Forkability, its problems and our problems

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Forkability, its problems and our problems

Milos Rancic-2
On Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 22:43, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 08/15/11 12:25 PM, Gustavo Carrancio wrote:
>> Fred: easy to fork vs hard to understand other cultures. Think a minute.
>> ¿Are we making an Encyclopedia? Must we struggle to split or to get
>> togeather?
>
> At some point we need to ask ourselves: Is our mission to make the sum
> of all human knowledge freely available, or is it to create a monopoly
> on knowledge.

While I agree with necessity of being able to make a fork easily,
there is important message which Gustavo wanted to say, but didn't
express well.

Under the present circumstance, any attempt to create English
Wikipedia fork could be successful just if WMF makes
very-ultra-serious shit and it is not likely that it would happen.

We also know how the case Encyclopedia Libre vs. Spanish Wikipedia
finished. That's, again, thanks to the fact that Spanish is
multinational language and if someone wants to get significant
official support, it would require significant time.

However, the opposite example is Hudong encyclopedia. It is obviously
that Hudong is much more relevant to Chinese people just because of
the fact that we still have more Taiwanese Wikipedians than Mainland
China ones.

A couple of months ago three admins of Aceh Wikipedia decided that it
is not acceptable that they participate in the project which holds
Muhammad depictions. By the project, they mean Wikimedia in general,
including Wikimedia Commons. It was just a matter of time when they
would create their own wiki. And they created that moth or two after
leaving Wikimedia. And what do you think which project has more
chances for success: the one without editors or the other with three
editors? So, while the reason for leaving couldn't be counted among
reasonable ones, the product is the same as if they had a valid
reason. And there are plenty of valid reasons, among them almost
universal problem of highly bureaucratic structures on Wikimedia
projects.

I can imagine even very successful fork of Wikipedia in any Balkan
language. We are also more or less on the edge of successful fork of
any language whose community has any kind of problem with the rest of
the movement. And at some point we could have serious problem.
Projects could even start without license compatibility with Wikimedia
content. Yes, as I don't think that anyone would bother -- which would
be the right decision because of a number of reasons -- with GFDL and
CC-BY-SA violations of the encyclopedia in a language with not so much
speakers.

That leads us to the serious dead end: We want forkability because of
our principles. We could potentially lose parts of our movement.
According to our principles, the only way to protect the movement is
to be attractive to editors more than potential forks could be. And
that's our structural problem: we are losing that battle since ~2007
and changes which we are making are too slow and too small.

And that opens the space for even worse scenario. The last hope for
societies in such decline is to impose martial law and try to fix
things by not so pleasant methods. The only problem is that we are not
society. Nobody would be killed because of Wikimedia fall and no
economy would be destructed. More importantly, when people see harsh
methods imposed (and one of them would be forbidding [easy]
forkability), they would start to leave the project, which would just
catalyze the fall.

Fortunate moment is that we are driving on organizational expansion
and that we bought some time. There are a couple of other methods for
buying time. But, if we don't use that time to fix things, at some
point we would deplete available options. We would eventually have the
same problems in India which we have in US; we would have the same
problems on a project which would be opened in 2012 as we have today
with many other projects.

Note that Wikipedia wasn't a hype because it is free and open online
encyclopedia. It was a hype because such thing didn't exist before. It
exists now all over the Internet. And without qualitative
breakthroughs, we have to do things regularly. And models exist: IBM
lives, Microsoft lives, Apple lives; Sinclair is dead, SGI is dead,
Sun is dead; Netscape lives as Mozilla, Amsword lives as Libre Office,
Ingres lives as PostgreSQL. Hi-tech organizations -- and we are
hi-tech organization -- which survived were able to catch the
technological development of their competitors. And our competitors
are not millions of MediaWiki installations; our competitor is Hudong
(note the features [1]), but also Google and Facebook. I am not saying
that they are against us, but that we have to catch their
technological development if we want to survive.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudong#Features

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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Fred Bauder-2
> Our competitors
> are not millions of MediaWiki installations; our competitor is Hudong
> (note the features [1]), but also Google and Facebook. I am not saying
> that they are against us, but that we have to catch their
> technological development if we want to survive.
>
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudong#Features
>

"The system has some social networking-like interactive features, such as
user profile, friends and groups."

