User talk:Potroast

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Re: edit to Wikipedia article[edit]

The article at Wikipedia is about Wikipedia, whereas your addition was about the article itself and therefore irrelevant. I don't see what you mean with one article being subserviant to another. Fredrik | talk 10:19, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The Wikipedia article has nothing to do with policy whatsoever, it's just an article. Articles summarize external knowledge; they are not the place for subjective interpretation and idiosyncratic utterings such as "donkey pornography is acceptable". Adding that to an article would only get your edit reverted, not yourself banned -- unless you went on to insert it over and over without showing willingness to discuss the matter.

You are mistaken about the admin position on Wikipedia. An admin is a regular user who has been granted some extra powers for administrative tasks, such as deleting pages, editing the main page, and blocking problem users. Admins do not have any special authority. They do not decide on what content is acceptable for Wikipedia, or how conflicts between users should be solved, and they do not have extra votes in polls. Any regular user can enforce the rules by removing inappropriate additions, and do so all the time, so Wikipedia is a working anarchy already. Blocking users and protecting pages is merely a way to deal with the most extreme cases more conveniently. Fredrik | talk 12:44, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Second reply[edit]

Fredrik, You state 'the Wikipedia article has nothing to do with policy whatsoever' Granted it makes mention of other topics (history, anecdotes) but there are subtopics called site policies, vandalism and neutral point of view.
‘Nothing to do with policy’ is an obviously inaccurate statement.

What I meant is that the article merely describes policy (and should do so in an objective and neutral manner): it has nothing to do with how policy is formed or enforced (except describing it).

Wikipedia does have policies and these are actively enforced. This is very different from writing about them.

In fact I inserted my tiny edit in that article just to draw out what I suspected would be an Admin.

You could have posted your concerns to the Village Pump instead. More people read that than my talk page, so you'd get more answers and thus probably a more nuanced view. I suggest you go ahead and post there.

With an Admin to be able in end decide it is “idiosyncratic” (which I completely agree for that particular demonstrative statement) that is where significant bias in Wikipedia’s freely editable information lies.

Admins do not "decide in the end". Whether something is "idiosyncratic" (or having any other characteristic) is decided by community consensus. Votes for Deletion is perhaps the best example of how admin powers work: admins only delete pages listed here when the users have voted in favor of deletion.

The exception is vandalism or similarly worthless editing that is obviously worthless, which admins may deal with on sight by blocking users (and any user may deal with, by simply reverting edits).

However, if users think an admin uses his or her powers inappropriately, the admin's actions will be undone by other admins, and in extreme cases the admin privileges may be removed. So in the end, admins have special authority to carry out things, not special authority to make decisions.

The exception is the Arbitration Committee, which decides on bans for extreme trouble users. But this committee is elected democratically, and regular users may vote, so its decisions still reflect the community.

Users articles further down the hierarchy are forbidden to stray from this Wikipedia page. Why would there be an Admin assigned to this article if it were not “special” otherwise?

As it is merely an article, you can't "stray" from it. There is no admin "assigned" to it. You can edit it any way that improves it without your edits getting reverted. This includes adding criticism, provided that it can be attributed and is described in neutral language (see WP:NPOV).

Is it a requirement of the legal owners of Wikipedia… that they will enforce should users decide they wish to tinker with the What is Wikipedia page (I.e. Pull the plug on web server)?

The legal owner of the encyclopedia is all the users who have written it. The "publisher" (but note that since it is licensed under the GFDL, anyone can publish a copy of Wikipedia) is the Wikimedia Foundation. To answer your question: no, the Wikimedia Foundation has very little to do with enforcement of anything. All policy is enforced by the users. Policy is even changed or created by the community (except a few core principles such as the importance of NPOV and that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia).

I agree with the practicality of your statement and do understand your fears Wikipedia would disintegrate into ads for Viagra otherwise.... but true anarchy is free of Admins as far as I understand the word... even in "extreme cases"
My original statements and questions are still valid. Are your fears empirical? Or just deductive thinking that is unproven? And should Wikipedia dissolve into anarchy…. would the original owners step in to ‘fix’ it?
I am not permanently against an ADMIN… I’m just curious to see Wikipedia without one for a little while.

What you miss is that although there are (relatively weak) power structures on Wikipedia, even these are under the control of users. Admins are picked by users voting, and anyone can become an admin if they want to (unless they have done things in the past which other users perceive as highly inappropriate).

Now if Wikipedia was invaded by ten thousand Viagra spammers, their democratic rights would probably be throttled actively by existing authorities in the project. But that seems like a rather hypothetical issue.

