Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Thanks to D for sending this excellent example of virtual warfare regarding the trusted online encyclopedia that is Wikipedia. I hadn't realized just how vicious ideological combat was at Wiki.

D suggests a 5GW flavor to this ongoing combat (maybe, though I do see a very 4GW approach to some aspects.) A snippet:

"There are complex and self-contradictory rules. According to Wikipedia policy, articles must reflect a "neutral point of view" -- but some points of view are more neutral than others. A Point of View (or "POV") must be backed by sources that are "verifiable," but also "notable," and the question of "notability" becomes an arena of battle. There is a proscription against "original research," i.e., opinions that are not demonstrably backed by a "notable" authority. There are also rules about behavior on the "talk pages," where editors debate how the articles ought to be edited. "Personal attacks" in the conduct of such debates are forbidden. What exactly constitutes a "personal attack" is also subject to debate, and the Wikipedia authorities use a great deal of interpretative license in determining when the rules have been violated, and how to punish the transgressors. Finally, there is a policy called "Ignore all rules," which increases the latitude of the authorities even further.

Wikipedia addicts compete to make their opinions dominate articles on subjects of interest to them, and for hard-core users, it becomes a Nietschzean struggle of the wills, with the losers often being banned from the community forever. Wikipedia editing and policy making is done by "consensus," which in practical terms means that the successful editor is the one who develops a knack for cajoling or threatening others into alliances of convenience. Aspiring contestants quickly learn the pecking order, and eagerly kiss the posteriors of those above them, while abusing those below them. There are, of course, many earnest individuals who merely desire to edit an encyclopedia as a hobby, but the minute they come into conflict with the more aggressive types, they are road kill."

It's an interesting read and assuming it is an accurate portrayal (I suspect it is) lends one a good deal of consternation regarding Wikipedia and it's accuracy. Further, it points out the dangers regarding the open source approach I've recently advocated at The Strategist (see comments) in regards to intelligence.

Funny thing about human beings. Left to our own devices (even virtually) we always seek a hierarchy and generally exploit freedoms for the purpose of self promotion. Sort of pokes a hole in my (and others) open source bit, doesn't it?


Ymarsakar said...

Humans need hierarchy, but open source can connect one hierarchy to another. Conflict, then results, and what you end up with should be indicative of what you sent into it.

subadei said...

Good point, ymarsakar and a direction of thought that should be well explored before employing the decentralized approach that John Robb (have you read him?) mentions in his book.
Find the point where open source edges into chaos (like the above mentioned) and build from there.

Ymarsakar said...

To elaborate on what I mean, I see open source as the connection of individuals and hierarchies. When combined, they then fight it out and create one single hierarchy. However, that is then no longer open source, but a single stale hierarchy based upon the same rules and what not.

Thus any system needs new blood. Open source, therefore to me, means constantly adding new additions to reinvigorate the system.

In physics and in closed systems of energy, the energy naturally decays and becomes less useful due to the fact that the differentiation between hot and cold in a closed system will eventually cancel each other out. Humans must obey physics as well.

No, I have not read John Robb, Subadei.