No joy in Maddenville, a parable
|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.
Once up a time there was a man named Jimbo King who liked American football more then anything else in the world. He liked it so much that he created a town for him and anybody else who loved football. He named the town “Maddenville” and it was open to anybody who liked to play football, watch football, or even just talk about football.
So people started to move into the town and leagues and teams were formed for people of all ages. For playing the game, Jimbo set a few basic rules as “pillar rules” such as “the game will be played on a field of 100 yards with a regulation football, the games will be divided into 4 quarters of 15 minutes, 7 points for a touchdown, 3 points for a field goal, and a few others. Only the minimum needed to keep the game “football”. All the other rules were decided by consensus.
For the first few years everything worked fine. One league or another had games everyday and the townspeople set up websites, forums, and blogs for talking about the games and to agree upon the rules. Sometimes there were disagreements over rules like how many downs the offense had to move 10 yards or the definition of a forward pass but all these were eventually settled by consensus and there was joy in Maddenville.
One day a stranger named “Casey” moved into town who had some new ideas about how to play football. He thought it should be played on a diamond shaped field with teams of 9 players who would take turns hitting a little white ball with a wooden bat and try to run around the bases to score. He presented his ideas in the forums and the other townspeople politely told him that what he was proposing was not “football” and therefore would violate the pillar rules. However, Casey was a very stubborn man and wouldn't take “no” for an answer so he kept on proposing his ideas in the forums.
At first the townspeople remained civil about this and tried their best to convince Casey that his game wasn't “football” but he kept on insisting that the game should be played his way. He would claim that many other townspeople agreed with him and supported him in email but were afraid to speak up because they didn't want to be banished by the “footcabal” which he claimed was a group consisting of Jimbo King and a few of his “cronies”.
His next move was to create a “cardboard consensus”. He made cardboard figures of people and set them up at the fields during the games. They all had looping tape players that made them chant “BAT AND BALL” over and over again. He then created blogs and forum accounts for all his cardboard figures and had them all post support for his ideas. However, this all failed to convince the townspeople that he had a consensus and he eventually was banished after he was caught with a bulldozer trying to plow diamonds into the football fields.
However, the banishment only enraged Casey and he vowed revenge on the town. First he set up a website called “Maddenville Review” and he used this to attack Jimbo King and many other townspeople. Then other strangers started to show up with their own ideas on how to play football. One claimed that football should be played on an indoor court with teams of 5 trying to throw a big brown ball into a high netted hoop. Another claimed that football should be played by trying to kick a big white ball into a rectangular net because that's how the rest of the world plays it. All these strangers had their own “cardboard consensus” and bulldozers and it got to the point that the townspeople were spending more and more time arguing with the newcomers and their cardboard figures and repairing the damage done with their bulldozers and less time playing football. No longer was there joy in Maddenville.
- See also: No joy in Maddenville, a continuation