On 10 March 2008, Sidin Vadukut <sidin.vadukut at gmail.com> wrote:
> However one of them mentioned that it is slowly becoming more and
> more difficult for new writers to join in as contributions have
> become extremely complicated. Some of the simplest things lead to
> disputes and trivialities cause locks on certain articles.
> I was wondering if you guys had an opinion on this? Is Wikipedia
> increasingly becoming more and more difficult for first-timers? I am
> talking about those who intend to specialize in certain topics and
> be active and regular.
I am not sure what exactly do you mean by "contributions have become
extremely complicated". Are you referring to Wikipedia's now-somewhat
stringent standards for accepting articles? Or do you mean that the
wiki-syntax is too difficult? Or are you concerned that the cabals,
vandals and trolls are scaring away the new contributors?
As a society, Wikipedia is bound to grow more complex as it grows.
If the new contributors face a problem that they do not know how to
deal with (vandalism, another abusive user etc.), they can head over
to the new contributors' help page (the link to this page appears on
the help page):
Wikipedia's standards for accepting articles have evolved over the
years. Most Wikipedians will accept that the standards have become
more stringent, but these standards are necessary because in addition
to a lot of positive contributors, Wikipedia also attracts a number of
vandals, trolls and spammers. Very short articles created without
references, inappropriate pages, images uploaded without a license or
text copied from another website are bound to get deleted. Most
newly-created articles or newly-uploaded images are deleted because
they're either copyright violation (e.g. image of the user's favorite
actress copied from a film website) or because they're outside
Wikipedia's project scope (e.g. an article on an little-known school
band). New users can avoid such experiences by learning a few basics
of contributing to Wikipedia. On the article creation page, the users
are presented with a few instructions and a link to
an article that'll not get deleted is as simple as following these
The disputes (trivial or non-trivial) are a part of any large
collaborative project. This is not something specific to the new
users; controversial topics (e.g. Israel-Palestine) will always
attract disputes. The new users generally find themselves embroiled in
disputes, when they make controversial edits an article without going
through the talk page archives (where the issues might have been
discussed more than once in the past). An example is the article on
Muhammad -- many new users try to remove the images from the article,
without bothering to read the talk page, where the rationale for
including the image is explained in detail.
The vandals and trolls are a serious problem. Citizendium
<http://en.citizendium.org> is trying to deal with them (and other
issues like reliability) by disallowing anonymous editing. At
Wikipedia, we have an article validation proposal
<http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Article_validation> in the works. It
can be tested at <http://test.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandbox>
As for understanding the wiki syntax, and the Wikipedia policies and
guidelines, these are the minimum basics. The users who joined
Wikipedia three years ago also learned them.
Wikipedia is just like any other project open to public
participation. Before people start contributing, they need to learn a
few basics. The set of "basics" grow larger as the project grows larger.