On 01/08/07, Steve Summit <scs(a)eskimo.com>
Though one or two of the questions were snide, I
have to assume
that at least a few of them were in good faith: editors unaware
of Slim's storied history, who came across the Slashdot thread
and thought she might like to know about it.
Okay, cards on the table, time for a slightly embarrassing admission.
*I* don't know SlimVirgin's storied history. Or, oh, whoever else it
is we seem to discuss regularly; all the participants in that
attack-sites debacle seem to have backstories I don't understand. I
basically don't remember much our internal politics before a few
months back; it all seemed to drift past me and/or I didn't care. Do I
have to lose my cabal license?
There are a large number of people - long-experienced editors, with
good standing in the community and clearly not crazy - who basically
have no idea what the *fuck* all this is about, and are not happy
about it all. Oh, we recognise the names as "harbingers of trouble",
since wherever they're mentioned a lot of smoke and mirrors and
violent disagreement about internal meta-stuff follows, but we have no
idea of the context or the history behind it all. It doesn't mean
anything to us; it's just... noise.
But it's noise that's swallowing our project and wasting our time. We
have a community on enwiki of, what, ten thousand active editors? How
come obscure political bickering centering around half a dozen of them
seems to take up so much time?
When people try - honestly and in good faith - to find out what on
earth is going on, they get rebuffed, yelled at, discouraged. We grow
up an elaborate culture of secrecy - this sort of thing must be Very
Significant, all the noise made about it, but yet it isn't ever
discussed freely or explained; confusing things like oversight are
thrown around to further confuse matters. I can see why people would
end up reading Wikipedia Review to try and understand what's going on.
All this is a net detriment to the project. It's internal
navel-gazing; most of us are oblivious to it or actively discouraged
from discussing it. It serves to reinforce the non-existent impression
of a central cabal, it wastes the time of productive editors, and it
provides an easy angle for trolls to disrupt and smear our work. And,
of course, the "attacks" perpetuate it all.
Wikipedia has never been bylined. We have a culture that discourages
the individual ego; we are a collaborative work. This stupid situation
around a tiny handful of editors is consuming the project's resources,
burning up our goodwill and credibility both among the outside world
and among our own community. It's time to put a stop to it.
Please leave. All of you. The project is more important than your
pride, and you are dragging it down; this situation is never going to
improve unless someone walks away.
Tidy up the loose ends, sign out of your account, and walk away. Take
a break. It's August, the sun's shining, it's the perfect season to go
for a walk in the hills and reflect. Then come back under another
name, if you want to continue working here - I would be sorry to see
hard-working editors leave. Right now, you are *net detriments* to the
project, no matter how many thousands of edits you rack up; I'm sorry
to say it, and I feel a heel for doing it, but it's true.
This is not an attack. This request has been a long time in the
making, and it is perfectly serious. Please treat it as such.
I would like to second all of what Andrew has said above.
This incessant cacophony of personal drama is drowning out useful
conversations actually relevant to the building of the project. It is
causing stress and emotional pain for many of us. It's completely
unnecessary, and is within your power to stop. Hand in your bits, and
step away from the project for three months. Get some fresh air. Say
hi to your friends and family. And don't worry about what's happening
here, because others will be rising to take your place in sharing the
workload; that's how we work. Go. We can afford to spare you, for as
long as you need. We'll see you again, because those who care about
this project can never stay away permanently. But staying in the
heart of the fire out of pride, or ego, or vanity, is folly, and can
only lead to madness.