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Wikipedia isn’t officially a social network, but the harassment can get ugly (nytimes.com)
97 points by bookofjoe on Apr 10, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 89 comments

Why I do I see the problems of harassment and of lack of representation being conflated here.

While harrasement is deplorable and needs to be tackled, I think it is wrong to insinuate that it is a major cause for lack of participation by women in Wikipedia.

It is a voluntary effort, and besides editors do not have to declare their names or gender in Wikipedia. Editors need not even have accounts. So the numbers the article cites are likely to be unreliable.

I’m not sure why you are being downvoted. I do not have any reason to believe men are any more resilient to harassment than women are.

Men are in some ways stuck in their historical gender role, expected to be tough and ‘have a thick skin’.

There’s certainly vast amounts of abuse and harassment hurled at men online - politicians in particular. Right now, the US president probably receives more online hate than anyone else in history...

You had me going with a convincing argument till you finished your second sentence.

I'm not going to wade into the gender roles debate but who "receives" the most online hate Depends on your definition of "receives" The most polarizing US president since the internet no doubt has the most shit talked about him on the internet (I'm sure someone more polarizing will come along eventually though). I don't think he sees much of it. It's not like world leaders fill their free time by browsing /r/politics.

I mean, it doesn't sound completely wrong to me so far in history.

Regardless of whether or not that hate is deserved is another matter.

But thinking back as to who else receives as much hate: A few other thoughts are Hitler, maybe W Bush back before modern social media took over. There was definitely the whole Shkreli thing, but I don't think that ever reached the average joe as much as the others have.


I claim the opposite with an equal amount of supporting data! I even make my factoid more believable than yours by calling to mind the viciousness of harassment among teenage girls and I point out that they are avid users of social media.

I'm gonna wager a third option with ALL chips in that it's not the gender that's at issue but the gender roles that is at issue and is to blame for the harassment.

There have been studies showing most harassers of women are actually other women. I think it was for Twitter, and perhaps comments on The Guardian website, not sure about the details.

I don't know the total numbers for harassment in general. For example if more men than women would use a particular social network, men would likely be more often harassers. In total numbers, not proportions. But I am not sure you would win your bet.

I'm pretty sure men are more often the target of harassment than women. Would take that bet.

Edit: can't find the exact articles anymore (thanks for nothing, liberal Google), but here is for example one mentioning 50% of harassment women receive on Twitter is from other women: https://www.businessinsider.de/half-of-the-sexist-harassment...

I heard on I think Malcolm Gladwell's podcast (and he's hardly infallible and this is second hand so grains of salt and all that) that women tend to harass other women more often when they are underrepresented or subordinated in the group.

The context was a diversity hiring push that put a few women in otherwise primarily male offices across the country and saw disappointing results. The idea was that when women (or any minority group) are outnumbered, they will try to defy expectations and stand out by adopting the social habits of the majority and will compete with each other for ratification.

And that makes some amount of sense to me, like when a gay man reassures us that he's conservative and subtle and a good dinner guest and not like those oversexed deviants that march in the parades. He's forsaking others in his minority group to get in the club.

But it's a thin line. I don't mean to take the position that anything bad that women do is always the fault of men. It's just hard to suss out something this complicated.

What does the effect of harassment on males have to do with whether males are more likely to be harassers?

> While harrasement is deplorable and needs to be tackled, I think it is wrong to insinuate that it is a major cause for lack of participation by women in Wikipedia.

I'd say that if someone left photos of genitals on my userpage, that would be a pretty strong disincentive for me to participate.

I have an anecdote to share which has (perhaps unfairly) biased my beliefs regarding underrepresented people on Wikipedia.

On /r/twoxchromosomes, a profile of a somewhat accomplished (more like John Aaron, less like Alan Turing) woman was posted. In the comments were some six to ten people lamenting that she didn't have a Wikipedia page.

I thought perhaps it had been put up for RFDs or something the way they complained about how a man in the same position would have a page. Anyway, so I waited a day to see if they'd do anything and they didn't.

The woman in question did deserve a Wikipedia page so I made one, described her story, and added citations. Within the week, various bots had made it pretty. I was then able to go request a picture for her Wikipedia page. I just checked and the page looks pretty good. Lots of people have contributed.

Nothing I did was impossible for any of them to do. So why didn't they do it? Why instead did they write absolute reams of comments about the unfairness when they had the tools to fix it? Why are they so helpless?

