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Wikipedia Games

Wikipedia and the History of Gaming 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the citation-needed dept.
Wired is running a story about Wikipedia's tremendous contribution to documenting the history of video games, and why it shouldn't necessarily be relied upon. Quoting: "Wikipedia requires reliable, third-party sources for content to stick, and most of the sites that covered MUDs throughout the ’80s were user-generated, heavily specialized or buried deep within forums, user groups and newsletters. Despite their mammoth influence on the current gaming landscape, their insular communities were rarely explored by a nascent games journalist crowd. ... while cataloging gaming history is a vitally important move for this culture or art form, and Wikipedia makes a very valiant contribution, the site can’t be held accountable as the singular destination for gaming archeology. But as it’s often treated as one, due care must be paid to the site to ensure that its recollection doesn’t become clouded or irresponsible, and to ensure its coalition of editors and administrators are not using its stringent rule set to sweep anything as vitally relevant as MUDS under the rug of history."
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Wikipedia and the History of Gaming

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  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:06AM (#34938042) Homepage Journal

    Something must be notable *and* written about in a reputable academic source in order to be appropriate content for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not a place for people who want to publish new material, no matter how important it is that there be such publication. It's good to see that there are specialised wikis for ad-hoc history projects of MUDs - that's appropriate, and it avoids all these issues of notability and original content.

    Just because a task is worthwhile/important doesn't mean Wikipedia is the right place for it.

  • Re:then? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:07AM (#34938048)
    There are some references on Wikipedia into the internet archive [archive.org], also known as the "way back machine". If your site was archived there I think editors would attempt to change references to this record. If it was completely gone I think it would probably be preserved with a "citation needed" tag.
  • Re:lol (Score:5, Informative)

    by naz404 (1282810) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @11:05AM (#34939638) Homepage
    Only in Wikipedia do you have administrators [wikipedia.org] outright declare that the actual games which *ARE* the game bundle itself (The Humble Indie Bundle [slashdot.org] -> the subject of the Wikipedia article) to be of low importance and distracting to the article [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:then? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moryath (553296) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @12:00PM (#34940308)

    I see a lot of ad hominem in your post and zero worthwhile discussion.

    Here, I'll give you some more to think about in return:

    Larry Sanger on Wikipedia's anti-expert bias and culture [kuro5hin.org] via Kuro5hin.

    Confession of a former wikipedia gamer [archive.org] (via Archive.org because his website no longer exists).

    Journal of a former wikipedia admin [livejournal.com] - great stuff here documenting how "gaming the system" by non-admins and admins alike works, including how organized groups work very hard to ensure that they pick off or drive off those of differing opinions "one by one" to ensure that "consensus" can never change (see the "Lie #2: Nobody new ever comes to Wikipedia" section).

    Cites and Insights carries a long history [citesandinsights.info] of articles on the subject.

    The underlying flaw with Wikipedia is exactly as Jason Scott posited, your ungrounded ad hominem attacks notwithstanding. It is comprised primarily of, and run by, people who have created an alternate language, an alternate political scheme, and an insular and closed circle into which "breaking in" is a matter of proving that you can waste hours upon hours upon hours of time chasing "edit count", learning to speak the acronym-code, sucking up to the most abusive of people when they do something that anyone else objects to and calling for the objectors to be banned.

    Once upon a time, Wikipedia had a bunch of "guilds." Most of them have been cleansed, but ancillary "subpages" remain and are still indexed [google.com]. Shi'a Guild, Sunni Guild, Israeli Guild, Muslim Guild, Deletionist Guild, Preservationist Guild, Guild of Copy Editors, and on and on. You'll notice most of them have vanished, along with membership pages.

    Do you think they actually vanished? No. But as per "WP:CANVAS", which forbids "organized" editing, they vanished from Wikipedia. Which is to say, nothing changed except that they now organize in private e-mail lists and IRC channels rather than out in the open. You can still see the same behavior to this day; hit an article one of them is "protecting", and you'll have the rest of the "guild" swarming you in minutes.

    The same's true for Wikipedia admins - the more corrupt, the worse. The old Durova hit list [theregister.co.uk] affair hasn't slowed them down, because there are at least a dozen (probably more than 25) email lists just like it where administrators "coordinate" their actions behind the scenes. Page 2 of the article does a great job [theregister.co.uk] analyzing the paranoid-delusional aspects of a "committed" wikipedia-admin's personality and actions.

    Plenty of former wikipedia admins [blogspot.com] have seen the light.

  • Re:then? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @12:10PM (#34940414) Homepage

    An example of a wrongly deleted article would be the Zenburn colour scheme for editors. It used to have a page once and the content was accurate, fairly complete, linked to other articles and cited. It was killed for not being notable enough, even though quite a few editors have it as a built-in colour scheme and there are quite a lot of web pages for it. I can't see any valid reason for it not to have a page. Its existence doesn't detract from WP in any way, the article itself was of reasonable quality (and why not improve it instead of just deleting it?).

    I used to contribute quite a bit to WP. For an example of how it should be done I suggest comparing the Japanese and English articles on cats.

    They both contain quite a bit of information, but the Japanese version goes further by including less well cited material that is generally accepted by most editors and which adds interesting points and trivia to the page. Even the language of the material is a bit softer - not less accurate, just more readable and not so much just the presentation of a series of cited facts like the English article is in places.

