Wikipedia Is Not Therapy!
Andrew McMillen
1779

The relevance this piece has to me personally is pretty striking. I was actually a little shocked when I saw this article show up in one of my feeds.

I can’t compare the severity of my own experience on Wikipedia to that of the individuals profiled here — not by any reasonable measure. But I do think that certain elements of it were similar: the disputes in the talk pages, the influence of poor mental health, and (in my view) the relative dismissiveness of the administrators and fellow editors.

I won’t go into detail about the incident, and I’ve decided against linking to it after debating whether or not it’d be worth it to reference the particular archive of the noticeboard that included the section regarding that event — I’d rather not draw too much of a connection between my activity on other websites and my activity here, and I’m not convinced that referencing it would be especially useful to the topic surrounding this comment in the first place.

Regardless, after a rather long discussion of my case, at the end of which, administrators were unmoved, I wasn’t confident that the particular symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder wouldn’t arise again if I returned, so I stopped editing Wikipedia.

I’m still not willing to go back to it, and I was, and to a certain extent, still am disappointed that I’m unable to reengage in what was once, in a way, an “intellectual hobby” of mine, without a high chance of the incident repeating itself, one year later. (I’m often somewhat dismayed at some of the easily correctable errors found on the less developed articles on the encyclopedia, but, as I mentioned, I’m too afraid to begin again.)

I don’t recall if I wrote this comment with a particular goal in mind (Perhaps it was to vent on an article I could personally relate to?), and I didn’t intend to convey a specific message about the subject. If nothing else, though, maybe it can serve as another example of the uneasy relationship between mental illness and (even articulate and well-read) online communities — especially the one dedicated to building the world’s most comprehensive encyclopedia.

I do hope that Wikipedia will be able to further improve the way it handles issues of mental illness among its editors — and, forgive me if I sound a little idealistic here — maybe even to the point where individuals like me could comfortably reenter the community.