The Devil's Advocate
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The Devil's Advocate
My first foray into editing Wikipedia was updating the article on the Six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Gradually, I moved into editing about regional unions and other political topics, such as the 2008 U.S. Presidential primaries and articles about geopolitical developments. This included my first trial by fire when a geopolitics article I created wound up at Articles for Deletion due to a rather poor naming choice on my part. On several occasions during my time editing here I have become so disenchanted with the flaws in the process that it prompted lulls in my editing with the most recent one having been for a couple of months and the longest one being for about a year. In the past two years I have diversified my content contributions to focus less on politics, which has often proven too stressful for an enjoyable editing experience.
Although I started out being mostly interested in contributing content, the various situations I have confronted on Wikipedia have prompted me to show a more general concern over this site's culture and governance. I have been involved in the Wikipedia criticism site Wikipediocracy for over two years because of this, although anyone there can tell you of the many times when I am not on their side either. My concerns about Wikipedia also mean I was more of a regular on various conduct noticeboards and sometimes weighed in on arbitration matters until I took an arbitration case to the knee. Typically, I only become involved when I notice a particular problem is not being discussed or feel one or more editors are being treated unfairly.
In addition to my contributions on the Wikimedia projects, I have become fairly active on the RWBY Wiki hosted by Wikia. Outside my involvement with wikis, my time on the Internet is mostly spent doing typical Internet things of no consequence. During my time off-line I similarly do things of little consequence and am generally a person of no consequence to anyone, even in my humble rural community, though as the song goes "we all want to change the world" and I do hope I could have a realistic chance at that one day.
My editing philosophy
In my editing I strive to take the approach of a Bohemian Wikipedian. I draw my inspiration from the values espoused in the film Moulin Rouge! of Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love. These also reflect the kind of values I try to uphold in life. As it pertains to Wikipedia I apply these values in this way:
- Truth - Far too often people take the dictum of verifiability, not truth too far by presuming that if a reliable source can be found to make the claim then it is ok for Wikipedia to say it in the editorial voice. Usually this occurs because of an editor's own bias seeping into his or her editing process. At times because there is an absence of contravening sources editors similarly feel confident in using stronger language than that of their sources. However, I believe this goes against an unspoken rule that Wikipedia should always strive for factual accuracy. I seek to counter the systemic bias that often works its way into contentious topic areas in pursuit of the greater truth. That means using the most neutral wording the sources support and, save for "sky is blue"-type situations, in-text attribution should be the norm. The goal is making the project a place to find the whole story with eyes unclouded by prejudice, contrary to the more controlled sources of information in the world.
- Beauty - When it comes to any article one is likely to find more than a few instances of repetition and less-than-engaging wording. One of my objectives in contributing to Wikipedia is to improve the stylistic appearance of any article I come across. That means, to provide an example, trimming down the instances of paragraphs starting with the same letter, and especially the same word. Another big issue is avoiding the timeline-like style certain articles about ongoing events tend to take on out of a general apathy of editors. By beautifying the project wherever I can my hope is that more readers will be engaged with the repository of knowledge Wikipedia represents.
- Freedom - This project is first and foremost an experiment in information democracy. Submitting the whole of human ingenuity and knowledge to the task of building a source of knowledge for all requires great care and consideration. As predicted by the iron law of oligarchy, Wikipedia has fallen prey to the same abusive tendencies of any governance system. Rule by consensus may appear to be a policy to cherish, but it is all too often misused by editors to impose their own will on the project. Assuming good faith keeps us willfully blind to some extent about what is taking place. Look through any article in a contentious topic area and you are liable to find a consortium of editors from the same ideological persuasion who have become the page's self-appointed gatekeepers. Enterprising users who go against their will often find themselves driven away, whether it is by falling into a revert trap or simply becoming frustrated with endless stone-walling. Unfortunately, Wikipedia looks more favorably upon the gatekeepers as they greatly outnumber their opponent. Always looking for a way to satisfy all parties without compromising my principles and drawing attention to the biases of all sides is the best way I can think of to insure this experiment remains open to as many people as possible.
- Love - Above all things I believe in WikiLove. WikiLove is like oxygen. WikiLove lifts us up where we belong. All you need is WikiLove. For me it means keeping an open mind on all things. Were more editors to leave themselves open it would be easier to defuse most disputes. Remain open to having your edits rewritten. Remain open to changing your mind. Remain open to changing your actions even if you won't change your mind. Too much potential is lost in the ideological rigidity of groupthink and confirmation bias. Pursuit of WikiLove means that the only things we should try to take seriously are the feelings of others. Sometimes it is hard to stay cool and we have all been there at one point or another. We should thus not let an occasional lapse determine someone's fate as none of us are perfect. Keep in mind that we do this not for ourselves, but for all those who may witness this body of work.
To sum it all up, my goal is to try and uphold the idea of what Wikipedia can be, while dealing with the reality of what Wikipedia is at this moment. More than anything I want this project to be a great service to all truth-seekers in the world. It should be a light of knowledge in dark places when all other lights go out. One could say that I am a true believer when it comes to this idea and, even if it leaves me battered and bruised, I will strive to defend the principles of this project above all else.
Things to do
Articles I've created
- Grassroots fundraising
- Kosovo independence precedent
- 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis
- 2008 unrest in Kosovo
- International Steering Group for Kosovo
- Kosovan local elections, 2008
- David E. Carter
- European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation
- 2008 Georgia-Russia crisis
- 2008 Djiboutian-Eritrean border conflict
- 2008 Ukrainian political crisis
- 2008 unrest in Bolivia
- Bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers
- Sosie Bacon
- North American integration
- Xue Hanqin
- Krista Branch
- Wikimedia UK
- List of The Host characters
- List of Revolution episodes
- General Hospital's 50th anniversary
- The Fine Young Capitalists
Articles where I've made major contributions
- North American Union
- Conspiracy theory
- NAFTA Superhighway
- Late-2000s recession
- Battle of the Kodori Valley
- Twelve Oaks Mall
- Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam
- Collapse of the World Trade Center
- 7 World Trade Center
- 1948 Arab–Israeli War
- Zhijian James Chen
- Giordano's Pizzeria
- Emily Thorne
- Charlie Engle (infielder)
- Bai Yansong
- Anna Azari
- List of Wikipedia controversies
- List of RWBY episodes
- Stanton Foundation
Essays I've written
Good article nominations I've reviewed
Science and Philosophy