    I suppose it depends what you think WP is for. I don't think it should be just a collection of citable facts. WP should be more than that though, it should both inform and be readable, even entertaining. As long as the article is well organised there is little lost by including detail, minor though it may be.

    WP is not a democracy. The idea is to reach a consensus with a senior editor reviewing the arguments and making a decision. That unfortunately leads to bias. Deletionists also love trying to fast-track articles for deletion so that there can't be a proper debate. Minor articles are particularly vulnerable to that as often only a few editors have contributed and thus have it on their watch list, so they get fast-track deleted before there is a chance to react. Believe it or not most of us have other things to do than edit WP and try to keep a handle on article burning.

  • Re:then? (Score:4, Informative)

    by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @12:34PM (#34940756)

    What is insignificant to one person is interesting and important to another person. What is the harm in having a lot of irrelevant articles that only a few people ever look at? Maybe that small insignificant band one day becomes famous. It would be nice to have the full history of page modifications on Wikipedia.

    That is true, what's insignificant to one person may be interesting or even important to another person. Yet, this fact isn't being questioned, nor is Wikipedia's article deletion process designed to target uninteresting subjects. It is not nor it ever was about meaning or interest: it's about filtering out the crap which has no business in an encyclopedia-like medium to begin with. And there is no clear line in the sand that defines which is meaningful and which isn't. This is why Wikipedia relies on a democratic process, one which depends on the involvement of the entire community, to decide what to do with a contested article.

    Therefore, if an article which you believe is meaningful happened to be voted off wikipedia then either you failed to get involved in the decision process or, quite bluntly, the article was in fact cruft. Either way, the process relies on users, such as yourself, to get involved, as no one single handedly decides or has the power to simply delete articles at will.

    You seem to think that if there are too many insignificant articles, then we won't be able to find the important ones.

    Please don't try to put words in my mouth. I never even referred to any ability to search for articles, let alone any difficulty in doing so due to the number of "insignificant articles". It is a silly, baseless idea.

    Allowing these trivial contributions also encourages the submitter/editor to make other more valuable contributions. Compare this to deleting their article, however insignificant, which will likely make them never want to contribute again.

    One thing that those who complain about this sort of issue tend to forget is that Wikipedia is not a free hosting company. No one has the right to host their pet project on Wikipedia's servers. There are countless hosting companies out there which provide that type of service, such as free blogs and even free wikis.

    If you truly want to contribute to a knowledge repository then you must respect the principles that were set to run them. The very nature of Wikipedia is that it's a public repository of encyclopedic information which is democratically run by the wikipedia community. It is not anyone's blog, nor it is your very own personal server. Therefore, if anyone wishes to contribute to wikipedia then they need to acknowledge that:

    a) anyone can edit anything
    b) everyone has the right to "be bold" about their edits
    c) in cases where conflicts happen, the community as a whole is engaged in deciding what to do.

    That means that no one has the right to unilaterally impose changes to articles. Even when articles are deleted, their deletion is triggered by any user's suspicion that the article is unworthy of being hosted by wikipedia. Yet, the only thing that that particular user can do is simply nominate the article for deletion, where he can only present the reasons why he believes the article should be deleted. His weight on the issue is the same as everyone else's: a single vote.

    There is no "deletionist" policy

    Yes, there is. The fact that an article can be deleted means there is a deletionist policy.

    That's absurd and even you must be aware of how silly that statement is.

    Even spam articles IMO should only be hidden, and not deleted.

    That's stupid. Why would Wikipedia waste their scarce resources storing the countless floods of spam that plague wikipedia? Can you imagine the amount of storage you would need if you simply never deleted a single spam email that you managed to receive?

  • Re:then? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @12:52PM (#34941010) Homepage Journal

    The short version is: Wikipedia as it exists today is an insular, closed circle-jerk operation. Even good contributions and spelling corrections are apt to be "reverted" by a legion of people who are using semi-automated tools to up their "edit count", because the prime metric for becoming an "admin" is a stupid-high edit count that an actual writer could never reach in 10 years, and they don't give a crap how you got there.

    Yep. "Cesspool" would be my one-word description of choice for Wikipedia, but insular circle-jerk has a nice ring to it, too.

    I've added ISBN numbers to bibliographies (a minor, completely uncontroversial edit) and had a jackass admin (JayJG) autorevert the changes within 30 seconds. They own the page in question, against wikipedia policy. Putting a warning on their page that they're violating wikipedia policy results in one of their admin friends coming in, removing the warning, and then warning me to not fuck with them. This isn't an isolated incident either - I've basically given up on contributing to Wikipedia.

    You want to know why I didn't click on your face to give you money, Jimmy Wales? That's why.

  • Re:then? (Score:2, Informative)

    by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @12:55PM (#34941054)

    Things in Wikipedia are notable because they are in Wikipedia. Because non-notable articles are deleted.

    And thus your definition is completely meaningless.

    It's circular logic, but, although this may blow you mind, circular logic isn't always a bad thing. That was the point.

    Actually circular reasoning is ALWAYS bad unless you think fallacious arguments are acceptable. You cannot use your own propositions to support your premise.

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