Wednesday, February 28, 2007


A year or so ago, I set up WikiNomic, an attempt at playing Nomic in a Wiki. It didn't do all that well, probably because we didn't get critical mass. However, the fine folks at Wikipedia have totally shamed my attempts, and in fact have created the world's largest and most successful Nomic of all time. The proof of this? The fine folks who inhabit Wikipedia's "deletion review" forum have decided, in their infinite wisdom, that it is more important to follow a set of bureaucratic rules than it is to make actual decisions about how to write an encyclopedia. Only in a Nomic would the rules of the game be more important than the game itself.

The particular venue for this inanity? The discussion over whether or not Daniel Brandt should have an article on Wikipedia. There was an extensive discussion, or at least an attempt at one, regarding this article after it was deleted "out of process" by Yanksox (who has since been desysoped and is now being accused of actually being Daniel Brandt by at least two Arbitrators, although I don't personally believe that they have any evidence of this). However, all attempts to discuss the merits of the article were systematically squashed by a small horde of people who apparently feel that having a discussion over whether the article should be deleted must wait until after they have a full discussion over whether the method under which it was deleted was appropriate. And since this crowd of loudmouthed idiots, full of sound and fury but clearly incapable of signifying anything, outscreeched all the sensible people (both the ones who wanted to leave it deleted and the ones who have reasons why it shouldn't be deleted for reasons other than "our holy process has not been respected"), the article has been undeleted -- and to add insult to stupidity, the individual who closed the deletion review mandated a one-week wait before the discussion on whether it can be deleted may be allowed to begin. Therefore, as a result of this braindamaged addiction to all-holy process, the Brandt article remains intact and in place, and no meaningful discussion can be had about it, simply because the Wikipedia community has to put drama ahead of result. It will probably be weeks, even months, before a fair discussion can be had on this topic, if ever at all. I strongly suspect that the allegation that Yanksox is a Brandt sockpuppet, whether or not supported by evidence, will be sufficient to prevent the formation of a consensus to delete for quite some time.

Wikipedia, you need to get rid of these pointless gameplayers. Wikipedia is not a nomic. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Preventing a discussion on the merits of a proposed or extant encyclopedia article because the discussion was not "started in the proper way" is both assinine and stupid, and this glorious addiction to process and drama ahead of the goal of writing an encyclopedia is wrongheaded and destructive, both of the encyclopedia and, ironically, the community. Small wonder that quality editors leave Wikipedia: working with and around such intellectual dodos, and a culture that rewards it, has to be very trying indeed.