User:JWSchmidt/Blog/16 August 2015
This blog post is an expression of my continuing interest in Wiki Studies.
In the beginning, Wikipedia was an interesting exercise in collaboration. Nerds from all over the world came together to use wiki technology as a tool that allowed them to share what they knew with the world. During those early years, administrators were elected and they became a special class of wiki editors who had special user tools (particularly the ability to impose blocks on other editors) and who were trusted to wisely use their special abilities (like blocking users) so as to promote the mission of Wikipedia. In the early days, to qualify as an Administrator you had to demonstrate that you were a dedicated Wikipedia editor and had made useful content contributions to the wiki.
After a few years, the existence of Wikipedia became news. Thousands of school kids came to Wikipedia and started playing childish games...inserting bogus content. A few of these misguided editors became expert vandals and explored ways to cause the most disruption possible. Some other members of the Wikipedia community began to specialize in fixing the damage done by misguided editors. At about the same time, other Wikipedia editors learned that they could take control of Wikipedia pages. A small cabal of like-minded editors could band together and control the content (point of view) of the pages that they controlled. These cabals began coordinating their policy violations off-wiki. Other editors found themselves banned for "disruption" if they ran into these ruthless cabals and tried to edit against the biases of the cabal that controlled the page. Many of the banned users were academics and experts in various fields and Wikipedia became renowned as a POV-warrior battleground where high school dropouts and thuggish gangs of other POV warriors were in control of some of the wiki pages. Other sadistic wikicops delighted in imposing obscure rules on innocent editors, creating a culture of fear and intimidation that drove away many honest editors.
A slave culture had come into existence within Wikimedia wiki projects. Some Administrators and other users with special user tools were above the rules and could get away with gross violations of policy. This culture of thugocracy came down right from the highest level of Wikimedia. From the perspective of the thugs who had taken control of Wikimedia, a good wiki editor was a quiet slave who created content that could be sold by the slave owners. Any of the slaves who stepped out of line and complained were quickly banned from editing at Wikipedia.
Some of the folks who were banned from Wikipedia came to Wikiversity and started a collaborative learning project to study the horrific slave society that had become entrenched at Wikipedia. Essentially, their study project constituted a slave rebellion. Slave hunters from Wikipedia tracked these banned users to Wikiversity. The slavers from Wikipedia were at first unable to understand why runaway slaves were tolerated a Wikiversity. In violation of Wikiversity rules, the slave hunters from Wikipedia set about trying to get the escaped slaves banned from editing at Wikiversity. When their efforts failed, the God King himself had to step in and end the slave rebellion. In a gross violation of Wikiversity policy, Jimbo came to Wikiversity and stamped out the slave rebellion and threatened to terminate the Wikiversity project. Invading slave owners and Wikicops from other wiki projects descended on Wikiversity, banded together and coordinated their take-over of Wikiversity in off-wiki forums and re-wrote Wikiversity policy so as to impose the slave culture on Wikiversity. Details of how the slavery system was imposed at Wikiversity can be found mostly at off-wiki websites, but some of the story is still on my user pages. related reading.
This is where Wikiversity remains, a wiki project that was originally devoted to truth and open study where where the truth speakers have been blocked, banned and driven away. Wikicops from other Wikimedia projects continue to visit Wikiversity and impose unwelcome elements of Wikimedia slave culture such as speedy deletion of learning resources.
Like those who prospered in the slave economy of the American South, there are now Wikiversity editors who are comfortable being part of the Wikimedia slave system, particularly when they can play the role of "master". The remaining question is if Wikiversity can ever liberate itself from the Wikimedia slavery system and return to it roots and once again become a happy community of learners.
I'm not hopeful about the future of Wikiversity because it seems to be part of human psychology that absolute power corrupts people. Slaver Masters come to enjoy their sadistic domination over others and they can't tolerate the idea freedom...that would mean the loss of their comfortable position of power and domination. Members of a slave society stop thinking and can't even imagine an alternative to their inhuman behavior....acting like a thug has become integral to their nature.