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Life as I'm learning it

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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an ag├Ęd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Spare Wikipedia, please!

Ravikiran has issued a call to the blogging community to write "the facts" about IIPM into its Wikipedia page. His idea in doing this is to save all prospective seekers of information, by providing them with the right information.

I appreciate the ends he is striving for (the right to correct information), but I am not in favour of the means of achieving it. My reasons are as follows.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia; there is a limit to the information it can contain and provide. The current entry contains juicy details about what has transpired over the past few days. To write such things into one's own blog is fine, but to treat Wikipedia as an extension of one's blog is tantamount to sacrilege. Also, the issue is only a few days old, and is still evolving. Given this, it is premature to edit an encyclopedia to contain all this.

Moreover, concentrating on peripheral issues like Wikipedia, moves the focus away from the main issue. It helps to ponder for a moment what we are fighting for, and who. Though our writing might express an anger at IIPM, which we are slighting freely, IIPM is not the central part of the problem. We are not fighting to establish that IIPM is not as good as it claims to be. We are fighting for our right to free speech, and the threats posed to the same, by some elements. Victory for us lies not in maligning the institute, but in establishing the fact that IIPM was wrong in threatening Gaurav and Rashmi the way they did.

Wikipedia is unique, because it is the only example I know of a totally decentralised system (of such a magnitude) that works like a dream, serving as a ready and precise reference for any topic under the sun. Let us not misuse such a clockwork-like system.

Fight splogs. Fight for freedom of expression. But please, please spare Wikipedia.

(And just in case, the posts still are the way they are, you can expect me to mark them for deletion.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right, even I found the idea of wiki a bit over the edge....

10/11/2005 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. Wikipedia is amazing and adding an entry on IIPM would only contaminate it. Also, it is not a source of information for people joining IIPMs so it wouldn't help fight IIPM in any major way.

10/11/2005 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger swami said...

I think people have the right to correct information. They also have the ability to choose between bias and neutrality.

Wikipedia is an excellent forum where even the common man can express his opinions and if supported with credible evidence, will only lead to more enlightenment for the less informed. Note that "credible evidence" is the key. I am sure there will be thousands of opinionated articles in Wikipedia and those that have evidence to support their stand have a higher chance of acceptance. So as far as I see it, it is all fair and good.

Wikipedia allows for writing about current events with a caveat that the news is still evolving (as in this case). It also allows a user like you to put up a notice saying this article might reflect biased views. So I fail to see your problem at all. It seems a free and fair trial for the actions of IIPM. What is your concern?

Moreover, the issue is not just free speech. It only became that recently. The issue originally was wrong advertising. Gaurav and Rashmi were not fighting free speech when they posted about IIPM. So your claim that this is just another "free speech" issue is incorrect.

I really appreciate Ravikiran and other blogger's efforts in this. I only request a sincere response - so that it does not become a blog-war of sorts. Like what happened in Rashmi's blog. If we continue to monitor the article and edit exaggerations and half-truths whichever side they come from, I truly believe that the article will become an excellent guide for those looking for information on this institute.

And those who look for info deserve that. Banning it from Wikipedia and asking them to go to blogs does not seem to be the answer.

10/12/2005 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldnt have said it better, Swami i am with you.

10/13/2005 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger Vijay Krishna Narayanan said...

Swami & Sakshi, as I have mentioned a few hundred zillion times now, I stand by Ravi's intention of the right to correct information. But not his methods.

By tampering with Wikipedia, we are only lending credence to those who argue that Wikipedia is not where they will look into if they need clear and unbiased information. I suggest you read Dilip D'Souza's entry on the same (link).

Swami, I can't believe that people have the ability to distinguish bias and neutrality. If I knows zilch about something, and read an article on the same, how will I know what to believe.

Wikipedia is not the place to express opinions. An encyclopedia must contain facts. How will you feel if I edit the Abraham Lincoln article saying "I don't like him!" I can reel off point after point, but does that matter?

Swami, the issue here is FREE SPEECH. If people from across the world are supporting Gaurav, Rashmi and others that they have never met or spoken to, then it is not because Gaurav's command over Hindi or Rashmi's dressing sense. If they had posted articles criticising the IITs and if there was credibility in those articles, and IIT hit out at them, then the selfsame bloggers would have done the same thing. IIPM is not the issue. It is the spark that created the fire. What do we fight now, the spark or the fire? The larger issue is FREE SPEECH, not IIPM.

Just go over the Wikipedia article taking a very neutral stance. Read it as if you are reading it the first time, and don't know anything about the institute. I'm sure you would be stung the passage's critical tone. I agree that IIPM has earned it, no doubt. But that certainly does not warrant an absolutely critical article.

I understand that Wiki also allows for evolving issues; I'm not contesting that. I only say let things settle down a bit. Let's sleep over it and try a more balanced view of this. We've not even heard their side either. There may not be much to it, but still...

The last thing I desire is a blog war on this. Precisely why I'm not indulging in an edit war, either.

10/13/2005 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger swami said...

I can give a detailed response to every point that you have raised above. But going by the general tone of your arguments, it seems to me that you have a bias towards the "sanctity" of Wikipedia. You seem to be emotionally attached to Wiki and you think this episode is a damage to it. And that, I think is misplaced and irrelevant to this issue and hence there will be no use in me giving a counter.

I suggest you go and read the Wiki article on issues like Kashmir to get the essence of what I mean. It is very difficult to talk about Kashmir without highlighting the controversies surrounding it.

And if the tourism dept of Kashmir complains that it is highlighting the issues rather than the beauty of Kashmir, then all we can say is, 'too bad, but thats the way it is'.

Same here. An article about IIPM has to talk about controversies surrounding it as an article on Kashmir should. And you are free to question the POV like you have done but asking for people to "not to do that" or to "delete" the article is a misunderstanding of the concept of an encyclopedia, particularly Wikipedia.

10/13/2005 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger swami said...

I quote,
"By tampering with Wikipedia, we are only lending credence to those who argue that Wikipedia is not where they will look into if they need clear and unbiased information"

And I ask you the same question I have asked Dilip.

Is that a goal you have given Wikipedia?

10/13/2005 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Vijay Krishna Narayanan said...

That is not a goal that I've given to Wikipedia. But that is an implicit assumption I make. Why else would I want to consult Wikipedia?

I won't buy the world's best car and assume that it would run without fuel. Would you?

10/13/2005 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Anand K said...

I am saying this offhand but I think some safeguards r built into wiki.. to make sure that too much wrong info doesnt get posted.. lets hope that a noble cause doesnt slander a great reference tool!!

10/16/2005 11:09:00 PM  

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