[p2p-research] the wikipedia decline

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Fri Nov 27 17:27:07 CET 2009

Michel Bauwens wrote:
> 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
> eyeballs
> 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,


You may well be right, especially about the notion of each page somehow 
being a microcommunity.

Still, notability suggests pages not be there unless the microcommunity is 
above a certain size. But, that is problematical, because without, say the 
"Infinity Ltd." sci-fi society page I refer to that was deleted, how can I 
join that community of editors? Or at least, viewers?

How can we do an experiment about what strategy gets the most or best 
participation by some standards?

Maybe Wikipedia is unconsciously already performing that experiment? :-) But 
maybe they could do it more formally somehow? :-)

I found it interesting to see this Wikipedia page tied in with the donation 
campaign  going on right now:
"Five facts about Wikipedia — and how you can help keep it free."
Fact #1: Wikipedia is run by a non-profit organization, the Wikimedia 
Fact #2: Even though Wikipedia is one of the five most visited websites in 
the world, we employ fewer than 35 people.
Fact #3: We support more than 100,000 volunteers who have contributed 14.3 
million articles in 270 languages.
Fact #4: We exist so that every single human being can freely share in the 
sum of all knowledge.
Fact #5: We depend on support from donors like you to keep Wikipedia 
running, and to keep it free. We ask only once a year – now is the time.

Consider "Fact #4: We exist so that every single human being can freely 
share in the sum of all knowledge."

Is that really true? If it is, what does it mean about deletionism? Or about 
making edits harder to make? Also, is "the sum of all knowledge" only that 
which has been published in official publications by credentialed experts? 
If so, Wikipedia has a questionable epistemology built into it.
Epistemology (from Greek ἐπιστήμη - episteme-, "knowledge, science" + λόγος, 
"logos") or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy concerned with 
the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge.[1] It addresses the questions:
     * What is knowledge?
     * How is knowledge acquired?
     * What do people know?
     * How do we know what we know?
Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of 
knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief, and 
justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as 
well as skepticism about different knowledge claims.
   The term was introduced into English by the Scottish philosopher James 
Frederick Ferrier (1808–1864).[2]

Maybe some more people at the Wikipedia foundation should read that 
Wikipedia article? :-) "Credentialism" was not mentioned there. Still, maybe 
they have read that page and made a choice of just one school of thought on 
this issue of what knowledge is or how it is justified. Essentially, it 
seems to me that Wikipedia's theory of knowledge has become that knowledge 
is a statement by an "authority", and further, a statement by an authority 
about a subject of broad interest, which is a different epistemology than in 
the freewheeling early days.

Again, maybe Wikipedia has an "identity crisis" now, more than anything? 
This may have happened in part because of Wikipedia's own success and the 
larger success of the world wide web around it that Wikipedia has been an 
important part of.

An identity crisis is when an individual loses a sense of personal sameness 
and historical continuity. The term was coined by the psychologist Erik 
Erikson. ...
   The identity is "a subjective sense as well as an observable quality of 
personal sameness and continuity, paired with some belief in the sameness 
and continuity of some shared world image. As a quality of unself-conscious 
living, this can be gloriously obvious in a young person who has found 
himself as he has found his communality. In him we see emerge a unique 
unification of what is irreversibly given--that is, body type and 
temperament, giftedness and vulnerability, infantile models and acquired 
ideals--with the open choices provided in available roles, occupational 
possibilities, values offered, mentors met, friendships made, and first 
sexual encounters (Erikson, 1970)."
   According to Erikson's stages, the onset of the identity crisis is in the 
teenage years, and only individuals who succeed in resolving the crisis will 
be ready to face future challenges in life. But the identity crisis may well 
be recurring, as the changing world demands us to constantly redefine 
ourselves. Erikson suggested that people experience an identity crisis when 
they lose "a sense of personal sameness and historical continuity". Given 
today's rapid development in technology, global economy, dynamics in local 
and world politics, one might expect identity crises to recur more commonly 
now than even thirty years ago, when Erikson formed his theory[citation needed].

Guess that last sentence is slated for deletionism? :-(

I'll repeat it for emphasis, and to think about in regards Wikipedia: "Given 
today's rapid development in technology, global economy, dynamics in local 
and world politics, one might expect identity crises to recur more commonly 
now than even thirty years ago, when Erikson formed his theory."

There, now I said it. Am I expert enough or an authority enough to cite? :-) 
Well, it depends in part on how you feel about epistemology. :-)

--Paul Fernhout

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