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Wikipedia decision making (was Re: [ox-en] Re: Business opportuities based on Free Software)


Markus <markus>:
On Mon, 29 May 2006 12:08:17 [PHONE NUMBER REMOVED], Per I. Mathisen <per> wrote:
well, has anyone concretely asked:

active contributors with more than 128 edits in the last four months, do
you accept ads on the site in exchange for 300 million? this money is
going to be used to help poor people and specifically for this and that.
yes, you can nail me down on the numbers and details.
whether the majority of active wikipedies want ads or
not is their business. but they havent been asked! and after all, its
them who add the value to the site.

There are few Web projects where the community plays such an important rule
in decision making in as the Wikipedia, see, for example, + +

However, when changing their processes, the Wikipedia community strives for
(reasonable) consensus (as described here: ), and not, as you seem to
think, for majority. "Straw polls"
[] _are_ used in the
pedia community for example for deciding on new admins and for deciding
whether articles should be deleted, but they work more for exchange of
arguments (votes have to be based on argument or they will be ignored) than
just for reaching a simple 50% majority vote.

Online communities such as Wikipedia would not work by simple majority
voting because of problems such as "sock puppets" (additional accounts
created by the same user) or edits just for the sake of being able to vote.
Also, occasional contributors not (yet) allowed to vote would feel left out.
Also, consensus instead of democracy reduces the risk of forks -- it
wouldn't be great to adding ads after a 60% majority decision and then
having many of the 40% who are against ads going away to start their own
ad-free Wikipedia clone (and of course that is exactly what would happen).

However, while democracy has the disadvantage that it would not work in such
communities, consensus has the disadvantage that it is hard to reach.
This makes consensus-oriented communities quite conservative in regard to
process -- changes are hard to reach and thus seldom.

So, if the community process fails to reach consensus or is too slow, Jimbo
Wales and the Wikipedia Foundation will sometimes make policy decisions if
necessary e.g. for legal reasons. However, such situations are rare and I
don't think they have affected Wikipedia much. In any case, Jimbo Wales has
far, far less influence on the English Wikipedia (and even less on
other-language editions) than free software project leaders (Linus
Torvalds,  Larry Wall, etc.) tend to have on theirs. I don't think there is
much so worry here, especially since (a) the community would fork and start
a new project without Jimbo if Jimbo should start to act irresponsible, and
(b) Jimbo knows that.


Free Society Wiki:
To a nail, everything looks like a hammer.

Contact: projekt

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