“Wikipedia is the great postmodern novel” – Qworty and wikipedia as unreliable text

Credit to Salon's Andrew Leonard for the article "Revenge, ego, and the corruption of Wikipedia", which unmasks wiki-troll Qworty and his pattern of anonymous mean-spirited edits to settle old grudges. Qworty – his real name is not important to my discussion of him – was a prolific Wikipedian. He routinely sabotaged the biographies of rival writers by doing things like removing lists of literary prizes they had won after they had died. Because Qworty generally played within the rules of the Wikipedia game, even his most egregious efforts had their defenders:

In the aftermath of the Filipacchi episode, Qworty did not lack for defenders. Qworty, like many other Wikipedia editors, took seriously his responsibility to root out what he considered self promotion, unjustifiable praise or outright puffery. Just the facts, ma’am! He described himself, on his own Wikipedia user page, as particularly focused on identifying and fixing “articles with potential conflicts of interest.” Wherever he found people manipulating Wikipedia to their own advantage, he would intervene.

Andrew Leonard caught wind of Qworty's excesses and decided to investigate further. What he found led to a remarkable revelation: Qworty was playing a game with Wikipedia, a game different from that of neutral points of view and building the knowledge of the world.

Qworty's user page has been blanked, but thanks to Wikipedia's infinite memory, it lives on in past revisions. Before the page was shut down, it was replaced by a  postmodernist manifesto of sorts.

So when you ask “Who is Qworty?” be aware of the affective fallacy and the intentional fallacy. Be aware that not everybody has reacted to my words in the way that you do (because not everybody is like you), and be aware that anybody who is trying to guess my intentions as a writer is blowing the purest gas.

So who is Qworty? Qworty is one of the creators of text on Wikipedia.

And what is Wikipedia? Wikipedia is the great postmodern novel, the book that James Joyce might have written if he had lived long enough and could somehow convert himself into the finite number of monkeys who are writing this postmodern novel that is subtitled “the encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”

Wikipedia is pretty busy telling you what it is not—WP:NOT—so the question must be engaged, just what is Wikipedia, besides a poorly understood post-modern novel in perpetual progress?

The postmodern encyclopedia does not like being described as such, and Qworty (after some thrashing about) has been banned from Wikipedia.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s