Thursday, August 16, 2007

Has Wikipedia been Hijacked?

I have become concerned over the last few years of the growing tendency for Wikipedia to censor or delete information that they alone determine is irrelevant. I have always been a fan of Wikipedia in general, but I feel that someone needs to stand up and state clearly that the Emperor has no clothes. Wikipedia is a volunteer driven organization with many good editors. However there appears to be vast discrepancies regarding content. Lately, there have been incidents where editors seem to be acting like dictators. I feel compelled to write becaues of the latest series of incidents that has been brought to my attention, all detailed below with references. I encourage you to read these and contribute to this conversation.

On the Ontolog Forum, I recently conversed with and traded email with a scientist by the name of Jon Awbrey. I decided to look up his name on Google to see what other articles he might have available on the subjects of Computational Intelligence and Ontology/Semantics. I found this link:

For those of you who do not know Jon, he is a respected member of Ontology circles and has been very active in several groups. He has a long history of useful contributions in a remarkably contentious domain of knowledge. Jon has made numerous contributions to Wikipedia including a lot of information about Charles Peirce. I read Wikipedia's Ban Policy which is well worded and written with seemingly good intent. Wikipedia also seems to be fairly transparent (albeit somewhat cryptic) in their rationale for the ban and publishes the conversations. What I really don't understand is how the politics work.

Sadly, this is not the only incident. Last year my friend Sim Simeonov built an entry for "Social Commerce" which was a challenge because an Internet Explorer crash lost his information (who saw that coming?). Sim's thoughts on Social Commerce are fantastic and worthy of reading by anyone attempting to understand Web 2.0. Sadly, the Wikipedia page was deleted. Sim writes:

"Update: Well, despite the fact that to my knowledge at least 5-6 people contributed to the page and the content was starting to look pretty good, we weren’t able to defeat the Wikipedia bots–they auto-deleted the page, probably due to lack of references. Hard to have references to a new concept… It didn’t help that during that period I had to do a lot of travel and so had limited time to contribute. How about this–put some content in comments to this post and then I’ll try again early next year."

It appears that bots were not the only ones to delete his page. Mailer Diablo, a known Wikipedia editor, apparently deleted the Wikipedia Social Commerce page as described here:

14:52, 13 December 2006 Mailer diablo (Talk | contribs) deleted "Social commerce" (Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Social commerce)

It is interesting to note that the German page for Social Commerce still exists.

I don't know who Mailer Diablo is but other users have had issues with him including a non-profit organization trying to keep the Wikipedia entry for "Camp Mendocino". Mailer Diablo deleted the page and wouldn't even give the courtesy of replying to the email asking for clarification. The contributor also offered to change the article to meet guidelines. The conversation is public here:


Please undelete "Camp Mendocino"


I didn't get an answer to this, so I will try again.

You can also find this in your archives:

If possible, I would like to see the article "Camp Mendocino" undeleted.

Excerpt from deletion notice:

22:22, 15 January 2007 Mailer diablo (Talk | contribs) deleted "Camp Mendocino"
(Proposed deletion expiring after 5 days, 9/1/2007)

I'm not sure why it was deleted. Camp Mendocino belongs to a non profit organization, is very traditional, and has existed since the 1930s. If the article requires changes, please let me know.

Thank you in advance.


*********************END RQUEST******************

Another good friend of mine, Dick Hardt, had to struggle to save his Wikipedia page. One of the concerns was around "notability" however as user Lori P writes to Wikipedia:

Not sure why "notability" would be a concern. Dick passes your "google test", with over 160,000 references to him.)".

I too have had run-ins with Wikipedia. Matt MacKenzie and I have derived an Architectural Patterns metamodel from the gang of fours work and updated it to speak to business users as well as to add more details for developers. It comes up #1 in Google for the search term "Architectural Patterns Metamodel" as evidence of its popular use. When listed on the Patterns page (one simple line noting it's existence so people needing a template could download and use it), it was quickly deleted by someone from Wikipedia. I complained and suggested they at least read it. The editor who deleted the line item had no clue as to the contents or usefulness of the template to those who architect, design and develop software.


In all fairness, it is obviously a hard job to try and keep Wikipedia as a source of fact despite the fact there are valid, opposing opinions. Surely someone who doesn't know Dick or care might think he is not worthy but anyone using Perl considers him an icon. Those who live at Camp Mendocino might have trouble reconciling the fact Wikipedia does not think they exist with their reality. This unfortunately happens at the expense of knowledge for the rest of us.

