I used to love Wikipedia. Even when idiots messed up the "articles," someone would come along and fix them, and I always found something interesting and maybe even unusual about it.
Wikipedia was such a lofty concept — articles that anyone could contribute to, collaboration in fine form indeed. It seemed to me to be a concept and site that had a brilliant future.
The wiki concept is in the process of living up to its potential, but not — I fear — on Wikipedia. The problem is that there is too little oversight and control on Wikipedia, and people just can't help themselves. When nobody is watching the store, someone always has to come along and be a jerk.
I'm not going to mention names because I don't want to embarrass the friend whose experience I'm writing about. Let's just call my friend Mary Jane. Mary Jane is probably the kindest, gentlest person I know. She has a web site that has a few Google ads on it, but I doubt that they bring in enough to even cover the expenses of keeping her site running. She also works for an online information service, but I know she doesn't make much at it, and what she does make is spent helping people who have less than she does.
When I talked to Mary Jane earlier today, she was nearly in tears. She had been working on several articles on Wikipedia, all of them interrelated. Someone had edited a few of the pages and removed links to both of her sites. Not only that, but this person (who had not contributed to those pages in recent history) went on to attack her on the "talk pages" for those articles, calling her a spammer. Excuse me, but what a bitch! I went to Wikipedia and read the exchange for myself. The Bitch said that Mary Jane had been warned about spamming before. Not true. I read all the appropriate pages to see for myself. Mary Jane had indeed had some conversations with other people about links, but there was absolutely no mention of the links that were removed today. None.
So what ever happened to common courtesy? I'm proud of Mary Jane that she had the self control and professionalism not to tell the Bitch to where to get off. I don't think I could or would have had that much self control. But then, Mary Jane is a class act. The Bitch obviously isn't.
Yes, it was great concept. Now it's just a huge public failure. Not just for this reason, but for many, not the least of which is the plagiarism which has run rampant there for too long and now the virus attack on the German Wikipedia. Sad, but a failure on too many levels to list.
Yes, Wikipedia was a great concept. But then again, so was the Roman Empire.