Billy Martin (docbrite) wrote,

Wikipedia Weeniedom

I just received the following message from a Wikipedia administrator (according to the date stamp, it was actually sent back in May, but I don't log into Wikipedia all that often):

You are one of my favorite authors and, as a writer myself, one of my major influences. I noticed in the History page of your entry here that you have been editing it yourself. I've checked over the entry and found nothing really wrong with your edits--so I am assuming that you're not out to make yourself look better or anything. In any case, I request that you please stop editing your own entry. I request this because, not counting the few bad apples that vandalize articles, the majority of users here on Wikipedia aim to create and maintain factual, balanced, and non-biased entries.

This makes wikipedia users such as I leery.

If there is something unaddressed, or if you believe that something is false, please address it on your official website and/or provide a link to an interview or site with the info. That way, us wikipedians can put it in the entry and have a citation for it.

Thank you for your cooperation. And if you ever get the urge to edit your entry again, please refer to this wiki article about the Stephen Colbert and think about the consiquences of your actions:

Yours Truly, Rimbaud 2 (talk) 17:49, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

I particularly love this statement:

You editing an entry on yourself makes it unbalanced and biased because, well, your [sic] editing an entry about yourself.

This has to be one of the most bizarre examples of logic I've come across in a while: "X equals Y because, well, X equals Y." I realize the guy was trying to be nice here, but given that he's basically accusing me of making my entry unbalanced and biased, I'd just as soon he had skipped the butt-kissing.

So -- despite the fact that other contributors to my entry, while well-meaning, frequently get their facts wrong, and that I have only edited the entry to correct those facts, update bibliography information, remove occasional vandalism, and once to add a paragraph about my use of recurring characters -- I will no longer be editing my Wikipedia entry. I regret having made the mistake of being honest enough to do so under my own name in the first place.

[ETA: I removed from my entry the paragraph about my use of recurring characters. Obviously, if Wikipedia disagrees with this deletion, they can restore it. As best I can recall, this is the only thing I have contributed to the entry other than small factual corrections (e.g. misspelled titles), bibliography updates, and removal of vandalism. I've asked Wikipedia administration to clarify their policy: Are people forbidden to edit their own entries, or are they merely "strongly discouraged"? Unless expressly forbidden to do so, I will continue to update the entry's bibliography, correct factual errors, and remove vandalism, which seems fairer to the reader than creating a pseudonym or asking someone else to make the changes on my behalf. One administrator referred me to a page explaining why Wikipedia discourages autobiographical entries, but going by these guidelines, I still don't believe my contributions (with the possible exception of the paragraph I removed, though the fact that I write about recurring characters is certainly verifiable) have violated any of their policies.

This is a dull subject and I won't say anything else about it here, but I do regret that Wikipedia chose to handle this matter as they did. In the past, when I've had any reason to tangle with Wikipedia administrators, they were sympathetic and helpful even when I had inadvertently (and stupidly) violated a rule. The communications I've received from them today, while nominally polite, struck me as needlessly condescending, presumptuous, and accusatory, and did nothing to increase my regard for Wikipedia.]
Tags: internet wank
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