Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

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Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Alan Liefting
Is it just me or do others find it difficult to instigate any sort of
changes to policies, guidelines, layout, Manual of Style and related
matters regardless of how minor they are?
Could it be that WP is a reflection of human behaviour and has become a
talkfest where nothing changes because of our inherently conservative
nature?
Or am I trying to satisfy the readers of WP rather than editors and
readers? Since readers do not edit they never get to have a say so the
editors get what they want (yes I know - editors are readers as well).


Alan Liefting

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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Fred Bauder-2
> Is it just me or do others find it difficult to instigate any sort of
> changes to policies, guidelines, layout, Manual of Style and related
> matters regardless of how minor they are?
> Could it be that WP is a reflection of human behaviour and has become a
> talkfest where nothing changes because of our inherently conservative
> nature?
> Or am I trying to satisfy the readers of WP rather than editors and
> readers? Since readers do not edit they never get to have a say so the
> editors get what they want (yes I know - editors are readers as well).
>
>
> Alan Liefting

Some oppose nearly any sensible idea. You need to get up a head of steam
and run over them. Well, not really, but you do need to explain what you
want to others who will support your change and do a little bit of
campaigning.

Readers are welcome to edit policy talk pages even if they never make a
single edit.

Fred



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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

MuZemike
In reply to this post by Alan Liefting
I think that certainly does happen, mainly because some don't like
change. Many RfCs and proposals contain oppose reasons such as "solution
in search of a problem" or "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Other than
what Alan mentioned, this has also applied to any technical changes to
the system.

Other proposals get so bogged down in endless stalemate and
filibustering (like with Pending Changes), nothing ever gets done or
moves forward. That's where the "consensus-based model" fails miserably.

On the other hand, a straight "vote" may not also be desirable,
especially if the results may be close to 50-50, because you then
alienate too much of the community that way.

-MuZemike

On 9/17/2011 3:54 PM, Alan Liefting wrote:

> Is it just me or do others find it difficult to instigate any sort of
> changes to policies, guidelines, layout, Manual of Style and related
> matters regardless of how minor they are?
> Could it be that WP is a reflection of human behaviour and has become a
> talkfest where nothing changes because of our inherently conservative
> nature?
> Or am I trying to satisfy the readers of WP rather than editors and
> readers? Since readers do not edit they never get to have a say so the
> editors get what they want (yes I know - editors are readers as well).
>
>
> Alan Liefting
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l


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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Ev. Jorgen.
People should making negative insinuations about the majority or claims of
mythical idiots that "oppose nearly any sensible idea". Perhaps if you have
proposed or supported a change that has not been implemented it was just a
poor idea.
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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Ray Saintonge
On 09/17/11 11:48 PM, Ev. Jorgen. wrote:
> People should making negative insinuations about the majority or claims of
> mythical idiots that "oppose nearly any sensible idea". Perhaps if you have
> proposed or supported a change that has not been implemented it was just a
> poor idea.

Maybe they are just discouraged by the bureaucratic process.  Even when
only a small number of unrepresentative people oppose a sensible idea
the task of bringing about changes becomes onerous.  Rather than trying
to debate the rules it is simpler to just go ahead and make the changes
on the affected mainspace pages despite the rules. IAR is one of our
greatest rules.

Ec

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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by MuZemike
On 09/17/11 6:04 PM, MuZemike wrote:

> I think that certainly does happen, mainly because some don't like
> change. Many RfCs and proposals contain oppose reasons such as "solution
> in search of a problem" or "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Other than
> what Alan mentioned, this has also applied to any technical changes to
> the system.
>
> Other proposals get so bogged down in endless stalemate and
> filibustering (like with Pending Changes), nothing ever gets done or
> moves forward. That's where the "consensus-based model" fails miserably.
>
> On the other hand, a straight "vote" may not also be desirable,
> especially if the results may be close to 50-50, because you then
> alienate too much of the community that way.
Resistance to change is a chronic disease.  At the same time voting is
evil for the very reason that you state. That is made worse by framing
questions in a win/lose context.  I have consistently believed that no
vote should ever be closed completely.  Action thresholds can be
defined, but that should not close a vote. People should be allowed to
continue voting indefinitely, or even change their original vote, until
a change threshold is reached. That change may never become a reality,
but even the right to support the obvious gives a feeling of participation.