On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog. You can be the change, quietly.

One thing I've noticed with wikipedia is that it has an insanely high barrier to entry. I will never create a wikipedia page for 1 reason: The first time I tried to edit a page was a nightmare. I was doing a degree, looked up some information, followed the source and it was very clear in the source that the equation on the page was wrong. I corrected the equation on the page. It was then reverted. I pointed out in the chat that the page was wrong and the source proved it. I was told the page was already based on the source and unless I could find a new citation to prove what I was claiming the page would stay as it is. So wikipedia is factually wrong on some basic engineering equation, and I walked away because I'm not going to wade through bureaucracy for some charitable change I was making.

Over the years I've found out that this is the standard experience for most first time wikipedia contributers. So whilst it may be easy for someone to create a page, that is not the experience for a first time user, and high barriers to entry are a great way of creating an exclusionary environment.

What you're describing is a problem not for the people in that thread. It' sa failure of wikipedia that it's created an environment where the average person doesn't feel able to contribute on a topic they know.

For what it's worth, I've never encountered the sort of "yow, my perfectly reasonable change just got reverted with extreme prejudice and other editors are immovable" problem at all. Maybe I've just been lucky?

(I do wonder whether maybe it's not so common, but when it happens it makes a big impression and so we hear more about those cases since their victims are understandably annoyed about it and want to tell everyone.)

Yep, once tried to correct a Wikipedia page about an event I had direct knowledge of, only to have my change reverted. Whatever. Not going to get into a fight when I was only trying to contribute - enjoy being smugly wrong.

I'm also sitting on a few bug fixes for open source tools because some of the larger projects have made the process for contributing just way too obnoxious. (Sign our code of conduct, sign a contributor licensing agreement, submit your pull request along with a three page explanation (making sure to use the correct cover sheet) in X format, etc). That feels like work and I'm doing this for free -- like I'm supposed to feel honored that you're allowing me to submit an improvement to your code base. Meh, never mind - I'll keep the fix for myself.

I think that wikipedia and some of the more popular OSS projects have something in common: a clique of long-serving contributors erecting barriers to entry to keep newcomers out.

And where people whose knowledge is "the system" do feel able to "contribute" on a topic they don't know - but are sufficiently insistent about.

It's absurd to say that Wikipedia has an "insanely high barrier to entry". You click "Edit" and that's it - you don't even have to create an account. It's hard to imagine a lower barrier to entry. Of course, the flip side is that anybody can revert your change as well; your edit is not sacred. I mean, what alternative do you propose? That Wikipedia should never revert edits? Change into Everything2?

That low barrier to entry is just for the more minor changes, like correcting a typo. For anything more complex, you'd have to successfully use their editor, find acceptable sources and correctly quote them.

Even seemingly minor changes can be fraught.

The discussion about whether to use –,— or - takes several hundred thousand words, and went all the way to ArbCom. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Arbitra...

For a while merely chosing a username was risky business. It's got a bit better now, but it's still weirdly complex process if someone disagrees with your choice of name.

Not auto-reverting fixes to obviously wrong content would be a good start. I had a similar experience with fixing a page where someone had confused kilograms and pounds.

That's exactly my experience. I contributed to spanish Wikipedia several times. I don't really see the barrier. Yet I read about wikipedia and women again and again.

If a non-programmer critisised some part of Blender or some other large scale open source software project it would be weird to call them hypocritical for not just enacting the change themselves wouldnt it? Seems strange to pretend that there is no barrier to entry to contributing a page to an encyclopedia.

>Seems strange to pretend that there is no barrier to entry to contributing a page to an encyclopedia.

No, there actually is no barrier to entry. You can go to any page right now, click "edit", and are greeted with a WYSIWYG editor. No programming or markup knowledge required. No registration needed either.

As discussed further up the thread (and as per the point of the article) the barriers to entry aren't technical but social.

An example not mentioned in the article (it's kind of tangential wrt the problems of wikipedias community) but worth noting; women are still disproportionally more likely undertake caring responsibilities outside of work and so may not have as much time as men to create and edit wikipedia pages.

The barrier to entry is the effort required to create a good and truthfull page.

Because people with two x chromosomes aren't capable of that?

There are many more biographies of males than of females on Wikipedia. Whatever the reason for that might be is up to debate.

