Has Wikipedia Become a Roleplaying Game?

Well, the “kirkyan” entry that was submitted to Wikipedia (not by me, btw) has been deleted. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, you might want to first read this post (reLink), and perhaps surf over to WorldChanging where the issue came up on an entry regarding the Metaverse Roadmap Conference (Link).

After you’ve done that, take a look at the Wikipedia page that was deleted (I saved it – Link). After you’ve read it, I should mention that the director of a simulation company, Stirling Reid Ltd, considered the idea entirely plausible and the concept worthy of its own entry. Unfortunately that comment was lost with the deletion. However, what’s nice is that if you test the links I still have, you’ll find that my saved Wikipedia page takes you to the original site and the people who sat in judgement over a concept that didn’t benefit from having a famous science fiction author give it a name … like “spime” (Link).

Here’s a list of the judges (Link) calling for deletion:

RHaworth (Link)
Porge (Link)
Blnguyen (Link)
JIP (Link)
Richardcavell (Link)
Dunstan (Link)
Andrew Lanahan (Link)
PJM (Link)
SorryGuy (Link)
Deville (Link)

If you do a little research on these individuals as I did last night, you’ll find some interesting things. One claims to have been born in 1991 (that’s right, he’s 14 or 15 years old). One, by his own admission (though not through any apparent credentials) “is a Self-proclaimed Genius” who claims no expertise in any of what I’m presenting. One believes that blogs are “just outpourings of the chattering classes”. But what’s really interesting to me is this:

Unlike User:Pumpie who seems to want to be top editor in several different languages, I have no ambition to figure high up the Wikipedia:List of Wikipedians by number of edits. But I would like to be somewhere

People who edit the Wikipedia have ambitions and aspirations within the Wikipedia system? Sure seems that way. There’s even some kind of score card (Link) … I guess. Some of these people claim to make over a thousand edits in one day. Why? Is it to be elected (i.e. Level Up) to “Wikipedia Editor”? Is it to get one of those Wiki-award things; a “Barnstar”? And if they’re busy Wikipharming, how do they do any real research into a topic? or even give it any real thought and consideration? Seems to me that might be difficult. There sure weren’t enough hits on the original kirkyan post to cover all these players.

So, has the Wikipedia been turned into a kind of ego-stroking RPG? And if it has, what does that say about its future accuracy?

3 thoughts on “Has Wikipedia Become a Roleplaying Game?

  1. Interesting. As the ‘director of a simulation company’ concerned, I have to say I only put obscure entries on Wikipedia about 100 year old British music-hall performers (See Charles Coborn and Harry Fragson and my major contributions to scholarship on Wilson Keppel and Betty). Nobody can really quarrel with those: pointless, maybe, but factual and a part of history.

    On the other hand, the kirkyan is difficult to explain and easy to parody. As Bruce Sterling himself said “How exhilirating to have practically no idea what this Second Life guy is talking about.” (The mis-spelling is his, as is the assumption that reBang is a ‘Second Life guy’ and therefore trivialised.) In effect, everyone’s opinion seems as good as everyone else’s, and it’s always easier to laugh at something than to try to understand it. Still seems to me that this is an interesting idea worth spreading – it’s not as though Wikipedia was short of space.

    But when you enter something on Wikipedia it offers the health warning: “If you don’t want your writing to be edited mercilessly or redistributed by others, do not submit it.” Fair enough. It does work well most of the time.

    I suppose what we are all discovering is that the internet (etc), which promised to revolutionise human activity, is vulnerable to the same human weaknesses as everything else. It can be unfair, undemocratic, with self-perpetuating cliques and private agendas. Sad, but fundamental. On the other hand sometimes it can provide amazingly generous opportunities. See Perl, PHP, MySql or http://codeigniter.com/ for examples.

  2. Entirely agree.

    I have plenty of respect for those like Sterling who are leading the charge to try to return some measure of control to average people, but equally concerned how they themselves may be susceptible to the power that fame brings.

    If people wonder why I focus on Sterling in particular, it really goes back to his offhand comments regarding Vik Olliver’s meccano device (you can read my post on that – reLink). His words may not have been entirely serious (though communicating seriousness in a blog entry can be difficult at best) but there does appear to be a sense of condescension in his words, just as you point out how his labeling me “some Second Life guy” seems to trivialize my thoughts.

    Like you (if I understand correctly), I’d be hesitant to post a Wikipedia entry. I’d certainly never enter the kirkyan; I didn’t even create an account to “vote” in its defense. And even though I’ve read questionable entries in the area of Industrial Design, I don’t feel free to simply go edit it even though it’s my area of expertise. Perhaps I take the Wikipedia too seriously. And that brings us back to this new issue; the possible”gaming” of this resource.

    I now wonder if I should include any links in my entries to words readers may not understand. Especially those that are new in the lexicon and subject to change. The next day some “roleplayer” might decide to edit it in a way that is subtle, but significant; more interested in claiming a Wiki-award and some small measure of internet fame than in accuracy.

  3. Pingback: Left Media » Web 2.0: Don’t Trust Anyone Who Isn’t Greedy

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