Grants:IdeaLab/Reforming the Community - Academic Purism
What is the problem you're trying to solve?
The issue of gender disparity within the Wikipedia community, manifesting in less than 1 in 5 Wikipedia users being female, is clearly represented in the way the community operates. Arguments erupt over trivial details, discussion pages can go years without being used,
What is your solution?
In an effort to reduce the amount of ostracism that underspoken community members perceive, efforts should be taken to reduce the amount of personalization to user pages and personal fame that users experience or perceive. I propose the following changes:
- Removal of user page customization, which serves no real purpose except to express one’s identity, which has no place on Wikipedia.
- Removal of public display of contributions, which should be solely used by administrators to monitor vandalism and promote based on merit. It is not a matter of public speculation, and accomplishes nothing but make some users appear responsible for the majority of article content.
- Re-education of the community, promoting diplomatic reasoning and academic discussion in the Talk/Discussion pages over direct and immediate editing, which tends to lead to edit wars and some users feeling tremendously outspoken.
- I do cautiously endorse the removal of user page customization, though removal of public display of contributions is absolutely impossible due to cc-by-sa license. The pagehistory page is a list of authors and can not be hidden. The list of users' contributions is just a combination of history pages and therefore can not be effectively hidden. Moreover if hidden it will lead to creation of off-wiki instruments to gather such edits, which will be not known to some constructive editors, but shurely known by trolls and disruptive editors.--Abiyoyo (talk) 21:38, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
Expand your idea
Wikipedia is first and foremost a free encyclopedia. Its primary concern is not personal credit, creating a social atmosphere, or displaying one's identity; it is to provide free, reliable information. The fact that we even have user pages for our login names is excessive and self-gratifying. That combined with the fact that they can be altered to display all kinds of personal information (where you live, what language you speak, whether or not you like trains, etc.) does nothing but clutter the wikisphere with trivial, non-academic information. These seemingly-unimportant tidbits can be put together to assemble an idea of the kind of person behind the username, and more often than not this person is unquestionably male. The personalization of adding picture albums – often of nothing more pertinent than what the user thinks is cool – is also excessive, and serves no major function aside from promoting the extraneous identity of the individual. If one likes the images on this site (which is entirely understandable), their computer has a folder titled “My Pictures”. Personal tastes need not be public knowledge here.
The displaying of contributions, while useful for monitoring potential vandals and promoting individuals to administrators based on editing merit and adherence to Wikipedia’s guidelines, is unnecessarily displayed to everyone, which tends to create the superficial status of “contribution celebrities” – users whose name precedes them based on their number of edits and their frequent traffic on the site. The authority these editors wield in the public view further adds to the ostracism that newer or unfamiliar users feel, and almost certainly contributes to the trend of some articles being predominantly written by a handful of frequent users. By removing this display from everyone, user pages become efficient methods of communication with users when necessary and clutter-free
Finally, the removal of personalization of one’s user page and display of one’s personal on-site fame can sufficiently reduce the amount of perceived lack of voice among the underspoken, but if true change is to be attained, there should be a policy of re-education of existing community members. The guidelines of Wikipedia are seemingly enforced at any available opportunity, but this does very little to stop the conflict-ridden trend that more popular pages are subjected to on a daily basis. On average, Wikipedians tend to be argumentative and stubborn, jumping to undo edits they do not agree with and pulling no punches when criticizing those with whom they have disagreements. Flame wars are all-too-common, and the discussion pages (those little tabs next to “Read” on the top bar?) are rarely used at all, with direct editing preferred and the final say being determined by whoever makes the last undo before the admins get involved. Promotion of these discussion pages before editing should be made a priority among users; it does take longer for information to be added, but it will also increase the quality of information added and should reduce the necessity to change it.
Wikipedia is not a social media site. It is a free encyclopedia, and as such should be concerned primarily with providing factual information to as many people as possible. With users appearing more uniform and identical, the apparent distinction between frequent users and new users is reduced if not diminished. This should not reduce edit quality, unless the frequent editors are doing so for personal glory, in which case they should reevaluate their reason for being here. This will serve to make less experienced users feel more welcome and decrease the perceived disparity in voice that some users have over others. The community also needs to be re-educated in proper academic debate and discussion, promoting polite discourse and general consensus over declaring one’s “rightness” by getting the last edit in.
This idea is not about removing personal freedoms or making Wikipedia less welcoming. On the contrary, the removal of the extraneous information will make Wikipedia feel more anonymous, where one won't have to feel like they're going to be critiqued harder because of their gender or other personal details that are not pertinent to how they should be received. There is no end to the places where you can post montages of one's interests with a 7 paragraph biography along with it, but this doesn't need to be one of those places. This should be purely about the academic value of the articles within the encyclopedia. Women have an academic value that is tremendously lacking in this community, and while we shouldn't try to cater specifically to one group, we need to be more inclusive and make this place more suitable for everyone.
Do you want to submit your idea for funding from the Wikimedia Foundation?