This one time at Writer's Camp…
The Status Quo
Really. If I followed the status quo, I doubt I’d be in Kentucky with my job. I seriously doubt I’d be writing, or selling. I know I wouldn’t be in training to become a professional editor, nor would I have the chance at one day running a publishing company. I’m unorthodox in my approach, and while the results may vary (oh wow, how do they vary…) I generally end up on the side of light.
However, my seemingly unending fight on Wikipedia over some trivial issues (damn it, you twits, a consensus does NOT equate fact) has been dragging me deeper and deeper into the side of dark. I’ve explored how a few editors with malicious intent can completely screw over anyone who has worked hard on an article and get away with it. I’ve looked into how complaints are handled, how funding for a supposed non-profit works and the rules of governance between editors and admins. I’ve also looked into just how hard it is to prove someone wrong when they attack your character and how they are protected by the Wikipedia rules from any defamation suit. All this information has been processed, and I’ve come to just one conclusion:
You can quote me on that.
The site lost neutrality long ago when minimalist minded individuals who lack two brain cells to rub together took over and removed the “expert” equation from the facts and started using the consensus model. Three “references” on the internet does not make it fact; I know for a fact that I can create three different websites which claim the same thing, even if it may not be true. The standard model of referencing now that most editors on this (growing pain in the ass) Wikipedia will accept my cites. It’s not hard, takes minutes, and if I cited all of those “different” websites in an article then I would be hard to refute.
Seriously. A freakin’ consensus. What the hell, Wikipedia?
Sadly, instead of using my energy to create, I’m forced to use it to defend baseless accusations and relentless attacks on various articles I’ve edited. Meanwhile, kids who seem to have no life or job constantly challenge articles I write, vandalize them and make my editing life a living hell. The more effort I put into things, the more they seem to attack. It’s annoying, frustrating, and costing me a lot of time.
By the way, did you know they called the Heroes in Hell a “two-bit series” and they didn’t understand how such luminaries like CJ Cherryh, David Drake, Nancy Asire and Robert Silverberg would ever stoop so low to write for it? And I had no way of countering this argument without name calling because of how pissed off I became?
Wikipedia is a tool, and a popular one. Do a search on any famous dead person and you’ll see the link to Wikipedia show up on the first page. Really. Try it.
Done? See, I told you so.
This is a disturbing trend of “he who controls the information controls the world”. Newspapers aren’t even as mentioned as Wikipedia is when people talk about what they read or saw online. More people quote Wikipedia than anything else out there. More and more problematic individuals are seeing this lucrative information mining and are gaming the system. As a result, the articles are becoming more virulent and argumentative. A simple debate now stretches onwards for months as the original discussion turns into a mud-slinging contest.
For example, one of my mentors (Dr. Travis S. Taylor) helped me create his Wikipedia page. Now, he’s a television celebrity and an novelist, so I figure he’s easy. Nope. People say his work in the government needs “citations”. From where will we get this, the DoD? I’m sure they give out classified information all the time. I’ll just…
Instead, I took Travis at his word and added those in (oh, the “references” are on his personal website, his bio in his books (nonfiction and fiction) and IMDB…) and someone threw a fit. I added reference links and they complained that it was written more like a promotional piece. I edited the tone and changed a few words and then they complained that it was incomplete.
Well, the guy’s still living, so I can’t exactly give a COMPLETE biography.
I’m not God, you know.
But lo, how did the angels of darkness weep.
Even now, sitting at my desk and working on this, I’m annoyed. More than annoyed. I’m frustrated, and about two steps away from being pissed. Only one person in this world has seen me pissed. It’s not pretty, and usually lawsuits follow.
And cupcakes. It’s not pretty.
But damn, I wish that people searching for Wikipedia would continue to look at it with a grain of salt (the size of Texas…). It’s easy to game the information gleamed from the site, and while competing places charge (I’m looking at you, Britannica) for the information, no competition or a change to the status quo is in sight.
My question to you is this: Is there anything we, seekers of truth and defenders of factual information, can do?
Oh, and Wikipedia editors? PLEASE QUIT USING THE STUPID TELEVISION SHOW THE TUDORS AS A REFERENCE TO THE TUDOR DYNASTY!!! The show was so factually wrong I almost cried.