Late last week, one of my students asked me what had happened to my Wikipedia page. I said I didn’t know, but upon investigation found that I had been deleted. Nine days after I announced Wikipedia Knows Nothing, a Wikipedia Czar called a tribunal, and within a week my page had been executed. While this could be a coincidence, after a decade of no interest in my page at all it certainly seems like a retaliatory gesture – and one, I might add, that would violate the values and policies of the Wikipedia if that were its motivation. In a brutal irony, it is this kind of abuse that Wikipedia Knows Nothing warns about, while maintaining the inherent value and potential of wikis as tools. It is far more a book against double blind peer review than against the Wikipedia, and given that the manuscript was available at the time for any reader to offer feedback on, the implications don’t look flattering for the masked Czar in question.
Now it may be that I am indeed no longer ‘Notable’, since Wikipedia has undergone considerable notability-inflation in the ten years since I was first declared ‘Notable’ in 2006. But it’s also apparent that the tribunal did not really take into account that notability is a disjunctive operation: the decision to delete was made by saying I didn’t meet the criteria for academic notability (which is an arguable, but defensible position). But I was originally declared notable for my creative work in games, which is a criteria that doesn’t appear to have been applied at all. Not to mention that I can’t shake the feeling that the ‘research’ done to establish my status was essentially a few quick Google searches. It must be asked: are the random people who happen to respond within a week the likely domain experts on an article? This implies that rather than the Wikipedia genuinely being something ‘anyone can edit’, the power to make lasting edits rests with those who edit daily… in that respect, the claim that ‘anyone can edit the Wikipedia’ is a bit like the claim that ‘anyone can become the Catholic Pope’.
Anyway, if you can have a government in exile, you can have a page of Wikipedia in exile – and here’s mine, simply entitled Wikipedia in Exile: Chris Bateman. I’m still not happy with this entry, alas. I waited five years between declared ‘Notable’ and getting any content – which I had to add myself (along with the self-awarded badge of shame this action required), and I just threw in everything that I thought would be good raw material for a future editor to prune, not realising that no-one would ever stop to give it a proper edit. That’s the trouble with a self-selective encyclopaedia: you get thousands of pages about minor Marvel comic characters, and myriad conspicuous gaps and elisions. In the eyes of the Wikipedia, I am now less significant than Bird-brain, who appeared in a minor role in just seven issues of The New Mutants between 1987 and 1988. That fact in itself is good for a chuckle.