Darwikinism (/ˌdarˈwɪkiˈnɪzəm/) is a neologism that describes the socially Darwinian process to which Wiki pages are allegedly subject. One might say that Wikipedia is an ecology of ideas or memes undergoing constant evolution.
The content of articles is subject to Darwinistic pressures between different authors. Sections and sentences within an article are subject to ruthless culling and replacement if they are not considered 'fit'. Obviously, a Wikipedia page's evolution towards stability occurs just as much through cooperation as competition, but cooperation is a perfectly valid and popular strategy within ecology and so should not be seen as a different process.
The selecting agents, namely the authors, editors and visitors to the Wiki's pages themselves act under a (more or less obscure) selective pressure that leads them to assume their own fitness depends on those of their mental offspring. In reality, however, their corresponding adaptive behavior could well be nothing more than an addiction, which is normally under heavy negative selective pressure.(unclear)
Just like natural selection, happiness or satisfaction or quality may not be selected for, but reproductive fitness is. Here, in Wikipedia, it may not be so much quality which is selected for but acceptability and faddishness. The ethos within Wikipedia is that the ecology of Wikipedia is self-healing and does indeed breed quality. What this concept suggests is that it is important to design the software, and set policy, such that the ecology of Wikipedia does indeed breed for quality. Currently, it seems generally accepted that it does.
The pages' fitness in terms of stability and visiting frequency(unclear) can be substantially enhanced by the number of hyperlinks pointing to it. The (virtual) relevance thus created underlies Google's pageranking method.
Because quality and fitness are not concrete values which can be quantitatively measured, the question of what exactly Wikipedia is evolving towards can be answered in many different ways. Some find their answer in an overlap with the inclusionism philosophy, suggesting that the end result is a compilation of all human knowledge. Others, such as subscribers to exclusionism or deletionism, feel that the ultimate end would be a collection of only the most notable and encyclopedia-worthy articles edited to a level of perfection never before seen in published works. Overall, the difference in views on how the Darwikinist goal(unclear) is attained depends on what the individual feels would be the ideal Wikipedia.
There are other popular metaphors for the process within Wikipedia
Other people might hold that:
- Wikipedia is a demonstration of the classical liberal philosophy of Human Action, whereby optimized wealth emerges out of a decentralized, free and competitive process of trial-and-error creation.
- Wikipedia is a demonstration of the Second Law of Thermodynamics as it applies to ignorance
- Wikipedia articles are subject to undirected random mutation by idiots
- Wikipedia articles which are on popular, important or historical subjects are given the greatest attention by vandals
- Darwikinism is the final desperate justification for intellectual mediocrity by mediocre minds.
(Although those latter remarks will certainly not help in the least to improve the process.) Interesting, though, is the observation that articles do indeed mutate. It appears that random drift indeed plays a major role in darwikinism. A battle of ideas, to come back to the idea at the outset, is certainly a metaphor that invites drawing parallels with Darwinism, since ideas, just as culture or language can be shown to evolve.