Editor Suppression on Wikipedia
By Rome Viharo
Editor suppression is defined as online behaviors performed “on the sly” by Wikipedia editors to remove dissenting or opposing points of view from editing a Wikipedia article.
Editor suppression does not appear to be acknowledged much by either the WikiMedia Foundation or the Wikipedia community. While Wikipedia does have guidelines towards user behavior and does define certain behaviors as Wikipedia “hounding” or harassment, editor suppression appears to be a stepchild no one wants to talk about.
While GamerGate brought massive online awareness to Wikipedia harassment and abuses (amongst other things), how Wikipedia influenced the GamerGate reality is often too complex for many to wrap their heads around.
While WikiMedia promotes the utilitarian “anyone can edit!” message for fundraising, Wikipedia silently enforces the “but not everyone should” practical reality, running contrary to both the spirit and the letter of Wikipedia’s “Five Pillars”.
What’s more, on contentious articles, protagonists and antagonists often come head to head, and usually, either one side or another will dominate the article through gaming the Wikipedia consensus building process.
Ironically, Wikipedia’s only mention of this is a joke article called “How to ban a POV you don’t like, in 9 easy steps.” It is intended to be humor, but I can tell you it was not funny when I experienced personally each and every single one of those points being applied to me when I found myself naively targeted in a wiki war.
Is the problem WikiMedia’s board, Jimbo Wales, or the Wikipedia editor community?
I don’t believe it is. The problem is the software and the aforementioned are just exploiting the opportunities of the environment.
The software appears to create a competitive battleground, while naively not giving users any tools to responsibly use it. Because of this, I believe “darker psychologies” who use more manipulative, abusive or abrasive social tactics eventually begin to take over articles and subjects, and the losers of the edit wars on Wikipedia simply create their own MediaWiki using WikiMedia software.
Thus, we have MetaPedia, Conservapedia, Infogalactic, Uncyclopedia, and of course RationalWiki. Ideological wiki off-shoots of edit wars initiating on Wikipedia.
I believe we need to have more mainstream awareness of how abusive these types of communities can be, and how much influence they can have on global education, public awareness, and election politics.
Wikipedia and all WikiMedia software projects, like Google and Facebook, need a good overhaul and social review of the damage, influence, impact, and reach they have in shaping our current media climate.