Wikipedia editors vote against classifying NFTs as art

A group of editors on Wikipedia, the free user-generated encyclopedia, voted against classifying non-fungible tokens (NFT) as an art form and reached a consensus to leave the issue on the shelf until a later date.

A poll and debate began on the platform at the end of December about the most expensive art sales by live artists and whether NFT art sales should be considered “art sales” or “NFT sales”.

“Wikipedia can’t really be up to the task of defining what counts as art or not, which is why putting NFTs, whether art or not, on their own list makes things simpler,” editor Jonas wrote.

Much discussion centered on whether the NFT represented art or whether it was simply a symbol separate from the underlying art. Editors were torn about the definitions, and some felt there was a lack of reliable information to conclude from them.

A call to vote found that five editors were against including NFTs in art sales and only one in support. A consensus was reached on Wednesday to remove sales, such as Pak’s NFT Group that brought in $91 million and Beeple’s NFT of $69 million, from the list of top art sales and reopen discussion at a later date.

The decision seems controversial when looking at Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” NFT in particular, which depicts a collection of original artwork by a popular digital artist that was sold at prestigious Christie’s art auction house last year in March. The New York Times also described Beeple as the “third best-selling artist” alive at the time.

According to Wikipedia’s guidelines, neither consensus nor voting is required to form consensus. To reach a decision, the consensus must take into account all of the co-editor’s legitimate concerns that fall within the platform’s policies.

What do Wikipedia editors know anyway?

However, the consensus position did not sit well with the only supporting editor of NFT “Pmmccurdy”, who argued:

“How can we obtain consensus when, from the outset, I have argued in support of including NFTs in this list. Compelling evidence from secondary sources positions NFT art as art and therefore worthy of inclusion in this list.”

“If we agree that Beeple and Pak are artists, why don’t their sales count toward this list? I don’t understand the logic here,” they added.

SiliconRed’s editor responded that the consensus they were reading was that “NFT should be removed from this list for the time being with the goal of reopening discussion at a later time. To my understanding, this includes all interests, including yours.”

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NFT proponents such as Nifty Gateway co-founder Griffin Cock Foster were alarmed by this issue, note On Twitter earlier on Thursday that:

“This is very frustrating to see – the Wikipedia edit tries to say *no* NFT can be art – as in, if it’s NFT, it can’t be classified as art.”

Foster’s twin brother, Duncan, also took part, calling it a “technical emergency” as he called on the community to act via a post retweeted by Jimmy co-founder Tyler Winklevoss.

“Wikipedia operates outside of precedent. If NFTs are categorized as “not technical” on this page, they will be categorized as “not technical” on the rest of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the universal source of truth for many around the world. The stakes could not be higher!” He said

Everipedia, the decentralized Web3 equivalent of Wikipedia, replied To the platform by comparing its approach with NFTs and Art:

“Everipedia editors have created over 100 pages on #NFT groups as Wikipedia moves to mark NFT as not art across their platform. It’s time for NFT projects to move to Everipedia$IQ, a Web 3.0 encyclopedia that supports art and innovation.”

This is not the first time that Wikipedia has had problems reporting information related to cryptocurrencies. Cointelegraph reported in September 2020 that anti-crypto activist and senior Wikipedia editor David Gerrard helped remove an entry related to Australian blockchain software company Power Ledger.

Gerrard stated that the post had been taken down on the grounds of “being a heap of press release harmony, and the only real press coverage was about how Power Ledger was a scam” even though the entry was obtained from reputable publications such as TechCrunch and The Economic Times.