Andrew Lih, a respected authority on Wikipedia — oh, the irony — has flown to Egypt to attend Wikimania, an annual get-together for the editors of the world's most exacting online disquisition on foodborne illnesses. Arriving in Cairo airport, and seeking ground transportation to Alexandria, the site of the conference, Lih was met with nothing but third-world frustration, and he blogged about it. Erik Möller, deputy director of Wikipedia's nonprofit parent, the Wikimedia Foundation, popped up in the comments. Did he offer help? No.
Instead, Lih got a 408-word lecture from Möller, who runs Wikipedia's technology and volunteer-editing operations (when he's not defending child pornography, that is), about how Lih should have read the manual. In the time he took to write that comment, couldn't he have called Lih and offered assistance?
He could have, but he wouldn't. Möller, a longtime Wikipedia editor before he became a staffer at the foundation, shows the Wikipedia culture Lih chronicles at its very worst: Insisting on process rather than solving problems, lecturing and hectoring online rather than reaching out. Möller isn't some aberration; he's entirely typical of the breed he now oversees. Wikipedia's readers may deserve better, but its editors surely don't.