Refactorer Ex Machina

There are pages on this Wiki that should not remain in their current state. Their topics are so controversial that the contributors have forgotten their better judgement, and now the pages suffer from a multitude of sins: personal attacks, mistrust, willful misinterpretation.

Someone must act. Perhaps these pages should be refactored? Some content could then be spared. Surely, among 32K of text, 1K contains wisdom.

Will that refactorer be you? Will you remove the animosity, organize the discussion, eliminate repetition, and tighten prose? In such a distrustful environment, people are more likely to accuse you of editing maliciously. Is your ego strong enough to gently deflect these attacks? When you toil to eliminate invective while retaining content, others will jump in and pour more gasoline on the flames. Is your patience so great that you will simply continue?

Who among us possesses the wisdom of Solomon, the persistence of Hercules, the eloquence of T.S. Eliot, and the patience of Job?

It is not you. It is not me, either. We are both mortals, flawed and finite.

Yet what is the alternative? Some people advocate deletion, yet deletion sounds wrong. Isn't that censorship? Don't we owe it to everybody to allow all topics, no matter what, to live on Wiki? Shouldn't every scrap of signal be saved, even if it's imbedded in 32K of noise?

Better to wait. This part of the Wiki is not our problem. WardsWiki awaits a RefactorerExMachina, who will one day appear to solve this problem. This wonderful person will do the difficult work we cannot take on for ourselves.

If not me, then someone else. If not now, then sometime.
I don't think we should wait for such a mythical beast. TheBestIsTheEnemyOfTheGood. Do what we can now and have trust that Wiki will recover from our mistakes. Some may ask, "Why now? What's the big rush?" I reply, "Why wait?"

Better to do nothing than to in haste to act do harm

I'ved waited two years. How much longer should I wait? Things may be going fast now while it's easy to find more work to do. Things will slow down the tighter things get until it reaches a new equilibrium. -- SunirShah

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough when I started this page. I consider waiting for the RefactorerExMachina to be a bad idea -- hence the line at the end, which is an inversion of "If not me, than who? If not now, then when?" -- francis

Now is a great time to do some work, and I doubt anyone seriously disagrees with that. The question is why everything has to be done now. The problem is the rate, not the start time. All it does it make it hard to keep up, which has made a number of people unhappy for no good reason.

Their problem is that they want to keep up on everything by themselves. But someone is seconding the motions. My advice: If you can't trust people here, why are you here anyway? Check what you can (never trust too much), but assume others are doing the same. AssumeGoodFaith. Everything here works collectively, both actions and review. -- SunirShah

I agree that people shouldn't keep up on everything by themselves, but shouldn't they be given a chance to keep up on some things, if they want to? I'm not the only one who thinks the present deletions [April 2002] are proceeding much to quickly for that. And I would say there have been good signs that some has been polemical, though under the circumstances it is impossible to say how much or to attempt to do anything about it.

They have the chance of keeping up on what's being done right now. When they aren't here, someone else is. That's the only way this site works.

Without examples, this is just paranoia and we DefendAgainstParanoia. An urge to caution is one thing, a failure is another, but let's not mix the two. -- SunirShah

Ok, Sunir. In that case, let me fall back to plain, simple facts. The present speed of deletions has made a number of people unhappy, for whatever reason, whether it is as you suggest a failure of their own or not. What benefits does it have to offset this? Why is refactoring as fast as possible a good idea to begin with?

The present speed of additions has made a number of people unhappy. You guys didn't FixYourWiki, so we are doing it now. It's not unclear what's expected, but nothing happened, so now your words are being fixed for you (the Royal You, anonymous VoiceOfWiki). Also, the deletions have slowed drastically. Now we're refactoring. -- SunirShah

Was this the best way to go about things, though? The question above is not rhetorical, I really would like to know why you feel such seemingly artificial urgency was a good thing.

It wasn't urgent. I wanted for over a year, until the bowstring was tight. The energy will dissipate eventually. Already this conversation has slowed things. --SunirShah

"Was this the best way to go about things, though? The question above is not rhetorical, I really would like to know why you feel such seemingly artificial urgency was a good thing."

I doubt it was the best way, but I don't think it was a bad way. It was just a way. I for one participated in a large number of deletions, mostly seconding deletions, but I did not feel any sense of urgency or rush or anything like that. It was a positive feedback effect. I saw a proposed deletion, I read the EditCopy to see if I agreed, I double-checked the BackLinks, when I agreed I made the deletion. Then I would inevitably reflect on the action and think, "Yes, that was a good deletion. I just helped make the Wiki a bit more focused, a bit cleaner, a bit more useful." I anticipated this feeling. If the anticipation wasn't there, if there were any serious doubts, I didn't second the deletion. Sometimes, I reverted the page and left comments on why I thought the page should stay. I started RefactorDontDelete. Frankly, I'm proud of my contribution, and also proud that others took part and made similar contributions. I feel that the Wiki is a better place for it. I do not feel that we were rushing, I feel that we had a lot of pages to work with and so many were deleted. I'm a RecentChangesJunkie as many of us are, and I visited Wiki about as often as I normally do. But the positive feedback kept me going. I didn't get bored because each good deletion gave its own little 'kick' to keep going. The rate of deletions says more about the 'ripeness' of Wiki than it does about our level of carefulness (see RefactorLowHangingFruit).

Ok, one final thing and then I'll stop bugging you guys. When all this began I was assured that I had a "vote" to reverse any of the deletions I felt it appropriate to. However, the deletions were for a time fast enough that such votes were completely impossible except from people with extensive back-up copies. I gather, then, that we've decided that leaving everyone "votes" is not in fact important, the trust stuff being more important? Not that isn't fair enough, but the conflicting messages are confusing.

WikiWiki has a double actor system by design. If you want an "everyone has a veto" model, see MeatballWiki which was the first to introduce such a PageDeletion model. The two systems are different because they come from two separate cultures. I understand that it's easy to confuse the two principles, as they are only subtlely different, but they are different. It's perhaps like trying to differentiate Americans from Canadians, or Australians from New Zealanders.

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