Is this good or bad? Maybe because (assumption here) there are more "relevant" males throughout history?

It is not good or bad, it is what it is. Unless biographies of females are actively being suppressed, it is simply irrelevant: they are not being created because nobody cares, literally.

It's actually not that high. In the anecdote, the little page I created had two sources with citation formatting messed up and two paragraphs of text. A week later, bots had cleaned up the citation, another bot had added an infobox, and someone had added all the "Retrieved at" dates to the citations. I did so little.

I did it. With a fresh account. Fresh page. They could just as well have done it.

It's a lot of work, you need good sources (better than reddit comment) and write the text; at least it's more work than just complaining on reddit/twitter. Another matter is that adding sources is complicated (at I found the process cumbersome last time I did it).

I agree that there is definitely a barrier to entry for making wikipedia articles, it definitely takes a little bit of time and effort. What bothers me is in a situation like the person you're replying to described, its hard to feel like the disgust/disappointment with the fact that this person didn't have an article is obviously overstated by the commenters. Yes, making a wikipedia article requires some effort, but not so much that if you cared at all about making one that you couldn't do it in an afternoon or two. Maybe it's an unfair assumption, but it just pushes me to further think that these people who complain about stuff on the internet don't actually care, they just want to win brownie points for appearing to care.

Also such a thread could be an easy springboard for a collective effort on such an article. One could create the article with an outline and share the link in such conversation, so that people could put their time where their mouth is.

This is also true for open source projects. You can literally start a widely used project under a pseudonym (if you really feel the need). If it is good, it will be used.

It is easier to complain, especially if these days money can be made by complaining.

And even if the page on Wikipedia got deleted (relevance or content issues or whatever) you can at least say that you tried.

Don't ask, don't tell. Editors on Wikipedia can be anonymous.

Don't Ask Don't Tell sends out entirely the wrong signal to would-be editors. What it tells people is that Wikipedia - something whose sole purpose is to catalogue the world's knowledge - is an intolerant place that prioritises internal cohesion over diversity, fairness, and decency.

It was bad enough when the US military applied the policy to LGBT people. To say that Wikipedia (something that people do entirely in their free time and unpaid) should do the same for women is ludicrous.

I'd call it being pseudonymous rather than anonymous. It doesn't always shield you from harassment. For example, I edited some articles relating to Sweden and the clever trolls on the site put 2 + 2 together and used that as an attack vector. I can only imagine what the insults would have been had I edited something more sensitive like about transgender issues or sexual fetishes or whatever.

I really think the site should have required real names for most editing. Pseudonymity brings out the worst in people.

Facebook shows that people are perfectly capable of nasty things under their real names. Reading Facebook comments on popular videos and groups basically exposed pseudonymity=bad as a myth to my eyes.

Same here.

People are also not that different in person - it's just that some of them don't go out much so you're unlikely to meet them and their horrible personalities.

But there are degrees of hell. Facebook comments are usually not as nasty as Reddit comments which in turn are not as nasty as 4chan comments.

How should Wikipedia require real names? And who would validate them?

>While harrasement is deplorable and needs to be tackled, I think it is wrong to insinuate that it is a major cause for lack of participation by women in Wikipedia.

This. You participate in Wikipedia because you want to. And like in many tech areas, women tend to not be interested in them.

> It is a kind of social network where users debate the minutiae of history and modern life, climb the editorial hierarchy and even meet friends and romantic partners.

Exactly. Just because Wikipedia doesn't have traditional profiles and like buttons doesn't mean it isn't a social network. A social network at the end of the day is literally just that: a graph of people (nodes) with relationships (edges) between them.

For some reason, people tend to think of social networks as more specific things than they actually are. That happens all the time with language. Some big brand comes along and monopolizes an entire widget[0]. Twenty years later, we get a small fraction of people who actually believe that something can only be a widget IFF it looks like that brand's widget. Social networks can look very different than Facebook or MySpace. Wikipedia is one such example.

If you can model Wikipedia as a graph of people with relationships, then it makes sense to think of it as a social network. It's actually pretty easy to establish a toy model. There are lurkers and editors. Lurkers visit pages built by the editors, and editors effectively interact with each other through edits.

In any system where you can interact with people, unwritten social rules become relevant, and we can expect things like harassment.

