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> Four Breakpoints in Search of a Debugger, Extracting the Lessons of Hard Experience
Jon Awbrey
post Thu 3rd June 2010, 9:38pm
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In September of 2006 I still had hopes that the Citizendium project would absorb the lessons of Wikipedia's mistakes and be able to profit from them. With that in mind, I made an attempt to summarize what I had learned from my own experience with the imminently bad example supplied by Wikipedia, setting out my conclusions as a list of critical make-or-break points for the design of any future project of this kind.

For now I'll just refer to my original postings on these "breakpoints", hoping for a chance to flesh them out later.Jon Image
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Jon Awbrey
post Fri 4th June 2010, 12:38pm
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Breakpoint 1

Anonymity ⇒ Irresponsibility ⇒ Police ⇒ Autocracy

My point is that this project is doomed from the start if it doesn't learn from the failures of many similar projects in the past, like DMOZ, Nupedia, and Wikipedia, plus several dozen more whose very names are forgettable. But I observe from the very structure of this list that 'Zenda is likely to remain the Prisoner of hysterical-historical blindsightedness, so I will give it a few game tries, and then we'll see …

By way of a few games tries, I will start a list of Breakpoints (Breaking Points) that killed these earlier projects, along with a Prolegomenon of Criteria and Desiderata toward any future Sum of Knowledge.

Breakpoint 1 is given above. Those who have learned from the past already know what will happen if it is not fixed, and fixed quickly.

Breakpoint 2

Lack of Acquaintance with the Conversation on Knowledge

The second thing that comes to mind when I think about the failures of 10 or 11 "Webification of Knowledge" (WOK) projects that I've seen come and go or wasted a good chunk of time and ergs working on over the past 5 or 6 years or so is the fact that their movers and mostly shakers had no acquaintance with the conversation on the nature of knowledge that has been going on in academe and the professions for nigh on 50 years now, if not 150, or maybe even 350, depending on how you count the baktrakpoints. But that's a big subject, so I will just cast this anchor, and get back later.

Breakpoint 3

Becoming a Resource that Researchers Actually Use

One of the places where Wikipedia is falling down more miserably with every passing day is in failing to realize that the best way to get professional journalists, researchers, scholars, and writers to devote a lot of their discretionary labor to a resource for free is to make that into a resource that these sorts of knowledge workers really care about, on account of the fact that it feathers in with their normal modes of working, and because it is a resource that they would not merely touch with a ten-foot pole but actually use in their day jobs at the Daily Planet. Of course, you all know what has happened at Wikipedia instead.

Breakpoint 4

No More Fairy Tales

I had planned a longer preamble on this score, but another breakpoint has just become a higher priority, so I will keep this initial jeremiad brief.

There are two types of things that fall under this heading:
  1. Despite the nostalgia that some of may have for our D&D, Swords & Sorcery, Trekkie, and MORPH (Mass Orgasmic Role Playing Hallucination) days, we must forthwith, if we ever want the Real World to take us seriously, drop all talk of that entire empire and devolutionary descent of trolls and other boogie personae.
  2. We need to drop the utopian fantasy policies of Assume Good Faith, Ignore All Rules, No Binding Decisions, and other such WikiPediatric nursery nonsense. This is not how the Real World works, and we simply have to quit play-acting otherwise.
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Jon Awbrey
post Sat 13th November 2010, 4:18am
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Bumpity Bumpity

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jeremystalked
post Tue 23rd November 2010, 4:27am
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I'd say that the anonymity - really a lack of barriers to contribution - helped get Wikipedia off the ground in the first place. Plus, the anonymity wasn't detrimental in any way at the beginning because the system wasn't worth gaming or attacking - Wikipedia was too obscure.

This post has been edited by jeremystalked: Tue 23rd November 2010, 4:28am
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Jon Awbrey
post Tue 23rd November 2010, 4:53am
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QUOTE(jonnystalked @ Mon 22nd November 2010, 11:54pm) *

I'd say that the anonymity — really a lack of barriers to contribution — helped get the KKK off the ground in the first place. Plus, the anonymity wasn't detrimental in any way at the beginning because the system wasn't worth gaming or attacking — the KKK was too obscure.

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jeremystalked
post Tue 23rd November 2010, 5:28am
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http://bigstupididiot.com/files/2009/09/ku...an_children.jpg

Harmless.

http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/images/1151.jpg

Scary.


Anonymity, plus the perceived safety of the Mob, is a problem.
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