Want Out of Wikipedia? Fight to Stay In

If you dive into the Wikipedia talk page on Seth Finkelstein, you'll find his interesting and utterly futile effort to be deleted from the encyclopedia. Getting a piece in The Guardian isn't helping his claim to be insufficiently famous at all.

On the mailing list WikiEN-L, Steve Summit identifies a law of Wikipedia that should become known as the Finkelstein Paradox -- a subject who argues he doesn't belong in Wikipedia is more likely to remain in Wikipedia:

I was struck by Seth's account of how he "strongly argued the case against myself" at AFD. I suspect that a biographical article's subject tends to carry significant but paradoxical undue weight at AFD, in two contradictory directions. Subjects who argue that they are notable and that their articles should be kept are obviously vain self-promoters, so their articles should obviously be deleted. But subjects who argue that their articles should be deleted are obviously trying to hide something (or, at least, to unjustly influence the free flow of information), so their articles should obviously be kept.

It's too late for Finkelstein, but others can learn from his predicament. If you're added to Wikipedia and don't want to be there, show up for the ArticlesForDeletion (AFD) debate and argue the merits of your fame as passionately as your mother would. Edit your own entry and add a few accomplishments and personal qualities that other editors wrongly overlooked. Deride your critics in as supercilious a tone as you can muster.

The Wikipedia editors who show up for deletion votes will respond to these acts like a shark that smells blood in the water.


Y'know, I wondered about that approach. But, suppose I had talked myself up:

"Of course I deserve, nay, *I demand*, a Wikipedia biographical entry. I have two degrees from MIT, Physics and Mathematics. I placed eighth in the nation in high school in the Westinghouse national science talent contest. I was one of the first people to have a graphics image screensaver. I innovated using the Internet for civil-liberties, creating one of very first free expression websites. I have some of the earliest recorded raising alarms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as a threat to programming freedom. ..."

But what would I do if the reverse-psychology ploy *failed*, and they believed me? :-)

And as I say, I'm bad at politics, won't be dishonest.

Wow, dude, Seth Finkelstein himself stopped by here. Awesome.

Maybe Rogers has inadvertantly come up with a solution to this conundrum--get your mother to argue for your inclusion, passionately. That should do it.


If Seth is the poster boy for Wikipedia abuse through inclusion then we're probably discussing the wrong issues.

An encyclopedia shouldn't be built upon the wishes of the subjects. It should make an attempt to publish clear and factual statements for historical purposes.

I've seen several high profile compliant of wikipedia pages recently (Seth, Arrington, Winer's long standing dismissal of the project as flawed) but very rarely does anyone document the errors or present a rationale for the supposed abuses they suffer... they just want to rant.

You're little essay here works well as a post but it doesn't point towards any effective resolution for what people might feel is broken with public documentation... The only recent positive was the Aaron Schwartz attempt to change wikipedia by aksing to be elected to the board.

I use wikipedia almost daily. I think it's harmful to see wikipedia painted with such dire mud that casual editors would fear metting anyone know that they contribute.

Maybe it's time to start a "Friends of Wikipedia" group that actively supports and encourages people to support their negative statements about wikipedia with some modicum of evidence to back up their claims. I've never seen an articla maligning wikipedia that seemed to make a decent case for the site being abusive or malicious over the long term on any subject... exluding toxic areas like abortion or religious matters... which are never easy to balance to any degree... excepting omission.

Anyway you made me laugh... and then you made me a bit angry for feeding the negative backlash against an amazing public project with more good than bad to it's credit.

I'm a fan of Wikipedia, but I try to give a fair hearing to its critics because the potential for harm is important to consider. Every new biography I've contributed to the site is in the top 10 Google search results for the person's name.

I think that as a subject's readership grows in Wikipedia it attracts more good editors than bad ones.

Unfortunately, the Wikipedia leaders don't appear to share my optimism. Both Jimmy Wales and Angela Beasley have edited their own entries and derided the changes that have been made to them.

McD: The attacks on me have been well-documented, and the seriousness recognized as valid by Wales himself.


This is descriptive:

"For people who are not very prominent, Wikipedia biographies can be an
"attractive nuisance". It says to every troll, vandal, and
score-settler, "Here's an article about a person where you can, with
no accountability whatsoever, write any libel, defamation, or smear,
and it won't be a marginal comment with the social status of an
inconsequential rant, but rather will be made prominent about the
person and reputation-laundered with the institutional status of an
encyclopedia.". Where living people are concerned, there is a
cost-shifting aspect from Wikipedia's poor quality control. Any
negative effects are usually borne entirely by the aggrieved party,
except in the very rare case where he or she has enough power to
publicize Wikipedia's failings."

There is a lot of rubbish things happening over at WiKi, i see a lot of spam external links in some articles.

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