I keep an eye on a few Wikipedia pages about topics on which I’m fairly knowledgable. A few of these, for one reason or another, are constant battlegrounds. I’ve long been skeptical* of Wikipedia’s ability to survive and grow, because it often seems impractical to beat back all the foolishness and idiocy. When you see the recurrent appearance of anti-Semitic slanders on pages of politicians and engineers who happen to be Jewish, you’re bound to despair.

But it might be getting better. One of the people who keep trying to damage the page about Dave Winer by minimizing his accomplishments turned up again last week. In the past, this has led to weeks of wrangling that left the page just a little better or just a little worse. This time, after a remarkably short delay**, the miscreant has simply been banned, banished indefinitely. So maybe we can get on with work.

* I’m not anti-wiki. I've keynoted Wikisym and I’ve been its program chair and I’m still on its program committee. I'm very skeptical of the wisdom of crowds, as I think anyone who has read 20th century history has to be, and I’ve noticed that academics sometimes use “crowd sourcing” to mean, “and then a miracle will occur.” But my complaint here concerns governance generally, and specifically the ability for one or two enthusiastic sophists to tie any wikipedia page in knots for an indefinite period.

** Everything is relative: the lead up to the ban involved something like six blocks