Ec

> On 9/17/2011 3:54 PM, Alan Liefting wrote:
>> Is it just me or do others find it difficult to instigate any sort of
>> changes to policies, guidelines, layout, Manual of Style and related
>> matters regardless of how minor they are?
>> Could it be that WP is a reflection of human behaviour and has become a
>> talkfest where nothing changes because of our inherently conservative
>> nature?
>> Or am I trying to satisfy the readers of WP rather than editors and
>> readers? Since readers do not edit they never get to have a say so the
>> editors get what they want (yes I know - editors are readers as well).
>>
>>
>>


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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Stephen Bain
In reply to this post by MuZemike
On Sun, Sep 18, 2011 at 11:04 AM, MuZemike <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Other proposals get so bogged down in endless stalemate and
> filibustering (like with Pending Changes), nothing ever gets done or
> moves forward. That's where the "consensus-based model" fails miserably.

Consensus is in a perpetual struggle with entropy and loses out once
the portion of the community involved in the decision becomes large
enough that the discussion can no longer organically organise itself.

Some structure is needed. If I can promote one alternative, see
consensus polling [1] which I suggested five years ago that enwiki
might like to try [2], to responses of BURO and CREEP (which are
guaranteed responses to any proposal for any sort of structure).

--
[1] http://meatballwiki.org/wiki/ConsensusPolling
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Consensus_polling

--
Stephen Bain
[hidden email]

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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Ev. Jorgen.
> People should [stop] making negative insinuations about the majority or
claims
> of
> mythical idiots that "oppose nearly any sensible idea". Perhaps if you
> have
> proposed or supported a change that has not been implemented it was just
> a
> poor idea.

Yes, we should assume good faith.

Fred



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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

WereSpielChequers-2
In reply to this post by Stephen Bain
Yes the pedia is somewhat ossified and change in many areas is difficult to
achieve. You only have to look at the various attempts to reform RFA to see
that.

Of course there are many possible changes that fail because they only have
minority support, and while it might be frustrating for the minority who
advocate such schemes, it is much easier to accept losing an argument when
you are clearly in a minority. Where the process becomes more problematic is
when you have a blocking minority preventing change. To my mind consensus
based decision making requires a high proportion of participants to be
willing to consider other people's viewpoints and seek a consensus solution.
Where this becomes frustrating is when you have dogmatic minorities who
don't need to consider compromise because they have sufficient numbers to
block any change.

Where consensus becomes pernicious is when a minority can achieve change
against the will of the majority, we see that in the ratcheting of standards
at RFA; Once we have over 30% of RFA !voters who want an additional hurdle
to adminship then that change has happened, and the de facto bar for
adminship has risen a further notch. Most of our current admins went through
RFA in an era where 3,000 manual edits and 12 months tenure were far more
than one needed to be taken as a serious candidate. If you ran today with
only 12 months tenure you might get through, but you risk being told that
you are not yet really part of our community. By process of candidates
failing to get consensus for promotion the de facto standards at RFA ratchet
upwards. That standards inflation has not come about because of a series of
consensus or even majority based decisions to change the criteria at RFA, it
has come about because minorities emerge who are willing to oppose
candidates who don't meet certain thresholds of tenure and editcountitis.



WereSpielChequers
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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Steven Walling
In reply to this post by Alan Liefting
On Sat, Sep 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM, Alan Liefting <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Is it just me or do others find it difficult to instigate any sort of
> changes to policies, guidelines, layout, Manual of Style and related
> matters regardless of how minor they are?
> Could it be that WP is a reflection of human behaviour and has become a
> talkfest where nothing changes because of our inherently conservative
> nature?
> Or am I trying to satisfy the readers of WP rather than editors and
> readers? Since readers do not edit they never get to have a say so the
> editors get what they want (yes I know - editors are readers as well).
>
>
> Alan Liefting
>

Research on the amount of bytes added to different namespaces suggests it is
true that the project namespace is stagnant.[1] The largest period of growth
in the bytes added to the project namespace began roughly in 2003 and
tapered off to a smaller, steady proportion of all content added by 2006.

