[Foundation-l] Why is the software out of reach of the community?

Brian Brian.Mingus at colorado.edu
Mon Jan 19 17:46:33 UTC 2009

This community, which takes quite a bit of effort to communicate with,
effort which I have not seen from the development team:

> Any changes to the software must be gradual and reversible. We need to make
> sure that any changes contribute positively to the community, as ultimately
> determined by everybody in Wikipedia, in full consultation with the
> community consensus. -- Jimbo Wales<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jimbo_Wales>

I've been told by a volunteer developer in that this quote is irrelevant. I
wonder how many people believe that is true.

On Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 7:31 AM, Domas Mituzas <midom.lists at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hello Brian,
> thanks for all  your insights, bashing and vocal support of your pet
> ideas.
> I understand, that SMW is academically interesting concept (though
> there're contradicting ideas in academia too, suggesting natural
> language processing as an alternative, and this seems where currently
> research tries to go too), and it provides "usability" in niche cases
> (academic data crunching).
> I fail to see why you associate SMW with general usability we're
> trying to think about? Is that something we simple mortals cannot
> understand, or are you simply out of touch from reality?
> See, our project is special.
> a) We have mass collaboration at large
> b) We end up having mass collaboration on individual articles and topics
> c) We have mega-mass readership
> d) We have massive scope and depth
> And, oh well, we have to run software development to facilitate all
> that. As you may notice, the above list puts quite some huge
> constraints on what we can do.
> All our features end up being incremental, and even though in theory
> they are easy to revert, it is the mass collaboration that picks it up
> and moves to a stage where it is not that easy (and that happens
> everywhere, where lots of work is being done).
> So, you are attacking templates, which have helped to deal with nearly
> everything we do (and are tiny, compared to overall content they
> facilitate), and were part of incremental development of the site and
> where editing community was going. Of course, there are ways to make
> some of our template management way better (template catalogues, more
> visual editing of parameters, less special characters for casual
> editors), but they generally are how we imagine and do information
> management.
> Now, if you want to come up with academic attitudes, and start telling
> how ontology is important, and all the semantic meanings have to be
> highlighted, sure, go on, talk to community, they can do it without
> software support too - by normalizing templates, using templates for
> tagging relations, then use various external tools to build
> information overlays on top of that.  Make us believe stuff like that
> has to be deployed by showing initiative in the communities, not by
> showing initiative by external parties.
> Once it comes to actual software engineering, we have quite limited
> resources, and quite important mandate and cause.
> We have to make sure, that readers will be able to read, editors will
> be able to edit, and foundation will still be able to support the
> project.
> We may not always try to be exceptionally perfect (Tim does ;-), but
> that is because we do not want to be too stressed either.
> So, when it comes to reader community, software is doing work for
> them. Some of readers end up engineering software to make it better.
> When it comes to editing community, software does the work for them.
> Some of editors end up engineering software to make it better.
> Which community are you talking about?
> BR,
> --
> Domas Mituzas -- http://dammit.lt/ -- [[user:midom]]
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