There is no Fork

17 Sep ’06

Or, I suspect, there soon won’t be one (with apologies to Messrs. Wachowski) – the proposed fork of Wikipedia seems unwise to me; it seems to me that it’s simply too darned early in the development of Wikipedia to expect people to pay much attention to a v2 or a parallel project, even if it involves some interesting ideas. Larry Sanger apparently describes the project as “an experimental new wiki project that combines public participation with gentle expert guidance.” Which is interesting, because I thought that’s exactly what Wikipedia was.

Mathew cautions against getting too far into the personalities behind the scene, and from what I’ve read that’s good advice. But it seems just quite unfortunate that the communities behind these alternative approaches can’t combine their energies.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Glenn Fleishman September 17, 2006 at 16:34

I certainly I agree with you, then, on *who* is participating. But haven’t you contributed to Wikipedia only to find an area in which you know what’s what removed, or edited poorly? Haven’t you read discussions and history in which you see how those with years of acquired knowledge (ivory tower or no) are dismissed?

I don’t see how the two groups come together because there’s a fundamental governance problem. Wikipedia believes in emergent authoritativeness. The Citizendium folk(s), as far as I can tell, believe in guided authoritativeness.

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Rob Hyndman September 17, 2006 at 16:12

Certainly I don’t mean officially, Glenn. But generally, people who write are those who know what they’re writing about, and ditto people who edit. From the community, there are people who can knowingly contribute to all topics of interest, the idea obviously goes. I just really don’t see why the two groups can’t come together on an agreed hybrid.

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Glenn Fleishman September 17, 2006 at 16:03

Come now, there is no expert guidance in Wikipedia. Expertise is not rewarded or recognized. There’s no test for authority. There’s no requirement for identity (which the new project requires — only registered users will be able to make changes, but the bar to registration is likely just an email address, which allows anonymity). There’s no way to keep stuff from flapping (edits going back and forth between competing camps) without protection, which is used very sparingly.

If you read posts in which Wikipedia editors get directly involved, you find some very weird authoritarian decisions that rely on weird, internal logic and a lack of definition of what reality is. Read the discussion on danah boyd, and you’ll find the explanation that Ms. boyd doesn’t have to right to spell or capitalize her own name, only the New York Times does.

I have hopes for the new project depending on how they define their paramteters.

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