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Proposal:Encouraging process improvement

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Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


Our processes don't work like they used to. We get laughed at. This is a direct result of not actively thinking whether or not the processes we have in place really work.


We need to encourage the user communities to frequently re-evaluate policies and processes that are not central to the mission. The central, more or less immutable policies are the non-negotiable and common-sense ones, such as the "purpose" of the wikis, NPOV and licensing - and also non-foundation-mandated ones, like assuming good faith and being bold. The less central ones which should be actively and periodically re-evaluated are things like review processes, deletion processes, notability criteria, and like.

In short, I propose we need to fight stagnation and the all-too-common human characteristic of getting attached to everyone's favourite ideas, even when those ideas are clearly no longer applicable.



Wikimedia projects live through many different phases. We'll see struggling new projects, vigorous small projects, doing-kind-of-well medium-size projects, and certain unmentionable two-million-article wikis that get frequently accused of being bureaucratic and impossible for newbies to contribute to. There are rampant allegations of cronyism, cabalism and favouritism, which may or may not be actually true. Even blind people can see, however, that we have processes that have outlived their usefulness.

People unfortunately have the tendency to think that whatever processes we have in place are good forever. This is, of course, ridiculous - different sort of processes work well for different sort of organisations.

For example, English Wikipedia's deletion processes were born in the day and age when we could review everything under new. No one seems to ask "can this process work in this day and age?". (When people ask "Why is article X up for deletion but not Y", people automatically answer "X's deletion doesn't depend on Y's". Often, the more truthful answer would be "We haven't gotten around to deleting Y just yet, because we have a backlog of about million articles to review.")

And I'm not just proposing this to subtly hint that en.wikipedia's deletion process is broken. Everyone knows it's broken. The big problem is that no one's thinking of an alternative. Heck, no one would even know where to post a call for an alternative, should a need arise! I'm posting this on this wiki because I was honestly clueless on where else to post this. Where do I see Wikimedia in 5 years? In the gutter, if we are unwilling to fix things we think are broken.

Key Questions

  • What is broken?
  • What went wrong? (Keep asking this question each time you see anything negative posted about Wikipedia. The recent Slashdot[1] article really brought this question in my mind.)
  • Why does this happen in a wiki where we're supposed to not have a massive bureaucracy?
  • Why are we trying to play a contrabass by blowing it?
  • Do we really think that this pathetic thing can have any effect at all?
  • Will this new process be a horrible casualty of a 6-week MfD five years hence?

Potential Costs

Financially, few. Though this may cost the proponent's eventual seat in the Cabal. And the sanity, will to live, and faith in humanity of whoever implements it, should this fail. But the results are well worth it, should we succeed. We must trust ourselves.


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