There seems to be no end to new species of Internet cranks. You got your political cranks, in many varieties and shades. Your hemp cranks. Your anti-circumcision cranks. Your anti-vaccination cranks. Your conspiracy-theory-of-history cranks. Your Second Amendment cranks. Your creationist cranks. Your anti-Israel cranks. Etc.
I thought I had already run into most of them, but I just discovered a new one: the Wikipedia crank. Any suggestion that there are, um, flaws in the Wikipedia model, will unleash a torrent of highly personal abuse, and demands that the suggestor go and fix the problem himself. The WikiCranks are out in force in this MetaFilter thread. They remind me a bit of the chickenhawk cranks, who demand that any supporter of the war in Iraq should enlist and go fight in Iraq personally.
I like Wikipedia a lot, and use it all the time. It has advantages over traditional encyclopedias, but also glaring weaknesses. It doesn't do controversial issues well. This is most evident in the political articles, but I've also seen it crop up oddly in other areas, such as ancient history. Wikipedia also doesn't do well with subjects that aren't of interest to geeky males between 18 and 35. There's a huge amount of material on internet issues and comics, for instance, but comparatively little on historical clothing design.
I like Wikipedia. It's not there yet, but I think it will improve with time, cranks not withstanding.
Sidebar: What Is A Crank A crank is someone who 'can't change his mind and won't change the subject'. A person who is irrationally committed to an idea, and talks constantly about that idea, in emotionally-loaded terms, at every opportunity. The idea may be right, or it may be wrong, but it is pointless to try to discuss it with the crank, because he is incapable of understanding anyone else's point of view. On issues other than their crank issue, cranks may be tolerably sane.
I wonder, sometimes, if most people aren't cranks on most issues. I wonder whether being able to rationally discuss our beliefs about the world, to see the argument from the other fellow's point of view, and change our views if the facts are against us, aren't the exception, rather than the rule. The reason we never notice this is that most of us aren't interested in fighting. Cranks stand out only because they are willing to go to the mat for their issue.
== chakushi == (noun) legitimate heir
|Confused and obscure origin, according to Henshall. Bottom left radical is 'bound writing tablets' (冊). Right radical is 'official' (司). Henshall suggests taking the upper left element as 'circular/round', and as a mnemonic: 'Official heir to bound circular tablets.'|