Talk:Group 4 Dispute Results

From Cyberlaw: Internet Points of Control Course Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Non-Class Members

I'm not sure our group discussion page is the best place for random Wikipedians to be using as their platforms. For now, I'll me moving the attempts at helpfulness here to the talk page, and deleting those just looking for yet another soapbox. If someone sees fit to remove them entirely, or to a seperate wiki page, feel free.-Lciaccio 09:02, 9 January 2008 (EST)

  • Comment from a completely non-involved Wikipedian. This is, after all, a free-to-edit Wiki ;). Please feel free to completely disregard anything I say - I speak entirely for myself, and don't necessarily represent the views of the entire Wikipedia community. I've read the whole fiasco on ANI, as well as the sockpuppetry case, and this page, but as of yet I haven't commented on the whole situation anywhere. I really wanted to get back to this group as a whole, and felt that leaving a message here may be the best route. Firstly, I have to disagree with a number of users on Wikipedia: I don't think that this was a case of sockpuppetry, or meatpuppetry. However, I agree with them that it certainly looked like that, without all the facts. This is why I do think that it would have been beneficial for you to disclose your position immediatley. Also, as you rightly point out above, picking an article where tensions were already at breaking-point perhaps wasn't the wisest decision, but in all fairness, short of spending a few weeks looking at the disputes beforehand, I honestly don't see how you could have realised this fact before jumping in, and so I feel that this was nothing more than an unfortunate but unavoidable mistake. Finally, in response to this comment from Lciaccio: "I failed to see what a sense of community thrived on these boards, and how great the disdain for those percieved to be outsiders". You kinda got that both right and wrong. Yes, the core Wikipedia community is certainly tight-knit, and, very unfortunatly, there are some occassions when outsiders are not welcomed as they should be. However, I don't really feel that this is the case here. I think Jehochman got it bang-on when he posted this on the ANI: "These are students. We hope they have learned something—that online communities do not like being experimented upon". It's really not so much that you, a bunch of outsiders, jumped in and were rejected by the community, but more that when people learnt of your project, (especially when links to this page were posted), they felt uncomfortable, uneasy about being part of essentially an experiment without their consent. I know that, especially having read through this page, I sorta feel "Hmm, here I am participating in Wikipedia for enjoyment, but I could quite easily be being watched, analysed or even used in an experiment without my knowledge". That's certainly not entirely you or your lecturer's fault - anyone can do it - I suppose that this wiki page that I'm editing right now just highlighted the fact so plainly. I do, however, feel that it would have been courteous for you to be as transparent about the project as possible from the outset. In conclusion, yes, you could certainly have handled the situation better in some ways, but no, it's really nowhere near as bad as some users are making out. As far as I can tell, none of you have been blocked from Wikipedia, so I sincerely hope that we haven't lost you as editors - being from Harvard, I should think you'd be a greater asset to the project than Joe Bloggs off the street ;). I really hope that I haven't intruded here - as it's a free-to-edit Wiki, I don't think I have, but feel free to ignore me completely ;). Finally, just to reitterate, the above represents entirely my own views, and not that of the entire Wikipedia community (though I'd hope that a fair few would agree with me :P). Regards, Islander 06:08, 9 January 2008 (EST)
Another comment from a semi-involved Wikipedian: I just wanted to tell the group that I am sorry that you had such a bad time with the waterboarding article. Unfortunately, you accidentally walked into one of the most contentious articles on wikipedia. While I'm sure your motives were pure, many people involved in that page have become paranoid that there are cabals trying to push their own viewpoint to the detriment of the article. Having a separate discussion on another site to coordinate edits on the waterboarding page hit everyone's buttons. But most articles are not anywhere near as contentious and there is tons of work that needs to be done. Any help from smart, capable, and interested editors is very welcome. So please continue to contribute! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to drop me a line (at Remember on the English Wikipedia). Cheers. Remember 09:50, 9 January 2008 (EST) p.s. I hope you don't mind me commenting here. I figured that because you didn't do anything to Islander, you wouldn't object to my comments.

Why does it get so hot in the kitchen? A few thoughts - I think part of the problem is the precise fact that Wikipedia is international and spans a range of cultures, ideologies and so on, which can't talk to each other in the real world, let alone online. Putting them online in one place has created a pressure-cooker effect of sorts. Let me explain - some views held in the US by some people and possibly accepted as mainstream there on this topic are seen as radical or cruel by those in other countries, just as certain views held in the Arab world (eg about the role of women, or gay people) would be seen as radical or cruel in the US and other countries. Essentially most of my acquaintance here in Australia view the American position on this as trying to justify their own actions in torturing others, and using its wealth and resources and media ownership to promulgate its view worldwide and evade international scrutiny, often while accusing others of the very same things. When you appeal to such base emotions in people, you are going to get a visceral response of unknown magnitude from editors elsewhere (whether geographically or culturally elsewhere). As the Holocaust is a little too close to me personally (at least 13 in my family died in Nazi extermination camps, and several others survived the regime in various Central European countries), my personal views on abuse of state power would not weather such a dispute, and I hence choose to avoid it entirely.

My normal work is within the Australian politics project and it's no secret that the three most disputed articles there, often leading to protection and edit warring, are John Howard, the former prime minister; Kevin Rudd, the current prime minister; and David Hicks, a former Guantanamo inmate of Australian origin. The cycle of the first and second are easy to explain. Their supporters write large sections of the article describing their leader in glowing terms. The next people to come along are that leader's ideological opponents, who are angered by the toadying tone of the article and try to "fix" it, of course taking it to the other side and including stuff that amounts to slander about the subject. The supporters, who identify strongly with their leader and see an attack on him as an attack on themselves, fight back with everything they have. The opponents, now being attacked, fight back. The result is an intractable dispute. What is unhelpful along the way is that single-purpose accounts (I should note I do not see this project as representing such - I have entirely unrelated individuals in mind) or people with an unusually radical point of view (whether real or adopted for the purpose of the debate) get involved and can end up fighting an entire group of editors who were previously on opposing sides but have united against a new threat. The end result is blocks, bans, sockpuppet reports, AN/I reports, and if it's bad enough, is usually left to ArbCom to sort out. Another odd thing which develops is that the two sides develop a personal hatred of each other which often spills onto other articles, often quite unrelated, and even such things as templates and the structure of articles. Some debates in Australia regarding templates and structures are so complicated that those of us who weren't involved are almost scared to fix anything in case we rattle the cage of someone who associates our good faith changes with the actions of an unrelated former opponent.

Another oddity I've noticed in 10 years online is that the US is in some ways the opposite to here. Australia, like Canada and Europe, is somewhat centrist in its views, with views on international issues that lean left. Therefore, those who are in the right here are in a minority. In the US, the left is in the minority. In each case, the minority is wont to produce editors (though not consistently), be it on Wikipedia or newsgroups, who are tendentious, antisocial and sometimes just plain out loopy. Therefore, strong left-wing editors in the US are more of a problem, while strong right-wing editors in Australia are more of a problem. I have often wondered if this is a product of the fact they are in a minority within society so feel the need to fight for legitimisation or acceptance of their views.

This ended up being longer than I intended, but I hope I've inspired some thought about the sociology of the whole thing. Good luck with your course (I'm also a student so know what you're facing :)) Orderinchaos 01:10, 13 January 2008 (EST)