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Archive of StephenGilbert

I entered the wiki world through Wikipedia, and found my way over to MeatballWiki looking for ideas on community building.

Ok, I'll write my GoalStatement, but I refuse to label it with a header. ;-)

I want to learn about and explore online community and culture with a group of unusual and insightful people. In doing so, I intend to help create a new kind of Internet culture based on trust, intelligence and good faith. Finally, I like this place, and I want to cultivate what we have here.

All of my contributions to MeatballWiki are PublicDomain. See PrimarilyPublicDomain for more info.

Some of my favourite pages include:

To Do (eventually)





on lurking ... which pages have been most interesting to you so far?

I'm primarily interested in the security issues of online communities: SoftSecurity vs HardSecurity and the effectiveness of each in different situations. OnWikisAndSecurity is a good read. I also enjoy poking around the InterWiki related ideas. WikiPedia has developed a rather different culture than most other wikis, but I think we should draw more on our wiki heritage than we have. --StephenGilbert

I decided not to wait for FileReplacement, so I fixed the WikiPedia entry manually. However, the server appears to have crashed, so I don't know if it worked. -- SunirShah

Stephen... You asked on Sunir's home page about Meatball editing the ODP wiki category. See the bottom of OneBigWiki for the relevant discussion. -- ScottMoonen

Thanks. I knew I saw it somewhere.

Thanks for all the cleanup and categorization work. -- AlexSchroeder

Don't forget that we'll be around in five years... -- SunirShah

Stephen, by the way, it wasn't a potshot to claim that SocialText was a commercial venture, because it is a commercial venture. Perhaps the word vs was inappropriate, but that still is the prime motivating reason why they exist separately from here. -- SunirShah

If you could just throw your hands up and walk away when things got tough, we'd never be motivated to improve things. Meatball was designed from the beginning to force us to work together or fail together.

While a CopyrightTrap is indeed an effective way to make SwitchingCosts high, it isn't the only way, nor the best way. It's easy to fork content or ideas, but people can't be duplicated. I like how ScottMoonen responded to the suggestion that old text from Wiki:JesusChrist be moved to AndStuff: "AndStuffWiki's editorial team (me) prefers that people join the AndStuffWiki community." In situations where people are forced to "work together to fail together", I'll put my money on the latter happening. It's only when people are together through their own commitment that a community can truly work together. We need to convice each other. -- StephenGilbert

An interesting take. I didn't mean to suggest the copyright policy was meant to trap us together. When Cliff and I were first forming MeatballWiki and he was still thinking about ViewPoint, we had innumerable (private, sadly) arguments about whether or not we should allow people in conflict situations to just leave or not. I argued vehemently it was a really bad idea to let people fork into separate threads when they disagreed. This promotes GroupThink, denies pluralism, increases misunderstandings, lowers the rate of cultural and idea exchange, entrenches conflict, and basically exacerbates conflict. Thus, I think the RightToFork in times of conflict is socially unjust.

I do support the RightToFork artifacts, but as I have come to realize, Meatball is not an artifact (like the PageDatabase), but a community. You can easily fork Meatball by convincing people to leave and form another community. Because that would mean war, the real SwitchingCost is that the people here don't want to go to war over their hobby (recognizing that is a seemingly rare sentiment on the Internet). Consequently, when we "fight" we do so with a point to improve our current situation. That's another CommunityExpectation here. When we fight, we do so in great exploratory detail, generating a lot of new ideas and Patterns to express the conflict, and then we attempt to find a resolution or many, and sometimes we agree that we do not have a resolution yet because it is too difficult, which is usually enough for everyone to forgive each other for the interim until a new perspective is contributed. -- SunirShah

Told you so. --ss

Oi. What can I say? As penance, I'll spend time every day canning worms. -- StephenGilbert

Yeah, this sucks. Thanks for helping. I think the only thing to do at this point is to invert focus and embrace (meta)Wikipedia. It's better to form relationships than to continuously try to stunt them. Maintaining our integrity and identity in the process will be difficult, but perhaps less difficult than entering into a thousand flame wars with every Wikipedian of a different stripe. -- SunirShah

Stephen, I'm at a loss. Considering the rise in the number of disaffected Wikipedians here, what do you think we should do? MetaWikiPedia or the mailing lists are the clear places to talk about this, but I sense the problem is that people do not feel they have say in the WikiPedia process so they do not want to use these avenues. There may be other reasons why they doesn't work. While I do not want to interfere with Wikipedia as I am not a member there, I'm not very happy with the change of tone that it has brought here indirectly. For instance, the culture of complaining and heckling instead of working together to solve problems (BarnRaising). I created Meatball to run away from that stupid "swinging dick" power-of-the-meek net.culture, which is why I am so adamant about devolving power and SoftSecurity and listening and explaining and emoting, and wiki culture has more or less stayed with me on that one. Now I feel stuck between a pincer movement of WebLog culture and 'Pedia culture.