One way we might quantify this in a more editor-centric way is to look at
the top contributors (by edits and/or by net bytes changed) to major
policies, guidelines etc. and get some data on what cohort those editors
were from, what they are doing, and when the edits by those top contributors
were made.

If anyone is interested in this/is not offended by the idea of looking at
specific editors in public, I'm happy to start some documentation on Meta.
It's pretty easy to grab some lists, but qualitatively examining edit
histories takes more time and could always use more help from people who can
read a diff. :-)

Steven

1.
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/meta/wiki/Research:Wikimedia_Summer_of_Research_2011/Summary_of_Findings
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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Carcharoth
On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 6:38 PM, Steven Walling
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Research on the amount of bytes added to different namespaces suggests it is
> true that the project namespace is stagnant.[1] The largest period of growth
> in the bytes added to the project namespace began roughly in 2003 and
> tapered off to a smaller, steady proportion of all content added by 2006.
>
> One way we might quantify this in a more editor-centric way is to look at
> the top contributors (by edits and/or by net bytes changed) to major
> policies, guidelines etc. and get some data on what cohort those editors
> were from, what they are doing, and when the edits by those top contributors
> were made.
>
> If anyone is interested in this/is not offended by the idea of looking at
> specific editors in public, I'm happy to start some documentation on Meta.
> It's pretty easy to grab some lists, but qualitatively examining edit
> histories takes more time and could always use more help from people who can
> read a diff. :-)

Doesn't this approach assume that people all interact with Wikipedia
in the same way? Many people only participate in a vanishingly small
part of Wikipedia and you can have some areas that are deserted and
others that are very active. This isn't found by looking at global
statistics, but by looking at the actual editing and histories out
there "on the ground".

Carcharoth

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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Steven Walling
On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 11:35 AM, Carcharoth <[hidden email]>wrote:

> Doesn't this approach assume that people all interact with Wikipedia
> in the same way? Many people only participate in a vanishingly small
> part of Wikipedia and you can have some areas that are deserted and
> others that are very active. This isn't found by looking at global
> statistics, but by looking at the actual editing and histories out
> there "on the ground".
>
> Carcharoth
>

Yes, looking at edits overall, pages created overall, or bytes added overall
are all very generalized tools. For instance, we'd need deeper quant work or
qualitative coding in order to see what is being done in that steady
proportion of NS4 activity in English.

But the general trends are pretty clear, and help to point us in the right
direction when working qualitatively or trying to prove/disprove general
hypotheses such as "Is the the project namespace still growing, in decline,
or stable?"

Steven
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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Steven Walling
> On Sat, Sep 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM, Alan Liefting <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
>> Is it just me or do others find it difficult to instigate any sort of
>> changes to policies, guidelines, layout, Manual of Style and related
>> matters regardless of how minor they are?
>> Could it be that WP is a reflection of human behaviour and has become a
>> talkfest where nothing changes because of our inherently conservative
>> nature?
>> Or am I trying to satisfy the readers of WP rather than editors and
>> readers? Since readers do not edit they never get to have a say so the
>> editors get what they want (yes I know - editors are readers as well).
>>
>>
>> Alan Liefting
>>
>
> Research on the amount of bytes added to different namespaces suggests it
> is
> true that the project namespace is stagnant.[1] The largest period of
> growth
> in the bytes added to the project namespace began roughly in 2003 and
> tapered off to a smaller, steady proportion of all content added by 2006.
>
> One way we might quantify this in a more editor-centric way is to look at
> the top contributors (by edits and/or by net bytes changed) to major
> policies, guidelines etc. and get some data on what cohort those editors
> were from, what they are doing, and when the edits by those top
> contributors
> were made.
>
> If anyone is interested in this/is not offended by the idea of looking at
> specific editors in public, I'm happy to start some documentation on
> Meta.
> It's pretty easy to grab some lists, but qualitatively examining edit
> histories takes more time and could always use more help from people who
> can
> read a diff. :-)
>
> Steven
>

Sounds like an interesting project which might answer a few perennial
questions such as to what extent Larry Sanger shaped basic Wikipedia
policies. However, please keep in mind that this mailing list and the
Wikipedia-l mailing lists were much more active in those days, contained
significant discussions of substantive issues, and that policy was
sometimes made on those lists, and only memorialized in policy pages.

