Wikimedia is not the lawful nor responsible steward of the GFDL corpus but a gang of usurpers who seek to prevent other GFDL corpus access providers from placing themselves in a central position to distribute upgrades to that corpus. It is sometimes accused of collaborating with Bomis's commercial interests and even more of alleged Wikimedia corruption. It is very likely to be the targets of complaints and lawsuits especially from the Wikipedia Red Faction that it has recently censored.
In general, Reds consider there to be no negotiating nor accomodation with Wikimedia but view the troll-sysop struggle there as directly towards ultimately ending Wikimedia and replacing it with a more accountable structure with no history of GodKings nor priestly hierarchy nor command hierarchy. See the analysis of English Wikipedia User Richardchilton for more on the prospect of withdrawing and helping destroy it from a distance.
Wikipedia is a large public wiki controlled by the Wikimedia foundation, It also receives support from Bomis Inc. in the form of free bandwidth and this connection with a for-profit corporation is seen as a burden affecting the functioning of Wikipedia as a free encyclopedia as it claims to be.
Because Wikipedia censors much discussion of its own deficiencies, especially its legally significant ones, this article will focus on these, to balance the view at w:Wikipedia and w:Meta-Wikipedia, which contains largely a Wikipedia-promoting view.
Wikipedia claims to be an encyclopedia based on the GFDL text corpus. That is, it claims to have the editorial standards of an encyclopedia. It further asserts by claiming it is applying the terms of the GFDL that anything written and released under GFDL, including those directly submitted via the Wikipedia user interface which is based on mediawiki, can be legally included in the Wikipedia corpus.
http://wikipedia.org is the largest GFDL access point. As is often pointed out, it is in technical violation of several points of the GFDL due to a combination of software deficiencies, mismatches of the software with the terms of the GFDL, and a developer and sysop power structure that is the opposite of democratic, and strongly favours insiders over outsiders. It is generally run better in the 22 languages other than English, since the guiltiest parties actually can't read those languages. The GodKing, Jim Wales, can't read or write any language other than English. This is probably good:
Wikipedias' struggle to resolves their internal contradictions (multi-language project run by a GodKing who speaks and reads only English, claims of neutrality with no outreach or mediation mechanism other than a technology that itself puts a sysop power structure of mostly developed-world people in charge of content, inability to examine its own community point of view) will provide both good and bad examples for the Consumerium Governance Organization, which would do well to avoid all the pitfalls it is falling into. See 142.X.X.X/Tim_Starling for a starting list of these, and references to longstanding issues and potential solutions that 'Wikipedians' ignore and censor, mostly at Meta-Wikipedia, e.g. m:regime change.
For instance the French Wikipedia is among the best run, although it had teething pains, it attracted competent people who knew to selectively ignore Wales' pronouncements. Probably the worst run today is the Simple English Wikipedia - which seems to have no framework even for deciding what "Simple" is to mean... what purposes (or even audiences) it is to serve and what level of English mastery they may have. It has actually discouraged any discussion or policy setting in these regards, the opposite of what a real basis for translation of articles would have done.
Wikipedia is often used as a bad example in discussions about the wiki way - sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly. Wrong use of it as an example focuses on the fact that it has a specific mission to build some specific content - which in fact almost all wikis do. Wikis are not wholly for the benefit of their authors, but, presumably, create some statement that WE* agree on and can present to others as OUR opinion or best assembly of the facts. The highly confused and ideological Meatball Wiki has a page"Wikipedia is not typical" which focuses on this, as if somehow wikis in general existed solely to facilitate text interchange among their users. Which might be true if wikis were all dating services, or intended to serve purposes like those of NetNews. However, this is to miss the whole point of collaborative editing technology, which is to produce some output that represents something that is "more true than not". In real wikis, goodwill among contributors is a side effect of dedication to a common goal. In bad ones, it is required even under extreme circumstances of unethical behaviour, e.g. echo chambers.
Correctly citing Wikipedia as a bad example, many insiders are decrying its uniquely destructive and abusive culture. The Cunctator refers to its "vile mailing list", R. K. called it the "Nazipedia" because he believes there is viciously anti-semitic bias (though he continues to contribute), and there are many debates about outing that seem to focus on whether a GodKing or sysop power structure pronouncement regarding the truth can or must be accepted as truth within the w:Wikipedia:Itself.
As a concrete example of the tyranny which exists at the Wikipedia; note that there are no rules requiring "proof" (of any sort) before a user is banned -- there are only guidelines and such, but not actual rules. The result is that it is the responsiblity of a banned user to prove their innocence; and somehow defend themselves against the cabal.
In discussions of both policy and content, the loudest voices who attract the most supporters during the pendency of a discussion often dominate direction. Users critical of the project are sometimes blocked from discussions. A review of user-histories at Wikipedia suggests that power users who spend several hours a day making small edits to numerous pages often dominate discussions, and comprise the most active elements of the administrative ranks. and that people who are qualified or interested in administrative functions may hold different interests from the people who are the best contributors (see community point of view and systemic bias).
