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AnswerBack is a (slightly unkind) portrayal of the current state of MeatballWiki. Very little new is appearing and most of the new stuff suffers from AnswerBack.

You get the impression looking through RecentChanges there are a group of people who've been around for a while and ended up in a mode where they write little new, watch RecentChanges and try to show every discussion is a bit like what's gone before as if newcomers are expected to read the entire word index before commenting.

In short perhaps MeatBall has too few new entries and may be is stagnating a bit because of people not wanting newcomers to repeat their discussions of a previous era.

Perhaps from a horticultural viewpoint old pages should be pruned more vigorously to make way for new and different ones?

-- AndrewCates :o)

PS It's ok, I am not the victim and I am not thinking about comments made to me. But have a look through the RecentChanges and tell me if you see a pattern in places!

"To mangle Santayana: Those who prefer to summarize the past are doomed to Wiki." -- FrancisHwang, in Wiki:PleaseDontDeleteMyName

"tut tut", says ColdBlanket, "NoRespectForHistory". Irony intended. It's because newcomers aren't expected (and, indeed, they don't) read the entire word index before commenting that it's useful to put newer thoughts into the context of the rest of the wiki. The resulting PageChurn and fresh eyes helps prune the older pages.

I would hope that newcomers would be interested in knowing there are ideas related to theirs they could read about to come up with better ones. We don't delete their new ideas, but relate them. I wonder how much of what you say is related to the Wiki:WikiIceberg. It's hard for me to look at things from the perspective of a newcomer. -- SunirShah

re: MeatballWiki stagnating --> MeatballWikiTopic.

After some thinking, I am going to throw this out there and see what other people think.

WikiWiki has is now more of a free-for-all. Newcomers can begin posting immediately and often redundant pages are not refactored together, but rather linked (e.g. Wiki:JustaStudent vs. Wiki:OnlyaStudent). This makes the WelcomeNewcomer phase rather short. "Yes, you can edit the pages. No, you cannot delete my text."

MeatballWiki on the other hand prefers to have a consistent and coherent PageDatabase, which is why we spend a lot of time relating new ideas to old ideas, and we become anxious and fidgety when ideas get split in more than one place. It's not being a ColdBlanket, it's being a good librarian to combat InformationOverload. This makes the WelcomeNewcomer phase much longer. Also, we have a strong culture of deleting text.

Some people have gotten the feeling we are saying, "We are so smart, we've already thought of that before" and "You are so dumb, we are going to delete what you said." But that's thinking like TheAuthor, rather than BarnRaising. WikiWiki is not about BarnRaising. TheAuthor wants to own ideas and get credit; TheAuthor is invested personally in their work; TheAuthor signs their writing. Barn raisers want to get things done, and they aren't invested in their work (after all, they are building someone else's barn). And new ideas in barn design don't come along that often. The goal is to build what's needed, not what's new. Barn raising is also more efficient when the tools are organized and the saws are sharp, so we do a lot of editing.

If that makes any sense? Anyone else? -- SunirShah

Without adequate feedback demonstrating your input is being valued, it is very hard to keep people interested in an ongoing conversation. I have been thinking about AnswerBack vs. FairProcess, and I think that another GreatChallengesToWikis is DefendAgainstDefensiveness?. Over time we may have come to certain conclusions, but that doesn't mean we have to stop answering the same questions, as new people are not encultured in CommunityLore. And it is more than just giving answers. People don't like an AnswerBack, they want to be involved in the process of decision making. The problem is that often the objections are facile. The solution may not be to say, "no, this is the answer," but rather "We understand that point, and we have discussed it at length. Maybe we have missed something. You have a fresh perspective on the issue. Please review what we have said and see if we can move that agenda forward." But the converse to that is we cannot leave huge arguments lying around. They need to be condensed back into digestible summaries. So, the ridiculousness of CategoryRealNames has to be improved into a compendium of shared understandings.

Also, refactoring down a discussion like that and preserving counterarguments with integrity is the highest form of respect, I think. It says, even though I might disagree with you, I think your opinion was so valuable I will preserve it in my own work. -- SunirShah


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