Undeleted

My Wikipedia entry is once again the stub it was. The threatening stuff at the top of the page is gone. The deletion debate page is now archived. At the top it says,

  The result was Clear case of snow. Article needs some improvement, but doesn’t require deletion to address issues.. TravellingCari 01:58, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

I’m not sure what “clear case of snow” means. Is it that there were twelve votes to keep the entry and none for deletion? Or is it wikipedia-speak for something else? No matter. I’m glad the entry was saved, and grateful to the folks who helped save it — both on that page and in comments elsewhere. Much appreciated.

I used to think I should do more writing and editing in Wikipedia; to put my shoulder to the vast wheel of a project from which I draw many benefits and contribute almost nothing. I know lots of well-sourced material I could bring to many subjects, and I could help with copy editing on many more. In fact I could spend the rest of my life doing nothing but editing poorly-written articles on Wikipedia. So could lots of other people.

I hate to say it, but there are more highly leveraged things I can do. Most of those involve writing as well — writing that’s mine and not anybody else’s. I turned sixty-one last week. While I have just as much energy and drive as I’ve ever had, I also know that I’m ratcheting down the short end of life’s stick. I need to do more of something I’ve always sucked at: investing my time wisely and deliberately, even as I continue to enjoy spelunking down the digressive tunnels of my insatiable curiousity about damn near everything. As digressive intellectual tunnels go, Wikipedia has no rivals in the online world. Among those digressions is figuring out how Wikipedia works, and how to participate in a fully engaged and meaningul way. I feel like I need to be a lawyer to figure out all the rules.

So here’s what I’ve learned and now need to put to work.

First, I need to write newspaper op-eds. Here’s a good one by Dan Gillmor that ran the other day in the San Francisco Chronicle. And here’s another, by David Weinberger, in the Boston Globe. I should follow their lead.

Second, I should start writing books. For real. Since Cluetrain came out, Chris Locke and David Weinberger have put out two books apiece. Me: none. I’ve been accumulating text toward The Giant Zero, which is about the Net and its infrastructure (which I believe is inadequately understood — by everybody, including myself). I’m part of an offline community that’s working toward establishing a think tank or an academic center (like Berkman and CITS) we’re calling the Internet Infrastructure Institute. A lot of the writing is excellent fodder toward that book. My corpus of writing for Linux Journal contains more than enough material to gather into a book. There’s also the history quietly being made by the VRM community as we work toward giving customers far more power in the marketplace (among other good things).

So the will and the ways are there. I just need to make the time and use it wisely. Advice is welcome, because I’m sub-optimal at both.

9 comments

  1. Mike Warot’s avatar

    I too am tangentially challenged.

    Sign me up to help out in the off line stuff… I want to help shape the future.

    –Mike–

  2. Tim Jarrett’s avatar

    I think “a clear case of snow” refers to the Wikipedia “snowball clause,” i.e. “If an issue doesn’t even have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting an unexpected outcome from a certain process, then there is no need to run it through that process.” The fact that the response to the proposed deletion of the article was a uniform “keep” meant that running it any further through the AfD process was pointless.

    Agreed, too, about the lawyering. Wikipedia is not an easy community to join precisely because it’s a community–one that has more well-defined norms than most because it’s a community built around writing, collaborative editing, and building consensus. Unfortunately that means that at the edges you run into things that feel like law. The nice part is that almost all of these are well documented in the WP: namespace of Wikipedia (that is, Wikipedia articles about Wikipedia). So you can go to Wikipedia and search on WP:SNOW, WP:RFD or WP:CITE (to pick on three relevant examples) and find all you wanted to know about the community processes.

    But I agree with your conclusion–I’d much rather see you building out more referenceable material in the public eye and let other people write your biography based on those items.

  3. jeremy’s avatar

    snow as in snowball, a snowball is part of wikipedia’s ‘common sense’ and ‘anything goes’ . When you have a consensus building exercise like the AFD, if it all goes one way and there is no dissent, you end up with a snowball effect, which i called and the admin’s closed the debate as snowball.

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Tim, Jeremy,

    Thanks for clearing that up. I’m gathering also that the WP processes aren’t as opaque as they seem at first. Also that my time would be better spent “building referenceable material.” Good way of putting it.

    And Mike, it’s good to have your offer of help too.

  5. jeremy’s avatar

    Of course, if you work on your own article that will count toward any future deletion under wp:coi which is conflict of interest. Similarly if any closely held friend that is recognizable does the editing someone might whine about coi.

  6. Anon’s avatar

    I love wikilawyering, so I’ve got to point out that jeremy’s implication that “work on your own article that will count toward any future deletion under wp:coi” is somewhat off-base.

    Wikipedia:Autobiography , wp:coi and others _never_ prohibit editing an article about oneself outright. It is strongly discouraged on the assumption that most people are not able to post neutrally and appropriately about themselves.

    If you instead follow Wikipedia:Assume good faith, it makes sense for someone to edit the article about himself, because he is an expert on himself and would stand to contribute very valuable edits. (Even if you believe a biographical encyclopedia article is more about one’s interaction with the world than just that person in a vacuum, you’re eroding that person’s expertise on the subject, not their right to edit the article).

    This is from someone who built an article up to GA status and then intentionally fulfilled the FA requirements but did not submit as a FAC, because I don’t trust the FAC analyzers to do as good a job as me. ; ) So take it with a grain of salt.

  7. jeremy’s avatar

    yes… then you ‘edit your article, in good faith’ and see who pops up to claim it wasn’t in the next round of deletion. there is the de juris wp policy and the de facto, the latter tends to win out.

Comments are now closed.