The Bizarre Chip on Nick Carr’s Shoulder

by on March 4, 2007

As Doug Lay notes, Jimbo Wales has asked Wikipedia user Essjay to step down. He says he didn’t know he was using his fake credentials in content disputes until yesterday.

Nick Carr acknowledges this development and then proceeds to sneeringly compare contributing to Wikipedia to playing Dungeons and Dragons:

In the byzantine world of Wikipedia, with its arcane language, titles, and rules and its multitude of clans, Essjay wore the robes of a wizard. He was allowed to stand beside – and to serve – Jimbo the White. Together, they would bring “knowledge” to the unenlightened masses. But then the Wizard Essjay tried to slip through the gates of the real. Now the game is up.

I don’t understand why “knowledge” is in scare quotes here. Wikipedia really does make knowledge available to the masses in a way that it’s never been available before. They’re performing a valuable public service for which we should all be grateful. Yet inexplicably, he seems to delight in mocking them. (It’s a little bit ambiguous, but in context he seems to be talking about all Wikipedians, not just Essjay.) I wonder if he’ll next do a series of posts about how people who volunteer in public libraries are losers who can’t get laid.

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