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Reader Comments (15)

Posted: Jan 6th 2009 6:08PM (Unverified) said

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This is the primary problem with Wikipedia, especially moving further into the age of Internet.

Not everything can be or really even NEEDS to be sourced. Need a source for the information? Launch the game! It's as simple as that, really.

Wikipedia runs into this with many of their articles that reference video games. I'm not sure how much more of a source is needed than the game itself.

And when it comes to controversy, many video game controversies are sparked in forums, which are often not very reliable over time as they are usually fan driven and those that aren't see threads get archived after a period of time.

It's a failure on Wikipedia's end that I don't see the organization correcting any time soon.

Posted: Jan 6th 2009 7:17PM (Unverified) said

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If you want to produce an online encyclopedia of information which can't be sourced to a reliable source independent of the subject, then feel free to start such a project.

That's not what Wikipedia is, though.

What you want is probably better suited for a specialist wiki - there are hundreds of them on www.wikia.com - than a general-purpose encyclopedia, especially one with the standards Wikipedia attempts to enforce.
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Posted: Jan 6th 2009 7:49PM (Unverified) said

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@ The Claw

I do agree with your comment about specialist wikis, it's my opinion that a "milestone" entry should be herald with a little bit of leniency.
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Posted: Jan 6th 2009 8:05PM (Unverified) said

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Much of the history of virtual environments (and, indeed in this case, MUDs) pre-dates the Web, so there's not necessarily any Web-based material to link to as references.

Posted: Jan 6th 2009 8:56PM (Unverified) said

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one problem with things from twenty years ago is that it is close enough to be notable to us, but far enough back in time that finding sources of commentary via the internet is difficult.

perhaps someone with the Dragon Magazine Archive pdfs could find some citations to use? otherwise, how do you determine what really was consensus views during that time frame and what's just personal opinion? you basically need to find someone with all the old magazine archives still in their garage and a lot of research time on their hands.

Posted: Jan 7th 2009 2:57AM (Unverified) said

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I am the owner of Threshold, and first I want to thank Mr. Brennan for bringing even more attention to this issue.

I don't want to spam the comment section here with tons of details, but the short version of why this situation has been so troubling is:

1) MUD history is most definitely notable, and it obviously had a huge impact on the growth of the internet and online gaming. Is is absurd to consider MUDs "not notable", and it is a tragedy to purge their history.

2) The shocking amount of admin/editor abuse on Wikipedia is amazing. They have an insular little cabal of cronies that make sure no outsider can EVER get a fair hearing on anything. If someone from this little clique wants something deleted, its going to happen. Rules and policies are irrelevant. In the AfD for Threshold, the final vote was 17 delete, 22 KEEP, and yet it got deleted. The rule says there must be CONSENSUS for delete, or else it is kept. What kind of consensus do you have when LESS people want it deleted than want it kept?

3) Before the article went up for AfD, an admin (known as Black Kite) banned a ton of people that had worked on the article originally. Once they were all banned, they proposed deletion. Obviously, this was done to minimize the number of people who might vote KEEP.

4) When the AfD began, almost everyone who showed up to vote KEEP was accused of being a "sockpuppet", and also got banned - again by this Black Kite admin. The efforts they went through to squelch opinion was just amazing.

5) Right now, Wikipedia is dominated by delete-happy editors because that is the only way to "move up the ranks." To get considered for adminhood, you need a lot of "contributions." Well, there aren't a lot of things to make new articles about, since most of the obvious ones have been made. Plus, by golly, its hard work to CREATE THINGS. So the easiest way to make a name for yourself is get a lot of stuff deleted in the dishonesty name of "Improving Wikipedia!"

Anyway, I'll cut it short there. There are a lot of places you can read the full details of the incident, here are a few:

http://tinyurl.com/8gwv8h

http://www.muckbeast.com


-Michael Hartman
Threshold RPG
http://www.thresholdrpg.com



Posted: Jan 7th 2009 5:31AM LaughingTarget said

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This appears more complex than presented. Sure, there may be some posturing, but Wikipedia is not a place to make fortunes or make a name fir yourself, so these black ops conspiracy theories seem far fetched to me.

The basic premise is that MUDs have little support for claims made. Concensus is an absolutely worthless method to determine anything that involves objective detail, facts remain facts, even if a majority says otherwise. The 17 delete and 22 keep is hardly a concensus, I agree, but we come to a different conclusion. A simple majority is not enough to keep data online. The base assumption for any information is that it is false until otherwise shown true. But a thin majority isn't enough. Wiki should clarify this, but a 17-22 decision is enough to delete data in my book.

What I find amusing is this assumption that there is a broad conspiracy to silence MUDs from history. For one, Wikipedia is hardly an authoritative source or the keeper of history. More importantly, no one has anything to gain from revising the MUD out of existence. What we have is a poorly documented subject that relief too heavily on a medium that is easily destroyed for record keeping. Electronic data is unreliable for long term storage. Formats change, hardware breaks, data corrupts. Backups in a different form are needed. I doubt Threshold printed out its history and put it in a three ring binder for safe keeping. The history you remember? Unless chronicled by a scribe of sorts, it's gone forever. Wikipedia is a site where anyone can say anything. What makes your claim on your own game stronger than mine? I've never played you MUD but my interpretation of your game's history is just as strong as yours. It's my word vs yours and since neither of us can back up what we say, then both of them are equally worthless even though yours is true and mine is fabrication. The same goes with any other MUD.

