User talk:Jimbo Wales/Statement of principles

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Early discussion[edit]

Could you replace NPOV by the more meaningful phrase "neutral point of view". I think this makes it more readable and usable for the rest of us.

Moving right along . . .

Item 2 states (in pertinent part):

"Newcomers are always to be welcomed. There must be no cabal, there must be no elites, there must be no hierarchy or structure which gets in the way of this openness to newcomers."

Item 5 states (in pertinent part):

"Anyone who wants to use our content in a closed proprietary manner must be challenged. We must adhere very strictly to both the letter and spirit of the license."

Item 7 states (in pertinent part):

"Anyone with a beef should be treated with the utmost respect and dignity. They should be encouraged constantly to present their problems in a constructive way in the open forum of the mailing list."

I've been involved in a number of purportedly open communities, and I've done my best to extol the virtues of the above-narrated principles in my role as one of the designated leaders of those communities. However, whenever openness really seems to matter, I have consistently encountered rhetoric in re the "practical limitations" of openness. Thankfully, Wikipedia seems to be free of this rhetoric. Is this rhetoric-free environment simply the genius of the Wikipedia community? Or are there procedural barriers in place to prevent charismatic tyrants from seizing control of Wikipedia?


To toot my own horn, part of the reason for the clarity of the statement of principles is from pressure I brought to bear. I was an ODP editor who discovered the actual nature of the ODP when I challenged its structures of control. There are still some points of danger on Wikipedia, the number one probably being the mailing list and the current conception of NPOV being something that is achievable (see User:The Cunctator/How to build Wikipedia, which is the rah-rah version of User:The Cunctator/How to destroy Wikipedia, which had been a rant). One point of improvement that hasn't happened yet but supposedly will is an automatic process of granting people who have edited at Wikipedia for a while the "sysop" privileges. Right now it's done at the behest of the mailing list, which is a problem.
To more directly answer your question, the procedural barrier is the totally plastic nature of WikiWiki. I think the best explication of that phenomenon is Sunir Shah's pages on SoftSecurity.
And the final answer is that Jimbo Wales really gets how to run a project like this.--The Cunctator

In number 3 of your principles you speak of the open "and_viral_nature" of the GNU FDL license. Is the word "viral" a typographical error when you meant something else? It's hard to imagine that you would want the site full of viruses, but I'm not sure what you intended. Eclecticology

"viral" refers to anything, especially anything memetic, that propagates itself by attaching itself to something else. The GNU FDL is desirable precisely *because* it is viral, which in the context of a license means that it applies to derivative works, which are "infected" by the requirement to re-integrate changes deemed desirable by any party down the line. I.e. if you go to any derivative of the wikipedia whatsoever, you should be able, thanks to this "viral" license, to crib its text directly into the original wiki or any other wiki... without the "viral" license variant terms can apply to the forks, derivative works can be controlled commercially, etc. It's exactly the right term.

Thanks for the explanation. I even think that I understand what you are saying, and have no problem with the underlying philosophy. My concern is probably more related to the power of words. In the public mind "virus" and "viral" have such overwhelmingly negative connotations (as distinct from denotations) that the simple appearance of the word can be a cause for alarm and concern. I'm confident that I'm not the only one that has required an explanation.
I can nevertheless envision a public health parallel to the subject where perhaps the word "innoculated" is more appropriate than "infected". The medical innoculation too is based on an adapted biological virus. Eclecticology
we should be highlighting rather than avoiding those parallels - for instance "genetic engineering" is a euphemism for "creating an artificial viral strand of DNA and injecting it semi-randomly into a genome by various mechanical means". I outlined the exact value of the GNU FDL in viral license - note that fear of the "virus" created the open source movement, which lacks the viral feature - and is thus seriously and fatally broken. THe viral feature is what matters about the GPL - it could have quite restrictive pricing, etc.,but as long as the terms were uniform it would work to unify a base of contributors. Open source is dangerous crap - simply spews bad code and bad copies with all kinds of separate licensing terms applying to its dead and dying body parts...

