The Tyranny of Wiki-Democracy

Wikipedia is pretty darn cool because it’s a group assemblage of knowledge from anyone who wants to participate. It’s self-correcting to some extent, because every addition and modification is visible to everyone else. According to the creator of the Wikipedia concept, though, there are major problems:

  • A lack of public perception of credibility, particularly in areas of detail (what Sanger calls “anti-elitism”)
  • The dominance of difficult people, trolls, and their enablers.

These are fundamental problems with any organization, not just Wikipedia. When an organization gets large enough, inevitably agendas begin to diverge. In the first case, it’s “who is trustworthy”, and the values that go with that. In the second case, it’s abuse of the system to further personal agenda, and trying to fix it without destroying the qualities that allowed the system to work in the first place. In the US, we feel free to leave and start our own new thing to maintain “mission purity”, which tends to leave the parent organization with the people who are thinking only about themselves and the “rules”, resulting in stasis and/or loss of vitality. The author doesn’t quite say this, but does note that it happens over and over again.

I have no solutions, except to try to understand motivation versus intention as much as possible, in any circumstance, and make a judgment call whether it’s “for the project” or “for the individual”.

Much interesting discussion follows in the comments on Kuro5hin.