[p2p-research] the wikipedia decline

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 27 02:17:39 CET 2009

I hear your argument, and I think it's wrong ...

allowing low threshold add-on and verification by a passionate community is
what I advocate ... which as pre-deletionist days showed, created a lot of

or, high treshold add-on and verification, which discourages participation
and diminishes the number of eyeballs ...

solution 1 is better at fighting spam and errors than strategy 2, (which I'm
assuming was chosen because the deletionist followed the same reasoning as
you do here)

the mistake is that you see the wikipedia as one big thing, instead as a
collection of pages that are of interest to many microcommunities, each of
them passionate about correcting their pages ..

errors, spam and libel will occur in any of the strategies, but has more
chance to be corrected in an open participatory environment than in a closed
hierarchical and disempowering one,

On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 7:09 AM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:

> Michel Bauwens wrote:
>> Hi Paul,
>> the issues of spam and libel etc.. are real, but have no bearing on
>> inclusionism/deletionism, since they can happen on both notable and
>> so-called non-notable articles; in fact, since the latter are from
>> passionate subcultures, they have most chance of being corrected ...
>> either we go back to pre-publication censorship or verification, or we
>> accept the open model, knowing that the latter is a process of
>> post-publication verification ..
>> again, the only result of deletionism and creating the selection
>> hierarchy,
>> has been to destroy the passionate engagement of volunteers, as has now
>> been
>> amply demonstrated, and was widely expected by people such as myself ...
> Maybe I'm not explaining this well.
> Let me try again with more rambles on this. :-) I'm not saying I'm right on
> this; I'm just trying to advance a plausible argument for deletionism and
> notability for Wikipedia, even as I agree 100% it seems out of hand if it is
> driving people away. And personally, I wish that page on the Infinity, Ltd
> sci-fi society had not been deleted.
> I'm suggesting that the more pages Wikipedia has, the more likely someone
> can place information that creates legal liability for Wikipedia. With many,
> many mostly trivial pages, no one may notice something is seriously wrong
> with one of them until someone is directly and seriously offended, and can
> then say that information has been up for a year, and then sue or attack
> Wikipedia somehow over it. This is a legal issue, and maybe, ultimately, the
> remedy for it should be legal and not technical or community process?
> Consider, for example, just to show I'm not making this up completely out
> of paranioa:
> "Italian Prosecutors Seek Prison Sentences For Google Execs"
> http://news.slashdot.org/story/09/11/26/1326216/Italian-Prosecutors-Seek-Prison-Sentences-For-Google-Execs
> ""Milan prosecutors have sought prison sentences ranging from six months to
> one year for four Google executives accused of violating Italy's privacy
> laws over the posting of a video showing the bullying of a handicapped
> teenage boy. The prosecutor's request was backed up by a request by lawyers
> representing the Milan city council for €300,000 (US$452,000) in moral and
> material damages. The case concerns the posting on Google Video of a
> three-minute mobile-phone video showing a handicapped boy being tormented by
> his classmates in a Turin school.""
> More on that:
> http://yro.slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&type=story&sid=08/11/07/1925218
> "mikesd81 writes to tell us that four Google employees may be facing
> charges of defamation and failure to control personal data simply because
> they didn't remove a video of a boy with Down's Syndrome being harassed and
> eventually hit over the head with a box of tissue, from Google Video. The
> video was posted in September of 2006 and was removed by Google within a day
> of receiving the initial complaints, but apparently that isn't fast enough."
> A focus on articles being "notable" and "verifiable" is one defense for
> Wikipedia staff perhaps -- that they are trying to avoid such problems, and
> so if there is a problem, it is not due to ill will or lack of trying, but
> just the nature of running a big useful site.
> Also, beyond setting up a legal defense, sure, notable articles can get
> spammed or vandalized, but they will be fixed fairly quickly. Others
> probably won't. So, the risk vs. reward is different for articles with
> different interest levels. Every page that is created poses a new risk for
> Wikipedia; the risks worth taking are the pages that have the most value to
> the community.
> The "notable" articles, probably really meaning popular articles or
> culturally iconic articles maybe, will get a lot of people viewing them, and
> problems will be quickly found and corrected. Less popular pages probably
> create just as much legal liability per incident, but are less likely to be
> fixed quickly (so, maybe more likely to generate legal action? weighed
> against them being less likely to be viewed, except maybe by someone using a
> search engine specifically looking for trouble somehow), and those less
> notable pages are also somehow worth less to the community. So, the risk is
> less worth taking for less notable pages.
> One might draw some kind of curve of risk vs. reward for pages of different
> interest levels.
> Let me give a hypothetical example (making up some numbers).
> Wikipedia has about three million articles in English.
> I'm guessing (is there some analysis somewhere?), following the usual an
> exponential distribution with a "long tail" that articles fall into some
> categories of more "notable" to less "notable":
> 1% of articles are really important to a lot of people.
> 10% of articles are fairly important to quite a few people..