The MUD disappearing from historic record due to poor documentation wouldn't be the first, isn't the only and won't be the last thing to vanish. Entire civilizations have risen and fallen with little more than a few scraps of broken pottery to mark its existence. MUDs not getting a Wikipedia entry is trivial in comparison, especially when Wikipedia could also be a victim to the ravages of time.
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Posted: Jan 7th 2009 7:39PM (Unverified) said

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I wish I had saved more physical documentation of Threshold's notability, but it isn't like we had nothing. We had multiple mentions in published magazines (Computer Games Magazine, and Computer Gaming World), awards from major MUD related web sites, and direct mention from the most noteworthy experts in the field. Most of those were still directly viewable online, and they passed WP:V (verifiability).

The problem is the current obsession with the vague "notability" idea. The reason for this is editors who want to boost their contribution score so they can be made an administrator. It is harder to create than destroy, so they destroy. MUDs are an easy target, because of the reasons you mention, and the community is small enough that it usually cannot generate a lot of attention. That is why MUD history IS in danger, because MUD entries get targeted OFTEN.

And I cannot stress enough the enormous abuses by the Wikipedia staff and admins. At every turn, they outright ignored and directly violated their own policies. From banning people without ever giving a warning first, to accusing people of "sockpuppetry" with ZERO evidence, to closing the AfD 1-2 days early, to substituting one's own judgement for the consensus (or lack thereof) in the discussion, to ..... well I could list about 20 more but I'll stop.

Wikipedia is a cesspool and a failure. Larry Sanger (the co- and true founder of Wikipedia) noted this years ago, but it is taking the rest of the world a while to realize the same truth.

-Michael
Threshold RPG
http://www.thresholdrpg.com

Posted: Jan 7th 2009 9:11PM LaughingTarget said

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Fine, so Wikipedia is a cesspool. I don't use it for anything but looking up celebrities and television show synopses. I agree. This is exactly why I'm confused about this whole thing. Why do you care if Wikipedia, just one tiny bit of the armpit that is the Internet, carries your game? That's what competition is for. There are other wiki sites out there.

Wikipedia is not a great historical archive. It isn't the Great Library of Alexandria, if it dies, it won't matter. We aren't losing anything but a centralized clearinghouse that sends us to where the real data is stored.

Again, why does this matter to anyone? Wikipedia is a worthless resource for anything that isn't pop culture and pop culture isn't exactly something we need to put effort into chronicling. If Wikipedia wants to do this, more power to them. Talk with your feet and take it elsewhere. Being the Internet, that's incredibly easy to do, just change the letters in the address bar.
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Posted: Jan 8th 2009 12:05PM (Unverified) said

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Fighting Wikipedia is wasting time that could otherwise be spent researching and writing about MUD history. Just move.

Posted: Jan 7th 2009 6:36PM (Unverified) said

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Hi all,

I've not truly followed the issue as well as some of you may have, but having read this article, I can't help but feel the need to lend my support to the cause. I just can't sit idly by as the history of online gaming is erased due to what appears to be the personal vendetta of a very petty Wikipedia administrator, in his drive to purge all mention of MUDs.

Please know that even though MUDs disappearing from history wouldn't be the first nor the last incidence of 'rewriting history', there is absolutely no reason why it should be allowed to happen. There is a fight on our hands, and we should do everything we can in order to preserve our history. For without history or experience, how could we ever hope to grow as a culture?

I've since written an article on this very subject, if any of you are inclined to read it. Please know that this isn't an issue that you stand alone on, and like all history, I believe that it should be never be allowed to be eroded by the sands of time.

http://hellforge.gameriot.com/blogs/Hellforge/Erasing-History-Wikipedia-Wiping-All-Traces-of-MUD

Posted: Jan 7th 2009 10:23PM (Unverified) said

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The drama continues.

As the story gets more traction, and gets picked up by more media outlets, the "powers that be" at Wikipedia are getting annoyed.

Now they are trying to retaliate against me personally in a number of ways.

* There have been 3 or 4 different attemtps to get me re-banned since the story started getting so much attention.

* They have started an "RfC" (request for comments) about my user account, but the RfC outright violates their own rules for an RfC. An RfC is supposed to be about a single incident that at least 2 people tried to resolve. But the RfC about my user account is just a ton of people piling on about what a bad guy I am.

Throughout this process, I have been constantly amazed by the endless methods available to powerusing insiders to crush anyone not part of their "inner circle." Every few hours they unleash a new one, and sometimes I just have to sit back and marvel at it.

-Michael
http://www.thresholdrpg.com

Posted: Jan 9th 2009 9:53AM (Unverified) said

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While I do think that Wikipedia is largely a waste of time, it's also still viewed as the foremost compendium on internet history, so it's very important to want to defend your rights or risk having important history relegated into obscurity.

Posted: Jan 10th 2009 11:16AM (Unverified) said

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I think you are right on the money, Ian.

I would love to just ignore the whole thing, laugh at the nitwits at Wikipedia, and move on. But Wikipedia's google placement and dominant position as repository of internet-era information makes this more important than it should be.

Incidentally, there is a deletion review (DRV) going on about the matter. As soon as votes started piling up to reverse the deletion, the bans started up again. I was recently banned for making the point that people who actually believe in their opinions aren't afraid to face arguments from the other side. Amazing. The Wikipedian powers that be will stoop to anything.

-Michael
Threshold RPG
http://www.thresholdrpg.com

Posted: Jan 11th 2009 10:53AM (Unverified) said

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I finally had time to write up an article with the full details of the incident, from beginning to end (well, end at the time of the writing). You all might find it an interesting read:

http://www.brighthub.com/computing/windows-platform/articles/22166.aspx

Thanks for keeping up with the issue, everyone!

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