Wikipedia under fire for ‘editorial elite’


4 Dec 2007

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Collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia has come under fire following accusations from within that an elite group of editors control the ‘open’ content, communicating by means of a secret mailing list and making less-than-transparent decisions.

What began as a senior administrative figure, Durova, choosing to indefinitely block an established editor, revealed the hidden mailing list and consequently unravelled practices by this administration and others that were questioned by many editors who felt they had been banned or had material ‘blanked’ for arbitrary reasons.

Wikipedia itself states: “All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and, as much as possible, without bias all significant views (that have been published by reliable sources). This is non-negotiable and expected on all articles and of all article editors.”

While accusations and counter accusations are flying back and forth within the Wikipedia camp, one user, Dtobias, said: “As long as the first impulse of people involved is to suppress discussion of things they don’t like, there are problems in Wikipedia much bigger than one administration’s ‘sleuthing’.”

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, dismissed what contributors were calling cloaked actions and unequal power balances as a ‘drama’.

“I advise the world to relax a notch or two. A bad block was made for 75 minutes. It was reversed and an apology given. There are things to be studied here about what went wrong and what could be done in the future, but wow, could we please do so with a lot less drama?

“A 75-minute block, even if made badly, is hardly worth all this drama. Let’s please love each other, love the project, and remember what we are here for.”

On the other hand, Wales had this to say about the banned editor who revealed the existence of the mailing list: “You have caused too much harm to justify us putting up with this kind of behaviour much longer.”

To follow disputes, discussions, editors and general bureaucracy on Wikipedia users can visit www.wikipediareview.com.

By Marie Boran