Jimmy Wales wrote:
Clearly, our goal should be to source just about
that it would be impossible to do that in one fell swoop. Therefore,
the quality of Wikipedia will improve in stages.
Most ideals are completely impossible. This doesn't mean that we stop
striving in that direction. The improvements can only come in stages.
The key is that the community of good editors needs to
give good strong
firm social support to people who are doing this.
Not all good editors support a hard-assed approach. Clearly some feel
that all these problems can be solved by more and better policies that
can be strictly enforced. At the other end of the scale there is the
belief that the best way to accomplish this is through polite
negotiation and consensus building. Both are likely acting in good
faith, and both can easily feel that the other side operates only to
thwart their efforts. There needs to be more effort put to bringing
these sides together rather than driving them apart.
Using an obviously contrived example: If the strict people propose to
ban anyone who adds the word "shit" to an article, there will be an
immediate response that there are circumstances where including the word
"shit" is perfectly appropriate. It's important to find a neutral point
somewhere between these two views.
Imagine there is a small wikipedia out there which is
just starting up,
an important language in the developing world which is just getting a
community. They might choose to be incredibly tolerant of someone who
would write something like "Tokyo is the largest city in Japan with a
population of 40 million." It is not a harmful statement, but it is
wrong. But it is better than nothing.
We need to be more sophisticated than that. Just as small wikipedias
need time and room to grow, so too do broad subject areas within a
Wikipedia, narrower specialties within a broad subject area, and
individual articles within a specialty. This is necessary for
maintaining growth, and ensuring that the general right for everyone to
edit is protected.
English Wikipedia is not at that stage anymore. We
should not accept
random "I heard it somewhere" information nearly as easily as we would
when we were young... even information that is not harmful per se.
Clearly, "I heard it somewhere," is the stuff that urban legends are
made of. I agree that we should be more strongly disinclined to reject
that kind of argument, but some lattitude still needs to be given to new
and plausibly valid articles. It takes time before other editors take
note, and start adding alternate views, expanding the scope of the
article and adding sources. Remember too that the vast majority of
articles are not about controversial subjects. It is understandable
that editors who narrowly engage in these peaceful areas would resent
having some rigid rule thrust upon them when their right to even
participate in the making of that rule was seldom more than theoretical.