Wikipedia:Old dogs and new tricks
|This page is an essay, containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.||
Old dogs can get complacent with what they have seen and what they know. The tried and proven are wonderful, comfortable things.
Old dogs enjoy watching the pups, but get annoyed if the pups get too close or too boisterous.
But without old dogs, there will be no pups to become old dogs.
Challenges for the Wikipedian
As a Wikipedian you have been working on a set of articles on and off for a long time. Even though no one owns articles in Wikipedia, you naturally feel a normal ownership of your handiwork. Another Wikipedian wants to restructure "your" articles.
You have for a long time been organising and categorising a series of articles, even establishing a category framework. Another Wikipedian wants to add to or restructure the article organisation and categorization scheme.
It is different so you immediately, naturally, advise, Doing it differently than 99.9% of how it is done causes problems. Remember, if Jimbo Wales did the same as everyone else you would not be reading this because Wikipedia would not be here in the first place.
The challenges and possible responses
In general, take a deep breath, and count to ten.
Does the challenge involve a new approach to an old idea? If it might work at all, help set up an environment to try it out. Take some time to explain the history and details of previous attempts, to help ensure the same dead ends are not gone down.
Does the challenge result from an initiative to edit-evolve a set of articles or reorganise and enhance a categorization scheme to get a more worldwide view? This is part of what an encyclopedia is all about. Take some time to explain the history and details of how the current articles arose. It will help make the proposed changes more seamless by allowing what was learnt before to be included, and help ensure your hard work can be properly built upon.
Does the challenge result from an initiative to evolve Wikipedia to a more sophisticated encyclopedic environment, for example, moving Wikipedia from a network of knowledge containers, articles, to a knowledge network embedded in articles, and is a bit "out there"? If so, give the challenge a bit of rope and let it run a bit. Help to guide it rather than stifle it.
Does the challenge mean evolving Wikipedia to a more sophisticated article environment, for example, standardising structure, layout or content for newbie articles, and is a bit "out there"? If so, give the challenge a bit of rope and let it run a bit. Help to guide it rather than stifle it.
Is the challenge bold? If it is infuriating but still interesting or intriguing, then be bold and help make the challenge even bolder.
Can the challenge be undone if it goes any further but goes belly up? Then let it go a bit further, but keep an eye on it.
If the challenge is too good, too easy, too breathtaking, too extensive to be true, it probably is. Gently poke it and see what the response is. If the response is considered or assertive, then let the challenge run. If it seems naïve, give gentle advice, and let it run a bit but keep an eye on it. If there is give and take, then also give and take.
Is the challenge boldness or is it arrogance? Gently poke it and see what the response is. If the response is considerate or assertive, then let the challenge run. If it is dismissive or aggressive, then give it a good faith guiding slap, and get a few others to keep an eye on it as well. If there is give and take then also give and take.
Take a deep breath, two if necessary.
- Be kind to newbies.
- Wikipedia is a collaborative, consensual, accountable free-for-all.
- If you do not want your material edited mercilessly, then do not submit it.
- If you do not want your ideas challenged or developed by others, then do not submit them.
- Wikipedians are told to be bold, so bold they frequently will be.
- Assume good faith.
Sometimes old dogs need to let new tricks be played out by the pups, and not all Wikipups were born yesterday.
No one really cares what you think if it is wrong. If someone needs to correct it, they will do so, and become 'old dogs' as they create a better Wikipedia.
- Criticism of Wikipedia
- Wikipedia:Contribute what you know or are willing to learn more about
- Steamroll minority opinions (A satirical essay lampooning the snowball clause)