Wiki Nature Needsa Patch

From HowToPreventWikiMindWipe

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

What I'm thinking is that WhyWikiWorks breaks down when one of the participants ceases to respect the others. Although a full-blown WikiStoneSociety seems to me to violate WikiNature, and likewise would a versioning system, and also making the site open to people with passwords only, I'm thinking we have to have a way to put a stop to a determined and shameless vandal.

The solution that comes to my mind that might preserve WikiNature is this: provide a "Complain" button on each page, which pops up a text pane to record the complaint and the complainant's email. Complaints have to be backed by an email confirmation. Keep a 24-hours-ago copy hidden, so no-one can refer to it in conversation. If Wiki gets more than, say, 20 complaints about a particular edit, it:

  1. appends the edit to a publicly available read-only "slush pile"
  2. restores the 24-hours-ago hidden copy of the page

I'm trying to avoid making anyone moderator here ...

As to Keith's salutation ... to me, what Sam did was destructive and thoughtless, disrespectful of every wiki participant, and a terrible discredit to himself. The damage both to content and community will take months, at least, to heal. WikiMindWipe is the moral equivalent of book-burning. If that's bravery, let's have no more of it. -- PeterMerel

Peter, I agree with everything you've said there, except the one sentence "WikiMindWipe is the moral equivalent of book-burning", which strikes me as slightly hysterical. Wiki is not a book, nor anything remotely like a book (with all the cultural baggage that comes with "book" and "burning"). Reconsider Sam's actions, and their result, in the light of WabiSabi, as referred to on WikiWikiWeb.

I stand by the "bravery" and I stand by the "misguided", and I see no conflict.

But, yes, I'd also stand by your "destructive", "thoughtless", "disrespectful".

Your suggested technological fixes are a bit heavy handed, I think, but no more so than some of the vicarious "see what you made me do" post-hoc justifications for Sam that are coming out elsewhere. Lets all just relax over this one for a bit until we GrokInFullness what is required. -- KeithBraithwaite

You're right KB, the book-burning comparison is hysterical, and the proposed fixes are heavy-handed. It's too easy to get carried away when you feel upset, which is I guess the root of the problem. I'm happy and relieved to relax and try to GrokInFullness. -- PM

If I wasn't even free to edit or delete my own comments anymore, or if these edits or deletions could be overridden, I think I would stop contributing. -- FalkBruegmann (P.S.: Don't tell me that in my case, that's not much of a threat, I know! :-)

You could still edit and delete anything you liked. Even 1 complaint about an edit would be highly unusual, but nothing would prevent you redoing the edit after the restoration. I think this wouldn't prevent a WikiMindWipe - it'd just slow it down and let other people help turn it into an orderly refactoring. -- PeterMerel

I continue to disagree with the sentiment of "what Sam did was destructive and thoughtless, disrespectful of every wiki participant, and a terrible discredit to himself." What he did was all his own business, completely within the bounds of acceptable behavior set out in wiki. I found it quite thoughtful and considerate, and even a credit to himself. He could, with a bit less self control, have done much more damage. Of course, not having participated in or even witnessed those last arguments, I have no emotional energy attachment. If he took himself out discussions, that's his business. I'll go with Falk -> if you were to pressure me to stay or not have complete control over my own, signed edits, including mass deletion, my interest and contribution would diminish immediately. -- AlistairCockburn

We have a problem here, Alistair, because if I really thought that this contribution of yours might disappear into thin air I would think twice about writing this reply. Because one day I may look like I'm talking to empty space right here, as it seemed in four places earlier today on EdYourdon and in various places on various other pages. Until I took the time and trouble to create SamGentle to come to my rescue - and that just in those instances I happened to spot. Funnily enough I had other things to do today as well as this unusual form of Wiki refactoring.

Am I the only one to feel this increase of inhibition in the last 36 hours? ThreadMode may be considered harmful by some but is this really the appropriate way to discourage it? -- RichardDrake

I don't much enjoy disagreeing with Alistair. It's usually a sign I'm mistaken. If Sam had only removed his own material, I'd be more charitable. As it is there's no way I can view what happened as acceptable use, much less as something that does Sam credit.

Let me be more candid on my feelings here. I never found it easy to interact with Sam, but we both tried hard and eventually found a way. I was anxious to make certain our mutual efforts were constructive, and did not descend into personal invective. In order to do this I frequently found it necessary to remove rather than return spite directed my way, for Sam does not write fondly of people with whom he disagrees. He "plays the man, not the ball". I honestly didn't enjoy that at all. Nevertheless the result seemed more than worth the effort of diplomacy, and good signal came out of the tension.

