Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Republic of China (Taiwan)

Without delving too much into politics, let's just start off by saying that Wikipedia has two articles, one on Taiwan, the island, and another on the Republic of China, the country ("wayward province," if you're into the hilarious PRC interpretation).

In any article that mentions either of these topics, there's an incessant edit war over the link. One group obessively changes any mention of "Taiwan" to "Republic of China." The next group stops by and changes it to "Republic of China (Taiwan)." Then it'll usually get reverted back and forth between those two, until somebody eventually changes it back to "Taiwan" and starts the whole cycle over again. What's more, it seems to me that every fool who gets into these little wars is absolutely convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is evil.

The arguments clutter up page histories; instead of talking things over, people edit war. Instead of setting up a central discussion forum, people feel the need to re-hash the same battle across countless individual pages.

This is just one more case of ridiculous nationalism. Instead of having the argument they clearly want to be having ("Is Taiwan a country, or isn't it?") they waste their days away arguing over what we're going to call the thing. As with any discussion involving issues of international strife, every side wants the other sides banned for trolling and "POV-pushing."

Remember, the only neutral opinion is mine.

I suppose this is one example of an area where Wikipedia hasn't scaled so well -- it's prohibitively difficult to get everybody together into a forum of the nature that solves this widespread of an issue, and once they're all there, the discussion becomes difficult to manage. It becomes the proverbial tl;dr. Many Wikipedians helpfully respond to such wordy exchanges between large numbers of people by saying, among other things, "Oh, consensus is difficult to call, on this one. I see lots of productive discussion. Keep it up!" Off the top of my head, deletion debates on Esperanza and Fromowner were reaching this level. Certainly RfA reform has already passed it. Which isn't too surprising, really -- get a hugely visible website, pick an issue a lot of people at that site care about, and presto, you'll get a huge discussion with (left unchecked) little in the way of direction or conclusion.

It's all enough make me long for a few more Pastafarians, terribly offended that we're calling their deeply held, personal beliefs a "parody" religion.

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