Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Positivism

In a way, it is a running gag. Wikipedia is doomed. There are always some ten reasons why Wikipedia will crash, burn, disappear. There is the latest scandal, there are the article numbers that no longer grow exponentially, there is the fundraiser with its banner, Jimmy's plea, the number of new editors...

Many gags have a kernel of truth, it is what makes them funny. They are funny because the doom sayers apparently do not consider all the positive things as the counterweight that they are..
  • The Stanton project will have a major effect on the usability
    • This will design ways for more people to contribute to Wikipedia
  • There have been issues with the arbitration committee but if democracy works, new people are aware of the pitfalls of the past and may make a difference
  • There is the WikiCup 2009, a challenge played and won by skill of editing
    • competitors have offered to teach the fine points of their skills
  • The expectation of exponential growth is not realistic. Continued exponential growth has all the sand kernels on the beach editing Wikipedia ...
  • The fundraiser was a great success, our aim was achieved
    • the banners looked much better then last year
    • the fundraiser was much better organised this year
    • the public showed its appreciation for the work done in the past and gave us the room to do more in the future
    • Jimmy's personal plea made the point why Wikipedia deserves support splendidly
  • The Wikimedia Foundation is much better organised and as a consequence much better able to ensure the sustainability of Wikipedia
There are other things that I feel make a difference
  • MediaWiki is adopted by more and more organisations
  • The quality of the localisation of a small group of languages is such that MediaWiki is used as the default language by external projects
  • Thanks to the community at Betawiki, localisation is happening for many languages
    • Without localisation we are not able to share the sum of all knowledge to every single human.
  • A small group of people restore images digitally and are willing and able to teach their skills
    • A wide variety of images are restored, photos, prints, drawings
    • Material from many cultures, epochs and languages are chosen to prevent bias
All these positive things make their own contribution to why Wikipedia is not doomed. It is not even Wikipedia what it is all about, Wikipedia is about sharing and collaboration. In 2009 the United States of America will welcome a new president. He made the material on his website available under the CC-by license. Even when Wikipedia is finally doomed, I would already consider changes like this as part of its legacy.
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