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The inventor of blogging, podcasting, RSS and a bunch of other things has a post up about what’s wrong with Wikipedia — as he sees it — and as usual the post says a whole lot more about Dave than it does about Wikipedia. Not that there aren’t certain things about Wikipedia that could use some work, because there are. Like any social-media effort, it has its flaws. But I think most of what Dave doesn’t like about Wikipedia has more to do with him than it does with the encyclopedia itself.

The problems seem to revolve around Dave’s entry — something he has complained a fair bit about in the past — and how it doesn’t give him enough credit for the things he invented (or helped to standardize or popularize, depending on how you look at it). But of course, Dave doesn’t describe it that way: he describes it asa vendetta.” That says it all right there. For Dave, there’s no such thing as a difference of opinion — there’s what Dave believes, and then there are the unbelievers who want to destroy what is good and right. He blames the Wikipedia model for:

“Usurping authority, and replacing it with anonymity and giving power to those who who tear down creativity, to remove the incentive to share, unless you’re completely selfless and don’t mind if others take credit for your accomplishments. That’s not the nature of creativity, btw, creative people fiercely insist on credit, fight for it.”

See how that works? A different opinion of how RSS developed, or podcasting, or whatever isn’t a difference of opinion. It’s “giving power to those who tear down creativity.” But is Dave right when he says that the nature of creativity is to “fiercely insist on credit?” I guess for some people it is. Lots of creative people I know do it because they feel compelled to create, and because they want people to experience something — not because they want to “fight for” credit.

Dave then cites the U.S. constitution for support, arguing that Wikipedia should allow people who don’t like their profiles to “confront their accusers.” As my blogging friend Ian Betteridge notes in the comments on Dave’s post, this pretty much sums up why Dave is wrong about Wikipedia. The whole point of the model is to find the middle ground, the common ground, the mututally agreed-upon version of events — not for people to pursue vendettas and confront their accusers. On a side note, Frank Shaw of WaggenerEdstrom is also wrong about Wikipedia.

About the author

Mathew 2429 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

33 Responses to “What’s wrong with Dave Winer”
  1. You can't really have an “opinion” about how certain things were invented. If you were watching when it happened it was obvious what was going on. While his conspiracy theories might not help his cause, I think the facts are pretty simple on who invented RSS, OPML and Podcasting.

  2. Indeed, why can't people just disagree? Why don't you say “What I don't agree with that Dave Winer says?” or if that's too long “What's wrong with what Dave Winer says?” This is a hateful way to frame a discussion. You need to take a look at your own internal process Mathew, because you're not practicing what you preach.

  3. There's so much more wrong with Dave Winer than is suggested here…

  4. Before leaving thread, I wanted to give you credit for something. At least you put your name on this. I still think it's very bad to put someone's name in the title of a blog post with such a negative thought. You must know how the search engines treat those things. Eventually you'll develop a following who wants to hurt you, if you haven't already (it happens to everyone) and they'll do this to you, and you'll know how it feels. But like I said, at least you had the guts to put your name on it. That's something.

  5. FWIW, I just went and read the discussion page on Dave's wikipedia entry; hard to think of another way to describe what currently is there other than a vendetta.

    Frank Shaw

  6. […] against him and his accomplishments I felt the whiney line had been crossed for the last time. Now Mathew Ingram in his professional best wrote a post about what Dave had written, upon which Dave promptly jumped into the comments and called Mathew a […]

  7. Credit is worth fighting for because it has economic consequences, not just ego consequences.

  8. The problem with non-artists is that they lack a certain depth of understanding within the creative process and therefore are denied the reward intrinsically present in the act of creating. As such they seek credit.

    Seeking or even demanding credit is the scarlet letter of the non-artistic. Which, is fine, it makes it easy to differentiate creative from artistic

  9. Gentlemen: If you think true “creators” and artists don't want credit, you're hopelessly naive. Why do you think artists and writers sign their creations. True creative people may not care about remuneration, but they certainly care about credit. Dave's a creative, which is why so many of you find him difficult; I managed a shop of creatives, and they are often moody. But they are also dreamers and visionaries, and the people who move things forward.

  10. some valid points raised in each, but there's too much mudslinging and too few substantive comments. not to allude that you do matthew, but some people really have developed a vendetta against dave.

  11. […] What’s wrong with Dave Winer – – mathewingram.com/work I never get tired of delusional Dave. (tags: winer whiner) […]

  12. “The whole point of the model is to find the middle ground, the common ground, the mutually agreed-upon version of events — not for people to pursue vendettas and confront their accusers.”

    …and that remains a problem.

    Facts are facts, and “consensus” is too often becoming a model for wishing away a conflict instead of resolving one. Are you going to have the moon-landing hoax people have their say on the Apollo page? Do the Flat-Earthers get equal time on the Plate Tectonics entry?

    I think I see exactly where Winer is coming from. (I don't know him, he doesn't know me. I don't care.) In this case, Wikipedia wants it both ways: they want the authority of a truly-vetted source, and the anonymity of those submitting. The vast majority of people reading Wikipedia never go to the discussion pages.

    Present the facts, and let the truth bear itself out. But “middle-ground” should not be the goal for a purported reference source. We might as well write tomorrow's history books to include such gems as “Saddam was involved in 9/11” and “Bush lied to get oil.” Neither is true in any sense of the word, yet at times majorities of Americans believed them. That is where worshiping the Middle Ground leaves us.

  13. […] 반대: What’s wrong with Dave Winer […]

  14. In all of his bellyaching about how creators want credit, has Winer ever been a person to credit others for *their* accomplishments? I can't recall a single time where he mentioned that Ramanathan Guha and Dan Libby created RSS 0.90 at Netscape. His burning desire to see people rightfully credited extends only to himself.

  15. In all of his bellyaching about how creators want credit, has Winer ever been a person to credit others for *their* accomplishments? I can't recall a single time where he mentioned that Ramanathan Guha and Dan Libby created RSS 0.90 at Netscape. His burning desire to see people rightfully credited extends only to himself.

  16. […] against him and his accomplishments I felt the whiney line had been crossed for the last time. Now Mathew Ingram in his professional best wrote a post about what Dave had written, upon which Dave promptly jumped into the comments and called Mathew a […]

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