A no-brainer

Fred



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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by Milos Rancic-2
On 16 August 2011 10:59, Milos Rancic <[hidden email]> wrote:

> That leads us to the serious dead end: We want forkability because of
> our principles. We could potentially lose parts of our movement.
> According to our principles, the only way to protect the movement is
> to be attractive to editors more than potential forks could be. And
> that's our structural problem: we are losing that battle since ~2007
> and changes which we are making are too slow and too small.
> And that opens the space for even worse scenario. The last hope for
> societies in such decline is to impose martial law and try to fix
> things by not so pleasant methods. The only problem is that we are not
> society. Nobody would be killed because of Wikimedia fall and no
> economy would be destructed. More importantly, when people see harsh
> methods imposed (and one of them would be forbidding [easy]
> forkability), they would start to leave the project, which would just
> catalyze the fall.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fork_%28software_development%29

Precis: annoy a subcommunity sufficiently, they leave in a group. Try
to stop them from leaving (as opposed to trying to attract them back),
they leave faster and take others with them.

This is what I mean when I say "forkability will keep us honest."


- d.

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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Emilio J. Rodríguez-Posada
In reply to this post by Milos Rancic-2
Here is a bigger problem.

Wikimedia Foundation wants to increase the participation and readers numbers
just because the capitalist mind of forcing steady growing. They don't know
how to reach that, just want to do it, and the participation growing is flat
since 2007. They tried to improve usability, and nothing happened. Now, they
are working in the gender issue. Tomorrow in the Global South. All them are
great news headlines for the politically correct western world, but, as the
Internet meme, they are doing it wrong.

Wikipedia grew exponentially in the first years, and no Wikimedia Foundation
was needed. Why? Because people easily saw which pages were needed. The
encyclopedia was a blank page. Today, Wikipedia is showed as the most
complete encyclopedia ever written. That is possible true, but that doesn't
mean it is complete. We don't have to ask for new users, we have to show
which stuff need to be written, and people will come. Really, users are
coming, in hordes, visiting numbers are growing but they don't know where
their help is needed.

Furthermore, offering trustworthy text and image dumps is not seductive.
Making forks easy is not seductive. That means re-using content but also
losing contributors which go to other communities. Don't expect much effort
in that.

