I am an editor on Wikipedia. This means that I can not be trusted to edit templates. Us lowly verministic editors created the world's largest encyclopedia. But, we can not be trusted. We created 4,604,332 articles. But, we can not be trusted. We created form out of nothingness, structure of our thin air! But we can not be trusted. Whatever you do, fear our presence. We will most assuredly cause destruction wherever we go.
I think I need to be blocked until I can pass WP:RFA. I can't be trusted.
And yet again the Foundation demonstrates stupidity
Yesterday, the Wikipedia servers reported this to me: "Sorry! This site is experiencing technical difficulties." The irony of it was almost funny. I was thinking to myself, 'I'm supposed to be surprised'?
Recently the would-be saviors of our programming soul decided to disable the namespace select feature when you are looking at a given editor's contributions. This is a heavily used feature for a broad variety of reasons, not least of which is vandal fighting. There was apparently no significant prior discussion of this change. It was applied, though not fielded, in May of 2011. See . When it was fielded, a hailstorm of complaints were raised. See bug report and Village Pump discussion. There does not appear to be anyone who isn't a MediaWiki developer who is supporting this change. Now, this is a problem, but it's not the core problem.
The core problem this particular debacle highlights is the organizational immaturity demonstrated by the Wikimedia Foundation. They are responsible for the MediaWiki software development. They are also responsible for this project. The developers are well intended. But, to allow them to field software that has not undergone any sort of non-developer oversight and review is mind bogglingly stupid. Any mature software development company knows not to have its developers conduct usability testing, validation, marketing, and public relations, not to mention documentation, and deployment. Yet, this is precisely the organizational structure the Wikimedia Foundation has demonstrated. They've allowed for an organizational structure where the developers have a direct, unchecked path to releasing software, directly impacting the projects the Wikimedia Foundation hosts. They also appear to be following the highly amateurish code and fix software development model.
The Wikimedia Foundation is a US$10m company with 75 employees. Apparently not one of them has ever thought "Gosh, maybe somebody should take a look at releases the developers are pushing before going live?". There is absolutely no excuse for the abject organizational failure demonstrated here by the Wikimedia Foundation. I wish I could say this is isolated, but it isn't. --Hammersoft (talk) 13:58, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Consensus is a popularity contest
There was an interesting article this week in The Signpost titled "How social ties influence admin votes". Substantial research was done, analyzing more than a million interactions between pairs of users and any effect such pairings had on outcomes of RfAs. The short of it is this; RfA is a popularity contest. OMG!?! WTF!?! NWIH!!! Gee, are you surprised?
If you think this is isolated to RfA, stop taking your qualudes. The drama boards (read; the various noticeboards) are ripe with the stinking stench of clique dominated popularity influenced agreement. It doesn't take months of research to reach this conclusion. You see an issue that a friend of yours is involved in, you're more likely to take your friend's side in a debate. There's a multitude of reasons for this behavior. There is an 'in' crowd at the drama boards. Just a peek under that cloak of nicety is a harsh reality; 3/4ths of all edits to WP:AN/I are made by just 10% of the editors there.
The result of this is a mass contradiction in Wikipedia. We're established on the highly egalitarian ground that all editors in good standing are equal. Yet, the drama boards are anything but equal. It's like all the worst nightmares from our teenage years. Don't belong to the 'in' crowd? You're screwed.
That isn't what our purpose is here. Those of you reading, I encourage you to stand on your own. Don't lockstep with someone else just because they're your 'friend'. Do the right thing, and stand up for what is right. What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular. You can aspire to a higher purpose here. --Hammersoft (talk) 14:09, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Spitting in the wind and irrational expectations
This week's Signpost contained an article on editor retention. This was based in part of A resolution passed by the Foundation. I read both of these and couldn't help but find myself laughing so hard my ribs hurt. The abject lack of situational awareness expressed by the Board is so stunning as to defy imagination.
Every single organization that has ever existed in the world has experienced an organizational life cycle in one form or another. To think that Wikimedia is somehow immune to this is to think the stock investors of the 90s thinking the old investing rules no longer applied were geniuses of their time. Yet, that is exactly what the Board seems to believe. They acknowledge there's a steady decline in editing, and then make fixing this problem their "top priority". Wikipedia has been in existence for 10 years. To think that we can somehow reverse the trend of editing to an (implied) earlier time is ludicrous.
Wikipedia has a body of editors. That population has changed over time. However, the general knowledge base of available editors has produced an unbalanced resource. Some areas have excellent coverage. Some have very little and/or inaccurate coverage. Some areas have experienced explosive growth. Others experience growth at glacial speeds. That is the nature of the population that volunteers its time and efforts to the project. That's what the open model has created. You can't change that anymore than you can change over what horizon the sun will rise tomorrow.
