Trust And Responsibility

One of my favorite comments since the WikiMindWipe was about trust. Someone remarked that it was hard to trust Wiki content anymore, since we can't trust people to not go back and change (or delete) their words. As if you ever could! As if prior to Sam's leaving, there was never the possibility that someone might go on a purge spree. Duh! --JohnPassaniti

Not duh to me. The trust factor is important. Sure, it's silly to say only "it is hard to trust Wiki content anymore" but the issue of trust is raised by this incident, as is the related issue of responsibility. --RichardDrake

I don't understand how words like "trust" and "responsibility" could ever apply to a system like this-- a system where complete strangers can edit (or delete) any content they wish. Trust comes either from knowing people personally, or making naive assumptions about humans in general. Responsibility comes from a shared sense of purpose, which in a public system where complete strangers can visit, can't be assumed. --JohnPassaniti

Just think "handguns" and "public places". "Trust" and "responsibility" are of course greater (or sometimes sadly less) when we know people well. But nobody could live for long without some of both applying to vast numbers of people they don't know at all (plus the police and all the trappings of a civil society of course). Wiki's a smaller number of people, has less police but a number of social contracts have clearly been in place for Wiki to work, and these do rely on trust and responsibility. --RichardDrake

I made the original comment, and I don't really know people on here personally (I've only met RalphJohnson, and only once), and I also do not make naive assumptions about people in general. I've been hanging around Wiki since shortly after its birth (in '95), and I've grown to know a lot of people's WikiPresence - and I've grown to trust the quality of the pages that discourse among these people has generated.

So, when these conversations are suddenly marred by an (insert-your-description-here), it opens the door for others to follow suit. I'm not saying that anyone will, and I'm not saying the possibility never existed. I'm saying that it possibly lowers the resistance for others to do the same. To me, responsible refactoring is a Good Thing on Wiki because I trust the refactorers (refactor that word plz ;-) to not loose the spirit of the discussion. For a long time, flat out removal of contribution just did not happen. Now, I'm afraid, it may be becomming a part of the landscape... and I for one don't like it - it makes it hard to trust Wiki content. --DavidHooker

My feeling has been David that one of the reasons things boiled over in a big way recently was that we - that is all the Wiki readers - haven't been gently but firmly "nipping things in the bud". Meaning taking the knife to negative, ugly or stupid things on pages as we go. Even if that means small amounts of heat being generated on few more occasions. Once everyone gets used to a little more risk of deletion in the small we should be able to relax and enjoy a higher quality Wiki in the large. But these are obviously opinions, not facts. See DeletionInWiki for an example of the kind of deletion I'm talking about. --RichardDrake

See: PerpetualNow


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