[Foundation-l] Appreciation (was: Are Wikimedia websites a proper venue for an artistic contest ?)

William Pietri william at scissor.com
Sat Jun 12 17:46:49 UTC 2010

On 06/12/2010 08:10 AM, Yaroslav M. Blanter wrote:
> [...] for instance, so far the
> only recognition I got for uploading the complete set of images of Beijing
> Subway (I have all 147 stations and uploaded so far about 50, more than the
> number of the station images existed on Commons a month ago), categorizing
> all this mess and adding pictures and links to Commons in all articles in
> all languages where they exist - the only recognition I got was one of my
> edits on one of Wikipedias instantly reverted. For the record, I spend
> several days of my time to take the pictures, and even more time to edit
> them.

I think this is an important point.

Until recently, I worked a lot with engineering teams to improve the way 
they worked. For whatever reason, a lot of engineering organizations are 
very focused on the negative. In every silver lining, they can find a 
cloud. I've seen teams do a retrospective on their week and come up with 
50 negative observations and 0 positive ones. This has its benefits, but 
it also has some incredible downsides.

The biggest one is just that it discourages risk and effort. In theory, 
most organizations want their people to get fired up to make things 
better. But for the individuals in those negative organizations, the 
best possible outcome from any action is getting ignored, with a 
substantial chance of getting yelled at for some downside of the 
improvement. There's not even appreciation for succeeding, let alone 
appreciation for having the gumption to try.

In that environment, the optimal strategy is to do nothing bold, and to 
do just enough to avoid getting yelled at for doing nothing, while 
waiting for the chance to yell at somebody else for not being perfect. 
Over time, people like that tend to say, while people who actually want 
to make things better give up and go somewhere else.

I haven't done enough editing lately to know what the general 
contributor is like, but Yaroslav's story reminded me of ones I've heard 
over and over from engineers in organizations with significant cultural 


More information about the wikimedia-l mailing list