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My article on Wikipedia is up on

I baked it just for you. As the title suggests (“Wikipedia’s Awkward Adolescence”), I tried to hit the middle ground; like Google and the Big O, Wikipedia isn’t going away any time soon, so I’d rather be constructive than dismissive, especially for a tool I use every day.
Wikipedia is a hugely fascinating culture; to my mind — though this wasn’t the article in which to spell this out — the editorial culture reminds me most of church groups that have developed extralegal rules. Squint just enough, and it’s just St. Margaret’s Guild all over again. (All religious organizations have these guilds — usually women’s groups or men’s groups, though sometimes organized around other themes. Some religious leaders speculate it’s just one organization busing the same two dozen people between churches, temples, and mosques.)

This isn’t criticism; it’s an observation about human behavior. We seek structure. Everything is not miscellaneous. We want to alphabetize, we want pecking orders, and every organization coalesces into leaders, followers, and (where the writers sit) kibitzers.

But for fifteen years I’ve been under strict orders not to write about church life (something that makes me wonder if it’s time to try fiction), so we’ll let it stand right there. If I wrote a book about Wikipedia, though, I would insist on having a chapter called St. Margaret’s Guild, editor permitting.

(Oh, and there’s a glitch in the article I’m trying to get fixed; Clay Shirky suddenly pops up sans attribution.)

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