, I also never thought in the first place that Wikipedia administration was without power structures or social networks or anything.

Posted by Philipp Lenssen at December 4, 2007 09:39 AM

It's not only that a secret mailing list exists, but that it seems to have been used to alert like-minded admins of wiki-related political action items. If you're on any sort of activism list you've received mails of this sort: "Urgent action needed!" and such.

So to me, like any cabal, there's nothing outright *wrong* with it, but there is an added level of organization present that doesn't exist on the other side. Here's a topical example:

The subject of that email is directly referenced in a message circulated on the secret list regarding the recent block of !!:

Sorry to perhaps be a little cynical, but could anyone above confirm if this is being discussed elsewhere, perhaps IRC? The block notice, followed by several 'supports' seemed to arrive somewhat quicker than the concerned responses below.

Pretty underhanded.

On the other hand, if one reads the evidence against !!, it actually does appear somewhat suspicious.. I think if I'd been privy to its initial secret circulation that I would have concurred with the now-scapegoated admin, though I would not have supported an indefinite block. Instead, more surveillance was needed, though unfortunately that group apparently wasn't used to acting with much restraint.

Posted by Jay Miller at December 4, 2007 05:54 PM

Michael: It's also IRC, that's another can of worms.

Philipp: I would have been surprised if Jimmy read my blog, though maybe today he followed the links to the story. But of course, the living dangerously was more at personally bothering him about it, which I haven't done. One part of the scandal is that while you may know there's power structures, the media is still figuring out that Wikipedia isn't one big happy commune.

Jay: Part of the problem was that there was no incentive to critically examine the evidence, until it all exploded.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at December 5, 2007 12:39 AM

I don't know how White House reporters stand it. It's got to be extremely corrosive to have a job where people are lying to you and treating you with barely-concealed (sometimes even unconcealed) contempt every single day.

Two things: remember the Chinese proverb: "if you sit by the river for long enough, all the bodies of your enemies will float by." Active verb there: sit. It just takes patience. Then you get days when you can say "Mr President, your own intelligence agency says Iran has given up its nuclear ambitions. Why do you continue to insist it's a threat?" And watch him squirm. Or his spokespeople squirm.

Revenge, of course, is a dish best served in cold newsprint.

Posted by Charles at December 7, 2007 06:55 AM