What is and what is not good enough for the Wikipedia(ns)?

On: October 1, 2011
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About Urszula Jurgiel
After doing my BA in Sociology and MA in International Management I decided to study something more related to my interests. Working for over a year as a journalist for a fashion magazine gave me an opportunity to see how media actually look like from the other side and assured me that this is something that I want to do in the future. I believe that MA in New Media at UvA is a great chance on my way to make it happen. A former dancer, still in love with all kinds of dance, music and theater as well as with good magazines, biographies and photographies. Sport enthusiast, most recently interested in surfing, longboarding and of course cycling in Amsterdam.

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http://ulx.tumblr.com/    

Polish Wikipedia has more than 832 000 articles which makes it 5th according to the number of entries, after English, German, French and Italian edition.

I believe that it could have got even more entries if it wasn’t for the annoying Polish administrators. I decided to test how liberal they are by dedicating my first wiki entry to ‘antygwałtki’ -a word being often used by young people. Literaly I could translate it as ‘antirapes’ but in my language it sounds way funnier and kind of cute. We call like this nylon socks which are often worn by old ladies and which are considered bad taste according to the fashion standards. This word became very popular and is used now in everyday language so I thought it would be good to explain its etymology on Wikipedia.

I made my entry very professionaly, I explained what it exactly is, how do we wear it and why it is called like that, I had even attached a picture! Unfortunately the administrators were not as happy as I was with my precise explanation. It took them around two hours to delete it from Wikipedia adding a commentary that the content of my entry is not encyclopedical enough. I must hardly disagree with them. In the English version we can find even insults and curses, why my ‘antirapes’ can’t stay in the Polish version then? I guess that Polish administrators are not enough openminded.

Anyway I decided not to give up and try with another entry. I noticed that on the list of the entries which are not on Wikipedia yet (the list which you can see directly after registering on Wikipedia in order to suggest new users what they could write about) there is a magazine (Aktivist) which is informing about the main cultural events happening in the biggest cities of Poland. I like this magazine a lot and I’m reading it since years so I decided to write about it. Even the fact that somebody already once wrote about it and their post was deleted didn’t discourage me.

I prepared a very professional, in my opinion, article informing about the issue, distribution points, editor in chief, columns description and the target group. After few hours there was already a discussion either my article should be deleted or not. Why? Because the administrator, who according to his profile calls himself an ‘wikipedian’ from choise and profession (which already showed me with whom am I dealing), is accusing me of promoting the magazine. I was suprised because there was nothing I wrote that could suggest it. When i found his discussion board where I could see his concerns about the other articles I was sadly suprised to discover that he always finds all kinf od posts as promoting or advertising, whatever the article would concern. I expressed my opinion, that he should look at the other articles concerning magazines and newspapers and compare them with mine and that if everybody would be thinking the way as he is, then almost nothing could stay on Wikipedia because even an entry about a city we can call a promotion of it. So what now, should we not write about any cities, countries, books or movies? I think what Wikipedia should do now is to have an insight into the people who have rights to decide about what should and should not stay on it.

After what I experienced I have a feeling that it could develop much faster if it wasn’t for such people who have nothing better to do than to control it all day long. After looking at the profiles of the admins I have this, a bit risky to share, thought in my mind. I see now that Wikipedia is a bit addictive, it gives a feeling of power, you can have control over something which a huge number of people is reading and that’s why in my opinion in some cases Wikipedia became some people’s life. They are living their lifes mostly online and they don’t want to share their little Wikipedia kingdom with the others, with the new users, who would also like to become a part of it.

One thing is sure. As long as there will not be a real discussion about new entries available, a discussion long enough to share opinions from all points of view, in order to save some considered as controversial articles, it will not be really possible for Wikipedia to develop. Maybe it’s only problem of the Polish version, but I have a strong feeling that somebody should have a look into Wikiepedia hierarchy and its ‘lords’ because it might has become something totally different that it was supposed to.

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