Back on 2 Feb 2020, creating the Wikipedia biography of Wikimedia COO Janeen Uzzell was just one step on Jess Wade's path to becoming a children's author.
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?ti ... =938750684
We know it wasn't really important to her, because by her own admission, she wrote the whole thing while waiting for a flight. We know it isn't important to her, because she writes one of these a day, and promptly forgets about them. Uzzell was no exception.
We know she only created it because Uzzell is a black woman. Wade only writes biographies for women and minorities, and so in this woman, she had double bingo. To do anything else, wouldn't get her noticed by anyone. And you don't become a published author that way.
Specifically, we know she only wrote it because she was a black woman Wade met once, and only because Wade had reason to go see this woman, to thank her for what her employer has done to boost her profile as a good person doing good works. Even if that is just a myth, and in reality, in practice, for people like Uzzell, ironically, it's bunk.
We know she only wrote it because she personally thought a person in such a high executive role at the WMF deserved a Wikipedia biography.
It didn't seem to matter to her, that no Wikimedia COO has ever been considered important enough for a Wikipedia biography, regardless of ethnicity or gender.
Such things have never mattered to Wade. She has a long history of doing what she wants to do, and accusing those who think she shouldn't, of being sexist.
People did suggest she had been too close to the subject to make an objective decision. As happens on Wikipedia, nothing comes of questioning Wade on Wikipedia. She can do no wrong.
So, what are the consequences for poor Ms Uzzell?
The theory goes, according to Wade, that once she has made these invisible women visible, the media will take an interest in their careers, write more about them, which can then feed back into Wikipedia. A virtuous circle, erasing centuries of systemic bias.
It was always just so much activist garbage. It goes against everything Wikipedia stands for, too. Before people like Wade were allowed to completely reverse the way things are done, Wikipedia waited for people to get coverage, before deeming them notable. It bakes in the world's biases, but there was a reason people never said Wikipedia was about fighting great wrongs. Not because it's wrong. Just because a) it's not the job of an encyclopedia, and b) Wikipedia sucks at righting great wrongs.
Recall, to take one huge example, that Wikipedia's much vaunted attempt to combat fake news, not only didn't do a damn thing to prevent the election of Donald Trump, a good case can be made that this was that exact sort of commie bullshit that helped him ride a wave of redneck anger, into the White House.
Well, despite having already left her role at the WMF, and gained a prominent role at the Society of Black Engineers, because no other Wikipedia editor has ever been interested, her Wikipedia biography still basically looks like the way it was when Wade wrote it.
Which means, it looks like it was written by a GE executive.
Uzzell is clearly upset about this. A tweet she sent in her last week at the WMF, looks almost like a desperate attempt for someone, anyone, Wade most probably, to notice that she has been interviewed subsequently. To notice that there are details that could be added to her biography, about her time at the WMF.
https://twitter.com/janeenuzzell/status ... 2144572419
(credit to Without Comfort)
The biography still says she is the WMF COO. Even though her last day was a month ago, and she has already got a new job......
https://www.nsbe.org/Articles/june-2021 ... uzzell-ceo
The Wikipedia editors can't even be bothered to update the biographies of their own people. What chance the more obscure people Wade has "honoured"?
It all begs the question. What is worse? To be invisible, or to only be noticed when it's convenient for someone else's ambitions?
And of course, the very last person who can risk being seen directly asking for her Wikipedia biography to be updated, much less been the one to have provided the source material, is an WMF executive. It just looks bad. Even though it's not against the rules.
Perhaps she needs to hire someone to edit her page for her. But then again, it doesn't seem like having a crappy Wikipedia biography prevented her from landing a good role. Which isn't a surprise, because who the hell uses Wikipedia as a CV service? Nobody.
In all cases, especially executive biographies, the rule of thumb is to always assume the page was paid for, or is out of date, or error strewn, or was written by an enemy, if not the person themselves. It is Wikipedia, after all. They're crap at doing good. Not much, if anything, has been done about these long standing issues. Just like not much has been done about raising the number of women and minority biographies.
So on second thoughts, perhaps it might be good thing that nobody updates Uzzell's biography with her time at the WMF?
So, what's the lesson? I guess it's this. If Wade says she thinks someone is important enough for a Wikipedia biography, don't just believe her.
She is after all, just some random nobody, certainly nobody who ever came close to a career writing an encyclopedia. She has a Wikipedia biography though. And it's more up to date that Janeen Uzzell's.
Someone should be angry about that. Angry at what that seems to suggest about what is and isn't important in this world. Angry enough to make the changes required to prevent it happening. If there is to be any social justice in this world.
How Jess Wade uses black women to advance her own interests
Dedicated to one of the WMF's "finest persons"
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