Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Windows into Wikipedia

– the talk page cure for conspiracy theories

Another teapot-size row erupted over Wikipedia again yesterday. I thought I'd add this note to the Conspiracy thread. A noted Science Fiction writer, Fred Saberhagen, died recently. (RIP, Fred) and another noted Science Fiction writer, John Scalzi (him again!) tried to get Fred's Wikipedia entry updated. But the Wiki editors were not about to take someone's word for it, even if the word was backed up by a report on the SF writers' union page. Wank ensued.

In case you think Wikipedia and Scalzi just don't get along, and that's how come he's mentioned twice on here in a week, here's a couple of other incidents in Science Fiction where the SF writers, editors and BNFs have gone toe-to-toe with Wikipedia. You don't need to read them all the way through; the whole pages are tl;dr of the driest kind. These "talk" pages back up any Wikipedia entry and these kinds of nerdy arguments go on for any controversial topic.

Up for deletion - James D. Nicoll's entry.

An attack site? - Making Light blog.

Do you really think that Google – or the Military-Industrial Complex, or even the Illuminati - could force one of the pages backed by these arguments to read the way they want it to read? Pull the other one.

Now, nomenclature. When a row erupts in fandom, it's called Wank. Wank is the teetering heap of fan reaction to a controversial posting vaguely related (or even strongly related) to a show, comic, book, or other artifact of culture. Fandom_Wank is the journal of record for wank, at least the sort on Live Journal, which does seem to be pretty wanky. (Though it doesn't hold a candle to Usenet, of course.) I can't say F_W searches out wank. Generally, it's a property of wank that it becomes obvious to observers without them having to look under any rocks. F_W's motto is: Self-aggrandizing posturing. Fannish absurdities. Circular ego-stroking. Endless flamewars. Pseudointellectual definitions.

Clearly, the Wikipedia chat pages are full of some breed of wank, but the arguments are not about fandom. They're about real life. Truth, justice and the American Way.

What then, should Wikipedia wank be called?


SteveAudio said...

I'm so out of SF circles any more that I didn't realize Fred had passed. He wrote some great stuff.

By the time I was about 9, I had read the entire Young Adult Sci/Fi section of the San Pedro library (1958). The next year or so I dived into the early Heinlein, Azimov, etc., you know, the classics.

I just sat down and re-read a Greatest Hits of Philip K. Dick, which was sadly refreshing.

And as I have morphed into a ferociously political animal, I am saddened to find that some of the wroters I really enjoyed are really quite insane, and I don't mean Dick insane, but rather fascist insane.

Heinlein was lionized by the libertarian crowd, but in reality, while he could indeed craft a great story, I think his faux-libertarian posture was just his desire for Summer of Love™ free sex.

As usual, YMMV.

Peromyscus said...

There are blogs which watch the more active-and-insane of them (Orson Scott Card springs to mind here, although I don't think he's actually clinically insane.) Next time I see something interesting in one of those I'll give it a link.

(I love PKD myself.)


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