Wikiprocess

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Wikiprocess


The wikiprocess is a form of the "folk process" applied to information. Faith in the wikiprocess and its means of gradually refining towards a better and better presentation of material is to have faith in the process of open negotiation, accumulation and redaction.

The basic cycle of a wiki entry is

  • Stub
  • Notes
  • Outline
  • Body
  • Polishing
  • Negotating

A stub is really just the creation of an entry and perhaps the barest of material on the entry, it is a placeholder than an idea is important to explore, or a topic needs explication.

Notes are the accumulation of the jottings of users on the topic - they go beyond a stub, but do not have shape and proportion.

Eventually some one gets serious and pours the notes into an outlined shape which organized the material.

The body phase is when the outline is turned into a readable and coherent article.

Polishing consists of obvious forms of polishing - links, proofreading, smoothing of expression - but also less obvious kinds, such as removing material which is of questionable accuracy. Most wiki articles undergo a body and then a very thorough polish by someone else. Another important aspect of polishing is filling out paragraphs with supporting details and additional information.

Negotiating is the process why which the community finds a consensus of what the contents and tone of an article should be. It centers around three forms.

One is progressive editing. Remember that any part of the wikiprocess can start at any time in an article. A community member can add what are, essentially, notes to an article, which is their way of moving a topic to the floor. As people read and edit the article, these views will be incorporated into the article as a whole.

The second is the use of the talk page - particuarly with controversial material - the talk page is where people explain the edits they just made. Don't ask permission, but do leave an explanation.

The third is the use of the controversy system. Articles should be marked if they violate the range of the project, and there should be a discussion before deletion, stubbing or moving. This is the last level, and should be done with the first two clearly are working, or when there has been a copyright or other violation which exposes the community to liability: defamation and so on.

The value of the Wikiprocess is the community, not the bits. The bits are not valuable, instead it is the process by which they are continually refined, and the people doing the refining which are value. Any article - no matter what the original outline, will be radically different in short order.

The idea of the wikiprocess is Open Source and not Open Architecture. We are not commenting on someone else's knowledge hierarchy, hence copying and beginning the wikiprocess here is not a problem. Particularly from the Wikipedia - since within a short period of time, the articles will have diverged tremendously because they are different communities with differing objectives. Thus instead of "only have value add" which is the Open Architecture view from Microsoft's Windows - since Windows is the unalterable standard - copy and branch is to be desired, because the changes will occur.

If a particular wikiarticle bothers you - fix it. Dare to be wrong and edit boldly. Negotiate in good faith and allow the continual accumulation of improvements to push the result in the right direction.

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