Well put. Without wishing to form the fully paid up PeterMerelFanClub?, let alone join it, may I say that one of the moments I cherished the most on Wiki was where you commended Sam for sharing some of the DeepSecrets? of COM, in the face of some criticism or other from the less enlightened. Real effort had clearly been expended on all sides, it had obviously not been easy, but the result was apparently very valuable. (In fact I'd also have to take your word for that. I was admiring the social skills rather than the secrets of COM.)

But there's no question in my mind that it's a shame that this passage is now presumably as meaningless as so many others. Sam had been generous with his time, you were generous towards him in more ways than one, now the one is removed and the other looks decidedly stupid. Thank you JeffGrigg for WikiMindWipeRepair. -- RichardDrake

Now, however, that signal is gone, and lots of pages have lots of ThreadMode with me talking to "the little man that wasn't there". I have no time or inclination to fix all this nonsense, so I must either tolerate leaving myself insanely talking to "Harvey", as it appears, or go delete my own contributions too. I had no part in whatever the friction was about over the last few weeks - I didn't follow the various arguments and know only vaguely who was involved. But I'm the sucker left holding the bag.

Think of it this way, Alistair. Let's say you elected to partner with someone on a book. You and this person hold dissimilar but representative views on the subjects you address. What results is a year-long dialog that illuminates many sides of the topic. You each put finishing touches on your positions and retire, satisfied that you've produced something balanced and worth reading.

One day the publisher tells you your partner has absconded with the proofs, leaving only a brief note that he became upset with a bunch of people unrelated to you. The remaining parts of your collaboration are illegible, meaningless without the missing words. I suggest you're likely and entitled to feel betrayed. I suggest your readers have been done a disservice. And I suggest your partner deserves your condemnation, forgiveness, and concern.

I HaveThisOpinion? too -- MartinPool

You may laud Anonymous [comments removed by PM. Sam has my apologies for speaking without tact. It should suffice to say "but I was very disappointed".] -- PeterMerel

I am not as vehemently appalled as Peter but I have to agree. Sam caused harm to us all by removing his material. He added pieces to our project by contributing, and the fact that he's removed them now means that our project has been damaged. There may be justifications for doing such a thing, and I would oppose any measure to automatically prevent it. But in this case I don't think that Sam's actions were warranted or supportable. When you make a contribution to Wiki, either by adding or taking away, you have a responsibility to the rest of us to make an effort to make Wiki a better place by your actions. Sam didn't do that. Sam filled his need - which was just and appropriate - at the expense of the rest of us - which was not. He could have achieved the same goal in a much more thoughtful and respectful way and chose not to. If we're to take any sort of corrective action, it might be to archive and restore pages when we see that they've been damaged. Sam didn't destroy anything that I particularly cared about (at least that I know of). But if he had, I'd have done a copy= on it, saved it to a text file, and restored the thing. We all have equal power here - to destroy and to preserve - what ultimately happens will have to come out of mutual consent. -- PhilGoodwin

People, I am tiring of this. I am sure it is hurtful to Sam, and frankly I think we are all too shocked to think clearly. In any case, trashing people here, even if they were evil (which I do not believe) is not part of what this community is about. Please stop. -- RonJeffries

This is all very interesting, mainly WRT what it says about people's attitude to Wiki. Is the WikiNatureRevealed here? And I agree with Ron, lets note Sam's mode of departure and move on. -- KeithBraithwaite

From the QuotePage: When you are angry or frustrated, what comes out? Whatever it is, it's a good indication of what you're made of. -- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

With all due respect to Mr Brown, Jr, we are better than we are when we are at our worst. We are also worse than we are when we are at our best. No one should feel trapped by their history. We spend our entire lives becoming who we are. -- PeterMerel

Well, I feel like I represent at least some of the lurkers, but I'll only claim to represent one, that would be me. I've not weighed in one way or the other about all this until now. Yes, I feel a loss, yes I'm inspired also. I truly believe that any changes to rules etc. is simply a KneeJerkReaction to the collective frustration induced by our loss of a strong personality. After all I've read here and there, and with a fox, and in a box, and on a train, I still don't understand why WikiNature needs a patch. Is it not the collective dynamics of our little community and by definition unpatchable? Patching it implies that there is code or something else that is broken. There is no code. There is one simple rule in Wiki: everything is writable by anyone. To allow one unfortunate incident (I really want to say PissingContest) to change the elegance of that rule would be reprehensible and I humbly suggest that it would do more damage than was wrought before. Perhaps we should all go read GreenEggsAndHam once more. -- Ted

For a slightly different context that would help us put the WikiMindWipe in perspective, take a look at CommunityLifeCycle, which is a first pass at a PatternLanguage of open collaborative communities. It tries to illuminate both the patterns and AntiPatterns inherent to the situation.

It does provide a context for talking about both the community and the SoftwareContext? that enables and supports the community, and how that SoftwareContext? evolves over time. It might make it clear as to WHY, so many people think that WikiNatureNeedsaPatch -- LarryPrice


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