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Wiki-fiddler, wiki wanker and pediaphile are derisory terms for Wikipedia editors invented by journalist Andrew Orlowski of the online IT newspaper The Register[1].

Orlowski has written several generally hostile articles about Wikipedia in the online IT newspaper The Register. In these articles, Orlowski called Wikipedia editors "wiki-fiddlers"[2], or "wiki wankers", and "pediaphiles", perhaps a pun on pedophiles. Supposed characteristics of a Wiki-Fiddler include

  1. making pointless edits, such as adding commas, merely in order to increase edit counts, and move up the "hierarchy" of Wikipedia,
    Although the project has no shortage of volunteers, most add nothing: busying themselves with edits that simply add or takeaway a comma. These are housekeeping tasks that build up credits for the participants, so they can rise higher in the organization.[3]
  2. having little expertise,
  3. driving out people with actual knowledge of a topic,
    We increasingly hear of experts who attempt to contribute to the project being repelled. If you're an expert, and you want to help Wikipedia, be prepared for months of fighting - usually with people who don't know what they're talking about.[4]
  4. adding irrelevant material to articles,
  5. being a
    small coterie of self-selecting wiki fiddlers[5],
  6. youth. Wiki-Fiddlers are described as being "children" and "spotty teenagers". Wikipedia is described as the "children's encyclopedia".

Wiki-fiddlers are also accused of misrepresenting subjects by populating Wikipedia with minor trivia rather than central facts. Orlowski points out, in particular, Wikipedia's entry on Buckminster Fuller and its focus on Eric Drexler:

For example, if you consult the world's most useless online text, the captive Wikipedia, you'll see Fuller's entry is a plug for Eric "AI" Drexler.[6]

and the lack of an article on Mary Midgley:

Needless to say, there's no entry for Mary Midgley[7]

Five hours after this article was published, an entry in Wikipedia for Mary Midgley was created.

The consensus building process of Wikipedia is also ridiculed. Orlowski describes Wikipedia in terms of "monkeys trying to type Shakespeare" and quotes a statement

a source whose organizing principle appears to be that twenty jackasses make an expert.[8]

To support his case, Orlowski also quotes from articles[9] by Robert McHenry, former editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica, in which McHenry describes the gradual degeneration of an article on Alexander Hamilton during a process of multiple edits:

In fact, the earlier versions of the article are better written overall, with fewer murky passages and sophomoric summaries. Contrary to the faith, the article has, in fact, been edited into mediocrity.

and by Nicholas G. Carr[10] in which Carr quotes from the Jane Fonda and Bill Gates pages of Wikipedia. The response of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is also described.[11]

Excellent article! Well balanced and thoughtful! Ok, well, entertaining anyway.

According to the results of Google searches[12], Orlowski's term wiki-fiddler has not achieved widespread currency beyond its originator. However, it has been adopted in other The Register articles[13].

Orlowski has also commented on problems with self-edited biographies on Wikipedia[14]. Beginning with the cases of John Seigenthaler Sr., falsely labelled a Kennedy assassin in a Wikipedia article, and Jens Stoltenberg, similarly falsely labelled a paedophile in a Wikipedia article, he goes on to contrast the experiences of three people who tried to edit their own biographical articles, Daniel Brandt, Jimmy Wales and Cory Doctorow, and demonstrates that Wikipedia is inconsistent in allowing or denying users the right to edit biographies of themselves. He quotes Daniel Brandt on the inconsistent application of the Wikipedia rules:

All the rules are cancelled if they like you, and all the rules are enforced up the hilt if they hate you.

and suggests

Trying to massage one's reputation out on the toxic wastelands of the web can go one of two ways. If the attempt is successful, it leaves you looking as foolish and vain as Doctorow. If unsuccessful, it guarantees an energy-sapping defeat.

Orlowski went on to find fault with Wikipedia for failing to help track down the defamer of Siegenthaler[15] entitled "There's no Wikipedia entry for moral responsibility". A Wikipedia article on moral responsibility was created shortly afterwards.

He also critically reviewed a favourable article in the science journal Nature on Wikipedia[16] and claimed in another article that Wikipedia's article on paedophiles is

perhaps rather more sympathetic than an average parent or judge might be to this predilection[17]

External links[edit]

References/External links[edit]