Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Deciders Have Decided

The Deciders have decided ... to keep the article.

No surprise, really. The only thing I can't figure out is how the matter ever came up in the first place. I do have my suspicions, but that is as much as I should say about that, at the present time.

That's the problem with Wikipedia. Under cover of anonymity, and with no legal accountability whatsoever, anyone can do anything to anyone's article--write something false or defamatory, or in my case simply nominate an article they don't like for deletion.

It almost succeeded. Early on, most of the persons debating the issue knew nothing about comics, therefore were quick to vote "Delete." Only the intervention of a Wikipedian with knowledge of comics saved the article, and this was largely happenstance. He tells me had not edited or looked at the article in a long time, but by coincidence just happened to look at it shortly after the nomination for deletion was made.

It was disconcerting to see people debating my "notability." I didn't know how to take it. I was annoyed, because ever since the article appeared on Wikipedia a few years ago a lot of people have told me they've read it. Which meant that now a lot of people were seeing the deletion notification, as well as the debate over whether or not I was worthy of the article. This was a great personal and professional embarrassment for me.

And yet, it was not exactly the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Far from it. And it was more ridiculous than anything else. It said far more about the responsible individual than it did about me, and far more about the weaknesses of Wikipedia.

I have mixed feelings about Wikipedia. It does have some value as a resource. I have used it in the past, and will likely do so in the future. But now, having seen up close and personal just how vulnerable it is to abuse, I have come to believe that Wikipedia should no longer allow people to edit or create articles anonymously and without legal accountability. This allows the likes of Slim Virgin to do a great deal of damage, not only to the individuals who are defamed or deleted, but ultimately to the growing number of people who have, for better or worse, come to rely on Wikipedia for information.

Of course, it could be argued that, in my case, the Wikipedia system of self-correction ultimately worked. There are good Wikipedians as well as bad (I call them Wickedpedians), and they came through in the end. But even so, the anonymity thing has got to go.