Wikidynamism

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This page in a nutshell: Wikidynamists favor evolution through variation, feedback and adaptation. They believe in spontaneous order, in experiments and feedback, in evolved solutions to complex problems, in the limits of centralized knowledge, and in the possibility of progress.

Wikidynamism is a philosophy that favors decentralized problem solving. It holds that Wikipedians should allow fellow editors and groups thereof the freedom to associate with one another in whatever ways they choose that don't directly interfere with others; to experiment with wikitechnology; and to speak their minds without censorship, as long as they do not, in exercising these freedoms, forcibly infringe on others' ability to pursue their own paths.[1] This philosophy is closely connected to wikindividualism and laissez-faire.

Wikidynamism also has elements of mediawikianism, because it favors designing the software to be modular and customizable. Users can install their own plugins, allowing experiments to be conducted among those users who are willing to participate, rather than on the entire community or site as a whole. Likewise, site owners can make their own choices about what extensions to install, and those extensions can compete on an even playing field for wide acceptance.

Wikidynamist policies take a hands-off approach to userspace and oppose mobocracy, favoring instead individual choice in which people's wishes are carried about by leaders chosen through consumer and investor democracy. The theory is that in a free marketplace of ideas, in which people pursue whatever thoughts and plans they believe are best, many options will be tried, found wanting, and rejected, while others will be proven successful and be widely adopted. Wikidynamism holds that this is a surer and better way of evaluating ideas than posting proposals and hold a discussion largely based on "what-if" scenarios that may have little relevance to what would actually happen in practice.

Wikistasism[edit]

The opposite of wikidynamism is wikistasism, of which there are two variants, the wikireactionary and the wikitechnocratic. Wikireactionaries seek to freeze Wikipedia at a certain state of policy evolution, lest users engage in misguided experiments that are detrimental to the community or the project. Some users have a knee-jerk negative reaction to almost any proposal, saying that they are "a solution in search of a problem," rather than seeking to satisfy curiosity as to what might happen if the change were to be implemented. Wikitechnocrats seek a centralized structure in which the progress of the site is guided by an authority whose permission must be sought for any experiments.

Wikidynamists reject both of these wikistatist philosophies. They argue that keeping Wikipedia policies stable, rather than trying new ideas, will cause stagnation, since the project will not be able to adapt to changing circumstances (including Wikipedia's increasing size; some have argued that the encylopedia's policies and procedures have not scaled well). They argue that wikitechnocracy fails because innovation cannot be organized very effectively in a top-down manner; it relies on free spirits pursuing their own interests independently. Many of Wikipedia's software changes, such as the ParserFunctions extension, were inspired (or even impelled) by efforts taken by ingenious Wikipedians seeking to implement new functionality by the limited technical means they had available.

Five dynamist principles and their application, or lack thereof, on Wikipedia[edit]

Allow individuals (including groups of individuals) to act on their own knowledge[edit]

Green tickY Wikipedia allows users to create articles, templates, categories, scripts, etc.
Red XN Original research is banned.
Red XN The methods of overriding sitewide javascript and css are not as easy as, say, installing a Facebook plugin.

Apply to simple, generic units and allow them to combine in many different ways[edit]

Green tickY Categories and templates nest, and users can choose among competing templates

Permit credible, understandable, enduring, and and enforceable commitments[edit]

Red XN Deletion debates are to a large extent influenced by subjective opinions and driven by mob rule rather than being based on objective application of policy and rule of law. Therefore, it would be accurate to say that Wikipedia fails to live up to the promise or commitments made in its own policies stating that users can expect certain community standards to be adhered to. The enforcement mechanism depends on altruistic participation and therefore is subject to rational ignorance allowing a small, vocal minority to prevail over policy adopted by the larger community. The minority can violate policy while claiming it is upholding policy.

Protect criticism, competition, and feedback[edit]

Green tickY Users can voice their opinions in Wikipedia: and User: namespace essays and at the village pump.

Establish a framework within which people can create nested, competing frameworks of more specific rules[edit]

Green tickY Categories and templates nest, and users can choose among competing templates
Red XN Templates for deletion and categories for deletion are centralized decision-making mechanisms

References[edit]

  1. Thoreau, Henry David. Resistance to Civil Government. “If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too.”

See also[edit]