- Starting point
Discussion of a newspaper article quote about Wikipedia:
- "The loudest voices and most obsessive contributors become the arbiters of truth"
- General discussion
Bhneihouse affirmed this was common in education and that "[s]ometimes the loudest voices actually are correct, many times they are not". She posed two questions - how to vet contributors, and how to encourage the softer voices.
FT2 opined that the decision rule for removing a user from a discussion was incorrect. Rather than being "unless egregiously horrible allow them to continue" it should be "upon request show a good standard of conduct or must leave". This would lead to a basic rule change: "Any admin can require any participant in a discussion to show better quality of editing/interaction -- failing which can remove them from that discussion thread unilaterally for a while". (Ie, rather than blocking for bad conduct, any admin could require that a user improves their contribution in a thread or leaves it alone.)
Bhneihouse agreed strongly with the idea "ops can demand better conduct" stating "Aim for the high benchmark and expect everyone to live up to it". Using childrens' conduct as an analogy she explained "[In] a group of kids, if a supervising adult allows any bad behavior, the [group] dynamic exponentially changes... If expectations are communicated up front, the kids are more likely to behave and when non-behaving kids are taken aside, the remaining kids tend to support the adult's decision. The key is knowing the rules up front".
FT2 stated the present dynamic is "very slanted towards bad behavior [being] okay provided not toooo bad"; being a content writer is seen as a "get out of jail free" card, gets pushed hard,. Admins get "slammed" for it, leading to reluctance to enforce and an ideal setup for gaming. "[A] sea change to "above average conduct, no excuses, and any admin can enforce it" would be huge. It would really be a community sea change. But it may well be what's needed. Problem is how do you get to there".
Randomran concurred with these views:
- "As long as I don't personally attack you, and as long as I have a few other people to back my side up, there's no way you can get your changes through. And if I refuse to cooperate with you, and say that your point of view is destroying Wikipedia, and I will oppose you until my last breath, there are no consequences. And if you block my changes on one article, it's not to say I couldn't find enough people to get my changes through on another article and slip it passed you. You can just imagine how well this works out for controversial content areas, and what it does for quality."
Bhneihouse commented perhaps such people should not be part of a "collaborative community". She asked:
- "How does a person who is ego driven fit into what Wikipedia IS? Maybe they dont, and maybe that is OKAY... If they dont buy into the brand, maybe they shouldnt be playing in the "game". Why do you think I keep talking about brand? Because it drives everything else. It even drives getting rid of people who gum up the works whose actions are totally inconsistent with the brand/mission/vision/goal."
- "There just seems to be this idea that Wikipedia will take everyone and their ideas regardless of how they act or what they think. And that idea drives a lot of behavior on Wikipedia. But I do not think that idea is consistent with what Wikipedia is. You cant have a world class encyclopedia that is free that allows people to abuse the privilege of sharing information with the world.
- Do you see the shift? We go from accepting everything that everyone wants to give us to only that (conduct, information, content) which is consistent with what Wikipedia is and where Wikipedia is going. That isnt copping out or leaving anyone out, that is making the choice that needs to be made in order for Wikipedia to do what it set out to do"
FT2 noted he would reach the same question ("should we accept just anyone") by a different route. Bhneihouse explained her view on brand as a driver and "a bit like a soul", and how it touches everything and permeates all decision-making.