Freak Show: The Wikipedia Project
(Last update June 2015)
Since mid-2011, EB and his writing partner Edward Buckner have been working with several others on a collaboration. This is intended to be a book, which will be the first-ever honest and unbiased analysis and historical narrative of how Wikipedia was started, grew, and was managed (and mismanaged).
EB is personally performing extensive statistical analyses of Wikipedia's database and internal community. This has already revealed a very large number of facts that will be quite embarrassing to the Wikimedia Foundation and to the Wikipedia community. Jimmy Wales has stated, over and over, that "we are bringing all human knowledge to the world"--possibly his most popular and widely-repeated homily. We can prove that this is a falsehood.
Despite having hundreds of thousands of good articles about various subjects, Wikipedia has massive internal biases that militate against its value as an "educational resource", much less "all human knowledge". Any good material they do have was obtained via false pretenses, by tricking thousands of ordinary people into participating in their utterly dishonest and deeply irrational "project". The good material is mixed into a massive pile of utter crap, plus an even bigger pile of worthless overhead and argumentation. And good material is available to be edited by any crackpot, provided they use a few tricks to cover up their activities. Wikipedia claims to be able to detect "vandalism" and to fix it quickly, yet we have found "vandalism" and even defamation that have been on Wikipedia for years, and continues to be accessible to the public today. And worse, Wikipedia is in decline, and instead of admitting it, Wikipedians prefer to deceive the public, and manipulate the database to make it appear as if it is still growing and "improving".
Even more bizarre is the internal community of volunteers that make Wikipedia tick. Because of the CDA Section 230 (Wikipedia's favorite badly-conceived law), the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia's servers and develops its software, has pretended to take a "hands off" approach to the production of actual Wikipedia content. If the WMF did more to control the presence of defamation and other garbage on their servers, they might be open to lawsuits for libel and other legal process in the US. Yet despite their repeated claims of a "hands off" approach, it is clear the WMF does, in fact, cooperate with its community -- mostly on the sly.
Also, the "community" contains a number of completely crazy people, as well as people who are abusing process and the few regulations on Wikipedia content, either for self-aggrandizement or for pay. Wikipedia's "administrators" are the top dogs of the system, and many of them have not only abused thousands of people who wanted to improve the database, they have violated their own rules, repeatedly and wantonly. All of this is opaque to the general public, both because the construction of "wiki" software renders it difficult to find, and because the sheer volume of bureaucratic overhead makes searching for specific problems very difficult.
We have found examples of:
- administrators editing their own biographies to make themselves look better;
- administrators writing articles about religious and business figures they themselves are involved with;
- admins abusively "tag-teaming" to control articles;
- endless examples of corporations and their paid editors biasing Wikipedia content for their own purposes;
- Jimmy Wales making business partnerships with companies that will offer Wikipedia to cellphone customers and developing close relations with corrupt regimes in the Middle East and central Asia, then allowing them to bias Wikipedia content as they wish;
- and even a few admins who appear to be performing edits for political reasons, sometimes with the connivance and support of governments.
The few English-language books published to date about Wikipedia have been either "puff pieces" about the "magical encyclopedia", or uninformative coverage about the absurd minutiae of Wikipedia's internal operation. Ironically, a documentary film about Wikipedia was released in 2010, and was basically ignored by the entire world. It is full of damning examples of articles being censored by corporations and involved people, it contains examples of biographical abuse, and it contains considerable criticism of Wikipedia by many famous people in the tech industry. The film is now available on DVD.
Because the material we are developing for this book is all-new, and much of it was developed independently of the WMF's own (paltry and incompetent as it has been to date) record-keeping and statistical development, the book will constitute a major primary source for future research into Wikipedia. Another discovery we made during research: academic people, despite warning their students not to use Wikipedia for serious research, have to date not performed any deep analysis of the Wikipedia article database or its community of often-erratic volunteers. Again, this book will be the first such major survey.
Most of our research is being published on a private wiki, accessible only to the project coordinators and participants. This information will be used to develop the printed text, and will not be accessible to the public. Note that we have more than two and a half million words of material, enough for ten books.
The manuscript is completed and we are seeking publishing partners. The vast size and scope of Wikipedia, and of Wikipedia's problems, mean that this book will be a very fat one, and there are major subject areas that no one has taken on yet. Please contact us if you are interested in helping. Email to metasonix at gmail.
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