All Wikiness is but little

Something wrong with the Wikipedia article you just read? Fix it yourself, says the conventional wisdom. Bill Quick says it may be conventional, but it’s hardly wise:

[W]hat this is actually advocating is a supposed unbiased reference work that is the product of the outcome of contests of strength between two warring factions.

In other words, Wikipedia is a perfect example of an intellectual tyranny of the majority.

Rather a lot of topics are marked with the little padlock that means “semi-protection,” which limits edits to presumably trusted individuals. One such page is the one devoted to Elizabeth Warren, where much of the current dustup originated.

A few observations from me:

  • I am “presumably trusted,” having contributed at least the minimum number of edits; what’s more, I’m cited as a source on a handful of pages. I am as impressed with this as you are, which presumably is Not Very.
  • “Weird Al” Yankovic’s claim to being “White & Nerdy” is partially based on editing Wikipedia (around 1:49).
  • I once edited something on Megan McArdle’s page because she asked me to.
  • Political controversy is not the only thing that will get one’s page locked, as Rebecca Black can tell you. (And this is all the RB update I have for the week, as the poor girl has had the flu.)

I admit to citing Wikipedia rather a lot in these pages, but it’s more a form of shorthand than it is a means of deceit, at least for me.



  1. McGehee »

    11 January 2013 · 1:24 pm

    I’ve taken to annotating Wikipedia citations on potentially controversial topics (politically or otherwise) with “FWIW.”

    Not so much on references to articles about the hooded merganser, or Anglo-Saxon runes — though I suppose one never knows.

  2. Charles Pergiel »

    12 January 2013 · 12:46 pm

    re: McCain v Hagel, Legal Insurrection v Warren. Criminently, some people just like to squabble. And such venom as well. I suppose this is what happens when you outlaw dueling.

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