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Governance & decision-making on Wikipedia


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This is an introduction to Wikipedia's unique, vastly complex, and fascinating network of decision-making processes. It aims to survey the topic, rather than diving in-depth into any one type of decision. It was prepared as a 30-45 minute presentation, for an audience primarily of professors interested in using Wikipedia as a teaching tool; the second--to-last slide outlines an optional exercise, which should take approximately 60 minutes.

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Governance & decision-making on Wikipedia

  1. 1. Governance & decision-making on Wikipedia consensus, transparency, meritocracy, impermanence
  2. 3. background and inspirations: 1. government <ul><ul><li>consensus-based systems (e.g. Iroquois, Quaker) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>democratic government (more evident in later structures) </li></ul></ul>
  3. 4. background and inspirations: 2. internet & technology culture <ul><ul><li>online communities: Slashdot, usenet, email lists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>open source/free software culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>wiki culture </li></ul></ul>
  4. 5. background and inspirations: 3. established practices <ul><ul><li>academia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>journalism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>role of scientific method and outputs </li></ul></ul>
  5. 6. The Five Pillars <ul><ul><li>it's an encyclopedia, dummy! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>just the facts, ma'am </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>best happy hour ever: free beer AND free speech! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>play nice, or no cookie! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>oh....never mind. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 7. Social/organizational concepts: 1. consensus <ul><ul><li>how to determine consensus? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>who gets to determine consensus? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how do we select those people? </li></ul></ul>
  7. 8. Social/organizational concepts: 2. identity <ul><ul><li>anonymity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>conflicts of interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>sock puppetry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>canvassing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>scarcity of participants in a given decision </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. Social/organizational concepts: 3. roles <ul><ul><li>experts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>children </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>arbitrators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>administrators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>gnomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>programmers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>bot creators </li></ul></ul>
  9. 10. Types of decisions 1. Michel on peer assessment <ul><ul><li>[[WP:DYK]]: the &quot;Did you know...&quot; feature of the main page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[[WP:GA]]: &quot;Good Articles&quot; are reviewed by one Wikipedian </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[[WP:FA]]: &quot;Featured Article&quot; is the highest rating, reviewed by any number of Wikipedians </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. Types of decisions 2. other types <ul><ul><li>selecting administrators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>conflicts of interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>article categorization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>bot approval </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>software improvement/bug fixes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>dispute resolution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>individual articles: article talk pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>interrelated articles: WikiProjects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how to welcome newcomers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>outreach: contacting media, museums, schools </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. Exercise <ul><li>1. Choose an area: </li></ul><ul><li>article quality: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>FA candidate [[WP:FAC]] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DYK [[Template talk:DYK]] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>article deletion [[WP:AFD]] </li></ul></ul><ul><li>editor behavior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>admin candidacy: [[WP:RFA]] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>dispute resolution: [[WP:RFC/A]] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>conflict of interest [[WP:COIN]] </li></ul></ul><ul><li>technical: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>bot approval [[WP:RFBOT]] </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. (10 minutes) Review a number of the discussions/decisions; write down your observations </li></ul><ul><li>3. (40 minutes) Choose one and participate! </li></ul><ul><li>4. (20 minutes) Report back to the group  </li></ul>
  12. 13. presenters <ul><li>Pete Forsyth </li></ul><ul><li>Lead Consultant, </li></ul><ul><li>Wiki Strategies </li></ul><ul><li>project design team, Public Policy Initiative </li></ul><ul><li>[[ User:Peteforsyth ]] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Michel Aaij </li></ul><ul><li>Associate Professor, School of Liberal Arts Auburn Montgomery </li></ul><ul><li>[[ User:Dr Aaij ]] </li></ul>