2011/8/16 Milos Rancic <[hidden email]>

> On Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 22:43, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > On 08/15/11 12:25 PM, Gustavo Carrancio wrote:
> >> Fred: easy to fork vs hard to understand other cultures. Think a minute.
> >> ¿Are we making an Encyclopedia? Must we struggle to split or to get
> >> togeather?
> >
> > At some point we need to ask ourselves: Is our mission to make the sum
> > of all human knowledge freely available, or is it to create a monopoly
> > on knowledge.
>
> While I agree with necessity of being able to make a fork easily,
> there is important message which Gustavo wanted to say, but didn't
> express well.
>
> Under the present circumstance, any attempt to create English
> Wikipedia fork could be successful just if WMF makes
> very-ultra-serious shit and it is not likely that it would happen.
>
> We also know how the case Encyclopedia Libre vs. Spanish Wikipedia
> finished. That's, again, thanks to the fact that Spanish is
> multinational language and if someone wants to get significant
> official support, it would require significant time.
>
> However, the opposite example is Hudong encyclopedia. It is obviously
> that Hudong is much more relevant to Chinese people just because of
> the fact that we still have more Taiwanese Wikipedians than Mainland
> China ones.
>
> A couple of months ago three admins of Aceh Wikipedia decided that it
> is not acceptable that they participate in the project which holds
> Muhammad depictions. By the project, they mean Wikimedia in general,
> including Wikimedia Commons. It was just a matter of time when they
> would create their own wiki. And they created that moth or two after
> leaving Wikimedia. And what do you think which project has more
> chances for success: the one without editors or the other with three
> editors? So, while the reason for leaving couldn't be counted among
> reasonable ones, the product is the same as if they had a valid
> reason. And there are plenty of valid reasons, among them almost
> universal problem of highly bureaucratic structures on Wikimedia
> projects.
>
> I can imagine even very successful fork of Wikipedia in any Balkan
> language. We are also more or less on the edge of successful fork of
> any language whose community has any kind of problem with the rest of
> the movement. And at some point we could have serious problem.
> Projects could even start without license compatibility with Wikimedia
> content. Yes, as I don't think that anyone would bother -- which would
> be the right decision because of a number of reasons -- with GFDL and
> CC-BY-SA violations of the encyclopedia in a language with not so much
> speakers.
>
> That leads us to the serious dead end: We want forkability because of
> our principles. We could potentially lose parts of our movement.
> According to our principles, the only way to protect the movement is
> to be attractive to editors more than potential forks could be. And
> that's our structural problem: we are losing that battle since ~2007
> and changes which we are making are too slow and too small.
>
> And that opens the space for even worse scenario. The last hope for
> societies in such decline is to impose martial law and try to fix
> things by not so pleasant methods. The only problem is that we are not
> society. Nobody would be killed because of Wikimedia fall and no
> economy would be destructed. More importantly, when people see harsh
> methods imposed (and one of them would be forbidding [easy]
> forkability), they would start to leave the project, which would just
> catalyze the fall.
>
> Fortunate moment is that we are driving on organizational expansion
> and that we bought some time. There are a couple of other methods for
> buying time. But, if we don't use that time to fix things, at some
> point we would deplete available options. We would eventually have the
> same problems in India which we have in US; we would have the same
> problems on a project which would be opened in 2012 as we have today
> with many other projects.
>
> Note that Wikipedia wasn't a hype because it is free and open online
> encyclopedia. It was a hype because such thing didn't exist before. It
> exists now all over the Internet. And without qualitative
> breakthroughs, we have to do things regularly. And models exist: IBM
> lives, Microsoft lives, Apple lives; Sinclair is dead, SGI is dead,
> Sun is dead; Netscape lives as Mozilla, Amsword lives as Libre Office,
> Ingres lives as PostgreSQL. Hi-tech organizations -- and we are
> hi-tech organization -- which survived were able to catch the
> technological development of their competitors. And our competitors
> are not millions of MediaWiki installations; our competitor is Hudong
> (note the features [1]), but also Google and Facebook. I am not saying
> that they are against us, but that we have to catch their
> technological development if we want to survive.
>
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudong#Features
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Fred Bauder-2

> Furthermore, offering trustworthy text and image dumps is not seductive.
> Making forks easy is not seductive. That means re-using content but also
> losing contributors which go to other communities. Don't expect much
> effort
> in that.

Forking is hard nasty work. I'd much rather the Wikimedia projects got up
to speed. However there are a lot of countervailing factors at work. On
the one hand we exclude interesting and significant material, on the
other we include childish and trivial material whose only purpose seems
to be to offend. In wiki speak "notability" and "no censorship".

Fred


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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Tim Starling-2
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On 16/08/11 20:11, David Gerard wrote:
> Precis: annoy a subcommunity sufficiently, they leave in a group. Try
> to stop them from leaving (as opposed to trying to attract them back),
> they leave faster and take others with them.
>
> This is what I mean when I say "forkability will keep us honest."

I think that we should have some other reason for being attractive to
our editors apart from fear of forking. Say, some sort of goal or
mission statement, which is helped by having a strong WMF.

