I’m Divorcing Wikipedia For Good

A big fat Divorce sign
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I'm Divorcing Wikipedia For Good

Wikipedia is not a real Encyclopedia, it is not what you think.

Wikipedia was founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, Wikipedia is one of the world’s top ten most visited Web sites, created by a community of editors that anybody can join. It is hosted and managed by the Wikimedia Foundation — an American-based non-profit organization.

I know I use Wikipedia as my source for many of my articles, but I have had enough of Wikipedia and it will be the death of them eventually. And I’m not the only one who thinks this way, in fact recently it appears that either Wikipedia has been getting negative points or other websites are getting a huge bump, but even Google appears to be penalizing Wikipedia in Googles SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Plus, they are always begging for money and they are in your face about it, with huge banners all over the pages every few months. And the really sad part is that Wikipedia’s parent company Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is literally swimming in money, we are talking hundreds of millions of dollars (USD). So the next time you run across a Wikipedia article and they are begging for money, just ignore it.

It bothers me that they are one of these organizations that continually are begging for money, when they are drowning in it, literally taking money from other organizations. The aSPCA is another one of these such organizations that beg for money all the time, and they are not who you think they are.

Wikipeida begging for even more money
Wikipeida begging for even more money

Many people think that Wikipedia is an authoritative source of knowledge, and they do not understand that much of Wikipedia is written and maintained by the overweight 26-year-old neighbor man who is still living in his mom and dad’s basement. A 2015 article introduces their most prolific editor. The BBC did an article about some of the editors of Wikipedia.

Keep in mind, that all the information about Wikipedia and the Wikimedia group is written by these people, there is no real verification process for any of it. Yes, I know they cite their sources, but unlike mine, their sources are because someone else on the Internet said so.

Some of the Wikiepedia editors at a meetup in
Some of the Wikiepedia editors at a meetup in 2011

Wikipedia wants everyone to think that you can be an editor and write articles for Wikipedia, and sadly, that isn’t the case. I tried more than once to join Wikipedia and write an article. The funny part is that you can not be associated with the person, place, or thing that you are writing about. As an example, let’s say that I want to write about one of my favorite music bands, Journey.

According to the rules and policies, I can not be a member of Journey or have worked with or for them. I can’t work in an industry that would be associated with Journey. So, let’s say that they use Neumann microphones and I work for Neumann. If that is the case then I can’t write about Journey.

Let’s say that I operate their fan club, can I write an article our Journey? Nope

Let’s say that I saw them once in concert sitting in the back row of a 130,000-capacity stadium, can I write an article about them, of course, I can, and I will become an authoritative source.

Journey concert, I'm circled in red
Journey at NRG Stadium during the Freedom Tour - Photo from Journey's Twitter page - photo courtesy of Iron Mike Savoia (and I'm not actually in this photo)

Now, I’m likely exaggerating a little bit here, but I was trying to make an article about a magazine that one of my friends (web design) publishes. It is a small digest, printed four times a year, but still.

I was denied as I would not be able to write about this digest without trying to promote it and you can’t self-promote. Yeah, I get that, but, how in the world does something get published on Wikipedia then?

I can suggest it to Wikipedia and they will vote on it. And I might get lucky and they write about it.

Wait, stop the presses, you mean that the “wikipedians” (the name that they call themselves) get to choose what they write about? (Which explains why the Dungeons & Dragons article is so damn long – same thing for the Pokémon article)

When you sign up for an account with Wikipedia, you are encouraged to play in the ‘sandbox‘ that they give you. The purpose is for you to learn about how their website and editor operate and have to interact with it. They state that it doesn’t matter what you are working on in the sandbox, it isn’t really public, well it is, but you need to know where and how to find it.

I had already drafted the article that I wanted to write about so I simply used that in the sandbox, and as soon as I did the very first save of the draft, I immediately started getting notices from Wikipedia editors.

