LiveBlog of Jimmy Wales on American Perspectives on CSPAN. The video should be hosted on the American Perspectives site and as a podcast.
It was a great interview and worth watching for any Wikipedia fan or newcomer. Here are my main take-aways with my full notes below.
- Jimmy’s favorite stat – Number of users who make 100 edits/month. There are about 3,000 in English version of Wikipedia
- “Wiki is not paper” it should be held to different digital standards.
- Wales doesn’t feel that wisdom of crowds and swarm intelligence is an accurate description. Most articles are written by the people who know, it is their hobby, they know each other. These are the communities that build and grow articles.
- The rules of wikipedia should always be something you don’t have to consult in order to work. They should always be obvious.
- Wikimedia Foundation – 7 full time employees as the 9th most popular website (beat that ratio!)
- Wikipedia is the encyclopedia, so Wikia is the library (for everything else).
- Chinese citizends who illegally use Wikipedia told Jimmy – “we are with you forever”.
- 2008 Elections – Wikipedia is going to be the primary source of news…
Nupedia – top down, had to apply, people were facing in resumes, hurdles to entry were high, 2 years long, “complete failure”. Good – began a discussion about how to run a encyclopedia, what it should be about.
“A fair number (of nupedians) transferred from Nupedia to Wikipedia” but not all. Main focus was to keep the licensing open.
Wales said that he was panicked when starting Wikipedia, he thought someone would beat him to it.
The online encyclopedia has a level of commitment involved, he likes to watch the statistics by following the people who make 100 edits/month. This includes about 3,000 people in the English version (maybe 9,000 worldwide).
Over 6 million articles in all, over 30 wikipedia’s with 1,000+ articles. After 1,000 articles they have a community and can start building.
Open systems help to include passionate amateurs.
“Wiki is not paper “. No reason to limit content based on size, no need to print out a 50 page manual. A better focus is verifiability. How to verify facts that are added.
Transparency – “part of what makes a wiki work is transparency”. Everyone can see what you have done, you can build a reputataion, leads to trust. Same a normal workplace. Doesn’t feel that wisdom of crowds and swarm intelligence is an accurate description. Most articles are written by the people who know, it is their hobby, they know each other. These are the communities that build and grow articles.
Authority – how do see it becoming a “valid” authority – “in general no, and I don’t think it should…if I tried to cite Britannica as a source I would be laughed at”.
No original research: community is not qualified to validate or review original research. Wikipedia instead points people to other sources or serves as a starting point.
Ignore all rules – the rules of wikipedia should always be something you don’t have to consult in order to work. They should always be obvious.
Instead, should be social standards like: “assume good faith” (encourages dialogue and avoids flame wars). Incentives for good work are built into the system.
Circular incentive mechanism – keeps everybody honest.
Wikimedia Foundation – spent 1 million last year, 2 million this year, bulk of it goes to hardware and bandwidth. Mostly reliant on small donations from all over the world (mostly US, Europe, and Japan). 7 full time employees as the 9th most popular website (beat that ratio!)
Highly Distributed Community not an organization – centralized organizations into communities.
The community has not done a great job pushing the software forward. User interface is a bit clunky, but supposed to be easy. Created Wikia to push the design of the software. Need to make editing as easy and intuitive as a word processor. Would like to make it possible for a whole set of people to get involved that normally wouldn’t.
There is an extension architecture that allows people to create extensions.
Wikia – “building the rest of the library”.
Uncyclopedia – a parody on wikipedia, very successful.
Are the communities different on the different wiki’s? Yes, completely so. Armchair GM has created “foes”, people who argue and battle each other. Have also included social software features (digg articles).
Search – a political statement, more than anything. “What we as citizens of the world should expect…a certain amount of transparency, openness”. In early design stages, hired Jeremie Miller (founded Jabber). Get everyone to build a search engine, especially since they are so important right now, find something better than algorithmic searches.
Any small number of workers cannot keep up with a large community.
Question time from the crowds:
Announcer – citizens of the world…wiki methods are not accepted everywhere…China has completely blocked wikipedia. Jimmy – we don’t like it, Chinese Wikipedia is 11th largest (mostly from diaspora, but a growing amount from within China). Chinese “we are with you forever”.
Do you think the China community would make different rules – Jimmy sets core policies (neutrality, etc) but all local communities set the rest.
2008 Elections – first time wikipedia will be a primary source for knowledge, how will you add it? really important part of a democratic system, when it becomes a high profile…not a big deal. Heavily monitored, can be reverted, usually within a few seconds, keep doing so you will be blocked. Instead go to talk page. A much stronger community that is concerned about quality than pushing an agenda.
When wikipedia works well there is a lot of discussion. Everybody gets their viewpoint out. But, then these discussions can be migrated into a wikia system to push the agenda. Start advocacy documents then wikia is a good place.
Hardest part about getting the community going, how to get the critical mass, hardest part? Finding the one or two people who are passionate enough to stick with it while the community grows. Having patience and a clear vision.
Are you going to License the software for companies to use? No, duhh, we are open source and anyone can use it.
Wiki as a planning event up to the event is quite useful. After the conference it fizzles out. Lose focus after the event.
Copyright Issues, Business interfering – articles are so large and “copy” small chunks it is hard to quantify the pieces that violate the law. Created a wikia community about the law and preventing any issues. Business – the worst thing you can do as a PR person is make the company look bad, so most read the rules and avoid causing problems. More problems come from smaller groups. They encourage PR firms to go to the discussion page, leave a suggestion, provide references, comment on how it adds to neutrality.
How to deal with troublemakers? A real community of people who trust each other. Establishing norms and values, then provide some sort of punishment for continual violations.
How do you create the line for deleting articles? Ever more important to provide sources, be polite (a lot of arrogance “must be deleted because I have never heard of it”). Keep in mind that not everything belongs in an encyclopedia, but in a library everything can belong, and that is what wikia is for. Different communities (wikipedia, wikia) provide different standards. Wikipedia has the highest standards (German version has the most).
Sites for swag (shirts, mugs, buttons) for Wikia or Wikipedia.
C-SPAN! WTF (echo Dan).
Good stuff Steve.
I like Social Text too (http://tinyurl.com/2arzje)
(Blog 7 or 23)
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