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Lesson #2: Procedure vs Content, or "You didn't genuflect deeply enough." - Parker Peters
Lesson #2: Procedure vs Content, or "You didn't genuflect deeply enough."
The second technique with which a Wikipedia administrator or someone trying to push a certain point of view (or yes, even mere propaganda) is to find a wikipedia "policy" and use it as a bludgeon. I'm going to list a few here, I'll copy in what Wikipedia's "policy" page has to say in italics, and I'll go into the problems a little later, because for a new reader, understanding what the policies say will be important when I go over what they actually mean and how they work in practice, as opposed to the way hardcore wikipedians will claim they work.

The first is "Civility." Being rude, insensitive or petty makes people upset and stops Wikipedia from working well. Try to discourage others from being uncivil, and be careful to avoid offending people unintentionally. Mediation is available if need."

The second is "No Personal Attacks. Do not make personal attacks anywhere in Wikipedia. Comment on content, not on the contributor. Personal attacks damage the community and deter users. Nobody likes abuse.

The third is "Don't Own Articles." You agreed to allow others to modify your work. So let them.

The fourth is Vandalism. Vandalism is any addition, deletion, or change to content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia. It is, and needs to be, removed from the encyclopedia.

Now, each of these sounds very nice on the outside. But here's how it works in practice:

Step #1: a new, or even semi-new, wikipedian arrives at a page which certain individuals want to maintain personal control of (in violation of "Ownership"). They make changes.
Step #2: the changes are changed back.
Step #3: the new user on the scene changes it back, because it's wrong, or inaccurate, or violates the Neutral Point of View policy, or any other reason.

Step 4: things escalate. Those who want to own the article will continue edit warring, and will likely start calling the new editor names. Terms like "Troll" will be flung around, and those who think they own the article will start complaining to Their Friend the Admin and leaving threats to have the new editor blocked.

Many times, they will also describe the new editor's changes as "vandalism", even though the extended Vandalism policy describes this as a "content dispute."

Throughout this, Wikipedia's administrators will pay no heed to Wikipedia's own policies. No attempt to deal fairly with the situation will result. No attempt to examine the content of the edits made by the newcomer will happen. Attempts to point out that those trying to "own" the article will be met with accusations of "wikilawyering", more accusations that the newcomer is a "troll" or other personal attacks (against the policy requiring No Personal Attacks, but administrators aren't subject to policy anyways, and their friends aren't either).

Eventually, the newcomer will be blocked (likely in violation of the blocking policy: again, the rules don't apply to admins or their friends) and "peace" will be restored as the "owners" of the article take control once more.

The behaviors I mentioned in Lesson #1 will, of course, be excecuted to the fullest by the "owners" and their administrator friends.

Eventually, an email to the wikipedia english-language mailing list may result. Without fail, such an email will be responded to not with an examination of the case at hand, but with out-of-hand platitudes about various "rules" and "procedures" that the newcomer didn't follow. The underlying phrase, left unsaid but paraphrased a dozen ways, is "you didn't genuflect deep enough for an admin to help you."

If a wikipedia administrator's conduct is questioned? "You don't get anywhere by attacking an admin." Not even if they were in the wrong. The dirty secret of Wikipedia adminship is that it's a cult, a good old boy's network, a masonic society of sorts.

Administrators will stand up for administrators, no matter what, because they want the others to stand up for them when they decide to protect their "owned" article(s) from some newcomer trying to improve or change them.

Likewise, if there is a factual inaccuracy or something that the "owner" keeps inserting? Don't you dare call them a liar. In fact, any statement that they are trying to push something unfactual, even with proof, trips over the "civility" and "no personal attacks" clause - again, nevermind that the "owner" has probably called the newcomer a "troll" or accused them falsely of "vandalism" or a hundred other "personal attacks", it's just one more tool for the cult of adminship to beat up on a newcomer.

And so the status quo will be preserved. A bad article will not be improved, a newcomer will be driven away, and likely not contribute to Wikipedia in any other way. And the attacker and admin who are in the wrong, no matter what wikipedia policies they have broken, will never face the slightest censure for breaking the rules.
3 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 25th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)

I don't get it.

Why can't the new editor (the one being attacked by the "owners") simply point out that calling anyone a troll is a personal attack? I mean, if we're going on the basis of who called who a dirty word first then the problem isn't conspiracy theories about secretive groups who control the upper echelons of Wikipedia - it's really about who runs and tells the admins first.
From: parkerpeters Date: February 25th, 2007 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I don't get it.

The problem with doing that is that the admins friendly to the troll claim the report is a "personal attack" on its own. Reporting to a corrupt person does you no good.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 17th, 2007 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wikipedia & Muslim guild

Funny, this just happened to me recently. I was blocked indefinitely after being harrassed, attacked, unfairly treated, ostracized by this very gang, FayssalF leading the pack (fayssalf, collounsbury, Drmaik), protecting every single article, reverting blindly and stupidly, deleting sources (uchicago, pubmed, britannica) etc. It was a veritable nightmare..and the basest thing ever. The articles I tried to remedy are protected, inaccurate, full of lies, and sadly, under their watchul and malicious gaze.
3 comments or Leave a comment