Friday, February 6, 2009


The meatball wiki seems to be down. I'm still hoping that it will be back sometime, but until then I'm starting with wikipedia. I've finished reading the pages on virtual community and the deletionist versus inclusionist controversy, and before I dive into the community on those pages I'd like to record some quick thoughts:

"A 2006 estimate says that pages about Wikipedia governance and policy entries are one of the fastest-growing areas of Wikipedia and contain about one quarter of its content." -- strongly suggestive that Wikipedia is itself a self-aware community.

RE: "wikimorgue", "deletionpedia", and the inclusionist versus deletionist .
It all boils down to wikipedia's credibility. Wikipedia's credibility depends on drawing the line somewhere between what's in and what's out; and it's completely natural that this is a contentious issue. Given the binary nature of the "in or out" decision, I don't think there is a solution.

The section on the Learning trajectory gives me a chance to describe myself:
I've been mostly a lurker, and when I do step in I tend to aim straight for the Boundary (Leader) role.

The section on motivations and barriers to contributing is definitely worth reading. It seems right on target to me.

The reasons listed for lurking seem to apply to me (all of them): "getting what they needed without having to participate actively, thinking that they were being helpful by not posting, wanting to learn more about the community before diving in, not being able to use the software because of poor usability and not liking the dynamics that they observed within the group"

Reading the Wikipedia article on Wikipedia started me thinking about how to fix it. Some off-the-cuff thoughts, intended more as food for thought than as an actual suggestion of an implementation plan:

  1. Decentralize the policy decision about the criteria for inclusion and exclusion.

    1. Make a series of tags, such as "self-authored", "stub", "anonymous non-reviewed contribution", which could be attached to any article

    2. Make the debate about the applicability of any tag accessible to the casual user. For articles which have contentious tags, include a section of contentious tags with "voting buttons"

    3. Allow anyone to tinker with his or her own criteria for "belonging to the wikipedia"

    4. Allow anyone to publish selection criteria for use by others

  2. In the same way, decentralize the policy decisions for standards of correctness - allow individuals and organizations to create their own "verified by X" tag

  3. In an analagous way, de-fang reversion wars

    1. Split contentious articles into non-controversial and controversial sections

    2. Tag the differing versions of the article with the identity of the supporting parties

    3. Tag the reasons for disagreement


  1. Hi!

    We met and spoke at Hugmyndaráðuneytið yesterday. As a verifiable token of my identity, I was wearing large glasses, which I believe you can see in my avatar picture.