Wikipedia has been in existence for 10+ years. We now have 3.6 million articles. We are more comprehensive than any encyclopedia in history. Creating new content is becoming increasingly more difficult. There's less and less to create, especially in areas where we already have good coverage. To steal a phrase from the oil industry, we are past peak editing (oil). No amount of wringing blood from rocks will reverse that trend. With less and less to do for our average population, it should come as no surprise that editing behavior is changing. Yet, the Board seems to be so concerned about this change in editing that 'fixing it' has now become a top priority.
So, let's "treat new editors with kindness", "increase community awareness" that editing is down, and let's get "more friendly and collaborative". This will be as effective a solution to the question of "how do we colonize Mars?" as coming up with a new recipe for cherry pie. Another apt analogy; Microsoft, circa 2002 (ten years after 3.1 launch), pondering why sales of Windows 3.1 are down and what they can do to reverse the trend. Somewhere in this stupidity there's an xkcd just begging to be written.
The appalling lack of situational awareness expressed by the Board is absolutely shocking, and speaks to a serious business immaturity on the part of the members of the board. On the plus side, no matter how their incompetence, they have no effect on a volunteer population they have no control over. Perhaps in the future the board will be comprised of individuals capable of recognizing what stage of organizational life we are in, identifying the strengths available to more mature organizations and similarly recognizing weaknesses, and respond in a professional manner in accordance with our mission. That mission contains far greater a challenge than just "collect and develop educational content". --Hammersoft (talk) 19:43, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Everyone is a vandal (well, except administrators!)
Recently, there's been a debate about protecting "high risk" templates preemptively (see debate). I read that and couldn't help but think what in hell is Wikipedia coming to?
"Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit (*)." * - offer not valid to non-administrators. That's what the main page should say. We've developed a class system here. Administrators have been trusted with access to certain tools. That policy doesn't say administrators are trusted editors. Yet, that's exactly what has happened. More than 8,000 templates are now fully protected. ~1700 articles are fully protected.
What's worse is the insidious notion that we must preemptively protect lest the unwashed masses cause damage to Wikipedia's credibility. So we must protect the project by preemptively protecting "high risk" templates? Why not preemptively protect featured articles? Oh wait, we've tried that before. Why not preemptively protect the top 1000 most visited articles on the project? The same rationale would apply there. Those are the most visible components of Wikipedia. Shouldn't we protect them?
Wikipedia came out of nothingness because of the bold idea that the masses could be trusted to create a great work. The idea was ridiculed, scoffed at, thrown in the dirt as a sociological oddity. It couldn't create something good, right? We of course know the answer to that. Yet now, we turn against that very bold notion and so no, the masses CAN'T be trusted. They can cause grave harm, damage our reputation, vandalize too many things at once. They just can't be trusted anymore.
Enter the age of trench mentality in Wikipedia. Now that the project is becoming 'mature', the defense of what has been created becomes more important to the entrenched oligarchy than the very bold notion on which it was founded.
My userpage notes "This user is not an administrator and is therefore probably trying to disrupt the project, or is at least grossly incompetent." How prophetic. The entrenched mentality is now that this is true. I am not an administrator, therefore I am not to be trusted. Welcome to the new
Wikipedia Wikistatic, the project that once embraced the masses and now despises them. --Hammersoft (talk) 16:01, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Hmm, where have I seen this before?
Flying across the viral nets today is the story of the
Wikipedia editor Flight attendant who exited Wikipedia JetBlue in rather dramatic fashion. He must have been taking tips from WP:AN/I, and the other drama boards. --Hammersoft (talk) 13:08, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
For all you Hammersoft watchers :)
I've just had a sudden revelation. According to the edit count on "my preferences", I've just crossed 16,000 edits today. Of course, I felt it as it was happening. I felt uplifted, enlightened, a break in the clouds appeared and a ray of sunshine shone down upon me and the voices of wikiangels on high spoke to me, blessing me with the everlasting fruit of cluefullness. I was such a newb when I only had 15,999 edits.
According to this pathetic demonstration of idiocy, I am now a "Most Complete Tutnum", whatever the hell that is. Still, I haven't demoted myself to an administrator, reviewer, rollbacker, autopatroller, edit filter manager, accountcreator, or any other 'level'. Therefore, it's highly likely I'm out to kill the project, in need of a life, stomping on other people's work, lacking common courtesy, trolling userboxes, a disturbed individual, and a cretin (all of these things have been said of me recently). I'm sure I'll be magically cured of all of these things once I become a Tutnum of the Encyclopedia.
Talk hard, and rise up and stab at them with your plastic sporks, --Hammersoft (talk) 15:07, 1 July 2010 (UTC)