[0] http://mentalfloss.com/article/56667/41-brand-names-people-u...

I don't think people think social networks look like Facebook or MySpace because of branding but because their raison d'etre is allowing people to share their personal interests and communicate directly with people on the site. cf Wikipedia where most lurkers are blissfully unaware of the editors, and editors actively frown on and delete attempts at social interaction and personalisation across most of the site except in the ultra-limited context of explaining that User:X's personal opinions are irrelevant here and they should find a source and seek consensus before editing the page.

Sure, it's a website edited by multiple people - some identifiable - and you could in theory be so impressed by a person's contribution to it you end up wanting to meet them, but to some extent so is the vast majority of the rest of the internet. There are comment threads on local newspapers and Amazon.com too.

> A social network at the end of the day is literally just that: a graph of people (nodes) with relationships (edges) between them.

Doesn't sound like a very useful definition. There are infinite meaningless graphs of people that fit your definition. E.g.: the graph were the relationship is "all of our grand-grand-parents have the same number of characters in their respective names". There you go: graph of people (nodes) with relationships (edges) between them.

> doesn't mean it isn't a social network

Social networks don’t tend towards meanness per se. Only those that are incentivised to drive engagement, like those powered by ads, have an inherent tendency towards devolving into cesspools. Wikipedia doesn’t appear to be inherently corrupted in the way Facebook or Twitter are.

Wikipedia is a cesspool and it's incredibly hostile to some users, which is why wikipedia and wikimedia foundation keep trying to fix it.

For me a social network is a community of users where the primary goal is social interaction. Other communities like Wikipedia, or Goodreads are similar but aren't social networks to me since the primary goal is editing an encyclopedia or curating books.

At least that's the distinction I've always personally made.

Interestingly, on Wikipedia, there are articles both for and against whether Wikipedia is a social networking site:

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_is_not_a_s...

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_is_a_socia...


To your point - I can see why Wikipedia is a "social network" according to the social science definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network

However, there is also a distinction between "social network" and "social networking service": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking_service

This is again a matter of language and semantics. If we wanted to get super-specific, we would call sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter "social networking sites" or "social networking services". Instead, we colloquially wrap everything up into the term "social network".

To that extent, the intention and/or context of "social network" here is more about whether Wikipedia fits into the landscape of major public social networking sites mostly meant for socializing (ex. Facebook) instead of some other niche or segment.

Wikipedia has a different use-case, product, and business model than "social networks" (social networking sites) like Facebook or Myspace, so it's something to consider when making the mental association of what a social network is and comparing it against those major brands.

There's millions of users on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedians), so it's not far-fetched that out of so many people, there are going to be those that clash with others in the network in bad ways.

I bet if you look at other information-oriented "social network" organizations, such as in academia, the same sentiment would come up where there would also be unpleasant people and harassment to deal with as minutiae is argued over, so this is not something unique to Wikipedia in that regard.

Overall, it would be nice if Wikipedia stayed committed to capturing information in a non-biased and objective way to preserve it for future users. It's valuable to have multiple groups contribute their own experience to various subjects, as long as it's not done destructively in a way that is intentionally set to follow an opinionated agenda, which would devalue the 'encyclopedic' nature of Wikipedia.

The title doesn't match what's in the article. A better title would be 'Wikipedia's editors are mostly men and they don't have an understanding of non-heterosexual ideas or people'.

It seems like editors have arguments on these topics, according to the article. Not harassment on every topic under the sun

the issue seems to be, agenda driven groups are finding their attempts to change pages thwarted by content managers who are more concerned about accuracy. this is far more common on the English speaking version of Wikipedia than elsewhere.

and typical of the situation, when the agenda is thwarted regardless of reason fall back on the media to shame the group standing in the way and be sure to portray it in an offensive manner not withstanding the real issue

How do you go from "having arguments over topic x" to "having a poor understanding of topic x"?

How do you go from "posting pictures of genitalia on user pages" to "having arguments over topic x"?

Not rereading the article again, but I am pretty sure posting pictures of genitalia on user pages was not the only thing going on.

As a rule, just because an asshole or idiot disagrees with you, it doesn't make you right. Stop trying to use that as an argument.

> Not rereading the article again, but I am pretty sure posting pictures of genitalia on user pages was not the only thing going on.

On the other hand I'm pretty sure that "having arguments over topic x" wasn not the only thing going on either.

