Quite by accident I found myself looking at this page (not safe for work), which calls itself “Encyclopedia Dramatica”. It has some pithy (and very rude) things to say about Wikipedia. The format would tend to make most of us dismiss it, but much of it is at least half true, and will bring a smile to anyone who has tried to improve Wikipedia.
The average age of a Wikipedia admin is 17. WTF? And that, buddy, is skewed upwards by the presence of a handful of degenerates whose only social outlet is their band of fellow children. Yes, one of the world’s largest Internet communities is run by cliquey kids! As one would expect, leaving day-to-day operations to a bunch of greasy-palmed kids is a recipe for full-scale faggotry. Imagine the biggest losers and social misfits from high school — the hormonal angst, the zit cases, the dateless geeks, the fatties and dorks — and ponder their collective teeny-angst and anger. Now give them the power to run a massive online community and create their own governance with no oversight. When even nominal editing on Wikipedia results in user flame wars that bring in heavy-handed “administrator” attention, the question potential wiki-users should ask themselves is, Do I really want my knowledge, even my person, to be judged, juried, and executed by Piggy, Roger and Jack with his choirboys? (That’s a Lord of the Flies reference. Look it up. Or watch the movie, which was pretty cool too).
The Wikimedia Foundation is just peachy with this jacked-up state of affairs, going so far as to brag about it. As John Seigenthaler found out, they believe themselves immune to legal threats. As a non-profit, they have no assets (although Jimmy Wales has a collection of sports cars). While they claim immunity as an “Internet Host”, some would argue that the foundation’s structure makes them liable as publishers. The next step would be to pass the buck to their contributors and operations, who are suit-immune minors or anonymous.
This is only part of it. The article at the site on Wikipedia (think very hard before clicking on this link at all — lots of porn and abuse in it) contains further gems:
World of Wikipædia?, or Wikipedia, is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game …
During gameplay, Wikipedia players can gain more authority as they progress, with “Administrator” and “Double-O Licensed” rankings granting them access to GOD MODE. While the rules for winning the game are a tightly-kept secret, it is believed that the winner is treated to a night of accolades and praise from Wikipedia overlord Jimbo Wales. …
A common misconception is that “Wikipedia is never finished.” Remember that whenever you come by a Wikipedia article was forged from the blood of thousands of angsty teenagers edit warring over really important facts about the world. Information on Wikipedia topics could generally be found through Google (that is, unless a Wikipedia article is the first hit) and other forms of reference material like books my senile uncle’s war stories, but Americ**** are too busy … to be bothered with education. …
The real problem with Wikipedia is the Wikipedians. From players to sysops, every member of its community is the scum of the internets – worse than spammers, worse than script kiddies and Nigerian scammers, and worse than IRCers. An average Wikipedia user has the intelligence of a seal…
Wikipedia is full of people with no desire to improve what it is intended for, information. Instead, they want to grow their e-***** and one day become a mod.
Well, it made me smile. There’s much truth in all that, mixed with a substantial portion of exaggeration and one-sidedness, of course.
I wonder whether the average age of a Wikipedia admin really IS seventeen? And how one would know?
UPDATE: I have been looking around the web for some statistics, and finding nothing very definitive. There’s a 2009 PDF based on a questionaire, which tells us that the average age of participants in the survey is 25.8; 25% are younger than 18, 25% are between 18-22, 25% are between 23 and 30, and the rest of us are in the remaining 25%. But … this does not discriminate between users and editors. Readers average 25.3, editors 26.8. There’s no indication as to admin age. The actual number of respondents was only about 130,000.
The Wikipedia stats site does not collect this kind of information, unfortunately.
UPDATE: An interesting critique here: “The closed, unfriendly world of Wikipedia.”