<CPOV> The Wikipedia Cult

T.Koenig at surrey.ac.uk T.Koenig at surrey.ac.uk
Thu Jun 3 17:34:20 CEST 2010

> I believe that the word 'cult' works more as a catchy title than a real
> concept. What I find important in this discussion is that it all points
> out to a disfunction in the WP community, and this, I believe, is worth
> analyzing.

In my view, the two single most important problems of Wikipedia are:

(a): Path dependency and lack of diversity: Those people, who sit at the most important power positions tend to belong to a very distinct group of people, rather than a random sample of the population: people with affinities to computing technologies, men rather than women, white rather than minority, young rather than old, not the best educated, etc.: They sit there, plainly, because they came first, which ties neatly into 

(b): The iron law of oligarchy: There is a inner circle of people, who holds far too much power: Rather than keeping Wikipedia as a self-regulatory system with flat hierarchies, all sorts of rank distinctions, both informal and formal have been introduced. That doesn't even work with the original (far too simplistic) ideology dreamt up by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in the big shadow of Ayn Rand, who is hardly one of the most respected philosophers of science.

What is worse, those people most interested in climbing up the Wikipedia hierarchy are to some extent the least qualified for it: These are the people, who usually could not climb up any hierarchies other than the Wikipedia ones. Now, we may thing the educational system works poorly, but frankly, not as poorly that being a drop-out from the system necessarily means, you did a good job.


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