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Hello! Wikipedia is my favourite MMORPG. I try to be nice, bold and peaceful, and follow the one-revert rule. Almost all my edits are small, incremental improvements, though these are sometimes high-impact upgrades, such as adding captions or improving neutral point of view.


I have made many! contributions; here are some incomplete subsets:

Commons picture of the day
Allium rothii 1.jpgAllium rothii, a bulbous plant native to the Levant. Taken in Arad, Israel, March 26, 2012.


The Signpost
1 July 2015

Earlier in my time as a Wikipedia editor I had a role in developing policy, because I saw how well-defined policies help prevent a lot of arguments and wasted time. Over my eleven years of experience I've seen how policy has gradually changed (in effect, not officially or per consensus).


My essay What is a category? pointed out why categories should be sets rather than hierarchies, and this is now policy.[dubious ] A simple change for the better.

Criteria for article inclusion[edit]

I also worked on the creation of the policy on notability / importance: I believe in the founding principle of Wiki is not paper, and I was tired of many deletionists acting as if such a policy existed, giving them reason to delete articles — despite decent references. So I decided to see if they really did have a consensus view. Fortunately they didn't; the community still backs the status quo so the current page mostly just points to the other older policies — ie. article notability is still determined by verifiability and what Wikipedia is not. There is notability so far as article assessment is concerned; but not for article inclusion.

Unfortunately the idea that article inclusion depends on notability is still very common, and arguments about it are more numerous than ever. In my experience, whether with files or articles, some people prefer to delete things instead of fixing them — this is the fundamental problem with deletionism. Often articles are successfully reintroduced (and never again voted for deletion) by someone who does a better job of it (there's also now a crazy workaround called the Article Incubator). The effect is to create a high entry barrier for new articles — stubs are much less common now, because they're more likely to be deleted than improved. Policy and the five pillars are one thing, but what actually happens is determined by an unorganized but active minority of self-appointed content police.

Over time, the subjects of new articles will naturally be more esoteric, and in combination with the raised entry barrier, it is quite unlikely that an article created by a newcomer will survive.

It's a huge, time wasting problem that is probably the biggest discouragement to Wikipedia contributions, and is often the reason people leave Wikipedia. There are also crazy effects like how pornstars are more notable than scientists. See deletionism and inclusionism in Wikipedia for more.

Voting / polls[edit]

A related rising trend is that of voting. The over-reliance on voting is against the spirit of Wikipedia - Wikipedia is about creating consensus, not taking sides. Despite it being against accepted policy, voting has become the norm. People add their votes even when they don't have anything to add to the discussion. This is usually worse than a waste of time. See Polls are evil and Voting is not evil for more.


The fifth article I created, in 2004, was Phantom mobile device vibration. It was deleted, but shouldn't have been, as votes were split 5/5policy requires rough consensus for deletion. The article was later recreated by another editor, successfully voted for deletion again, recreated by yet another editor, voted for deletion a third time, and then speedily deleted (again, against policy).

As a result of being wrongly deleted, good writing was lost irrevocably, making the eventual article weaker and more likely to be deleted each subsequent time, instead of gradually improving. In 2006 it was recreated for the fourth time, under the title ringxiety, and this time it got lucky and survived, and looks to be here to stay under the title phantom ringing.

While I don't think it's an important article, similar things have happened to much more worthwhile topics. It's a classic example of why the voting process is biased in favour of deletionism — and why voting has always been against policy anyway.

For more reasons behind my thinking on inclusion and voting, see Who Writes Wikipedia? (Aaron Swartz, 2006).


As Wikipedia gains acceptance in academia, these issues are only becoming more important. We are not only discouraging not only new editors from contributing, but also world experts and academic organisations. We need to make Wikipedia easier to use, and this is more of a cultural problem than a technical one.

These issues are a result of large-scale consensus decision-making, with a lack of central leadership (for example, see this essay). The problem originates in the technoutopian anarchist philosophies that are widespread amongst geeks. In reality, crowd collaboration is excellent for highly parallel tasks that benefit from diverse viewpoints, like bug-fixing and feedback — and the core task of improving encyclopaedia articles — but it cannot replace centralized vision and leadership, or highly skilled teams. See The ignorance of crowds by Nicholas Carr.

Without stronger direction, bureaucratic complexity will grow and Wikipedia will continue to become — ironically — less friendly to newcomers, and less open and transparent in its actual operation.

Useful stuff[edit]

Help & Community Interesting stuff Tools

Analysis of contributions



Random interesting articles[edit]

This is an occasionally-updated list of random articles I find interesting (most recent at the top). For other interesting articles, see Wikipedia:Unusual articles. And of course, there's always featured content and today in history.

  1. Phoenix Jones - real-life superhero
  2. Geneva drive - a genius mechanism used in watches and film projectors
  3. Antikythera mechanism - an ancient Greek astronomical computer
  4. Bag of holding (fantasy) - a magical item
  5. Polypropylene stacking chair - the most popular chair in the world
  6. List of common misconceptions (common knowledge)
  7. Sybil attack (reputation systems)
  8. Countersteering (physics) - did you know to steer left on a bike you have to momentarily steer or lean right?
  9. Doomsday rule (maths) - look like a mathematical genius using this to calculate the day of the week for any date
  10. Raining animals (meteorology)
  11. Proof by intimidation (logic)
  12. LOLCODE (programming / Internet humour)
  13. Rule 110 (maths)
  14. Bridge jumping (Sport) — (now deleted) - see also List of bridges in Cambridge
  15. 9814072356 (maths)

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