No WikiLove for Canada Day

nocanadaWikipedia is working on a new feature to allow visitors to express appreciation for its poor beleaguered editors by clicking on a Wikilove icon (a heart) and sending a message of appreciation.

Seems that editors get a lot of negative criticism for some reason — perhaps for assuming authority even over experts by virtue of nothing more than having a lot of time to spend contributing their unpaid labour. This allows them to roost upon pages, reverting the edits of others who think they know better. The audacity of people who are under the strange impression that anyone can just change pages with impunity! Poor editors! No wonder they need our love.

The feature hasn’t been rolled out yet, but even if it was available, I know of one editor who wouldn’t be getting any love from me. On this, American Independence Day, I found myself, a Canadian who celebrated Canadian independence by attending a Canada Day parade in Canmore, wondering how many other countries celebrate independence in July. Wikipedia to the rescue!

Or not. Canada isn’t listed. Nor some other countries. The answer to this seeming omission is to be found on the discussion page. Apparently, to be included, a country’s independence must satisfy a strict set of criteria:

(1) must be a celebration; (2) must be annual; and (3) must commemorate the day on which a country assumed independent statehood. The national holidays of Canada, Australia, and NZ do not meet that third criterion, because the days they respectively celebrate as a national holiday commemorate the day of becoming dominions.

Reminds me of an episode of Futurama where resident bureaucrat Hermes Conrad scores a point over another bureaucrat who didn’t stamp a form the correct number of times. The senior bureaucrat praises him, saying ” Bureaucrat Conrad, you are technically correct — the best kind of correct. I hereby promote you to grade 37.”

Perhaps instead of this WikiLove nonsense, Wikipedia could institute a similar system of bureaucratic grades allowing editors to rise by defending the integrity of the rules above and beyond all reason. And heaven forbid that the criteria for inclusion should be modified to admit major nation states such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Many, many criticisms have been leveled against Wikipedia, from lack of expertise, to copyright infringement, to its anarchic nature (as though that were a bad thing), but the criticism which is most important and which comes up repeatedly on Slashdot whenever a Wikipedia related story is posted has to do with the defacto ownership of pages by editors who routinely delete edits by others, not because they’re vandalism or off topic or whatever, but because the editor personally disagrees with them. The comments under the recent Slashdot posting regarding WikiLove are typical — the highest rated mostly address rogue editing, rather than the subject of the story.

Well, the comment by user rbrausse is an exception: “I don’t get the idea behind such features – where are dislike, -1, WikiHate?”

Good point, rbrausse. When the WikiLove interface pops up, you can choose an image such as a kitten or bottle of beer to go with your message. If there was a WikiHate interface, I think the exclusion of Canada Day would warrant a pile of poo.

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