I can only think of two things I can do to help. First, I can help strengthen our own culture here so it isn't swayed by buffoons who would drop comments like "cult leader", "martinet", "demagogue", GodKing, ReveredLeader, etc. without appreciating what is in fact the uniqueness and value of Meatball. Second, I can increase the clarity of our solutions so they are more convincing. The latter I'm afraid will take a very long time. Is there anything else I can do, short of getting involved directly with Wikipedia? I figure though that if a lot of Wikipedians are here, and if Meatball can survive, then people will take our culture back to Wikipedia if they like how it works. -- SunirShah

Part of the problem is that terms like SoftSecurity and WikiWay aren't really understood by much of the Wikipedia community. Many people think the "Wiki Way" is whatever Wikipedia has been doing, and soft security is about being nice to vandals and trouble-makers (a kind of misguided RadicalInclusiveness). Thanks to a handful of Wikipedians (including myself, when I was more involved in Wikipedia policy), it is well established that MeatballWiki is the home of SoftSecurity, and so many Wikipedians make their way here when they are unhappy with the way things are going.

I think we may want to work up a special WelcomeWikipedians? page. It would basically be a restatement of the MeatballMission, but targeted specifically at Wikipedians. It could explain things like how this isn't a platform to argue about Wikipedia-specific grievences, and give quick explanations (with links) of our main concepts. On Wikipedia, I instigated the creation of similiar guides for h2g2 and EverythingTwo people (the most excellent MartinHarper took the first plunge on WikiPedia:Wikipedia:Guide_for_h2g2_Researchers), and they seem to be helpful when we have visitors.

As for you getting directly involved with Wikipedia, I recommend against it. No one can have any effect on meta issues unless they're also actively building the encyclopedia. The way to establish a credible voice is to write many, many articles, and I don't think you would want to spend you time that way. A better idea is to encourage Wikipedians who are also Meatball members to organize a SoftSecurity strategy for Wikipedia. That means, of course, that I'll have to get re-involved in the Wikipedia politics, which I've been avoiding for the past year... -- StephenGilbert

I think one of the problems with SoftSecurity on Wikipedia is that it feels like such a shop window. A page here is messed up by a vandal, it's no big deal. On WP we a) feel we're building something big and important, and b) imagine that during the 30 seconds an article is vandalised, some kid on the other side of the world is trying to do their homework. On most wikis it feels like the community is TheAudience, but on WP it feels like we're playing to the world -- tarquin the anonymous.

The thing is, I think we know at least some of the technical solutions. DelayAction on edits, drawing on PeriPeri:DayStableHistory and LayeredWikiInterface, a softer form of deletion, as discussed to death on meta, and that sysop-elimination plan we all dream of. It's a matter of actually doing it, and that's going to take a lot of effort, both in building, and in leading. --MartinHarper

I think we also need to learn that it's NotABigDeal?. The article will be perfect and NPOV one day, but it doesn't have to be it RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Let the "bad" version stand for an hour, a day, a week. Don't stress - t

Unfortunately, a significant number of Wikipedians don't share that attitude, probably for reasons (a) and (b) that you mentioned. The fact that Wikipedia's HardSecurity measures have been mostly ineffective doesn't seem to make an impact. A good first step would be fixing RecentChanges, reverting it back to the UseModWiki behaviour of only listing each page that was changed along with the number of changes, not every single change to every single page. This would allow more people to review more edits. I'm not sure about delayed edits (I'll check out what PeriPeri does), but the much talked about article certification process (working with, but separate from, the wiki) would relieve much of the pressure to keep every article perfect. -- StephenGilbert

Well, it's like the militarist perspective. You need bigger weapons, not a humane approach. The article certification process you guys talk about is more hard than the the ArchivedPage? scheme I proposed on OpenMeatballWiki. I'm not sure what would be more appropriate for 'Pedias though. I have reached some rough consensus to get our PageDeletion scheme approved there, just as soon as someone codes it. -- SunirShah

By the way, someone wanted to delete my namepage from en.wikipedia last night because I hadn't made any articles. I found that funny. As if I haven't made my share of contributions in other ways. I don't have to get involved by writing articles. ;) -- SunirShah

I think that's a hoot. To a greater degree than most other on-line communities, there is a constant reckoning of political capital there, and those who don't rate highly enough are ignored. -- anon

You have been on wikipedia a long time Stephen. It is curious to see some patterns repeating. Why do people leave ?

