Savvy “Risker”

This is a quote from a person who was on Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee called Risker. It captures the craziness of online things well.

It comes across as a FUD campaign: we’ll temporarily ban people who did something wrong according to rules we haven’t shared, but we won’t tell you what they did, what can be done to prevent similar actions, or whether we’ll change the [unshared] rules again without telling you. . . . Bluntly put, I feel much less safe working on a Wikimedia project today than I did a week ago, because one of the most fundamental understandings I had about working here has now been proven wrong.

Read the link if you have time.

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9 thoughts on “Savvy “Risker””

  1. TheReticulator:
    What if we don’t have time? Is it still OK to read it? (I did, and found it very interesting. Thanks.)

    If you don’t have time, you are dead and probably have better things to do, Ret.

    Stories like these fascinate me. I think it is the absurdity of being so bad in getting rid of “the evil doers”. The obtuseness of people who are blind to their arbitrariness.

    The Wiki Foundation reminds me of this clip.

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  2. Is that what the new “Ratburger” will be?

    . . . . we’ll temporarily ban people who did something wrong according to rules we haven’t shared, but we won’t tell you what they did, what can be done to prevent similar actions, or whether we’ll change the [unshared] rules again without telling you. . . .

    I hope not as it seems many here suffered under those rules at “that” other place…

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  3. G.D.:
    Is that what the new “Ratburger” will be?

    . . . . we’ll temporarily ban people who did something wrong according to rules we haven’t shared, but we won’t tell you what they did, what can be done to prevent similar actions, or whether we’ll change the [unshared] rules again without telling you. . . .

    I hope not as it seems many here suffered under those rules at “that” other place…

    I have to learn to be more subtle. 🙂

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  4. My experience has been that if you are interesting in something that does not intersect with politics or modern culture (such as the Leibniz approximation to Pi), Wikipedia can be helpful.  But as soon as you touch on a potentially political subject – such as Climate – it is worse than useless.

    One way to get some idea of the bias is to read the “discussions” page.

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  5. WillowSpring:
    My experience has been that if you are interesting in something that does not intersect with politics or modern culture (such as the Leibniz approximation to Pi), Wikipedia can be helpful.

    Yes; the information will be there, along with the notation that Leibniz’s work was preceded by a century by some Muslim that nobody ever heard of and whose work was never translated out of the Arabic.

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  6. WillowSpring:
    My experience has been that if you are interesting in something that does not intersect with politics or modern culture (such as the Leibniz approximation to Pi), Wikipedia can be helpful.

    Here’s the thing.  I frequently link to Wikipedia in my writing, which is mostly non-controversial.  I deplore the overt and snarky bias of Wikipedia, but linking to it provides something which few other references do: permanence.  A link to Wikipedia has a high probability of working for a substantial time into the future, if only because there are so many cross-links to it within Wikipedia which would break and have to be changed if it were.  Links to most other venues are notoriously unstable.  They are constantly being “improved” by children who have no concept of the intellectual capital they are destroying when they invalidate millions of incoming links to their sites.  For example, today I had to revise a page on my site which foolishly linked to archival biographies of Apollo astronauts on a NASA site.  They’re gone, and for the life of me, and I can’t find where they went.  I changed them to links to—Wikipedia.

    Eliezer Yudkowsky nailed it:

    But, hey, my company blew four million dollars on Xanadu, and the problem wasn’t that “They were too few” but rather than they, despite more than adequate funding and plenty of time, valued purity of essence over shipping an initial product that people could use and then evolving it based upon feedback from customers.  When we drove a stake through it in August 1992, it had produced nothing usable by anybody.  To my knowledge, twenty-seven years later, it never has.

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