[WikiEN-l] Comparison with other wikis

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Wed Feb 8 10:11:09 UTC 2006

John Lee wrote:

> Geoff Burling wrote:  
>> He had this utopian belief corrected after a couple of years when the 
>> Wiki
>> was rocked by a severe flamewar over a "trivial matter" that had gone as
>> far as the opposing sides each creating bots to revert the edits of the
>> other side. (For the record, the controversy was over whether to keep or
>> delete a node that was a parody of the movie "Fight Club", called
>> "BoogerClub".) As he spent time not only to get to the bottom of the
>> matter, but also to bring himself up to date with the Wiki & the 
>> community,
>> he discovered that the struggle to keep the Wiki usable & in order had
>> burned out his assistants in their long, hard & unappreciated efforts. 
A lot of the most bitter fights are over trivial matters

>> Ward said he was able to help his assistants by adding a simple bit of
>> code which prevented bots from functioning on his Wiki -- which stopped
>> the spamming immediately & brought a cease-fire to the major flamewar,
>> but the damage had been done. People left, & WikiWiki "plateaued" in
>> growth, losing something of its original excitement & attraction.
> "Self-regulating" would be a true anarchist model whereby everyone can 
> do anything, I think. Certainly something based on consensus. 
> Consensus doesn't scale. I think the moral about burned-out old 
> editors is a good one, though. We need to carefully avoid placing 
> people on a pedestal because of their past accomplishments. If you're 
> wrong, you're wrong. I think the solution is to expand the number of 
> "super-trustable" users who will have real authority around Wikipedia. 
> Right now only the arbcom has any authority, because authority is 
> derived only from Jimbo and/or the Board. 

Yes, but we really have paradoxical situations.  While most of us would 
probably like to see a more democratic system it depends on all 
individuals having enough vision to look beyond their personal 
concerns.  Appointing trusted people may in some cases be the only 
solution, and if you trust them when they are appointed you also need to 
trust them in the exercise of their duties.  In those circumstances if 
Jimbo goes ahead and exercises his powers without consulting his 
appointee he undermines that person's authority.  Quite often an 
understanding on the problem between Jimbo and the person would be 
within easy reach.  When substantive agreement is there the appointee 
should be the one to put it into effect.

A project leader needs to have a broad overview.  He also needs a track 
record of at least trying to build consensus.  He needs to build up a 
stock of good will that will often need to be used when there is need to 
act decisively.  He will often need to confront people, and some of them 
will try to complain directly to Jimbo..Unless the appointee develops a 
track record  of consistently abusing his powers, Jimbo will need to 
stand behind him.

> My proposal: Give the 'crats authority. Right now both 'crats and 
> admins are theoretically equal to normal editors, only with a few more 
> tools. I think this is the right attitude to take towards admins, 
> because adminship should be no big deal. But bureaucratship is far 
> from "no big deal", and I think this should be reflected in that 
> bureaucrats should have some higher standing in the community. They 
> should be able to step in and desysop in cases like wheel wars. They 
> should be able to say, "Ok, that's it, let's cut the crap" -- much 
> like the arbcom or Jimbo would/should. (This raises the problem of 
> 'crat wheel warring, but presumably because of the huge big dealness 
> of this, we'll only have a limited number of 'crats at any one time, 
> anyhow.) 

Even where there are multiple bureaucrats, one would probably still need 
to be recognized as the chief bureaucrat to avoid that situation.


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