[Foundation-l] Remembering the People (was Fundraiser update)

Marc Riddell michaeldavid86 at comcast.net
Sat Jan 10 14:11:49 UTC 2009

on 1/10/09 3:56 AM, Ray Saintonge at saintonge at telus.net wrote:

> Perhaps in the earliest days Jimbo performed that role, but even viewing
> all of his actions in the best possible light still leaves the
> insurmountable scalability problem.  It is hard to imagine any other
> Solomon scalably capable of fulfilling the theological side of the
> god-king function.
> The difficulty with ArbCom in this context is that it remains by nature
> a quasi-judicial process.  Those who come before it on either side of a
> dispute do so with pre-established positions, often based on legalistic
> interpretations of literal rules.  When an issue is caught up in such an
> adversarial maelstrom it is far more difficult to arrive at a
> collaborative solution.  If we further treat ArbCom decisions as de
> facto precedents, resolution of the problems themselves, apart from the
> personalities involved, becomes even more difficult.
> My own vision of a volunteer council absolutely did not include a
> Meta-ArbCom.  That would almost certainly have doomed it to
> ineffectiveness. My belief here is based on the principle of the
> separation of judicial and legislative functions.  Putting this in terms
> of the scientific method: it conflates legislative theorizing with
> judicial hypothesis testing.
> Impossibility notwithstanding, Marc does draw attention to a serious
> problem.

> As the one who first drew attention to the unfortunate phrase "23-member
> organization" I don't want Marc to be the one taking all the flak for
> this. I appreciate that the person who used the phrase is willing to
> consider Marc's points seriously, and are refraining from increasing the
> voltage in a Milgram experiment as some others are wont to do.
> The underlying difficulties are indeed with the decision making process,
> the perpetual deletion/inclusion debate being only one flash-point
> within that larger system.  We have a significant number of editors who
> participate actively and regularly on rules development.  They spend a
> great deal of time on such tasks, supported by a number of like-minded
> individuals who readily arrive at a consensus.  Often there is little or
> no opposition to these developments, because the largest part of the
> community either does not take time to follow keep up with these
> developments, or may not be capable of analyzing the deeper implications
> of these changes.  Individuals who must budget their time available for
> contributions would much rather spend that valuable time working on
> articles related to their personal interests, and not on endlessly
> fruitless debates about the minutiæ of rules.  Unless they are directly
> affected  by the debate of the moment they won't say anything.  There
> are no doubt comments that I made here six years ago that anticipated
> this state of things.
> I have also consistently had serious reservations about the WMF stepping
> in to rescue us from ourselves.  That could set a precedent. Your fear
> that WMF blessings might hinder innovation and experimentation is well
> placed.  In some cases such blessings may be the only solution that
> works. Wisdom may require a recursive mechanism where even the blessing
> may be changed by following its own rules.
> That we don't know how to achieve change is painfully close to the
> truth. There is the trite statement that Wikipedia is not a democracy,
> but much of what happens is not at all consistent with that statement
> either.  That statement is nevertheless used by some to win arguments;
> often equating voting with democracy and concluding that voting is
> evil.  Of course voting is evil, but only a narrow outlook upon
> democracy will make it equivalent to voting.
> The suggestion about trials strikes me as a bit gadgety, though there
> are no doubt specific problems where that would be the preferred way to
> go, and always a safeguard for community approbation.
> Philosophically, we need to reflect the paradigm shift of the
> interconnectivity of modern communication in the way we make decisions.
> To some extent the change is already beginning in areas of open source
> and access, but we have a lot further to go before we can unlearn our
> old habits about how decisions are made.
> Yes, I would support some WMF intervention, but I would also like to see
> some seriously intense sessions at Wikimania that address matters of
> collaborative decision making.  This would involve more than a one-hour
> lecture plus Q&A classroom presentation.  It could cover a full day, and
> should probably be led by someone who knows what he is doing,  As many
> potential decision makers as possible should be encouraged to attend,
> and getting them there could be a major criterion for allocating
> scholarships to attend Wikimania.
> I feel very strongly about the importance of resolving our decision
> making difficulties, and we can't do it by keeping our thinking in a box.
> Ec

Bravo! And thank you for this, Ray.


"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it
takes to sit down and listen."

                                                    Winston Churchill

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