ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Notapedia —

I attend a number of conferences over the months, usually as a speaker and sometimes as an attendee, hanging out, talking, having a good time. I wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be speaking at a convention called Notacon.

Notacon is going to be held in Cleveland, Ohio and will feature a bunch of speakers, events, contests, and all the good stuff that happens when you bring in a bunch of both technical and artistic folks together. It takes place from April 7th through 9th, 2006.

Why mention this so early? Because Notacon currently has a pre-registration period, and for cons that aren’t the size of an ocean liner, pre-registration helps them break even, since they get certain breaks and the ability to add more cool stuff to the proceedings. And this being the third year, they’ve really got the whole process down pretty pat. I always enjoy myself, and I would urge everyone to consider going to it, to try something a little different in the way of technical conferences. And because I’ve grown attached to the event, it’s not that hard to take a little time to tell people about it, how great a time it is, and that they should go. So there, I’ve done it.

My speech/talk I’ll be giving at Notacon is called “The Great Failure of Wikipedia”.

This is, not coincidentally, the same title as one of the entries in this weblog. It was the first time I talked publically about my feelings about the Wikipedia process, and it spawned a few more entries and clarifications. It also got me a lot of traffic, a lot of like, a lot of hate, and generally… a lot.

While a part of me wishes I’d never started writing about Wikipedia, what’s done is done, and the thousands of hits, hundreds of letters and all-around critical attention I’ve gotten because of it is the way of things. So why not go ahead and speak on the subject at a place I consider to be a worthwhile stage to do so?

The target is moving, of course. I’ve been working with a few folks who are investigating Wikipedia from within, and there are major changes afoot. And they’re going to continue. So the speech I intend to give may modify itself between now and April. But I do promise this: it will be fun, and it will be lively. That’s how I give talks.

So there we go, there’s an easy excuse to come to Notacon and watch me make a fool of myself in front of an auditorium of people. Or change their outlook forever. Who knows?

Oh, and one last thing, a small law I’d like to propose. Call it Jason Scott’s Law of Incredible Projects of Great Beauty and Wonder That You Can’t Believe Anyone Would Think Ill Of:

You cannot simultaneously self-aggrandize and self-deprecate your project as it suits your attempt to make people accept what you are doing as right and just.

See you there.

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  1. Simon Pole says:

    Jason, if you have gotten flack over your Wikipedia essays, I’d just like to say thank you for writing them. They certainly articulated the experience I had at Wikipedia. Like you I had to become a “content-defender” against cruising deletionists. I saw two deletion battles through, one after another over the same content I had written. That was the limit for me, and I abandoned Wikipedia.

    My experience was made worse by the fact that I was writing about Canadian information, and Canadian information that was related to blogs.

    To take blogs first. Wikipedia has a strange bias against blogs. Its absolutely bizarre, and editors seem to take pride in deleting blog-related entries. I thought Wikipedia’s great strength was supposed to be its populist currency. But it seems to have its own form of elitism — a form of “cyber-hierarchy,” of which blog information falls below the threshold for inclusion.

    Lastly, the English Wikipedia is dominated numbers-wise by American editors. While this is fine for most entries, it causes a problem when non-American entries are deleted for not being “notable” according to American standards. Needless to say, what constitutes notability in the U.S. — especially when it is based on sheer numbers (most countries have smaller populations than the U.S.) — can not be reasonably applied to information from other countries. Yet this is what the editors cited when they deleted Canadian entries. (The German, Italian etc. Wikipedias seem to be insulated by their unique languages, and I assume it is only non-American anglophones who encounter this problem).

    In the end, Wikipedia provided a good general exposure to how Wikis work. At the moment, I’m putting together a project called the Canadian Encyclopedia of the Internet that will give this information a permanent home ( To avoid Wikipedia’s problems, it looks like editors will be drawn from among party-affiliated Canadian political blogging groups (numbering over 400 bloggers). I am hoping the public group affiliation of individual editors will moderate edit wars, libel etc. by peer pressure.

    Anyways, there’s more at the above link if you’re at all interested. Thanks again for the essays.

  2. Jason, sounds great. Please be sure to record your talk so we can hear it. I’ve enjoyed the other conference talks that you’ve posted. Thanks.

  3. anonymous says:

    Hey Simon, maybe it’s because blogs suck.

    (to be precise, blog authors think a lot of themselves and want to spam their links everywhere)

  4. Simon Pole says:

    Sadly, that’s about the level of argument editors use on Wikipedia.