The wiki way
- Conflict-driven view
- False community
- The Wiki process
- Power structure
- Overall content structure
- Encyclopedia standards
- Article length
- Measuring accuracy
The wiki way is to make bad edits easy to correct, rather than hard to make. It is the whole reason for creating a wiki in the first place, rather than a website (like most websites) where editing is only allowed by a handful of approved editors, and any changes desired by the larger public must be submitted as suggestions to, and then implemented by, those authorized editors. Such a system makes the process of getting desired changes made more cumbersome, and thereby makes members of the public less likely to bother with them.
For example, most users to a news website such as the New York Times who see a typo in an article are unlikely to go to the trouble of notifying the webmaster. That could require a number of steps such as finding the webmaster's email address, composing a message, etc. Who knows; perhaps many other users have already reported the same typo, and the extra effort involved in making another report is wasted. A wiki, on the other hand, allows users to simply hit an edit button and immediately make changes by themselves. In practice, this way has resulted in at least one high-quality product: Wikipedia.
One of the criticisms of FlaggedRevs and similar ideas is that they are contrary to the wiki way by making edits harder to make. Some of the same problems arise as on non-wiki websites. If changes do not go live until they are reviewed, then good edits must wait awhile before they can begin benefiting the public. One user writes:
|“||I recently opened up an issue of Skeptic Magazine and saw a headline, "Why there something rather than nothing". My first thought was, "Great job, guys." But, it's easy to make a typo, even in a headline. My second thought was, "If this were a wiki, I would correct it."
And this gets to the heart of the wiki way: It lets people correct your embarrassing errors. People think, "Oh no! If we let just anyone edit, they would write something that would embarrass us." But the truth is, the freedom to make changes is what makes evolution possible, even if there are some missteps along the way. At least if your wiki editors make a bad edit, you can blame it on them. If you are the one who made an error, and didn't allow others to fix it, then you have no one to blame but yourself.
Transparency and communication
The wiki way also requires transparency and communication. Users cannot correct bad actions unless they can see what those actions were and find out the reasoning behind them. Hence the wiki software makes it easy to review all actions, and every subject page has a talk page where changes can be discussed. Transparency is defeated when actions are discussed in private, as in many ArbCom cases. Communication is hindered when certain topics are declared off-limits to discussion.
Alternatives to the wiki way
Developer M.R.M. Parrott criticized Wikipedia and offered his own software, GetWiki, as an alternative to MediaWiki: "GetWiki is based on collaboration among trusted members, the way blogs are written. The deceptively open Wiki Way doesn't work." Parrott cites bullying, groupthink, invasions of privacy, inaccuracy, spam, and vandalism among the problems of wiki-websites directly addressed with GetWiki, a companion site to rimric.com. "I'm all about the content," he says, "instead of requiring thousands of eyeballs to police a disorganized maze of largely irrelevant pages, I focus GetWiki on quality. For years, the well-documented practices of big wiki-encyclopedias have not led to greater accuracy, public education, or content relevance. For example, as a philosopher, I have yet to read an accurate, well-written, astute Wikipedia article on any important subject." Like Citizendium and other attempts to create a closed or semi-closed system, GetWiki didn't catch on.