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The Longest Now

A New ‘Pedia: planning for the future of Wikipedia
Saturday August 10th 2013, 2:58 am
Filed under: citation needed,Glory, glory, glory,Uncategorized,wikipedia

Wikipedia has gotten more elaborate and complex to use. Adding a reference, marking something for review, uploading a file or creating a new article now take many steps — and failing to follow them can lead to starting all over. The curators of the core projects are concerned with uniformly high quality, and impatient with contributors who don’t have the expertise and wiki-experience to create something according to policy. Good stubs or photos are deleted for failing to comply with one of a dozen policies, or for inadequate cites or license templates; even when they are in fact derived from reliable sources and freely licensed.

The Article Creation Wizard has a five-step process for drafting an article, after which it is submitted for review by a team of experienced editors, and finally moved to the article namespace. 7 steps for approval is too much overhead for many.  And the current notability guidelines on big Wikipedias excludes most local and specialist knowledge.

We need a simpler scratch-space to develop new material:

  • A place not designed to be high quality, where everything can be in flux, possibly wrong, in need of clarification and polishing and correction.
  • A place that can be used to build draft articles, images, and other media before posting them to Wikipedia
  • A place where everyone is welcome to start a new topic, and share what they know: relying on verifiability over time (but not requiring it immediately), and without any further standard for notability
  • A place with no requirements to edit: possibly style guidelines to aspire to, but where newbies who don’t know how the tools or system works are welcomed and encouraged to contribute more, and not chastised for getting things wrong.

Since this will be a new sort of compendium or comprehensive cyclopedia, covering all topics, it should have a new name. Something simple, say Newpedia. Scripts can be written to help editors work through the most polished Newpedia items and push them to Wikipedia and Wikisource and Commons. We could invite editors to start doing their rough work on Newpedia, to avoid the conflict and fast reversion on the larger wiki references that make it hard to use for quick new work.

Update: Mako discussed Newpedia (or double-plus-newpedia) in his panel about “Wikipedia in 2022“, and Erik Moeller talked about how the current focus on notability is keeping all of our projects from growing, in his “Ghosts of Wikipedia Future“.  I look forward to the video and transcripts.

What do you think?  I started a mailing list for people who are interested in developing such a knowledge-project.  I look forward to your thoughts, both serious and otherwise 😉

I really like the overall premise — a safe place for new editors to practice and learn. It would also be a safe space for more experienced editors to practice effective communication and mentorship. I wonder if this could happen within the context of Wikipedia without starting something new.

Comment by Eugene Eric Kim 08.11.13 @ 12:43 am

Coming full circle: Wikipedia has become what (not how) Nupedia hoped to be, to the point we need the rough drafting space Wikipedia was for Nupedia… No doubt you implicitly acknowledge that in the name you propose. 🙂

Comment by Asaf Bartov 08.11.13 @ 3:04 am

Why not just a Draft: namespace on the actual Wikipedia? This way, moving the page to the main namespace would not result in a history loss, and it would be all part of the big ‘pedia?

Comment by Denny Vrandecic 08.11.13 @ 5:33 am

A few years ago I proposed a Wikipedia2 for English, and other languages also:

A Wikipedia supplement where the standard of notability is much relaxed, but which will be different from Wikia by still requiring WP:Verifiability, and NPOV. It would include the lower levels of barely notable articles in Wikipedia, and the upper levels of a good deal of what we do not let in.

It would for example include both high schools and elementary schools. It would include college athletes. It would include political candidates. It would include neighborhood businesses, and fire departments. It would include individual asteroids. It would include anyone who had a credited role in a film, or any named character in one–both the ones we currently leave out, and the ones we put in. It would include evert ball game in a season.

This should satisfy both the inclusionists and the deletionists. The deletionists would have this material out of Wikipedia, the inclusionists would have it not rejected. Newcomers would have an open and accepting place for a initial experience.

But it would be interesting to see a search option:
Do you want to see everything (WP+WP2), or only the notable (WP)?
Anyone care to guess which people would choose?
That’s what I suggested, but I now realize it would have the same problem as your Newpedia: how to keep out the advertising.

