User:KBlott/Sam Vaknin's Six Sins of Wikipedia

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In the July 2, 2006 issue of the American Chronicle, Dr Vaknin outlined what he claims are the six sins of Wikipedia. According to Vaknin, those sins are:

  1. #Wikipedia is opaque and encourages recklessness
  2. #Wikipedia is anarchic, not democratic
  3. #The Might is Right Editorial Principle
  4. #Wikipedia is against real knowledge
  5. #Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia, and
  6. #Wikipedia is rife with libel and violations of copyrights.

Vaknin believes it is a question of time before the Wikipedia self-destructs and implodes. Any sufficiently motivated individual can edit any number of its articles. It poses low barriers to entry and attracts masses of teenagers and psychopaths.

Wikipedia dissembles about what it is and how it operates. It claims that anyone can edit it. However, its administrators regularly block users who write material that conflicts with their own version of reality. This flat out lying, drives away morally sane editors. Psychopaths, however, tend not to be deterred by a simple block. Motivated individuals can easily circumvent these barriers to editing and can subtly distort the content on any page. If blocked again, one can simply create a new screen name an try again until they become experts at gaming the system. Over time, psychopaths become administrators and check users with extraordinary power block writers they do not like.

Frustrated by being bullied, former Wikipedia editors tend to write about what they have experienced. Links to Wikipedia on other web sites, tend to raise the rank of Wikipedia on search engines. This attention tends to attract more editors who are initially unaware that Wikipedia’s high rank on search engines is a reflection of the distain that many people feel for it. These new editors eventually write something that inflicts narcissistic injury on a psychopathic administrator. That administrator then bullies the editor and accuses him or her of causing a disruption. The victim is then blocked and the cycle is repeated.

There is only a finite number of potential Wikipedia editors. Volunteers are leaving Wikipedia at a phenomenal rate. Eventually, Wikipedia’s administrators will have no one left to bully but each other. In time, its funding will begin to dry up. Since Wikiversity obtains its funding from the same source as Wikipedia, this financial crisis with affect Wikiversity as well as Wikipedia.

Six sins[edit]

Wikipedia is opaque and encourages recklessness[edit]

The overwhelming majority of contributors to Wikipedia remain anonymous throughout the process. Thus, no one is forced to take responsibility for what he or she adds or subtracts from it. This amounts to an impenetrable smokescreen: identities can rarely be established and evading the legal consequences of one's actions or omissions is easy.

Everything in the Wikipedia can be and frequently is edited, re-written and erased and this includes the history pages. In other words, one cannot gain an impartial view of the editorial process by sifting through the talk and history pages of articles. According to Vaknin articles are typically monopolized by fiercely territorial editors. Vaknin compares Wikipedia to authoritarian regimes which constantly re-jiggle history to serve the interests of the elite.

Wikipedia is anarchic, not democratic[edit]

Wikipedia is not an experiment in online democracy, but a form of pernicious anarchy. Wikipedia is a negative filter. Facts inflict narcissistic injury on psychopaths. Unable to handle their narcissistic rage in a mature, responsible manner, psychopathic administrators lash out at dumbfounded users who have the audacity of exposing them to facts. These users are banned from the “community” and are thus prevented from having any say in the removal of psychopathic leaders.

According to Vaknin, this exposes two misconceptions about Wikipedia

  1. That chaos can and does lead to the generation of artifacts with lasting value and
  2. That knowledge is an emergent, mass phenomenon.

Because of the interference of psychopathic leaders, Wikipedia is not conducive to the unfettered exchange of information and opinion that is a prerequisite to both (1) and (2). It is a war zone where many fear to tread. In true democracies, morally sane people vote out psychopathic leaders. On Wikipedia, psychopathic leaders ban morally sane users.

The Might is Right Editorial Principle[edit]

Wikipedia rewards quantity over quality. The more one posts and interacts with others, the higher one's status, both informal and official. On Wikipedia, authority is a function of the number of edits, no matter how frivolous. A user with an encyclopaedic knowledge of computer games can easily become a check user and use his “authority” to block scientists from editing subjects that the check user knows nothing about—except for the “knowledge” that he gains from reading Wikipedia. The more aggressive (even violent) a member is; the more prone to flame, bully, and harass; the more inclined to form coalitions with like-minded trolls; the less of a life he or she has outside the Wikipedia, the more they are likely to end up being administrators.