Open source is dangerous crap - Now who is being ideological now 24? -maveric149

I didn't intend to troll for another "war of 24" when I started this discussion. I was only trying to see if one word was a typo. Now I know it wasn't. Instead the conversation became infected by a lawyer virus. The real underlying question is whether we believe knowledge to be public or proprietary. The subtleties that distinguish viral licenses and open source seem more and more like arcane lawyer talk suited for ecclesiastical councils. What matters more to me is limiting the right of corporatocracy to control knowledge. Eclecticology

I noted, in passing, your endorsement (in the WikiEN-l Archive) of some kind of mechanism for delayed visibility/effectiveness of edits. I'm glad to have seen this. It clearly contributes to the factors that make me keep the hope for Wikipedia. I returned to Wikipedia in April, and since then my impression (as stated in April) have been reinforced. The invitation to all readers to correct and amend articles is not necessarily injured by a delayed visibility. /Tuomas 19:27, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Rule by consensus[edit]

Editing Wikipedia lately isn't as pleasurable as it once was. The shouting, wikilawyering and mob rule seem to have oughtweighed NPOV and rule by consensus. Wikipedia:Semi-policy against which I argue on Wikipedia talk:What is a troll is just one example of the trend to obfuscate the process of writing the encyclopaedia.

The central problem with this is that it's bad for the project. It's very frustrating to argue a bit of information that you know you are right about with a group of people who can't present coherent arguments for their POV, but are shouting or even threatening proceedings and punishment. People with unpopular views are discouraged from editing, which precludes any chances of achieving NPOV. Not just that: People with knowledge, mild manners, and an adult approach to team work are discouraged from participating in the project, which threatens to turn large Wikipedia into the encyclopaedic equivalent of a tabloid.

So, what can be done? I think that Rule by Consensus and a provision which clearly states that views of simple majority are no more valid than views of a substantial minority should be enshrined as core principles.

But the Lord of the Flies atmosphere also owes a lot to the pervasive contempt for due process - if the powers that be (admins and ArbCom by any measure) show contempt for the rules, how can they expect those they disagree with to be any better? Since people obviously care about what Wikipedia says on certain matters, this attitude inevitably invites endless edit warring and consequentially increased wikilawyering and dealing out of punishments. Mind you, a permaban on Wikipedia is the equivalent of capital punishment in the world of online lexicography.

So it would also be nice if core principles also included a provision that explicitely mandates due process - i.e. rigid adherance to the rules, once they are passed and no making up of actionable rules (i.e. those that can badly reflect on your reputation if you break them) on the spot or outside established procedure, whatever that is at the time. If issues require flexible solutions, then it's the rules that should be made flexible, not adherence to them. Zocky 21:32, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

I'm not certain that I have the right place to enter this point but it seems that "Principles" are possibly the core of everything which for example could be interpreted as a Science such as Mathematics, Logic, Physics, etc should be deriveable from (product of) its principles.

I searched Wikipedia for "Scientific Principles" and had "Scientific Method" returned. I dont even see this as close when viewed from perspective of "The Principles of Mathematics" by Bertrand Russell. So who should define Principles of Science, or Principles of anything since Lord Russell is no longer with us?

Mailing list(s) vs. Talk/discussion pages ?[edit]

Is #6 still or really true?

I've been finding tons of "meta" stuff & opinions in these Talk pages + without even considering the existence mailing lists (which I eventually found a link to at Help:Contents).

P.S. - I've got plenty to read already! PLEASE DON'T ADD ME TO ANY MAILING LISTS!  ;-)

-- Curious1i 04:24, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Statement of Principles[edit]

I'm not sure this is the right place to provide feedback on the statement of principles. If it isn't, please point me to the write place. Anyhow, I think no. 1, "Wikipedia's success to date is 100% a function of our open community" sounds horribly awkward. The same sentiment can be conveyed in a better-worded sentence. I propose Wikipedia's success is a function of its open community, or if we want to stress the point, Wikipedia's success is entirely a function of its open community. At the very least, I think "100%" (which reads like an informercial) should be replaced with "entirely". --Ori.livneh 00:02, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

Date of this statement[edit]

Can someone in the know note both the date and source of this statement? The earliest recorded edit is by a conversion bot. - BT 15:39, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Date for "Statement of Principles" (again)[edit]