The edits you made under the following username:redacted, gives the impression you have an undisclosed financial stake in promoting a topic, but you have not complied with Wikipedia’s mandatory paid editing disclosure requirements. Paid advocacy is a category of conflict of interest (COI) editing that involves being compensated by a person, group, company or organization to use Wikipedia to promote their interests. Undisclosed paid advocacy is prohibited by our policies on neutral point of view and what Wikipedia is not, and is an especially serious type of COI; the Wikimedia Foundation regards it as a “black hat” practice akin to black-hat search-engine optimization.

Further conversations indicated that I also needed to change my username, which proved to be very fun and interesting as the username that I normally use (it is not related to anything about me) is restricted for a handful of reasons. I ended up having them auto-generate a username for me, which resulted in my first and last name and a bunch of junk behind it.

Then I got accused of SPAMming as they considered the topic that I was writing about could be considered SPAM. I’m honestly still trying to figure out how an article is unsolicited or is mass, but whatever.

Not one single person asked me a single question or offered any real assistance, they just made demands. Well, that isn’t 100% factual, one person did talk to me like I was a person and that is where I learned I should start by suggesting edits for other articles first. That is where I also learned that a majority of any changes I might suggest will not be acted on as many of the wikipedians do not take well to others suggesting edits on articles (they are not pages, BTW, I even got scolded for calling them pages instead of articles)  that they wrote.

I was told that I need to start by finding articles already on Wikipedia and enhancing them, adding content, or better yet, fixing mistakes.

So you want me to search for my hobby, collecting hammers, and add more detail about hammers. But there is already an ungodly lengthy page about hammers already. So I just need to write useless dribble and the more that I write the more likely I will be able to eventually write an article on my own from the start. And if you go to the page on hammers, you will see that, well a bunch of “someones” has already written all the useless shit about hammers already (same with screwdrivers and wrenches).

And, wait, you will like this, all your edits will be approved by a board of editors (not a board per se, more like a virtual vote. So if they don’t like what you wrote about hammers you are screwed. And that is what happened to me. I published an entire post about the digest and instantly, I was getting verbally abused by all these people ‘still living in their parent’s basement‘, and let me tell you, they were aggressive to the point that his Jarhead got pissed off and also fell for the game. And I also quickly noticed that my political views (Wikipedia has been caught over and over ‘whitewashing‘) were not in line with theirs and they let me know it and they all hide behind usernames.

One of these basement dwellers is 38-year-old Steven Pruitt, who has edited at least 1/3 of all the articles (over 3 million edits)  on Wikipedia. And the way this all works is if editors like Steven don’t like what you are saying, in your article, they can change it with whatever they want. And, this guy makes an amazing $0.00 for his efforts. you can learn more about Mr. Pruitt here.

It’s not just Pruitt, there are thousands around the world who belong to this group. I tried, I really did, but I found that every edit I made and offer a citation for, was either edited again or removed entirely. I edited articles about things that I knew to be factual. I would make my edit and validate it with an authoritative outside source and move on. In seconds, I’m not exaggerating, seconds, I got feedback from these gremlins, who are all hiding in the dark musty basement like Sloth from the Goonies.

Sloth from The Goonies movie circa 1985
Lotney "Sloth" Fratelli from the 1985 movie "The Goonies"

And the emails were seldom polite, seldom nice, often they were downright borderline harassment, and someone who doesn’t have a thick skin like a Marine does might take offense. Not me, I just regrouped and I decided to waste their time and make a ton of stupid edits until they banned my ass.

The moral of this story is, I guess if you play stupid games you win stupid prizes. I set up a little script and edited a ton of shit, just to fuck with them. I’m sure that night, I was talked about among these editors.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Here is something from a Reddit post.

I found this on Reddit, it seems I'm not the only person complaining about how the editors operate and how they belittle people who want to join the group.
I found this on Reddit, it seems I'm not the ony person complaining about how the editors operate and how they belittle people who want to join the group.
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Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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By Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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