[Wikipedia-l] A proposal for the new software

Mark Christensen mchristensen at HTEC.com
Thu Oct 18 19:20:24 UTC 2001

I generally think this is a good idea.  I'm not sure exactly how the system
should work, but I propose something like adding 1 Karma Point (KP) for
signing up with a username, and one more for every day you connect to the
wikipedia after that (with the same username), and 2 KP for each day in
which you've edited an existing article, and 3 Karma points for each day you
add a new article.  

Once you get up to 60 KP, you have basic privileges (Editing the home page
and the like).

Once you have  or so 100 KP you can block an IP address, user ID#, or user
alias temporarily (24 hours). 

Once you have 200+ KP you can mark an article for deletion.  The article is
not deleted for 24 hours, and is clearly displayed as MARKED FOR DELETION on
the recent changes log if you have at least 150 KP.  Anybody with level 1
privileges can then check a "don't delete this" box on the article, and it
will be unmarked for deletion. 

I would recommend that the edit this page link just not appear unless you
have privileges to edit that page.  

I don't think that the above is exactly how we should do it, but I wanted to
through out some specifics because the "devil is in the details."  The idea
may be fine, but the implementation could easily bring up real problems...

That said, I think Michel Clasquin brings up several interesting points.  

If you want to follow Michel Clasquin's suggestion that we also lock down
the pages linked from the main page, I'd recommend that those pages be
locked only for those with 4 or less KP, which means if you're logged in,
and you created an article you can add a link to it from the appropriate
portal page, since you have 1 KP for signing up, and 3 for adding an
article.  We can use Magnus's "watch this page" functionality to keep track
of these changes.  And if he adds the e-mail update feature, people can just
assign themselves to keeping up on those pages.  I would actually recommend
that there be a field in the data base which assigns the level of
restriction on a page, so an administrator (or potentially anybody with a
high enough KP) adjust the threshold for that page.  This would be useful if
the there were repeated problems with a specific portal page. 

As far as who assigns Cabal status, I think it absolutely has to be
automatically assigned (of course the administrators can manually edit the
assignments if they feel the need).  If there are persistent vandals, other
Cabal members can temporarily ban their IP, and/or administrators can
manually bump down their KP.

As far as how to get the thing started, we could automatically generate some
KP numbers for users by mining existing history data (Say you get a KP for
every 5 or 10 page edits you've logged), or we could follow Jimmy Wales's
suggestion that we implement the KP log for long enough for some people to
gain privileges before marking any pages as requiring privileges to edit,
either way should work.

Anyway, more food for thought.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jimmy Wales [mailto:jwales at bomis.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2001 3:23 PM
To: wikipedia-l at nupedia.com
Subject: Re: [Wikipedia-l] A proposal for the new software

Let me raise a potentially delicate social issue.  :-)

One of the wonderful things about the wiki software, and something
that has served us very well so far, is that it is totally wide open.
I suspect that any significant deviation from that would kill the
magic of the process.

On the other hand, we really are moving into uncharted territory.
Wikipedia is already, as far as I know, the most active and heavily
trafficked wiki to ever exist.  It seems a virtual certainty that
the wide open model will start to show some strain (primarily from
vandalism) as we move forward.

(Even now, we see "only" about 5,000 unique visitors a day.  Imagine
when that it 50,000 or 150,000.  Or more.)

I have this idea that there should be in the software some concept of
"old timer" or "karma points".  This would empower some shadowy
mysterious elite group of us to do things that might not be possible
for newbies.  Editing the homepage for example.  We already had one
instance of very ugly graffiti posted there (a pornographic cartoon).

Some principles that we should use if/when we move in that direction:

1.  Cabal membership is available to anyone who puts in time -- there
    should be no ability by the part of existing cabal members to
    blackball anyone.  The reason for this principle is that we don't
    want there to be a temptation to ideological blackballing.  Anyone
    who shows up and sticks around for a couple of weeks can be
    trusted enough to give total freedom.

2.  Cabal membership should not give anyone any super powers, just a
    handful of little things, like locking and unlocking the HomePage,
    or placing a temporary block on an IP address or UserID.

3.  Newcomers should not have to know or realize that they are
    restricted in any way from doing things that some old timers can
    do.  We should always leave things as open as possible, not
    requiring login, registration, etc.

3.  Of course, as owner of the physical machine where Wikipedia is
    located, I always retain absolute dictatorial power over
    everything, if necessary.  So if someone gets cabal membership and
    uses it to vandalize, I could revoke the status unilaterally.

Basically, I think we always want to make a distinction between true
vandalism and mere un-encyclopedic behavior.  We want to develop
little tools and tricks to help us block true vandalism, while keeping
things totally open for people to *work for consensus* on article
content.  The "New Age" debate was good and healthy, and never rose to
the level of vandalism.

*            http://www.wikipedia.com/          *
*        You can edit this page right now!      *
To manage your subscription to this list, please go here:

More information about the Wikipedia-l mailing list