News Response #5

“Wikipedia Isn’t Officially a Social Network. But the Harassment Can Get Ugly.”

For the 18 years of Wikipedia’s existence, it has become the epicenter of information in our lives. For the everyday user, they may briefly skim Wikipedia for an overview of a topic or a date of birth. However, for Wikipedia’s editing community, the website has become a “social network where users debate the minutiae of history and modern life, climb the editorial hierarchy, and even meet friends.”

Although Wikipedia can be the birthplace of friendships and relationships, editors also experience harassment. Anonymous harassers hide behind screens and personally attack individuals for no sure reason. In 2016, a trans male was harassed several times over several months in an extremely personally-attacking way. In response to the many complaints about such extraneous harassment, the Wikimedia Foundation has promised new strategies to deal with the abuse. The Foundation began rolling out “sophisticated blocking tools to better control the harassment.”

Wikipedia is especially interesting in its editable nature. Viewed as a source of seemingly objective information, debates may spiral out of control that stem from a minute detail into a personal attack against one another’s character.

The most pervasive of attacks are seen as barriers to gender equity, with a great amount of harassment being “explicitly sexual.”

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