Wikipedia also has serious failings as an encyclopedia. There is no special process or mechanism to deal with a political dispute, with factions that can't or won't reconcile their terms to each other, and it explicitly has refused to work out any separate policy for terminology dispute or for an identity dispute, despite these being quite clearly all different things with different paths to resolution - or not. There are no designated editors to make final decisions, in any language, instead this is a power struggle of sorts, with a GodKing who speaks only English and can't possibly read all the disputed articles or judge their content. He works on "reputation" alone ultimately, which means the power structure is strictly hierarchical etc..
Finally, Wikipedia has no full text search facility, due to deficiencies of the mediawiki software.
- You can do full text searches using Google or Yahoo. Full text searching from the MySQL database became possible starting from version 4.0, which is now in use at Wikipedia, but the lack of this feature is surely related to the heavy load on the servers - the Wikimedia foundation not having sufficient trust or resources to actually buy sufficient hardware.
Wikipedia articles, flawed as they are, can often be a good first reference for someone with no knowledge at all of a topic, especially if they have good references. After reading a Wikipedia article, it is usually possible to enter a few search terms in google or another search engine and find more credible material on the same subject, confident that you are using the terms that are recognized there. Indeed, it is the ability to find several dozen to a hundred or so hits on google that is often used as a criteria for an acceptable title of an article. This one good feature is abused by applying it to subtitles, however, and generally by applying it only to subjects politically disliked by the sysops.
Wikipedia's article on itself w:Wikipedia makes various claims about its origins which are generally credible, but doesn't say enough about its many problems. There is an entire separate site devoted to that, the "meta" (see m:), and this debates issues of m:governance, but the difference between such proposals and real m:Wikipedia Governance are great indeed.
It seems Wikipedia has gone at least two years without seriously considering its governance structure, and that Wikimedia is simply a front organization for the same power structure that was described in early 2002 by Wales - a simple hierarchy with himself in charge, no accountability to anyone, not even donors who believe they are supporting a GFDL encyclopedia with "open" editing.
There has been some examination of the project's role and the way it portrays itself, see w:Wikipedia:Itself for a list of contributions relevant to the form of Wikipedia, itself.
In general, Wikipedia has a dishonest view of itself, and presents itself very dishonestly as an attempt to build an encyclopedia, when in fact it appears to do little or nothing to meet the editorial standards of a serious encyclopedia, and forces people of strong qualifications to answer to petty abuse from various parties of no particular qualifications at all, as the project turned to popular selection of contributors and casual verification of content, often on ad hominem reasoning toward authors, instead of a more formal fact-checking process. It should be seen as a project that helped build the GFDL text corpus in many languages, but is now in decline. Much as the attempt to build a "GNU Unix" built the body of GPL code.
Wikipedia, more so than other wiki service in early 2004, had become a main source for re-distribution of encyclopedic content by other sites, and thus expanded the reach of errors contained in its largely unverified content. Redistribution of Wikipedia-sourced material by another user-editable encyclopedia that could prove more popular with contributors might pose the greatest risk to control by Wikipedia's founding cadre.
Relation to Consumerium
The default position should be that Wikipedia's serious governance problems are so dangerous to Consumerium that they can't be repeated here. The English Wikipedias and Mediawiki are enemy projects in that their goals and values differ so radically from those of Consumerium that any confusion of one set of policies or concept of responsibility on those projects with the policies or responsibilities of Consumerium is a net negative - that is, anyone who says regarding an important governance decision that "X isn't what WE* do on Wikipedia" should be told "right, go away, we're doing it anyway". Or more neutrally, "that's evidence that X is the right thing to do". On governance specifically.
If you see something in wikipedia that could be useful, please put it here, if the Wikipedia article is not complete you should put it in the Research page - Lists and timelines are very welcome.
See also list of related Disinfopedia articles, list of related Metaweb articles, list of related Internet Encyclopedia articles, list of related Everything2 articles, list of Consumerium related articles (all external links)
Understanding buying choices and their effects:
- w:Conversion of units
- w:List of countries
- w:List of timelines
- w:List of reference tables
- w:List of stock exchanges
- w:List of supermarkets
- w:Commodity markets - buying on the largest scale
- w:Money - what it is and how it works, commodifying everything even you
Understanding moral choices as expressed in the marketplace:
- w:list of ethics articles - why would you care what you buy?
- w:Globalization makes it harder to know what your money does
- w:Transparency International tries to make it easier to find out
- w:Greenpeace has six campaigns to affect buying choices, and advocates
- w:Accounting reform which would make more liabilities visible to you
- w:Full cost accounting in particular would make waste visible
- w:Means of persuasion, e.g. w:advertising, w:propaganda of
Directly relevant to consumerium mission, making actual moral buying choices:
- w:Slow Food - tied for third most relevant? buy local, organic, etc.
- w: Sweatshop - tied for third most relevant? often the target of
- w: Boycott - second most relevant? usually shorter term than
- w:Moral purchasing describes most exactly the consumerium.org mission
- w:Local food
- brand management, how products are positioned and gain identity. The "Wikipedia" brand has this concern too, leading to:
- tracking of Self-references of the project to itself, which Consumerium needs too so it knows what it is and is becoming.
- w:Wikipedia:itself which is the view of the english version of Wikipedia from Wikipedia, itself, and is used to mediate disputes about its direction and purposes.
See also: Wikipedia Red Faction