Personal Time With Greg: Wikipedia’s Troubles

Personal Time With Greg: Wikipedia’s Troubles

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A while ago, somebody asked my if I might do a video talking about Wikipedia – specifically some of the problems plaguing the site beneath the hood. At the time, I didn’t know a lot about Wiki bureaucracy, but after watching their processes and keeping track of the Gamergate talk page for a while, I got quite a sense not just for the site’s inner machinery, but also for some serious problems they’re facing.

The biggest issue they have is that they’re staunchly bureaucratic, but they technically don’t have any rules when you get right down to it. As a consequence, they tend to enforce things based on flaky, whimsical interpretations backed up by some logic and reasoning with potent spices of personal bias. For the most part the site functions well enough, but certain pages functionally belong to people who are, in essence, emotionally unstable, albeit capable of citing every “rule” the place has. You can watch as rude, frothing jerks get banned from the site only to have to ban immediately lifted by a friend from a higher place. This, along with a number facts, has led to a decline in the number of editors willing to try to work on Wikipedia. It doesn’t seem to be killing the site by any means, but it does suggest Wikipedia is vulnerable to passive-aggression and destructive behavior, and you can never tell if a page has been written and maintained by a crazy person or by crazy people.