How To Prevent Wiki Mind Wipe

Poor wiki! What a mess! Here's a real TragedyOfTheCommons. We can tidy up, heal the wounds, replace the lost content, but how shall we go about preventing such tragedies in the future?

We could try to avoid making people think such drastic action was necessary. On a more operational note, a versioning Wiki that allowed people to look at old versions of pages would make a WikiMindWipe less traumatic, as people could still wax nostalgic over the fossil pages.

Would this really help? Perhaps it would just make the enmities deeper and worse.


Anything you introduce to Wiki technology will have a chaotic (as in Chaos Theory) effect on the WikiNature. A more fluid method would be to change the community ethos.

I think a write-once (EnvyDeveloper-style) repository approach to wiki storage could allow Wiki to respond to such interactions without breaking. I also think this can be accomplished without altering the "WikiNature" of the environment. Finally, I agree that this is a social, not technological, phenomena. Perhaps instead of attempting to "fix" it, we should instead accept and embrace it as a newly unfolding aspect of Wiki -- sort of a bitter accent to the rest of the dish. --TomStambaugh

The mature palate appeciates bitterness. --KeithBraithwaite stop pretending you're old Braithwaite

A versioning system would wreck WikiEssence because you could never retract what you said. cf. WikiNow.


The WikiNatureNeedsaPatch. What this page calls for is ideas about what that patch should be. --PeterMerel

Why ever would that be, Peter? Could you expand?

I wish Sam hadn't done what he did, but I don't see it in conflict with WikiNature. In a way I'm pleased that Sam felt enabled to take the Wiki principle to its limit. I salute him for his bravery (however misguided). --KeithBraithwaite


"Social change can only occur through technological change." The implications of this are too scary for me to even think about whether it's true.

There are two problems that I think need to be distinguished. One is preventing someone from wiping out all of his own contributions; another is preventing someone from wiping out great bunches of others' contributions. I think the latter is a straightforward technical problem, whose solution might involve some means of detecting an occurrence and some more-or-less automated way of recovering (for some notion of "recovering").

As for preventing someone from wiping out all of his own contributions, I don't think this should be solved through a technical approach. I think one ought to be able, from a WikiEthics? perspective, to delete any or all of his words. I can think of several reasons -- legal, professional, and personal -- for wanting to do that, and no compelling reason to forbid it.

As far as discouraging it, I don't think there's much anyone can do to alter legal or professional situations in which someone feels he must delete his contributions. And personal reasons? These are too varied to generalize about, but I doubt concern about a WikiMindWipe will be much of a motivation for any of us to change our behavior. -- TomKreitzberg


WikiNature is not about finding the truth. WikiNature is about finding where the polarities are and letting all "sides" substantiate their claims.

ThreadMode is good at contrasting those polarities point by point but it is also very good at personalizing the emotional context. That tends to amplify misunderstandings rather than reconcile them.

I think the WikiSuicide demonstrates that over-adherence to ThreadMode can change collaboration into confrontation. When a discussion starts becoming heated it's time to refactor: Summarize the contentious points and add a page for each point of view.

To create a wiki where every viewpoint has a home contributers must exercise some restraint and get into the habit of learning the context of a page before adding something contrary to a page's intent. Also WikiMaster(s) and WikiCitizen(s) should have less hesitation about moving material where it rightly belongs.

-- EricBennett


If I said something really bad or hurtful, I might wish to take it back, and can at least imagine that I would. I think I'd more likely rephrase what I wrote and add an apology.

If I made a mistake, I'd try to fix it. If it broke the flow, I'd point to a retraction or fix elseWiki.

If I didn't want Wiki to have me in it, I can barely imagine that I'd delete my signatures everywhere.

I'm too proud, I guess, to delete my thoughts. That'd be like dying, only worse. I'd be forgotten. That would be bad, for me.

I think I might avoid signing my work for a while.
Just as in real life encounters, people say things that they regret, make mistakes, misquote, etc. Its nice to have the option to edit and revise; however the factor of once its out there, its out there (somewhere) forever...as words too; once you say them you cant take them back. Wiki's allow for interaction, and editing, just as in real conservation. Having the option to see the history could allow a reader to see view points, or errors that were edited out of the final page. Sometimes those errors allow for evolution of discussion. - Jamie S.

See also: WikiSuicide
CategoryWikiMaintenance

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