[Wikipedia-l] Re: Slashcode

Michael R. Irwin mri_icboise at surfbest.net
Tue Aug 27 08:46:02 UTC 2002

Tom Parmenter wrote:

> I wrote up a brief and sensible outline for presenting controversial
> topics a few weeks back, to precisely no reaction.
> http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk%3AList_of_controversial_issues
> It probably wouldn't help with Helga, but even there . . . maybe and
> it would certainly work with more organized opponents.

This looks like a pretty good starting point to me.  I
once proposed something similar at Meta which was eventually
endorsed by "24" but otherwise ignored.   Probably because
you were frequenting the alternate forum above while I had
been diverted to Meta.

Essentially, I think we are still a small enough community
that informal methods of discussing controversy are perceived
as adequate.  People who cannot handle informal give and
take techniques well are eventually classified as isolated
cranks and run off.  Many others may leave before it reaches 
this level of conflict, many people avoid conflict if possible. 

When we get larger such that a controversy around a larger
topic such as abortion, the Middle East, Invasion of Iraq,
etc. will suddenly attracts hundreds of participants (say 10% 
of whom are inflammatory and reinforcing each others views
and behavior) in multiple factions then better methods may
be needed.  Alternatively we may fork or experience loss
of extreme factions instead of isolated individuals.  This
will help us return to a "community" size where the current
methods have stabized participation levels.

I think your approach could be an excellent foundation to
from which to start improving formal methods suitable for
larger participation levels.

I think it needs to be pre-established and perceived as
routine in developing multi-faceted content.  That way it
will not be threatening when implemented and people will
not get defensive instead of participating.

Perhaps, we could identify a potentially controversial
subject where our content is currently thin, and prototype 
the method by developing the material.

Mike Irwin

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