The Glory and the Anguish of Wikipedia

I've been a fan of Wikipedia for a long time. I like the very idea of it, and I spend lots of my free time reading about completely random things or compulsively checking the populations of cities. Recently I've been spending that time creating or editing articles instead of reading.

First, for those who aren't aware, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. If there's no article about, say, some Swiss scientist, and you have knowledge of the person, you can write the article about him (or, alternatively, you can simply translate it from another language's entry).

Most of the articles are high-quality, presumably written by experts or at least involved hobbyists. Thus, the articles about Paris or the German language or film editing are all basically correct in what they say.

On the other hand, it doesn't take much imagination to see that controversial topics can get edited and re-edited and still further edited very quickly, or that the numerically superior side of an argument will have it their way to the exclusion of other potentially more legitimate points of view. We'll use the anarchism article as an example. Leftist anarchists (or "anarchists") have that article pretty well staked out, and it'd be no good trying to edit it to reflect more capitalist viewpoints. If your goal were to reflect anarchist thought on Wikipedia, you might retreat to the anarcho-capitalism article. Well, they have that one fairly well staked out also. They aren't as crazy on that one; they mostly content themselves with sloppily characterizing (capitalist) anarchist arguments and then gently poking holes in them.

Given that no one man has enough time to fight the good fight on Wikipedia, I encourage some of you (those with spare time) to take a look at it once in a while and straighten out the errors.

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Why not start a Wiki of your

Why not start a Wiki of your own and host it here?

A special gem from that

A special gem from that "neutral" article is the bit about "the monopsony a large employer inevitably (!) enjoys as a purchaser of labor". Even better than the claim that destroying other people's stuff doesn't count as "violence".

Now I seem to recall that the founder of Wikipedia, Jimbo Wales, was of generally libertarian/Objectivist inclinations. How'd his project get hijacked by lefties?

Perhaps TJIC is in a

Perhaps TJIC is in a different time zone than you and I.

Perhaps, but where's the fun in that?

"Given that no one man has

"Given that no one man has enough time to fight the good fight on Wikipedia, I encourage some of you (those with spare time) to take a look at it once in a while and straighten out the errors."

You mean we ought to all work together in order to produce a public good?

Perhaps TJIC is in a

Perhaps TJIC is in a different time zone than you and I.

As P.J. O’Rourke (and

As P.J. O’Rourke (and millions of others) have noted: it’s hard matching leftists protest-for-protest. We capitalists and workers have JOBS.

That point would carry slightly more force if you hadn't posted it at three in the afternoon.

The current version includes

The current version includes examples of actual violence by management, mainly the killing of union organizers in various countries. Overall, it's not terrible if you get /past/ the first paragraph and read the whole text. Your content is still mostly there, it just got camoflaged a bit.

As for me, I tried for a while to get the a-c view better represented in the entries on public good, market failure, and externality. I eventually gave up as well. Those of you who are named Patri are especially invited to leap in on any of these:

The problem isn't simply

The problem isn't simply that leftists work harder to get their views expressed on Wikipedia. The creators maintain ultimate editorial power on controversial issues and they are heavily biased to the left. The decentralization in the Wikipedia model is largely a myth.

Tell me about it. A while

Tell me about it.

A while back I created a fairly viewpoint neutral page called "Union Violence".

It was quickly hijacked by leftists. Most of what I wrote was deleted and replaced
with anti-corporate propaganda.

I challenged the attackers to obey the wikipedia don't-delete-with-what-you-disagree with.

This is the response I got:

OK, I cheerfully agree that I did a hatchet job on this one. It was a piece of blatant anti-union propaganda, riddled with tendentious terminology and inexact use of terms. So I turned it round and made it about a wee bit NPOV from the other side, to get the point across. (I did not, however, delete large sections because I disagreed with them - I deleted them because in my view they were propaganda, i.e. non-encyclopedic, or wrongly characterised, e.g. acts of sabotage listed as acts of violence.)

I'll note that the original article I wrote is still available in the

Feel free to look at it and tell me if it's propaganda or not. I sort of thought that having footnotes and sticking to facts made it something slightly better than that.

The first two leftist edits made the article start this way:

Union violence is a pejorative term for physical acts against people or property to advance trade union aims.

The phrase is more of a slogan than a description: as an emotively loaded term, it is used almost exclusively by right-wing commentators who are opposed to trades unions. Most of the events that are described as "union violence" do not meet ordinary definitions of the word "violence"...

I guess the facts I'd documented, like shooting "scabs", and stabbing people with icepicks don't meet the ordinary definitions of the word "violence"

Well, as Seglea noted on the talk page, this new take is a "wee bit NPOV from the other side, to get the point across."

Wow, thanks for "educating" me with "the point".

Not content with hijacking one article, the leftists finally removed it all together, replacing it with a redirect to "Violence in industrial disputes", which tries to achieve moral equivalence between union thugs stabbing people and factory owners doing nefarious things like generating profits.

This is how the entirely neutral replacement article begins:

Violence in industrial disputes occurs within conflicts between employers and employees (labor) about pay or conditions at work. Such conflicts are normally resolved by economic power, or by bargaining if the two sides are of roughly equal power. Sometimes, however, one or both sides will attempt to enforce their position by violence. This is typically referred to as Management violence by those on or in support of the employers' side in the dispute...

As P.J. O'Rourke (and millions of others) have noted: it's hard matching leftists protest-for-protest. We capitalists and workers have JOBS.


I'm curious to how much of

I'm curious to how much of our dissatisfaction is truly justified and how much results from our personal politics. It would be interesting what a left-anarchist thought of the entry on say, anarcho-syndicalism, and if they thought it was similarly biased to the other direction--staked out by right-anarchists, so to speak.

My thought is such would probably prove to be the case.

For example, I found Bryan Caplan's Anarchist FAQ to be a fair and unbiased presentation of various types of anarchism. However, apparently many leftists think it quite biased and quite wrong.

In the early days of

In the early days of Wikipedia, I took upon me to write articles describing Libertarianism, Anarcho-Capitalism, and Anarchism. What I wrote has been edited away so long ago that you might not even be able to find it in the archive.

I've since decided to open a libertarian encyclopedia,, to cope with the bias in Wikipedia. But Liberpedia is currently using the wrong tools. Would someone here be willing to take over the technical part of Liberpedia (maybe using Wikimedia?).

What about

What about ?

(And my sad little wiki