Wikipedia, Politics, and Anonymity Don’t Mix

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4 Responses

  1. Eric Goldman says:

    I’m with you, Dan. Putting aside how anonymity facilitates gaming, I think it’s impossible to gauge content credibility when people don’t own their own words. Eric.

  2. geoff manne says:

    Well, one benefit is that it encourages risk-averse people who are less than certain about their information to contribute. The great thing about Wikipedia is not that its information is perfect (it isn’t), it’s that its information is diverse. I don’t doubt that the costs may outweigh the benefits (we’d need to know something about the elasticity of the supply of information), but I do think that wikis may benefit precisely from encouraging the marginal contributors to contribute, and forced disclosure would deter them somewhat.

    By the way — I posted on this story at Truth on the Market about a week ago, and the post has a great comment from Joe Miller. Click here to see it.

  3. Simon says:

    What is anomynity on Wikipedia, though? I mean, even if a user account becomes a requirement to edit the article (something which completley defeats the underlying purpose of a WIKI, incidentally), why is a person with a user account less anonymous? Because they provided an e-mail address? Lord knows, it’s difficult to get one of those. The business of having user accounts, it seems to me, has nothing to do with anomynity and everything to do with opportunity cost. You aren’t going to stop a determined vandal, but what you can do is make it so that they have to actually make some effort – sign up for a user account and go through that process – before they can vandalize an article.

    I continue to think that anomynity is at the root of most of the problems with the tone of the blogosphere. Notice how most blawgs don’t sound like Daily Kos – and I think part of the reason for that is because most blawgs are written by people who post under their own name (an ancillary reason might be because most blawgs are written by intelligent and articulate folks, the kind of people who sneer at Kos, LGF, etc). What you post can and may come back to you. I blog under my own name, and if there’s something I wouldn’t be willing to stand up and say to the people I know, I should think twice about posting it. It comes down to accountability: when a company feels unaccountable to its customers because it sells so many units or because it has a monopoly, it provides worse service than it might otherwise do, and when people feel like they’re unaccountable, they are unconstrained by conventional notions of decency and decorum.

    So I’m not a fan of anonymous speech, for the exact same reason I’m not a fan of monopolies: because unaccountability is bad.

  4. Paul Gowder says:

    I had to dig up this post for a recent onion article about wikipedia. Wonderful stuff.