[Wikimedia-l] Basic income & Wikimedians

Mark delirium at hackish.org
Thu Jan 9 19:44:31 UTC 2014

On 1/9/14, 6:05 AM, Jonathan Deamer wrote:
> The idea that it might increase the level of cognitive surplus available to open source and collaborative projects, and so these projects might have a political interest in encouraging a basic income, is quite novel to me.
This is something I've been thinking about a bit. In general, merging 
the fruits of my labor into a project like Wikipedia is *usually* not 
the best choice, if I were maximizing personal advancement. If I'm going 
to spend, say, 30 hours writing something this month, almost any option 
but writing it on Wikipedia will benefit me more. Even something as 
simple as a collection of blog posts or a niche website, with my byline 
on it, at least is something that might raise my reputation and possibly 
be monetizable. However, contributing it to Wikipedia is often the 
better choice for dissemination of knowledge: more people will read it, 
it can be improved by others, it integrates better into a larger web of 
knowledge, etc.

I currently contribute most of my volunteer 
documentary/educational/encyclopedia-style writing to Wikipedia, because 
I prioritize the impact of my writing above the reputation or income it 
gives me. But I have the luxury of doing so because I have a salaried 
job in academia. However it's not a guaranteed job (not tenured), so in 
the future that might no longer be true. I might get another one, but I 
might put out my shingle as an independent researcher / consultant. In 
that case, it would probably be the sensible choice to contribute less 
to Wikipedia, and more to my own projects (I have my own 
subject-specific encyclopedia side project), out of the need to build up 
an individual reputation and income. I would prefer not to have to! But 
the issue is that contributing to Wikipedia, even though it benefits 
society, does not get "counted" as contributing to society in the 
market-economics sense, because the ownership of the results diffuses to 
the general benefit.

A basic income would remove the need for such accounting overhead, since 
one could just focus on how to best contribute to society, without 
having to worry about how to "monetize" and "own" every contribution. 
But absent such significant change, perhaps the Wikimedia movement could 
look more at how to improve at least the recognition (if not income) of 
significant contributors.


More information about the Wikimedia-l mailing list