Defend an openess that does not exist?

Defend an openess that does not exist?

A wiki is a web site everybody (or anyone) can edit, they say. But how “wiki” is Wikipedia nowadays? Ed Chi has taught us that 20 % of a newbie’s edits are reverted, in comparison to 2 % of the edits of an experienced Wikipedian. It became difficult to join the community which is often repelling new people by unnecessarily harsh comments.

In the past, the media complained that “anyone” can put “anything” into Wikipedia; today, after quality requirements have become more severe, they complain that too many articles are deleted. (Especially the German media have jumped on that train.) This is the result of the evolution of Wikipedia from a “project to create an encyclopedia” into an encyclopedia that, essentially, already exists and has to be maintained.

A lot of the problems of Wikipedia could be solved by opening only two doors to content alteration:
A) Reporting: If a reader finds something wrong in an article he can push a button and report that; Wikipedians will deal with the proposal similar to the questions nowadays sent to the “support team”. Polish Wikipedia already has a Reporting system. Of course, why compel someone to learn editing and Wiki syntax and stuff if he just wants to report a typo?
B) Joining: Make joining a real procedure. Say hello to new people who want to join, accompany their first steps. Should they fail they cannot complain that there was nobody to help them.

This two-way-system or dual system could prevent a lot of vandalism, improve the friendliness towards new people (simple vandals and trolls will be filtered away very soon) and still benefit from the input of readers, maybe even better.

Alas, I am afraid that a lot of old Wikipedians would detest this dual system as “the end of the wiki, the end of openess”. It takes only a look at pages such as the articles for deletion log to see that the openess defended does not exist.



One thought on “Defend an openess that does not exist?

  1. 20% reverts of edits by non-logged-in users is an excellent ratio and I would have expected much more. 2% on the other hand is about what I guessed. The reason is easy: logged-in users h”ave experience in Wiki editing. With the system and with the standards of content. New users are new, they are not perfect and reverts are normal. If someone is deterred by a simple revert, I seriously doubt he or she has the motivation to become an accomplished wiki-editor.

    Regarding your ideas of the dual system: I fear that a reporting system for perceived errors would flood our regular contributors way beyond their capacity. And the joining procedures: In my eyes the low threshold of contributing is the single most important factor for the overall success of the projects. Please do not throw it away for “soft factors” such as friendliness.

    Wikipedia as an open project is necessarily a clash of perspectives and even interests. Sometimes it can be an harsh environment. This can’t be denied and as long as Wikipedia is open, it will never be cozy and fuzzy.

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