Fred



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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Ian Woollard
In reply to this post by Steven Walling
On 19 September 2011 18:38, Steven Walling <[hidden email]> wrote:

>  Research on the amount of bytes added to different namespaces suggests it
> is true that the project namespace is stagnant.[1] The largest period of
> growth in the bytes added to the project namespace began roughly in 2003 and
> tapered off to a smaller, steady proportion of all content added by 2006.
>

STAGNANT?

Think of the children, get them out of Wikipedia immediately! They could
catch something!

I am NEVER going to Wikipedia again! Ewww.

Steven
>
> 1.
>
> https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/meta/wiki/Research:Wikimedia_Summer_of_Research_2011/Summary_of_Findings
>

Oh wait:

[verification failed]

--
-Ian Woollard
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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Steven Walling
In reply to this post by Fred Bauder-2
On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 11:48 AM, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]>wrote:

> Sounds like an interesting project which might answer a few perennial
> questions such as to what extent Larry Sanger shaped basic Wikipedia
> policies. However, please keep in mind that this mailing list and the
> Wikipedia-l mailing lists were much more active in those days, contained
> significant discussions of substantive issues, and that policy was
> sometimes made on those lists, and only memorialized in policy pages.
>
> Fred
>

Definitely a good point, especially if we want to fold in NS5 contributions
into any study.

Steven
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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Ian Woollard
On 09/19/11 12:03 PM, Ian Woollard wrote:

> On 19 September 2011 18:38, Steven Walling<[hidden email]>  wrote:
>>   Research on the amount of bytes added to different namespaces suggests it
>> is true that the project namespace is stagnant.[1] The largest period of
>> growth in the bytes added to the project namespace began roughly in 2003 and
>> tapered off to a smaller, steady proportion of all content added by 2006.
> STAGNANT?
>
> Think of the children, get them out of Wikipedia immediately! They could
> catch something!
>
>
Most dangerously, they could catch a clue.

Ec

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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Steven Walling
On 09/19/11 12:19 PM, Steven Walling wrote:

> On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 11:48 AM, Fred Bauder<[hidden email]>wrote:
>
>> Sounds like an interesting project which might answer a few perennial
>> questions such as to what extent Larry Sanger shaped basic Wikipedia
>> policies. However, please keep in mind that this mailing list and the
>> Wikipedia-l mailing lists were much more active in those days, contained
>> significant discussions of substantive issues, and that policy was
>> sometimes made on those lists, and only memorialized in policy pages.
>>
>> Fred
>>
> Definitely a good point, especially if we want to fold in NS5 contributions
> into any study.
>
>
"NS5" is another cryptic acronym.

Ec

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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Carcharoth
On 09/19/11 11:35 AM, Carcharoth wrote:
> Doesn't this approach assume that people all interact with Wikipedia
> in the same way? Many people only participate in a vanishingly small
> part of Wikipedia and you can have some areas that are deserted and
> others that are very active. This isn't found by looking at global
> statistics, but by looking at the actual editing and histories out
> there "on the ground".
>

Most don't just interact in different ways, but at different times.  I
may have been interested in a topic a year ago, When the topic seemed
stable I would have gone on to something very different several times
over the course of the year. Now, when the year-old topic bursts into
flames, giving it due consideration requires that  I put aside my
current interests to defend the old topic from people who show no
evidence of having put any serious study.  They may just be applying
some new rule on a policy page whose changes I would have had no reason
to monitor. If my previous work was referenced with borrowed books I may
no longer have access to those books to support my case.

Ec

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Re: Difficulty making structural changes to WP due to human nature?

Steven Walling
In reply to this post by Ray Saintonge
On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 12:59 PM, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:

> "NS5" is another cryptic acronym.
>
> Ec
>

Sorry if that was cryptic. NS5 = namespace five  = Project talk.

Steven
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