We will add your activist distinctiveness to our own.

Despite the media attention, I don’t think this is any threat to the integrity of the encyclopedias’ content.

The Wikipedias get waves of activists and are used to dealing with them. The ones who don’t take the time to understand Neutral Point Of View, their stuff gets removed. The ones who do, their stuff stays and their cause gets accurately described and represented. Best case, we get more good new Wikipedians.

This applies to any activist for any cause whatsoever and has applied at least since I started on en:wp in 2004.

The advice I have for activists is: strict neutrality with excellent citations will do your cause justice. Everything else will be removed.

The broader advice is: there is no plausible attack on the integrity of the encyclopedias themselves that is not already something we are quite used to dealing with on a daily basis for many years.

I wonder if the presently prominent group of activists have taken in this one in the quest to have their stuff stick.

9 Responses to “We will add your activist distinctiveness to our own.”

  1. Sage says:

    +1

    I gave a talk along these lines at Wiki Conference NYC last year.

  2. wizardist says:

    This is the way things are done in be-x-old.wikipedia.org as well.

  3. David Gerard says:

    Tiny wikis have the possibility of going weird, which is why it’s called be-x-old. But any substantial wiki- and that’s what they’re targeting – is rather more robust.

  4. Jerome says:

    Anyone who thinks that NPOV has or ever will “work” regarding the Arab Israeli conflict is extremely naive. Sorry Gerard, the people in the article you refer to are naively trying to do exactly what you say, but they really have little hope when the hordes who follow popular opinion are dead set against them.

    The rules and guidelines don’t work when you have enough people who will put in endless time and energy to make sure that they don’t work.

  5. David Gerard says:

    @Jerome – I should say, they won’t lower the neutrality of those articles. They’ve been a battleground ever since Wikipedia started.

    I mean, they’re trying to bias some of the MOST CLOSELY WATCHED AND HOTLY CONTESTED ARTICLES ON THE WIKI, and they’ve publicly declared their intentions. Can you really see this ending with Wikipedia turning into a pro-Zionist mouthpiece? (More of one for those who consider it already is one.)

  6. Joe R says:

    Jerome

    I’ve read those articles and I think the NPOV policy is working and has worked. Those pages present well sourced information. Where there are real differences on the facts the various versions are presented with the references to support each version. Interpretation of the facts is generally separated from the facts with the interpretations referenced back to their sources. That is what I think constiutes a neutral article.

  7. Jerome says:

    Not a chance. It will remain the biased, often hateful anti-Israel mouthpiece that it is now. The sane minority doesn’t have a chance on Wikipedia when the numbers are so heavily against it.

  8. David Gerard says:

    @Jerome – if you say so, dear. More tea?

  9. Peter Damian says:

    There is an interesting article here http://wikibias.com/2010/08/cleansing-poland which suggests there will be structural or systematic bias whenever one group of activists has a significant majority compared to the other side.

    As for the idea that citations and references will do the trick, I cover that in a posting here http://ocham.blogspot.com/2010/06/avicennian-logic.html . The guy responsible for this distortion provided plenty of citations but they were nearly all fake. It is just too much work checking every citation.

    There is also the case of Ayn Rand, who I have written about occasionally, e.g. here http://ocham.blogspot.com/2009/01/ayn-rand-and-wikipedia.html . Ayn Rand is not a significant philosopher in any sense and she has been entirely marginalised by the academic establishment (rightly in my view). But she has many fans who like her books and there is an overwhelming majority of them on Wikipedia as compared to philosophers with academic qualifications. So the Randians ‘win’.

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