Another simple explanation of editing trends
Well, the paragons responsible for creating great literature have never been known for their social skills. My favorite example of this was the time the two most prominent literary artists of the 20th century met at a dinner party: James Joyce & Marcel Proust. After introductions were made, the two men looked at each other & one said, "I haven't read any of your works." -- "Well, I haven't read any of yours." End of conversation, & to the best of my knowledge neither bothered to read anything written by the other afterwards, nor spoke to the other again.
The fact that online communications only make it easier for someone to be thought of as rude -- as well as to be rude -- only complicate the issue.
I believe the information is available elsewhere: there are plenty of important areas of knowledge underrepresented in Wikipedia, not to mention some of the other projects. None of them might be in one's area of knowledge, expertise or experience. However, as an experienced wikipedian one may still be extremely useful and helpful to the less experienced editors. They need to learn how to write according to the wikipedia requirements.
The suggestion of article guidelines or better guidelines, ties very well with the Foundation strategy, outreach and a thriving civilized community. Once you have the guidelines, you need editors to write the articles according to those guidelines. Nobody would want to write guidelines, if there isn't anybody to follow them.
As a counter example, some of the paragons responsible for creating great literature have been known for their high social skills. It is also a fact that online communications make it easier for someone to be thought of as polite -- as well as to be polite -- makes it a lot easier to belong to a community where many forms of crime cannot be committed.
I would like to compliment Ian for his commitment to continue to contribute to Wikipedia; the correct reading of the reality made by First Light; and Llywrch excellent suggestion of added and/or renewed emphasis on article guidelines, once done it is a extraordinary time saver for anyone writing or expanding an article. Let me conclude quoting Robert Frost: "A civilized community is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity." There should be room in it for the "basement boffins", the "fuzzy humans" and all of us.
Virgilio A. P. Machado
"Nobody would want to write guidelines, if there isn't anybody to follow them." Actually, the policy and guideline pages are often inhabited by people who do mostly that: legislate for those who actually write stuff, so then they can smack them in the head with their new rule for endashes, punctuation relative to quote marks, and what not. You're ignoring what motivates most people who edit Wikipedia for a long time, which I've described elsewhere here.
You made the right distinction: policies and guidelines. By guidelines I meant rational, useful recommendations that editors can use at their own discretion in order to make their work easier. I was talking about decent people doing decent work. You are addressing the dark side of the Wikipedia. Does the dark side rule Wikipedia? Anybody that has to ask that question doesn't know a thing about the making of Wikipedia. I took notice of your contributions here, but if you would care to send me a message through «E-mail this user» or to the e-mail address listed no my user page, with a link to your description, I would appreciate that very much.
Virgilio A. P. Machado