Quick Hit: WTF Wikipedia

Warning: the following fuckwittery may make you very angry. Trigger warning for trans-misogyny.

Wikipedia has decided that misgendering Chelsea Manning is more important than respecting her wishes.

Although Manning’s entry acknowledges her name change and refers to her using female pronouns, administrators decided they didn’t have the consensus needed to rename the “Bradley Manning” entry, and that readers were still more likely to search for Bradley than for Chelsea.

They added that Manning’s legal and biological status weren’t considered in the decision, as those factors aren’t part in Wikipedia’s editorial policies.

Well maybe Wikipedia need to revist their editorial policies? Because consensus is what is needed on someone else’s human rights. FFS.

Categories: Culture, culture wars, gender & feminism, Life, social justice

Tags: ,

8 replies

  1. WTFingF? As though it’s somehow a massively and dangerously time-consuming and difficult process to put up a “manual redirect” page saying something like “Bradley Manning: see Chelsea Manning” with an appropriate link at the name.
    I don’t know who Wikipedia are trying to fool – I suspect it’s themselves, though.

  2. Actually it’s even easier than that. I’ve searched for plenty of things on Wikipedia and ended up directed to a page which was titled differently from my search term. It’s perfectly possible for them to direct searches for ‘Bradley Manning’ to a ‘Chelsea Manning’ page without even having an intermediary page.

  3. Their reasoning is preposterous. If, say, a bunch of plants were reclassified and renamed (this does happen with some regularity) I doubt Wikipedia would hold a vote, instead they would follow the experts who’d done that reclassification. And the expert on Chelsea Manning is Chelsea Manning, not some random bunch of Wikipedia editors.

  4. Oh, that’s right! Wikipedia doesn’t have redirects. If they could only implement that incredibly difficult feat of programming then perhaps it would be possible, when people searched for “Bradley Manning”, they’d find themselves on a page called “Chelsea Manning” perhaps with a little bit of explanatory text, like, oh, I don’t know, maybe “Bradley Manning redirects here”.
    But sadly, the programming skills of Wikipedia aren’t up to the challenge. Because they’re brains are atrophied husks of prejudice and cruelty.

  5. The editor who originally renamed the article to Manning’s actual name wrote about it at the time: Chelsea Manning: on pressing the button. The entry refers to the Identity section of the Manual of Style, which reads:

    Any person whose gender might be questioned should be referred to by the gendered nouns (for example “man/woman”, “waiter/waitress”, “chairman/chairwoman”), pronouns, and possessive adjectives that reflect that person’s latest expressed gender self-identification [including references to any events prior to that expression taking place]

    The Daily Dot doesn’t link to it, but that section is now marked disputed, and there are substantial threads on the Manual of Style talk page. Warning: I haven’t read it in full, but I am sure it is full of fail of the most epic kind. Sadly, it seems like a pretty standard WP style debate in which having an emotional investment in the subject is considered bias, and only people who have come fresh to the issue of how to refer to trans people from first principles sometime in the last week are detached enough to actually make decisions. Hrm 😦

    Their reasoning is preposterous. If, say, a bunch of plants were reclassified and renamed (this does happen with some regularity) I doubt Wikipedia would hold a vote, instead they would follow the experts who’d done that reclassification

    They probably wouldn’t, but Wikipedia pretty regularly titles articles for, eg, cities, according to the most common name used by English speakers rather than the local preferred name or preferred/official anglicisation specified local authorities. It’s not a new issue. The policy is WP:COMMONNAME (apparently this overrides the manual of style, which is a suggestion, not a policy, I know where to find Wikipedia policies but I’m not involved enough to know what they say before finding them). This frequently has unpleasant or oppressive consequences in terms of, say, favouring colonial names/anglicisations (there’s some considerable of the general issue of biased titles at WP:POVTITLE but not of its oppressive power specifically), and in this case favouring a trans woman’s assigned name because she is very well known by it. There’s occasional cases where (arguably) it avoids oppressive renaming or propaganda, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director wrote about a map-related situation that in her opinion is like this.

  6. It seems the decision to reverse the initial move of the article has revealed a shitload of transphobic crap at Wikipedia under the supposed agenda of ‘following policies’. I’ve seen similar small-minded bigotries elsewhere when naming issues have come up. Respecting transgender people’s desire to determine their own identities obviously counts for fuck-all over at Wikipedia presently, and I intend to restrict my usage of the site to as close to nil as possible, until they buy a clue.

  7. Wikimedia’s CEO comments: How Wikipedia got it wrong on Chelsea Manning and why (note that Wikimedia — the org you donate to when you click on WP’s donation banners, and the org that runs WP’s servers — tries to avoid having editorial control over Wikipedia except where legally sensible to, eg, where libel is an issue):

    The purpose of this blog post though, isn’t to argue why Wikipedia should respect that Chelsea Manning is a woman. (I’ve already done that extensively this past weekend on-wiki, as have others.) The purpose is to talk about the underlying factors that I think led Wikipedia to make a bad decision, and point to where I think solutions might lie.

  8. I guess I gotta admire the way Sue Gardner makes the same point I do, and yet bends over backwards not to say “there is a significant level of sexism, cissexism, etc at Wikipedia”.
    She notes the majority of Wikipedia editors are men. Gee, I wonder why? I certainly know why I have no interest in becoming a Wikipedia editor. I imagine the same applies to transgender, LGB, non-white, non-Western, and disabled (in all glorious intersectionalities) people.

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