Ah. I see someone else (see above) has asked the same question! See also the discussion here (may soon be moved to here in Archive 11) and in here in Archive 7. The latter discussion led to a date of February 2002 from the history page for /Statement of Principles, but the more recent discussion with JesseW led to a date of 27 October 2001 as possbily the earliest date for this Statement of Principles being published on Wikipedia. Jesse kindly added this data to this subpage within the existing 'noinclude' tags so that it doesn't appear on the front page. In the spirit of Jimbo Wales's comment on his user page: "You may edit this page Really, you can! Feel free!" - and hoping that it applies to subpages, I am going to reword this bit, put a bit outside the "noinclude" tags, and leave the actual link to the nostalgia version inside the noinclude tags. I will also place a note on the main talk page to notify Jimbo so he can revert all this if he wants. Carcharoth 09:56, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

RAS Syndrome[edit]

I hope you don't mind that I changed "GNU FDL License" to "GNU Free Documentation License", removing the redundant word "license" to avoid RAS Syndrome. I expanded the acronym instead of just deleting the word, because I thought the acronym was too obscure for someone reading the principles for the first time and trying to get the high level meaning. Mditto 20:02, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

The story behind this SOP, and the exact date (!)[edit]

Let me get off my rocking chair, put away my Zimmer frame and tell you the story behind this Statement. It is far more complicated that you might think. Firstly, do not trust the History logs on Nostalgia - they are at best only 10% accurate.

It was October 2001 and I had been here for a month or two. We were doing well, we had been mentioned in the NY Times and we had just passed 15,000 articles. And the Cunctator had launched an all-out assault on Jimbo and Larry. Now the Cunctator is one of the most quixotic characters in the history of WP. He was amazingly intelligent and capable of creating exceptionally good articles. Some of his thoughts still permeate wikipedia policies today. But he was hands-down the most disruptive editor in the first two years of Wikipedia and he drove Larry Sanger to the brink of insanity by nitpicking every possible thing Larry ever said.

Anyway on around 15 October Cunc wrote How To Destroy Wikipedia, which is fairly slanderous as regards Jimbo and Larry. It was even highly critical of Magnus (who wrote the Phase II software). As a sidenote, even I was implicated as it also contains reference to "Why ManningBartlett left". For the record, this was a total distortion of the truth. I had had a minor spat with Tim Shell (can't even remember what it was about), and then had to go on a business trip to India so was offline for about two weeks. Cunc decided that I had "left the project in disgust" and accused Larry and Jimbo of being responsible for "driving good people away".

On 26 October 2001 The Cunctator decided to launch an all-out-assault on Jimbo regarding the GFDL. JImbo got VERY pissed off, and he wrote the "Statement of Principles" as a means of blowing off steam. It was published only a few hours after the GFDL page, so I would pinpoint its creation to 26 Oct 2001.

There was nothing new in the statement - it was really a summary of things Jimbo had been saying since day one. But it still stands as the foundation of the core values of WP, even to this day.

Manning (talk) 00:18, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Right Thing[edit]

The words are tagged to link to an article within Wiki, but are highlighted in red, ie the link leads nowhere... Perhaps this ought to be corrected? Jubilee♫clipman 18:42, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

Licensing change to CC-BY-SA[edit]

This is going to need updating come June 15. GreenReaper (talk) 07:49, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Is this the original version, and if not, link?[edit]

Is this the original version, and if not, link?   M   00:13, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

The oldest version is indeed linked from the front page, but here is a link for you :) NW (Talk) 00:50, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Redirected Link[edit]

The [no cabal] link currently goes to Backbone cabal. Perhaps:

would be better. (talk) 13:39, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Category:Wikipedia Basic information[edit]

I've fixed the cat on this page. This page is (technically) not a policy or a guideline, and that P&G cat should normally be (almost) empty anyway, as everything should be in subcats. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:43, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Dear Jimbo, did you intend to create, in other editors' words, "American television watchers' encyclopedia"?[edit]

Many pages and articles seem to be in direct contradiction with your statement of principles...

Shouldn't Wikipedia strive to be a better encyclopedia?

You are invited to join the discussion at Talk:Big_Bang_Theory_(disambiguation)#Primary_Topic_RFC. (talk) 05:27, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

Homeopathy article and the parody of Neutral point of view[edit]

I always wanted to ask you how is it possible that controversial articles like homeopathy make neutral point of view looks like parody? What is wrong and how it can be corrected - I have no idea - I have no ....conflict of interest but I did and do have good intentions. For a curious editor, it would take 15 min to understand the problem. Best regards. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Motorola12 (talkcontribs) 00:14, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

My guess is that Mr. Wales does not monitor this page. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 02:28, 12 January 2013 (UTC)