Fredrik | talk 02:40, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Re democracy and Wikipedia[edit]

Galileo would have been considered fringe since it was obvious that the earth was the centre of everything. Everyone (mostly would have agreed). He was banned for trying to vandalize his Wikipedia.
Not that I am Galileo, but I am definitely fringe. I'm trying to figure out if Wikipedia is compatible with my 'POV' which i believe is NPOV but very abstract. I do not wish to upset anyone so this is why I haven't been editing articles.

Wikipedia's mission is to cover existing, documented human knowledge, regardless of whether it is "true". Wikipedia cannot determine whether a theory or opinion is true or accurate from the theory itself, only whether scientists (or politicians, or Catholics) believe it is. If Wikipedia could, there would be no need for peer-reviewed research elsewhere in the world. If you are the new Galilei, you should publicize your research in some authoritative journal, and Wikipedia will cover it once it becomes a widely accepted part of human knowledge (if it becomes a widely criticized, it will be covered as such).

See Wikipedia:No original research

That said; many Wikipedians, unlike the 17th century Roman Catholic church, are both knowledgeable and open-minded. If you find your POV opposed 20-1, there's a chance you're wrong. There's not much you can do about it either way, except find another project to work on. I feel Wikipedia's system has worked well so far, myself.

Can I do this safely? Who decides that I have crossed the line?

You'll likely be warned several times before someone resorts to banning you.

If a contributer reverses a change of mine... but does not explain why.... am I free to change it back?

Sure, but see Wikipedia:Edit war

another ADMIN Raul543 stated "Wikipedia is not a democracy"

It is probably none of anarchy, democracy or dictatorship, but some combination thereof. You'll have to ask him about his reasoning, though. If anything, it should show you that admins just like any other users have widely different opinions. Fredrik | talk 14:48, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

There's an interesting discussion of this (I think initiated by User:Francis_Schonken) with Jimbo, commenting on the structure of Wikipedia, ie. that it is not a democracy but it does have democratic features, that is not an anarchy but it does have anarchic features etc. I'm still trying to find it, which is how I came across this discussion. It may be in meta, but I'll come back here and link to it if I find out. (btw, sorry for setting up this user page - I hadnt realised the talk page existed - I'll delete it now) Cormaggio 00:43, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Found reference to this on m:Power_structure Cormaggio 23:59, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Admin-free Wikipedia[edit]

I broadly agree with Fredrik's characterisation of the Wikipedia project and the position of admins within it. However I can add a little more information with regard to your comment...

I am not permanently against an ADMIN… I’m just curious to see Wikipedia without one for a little while.

For about a year and a half (2001 - 2002), the Wikipedia project operated without designated admins. The overall effect was little or no different from the current operation as far as the overall production of encyclopedia articles was concerned. All the regular users carried out administrative functions, even though no user had special powers or a mandate to do so. It was just something that needed doing and so all the regulars did it. To a certain extent this is still true today. Any user can act as if they are an admin if they wish to, without having to ask for permission, and most regular users do that to a greater or lesser extent.

However operating in that manner caused problems for certain trusted individuals (mostly Jimbo Wales and the two programmers) who became overburdened with necessary tasks which would have caused the destruction of Wikipedia if all users had been given the security privileges required to carry them out. That is not an exaggeration. These were tasks such as deleting articles, banning troublesome users, making changes to the wikipedia server, etc. These tasks can be used by malicious users to cause irreparable damage -- and, believe me, there were and there are plenty of malicious users doing their best to damage the Wikipedia. In order to reduce the burden on these trusted individuals, the decision was taken (by the regular Wikipedia users of the time) to create an admin group of regular users who had shown their commitment and trustworthiness to the community. Any user could ask for membership and gain it provided that the community had no objections. These users would be given the security privileges to carry out some of the "destructive" tasks and thus reduce the load on the few overworked volunteers of the "pre-admin" times.

That is how the admin group came about. Its purpose is still exactly the same as when it was created. It relieves the load on the programmers and lets them get on with programming. However that purpose is often misunderstood by those who were not present when it was set up. I believe that it fulfills a community need and I do not think that the Wikipedia could operate at its present level of popularity without the admin group unless some fairly radical changes were made to the software which is used to run the Wikipedia. While I, personally, would like to see those changes made so that we could run without admins, the community thinks otherwise. It is quite happy with the status quo from what I can see and since the developers carry out changes which are most popular with the community, there is little chance that admins will be phased out in the near, or indeed in the mid-term future -- Derek Ross | Talk 20:01, 2005 Jan 13 (UTC)