> As a rule, just because an asshole or idiot disagrees with you, it doesn't make you right. Stop trying to use that as an argument.

Where is that used as an argument?

A title like that would be flagged and do nothing but to further the flame of a gender war.

Whilst I can understand and empathise with the possible good natured intent of the NYT article, if one looks at the stats (that they, themselves, referenced), the demographics for other languages are vastly different[0].

Also, "Simple English"[1] is vastly different from "English"[2] and stats referenced don't seem to list "English" but, rather, "Simple English"; so, referencing it is bordering on intentionally misrepresenting the statistics to favour your argument.

The stats also notate the following: "This cutoff is arbitrary for the sake of clearly visualizing the distribution across major Wikipedia languages." This, to me, would seem to be the most disconcerting aspect/notion of the stats, in question. Arbitrarily deciding what a "cut-off" point is will, surely, make the stats askewed.

...but if we're to proceed with taking the article at face-value, then we must also ask the question:

Why is there such a stark contrast between the languages in these stats? For example, Welsh (the second-highest stat) is almost at 50%.

Why would there be such a discrepency between the two languages (English versus Welsh), if they share nigh equal hardships? Does this actually come down to culture as a byproduct of language representation?

[0] - https://whgi.wmflabs.org/gender-by-language.html

[1] - https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

[2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Wikipedia does a decent service, but its community is a toxic cesspool.

And I think one of the underlying issues with Wikipedia is its is community incredibly hostile to new editors. So any attempts by Wikipedia to correct for the bias toward white male editors is often undercut by its own community.

A good example of the extents of Wikipedia bias is the GamerGate article[2].

It's extremely biased when put in contrast with Infogalactic[0] and even against Encyclopedia Dramatica[1] despite its nature.




Sounds like fights over political issues. Disingenuous to frame that as simply harassment of women or trans people (as is to be expected from the NYT).

Also, it is the internet. It just takes one awful person out of several Billion people to harass other people all over the world. More specifically, if you post insults (like, for simplicity, implying via feminism that men are assholes), you are bound to hit somebody among the Billions of people who fights back.

So far I have mostly heard of Wikipedia being rather left leaning and many topics being controlled by installed moderators.

This article is interesting, it seems Wikipedia has changed a lot. 10+y ago we wrote a Wiki software (SnipSnap) and had been to several Wiki conferences with Wikipedia side tracks, and Wikipedians seemed very diverse.

As a side note I'm discouraged because of the labyrinth of arcane rules (which I assume have all a reason to be there) around Wikipedia, and when adding something it goes into weird modes sand needs to be reviewed which last time took several weeks.

I see a lot of comments here saying "editors don't have to declare their names and gender", but in many ways, that's point.

Men have the option of declaring their gender without fear of any consequence. They don't have to excise any mention on their profile of details that might reveal their sexuality or gender. Some are even able to wear it like a badge. They're able to lay down roots on Wikipedia - create a profile and become a respected editor.

Women and LGBT people aren't able to do the same without hiding their gender - and have to go out of their way to hide it for fear of harassment. Saying "they can just use the WYSIWYG editor" misses the point. Other people _can_ be more than an IP address.

The point isn't that people are able to hide their gender or sexuality, it's that anyone has to do it in the first place.

Men are more likely to be harassed online than women. Women are far more likely to experience one of the types of harassment: sexual harassment, but when looking at harassment as a whole including threats of violence or being called offensive names, men are more commonly victims.


That distinction matters though: online, people are in a position to reach many thousands, or millions of people through their work.

If women are driven out of the online space by harassment or otherwise, the vast majority of that influence and opportunity will accrue to men.

While threats of violence and being called offensive names are not nice, they don't limit the man's potential in the same way by virtue of being offline.

(Neither, I might add, does it seem to be having a large impact on men's advancement in the professional offline space, where the vast majority of senior positions are also held by men).

> While threats of violence and being called offensive names are not nice, they don't limit the man's potential in the same way by virtue of being offline.

I don't think you're understanding the data. I read the study, too. Men received more harassment overall online. All the harassment in the linked study is online harassment. I'm not sure what you're talking about this harassment being "offline" for men.

Women may be more likely to be driven away from online communities. But it is not because they are more likely to be the victims of harassment. Therefore another root cause must be discovered/presented.

