|This page in a nutshell: This essay serves as a notice to all editors that existing projects must be open and transparent to all editors at all times, not to be overly hierarchical lest they meet a fate similar to that of Esperanza.|
Esperanza was a Wikipedia project founded on 12 August 2005. Its goals were to support the encyclopedia indirectly by encouraging a sense of community. It was the belief of Esperanza that a friendly, supportive community within Wikipedia would help the encyclopedia by keeping editors happy, productive, and on the project. The name is derived from the Spanish word for "hope" and the original goal was to offer hope for the Wikipedia community and bring it together. When proposing the association, the founder wrote the following:
Esperanza or Esperanza Association is a proposed association of wikipedians dedicated to strengthening wikipedia's sense of community through establishing a support network for wikipedians in an environment that is often hostile and apathetic. Esperanza takes its name from the Spanish word for hope. We have taken this name the in spirit of offering hope to wikipedians who feel isolated and ignored. Spanish is used in the hope that a segment of the wikipedia community will never again feel so isolated that it breaks away from the community as did a portion of the Spanish wikipedia community did to form Enciclopedia Libre.
Towards those goals, Esperanza attempted a number of initiatives, such as:
- A stress alerts page that would alert Esperanza if someone was ill or feeling highly stressed due to issues on Wikipedia or in real life, or if someone left Wikipedia.
- Stressbusters, which investigated the source of wikistress.
- Reach Out, which provided consoling.
- Admin Coaching, where newcomers could get assistance from Wikipedia administrators.
- Tutorial Drive, which aimed to write a series of tutorials for using and editing Wikipedia
- A calendar for members to list their birthday, first-edit day, etc. Esperanza tried to send out birthday wishes to Wikipedians.
- The to-do list.
- The coffee lounge for casual discussion.
- The Barnstar Brigade which gave out barnstars to users for good work.
- The User page awards for well-designed user pages.
- Trading Spaces, where Wikipedians could request help for designing their user page.
Some of these programs survive as independent projects.
Esperanza was governed by a charter, which stipulated an Advisory Council with staggered terms (two tranches), as well as an Administrator General who was selected by the council two times a year to lead the project. The Administrator General made binding decisions about Esperanza on IRC. Amendments to the charter could be made through week-long discussions held on Wikipedia talk:Esperanza. This was criticized as being heavily bureaucratic and counter to the open and transparent spirit of a wiki; Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy.
Esperanza was first nominated for deletion in November 2006. Critics of the group argued that Esperanza distracted people from contributing to the encyclopedia proper by providing an environment for social interaction. Esperanza was also criticized for having regular Council elections, which were seen as nothing more than popularity contests. Following a no consensus result in the first motion to delete Esperanza, the organization engaged in a series of reforms, which resulted in the deletion of the coffee lounge, the user page awards, Stressbusters and the Barnstar Brigade. The group also attempted to promote participation in the article namespace by creating an Esperanza Collaboration of the Month. While most of the reform discussions ultimately reached a consensus, the overhaul discussions related to Esperanza's goals, its charter, its governance, what constitutes membership, and the noticeboard weren't completed.
A month later, Esperanza was once again nominated for deletion. Noted complaints against the organization included:
- The overhaul proved to be unsuccessful in reforming Esperanza as a whole. The participants in the discussions promised to fix Esperanza: this, however, was felt to be done purely to avoid deletion, and not out of conviction. Little reform took place.
- In addition, its members also believed that Wikipedia depended wholly upon the existence of Esperanza, and would break down without it.
- Likewise, there had been other comments that Wikipedians who were not members of Esperanza were treated as inferior by those who were. Officially, members and non-members alike were invited to participate in Esperanza's programs; in practice, non-members had been set apart through Esperanza's activities, such as the Esperanza Collaboration of the Month.
- Esperanza was governed by an elected "Advisory Council", whose goal was to discuss any major issues that would affect the organization as a whole. The bureaucracy of this is anti-Wikipedia; the council made binding decisions through off-wiki conversations on IRC which were only made available after the event. Although these decisions could be overturned by the general Esperanza community via straw poll, this decision-making process did not follow Wikipedia's traditional consensus-building processes.
- Esperanza was a nice idea but impossible to implement; additionally, a large project isn't needed to spread hope and good cheer.
After long discussion, it was ultimately decided that Esperanza was to be decentralized and disbanded; see Wikipedia talk:Esperanza for a list of now-independent projects. Other pages about Esperanza themselves were redirected to this page, which was replaced with the summary above.
More debates followed on various pages in the Wikipedia namespace, including on a deletion review filed to review aspects of the MfD closure. The closing admin declared the consensus to be that the original MfD decision was endorsed.