On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 10:52 AM, Steven Walling <swalling(a)wikimedia.org>wrote;wrote:
Noticeboards are huge magnets for drama.
There are longtime English Wikipedia editors already starting to grumble
about this effort. If we're going to make progress by bringing the community
along with this, rather than having them fight us, we should try to minimize
the potential for drama, especially of the accusatory kind that gets
performed on incident noticeboards.
I would suggest we not create not a noticeboard for this issue
I want to expand on Steven's point a little, as I think it's a good one.
It seems to me that there's pretty broad consensus among this group that
many or most of the issues that keep women away, are not specifically
gender-related; rather, they are departures from the policies or the ethos
we are generally trying to establish, and likely impact most potential new
As a longtime Wikipedian, one of the things that has become clear to me is
that calm and productive discussion is often hampered by extraneous
accusations. So, here is a scenario that I think illustrates the concern
that Steven brings up:
* Pat deletes a paragraph in the biography of a reasonably well-known female
poet, which discusses her affiliation with a women's rights organization.
* Blaine restores the paragraph, and a small edit war ensues.
Pat and Blaine, with the help of some others, discuss their disagreement
about the paragraph. Maybe it turns out that Pat's concern was rooted in
poor referencing; the only citation in the paragraph linked to a small blog
with no known editorial policies and a history of several inaccuracies.
Maybe, as this gets revealed, Blaine decides to go out and find a better
source, and finds an article in a local newspaper or a literary journal.
Maybe that article contains even has more detail than the blog post,
allowing for substantive improvement to the article. Maybe Pat and Blaine
develop mutual respect during the process, and go on to work together on
other articles, in a more collaborative fashion.
Concern, if there were a Gender Issues Noticeboard:
Blaine, or somebody trying to act on his/her behalf, takes the issue to the
GIN, before making any substantial efforts on the article's talk page, or on
a relevant WikiProject (like maybe "WikiProject Poetry"). This initial
report frames the content dispute in terms of gender, building the
assumption that Pat's initial action was based on a bias against women into
the debate. Within a few days, somebody is preparing a case for ArbCom,
which adds to the burden of our elected committee members; a local reporter
has decided to write a news story about misogyny on Wikipedia, citing this
dispute; and there's a Signpost article in the works.
I think the point is, the structures we establish have a strong effect on
how people interact. When a noticeboard for a hot-button issue exists,
contributors often feel compelled to use it, and may proceed under the
mistaken impression that the most productive way to approach such an issue
is to zero in on a controversial issue that may *or may not* have anything
to do with what's going on.
So -- there may be benefits to establishing such a noticeboard, but my hope
would be that we could find a way to work within the more
dispassionately-titled structures that already exist.