RuWiki History (Doronina and Pinchuk)/English/Interview with Divot

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RuWiki History (Doronina and Pinchuk)/English
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Interview with Divot

1. Your handle on Wikipedia?


2. What is your educational background and where do you work?

Mathematician. I am the director of a consulting company.

3. Where do you live (Moscow, St. Petersburg, a city with a million inhabitants, a small town, etc)?


4. How old are you?


5. When and how did you first hear about the Russian Wikipedia, and why did you start editing?

I stumbled upon it during a search and became interested in the articles

6. How many years have you participated? If you ever took an extended wiki-vacation, please provide the reason (i.e., too much work offwiki, unpleasant atmosphere/events in the project itself, or something else).

Since May 2008. [I go on wiki-vacation] when I take trips to cities with limited Internet access.

7. What do you like most about participating in the project? Why do you think you and other users participate in this work?

I am finding out many new things and learning how to work in an "aggressive environment." Other users may have a wide spectrum of reasons, from self-fulfillment to ideological motivations.

8. Which events do you consider to be the most important in the history of

The most important event is the absence of important events. develops systematically without any revolutions.

9. Do your professional interests overlap with the areas in which you edit on If not, how do you decide which articles to edit?

Practically not. I decide on the basis of interests and professional consultants on the side.

10. Do you participate in "metapedian" work, i.e., patrolling, discussions of nomination for deletion or renaming, templates? Do you follow the discussions that take place on the Forum, discussion pages of the ArbCom, etc.? Why/why not?

Yes. Because my interests lie in the conflicted realm of the history of the Caucasus, I unfortunately have to spend a massive amount of time on metapedian work. I follow the other discussions outside the sphere of my interests only occasionally.

11. How do you feel about the administration of (About the system in general, about certain admins, about the ArbCom?)

It depends. I don't think that the administrators or the ArbCom decide the principle questions as to the content of articles, and the rest, generally speaking, doesn't relate to the encyclopedia.

12. How do you feel about the rules? Which rule (which "pillar") do you consider to be most important? Do you think that the atmosphere of the project is too strict?

I feel positively about them, because without them it would be a dump. The main pillar is "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia," and the main rule is WP:No Original Research, because that's what distinguishes an encyclopedia from a research article. No, I don't consider it to be too strict.

13. Do you communicate with other users outside of Wikipedia? If yes, how: at wiki-meetups, by chat, or through other Internet communities (LiveJournal)?

I try to attend meetups whenever I can.

14. How has working on Wikipedia helped/hindered you in real life?

The people around me are getting upset and are also demanding my attention.

15. Has participating in the project affected you personally? How so?

I have become more patient and knowledgeable.

16. Do you participate actively in other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation? If so, what are the main differences (positive or negative) from

Out of the Wikimedia Foundation projects I have participated only in wiki-conferences. They don't differ at all from Wikipedia, and that's bad. There needs to be fresh influences -- for instance, in the form of unaffiliated experts, which are fundamental for a conference of any organization. Without them, all you get is a round-table and metapedianism, which there's enough of on Wikipedia already.

18. What other hobbies do you have?

At the moment, freediving.

19. You are the representative of the Armenians in the conflict surrounding articles on Azerbaijani and Armenian geography and history, although, in contrast to many of the other users involved in this conflict, by nationality you belong to neither side. Can you explain why you are interested in these controversial topics?

I have Armenian and Azerbaijani relatives. I can speak both languages a bit. I have a lot of friends who are historians of the Caucuses, not just Armenians and Azerbaijani. In the conflict, I support the side that I believe is right, according to the rules of Wikipedia, naturally. In different situations these can be either Azerbaijani or Georgians or Russians. For me, conflicts generally arise with the representatives of "national points of view," for example in the article Russophobia with "professional Russians."

18. Why do you think the conflict between Azerbaijanis and Armenians is so sharp in the Russian (and English) Wikipedia?

The roots stem from real life, where there is unpleasantness between the two sides. With regard to Wikipedia, the problem lies in national histories. In the USSR, everyone invented wonderful histories for themselves (by the way, a global phenomenon, but in the USSR this was done in the Stakhanov manner), but it just so happened that the Armenians, well-known since the 3rd century B.C. needed to invent less than the Azerbaijanis, who were formed in the 16th century. Naturally this is not at all a prejudice against the Azerbaijanis and does not aggrandize the Armenians, especially today's contemporary representative of these ethnicities. Besides which, the Armenians are not allowed to get too out of hand by virtue of the Armenianological schools outside of Armenia, because there are many authoritative researchers with Armenian last names who speak out against the nationalist interpretation of history. There have been no analogous safeguards in Azerbaijani schools, which, IMHO, has resulted in the complete marginalization of historiography in Azerbaijan. Some editors of Wikipedia absorbed these ideas literally along with their mother's milk and it is exceedingly difficult for them to admit that to themselves, because this kind of failure injures their self-identification. Anyway, at some point [Evgeny]Genkin cut off the attempts to bring in nationalist versions of Armenian history and in this way attracted good Armenian editors; otherwise, there would still be analogous conflicts from the part of the Armenian contributors. Personally speaking, they do sometimes occur, but now they are blocked by the Armenian side. I sincerely hope that in the end the Azerbaijani side will come to a similar model of behavior, and this is already taking place.

I've gotten a bit sidetracked. The AA conflict resulted in the fact that a number of articles on the history of the Caucuses are thoroughly verified. I can't say that about articles on Georgia, because evidently the influence of the sporadic user from the Abkhazian or Ossetian point of view is not sufficient to bring the articles into an objective, neutral state.

19. What do you think about the following point in the decision by the ArbCom in the first case of the AA conflict: "Automatically valid sources in controversial articles on this topic shall include only academically published materials (articles in scholarly journals, textbooks for high schools, monographs, books, and also large encyclopedias), published on the territory of Western Europe, North America, New Zealand, and Japan. All other sources will require special approval as to their authoritativeness."

This ruling has obvious inadequacies, since not every Western work is authoritative and vice versa, but the pluses far outnumber the minuses. Together, we have rid ourselves of a ton of low-quality publications from all sides. And a controversial citation can always be brought up for review with the conflict mediators.

20. Do you think that patriotism/nationalism and Wikipedia are compatible?

I would put the question differently: is a patriotic position compatible with work in Wikipedia? I can't say that it's entirely incompatible, but the fact that it gets in the way is obvious. In this context I take patriotism to mean the "state patriotism" that is so fashionable these days, and not love of the motherland.