A Wikipedia ban and the wisdom of a 5-year old

I’m sure many people enjoyed an outrageous weekend. Going to a strip club, drinking too much, behaving outrageously and then getting banned from ever returning. That sort of thing.

My version involved almost getting banned from Wikipedia. Technically I’d broken a fundamental Wikipedia rule, reverting an article three times. Since I’m absolutely passionate about the goals of the foundation, which begin Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge, getting banned would be rather sad. The fact that my version of the article was much better than the alternative version wouldn’t have helped my defence!

Skipping forward to Sunday evening, Dorje, in the midst of winning at all costs, said something along the lines of I’m so full of love I love everybody, even baddies.

Wikipedia has a principle of assuming good faith. This very powerful principle implements the idea that by treating people well, they’re likely to treat you well. So, when a user makes a contribution that you deem is not constructive, instead of assuming that they’re an agent of the Illuminati out to corrupt Wikipedia, or some nutter who cons the gullible with their snake oil product, one can work with them. Perhaps the edit was a mistake, or perhaps they are simply well-meaning but not really seeing a perspective beyond their own.

After Dorje’s comments, I thought back to my weekend’s Wikipedia interactions, and loving the baddie I’d been bumping heads with. To my mind s/he was arrogant, aggressive and rude. Except that picturing somone in your mind as arrogant, aggressive and rude is hardly assuming good faith, or conducive to spreading the love. So, I returned, ready to try make peace with this person, even if I couldn’t agree.

I found, to my surprise, that many of their edits were generally constructive, and that I had been in the wrong. In my picturing them as a baddie, I’d overlooked their constructive contributions, and had once even reverted a constructive contribution of there’s under an assumption that it was no good. Since they were perhaps tired, stressed, or picturing me as a baddie too, we’d both been bumping heads, looking at the worst of each other’s activities.

Thanks to Dorje’s contribution, I’m humbled, and for now, all is peaceful again.

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