Friday, March 09, 2007

Jimbo Wales Feeds Wikipedians and the Press a Red Herring

According to Brian Bergstein of the Associated Press:
"Following revelations that a high-ranking member of Wikipedia's bureaucracy used his cloak of anonymity to lie about being a professor of religion, the free Internet encyclopedia plans to ask contributors who claim such credentials to identify themselves."
Discussions regarding this proposal are still underway at Wikipedia, but when news of the above-quoted article reached Jimbo Wales Wikipedia User Page space, it became quite clear to me that Jimbo had already made up his mind about moving forward with this plan, and that the discussions he had initiated on his user page were simply a way of placating the opposition by giving them an opportunity to speak their mind.

As someone who has repeatedly asserted Jimbo's lack of culpability in the recent Essjay scandal, I am very disappointed to see that Jimbo has offered up the red herring of verified credentials rather than address his [Jimbo's] failure to properly vet a pseudonymous individual whom he appointed to ArbCom, Wikipedia's court of final appeal. Superficially, the Essjay case was about falsified credentials; at its core, it was about an elaborate deception that Essjay rationalized as being necessary because he held positions of trust at Wikipedia.

Verifying credentials will not address the core issue of deception by Wikipedia administrators. All it will do is validate a Larry Sanger-esque type of credentialism at Wikipedia and create an attractive nuisance for credentialists and impostors. Essjay outed himself as an impostor because he felt that he had to so when accepting his paid position at Wikia. As such, the best remedy for the sort of deception that Essjay perpetrated would be a policy that forced people seeking administrator privileges at Wikipedia to provide the powers that be at Wikimedia with their true identity; if Wikipedia administrators wish to remain pseudonymous to the rest of the world, that's their prerogative.


Blogger Gregory Kohs said...

This scandal seems to be having an adverse effect on the daily financial donations to the Wikimedia Foundation:

Maybe Wikipedia will shrivel up from lack of funding, if their leadership keeps making such ethically questionable decisions.

Monday, March 19, 2007 10:09:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home