[WikiEN-l] Parker Peters's comments

daniwo59 at aol.com daniwo59 at aol.com
Fri Oct 6 10:28:02 UTC 2006

Originally, I planned to answer Parker Peters's email. I wanted to say  
something, at least, but I didn't want it to be trite. I didn't want to defend  
some admin actions while agreeing with him about others. There will be (have  
been?) plenty of people to do that. In the end, all of that is irrelevant,  
because it is his perception of the problem that really matters, not whether the  
problem is truly relevant in particular instance X or Z. It is a macro-issue,  
and it deserves macro-answers, or alternately, macro-changing in our  thinking.
I think the real issue can be boiled down to a single statement: "Wikipedia  
is big ... really, really big." As of yesterday, Alexa ranks us the number 12  
website in the world, and we are still climbing. In English alone, we have 
close  to 1.5 million articles and 6 million total pages. We have over 2.4  
million users and close to 600 thousand images. I don't know how  many edits we 
are getting per day, per hour, per second, but I can  only assume that it is a 
very substantial number. 
No single person, or even small group of people, can tend to something this  
big, or even familiarize themselves with all its nooks and crannies. Yet we 
have  to. That is the challenge. 
There are 1,015 people with admin powers, and for various reasons it is  
assumed that the burden of responsibility lies with them (it really doesn't,  
since it should rest on the entire community, but that is a different story). Of  
these thousand or so people, some are more active than others. Some can be 
found  patrolling the projects every hour of every day, while others pop in for a 
few  minutes every few months, and still others are gone for good. 
As such, the burden is overwhelming. There is so much to do, so much that  
needs tending, but we've grown faster than our admnistrative structure, and the  
fissures are beginning to show. By piling on the load, it is only natural 
that  admins (and here I mean people who perform admin tasks, whether they are 
admins  or not) begin to feel frustrated and burn out. It is especially onerous 
when  every action is going to be viewed by people who will challenge it--and 
the  admin--any way they can. Do you risk making all the rapid decisions that 
need to  be made, one after the other, even if it means that some bad 
decisions will  inevitably be made? Do you risk maintaining old procedures, which once 
worked  quite well but are starting to buckle under the weight, or do you 
experiment  with something new and untested? If there is to be change, what are 
the  priorities? If there is to be discussion about change, at what point do we 
end  the talking and decide to act?
These are some of the real issues that Parker Peters is raising. Note that  
they are dilemmas, and the nature of a dilemma is that there is no right 
answer,  except perhaps from the safety of hindsight. And yet, decisions have to be 

More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list