There are various ways Wikipedia could undergo regime change (see also threats and How to Destroy Wikipedia).
- Government could shut it down for teaching terrorists biology and physics—*they* would run it—or else terrorists would!
- Wikimedia could fail, leaving the project in an ambiguous state.
- The ideal Wikipedia board, or Britannica could form their own nonprofit and just start up a new user interface/web with the same front end. If they were successful in attracting name contributors and editors, they might eclipse the wikipedia.org front end.
- Those slandered or libelled or plagiaraized by the project might sue it to death.
- Crackers might wipe it out until they are granted control.
- Any group of like-minded Wikipedians might organize into an association that proposes an alternative form of government that is acceptable to the powers that be at Wikimedia. (See below for comments on "Peaceful regime change.")
- A project fork might succeed in eclipsing Wikipedia.
- other possibilities? If you find them credible, put them in worst cases. Until then they are mere threats.
Peaceful regime change
I have been involved in a variety of online communities, and my experience has been that the best forms of community government are those that govern least. In fact, the only legitimate reasons that I can think of for any group of like-minded individuals to organize themselves into a governing body are
- to prevent the formation of an oppressive regime, or
- to champion the right of all individuals to be left alone.
As it stands right now, Wikipedia is still one of the most free and open communities on the Internet. However, there are many well-respected Wikipedians who seem to think that Wikipedia needs to create all sorts of policies as well as all sorts of procedures for enforcing these policies, and these well-intentioned individuals are slowly gaining ground.
- Well-documented. See Wikipedia Vicious Cycle. Also, by calling Wikipedia a "community" you have actually created this problem. Communities have rules, cops, courts, jails, etc., because communities exist to protect real living and breathing bodies. In Wiki-space, these don't exist, except insofar as some of what is said and done "here" has victims, whose bodies are affected by outcomes.
- This isn't a "community"; it's a battlefield of ideas. Wikipedia_Peace_Process proposes a more rational way to deal with the reality of this.
Accordingly, I think the time has come for those of us Wikipedians who wish to be left alone to organize into an association which has as its sole purpose the defense of our God-given right to be left alone by other Wikipedians. Those who are interested in helping me charter such an organization should contact me privately by e-mail. -- NetEsq 08:19, 26 Oct 2003 (UTC)
- Isn't this what Legion of trolls does?
- As long as your organization leaves me the heck alone...
- What does "left alone" mean? You mean, left alone to libel someone? Or left alone to advocate ape genocide as simple "hunting rights"? There are lots of people who don't deserve to be left alone. Organization is needed, yes, but it isn't only and wholly an American style libertarian movement to protect free speech even if over-funded jerks kill everything they see with over-paid lawyers getting them off after the fact. And "God-given right"? God is a target too, He has much to answer for. Let's take 'im down! We need better methods of moral cognition. Starting simple, with our political and ethical obligations to each other is probably a good start.
- NetEsq, just how is being left alone a "God-given right"? lysdexia 01:26, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- << Well-documented. See Wikipedia Vicious Cycle. >>
Actually, the scenario narrated at "Vicious Cycle" is not particularly descriptive of the current crisis at Wikipedia. To wit, vandalism is not a particularly noteworthy problem. Rather, the biggest problems are factionalization and edit wars. As set forth at more heat than light, such disputes are typically resolved through an escalating process of tenacity, scope of conflict, and (finally) the sucker punch. In other words, passive aggressive individuals can easily exploit Wikipedia's current power structure and solicit a breach of civility, and the trend is towards more politeness policing.
- << [B]y calling Wikipedia a "community" you have actually created this problem. Communities have rules, cops, courts, jails, etc., because communities exist to protect real living and breathing bodies. >>
I wholeheartedly disagree. I have been the putative leader of no less than two online communities with hundreds of members. As the putative leader of those communities, I was able to enforce a general policy of "ignore all rules," as well as a general policy of forcing people to work things out between themselves. One of these communities was shut down indefinitely by virtue of the dot-com bust; the other is still languishing under the "leadership" of the powers that be who pulled rank on me. -- NetEsq 03:14, 10 Nov 2003 (UTC)
From Wikipedia Governance:
- "Edit wars are to be avoided in favor of efforts to create mutually acceptable articles -- this is where the guidance of the NPOV is most important. The Wikipedia culture is strongly opposed to Usenet-style flame wars. We try hard not to argue, but to find mutually satisfactory solutions."
"We" try hard not to argue? I wholeheartedly disagree. NPOV is the battle cry of the passive aggressive on Wikipedia, and all too often the person who gets corrected by the powers that be is the person who has been provoked. Let people work things out between themselves, and if individual Wikipedians wish to intercede as mediators, let them do so as individuals. As for edit wars, these can be handled best by a software mechanism that automatically protects a page that is reverted to the same previous version three times. -- NetEsq 05:08, 10 Nov 2003 (UTC)