Thursday, November 09, 2006
From a WikiEN-l thread
In the middle of a discussion about the need/difficulty of finding sources for popular culture subjects, Jimbo Wales complains about an article about Jeli Mateo. "The text is very much non-NPOV, and I have not yet done a check, but if I had to guess, it is a straight ripoff from another website," Jimbo rants. "This is a classic example of fancruft of the worst sort. There is virtually no chance that this article will ever improve".
After a number of readers respond to the charges of "copyright violation", and the use of the always contentious word "fancruft" (which means, in short, "crap only an extreme fan knows or cares about"), Phil Sandifer wonders if this will "cause problems with systemic bias, whereby American, Canadian, and British popular culture will all be far easier to write about than other countries due to the prevalence of English-language fandoms that generate sources?" Wales responds with the observation, "Will a high quality encyclopedia always be biased towards things that have high quality sources? Yes, I hope so. :)"
The is genuine concern about the possibility that Wikipedia is, far too often, written by nerds for other nerds -- all of whom live in North America or Europe; this occasionally leads to awkward misunderstandings like this one about what men think women want. Commenting about "high quality sources", I can attest that, based on my work with articles about Ethiopia, there are high-quality sources in many parts of the world that the average Wikipedian reader might not think have them. However, the difficulty of accessing these sources increases as a function of their distance from the nearest Internet access point.
"The vast majority of these topics I think would be better suited for a merge," observes Mindspillage. Then she adds that "I said something similar a year ago too, on this very list
(reproduced at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Mindspillage/mergism for what it's worth), and I've mostly given up this issue..."
I wonder what the conversation would look like if Wales had picked Calling shotgun instead as his example.
BTW, the Jeli Mateo article has since been rewritten.