Wikipedia talk:History of Wikipedian processes and people

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Initial credits[edit]

This article was started in response to suggestions made on Wikipedia_talk:Wikipedia_Signpost between April 19 and April 21 2005 by llywrch, cesarb, Sam Spade, and ALoan. --Theo (Talk) 11:09, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Maybe meta:History of Wikipedia should have more of this sort of information?
Btw, the ==notable contributors== section will be a nightmare to get right. Pcb21| Pete 11:46, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I imagine that this article will go into greater detail than is appropriate to meta:History of Wikipedia. Getting ==notable contributors== right seems like a challenge to which the wiki process is ideally suited; it does need to say why each entry is notable, however. --Theo (Talk) 13:42, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The article on meta is well, just an article on meta, so there is no reason why this sort of detail is inappropriate. Maybe this page should mention that this sort of page used to go meta, but now tends to end up on en: :-). Pcb21| Pete 14:37, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I see this article being specific to EN-WP, whereas Meta is about the broader picture and just happens to be wriiten in English. I would welcome opinions from other editors more experienced than I. --Theo (Talk) 14:56, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Re notable contributors, how do you envisage the list comparing (in size and overlap) to the list of wikipedians by number of edits (~1100 names)?. Pcb21| Pete 14:37, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I see this section being mainly about editors who are notable for something other than making many edits or being around a long time. The section title is probably too broad. "Notable gnomes" is an appealling oxymoron—and also too narrow. I imagine it to contain 50-100 names and I expect it to spin off into its own article. --Theo (Talk) 14:56, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I've commented out the list until someone can go in and give descriptions about why those users are especially notable in a way not reflected by Wikipedia:List of Wikipedians by number of edits. - BanyanTree 14:59, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

should this page exist?[edit]

Ok can anyone tell me how this page fits within policy?Geni 15:08, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps you can tell us what policy you think prevents it? Pcb21| Pete 15:21, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Project namespace defines the wikipedia namespace as "a namespace that provides information about Wikipedia." wikipedia is defined as "a Web-based, free-content encyclopedia". Other than that I think in time there are pretty good odds the desruption rule may become an issue Geni 21:12, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Interesting that meta was invented for pages like this. Pcb21| Pete 21:17, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
ones that are praticaly garentted to cause trouble and disstact from the aim of creating an enclyopedia?Geni 21:52, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Wow that's a lot of typos :) And yes lots of pages on meta have caused controversy, and if you knew more of the history of Wikipedia, you'd know that :). Pcb21| Pete 22:05, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
err no I need to know about the last 3 weeks on wikipedia to know thatGeni 22:24, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It seems to me that this article is tantamount to a history of the culture of Wikipedia. Such a history is "information about Wikipedia" just as an article about Henry Ford and the production line is information about the motor car.

A super-trivial bit of trivia[edit]

Ordinarily I would be far too modest (yeah right :-) to mention this, but the parallels with the mailing list debate "who thought of Wikipedia", make me think I can get away with it. Tu ba su is currently listed as the creator of the exploding whales theme... the original content was actually in Sperm Whale and written by me way back in the day. Tu ba of course had the creative brilliance to expand that little nugget into a comprehensive survey of whale explosions. Pcb21| Pete 20:48, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

{{sofixit}}! Create a new section about the history of that famous article and tell the whole history of how it was created. It is probably one of the most influential articles on Wikipedia, and deserves its own section. --cesarb 21:17, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Stub History[edit]

The term "stub" in the Wikipedia context was created by Larry Sanger, and existed since day one of the 'pedia. When I arrived in Sept 2001 I began to collect stubs in my private notes. Bear in mind that we had no categories, namespaces, or any other useful organisational tools, so in November 2001 I began a period of major organisational development.

During this time (Nov 2001) I transferred my collection of stubs to Find or Fix a Stub. I also created Wikipedia Utilities which was the first collection of a number of editor resources (mainly created by Larry Sanger).

FWIW, my two other major contributions were Page Titles to be Deleted (prior to that, getting a page deleted involved emailing Tim Shell or Jimbo himself, as the concept of administrator didn't exist) and the Wikiproject.

