and bad grammar.
Apologies to those who think otherwise.
There is no greater vehicle in the world for hate than the Internet. Most of the time I can't even read comment sections. They're full of flame wars and trolls.
Trolls are great. While some people try to build bridges, they live under them and fling anonymous insults. Take this brilliant post. It's from Rany Jazayerli's " Rany on the Royals" blog, which is usually about baseball. But he wrote one post on his ancestry, an heroic 19th century Muslim historical figure who risked his life in order to save Christians from massacre. The comments section is full of deserved praise for the writing -- and an anonymous poster who wrote "wouldn't this fit better on a 'Rany On The Sand N-----s' blog?"
Sadly, this is the norm for the Internet. Any attempt at political discourse results in petty name calling. Read the comical comments section here. Good god, people. Or check out any open comments section from a major newspaper. Pure. Hate.
But what really set me off is Wikipedia. Check out this site that a friend steered me to. It's trying to call out Wikipedia for some of its bullshit. The problem is, anyone can create or edit a Wikipedia page. This is great in theory, as it's a way to compile the massive amount of collective knowledge we have. But there's also a lot of collective hate, and it's uneven and irrational. More irrational than even I realized.
Check out this old article from the AV Club, the Onion's non-satirical wing of entertainment junkies. The article is titled, "The scandal of Olivia Newton-John: 12 surprisingly controversial Wikipedia pages."
For the uninitiated, you can set up a Wikipedia page on anything in minutes. You can also edit almost any Wikipedia page just as quickly. When "editors" disagree, there are processes that are meant to mediate what actually gets shown on the page. In the end, consensus usually wins out. In other words, popularity contest. And, on any controversial issue, that is a problem. Partisans can gang up. The truth is determined by a show of hands instead of, you know, the truth.
This isn't a problem for things like why the sky is blue or how many movies Kevin Bacon has starred in. Causes, however, get muddled. Anything that could possibly be controversial gets muddled. And the Wikipedia talk pages are filled with some great hatred. They're often filled more with code words and rhetoric than the above shit, but the hatred is there. In droves.
Why all the hate? I don't know why people hate, but they do. And it's really easy to hate someone you can't see typing from somewhere you don't know, especially when you can remain anonymous. A person isn't really a person when you can make up all the details about him in your mind. You can dehumanize someone you can't see.
Which brings me to my point: Wikipedia should make any registered editor use his real name. Make him get a legitimate account. It's easy for me to walk all over someone named "spankmyballs69." It's much harder if I know his name is John Smith.
I don't know how to implement this. Besides for hate, bad grammar, and porn, the Internet is also for fraud. Just ask my cousin, the Nigerian prince. Maybe make people use their driver's license numbers to verify. Maybe make any senior editor (or whatever they call them) actually interview for a prestigious roll.
I don't know if it'll solve the problems. But I do know that Wikipedia has a problem. It's an Internet-wide problem but a site as influential as Wikipedia has a standard to live up to. It has great power, so it has great responsibility.
Or, to put it in the proper language of the Internet, I can has reponzibilty?