One problem with using fear of forking as your primary motivation for
doing things well is that forking is not as bad as some other
scenarios. For example, our editor community could go back to playing
computer games and watching TV, instead of doing something useful, and
people could pay for their encyclopedias. Indeed, it's hard to
understand why you want us to simultaneously be afraid of it and to
make it easier.

Another problem is that forking of a large Wikipedia edition has
proven to be extremely difficult, regardless of the availability of
image dumps, so the threat is very weak. The Chinese experience should
tell us how hard it is: Baidu Baike and Hudong were able to thrive
only with the Chinese Wikipedia completely blocked in Mainland China.

-- Tim Starling


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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

David Gerard-2
On 16 August 2011 14:37, Tim Starling <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I think that we should have some other reason for being attractive to
> our editors apart from fear of forking. Say, some sort of goal or
> mission statement, which is helped by having a strong WMF.
> One problem with using fear of forking as your primary motivation for


I didn't say or mean "primary".


- d.

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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Milos Rancic-2
In reply to this post by Emilio J. Rodríguez-Posada
On Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 12:55, emijrp <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Wikimedia Foundation wants to increase the participation and readers numbers
> just because the capitalist mind of forcing steady growing. They don't know
> how to reach that, just want to do it, and the participation growing is flat
> since 2007. They tried to improve usability, and nothing happened. Now, they
> are working in the gender issue. Tomorrow in the Global South. All them are
> great news headlines for the politically correct western world, but, as the
> Internet meme, they are doing it wrong.
>
> Wikipedia grew exponentially in the first years, and no Wikimedia Foundation
> was needed. Why? Because people easily saw which pages were needed. The
> encyclopedia was a blank page. Today, Wikipedia is showed as the most
> complete encyclopedia ever written. That is possible true, but that doesn't
> mean it is complete. We don't have to ask for new users, we have to show
> which stuff need to be written, and people will come. Really, users are
> coming, in hordes, visiting numbers are growing but they don't know where
> their help is needed.

After the revolution we will abandon capitalism and Wikimedia projects
would be able to flourish without rushing anywhere.

Until then, we are living in capitalism and we have to compete for
attention with other internet entities in capitalist world. In such
circumstances, keeping attention at some level is much harder task
than increasing attention. Simply, losing attention is natural. People
come and leave after some moment. So, you have to be able to get new
people and you need a strategy for getting that in wild. Scaling it
not to have growth is much harder task than working simply on getting
attention.

Against us are very large and very professional entities which want to
get more attention for their products. So, every new Facebook, Google,
Twitter or even Zynga feature is going directly against our ability to
keep attention. Fred, say whatever you want about dumbness of forums,
groups and games, but although I have no games in my Facebook stream
-- as I've blocked all of them and just once in a couple of weeks I
see one -- I am there because many people in my surroundings are there
and many of them because of games, forums and similar, for sure. If I
have them on Wikimedia projects, I would probably edit and wouldn't
limit my activity on bureaucratic and strategic tasks. In other words,
thanks to those features, they took my attention from Wikimedia
projects.

In ideal society editing Wikipedia and other Wikimedia and other free
knowledge projects would be a part of any scientific and educational
position. But, we are far from such society. We have to fight for
every attention aspect.

And we are doing that badly. Participation is just approximately flat
since 2007 just because our core is consisted of geeks, which are
stubborn by default. Their retention is easier, but influx of new
editors is lowering at that scale from month to month that it is just
a matter of time when active and very active editors would start to
shrink at more obvious rates.

Here are some statistics for English Wikipedia [1]. June 2011 was:
* The worst June since 2005 by very active editors. Shrink since 2010: ~5%.
* The worst June since 2005 by active editors. Shrink since 2010: ~1.5%
* The worst June since 2005 by new editors. Shrink since 2010: ~8%.

And similar for all Wikipedias [2]. June 2011 was:
* The worst June since 2006 by very active editors. Shrink since 2010: ~0.9%.
* The worst June since 2006 by active editors. Shrink since 2010: ~1.2%
* The worst June since 2006 by new editors. Shrink since 2010: ~8%.

