Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Lots of editors are just plain lazy. The last thing they intend to do is to look up sources. If they look up sources, they use Google and find something on-line. But even that is usually too much trouble. Even writing is too much trouble. Even reading is too much trouble. So what's left? Opinions, expressed on a talk page. Deletions of someone else's work. Pasting tags: POV, DELETE, whatever. These editors aren't trolls, but they are slackers. And like slackers in a college class, you just want to give them an F and send them home. But you can't, of course, and you have to waste your own energy countering their opinions, reverting their edits, and teaching them policy.

Wikipedia is full of friction. This is not a gang of enthusiastic boy scouts eagerly working together to put up camp. This is a bunch of eccentric strangers each trying to do things their own way. Interaction between editors is seldom efficient team work. One seldom hears, "I'll take care of this, and you do that!" Instead one hears, "What exactly do you think you are doing?", followed by a day of exchanges on a talk page. It's best to avoid other editors, they are either trolls or slackers, they just slow you down, they just cause friction.

But who would want to be here if there were no other editors? Isn't the problem with Citizendium that it's just too lonely? Other editors are friction, sure, but they are also the reason we come here, to participate with a community doing something worthwhile. And since we are all eccentric strangers, we don't pull together in harness in the same direction. Friction is inevitable.

The evolved rules help reduce friction. Trolls are beasts that generate way too much friction, and the rules have evolved to force out the incorrigibly trollish, and to make the rest of us suppress our trollish natures. Slackers generate friction too, but the rules don't appear to touch them.

I would like to see, not a formal rule, but a norm, that anyone who complains that an article is unbalanced has the obligation to do something about it. This wouldn't apply so much to someone who notices an objectively evident problem (for example, that the article lacks citations), but would apply full force to people who delete large sections of an article because they object to its POV, or paste POV tags on an article. A norm like this would reduce the friction caused by slackers.

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