The need for change at Wikipedia; Prague message boards

If you’ve ever used Wikipedia, you’ll probably find this article by Larry Sanger, the site’s co-founder, quite interesting. The articles that provoked him to write the piece are also pretty good reads. However the first one, written by Robert McHenry, is surprisingly bitchy coming from the former Editor-in-Chief of Encyclopedia Britannica. I wouldn’t expect someone so obviously learned to use a public restroom as an analogy to Wikipedia.

Even if you’ve never been to the site, you may be interested in what Sanger has to say about the havoc that trolls and their kind have been wreaking on the Wikipedia message boards:

There is a certain mindset associated with unmoderated Usenet groups and mailing lists that infects the collectively-managed Wikipedia project: if you react strongly to trolling, that reflects poorly on you, not (necessarily) on the troll. If you attempt to take trolls to task or demand that something be done about constant disruption by trollish behavior, the other listmembers will cry “censorship,” attack you, and even come to the defense of the troll. This drama has played out thousands of times over the years on unmoderated Internet groups, and since about the fall of 2001 on the unmoderated Wikipedia.

I spend a fair amount of time reading threads at Prague’s two major expat community boards, and Most consist of healthy debate or are fairly informative, or at least entertaining (though not to the point where I’m ROTFLMAO – I’m just not skilled enough to type when I’m rolling on the floor laughing my ass off. LOL is more than sufficient when something makes you laugh out loud, IMO.)

Then there are threads that have a sense of Jerry Springer about them, thriving on anger, sensationalism and flat-out stupidity. Fortunately they are in the minority, and and, have taken measures to minimise, if not eliminate, aggressive behaviour.

I’ve been involved in a few flame wars myself, just like anybody else who has opinions and lots of time to spend as part of an online community. While I will always have opinions, I sure as hell don’t have time to spend bickering with pathetic losers who spend the greater part of their days winding people up, scaremongering, and just being plain nasty online. And I’ve certainly devoted more than enough time to talking about them here.

Jan 16, 13:33 (Filed under: Web watch )

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