> 30% of articles are interesting to some people.
> 50% of articles are interesting to a very few people.
> 9% of articles are of no interest except to people who made them and maybe
> their friends.
> Those are just guesses (anyone here know?), and they assume deletionism has
> been going strong for a while, and they may even be skewed toward too much
> interest. Maybe 50% of articles are of little interest -- I don't know for
> sure. But I can guess at least 10% of articles are probably fairly
> interesting, so probably at most 90% of articles are probably not that
> "notable".
> But what if Wikipedia grew 1000X to be three billion articles, purely by
> people adding random "non-notable" things, and 99.9% of articles were of no
> interest to anyone but the people who made them and a few friends? I just
> looked at one new article today from the new articles page and it was a
> woman's name and a few silly things about her (maybe not even derogatory,
> just silly) and was marked already for speedy deletion. In general, without
> a lot of policing, people might even just start using Wikipedia as --
> shudders -- a wiki! :-) So, people across the globe might just start using
> it like a public chalk board.
> If only, say, 0.01% (so, one hundredth of one percent) of the Wikipedia
> content was of interest to at least a very few people, there would be no way
> for the community to police what was going on, assuming the community was
> not suddenly very much larger. But the Wikipedia community seems to have
> stopped growing a lot, either because of the deletionism or, more likely,
> that there are a lot of other alternatives for attention on the internet and
> all the easy notable articles are there and the exponential growth of people
> coming onto the web is ending.
> So, by letting there be billions of pages that were not "notable", there
> would be no way to have any hope of ensuring content was not a liability
> until the legal notices came in. And then that would take a lot of time to
> manage.
> Of course, one can still argue about where the cut-off on "notability"
> should be. And that is probably pretty subjective. It might make more sense
> to look, after a year, at articles that have few page views and delete
> those. Or, maybe, have a way people can click to say they thought the
> article was important to mod it up if few people viewed it, or something
> like that (assuming that would work).
> Now, if you look at the web, probably 99.9% of the content is of no
> interest except to people who make it and their friends. That still may mean
> tens of millions of interesting pages for everyone, because the web is now
> so large (billions and billion of pages -- Google says they now see a
> trillion unique URLs).
>  http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/we-knew-web-was-big.html
> So, if Wikipedia goes that way, it basically becomes the web somehow. And
> maybe that's a good idea, but it's just not what the creators and the people
> who joined them have in mind.
> Now, maybe those people are just misguided in some way. Maybe it would be
> best to just have a public wiki space with a search engine and a moderation
> system? Maybe the idea of an encyclopedia is obsolete?
> Or, maybe there should be some way for Wikipedia to support multiple groups
> working towards their own encyclopedias by their own guidelines? So, there
> could be one wiki group with very aggressive deletion policies, but there
> might be another group with lax ones or none at all, and there might be
> other groups that tried to connect knowledge from various perspectives
> somehow. I don't know if that would work out. It's just a thought.
> One idea I developed for the Pointrel system in some versions was that you
> could layer archives of triples on top of each other to create synthesized
> composite views. So, people might have a common core and then layer
> different data on top of it.
> The deep issue is, giving wikis can hold anything, what is the "value
> added" that the Wikipedia community is offering over, say, the original
> wiki?
>  http://c2.com/cgi/wiki
> Consider what is said there:
>  http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiIsNotWikipedia
> """
> Wiki Is Not Wikipedia
> As this wiki matures a curious pattern emerges.
> In the olden days, people learned to Wiki here, then migrated out to other
> forums.
> These days, WikiPuppys who grew up with WikiPedia come here. Sometimes,
> they start applying its norms to our edits.
> Folks, these are the norms for this wiki:
>    * unattributed viewpoints
>    * original research
>    * fussing, noise, fun, actual and inactual advances
>    * thread mode, jokes, and transclusions
>    * content shamelessly ripped off from other forums, possibly without
> attribution
>    * signed works by WikiAuthors
>    * unsigned works by actual authors
> Nothing here needs to be chronically cleansed of any potential for dissent!
> Amen!
> """
> So, what is Wikipedia? A tool? And information source? A community? A set
> of rules or principles? A license? An index into "notable" content? A set of
> servers that can get hit hard and keep running? All of those things? None of
> them if it just an idea of an "online encyclopedia"?
> Before we can talk about how Wikipedia can be better, we need to say what
> it is, or what it is trying to be?
> How is Wikipedia different than Ward's Wiki? And why? And what does that
> mean now and in the future?
> Maybe a big issue is just "identity"? Or "mission"?
> But in this big complex and changing world, "identity" itself can be a
> slippery subject. Maybe the real issue is not, has Wikipedia lost editors,
> but, has Wikipedia lost its identity somehow?
> --Paul Fernhout
> http://www.pdfernhout.net/
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Work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhurakij_Pundit_University - Research:
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