On 5/25/06, Molu <loom91(a)yahoo.com> wrote:
While obviously exaggarated, the article does raise
some interesting points. For
example, the following sentence struck me as insightful: "The 'general
public,' you see,
is now an entity separate and distinct from those who actually control the creation of
This is all of:
* Not news.
It's pretty much inevitable that any project gathers a culture around
it and becomes a distinct social entity. We identify as Wikipedians,
don't we? Participants in the project don't just identify as the
'general public', and never have.
One can divide people into three classes, I guess: Wikipedians (those
who edit Wikipedia and feel part of the community), casual editors
(those who edit Wikipedia, most likely on an occasional basis), and
those who have never edited.
It's definitely of interest how hard we are making it to move from the
'never edited' group to the 'casual editors' group, and how hard we
are making it to move from that to 'Wikipedian'.
I do think we've made it more difficult lately.
Is this because we percieve those who are not Wikipedians as being
less likely to become useful, active contributors, and more likely to
be net negatives (vandals, trolls, or simply those without significant
writing skill, knowledge, or research ability to be useful)?
I have a feeling it is. Are we correct? Partly, I think.
I attended the MySQL user conference in Santa Clara this year, the
last keynote speech at which was by Mitch Kapor, largely on the topic
of Wikipedia and how it changes things, and what it signifies.
Afterward, I asked him what in his opinion we should be concerned
about going forward - how could we screw it up, basically. His answer
was that managing popularity and being increasingly mainstream was the
biggest challenge, and that we could screw it up by reacting badly to
We could screw it up one of two ways. One is like Usenet's endless
September. The influx of new people could swamp the culture of the
place, drive off long-time contributors, and lower standards until
nothing useful was being done anymore.
The other would be to react to popularity by over-reacting, pulling up
the drawbridge and shutting ourselves off from the world at large.
Becoming less welcoming, less friendly, more elitist.
IMO, we have to be very careful not to do things that send us too far
in one direction or other.
Anyway, irrespective of the truth of these claims the
permanent and (apparently)
secretive semi-protection of pages will give us very bad publicity, particularly if this
applied indiscriminately to all pages in a category. I think the drawbacks of such a
measure outweigh the benefits.
I'm inclined to agree. The secretiveness is not actually true, but
possibly perceive-able as such. We at least ought to be careful and
consider all possibilities.