Let us read our Shirky again: yes, Wikipedia is absolutely social software.


Fantastic link: thank you. This is why HN is my favorite website, which I return to 5-10 times daily for just this sort of unpredictable Easter egg.

Remarkably, Shirky's essay predicted much of what has transpired with the rise of Facebook from its February 1, 2004 beginning — nearly a year after the piece appeared.

I am sure there is also harassment, but many of the examples mentioned in the article are rather bitter divergence of political opinions, not harassment. And I don’t see how it could not be the case, you won’t get people with opposite political opinions to agree on a single narrative, and when one reads an article on any slightly politicized topic on wikipedia, one should always be mindful that one is reading merely some dude’s political opinion, not some absolute truth. The NY times only calls it harassment because it has picked a side.

In other news, although collections of human beings in the West aren't officially societies (see https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/106689), the harassment can still get ugly!

I find Wikipedia tremendously useful and have made modest acknowledgement of that financially. That said, I tried to get them to correct/augment something they had based on a thesis from the 1970's at a top US school. The matter could have been verified but instead it was rejected out of hand and so the content on Wikipedia is less than it might have been. I had a sense the matter was handled with great dispatch and finality.

I find Wikipedia tremendously useful and have made modest acknowledgement of that financially. That said, I tried to get them to correct/augment something they had based on a thesis from the 1970's at a top US school. The matter could have been verified but instead it was rejected out of hand and so the content on Wikipedia is less than it might have been. I had a sense the matter was handled with great dispatch and finality.

I am just having a similar problem at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Haken

There is no source that would prove that Armin Haken is his son, and so unfortunately Armin's work cannot be mentioned in the context of the article, as apparently somebody tried to do before me. (I actually read Armin's article that was mentioned on Wikipedia and then encountered Wolfgang Haken in a different context, and I was wondering if he is the same guy.)

So, the usability of Wikipedia is decreased (ironically, it can still be found in the history). I wish they took a more nuanced view on source reliability than just black and white.

Is nytimes running out of social networks to bash?

Sounds like the NYT is preparing for the Democratic party primaries. I presume Wikipedia must contain unflattering facts in the articles for one or more female candidates. Now these can just be dismissed as harassment by bigoted male wikipedians.

I feel like this is an uncharitable interpretation that dives into intent. Humans in my experience are generally not prone to such nuanced planning regardless of their influence. A more reasonable assumption is that the writers of the article genuinely believe that Wikipedia is biased against women, which is evidence towards a world belief that systemic bias against women exists in the writer's society, which is a position increasingly associated with the Democratic party of the united states. In other words, correlated but not causative events are occuring.

The media, and the NYT in particular doesn't deserve too much charity here. They are almost all members of the Democratic Party, and heavily invested in the outcome of the primaries. They're in a unique position to shape the national conversation in a way that favors their favored candidate (e.g. by deciding what is or is not newsworthy), and they frequently use that power. Do you remember how Howard Dean's "yee-haw" was a sign that he was dangerously unstable? Do you remember the moral panic about misogynistic 'Bernie Bros'? Why after all these years did the media suddenly notice Joe Biden is kind of handsy? I don't think it's too cynical to believe that the media is trying to play kingmaker (or queenmaker) in the Democratic primaries. That's more or less their favorite hobby.

I saw an article here a couple days ago that there's this one guy who's edited or authored a third of all Wikipedia articles. Sounds like a decidedly un-democratic practice, to me... Not that I'm criticizing the guy, more power to him, just pointing out that this ideal of Wikipedia as a totally democratic base of knowledge just isn't true in practice, there are a few people holding all or most of the power, just as in any institution.


His pace is at least an edit per minute, while he's editing, so it's not like he is writing complete articles. It's doing things like changing deadlinks or making grammar changes.

It’s precisely because it is democratic that he is able to contribute this much. Anyone can, he just happens to be #1 by a large amount.

I'd bet most of those are grammatical in nature.

It is democratic. Just that democracy does not mean the best or the ideal - it just means the majority.

Wikipedia is not democratic, and certainly not in the sense of a majority (vote). It is governed by a feudal model where there are lords and vassals, and you are the peasant.

Actually democracy is not necessarily a rule of majority, it is a system where everybody has equal access to power. There are several models how this in practice can lead to even minority deciding. Also, the majority can change ad hoc, depending on the issue being decided, it is not fixed.

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