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User:The Cunctator/HomePage Vandalism

< User:The Cunctator

Simon, having a page giving the history of Wikipedia HomePage vandalism will only encourage vandals. I imagine the reason for doing it was to let people know what the vandalism was. But why do people need to know? Let's stay focused on building an encyclopedia, not on the social foibles that inevitably will accompany such a project. --LMS

One could argue that Wikipedia itself is a legitimate topic of an encyclopedia, and fartboy's opus seems to be an episode in Wikipedia's history which is worth of mentioning. "Why do people need to know" is a rather strange question IMHO. --AxelBoldt

I strongly disagree. A history of Wikipedia vandalism would become a "hall of fame" of sorts for vandals. People who engage in such activities do so mainly for the reaction it produces. They best way for us to deal with vandalism is to fix it and forget it. No reaction = no gratification for the vandal. --Stephen Gilbert

Precisely my thinking, Stephen. Axel, the point is not censorship of viewpoints we hate, but public relations and efficiency: if we are known as a place where vandals are welcome, they will come in droves and we will waste our time, and our reputation will suffer. Vandalism hurts the project, pure and simple. --LMS

An alternate perspective is the MIT hacking culture, where what most would call "vandalism" is there called "hacks", and celebrated. The law makes no distinction between the creative and witty hacks and ugly vandalism; the distinction is only cultural.

If such a record on Wikipedia serves in any way as a hall of fame, then what would most likely happen over time is that such vandalism would get more and more baroque and artistic over time, until we'd be talking about HomePage "hacks" in the sense of the beautiful projects the anonymous MIT hackers create. If there were a "hall of fame", then the kiddies motivated to play around with the home page would be shamed if their change was deemed puerile and dull.

MIT doesn't suffer because it allows such hacks to happen; rather, it flourishes. This attitude is foreign to most institutions, but it doesn't have to be foreign to Wikipedia, if we so desire. --TheCunctator

Well, I would be opposed to testing out your hypothesis that Wikipedia might "flourish" as a result of allowing, or perhaps even encouraging (I'm not sure which Cunctator prefers), vandalism. I don't see how such hacks would benefit the project of creating an encyclopedia. --LMS
Cunctator -- The MIT idea of a hack includes artistry, creativity, and difficulty. Vandalizing Wikipedia consists of clicking a link, adding nonsense and trashing current content. There's no comparison between the two. Your suggestion that the vandals "would be shamed if their change was deemed puerile and dull" is off the mark; their changes are considered puerile and dull now, but that doesn't seem to bother them. To archive such "contributions" would only promote such activity. Check out the old website defacement mirror at Attrition.org (http://www.attrition.org/mirror/attrition/) for an endless bucketful of stupid, inelegant "hacks". It also should be noted that when the Attrition mirror was running, it served as a defacement hall of fame, with the kiddies defacing web sites simply to be mentioned in the mirror.

We need to focus on our primary goal: to build a free, comprehensive encyclopedia, and in the process build a community of people dedicated to this goal. You speak of the "beautiful projects the anonymous MIT hackers create". I consider all Wikipedians to be hackers in the grandest sense of the word, all in their different areas of interest. The beautiful projects I want to see here are ones that support our goal. Projects like Magnus' encyclopedia wiki software, and your own September 11 pages. Wikipedia vandalism does not fall into this catagory, no matter how witty or artistic it may be. --Stephen Gilbert

I broadly agree with you, Stephen. Nevertheless, Larry's removing of the vandalised versions from Cunctator's own subpage deeply disturbs me. Traditionally personal pages and subpages are refactored by their owners. This is the kind of precedent I don't like, to put it mildly. --AV

Indeed. I don't like it either. I just restored them. --Stephen Gilbert

Vandalised Wikipedia HomePages (http://www.geocities.com/sj_kissane/vandalised-homepages)

Gosh, if it was my name on a page like that, I'd want it off my own server, too. Let's cut LMS a little slack on this one. Ed Poor

See also : The Cunctator

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