Wikipedia:Edit at your own pace

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A retelling[edit]

In the old story, a worn traveler arrived before a small village; he stopped to pick up an ordinary smooth stone next to a stream and pocketed it. As the stranger approached the village, he sensed villagers' reluctance to assist him. Many went indoors as they saw him, and grabbed their children from the streets.

Spying an old woman cutting wood, the stranger offered to finish chopping her firewood if he could use a few sticks to build a fire. He borrowed from the woman a large cooking pot, and drew water from her well. Intrigued (and happy to get her firewood cut for free), the woman asked what he intended to cook. "Stone soup," the traveler replied, "a recipe I've learned on the road. The best soup you've ever tasted." The old woman laughed at his silliness, knowing cooked stones don't make soup, and said so. "Ah, but I've got a magic soupmaking stone," claimed the traveler, "and I personally promise when you've tasted the soup, you'll agree."

From his pocket, the traveler produced a stone, and plopped it into the kettle of water warming over the fire. From his pack, he produced a long wooden spoon, and began to stir the stone broth. By this time, the traveler had the old woman's full attention; several neighbors had become curious as well, and a few approached the traveler, the fire, and the kettle slowly coming to a boil. The traveler dipped his spoon into the pot and tasted. "This is fine," he said, "Good water makes good soup. Get your bowls; pretty soon it will be ready. I'll admit I've been using this same stone for a while, so the soup's a bit thin, I usually I add a few wild onions and herbs for spice."

"I have some herbs to spare," said the woman, "I might even have an onion or two."

"That would make grand soup." The traveler added, as he chopped the onions with his knife and put them in the pot, "Of course, we'll need to cook it a bit longer, to fully blend the flavors. Sure could use some carrots."

"I have some carrots," a neighbor offered, "I'll get them."

"Thanks," said the stranger, tasting the broth, "but carrots never make good stone soup unless you mix them with cabbage."

Another neighbor interjected, "I know where I can get two cabbages."

"Well now, this is very good stone soup, but is going to take a bit longer, I hope nobody minds waiting." the traveler cautioned the growing crowd, each of which now was holding a spoon and bowl, ready for the stone soup. He added, tasting, "still could use garlic, maybe some potatoes to thicken."

Many individuals stepped forward with something to add to the pot. "I have garlic," said one. "I have some potatoes," said another. "I have some salted beef." said a third.

At long last the traveler declared the soup ready, and the old woman had to admit the stone soup was the most delicious she'd ever tasted. Finally, after everyone in the village was fed, the traveler had a bowl himself. Even he was impressed, but he said it was time for him to leave.

Finding the stone at the bottom of the pot, the traveler let the stone cool, then rinsed and dried it, and put it back in his pocket, "for the next batch," he said.

The traveler waved goodbye to the villagers, and began walking down the road. As he passed over the bridge, he pulled the stone from his pocket, and tossed it back into the stream.

— Adaptation by User:BusterD


One of Wikipedians' rewards is personal affirmative willingness to continue participating. Willingness manifests in the quantity and sometimes the quality of one's edits. Willingness cannot be switched off or on; instead such willingness is expressed in a continuum. When willingness to continue wanes, contributions come less easily.

We often recognize ourselves becoming tired, agitated or stressed. We might not notice when we're slightly less able or even willing to do our best. We might know when we've been baited or wiki-lawyered by others, but it takes more distance and occasional insight for us to consider what we're actually willing to endure.

Sometimes not editing is the right thing to do.

Wikipedia does not have firm rules, besides the Five pillars, but perhaps the simplest essence of its success may be asserted: "We act, therefore we are". The connected community of users has become the projects' greatest asset. It is through all users' willingness to participate with their individual efforts that the Wikipedia community exists. A new contributor is always welcomed, because the community is enriched and deepened by every positive contribution (and many negative contributions).

Much like the paradox of thrift, if all individuals were for some unlikely reason suddenly unwilling to participate, Wikipedia would quickly become anachronistic and gradually less useful. When even one individual decides not to be involved in project activity, the pedia is impoverished by the absence, in so much as it would have been enriched from the individual's presence otherwise.

However, at the current level of wiki-participation, because the process to improve each content area is continuous and never-ending, pagespace rarely suffers directly from our individual absences. In fact, allowing others to work unguided on our watched pages often helps to remove the watcher's inherent bias from pagespace. By assuming the good faith of users other than yourself to watch and protect pagespace, one may even discover some reason for confidence in the enduring quality of one's own edits.

For this reason we occasionally may find it productive to leave the project, whether this means stepping away from the keyboard for a brief period, logging out for the day, placing a "busy" template on one's talkpage, taking a short or extended wikibreak, or leaving the project forever. This is a good thing. The project will be okay without us. Our works will stand on their own merit. We would have better perspective and be better Wikipedians when (or if) we choose to return.

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