Jason Koebler of Motherboard reports that a longtime Wikipedia editor wrote an email to a large public mailing list Tuesday, saying he was contemplating suicide due to online abuse by his fellow Wikipedians. “Nobody on Wikipedia seems to be kind,” he wrote. “You are all so busy power tripping that you forget there is a real, live person on the other side.”
The email was sent to one of the largest community-run Wikimedia mailing lists which has hundreds of subscribers. The editor was upset after an ongoing disagreement with other editors on the “talk” pages of an article about a local politician. The debate devolved into name-calling and he was completely banned from editing the site he had devoted so much time to.
“I am not a Wikipedia editor, but I monitor the community closely, and it’s increasingly obvious that there is a lack of civility even at higher levels,” Jason writes. “For months, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and former Wikimedia Foundation board member James Heilman have been engaged in a public argument about Heilman’s ousting that has often devolved into name-calling and hearsay.”
People from all over the world are relying on Wikipedia and its mission to provide the world with free information of any kind. But it’s important for writers and editors to work in a friendly, giving and familiar environment without having to think about occupational burnouts or even suicide so that Wikipedia can stay and grow. Let’s hope Jimmy Wales will find a way to do so.
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