Barriers to Quality at Wikipedia (and potentially other Wiki projects)
Piotrus, IMHO, I think that the community itself needs to radically change, it needs to diversify, it needs to feel empowered to police itself and it needs to have policies and guidelines in place that support the community members in acting correctly in the first place and empowers them to police themselves.
That is a HUGE statement, I realize this.
- to radically change, an external body is going to have to engage in behaviors that will encourage new members of target populations, whether it be Wikipedia in the Schools/Universities, Wikipedia in the Workplace, or general PR and Marketing efforts to encourage a wider variety of users. The external body may be a group of Wikipedians or it may be another group. If the group itself will not come in line with Wikipedia’s policies and goals, then some force has to reshape the group.
- to draft those policies, certain things need to be identified that will guide the creation of those policies and rules. Again, that may happen from a small body, an external body or by a general “vote” of some kind. However, it is tricky when the body that is “voting” is the one causing the problems.
- remember this, no matter what the result of the Wikipedia project, it was a small group that originally got it started. If something external needed to rein it in and reshape it in order for it to become what it was originally intended to be, that might not be a bad thing.
What I do know, is that the demographics I see at Wikipedia are a bit like an implosion waiting to happen. If something doesn’t change, Wikipedia has the potential to be the best idea with the worst implementation people ever heard of. Sometimes, we give up some of our “freedoms” i.e. the freedom for every user to have a say in every decision, in order to get what we wanted in the first place.
I fear that many Wikipedians aren’t willing to engage in trade offs.
I, like many of us on this task force, have been a part of many online communities. All of us have seen people with the wrong mindset destroy projects with great potential. We have a choice. We figure out how to fix it and make it better for a lot of other people, in this case, billions of people; or we say it’s too difficult to make it work and we let the jerks take over. Personally as much as I hate conflict and fighting, I’m for proving we can make this work. So, Piotrus, go fill in the Barriers Wiki, add to the lists and let’s see where we get with this.
Am I being too optimistic?
You're imho too pessimistic. I think we don't need to take away freedom to solve the particular problem of rude/non-constructive behaviour. Feedback to every single talk edit can probably solve the thing without having to force people not to participate in every discussion. For example, multiple choice (definitely yes/yes/a little/not at all):
Do you think this contribution:
- Is relevant for the discussed subject?
- Is relevant for the project's goals?
- Is friendly/nice?
If a small mark shows next to all your talk edits, you will think twice before commenting. I think the whole problem of rude behaviour can be erased without having to forbid participation.