Cost vs Benefits of Wikiprojects

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Dear Woodwalker, My concern is broader and more basic than "whether Wikiprojects are producing FA/GA articles". The fundamental problem that I see (of which Wikiprojects are only one facet) is the lack of any conscious effort within Wikimedia to prevent "rampant featuritis" and bureaucratization.

As things are now, any editor can invent a new Wikipedia "feature" (guideline, template, navbox, infobox, wikiproject, category, portal, task force, whatever), and start using it on articles. Then other editors see that "feature", assume that it is "official policy", and start using it themselves, believing that doing so "good citizen"'s work. That is how we got stub tags, categories, editorial tags, "main article" templates, infoboxes, navboxes, citation templates, en-dashes in article names, wikitable syntax, the "articles for deletion" page, Wikiprojects, the Wikiproject Council, Wikiportals, format-tweaking robots, and much more --- including the vast ocean of pages in the Wikipedia:* namespace.

Every one of those "features" has a huge cost: not only the editor work that is diverted from content creation to formatting, classifying, tagging, sorting, and debating, but also the loss of editors, new or old, who are put off by the increasing complexity of the system. The latter, alas, is almost invisible. (Statistics indicate that the editor base, which had been doubling each year until 2005, has been decreasing since 2006 with a half-life of 4--5 years. It seems that since 2006 practically no new editors have joined, and old editors have been steadily dropping out. I wonder whether Wikipedia planners are aware of those numbers?)

The problem is that none of those "features" went through a critical cost/benefit analysis. Unfortunately Wikipedia has neither the tools nor the organizational structure to do such an analysis. It also lacks any mechanism that could reduce its complexity and eliminate counterproductive features. Ironically, it has a mechanism for deleting *articles* (and a subset of editors who apparently enjoy doing that, and do it a lot); but it has no mechanism to delete *features*. Essentially, once a template has been used in a few hundred articles, it is practically impossible to delete; and the same goes for all other features. Can you imagine a corporation that allows each employee to start or join as many projects as he wishes, does not perform any per-project accounting, and is unable to stop a project that cannot bring revenue? Well, that is Wikiedia...

I firmly believe that if *any or all* of the above features were suddenly deleted, Wikipedia would become a much better encyclopedia, and editors would become more efficient and satisfied. All the best, Jorge Stolfi -- 09:43, 22 January 2010 (UTC), 22 January 2010

See also this proposal. - Brya 05:35, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Brya05:35, 23 January 2010