Sometimes, it is natural occurence. They do not have time any more. Others just like writing articles, and when they are done with their favorite topics, it is like they feel empty and useless. That is the neutral leaving. Life goes on. We can happily forget them. They are happy and done with that part.

Others left because they feared they did not have the support of the community any more. Or because they did not have Jimbo supports any more. Or because of edit wars and anger. And many because things seems not to move on. It is a natural thing that people leave at some point, but in these cases, it is detrimental to the general spirit. And anyone should question his involvement in the case perhaps.

And there are those who leave to create a related project. To build something new. Perhaps a new wiki. Perhaps something using wikipedia content. These ones are rarely mentionned, but is that not a success ? We should talk more about those ones. I hope those leaving are able to consider all what they learn in the process, so even though they leave in tiredness, because, really some days, it is *not fun*, I hope they can feel what they learned, what they taught others, and remember the sweet times. I hope you will :-). ant

(there are some days I repeat myself a list of benefits like a rosary)

Thanks, Anthere. Given that I haven't done any major article or organizing work for about a year, this isn't really a change. I just removing myself from the role of observer, too. I'll still do a little article work occassionally.

I really love Wikipedia. It's an amazing project, and there are a lot of good people working on it (like you!). But as a group, we bicker constantly. We don't AssumeGoodFaith, we don't ForgiveAndForget, and we don't have any effective means of dealing with problem "contributors". It's just not fun for me any more, and that's a common reason for leaving that I've seen in all my time as a Wikipedian. -- StephenGilbert

nod. I sometimes remove myself, as an editor, or even as an observer, for huge chunks of time. I think it is part of the normal life of an editor there. Discovery, awe, frantic edition, first pains, huge participations in particular in rules and organisation, more conflicts, more pains, more friends, more time spent analysing, less editing time, and either a last big crisis, or the slow and depressing feeling one is not impacting enough what he thinks right; It is curious how such a projet, that should nurture people and empower them, can be so unfun sometimes. Well, my best wishes for your other projects ;-)

Oops: I deleted the old page at FlameWarriors, figuring there was nothing to say except "here's the link"... it's a good site, isn't it? --MartinHarper

Oh! I wasn't aware the page existed before. I (re)created it mainly for the backlinks, which allow for quick cross-referencing.

I love that page. I had a lot of fun going through it this morning. What I find funny is that the page FlameWarriors suggests clicking on the title to find all the flame warrior comparisons, and that includes this Anti-Pattern called StephenGilbert. I'll have to watch out for that one. ;) -- SunirShah

That's a bad one. It will destroy your community, steal your ideas, and make lewd comments to your refrigerator. -- StephenGil... er, AnonymousDonor

Did you ever follow up on your plans to contact NoLogo? I've just read the book and I would love to see the site move to a WikiLog. -- JohannesGijsbers

It's one of those things that I never quite got around to doing. I may have a draft email sitting around on my hard drive; I should polish it up and send it. -- StephenGilbert

Stephen, thank you for TrollingTactic, the pages you already created are great. -- HelmutLeitner

Thanks, Helmut. I hope we produce a helpful catalogue of descriptions. -- StephenGilbert

Stephen, thanks for the welcome AndrewCates

Hi Stephen.

I do not know if you still are around sometimes. I just stumbled on http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WWN_sample, and I just had the best laugh of the last weeks. It is hilarious. I am sorry I missed it last year. Thanks a lot for the laugh :-) AntHere

Congratulations on the birth of your second child! -- ScottMoonen

Congratulations, Stephen! You must be very proud (if not exhausted with a 3 year old on your hands as well ;). -- SunirShah

Thanks, guys. Proud and exhausted just about sums it up. :)

Stephan, congratulations. What about a visual proof? :-) -- HelmutLeitner

Visual proof above, as requested. ;) -SG

Proof accepted. Sweet little kids. Pass them a hug and a kiss from the wiki community. -- HelmutLeitner

cannot see proof has it gone? -- AndrewCates congratulation by the way two is a good number (but mine are closer together...) Look about 20 lines below top of page, under "Bairn Raising"

Stephen, I would like it if you were on the Board in some shape or form. -- SunirShah

I don't know if you still feel like you know your way round Wikipedia -- certainly you've got old-timer cred there -- but have you looked at Citizendium? They need a mailing-list mod for Citizendium-policy, and if there were a nominations process I'd nominate you. Assuming the MeatballBoard doesn't swallow you whole. I swear I'm not trying to steal you from MeatBall. -- NathanERasmussen

Thanks for offer, Nathan, but I'll have to respectfully decline. I have nothing but encouragement and well-wishes for Citizendium, but moderating a policy mailing list for a wiki encyclopedia project is not something I want to do. I'm sure Larry and the community will have no problem finding a good volunteer. -- StephenGilbert



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