Wikipedia:Wikipedia's hierarchy of needs

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The success of this project (like any project) can be measured in any number of ways, by any number of metrics. However, from a philosophical point of view, Wikipedia is successful because it has a certain set of priorities; while each of the elements contribute to the overall success, there is a certain hierarchy between various priorities.

This page is meant to describe the relative importance of various aspects of this project's success as seen from the inside by Wikipedia contributors – similar to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, this places the most important measure of success at the bottom and builds up towards the more meaningful aspects towards the top. As such, Wikipedia itself uses media coverage as the metric for assessing the relevance of various topics, since it's the most reliable, measurable, and meaningful common denominator. This is an excellent metric for the project's success as seen from the outside (similar to a country's GDP), but it's the least meaningful in regard to any given project's inner philosophy. By contrast, the principles guiding any given project are the most meaningful aspects for its inner working, but the least important when it comes to assessing its overall success as compared to other projects (similar to a country's economic ideology).

Wikipedia's hierarchy of priorities

Wikipedia's success metrics supersede each other in the following order:

  1. Media coverage is the most basic metric for success – it provides notability and a public image for the project.
  2. The number of readers supersedes media coverage – irrespective of the media, the number of actual readers matters more (high media coverage and low number of readers actually means the project is not successful; on the contrary, low media coverage and a high number of readers means the project is successful).
  3. The quality and quantity of content is more important than the current number of readers – good content creates readership.
  4. Content cannot be created without contributors, therefore the number of contributors and their ability to create meaningful content is more important than the current content.
  5. Good contributors leave the project if they're not treated in a fair manner, and potential contributors are not interested in joining if they feel the project is misguided – therefore applying rules in a fair manner is more important than retaining contributors at any cost.
  6. Misguided rules are guaranteed to ruin any enterprise, therefore all rules must necessarily be the result of applying healthy principles – the logic goes both ways, applying existing rules in fringe situations against the principles is disastrous.