The result is erratic editing. According to Vaknin, the initial contributions are at times far deeper and more comprehensive than later, "edited", editions of same. Wikipedia is misrepresented as an open source endeavor. Open source efforts, such as Linux, involve a group of last-instance decision-makers that coordinate, vet, and cull the flow of suggestions, improvements, criticism, and offers from the public. Open source communities are hierarchical, not stochastic. In addition, it is far easier to evaluate the quality of a given snippet of software code than it is to judge the truth-content of an edit to an article, especially if it deals with "soft" and "fuzzy" topics, which involve the weighing of opinions and the well-informed exercise of value judgments.

Wikipedia is against real knowledge[edit]

Wikipedia's ethos is malignantly anti-elitist. Experts are scorned and rebuffed, attacked, and abused with official sanction and blessing. Since everyone is assumed to be equally qualified to edit and contribute, no one is entitled to a privileged position by virtue of scholarship, academic credentials, or even life experience.

According to Vaknin, Wikipedia is the epitome and the reification of an ominous trend: Internet surfing came to replace research, online eclecticism supplanted scholarship, and trivia passes for erudition. Everyone's an instant scholar. If you know how to use a search engine, you are an authority.

On “a discussion list dedicated to books with a largely academic membership, I pointed out an error in one of the Wikipedia's articles” wrote Vaknin. “The responses I received were chilling. … Two members attempted to disproved my assertion … by pointing to a haphazard selection of links to a variety of Internet sources. Not one of them referred to a reputable authority on the subject, yet, based largely on the Wikipedia and a sporadic trip in cyberspace, they felt sufficiently confident to challenge my observation (which is supported by virtually all the leading luminaries in the field).”

Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia[edit]

Truth in advertising is not the Wikipedia's strong suit. It presents itself as an encyclopedia. Yet, at best it is a community of users who exchange eclectic "information" on a regular and semi-structured basis. This deliberate misrepresentation snags most occasional visitors who are not acquainted with the arcane ways of the Wikipedia and trust it implicitly and explicitly to deliver facts and well-founded opinions. That Wikipedia chooses to propagate the deception is telling and renders it the equivalent of an intellectual scam, a colossal act of con-artistry.


Wikipedia is rife with libel and violations of copyrights[edit]

Wikipedia is a hotbed of slander and libel. It is regularly manipulated by interns, political staffers, public relations consultants, marketing personnel, special interest groups, political parties, business firms, brand managers, and others with an axe to grind. It serves as a platform for settling personal accounts, defaming, distorting the truth, and re-writing history.

Less known is the fact that the Wikipedia is the greatest single repository of copyright infringements. "Books - from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual down to my own," writes Vaknin, "are regularly ripped off and posted in various articles, with and without attribution."

The Wikipedia does not provide any effective mechanism to redress wrongs, address problems, and remedy libel and copyright infringements. Editing the offending articles is useless as these are often "reverted" (restored) by the offenders themselves. Correspondence with and complaints to Wikimedia and to Jimmy Wales go unanswered.

Wikipedia strikes back[edit]

Psychopathic individuals often exhibit narcissistic rage in response to criticism. Vaknin’s criticism of Wikipedia has generated a vehement counterattack. Initially this attack was on Wikipedia itself, until Vaknin threatened Wikipedia with a law suit. This counterattack has since been moved to enpsychopedia.org. Enpsychopedia.org provides its readers with “the most accurate and up-to-date information about … those who claim to have the right to determine what is or is not normal” and “pathological individuals who use the internet in a predatory way”. According to Enpsychopedia.org, Dr Vaknin admits to disliking women. (His mother suffered from psychopathy.) Enpsychopedia.org also reports that Vaknin obtained his doctorate from “a diploma mill”. This distinguishes Vaknin from the majority of Wikipedia editors who did not obtain their PhDs from diploma mills. Also according to Enpsychopedia.org, malignant narcissists are not psychopaths.

Vaknin has been banned from Wikipedia for “socking”. “Socking”, according to Vaknin, is the practice of editing Wikipedia without first logging in. According to Wikipedia policy, editors are permitted to do this but may be banned indefinitely for doing so. While anyone may edit Wikipedia, editing Wikipedia while blocked constitutes “block evasion” which is also grounds for blocking. Vaknin claims that Wikipedia has removed his name from many of its articles on narcissism. Such a practice would be analogous to discussing the theory of relativity without mentioning Albert Einstein.