Discussion on why the wikipedia works
|This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.
As an active sysop of one rather small wikipedia which in last few weeks reached first critical point I am just writing an article where wikipedia should go, but to elaborate my points I am discussing why wikipedia works, and that is by chance name of this article (I wrote it, but I found the name as red link on page Growing Wikimedia).
Reasons why wikipedia works
- Not going deeply into human morale and ethics, I state plainly that human race is inherently good and tends to cooperate, which you can see here on all wikimedia projects. I am not stating that every man is inherently good, as that would be impossible to prove, but most are.
- Draws on the collective knowledge of all of humanity, instead of just a select group of "experts".
- Relies on peer-review.
- A neutral bias can be maintained, because no single ideological group has the ability to exclude their ideological enemies.
- Today a lot of people live rather alienated lives in big cities, and our "tribes" are effectively smaller than they were 10,000 years before, so there are less opportunities to act your goodness/kindness in your tribe (business contacts/people you are working with usually are not members of your tribe).
- Today, in a time of cheap Internet available practically everywhere, programmers can act their goodness through open source projects, working or alone on small projects or collaborating with many people to make Firefox, for example (see sourceforge for more details).
- Not everyone is a programmer, so there is Project Gutenberg, in which everybody can assist (see Distributed proofreaders of PG for more details).
- Problem with PG is that to finish one book considerable effort is needed, along with a lot of time of usually not one man, and we are (human race) inherently impatient :-), or rather we prefer to see small results but fast, than to see greater results but in a long run. It can be cured when you see that continued effort always gets results, but the human nature of newborn remains. Here, the story of wikipedia jumps in, with two sugar candies: time needed to write a rather decent article is short compared to time needed to proofread (and correct) a book, and mechanism of respect attained through becoming a member of wikipedia community who is worker (writes articles/edit & correct errors in other's articles), tolerant mediator (wikipedia is a big community, conflicts are unavoidable, and there is always a need to settle a few things) or developer, or vandal checker, or something else.
- In a way, wikipedia is using people from all three above mentioned groups: developers, proofreaders and "an article per day editors/writers", and is more gratifying than most other projects, to developers - they can see that really a lot of people are using their software, and they are part of community, and that part with community also works for all other participants in wikipedia project.
In short, I really don't care why wikipedia works, thanks God that it works :-)
Tribe is meant as Desmond Morris uses it in his book "Naked ape" etc.
SpeedyGonsales 18:43, 26 August 2005 (UTC)