A sidenote - the page history logs at Nostalgia are not entirely reliable - Ive just noticed that I am not recorded as the creator of Page Titles to be deleted (and conversely I am given credit for the creation of other pages where I certainly don't deserve it). See my userpage for a discussion of this if you're interested. Manning 01:39, 12 January 2007 (UTC)


Radiant, WP:DENY is not policy, and some of these vandals did have an impact on Wikipedia's history and culture. To make them a "secret" history that only the "in crowd" is allowed to know about is assigning them importance they don't deserve. Treat them with contempt, not reverence. --Random832(tc) 16:38, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Change of focus, or suggestion for a related article?[edit]

I was pointed to this talk page from the Drawing Board, where I suggested a project-specific article giving an overview on the history behind all policies and guidelines that make Wikipedia work as it does. This current page seems to be cherry-picking notable (to the "in-crowd") processes to describe, but is 'lacking', in that I (as an outsider) am not gaining any understanding of the growth over time of the way wikipedia works, nor of why most "basic" policies were put in place, nor of how existing policies might have shaped newer ones. I don't know if this current article could be expanded / have a change in focus to be that article that I'd like to see, or if that information is distinct enough that it should be its own article. I'm hoping that people interested in this page would have an opinion, and ideally the knowledge to write such an article (as, being a complete outsider, I obviously don't have that knowledge myself). It's also conceivable that an article with such a focus would already exist, in which case I'd be very grateful for a pointer, as I haven't been able to find one. — 04:03, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure that anyone besides me is watching this page, but I'll take a stab. The "outsider" history of Wikipedia is in the main namespace at History of Wikipedia. The "in-crowd" bias you note here is intentional as, this being in the project namespace, there are some things that are fascinating to Wikipedians that may seem boring to others. That said, I'm not sure anyone could give you "an overview on the history behind all policies and guidelines", given the radically decentralized nature of the project and the turnover of editors. Such an overview would be a full time research project and need to be book-length to give an understanding of the trends, personal drama and personalities at work.
This is definitely a work in progress. (The only bit that I feel is moderately complete is the section on stubs that I worked on, tooting my own horn.) I think simply adding a section with a list of questions you want answered would be well in line with this page. Note that you may want to sharpen your questions to get a response, e.g. "How did the Five Pillars become the Five Pillars?" might prompt a response, but there are only a handful of wiki-greyhairs who would be able to address general questions spanning multiple policies in the formative years. Another related page that is great for seeing how much policy formulation and modification comes from some really nasty arguments is Wikipedia:Historic debates. Cheers, BanyanTree 05:25, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. That historic debates page is awesome. Meanwhile I guess I'll need to go do some research to figure out the entire structure of pillars, policies and guidelines to then be able to ask those specific questions. (If, knowing that structure already, you feel you could take a first stab at setting up the structure for questions that need answering, I'd be cheering for you all the way.) To clarify (perhaps needlessly) where I'm coming from: All I know is that - somehow - wikipedia works (more or less, reportedly) and can deal with controversy and has guidelines for solving whatever issues crop up. It is possible to find what makes it work; there's a (slightly overwhelming) multitude of pages on the various policies and guidelines (and those pillars). But there's no (accessible) history of why they were formed, and thus no chance for others to learn from the choices made (dooming them to repeat history), nor to be able to say "okay, the reasons behind these policies would apply to our project as well, and so we shall copy them, but the reasons behind these other policies combined with our specific circumstances means that we should use different policies there instead."
It scares me that barely five (six?) years into the history of wikipedia, this information is already that obscure that only those "greyhairs" would know about it. I also fear that unless we can get the information dug up now (can you think of any way to somehow get those specific people contacted and interested?), this will lead to major problems for the project a decade or two down the road, when all that's known about most policies will be "it's always been this way", and making changes would thus (?) be nearly impossible.
I realize this is all very meta, and I hear you about it probably being a major research project; but hey, so is writing an encyclopedia article. :) — 04:21, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
I wouldn't presume to say that I know the structure. I'm pretty sure the proliferation of policies, guidelines and essays passed beyond mortal ken sometime in late 2005. An attempt would be interesting, but that would require a sort of structured narrative by a knowledgeable and patient user, precisely the sort of Wikipedians who are in short supply. Fuzheado's upcoming book on Wikipedia might cover some of this, so you might want to ask him. For the formative influences on the basic structure of Wikipedia, you could do much worse than The Atlantic piece from last September. If you're interested in other evidence of what fools we Wikipedians be, check out Wikipedia:Lamest edit wars. This page here has received relatively little interest from editors who would actually know what they are talking about, I think partly because the sort of user who is still around after five years of aggravation is focused on building the encyclopedia and may view discussing how one discussed how to build the encyclopedia as a bit of a frivolity. Though I'm half tempted by this discussion to try to create an essay in my user space on this topic... - BanyanTree 08:07, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
On a sidenote, I think at least the first half of User:Raul654/Raul's laws gives a pretty fair overview of observed behavior on the wiki. - BanyanTree 08:24, 6 July 2007 (UTC)