Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (Lord Acton said it, by the way.)
We spend too much time “defending” wikipedia and not enough time bringing new users into the fold, being polite, being nice. Teaching them about policies, about the manual of style. Editing alongside them. Admins are supposed to be “just another editor with a few extra buttons”, but too many admins today get drunk on that power. They insist that normal editors are “beneath” them, that they should be able to own articles and give their friends a hand up when content disputes arise. If you’re friends with an admin, rest assured that your buddies will call someone a name, get one called back, and then ask you to punish the other guy for “incivility.” And you’ll do it, too, without a moment’s hesitation, simply because you have the power to do it.
And you know what? I’m tired of it. Our articles are suffering because even the good edits of supposed “sockpuppets” are being reverted by overly-zealous admins who believe that they have to hunt for every edit made by someone they think is banned – even if it’s just a typo fix – and revert it. Yes, I have watched this in action. I have watched admins put obvious page-tagging edits like an insertion of “joe is a fag” back because the user who reverted the vandalism was someone deemed a “sockpuppet” by our completely erroneous and pointless system.
Sounds like some people in the system have been corrupted…absolutely.
Though I’ve not blogged about it here, I did mention elsewhere that people should be cautious when using Wikipedia as a source for anything.
There’s a ton of good information out there, but one is wise to remember that anyone can edit the medium, and no one truly knows the educational/professional background or motives of those with the power.