From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

All revolutions eventually evaporate, leaving behind the slime of a new bureaucracy.

— Franz Kafka

Wikipedia began as an insurrection. We wanted to make something free which previously had not been. Some of us had already stated twenty years ago that "information wanted to be free," and that statement has at last come of age.

As societies age, they tend to become more rule-bound and bureaucratic. The same is true of Wikipedia: while our core policies can be stated simply, they have become more detailed over the years, and the amount of fighting over those details has continued to increase. They have also become correspondingly harder to change.

Ignore all rules has a touch of genius. It provides a permanent safety valve from this pressure to create a rule-bound bureaucracy. "If the rules prevent you from improving the encyclopedia, ignore them." This absolutely essential principle is what distinguishes us from other societies, as befits our nature as a project with one purpose--to build an encyclopedia. If we were a project to create a community, where people work, play, eat, sleep, make love, and die, we couldn't have it. But given our ever-optimistic nature, where we believe that there is more good in the world than bad, and more people willing to help than to hurt, we do not need to constrain all action with specific rules. Do as you will. That Wikipedia continues to improve after all these years is indeed a massive proof that there is more good than bad among its visitors, for if that were not true we would have long ago been drowned by crud.

Ignore All Rules is an assumption of good faith at a meta-level. It assumes good faith not only of individuals, but of the community, and the project as a whole: it allows for individual freedom in helping make us even better than we already are, and it allows for boldness, a quality which otherwise would long ago have been choked by the growth of a thicket of rules and precedent and case law. Ignore All Rules assumes good faith of you. Improve the project; be kind to your fellow editors, respect them, be aware of your biases, and go and write an encyclopedia unsmeared by any bureaucratic slime.