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Submissions/The Wiki as an Organism

From Wikimania 2010 • Gdańsk, Poland • July 9-11, 2010


This is an open submission for Wikimania 2010.

Title of the submission
The Wiki as an Organism (with examples from Wikipedia)
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Maysara Omar (User:Meeso)
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Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog

The idea of this presentation came to me many years ago, in a time when I was editing heavily in Wikipedia, while at the same time reading some works by Martin Heidegger on the subject of Ontology! At that time I remember observing several attempts by devoted wikipedians to restrict the open freedom of the editing process (such as to make it open only for registered users), and a flourishing in the regulations of the administrative process along with an increased role by administrators in setting new rules and regulations regarding the many administrative and policy aspects of editing and organizing Wikipedia as a collectively created encyclopedia.

I thought of the matter in more abstract and conceptual terms, and finally I came up with the idea of Wikipedia, or any wiki, as an organism: that is, a whole structure that, in its life, can experience both growth and decay, and according to a number of elements which directly effect and influence its being.

This presentation will be concerned with such existential, or organismic elements, in the case of wikis in general and Wikipedia in particular, and will attempt to distinguish between nutritive and diminishing elements in the following manner:

  1. The extent of regulations on accessibility and participation. (Or the "uncertainty principle of open wikis!" Can we make presumptions about the experience of “most” participants in a wiki of such size and extension as Wikipedia? And can we think of a logical or rational course that the growth of Wikipedia should or would follow? Does progress lie in the content or in the process?).
  2. The extent of social and intellectual regulations. (management of social struggle among members, ideologies, and believes, within the wiki).
  3. The required standards of the outcome. (Higher standards vs. lower standards, and the effect of both on collective participation).
  4. The nature, power, and limits of collective administration and supervision, and the policies of the administrative processes. (Problematic issues arising from a deluded feeling of ownership and leadership of the wiki by experienced members. Complexity and longness of the administrative and decision-making processes as a hinderance for a more frequent and engaged participation in the administrative process).
  5. The role of technical maintenance and development of the infrastructure of the wiki, and how it could lead to an enhanced editing and administrative process (i.e the role of bots in Wikipedia).

Finally, the representation will conclude with demonstrating how an increasingly open, unrestrictive, and inclusive policies and structures, lead in my opinion to an increasingly growing and rich organism of the wiki, in terms of both content and process; and also of how democratic and deliberative social practices have so far led to a general success of Wikipedia in maintaining an overall healthy and nutritive elementary diet for itself as an organism, despite of the challenges which correspond to the 5 aspects mentioned above and other aspects as well.

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)

People and Community / Infrastructure

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  1. Essam Sharaf 13:25, 6 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Jodi.a.schneider 18:48, 13 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Headbomb 05:28, 18 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  4. --Nevinho 03:23, 19 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Kocio 13:23, 2 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]