Thursday, December 30, 2004

Harmony rots

Some places on the net are what you might call cunt magnets. They attract fuckheads as though they were burning the fuckhead flame specially to attract them. I like those places because they're a lot of fun to play in.

Usenet is, of course, a cunt black hole. No cunt can come within its event horizon (more accurately I suppose I should call it the total nonevent horizon) without being sucked in. Some people like to kid themselves that it is not a total waste of their time to hang out in newsgroups but unless you truly do think that being called a fucking idiot by some arsehole like Dr Zen is self-improving, it's as useless as it's possible to be in a world that has made useless an artform.

I have recently been indulging myself in Wikipedia. If you scout around there, you'll find me. I have actually been constructive (there are quite a few pages that are greatly improved because I visited them). But guess what I found? Cunts. A whole swarm of them. A bureaucracy of cunts. People who live only to apply rules. I think they must mostly be students who can't get laid.

Don't get me wrong. I think that attempting to build a great encyclopaedia communally is a tremendous enterprise. The wiki ideal is a wonderful thing and it is exactly the sort of thing that the interwebnet can be for that gives me hope for mankind and so on. (I applaud, too, its founders' insistence on neutrality -- and how they intended that it should be arrived at; and the wiki goal of a civil atmosphere, a collegiate harmony, is a good thing.) Until you actually get involved in it and you realise that the idea has been soured by cunts. You wish you had arrived earlier, because the freedom and enterprise that the concept implies have been stripped away and the method ossified. Vicious demagogues stalk the project, forcing their points of view on all and sundry. It does not have the harmonious hum of a community working towards a common goal. It has the wild clamour of a place where people do not actually get on (having worked out how not to be civil while not actually being rude -- I've always felt it was far more virtuous to be rude in plain terms, so that one's correspondent is not left feeling they have been cheated but knows that they have had a thorough kicking) and are not pursuing one goal but many, often at odds. The poor soul who owns the project believes he is beset by a few trolls, who take advantage of the community's good nature. He doesn't seem to realise that the community is rotten and trolls take advantage of that. He bemoans "POV pushers" (those who try to destroy the neutrality of the articles) but he doesn't realise that the worst offenders are often the established members of the community. Like all establishments, they do not welcome dissent. Part of the problem is that they believe much of what is there is worthwhile and they do not really welcome outsiders who might burn it down if allowed to do what wikis are for: join in. Wikipedia could ban all the people it thinks are trolls, make it harder for anyone new to edit, and become restrictive; it would still be rotten. Only then would it dawn on them what their problem really is.

I wonder sometimes whether all communities are destined to rot in the same way. I don't care, though. I like the clamour. I disagree with Wikipedia's founders that it is not productive. It seems to me that harmony rots and turmoil creates. You want to be a good writer? Seek conflict. Embody it. Because nothing truly grows out of a void but an infinity of possibilities spring from writhing chaos.


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