Comment by David Goodman (DGG) 08.11.13 @ 5:50 pm

Asaf: Yes; and inevitable. We need to build self-awareness of that into our systems.
Erik & Denny: Great idea, now how could we avoid giving the new namespace a high default site-rank in search engines such as Google? We should make it hard to fool or poison search engine results using Newpedia, and don’t want it to share site-rank with other WM projects.

DGG: I like your detailed notes about Notability and Wikipedia Two. Note that Verifiability implies a certain slight level of Neutrality and a similar slight level of source Reliability. Let’s assume any Newpedia has spam control, and review of suspicious edits for basic V/RS. (There are both reputation and context-analysis ways to make this easier.)

Then advertising would have to be in the context of a properly-named article.
So what are specific problem cases?

Predictions about the future or vapourware? If verifiable, fine.
Entries for every item in a huge catalog? Fine.
Puff pieces about people, products, art, and organizations? Fixable.

Every ad-targeted topic deserves an entry; the issue is what to include, not whether to keep or delete. Popular sources can differ wildly, and in most fields there are no reputable “meta-rating” sources. We could find ways to classify ad-targeted topics, and treat/display them differently. But such fine-tuning can come later.

One possible advantage of starting with a new domain name with its own google juice is that we wouldn’t have to worry about poisoning search engines with advertising and spam until better tools and solutions have been developed.

Comment by metasj 08.12.13 @ 9:14 pm

I would favor an experiental tab called “draft”.

The current article would regularily be merged with the draft version by an admin, and editors editing the draft version would implicitely call for validation, comments, improvements, and feedback on their edits.

It may sounds like this introduces old editorial habits back into Wikipedia, but as long as editors can still edit the current article, this is not the case. It just opens the article for more types of contributors.

Comment by Bastien 08.17.13 @ 3:21 am

On reflection, I would implement this simply by having a link (in WikiData) between a WP page and a Newpedia page, indicating that the latter was a draft of the former. Then the latter could show up in the ‘Draft’ namespace. But edits made there wouldn’t have to clutter up the same RC, Commons, &c. [All of these would want to drop the vast majority of current policies re: licensing and notability]

Comment by metasj 12.02.14 @ 3:51 pm

It is appealing. And from time to time I do think along the same lines. But I’m a general sceptic: one cannot repeat history.

Specifically: when Wikipedia started everything was new. All the people were new and ethusiastic, liked to experiment and everybody was equal.

Today, even when one starts a New pedia, at the start you will still have many people from the old community. People who have an informal hierarchy, who have clear ideas about what is possible and what is not possible and who will aim to create Wikipedia anew or to really really create something that is not Wikipedia.

Any project I can imagine won’t be as flexible and fresh as Wikipedia once was. There will be something new and exciting. I just don’t really see it coming out of/from Wikipedia.

Comment by dirkingofranke 08.28.13 @ 8:58 am

Bastien – a good idea. Something worth integrating more closely with discussion pages, perhaps. Both are healthy to keep out of the main article’s history/flow.

Dirk – I agree that anything that does this well would look different from the current system, and would need to ground itself in a broader community. Current wiki admins would be most welcome, but wouldn’t get to call the shots in building new policies, and most certainly wouldn’t get to determine whether or not / how a new site was fun 🙂 The current communities tend to have a “no fun / no humor / no social networking” vibe, which is the antithesis of a free-form draft collab space.

Comment by metasj 10.12.13 @ 6:12 pm

Erik’s talk is now on YouTube.

Comment by HaeB 01.31.14 @ 6:18 pm

…and Makos’s is here (from about 19:00).

Comment by HaeB 01.31.14 @ 6:24 pm

Have to admit that the articles for creation process is very long. However, keep in mind that it is not the ultimate authority on posting Wikipedia articles. There is no rule about posting an article directly to the main space. The AFC process is just an attempt to keep out spam. Here is more information (link to my paid editing site).

Comment by Mike Wood 07.08.15 @ 1:03 am

Bad Behavior has blocked 397 access attempts in the last 7 days.