Wikipedia editors do need to be *very* careful. I am very concerned over the apparent trend to censor information based on the decision of a few individuals. I favor a wider approach and a community that can keep itself in check. I am concerned that the people making these decisions do not have the necessary level of intellect to make the judgment calls on the items they are editing too. Who will contradict Sim's theories on Social Commerce?

We all need to be a bit more vigilant and run to the aid of those who need our help to maintain their Wikipedia pages.

Thoughts? Anyone else think Wikipedia is being hijacked?


  1. Duane, I have commented with thousands of words across the Internet about various ailments with which Wikipedia is afflicted. I won't rehash them here. What I'll instead do is present a short hypothesis about why intelligently-written new articles about "advanced" subjects are so frequently deleted from Wikipedia:

    (1) The majority of the most active administrators and administratively-oriented editors on Wikipedia are either minors, or they are adults who have not yet held salaried positions with management responsibilities. In this sense, they lack real-world experience in vast areas of knowledge.

    (2) Wikipedia has emerged as the most salient domain where these types of people have been able to elevate themselves to leadership positions, usually pseudonymously.

    (3) When they see a new article, skillfully written, about a subject area in which they lack expertise, their instinctive reaction is to delete it. Why? This will alienate the (probably older, more experienced) authors who created it, and therefore shore up their own power-control of the editorial process on their favorite website.

  2. "Nazi punks go home" should have been written about Wikipedia editors. Those motherf$#ers wouldn't know truth if it hit them.

  3. It's easier to destroy than create. I think some people on wikipedia have become addicted to destroying. They get a kick out of it because they believe they are also doing good.

    I read a particular novel and added a plot summary to a stub article on the book. It was immediately deleted because, and I tell no lie, the wikipedia editor claimed "facts can be copyrighted".

    I've contributed a lot to Wikipedia over the years, particularly when it was young. I've stopped now. IMHO Wikipedia is the emperor's new clothes. There's just nothing there.

  4. wikipedia gremlins are not doing anyone a service. They should be all let go and the service built over from scratch.

  5. Anonymous:

    I agree. Most of the people I have encountered who are editors have set themselves up a little fifedom and think they are god within that realm. Dipshits like "Editor Diablo" (literally translated into "the Devil Editor") are nothing more than power hungry middle aged morons who have nothing else going for them.

    Time to let a new breed take over.

  6. Like many things online, Wikipedia has become akin to a high school popularity contest. This is a surprise?

  7. Duane, many thanks for your thoughts. My brain is too slow and my fingers too error-prone to work well in a blog e-vironment, so I'm posting my most likely continuing thoughts on your thoughts on this thread at The Wikipedia Review.

    Many Regards …

  8. Mailer_diablo is Keat Hou Kua, currently a conscript in the Singapore Army. He's probably still a teenager, since they conscript at age 18.

    There are numerous know-nothing teenage administrators on Wikipedia. Intelligent editors are always at risk of getting purged by one of them.

    Fortunately, many teenage admins are not careful about remaining anonymous, which lets intelligent people build dossiers on them for possible future use.

  9. The continuing adventures of Charles Sanders Peirce, The Video Game (Ages 3–6), can be tracked by following this thread at The Wikipedia Review. E-joy!

  10. Hi.
    it looks very serious.
    there are people who are deleting things and there is no due process.

    This is not the best way to run a rational institution.

    It might seem silly to demand a chance for informational accuracy in this particular world, but perhaps it might be time to attempt to take this to a higher administrative powedr within the Wikipedia hierarchy?

    The entire concept of notability is antithetical to the functioning of the internet.

    who cares about Phlostigen, i mean really who really knows what a gluon is, and i have never ven herd of an ibex, they must be radically unimportant.

    My personal complaint is the deletion of underground music outfit from Australia named "go genre everything".

    The entry was online for years and years, passing test of citeability and wikification, being written by people who were only just familiar with computer literacy.

    Suddenly it is Deleted in a moment of A7 swift deletion fervour.

    The question of Notability is the one i really wish to raise.

    I have seen people noted on wikipedia as trivial.

    I have never met a trivial human being in my entire life.

    Individuals may have an enormous effect on the enviroment, but i suspect that if it is looked into , it is not so much the effect of individuals which create massive change, but the so called trivial people who do all the grunt work to make it happen.

    By what criteria are we needing to define one person as more important than another. if the article is too long say make it shorter. if the article is badly written, get it written better, but why, does not everybody in the entire world have a wikipedia page detailing their biography?

    It must be a hardware issue.

    That would explain why so many of the "trivial" people as has been mentioned above have been deleted, in favour of important things such as the A7 motorway.

    Please contact Wikipedia and continue to encourage non biased detailed encyclopedic information pertinent to all existing things!


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