Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Feminist bias in Wikipedia

I'm not going to write about gamergate per se. Rather, I'm going to write about Wikipedia's attitude towards it.

The article "gamergate controversy" used to start for a rather long time with the sentence: "GamerGate refers to a 2014 video game culture controversy regarding video game journalism, journalistic ethics, and misogyny; the name derives from the Watergate Scandal, and was promulgated as a hashtag on Twitter." While this is a rather simplistic description, it's relatively reasonable and unbiased. This old version also mentioned the death threats attributed to the movement only once and in passing.

The current version of the article, however, has a rather different tone. Now it starts with the sentence: "Gamergate is a controversy regarding sexism in video game culture." That's it. And the rest of the introductory paragraphs are not any better. The part about ethics in videogame journalism is only mentioned in passing, and heavily dismissed quite verbosely with such strong words as "have described the ethical concerns that Gamergate has focused on as being broadly debunked, calling them either trivial, based on conspiracy theories, unfounded in fact, or unrelated to actual issues of ethics in the industry."

The bulk of the article really hammers into the notion of threats and harassment. The word "threat" appears in the article 31 times, and the word "harassment" a whopping 55 times. That's more appearances of those words alone than some articles have words in total. From the 12 (sub)sections in the article, 11 of them are dedicated almost exclusively to those two subjects.

Yes, there is one single section about the journalistic ethics thing... which consists solely of "debunking" and attacking those claims (rather than, you know, giving an unbiased view of the other side). Each pro-gamergate claim is immediately followed with copious amounts of "debunking" and criticism.

The quite lengthy article spends such a disproportionate amount of space to attacking gamergate, that the editors seem to be quite dedicated to make absolutely and completely sure that the reader ends up hating the movement with a passion, and not even consider what the other side actually has to say. (This form of writing has a name: "Poisoning the well." And the article is a perfect example of this.)

Needless to say, the article, and even its talk page, are under the strictest editing lock that wikipedia supports. No discussion is allowed at all. Moreover, and unsurprisingly, the talk page has for those editors who do have rights to edit such warnings as "This page is subject to discretionary sanctions; any editor who repeatedly or egregiously fails to adhere to applicable policies may be blocked, topic-banned, or otherwise restricted."

I have never, ever seen such a strong bias at Wikipedia.

Yet they still maintain being "neutral". How do they argue being so? By saying that they are only citing major publications. Except that there's quite a lot of source bias: Disproportionate amounts of article space (at least 90%, if not more) is dedicated to the anti-gamergate sources, while a small minority of the text is dedicated to the pro-gamergate sources, and even that is invariably immediately followed by an anti-gamergate response, which is the exact opposite of unbiased reporting.

As commented earlier, the article used to be more neutral in content, giving more proportional amount of attention to the diverse aspects of the phenomenon. The current version is nothing more than full-on anti-gamergate bashing without even an inkling of unbiased journalism. (Which, when you think about it, is rather ironic, given the subject.)

The current article is not academic nor encyclopedic. It's activism, in its purest form. It does not seek to inform, it seeks to spread a biased unilateral political message. It's, in other words, propaganda.

My respect for Wikipedia just sunk to an all-time low.

2 comments:

  1. I googled "wikipedia feminist bias" and found this halfway down the second page. The first result was a Wikipedia artcle called "Gender bias on Wikipedia" in which they profusely apologize for not having enough female editors. Everything else up to this result was a series of hateful articles bashing Wikipedia for being misogynist pigs who banned five batty feminist editors or some shit.

    God help us.

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  2. They also deleted involuntary celibacy page completely off of wikipedia. Such is an insult to millions of silent victim who are not attractive/wealthy/tall/or confident enough. Further proves that wikipedia is inherently anti male.

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