Israel has been a Capitalistic, prosperous country for a long time. While it has many problems (such as heavy taxation, irrational and abundant regulations, quite a lot of terrorist activity, etc.), it is relatively peaceful, has an abundant food supply...
At a point someone was unhappy with it and changed it to read only "quite a lot of terrorist activity"). Now, having seen, it I felt that it was then inaccurate and misleading, because Israel has much more serious problems than the occassional act of terrorism, despite what many people have been misled to believe by the International media. So I completely removed the "such as" parenthesis.
Why am I telling you all this? Because this convergence to mediocricity and Political-Correctness of wikis happened again, this time at PerlNet. Read on for the details.
I have a copy of the Linux Journal that a friend bought me when he was abroad. Its focus was on blogs, wikis, audiocasts, etc. One of the most amusing articles there was a rant by an editor about why he hates wikis. And in it, one keeps seeing edits and re-edits of the text by the surfers, as if it were a wiki article. Paul Graham also wrote about it in a different context:
My experience of writing for magazines suggests an explanation. Editors. They control the topics you can write about, and they can generally rewrite whatever you produce. The result is to damp extremes. Editing yields 95th percentile writing—95% of articles are improved by it, but 5% are dragged down. 5% of the time you get "throngs of geeks."
On the web, people can publish whatever they want. Nearly all of it falls short of the editor-damped writing in print publications. But the pool of writers is very, very large. If it's large enough, the lack of damping means the best writing online should surpass the best in print.  And now that the web has evolved mechanisms for selecting good stuff, the web wins net. Selection beats damping, for the same reason market economies beat centrally planned ones.
Now a wiki gives the power of editing to the masses, so it may get worse. Often you'll see a state of livelock, where two or more people keep changing one another's content. Or alternatively to satisfy everybody, the wiki converges to a commonly acceptable pseduo-"politically-correct" content.
I admit I've been guilty of such abuse as well. For example I once edited the Wikipedia article about the Iberians to say that they were an Afro-Asian people, while they in fact were not. This eventually got reverted, and the article as it stands now is otherwise much richer than what was there when I first read it.
Now for PerlNet. The Freenode #perl FAQ is hosted there because I'd like it to be a wiki page, and perl.net.au is my favourite "central" Perl wiki. One of the sections there describes the channel regulars. I wrote this in the about "beth" there:
beth, also known as Beth Skwarecki is a Biology graduate from Ithaca, New York, the United States, who studied Perl in order to deal with Bio-Informatics. Surprisingly, she knows her Perl (and UNIX) pretty well. Due to her knowledge and good looks, she had been unofficially considered as the channel diva.
Now, Jarich (an admin of perl.net.au) changed it to read:
beth, also known as Beth Skwarecki is a Biology graduate from Ithaca, New York, the United States, who studied Perl in order to deal with Bio-Informatics. Beth is the unofficial #perl channel diva.
Now, while the original version probably left somethings to be desired, I feel that the new version as it stands now, is much lamer, lost most of its colour, and is much more cryptic. (Why is Beth the unofficial #perl channel diva?)
When talking with Jarich on the IRC, she asked me if I had rights to put beth' waterfall photo on my website. I told her that I originally found this photo on beth' site, and downloaded it to my machine so it was temporarily used as a wallpaper for one of my virtual workspaces. Then I uploaded it to my site because it was a great photo and I could no longer find it on the site of beth, and Flickr and Google weren't any help. (And in case you're wondering and haven't clicked on the photo yet, Beth is fully groomed there.)
She also said that I was patronising the fact that she surprisingly knows Perl very well just because she's a woman. However, the reason I said that was because Perl is the first language Beth has learned (and so far only one), and she hasn't been working with it too much, and because she otherwise hasn't been a computer geek for too long. (And has many other interests and talents besides computing.). So I'm not patronising her because of her sex, but rather say she is surprisingly doing very well. I indeed did not specifically mention it in what I wrote, but would rather see such an explanation added than the sentence deleted.
And naturally the new paragraph does not explain why she is considered the unofficial channel diva. And Jarich told me she further believed that the other paragraph that gives a link to most of the other "real-life" interests of Beth is patronising, just because one of them happens to be knitting and sewing. Beth has chosen to put all her life online on her home site, blog and Flickr stream. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't mind those two paragraphs on the Freenode #perl FAQ.
I've ranted about this for a long time now, disproportionally to the length of the original text, and the time it would take me to reach a compromise. I was trying to illustrate a point about wikis and collaborative work in general: while it is important that everyone will have access and possibly even modification rights to every aspect of the project, one should make sure that people don't step on each other toes. Even if something is shared, there is the concept of propriety.
As Paul Graham notes later on in his articles, the top 1% of blogs, due to the fact they are un-edited and written by the top 1% of bloggers, eventually achieve or exceed the quality of the articles in the magazine, who due to their heavy editing, often lose a lot of their edge. Wikis suffer from a similar problem.
I still think wikis are a great concept, and have proven and will probably prove to have a huge potential. However, I think that there are some temporary growing pains for some wikis, in which many people misbehave or abuse their power. And what I described here is not the only problem faced by wikipedia and other popular wikis. I hope that the text of the wikis of the future, won't fall to the Paul Graham "95%-high-quality" syndrome, and instead will be better than that.