Wikipedian: Deletionist or Inclusionist?
Wikipedia; who knew there was so much animosity about one of the most famous Internet institutions? That is how Tim Davenport solidified my position on the opposite side of the debate. Let me explain. First of all, I don’t imagine the everyday regular Internet user even realizes that they can go into Wikipedia to add or edit any of the pages available. I know I didn’t until last December. While completing a weekly activity we were challenged to go onto Wikipedia and edit a page. Crazy I thought, but why not give it a try. I found the page on the definition of a dental hygienist. Under the Canadian information paragraph, I made some corrections and added some information about the National Board Exam. Lo and behold, it is still there 3 months later.
Prior to the readings, I believe I was a deletionist. I agree and relate with Ford’s description of, “The so- called ‘deletionists’ against the ‘inclusionists’ – those who thought the encyclopedia should retain a certain quality, necessitating strict editorial control, versus those who thought that Wikipedia’s goal is much broader and more global than other encyclopaedias” (p. 258). There was no question in my mind that this statement reflected my personal thoughts of how Wikipedia should be run. It was important to have knowledgeable editors verifying and deciding on the quality of information on the site. Dental hygiene is a serious, regulated, healthcare profession and its information on the Wikipedia site needed to be firmly monitored so as not to misrepresent the high standards we abide by. I was disturbed to see that the previous information about Canadian dental hygienists was incorrect and wondered why Wikipedia didn’t correct it sooner. However as I began to read more about the culture of participation Wikipedia was enforcing on its free to be editors, my position began to wane.
It started to become clear to me that the “institution” of Wikipedia had a culture of its own, elitists. This was obvious and a wee bit scary when Carr sites Daniel Pink of Wired, in a 2003 article on how he describes Wikipedia to a “power pyramid”. Pink (2003) starts to list the contributors from the bottom up and he paints us a perfect picture of a pyramid scheme with Wales standing alone at the top; the owner of the pyramid. The king of the castle. More aptly described as the mythological God Zeus at the top of Mount Olympus. What does Carr say; bury the myth? Then I read about an article praising Wales. Time magazine (2006) got it wrong when they wrote about the people transforming the world, “Today Wales is celebrated as a champion of Internet-enabled egalitarianism”. I don’t want to use information that is dictated and controlled, this is communism not egalitarianism. We are being blinded by this Gods shiny armour as to the real rules and goings on with Wikipedia. Even Wikipedia’s About page says, “The Wikipedia community has developed many policies and guidelines to improve the encyclopedia; however, it is not a formal requirement to be familiar with them before contributing”. This is not a community but rather a group of deletion elitists that are controlling your knowledge before you even contribute.
Tim Davenport solidifies my decision to side with the inclusionists when he so arrogantly has the audacity to compare Wikipedia and its growth to the history of governments or commercial institutions. He concludes snobbishly by saying, “Wikipedia is not immune to the phenomenon of bureaucratization; indeed, it is a bureaucratic infant. It is foolish to imagine that such a tendency can be halted, even if its decision-makers were consciously committed to stopping it”. I won’t sell out to the controllers of the Internet; I will strive to be included in the freedom to participate. I am on the inclusionists side!