Sunday, December 11, 2005

10,000 words about Dave Winer

The recent kerfuffle over Adam Curry editing the podcasting entry on Wikipedia leads to an obvious followup: what about the Dave Winer entry? It turns out that the Talk page for the Dave Winer entry has just hit 10,000 words in length. Much of it is taken up with arguments between Betsy Devine and Ben Houston, with Betsy taking up what might loosely be described as the pro-Dave position and Ben championing the anti-Dave coalition, with submit buttons deployed at twenty paces. The discussion has recently been joined by an anonymous editor from the IP, which resolves back to, implying a location somewhere in Los Angeles - this person is not necessarily anti-Dave, but he accuses Betsy of being biased.
Betsy you shouldn't be anywhere near this entry, being a personal friend of someone is an automatic violation of POV. White washing the article to help a friend is so against the spirit behind Wikipedia it isn't even funny.

As evidence of Betsy's pro-Dave leanings, she mentions frequently on her blog about meeting Dave, she has recorded a podcast with him and has been known to post a picture she Photoshopped of Winer's head pasted onto a statue of Socrates. Betsy hits back by labelling the anti-Dave material she edited out as being "unbalanced and unencyclopedic". You learn a new word every day. In any case, the latest revision of the Relationship to the Public section seems to be a kind of consensus, although undoubtedly it will be changed again soon (10 revisions in the last week alone!).

I'm not an historian so I can't run a professional eye over the entry, but it seems to me to be lacking in several respects. Dave's early work is glossed over - I would like to hear more about Dave's role in ThinkTank, Ready and MORE than just namechecks. I'm not sure we need to know he is (or was) neighbours with Joan Baez. There is only one sentence about OPML. One part of the entry does ring true: "Winer is known as one of the more polarizing figures in the blogging community." Does that mean that any attempt made through the Wikipedia process is doomed to fall victim to partisanship? Not if the contributors take a professional attitude, IMO. More incontrovertible facts, and full attribution for any opinions.


Blogger betsythedevine said...

Hi there--Ben Houston and I were arguing about one small part of Dave Winer's article, a "Relationship to the public" section--we finally hacked out an agreement that made the article better about a month ago, and that section is just about the way we left it. I'm a bit embarassed that you posted the unjustified slam against me by an anonymous user who isn't familiar with Wikipedia policy and practice. First, of course, the "no personal attacks" policy, but also that "neutral point of view" means what you write should have a neutral point of view. People regularly correct what they perceive as mistakes in articles about friends or foes or even about themselves.

9:42 pm, December 11, 2005  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

Correcting factual mistakes is one thing, Betsy, but seeking to edit opinion-based content for being "unbalanced and unencyclopedic" is another.

I'm not defending the insertion of gratuitous anti-Dave content, but IMO people who personally know the principals shouldn't be editing personal entries either. Nevertheless, I'm glad you and Ben came to a compromise. That's the good side of the Wikipedia process in action.

10:05 pm, December 11, 2005  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home