Why I Won’t Edit the Wikipedia Gamergate Article

As someone who is both an active Wikipedia editor, and an active supporter of Gamergate, I’m sometimes asked, “You do Wikipedia stuff, can’t you fix their horribly biased Gamergate article?”

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Here’s why.

image

Not really the Wikipedia Gamergate Article…

Wikipedia has rules that—in theory—place restrictions on edits by people with Conflicts of Interest. However, the first lie that SOCJUS opponents of Gamergate tell is that they are not a group, that they are “everyone else”. As such, they don’t consider themselves to have any Conflict of Interest, and with the help of a cooperative media, they are able to piously claim NPOV (Neutral Point of View), while slanting the article to an appalling degree.

Wikipedia editors who are Gamergate supporters either 1) follow the rules and don’t edit articles they have a Conflict of Interest on, or 2) don’t want to step into the radioactive battleground the article’s “owners” have created. Note, on Wikipedia, there “Battleground Conduct” (edit-warring, incivility, sock puppet accounts) or “ownership” of an article are not allowed. In theory.

Personally, I consider the Conflict of Interest rule as one of the most important on Wikipedia. I don’t care if other people break it—and are utter hypocrites about it; I will not.

image

No, not this one either…

Because Gamergate is to a large extent an anti-media campaign, nearly all reporting in gaming media or the mainstream media has been very biased against Gamergate. Hence the only “facts” that make it through the Wikipedia edit wars are the “facts” that are promulgated by, and serve the interests of, the media.

Wikipedia requires all facts to be supported by reputable secondary
sources
. Reputable secondary sources for current events are normally
considered media reports by the consensus of Wikipedia editors. There
are good reasons for such a policy; it limits (but does not eliminate)
eternal “he said; she said” arguments. But the Wikipedia policy assumes a
somewhat unbiased media and somewhat accurate media.

Additionally, the overwhelming majority of Wikipedia editors working on the Gamergate article are anti-Gamergate (rather than neutral), and have come to absurd consensuses about what constitutes a “reputable secondary source”. (Gawker Media is a one; Brietbart News is not, for example.)  Hence, the Wikipedia Gamergate article is farcically one-sided.

Though the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee has sanctioned some of the worst offenders, there are still enough editors opposing Gamergate to preserve the narrative. That effort is aided by Wikipedia’s consensus-based definition of what a reliable source is, and the one-sided coverage of the media over Gamergate. Normally, the Reliable Source rules work to the advantage of the encyclopedia, but the Gamergate article demonstrates how they can fail.

image

Yes, this one is real…

The “Gamergate Controversy” article has become a perfect storm of the kind of things that Wikipedia’s culture is not well equipped to handle. Does that mean the culture needs to change? Strangely enough, I would say, not really. Wikipedia’s system works well for overwhelmingly vast majority of the subjects covered in the encyclopedia. Mistakes and controversies are what get media attention outside of Wikipedia, but the media rarely covers all the stuff Wikipedia does right.

Wikipedia is an extremely good first step reference for most things. However, because of the way Wikipedia’s rules are set up, it tends to fail on controversial topics, especially controversial topics in the news.

Despite all the existing problems, I would still advise people to trust Wikipedia over the mainstream media for one reason—Wikipedia is almost compulsively transparent. All edits and past versions of articles are instantly accessible via the article’s “history” tab. All discussion among the editors of an article is archived and accessible via the article’s “talk” tab.

Imagine how different the mainstream media would be if their internal editorial process were as transparent as Wikipedia’s.

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