Wikipedia:A Hybrid of Political Doctrine and Encyclopedic Collaboration
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|This page in a nutshell: Keep your eyes on the encyclopedia prize.|
Wikipedia, founded in 2001, is a truly remarkable project. Comprising over 4,732,963 articles as of March 3, 2015, it is forged by the efforts of unpaid volunteers, and has the goal of disseminating the sum of human knowledge to every person on Earth.
As is inevitable in a project of this size, a community has formed and flourished from the building site that is the encyclopedia. This community works co-operatively to regulate, discuss, and nurture the encyclopedic content. Its functionality is underpinned by a small number of core principles, like the ideas of deriving consensus in discussion, of weighing comments rather than counting votes in a debate, and of ignoring the rules when necessary. From these come the policies that govern user conduct and the way the encyclopedia is built, and the various philosophies about content and the Wikipedia model. Wikipedia has thus become a hybrid of political doctrine and encyclopedic collaboration.
The political and communal side of Wikipedia has grown to become the central focus of activity for many editors, and Wikipedia has transformed into something more than an encyclopedia, in good ways and bad. While the communal side of Wikipedia ensures the prospering and continuance of the encyclopedia, it is also the primary source of distraction from the realisation of the vision. An increasingly bureaucratic and procedurally static community constantly debates over trivial matters that have little relation to the encyclopedia itself, resulting in disorder, harm, and disillusionment.
Perhaps this type of chaos is not a regrettable inevitability of mass participation, and that a wake up call is all that's needed. Fact is that most of us joined the project with the goal of writing a free encyclopedia, so let's get back to it. What we do for the content is all that has sustained meaning. Why else are we here?