Good thing is that changes from 2009 to 2010 were two times worse. In
other words, we are still shrinking, but not so quickly.

> Furthermore, offering trustworthy text and image dumps is not seductive.
> Making forks easy is not seductive. That means re-using content but also
> losing contributors which go to other communities. Don't expect much effort
> in that.

I object, actually, on the line that too little has been done to
seduce people to edit Wikimedia projects. Mobile Wikipedia is
necessary, but it is not possible to edit from that interface. The
only structural thing which would allow more seductive features is
ongoing rewriting of Parser. Everything else is too insignificant.

And while engaging more women and going to developing countries are
noble causes, from the point of general trends, they are just [not so
successful] tries to buy some time.

[1] http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/ChartsWikipediaEN.htm
[2] http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/ChartsWikipediaZZ.htm

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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

David Richfield
In reply to this post by Fred Bauder-2
You say that we exclude significant material on the basis of notability?
That seems almost contradictory. If it has been the subject of non-trivial,
reliable, 3rd party coverage, it's notable. If it hasn't, how 'significant'
is it really?

As for childish, trivial, offensive stuff: is it an encyclopedic topic and
notable? If so, it's hardly trivial. If not, it should go. If we chuck out
everything which offends some significant group, we lose NPOV and balanced
coverage. That doesn't mean I don't believe we have non-notable offensive
articles, just that we should use our policies effectively to get rid of
them.
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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Yann Forget-3
2011/8/17 David Richfield <[hidden email]>:
> You say that we exclude significant material on the basis of notability?

Notability is not an absolute criteria.
There are thousands of subjects/articles which could be notable with
different criterias.

Regards,

Yann

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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Fred Bauder-2
> 2011/8/17 David Richfield <[hidden email]>:
>> You say that we exclude significant material on the basis of
>> notability?
>
> Notability is not an absolute criteria.
> There are thousands of subjects/articles which could be notable with
> different criterias.
>
> Regards,
>
> Yann

What is happening is not one big fork, but many specialized forks based
on just such changes in emphasis.

Fred


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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Fajro
On Sun, Sep 11, 2011 at 9:13 AM, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> 2011/8/17 David Richfield <[hidden email]>:

>> Notability is not an absolute criteria.
>> There are thousands of subjects/articles which could be notable with
>> different criterias.
>
> What is happening is not one big fork, but many specialized forks based
> on just such changes in emphasis.

This is what I wanted to address with my proposal in StrategyWiki...
2 years ago:

http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Proposal:Recognize_that_Wikipedia_is_more_than_an_encyclopedia_and_fork_it

--
Fajro

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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Fred Bauder-2
On 09/11/11 5:13 AM, Fred Bauder wrote:

>> 2011/8/17 David Richfield<[hidden email]>:
>>> You say that we exclude significant material on the basis of
>>> notability?
>> Notability is not an absolute criteria.
>> There are thousands of subjects/articles which could be notable with
>> different criterias.
> What is happening is not one big fork, but many specialized forks based
> on just such changes in emphasis.
>
>
Sounds like the right direction.

Ray

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Re: Forkability, its problems and our problems

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
In reply to this post by Tim Starling-2
On Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 4:37 PM, Tim Starling <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Another problem is that forking of a large Wikipedia edition has
> proven to be extremely difficult, regardless of the availability of
> image dumps, so the threat is very weak. The Chinese experience should
> tell us how hard it is: Baidu Baike and Hudong were able to thrive
> only with the Chinese Wikipedia completely blocked in Mainland China.
>
> -- Tim Starling

There is a relevant anecdote to go with this. A physics teacher was telling
his students how compared to the other fundamental forces, gravity was
comparatively very very weak. Just as he said that, a wall attached speaker
failed its mountings and came crashing down behind him. Without missing
a beat he continued. "Weak, but non-neglible."


--
--
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen, ~ [[User:Cimon Avaro]]

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