Wikipedia:Ageing bureaucracy

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This essay, wp:Ageing bureaucracy, describes issues about the growth of organizations, and additional departments, as the years progress.

An ageing bureaucracy spends more time shifting departments, than a smaller organization would typically. For years, management experts have warned about expensive distractions when work is split among different departments in a bureaucracy. Data records might be shifted from one computer system into another, where the rules change ("only one interwiki link per language per article", an "infobox for every person"). Because of the implicit overhead in running an ageing bureaucracy, attention (and resources) will divert from the core mission, from the original goals. Each department might develop competing, alternate tools: Platform Engineering would have a wikitext editor, while the User Engagement department would promote a VisualEditor. Each department would want to be represented in the user interface, most likely with dedicated menu options for each department, rather than hide the less-used tool (VE 9%) as a preference option, and instead receive "top billing" with the other department's tools.

In the ageing bureaucracy, there will be periods of huge restructuring (typically recalled "reorg"), where the original work is overshadowed by the busy efforts of the reorg. When Wikidata took control of interwiki links, then page edits soared by +30% that month (+1 million edits) not to improve references, nor copy-edit for grammar, nor reword to clarify pages, but instead, total edits soared by +30% to remove the interwiki links from pages while being shifted into the Wikidata department.

As could be expected, Wikipedia's bureaucratic growth has risen faster than the original goal as an encyclopedia, which would have written articles about the problems of bureaucracy, such as: ageing bureaucracy, reorg, division of command, duplication of effort, department rivalry, or even Management by Objective. However, there is a minimal article about "The Peter Principle" (and "creative incompetence") for workers to avoid promotion outside their limited expertise.

In many cases, the office bloat is unstoppable; however, it can inspire people to research and write about similar problems in other old-growth organizations, before the burgeoning layers of bureaucracy become unbearable.

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