Friday, October 2, 2009

It belongs to everyone

Wikipedia is a commons, the property of us all. It's like the city park that, as Jane Jacobs observed, because it belongs to everyone, belongs to no one. People who have nothing better to do drift into the park: the unemployed, the drunk, the homeless. Respectable people scurry quickly through, and because they don't feel a sense of ownership, they don't speak up and reprimand those who behave in antisocial ways.

Wikipedia is like that city park, in that anyone can show up, but most people have something better to do. Editors who spend all day long at Wikipedia, accumulating hundreds of edits a day, are fairly common. These cannot have jobs, cannot have families, cannot even have many dates. Try to visualize these editors and an image appears of a middle-aged guy living in his parents' garage.

Not a problem, except victory in Wikipedia always belongs to the most persistent. In a dispute, people with real responsibilities will state their case and then give up if it looks like a long struggle is ahead. People with a lot of time on their hands can thus often get their way, and can easily manage to become a real pest without actually falling afoul of the rules.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting theory you have about Wikipedia. It just lacks something: Sources.