Submissions/Eternal December: How Awful Arguments are Killing the Wiki, and Why not to Make Them

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.

24

Title of the submission
Eternal December: How Awful Arguments are Killing the Wiki, and Why not to Make Them
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
presentation
Author of the submission
Oliver Keyes
E-mail address
scire.facias@gmail.com
Username
Country of origin
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
none, for this presentation.
Personal homepage or blog
blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

As I discussed last year, the English-language Wikipedia is suffering from a malaise caused by increasingly veteran and conservative "power user" editors. In and of itself, this is a problem; it promotes a bias against experimentation and taking into account new editors. This becomes more of a problem because we're in a situation where the number of new users is falling, the rate of content creation is slowing, and Wikipedia is entering "maintenance mode": where the dearth of activity and contributors leads to barely enough volunteer time to maintain the quality of what content we already have.

There are things we can do to try and fix this problem. The Visual Editor, which introduces WYSIWYG editing to Wikipedia (or will when it is finished). Trimming and simplifying our policies, improving our article and account creation processes and help documentation. Yet time and time again, projects like these are met with a reaction along the lines of "there is no problem, these new editors are clearly just too stupid to contribute to Wikipedia".

I agree there are reasons to worry about the impact things like the Visual Editor; there are arguments to be made that it could adversely affect Wikipedia and Wikipedia's community, by overwhelming us in an. But too often, that isn't the argument made - instead, people just assume the issue is with the newbies. This isn't the case; there is no evidence new editors are any stupider than they were 5-6 years ago when most current "power users" joined. What has changed is the difficulty of editing: both absolutely, due to bloat in policy and outdated and poorly structured help pages, and comparatively, because of the skillset and expectations that internet users have developed over the last few years. What I'd like to do is spend 20-25 minutes talking about this argument, how it's damaging the wiki, and why it is illogical and should not be made.

Track
WikiCulture and Community; Research, Analysis, and Education
Length of presentation/talk
25 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted yes
Slides or further information (optional)
none at the moment
Special request as to time of presentations


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  1. Amir E. Aharoni (talk)
  2. the wub "?!"
  3. Léna (talk) 16:04, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. Zellfaze (talk) 17:04, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. CT Cooper · talk 18:31, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. --Guaka (talk) 23:00, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. Which Wikipedia will be concerned? Psychology (talk) 20:11, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. Probably English with potential for further discussion? (Re: to Psychology) SarahStierch (talk) 16:57, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. Graham87 (talk) 12:24, 31 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. GorillaWarfare (talk) 20:15, 1 April 2012 (UTC)
  11. 24.18.156.26 22:34, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
  12. David Shankbone (talk) 17:11, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
  13. NaBUru38 (talk) 18:12, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
  14. Kudpung (talk) 15:02, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
  15. IShadowed (talk) 03:46, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
  16. Just (talk) 16:01, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
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