[Wikipedia-l] A proposal for the new software

lsanger at nupedia.com lsanger at nupedia.com
Thu Oct 18 22:02:51 UTC 2001

On Thu, 18 Oct 2001, Jimmy Wales wrote:
> 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.)

So we have a problem we are not yet faced with on a serious scale (even
though Fartboy is very annoying), but we can very reasonably expect that
it will develop into a more serious problem.  OK.

And Jimbo's karma points idea is a solution to *that* problem.

I want to try to place a few constraints on the solution.  First, I'd just
like to reiterate that ease of use and openness are what have made
Wikipedia work so well so far, and we should do our best to retain those
features, just as Jimbo said.  Second, I think it is important, in view of
the widely-reported experience of Everything2, that we not create an
"elite," or even the public impression of an "elite"--again, as Jimbo has
said.  This coheres well with experience on Wikipedia; some people,
reasonably or not, have left Wikipedia on grounds of perceived personal
slights by persons perceived as "leaders."  One of the ways to prevent
more such silliness is to downplay, as much as possible, the idea that
there *are* "leaders" on Wikipedia.  Even those of us paid to work on
Wikipedia should try, as much as we can anyway :-), to be members, or
soldiers, rather than generals.

I don't think these constraints entail that we reject Jimbo's proposal.
If we simply create an "old timer" category of participant, there will
soon be quite enough of them that it will be unreasonable for newbies to
think that we are being *elitist* (if they even realize that there is a
category of old timers.

I'm not sure if the "karma points" idea can be reconciled with the
constraints I suggest, though.  I'd have to hear more about it, I guess.

> 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.

Absolutely.  Remember what problem we're trying to solve: we aren't trying
to create an elite group of editors, we're trying to disempower vandals,
and *that's all*.

> 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.

If it can be hidden, that isn't a bad idea.

> 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.

With this I agree 100%.  I think it's very important that we bear in mind
that a distinction can be made between bad edits and vandalism.  The
purpose of an "old timer" category would not be to discourage bad edits;
for that we have the Recent Changes page and good old mutual editing.


More information about the Wikipedia-l mailing list