Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

The article is a usability study of a scenario where a committed but novice domain expert has something to contribute to the Wikipedia process. The deleted article itself is just a MacGuffin.

Or, it is now that we can see how flimsy the article itself turned out to be. By the way: it appears to have been written by Jessie Stricchiola herself (classy move, that).

I didn't come away with the impression that it was flimsy at all. The rant linked to is written by Danny Sullivan, an eminent SEO expert (the most famous one I'm aware of). I would tend to trust his estimation of a person's notability in the SEO industry.

His "contribution" was arguably wrong, his effort was minimal, and his attitude was poisonous. If you want an encyclopedia where the opinions of "domain experts" trump consensus, then use Citizendium.

What you're effectively saying is that contributions to Wikipedia should be reserved for people who are highly involved with Wikipedia already. Outsider? No chance. Why allow every peasant to add stuff, right?.

I derive this assumption from your statement that his contribution, effort and attitude was "wrong", "minimal", and "poisonous". I don't see any of that. I see a rant following a genuine effort to contribute, a contribution worth considering, and an attitude that started off with the best intent but got punched down in the process. Who wouldn't turn sour after such an experience? It's called cause and effect. Of couse you'll be pissed if something as ludicrous as this happens to you.

Unless you're so caught up in your little world of the 'inner circle' that you don't tolerate outsiders. Unfortunately, that's not how the world works. That's also not how Wikipedia is supposed to work, I hope. That doesn't sound like the spirit that Wikipedia tries to portray at all. It sounds like the exact opposite.

On your "consensus" argument: since when is a 7-6 vote a consensus? That's a nearly even split. Please.

His "genuine effort to contribute" consisted of proudly ignoring instructions and refusing to read documentation, being mad that his "expert" opinion didn't carry the weight he thought it deserved, and dropping excessively long drive-by rants in various inappropriate locations, including the talk page of an editor whose only offense was volunteering some (sorely needed) advice with a (slightly) wrong link.

Contributions to Wikipedia aren't reserved for people already involved, but following prominently posted instructions and reading some documentation are requirements, for good reason. This is not the story of a mature and reasonable person whose hard work was unfairly dismissed by the secret Wikipedia cabal. This is the story of a temper tantrum thrown by a self-proclaimed "expert" when his ego was damaged.

Under ideal circumstances, what contribution would you have wanted him to make?

Under ideal circumstances he would have "known" the article was great and really important; he would have heard it got deleted; he would have gone to wikipedia and found short simple clear advice about what is included and what isn't included. Preferably in one place. Then he would have realised that the article was not a good fit for Wikipedia, but he would have met some people who were not fucking wingnuts and who encouraged him to contribute and he would have found some other articles where he starts making gentle contributions.

Instead, that information is scattered over a few different pages (and thus there's lag between them when there's a change); there's differing standards for different things (Elected national politicians are automatically notable because they're elected, Olympic athletes are not notable.) Deletion process is incredibly bitey; I don't care that people doing deletion have floods of shitty articles to plough through, they should realise that destroying (even justifiably) someone's work is going to be hard for that person and is not going to encourage them to contribute to the process, and that this is an (a tricky) opportunity to get new editors.

Combine this with weird rules about other stuff (The software stops me creating this name (which means some things are hard coded), so I read the rules, and create another name, and get newbie-bitten by some over enthusiastic 17 year old who claims that my real name is offensive or that the pseudonym I chose instead is "confusing" or whatever. My name goes in front of how ever many different username discussions they have now, where I argue my point and am "allowed" to edit.)

There are huge differences between things like the five pillars and the rest of the obscure processes.

Ok. So your ideal contribution from him in regards to this is no contribution at all, right?

I agree it would be great for him to have a lot of love and handholding to get to the point where he realizes that he's in the wrong. And equally that it would be great for him to get enough support that he goes on to edit other things.

But honestly, I don't expect that he would ever do that. He's a legitimately busy and important guy, and he also clearly thinks he's pretty darned important. He wasn't really willing to engage seriously with Wikipedia or to take a little time to understand what was going on. All he really wanted to do was bitch until he got his way, or until he got tired of bitching.

So although I agree with a lot of your concerns about Wikipedia's user-hostile software and newbie-hostile community, in this case I'm not so sure there's a problem. I have actually spent time calming people like him down on AfDs; it's a thankless job. Maybe it's better for everybody if people promoting their pal's pages just go off in a huff immediately without further taxing the patience of Wikipedia volunteers.

Enjoy working with hyperactive twinkle using 14 year olds who rapidly revert[1] as much as they can so they can rack up "edits" in the mistaken thought that it's how you get to admin. Or dysfunctional trolls with a 10:1 meta:content edit ratio who have nothing better to do than hang out on ANI.

Those are pretty much the only people who'll have the time or patience to play the wikipedia game as it is now.

To compile the information I posted for Wikipedia, to help it in the goal of determining notability, I probably spent about 1/2 hour in total. I had to pull up some old article and links, since me just saying why the person they were arguing about should be notable wasn't enough.

I then spend more time trying to figure out exactly where I should submit this information. The instructions were to submit to a talk page, but as I noted, the page no longer had a talk page, since it had been deleted. The review deletions page, as I also noted, has instructions that are unclear.

So I wasn't "really willing to engage seriously" to take a "little time" to understand what was going on and simply wanted to "bitch?"

No. If I wanted to just bitch, I'd have tweeted Wikipedia had its head up its ass about killing the page or maybe done a blog post about the removal and left it at that.

Instead, I did research to help them make an informed decision, using my knowledge of the space to ferret out information they'd been unaware of and clearly missed. I spend time trying to figure out how to submit it despite the insane system there.

Perhaps it would be better for you, since you appear to be connected with Wikipedia, to not dismiss things as people in huffs trying to promote friends pages and instead find a way for Wikipedia to better accept information that it should be using to make for a better resource.

What you have isn't a case study here about someone bitching for a friend. What you have is a case study about how Wikipedia does not make fully informed decisions due to the bureaucracy it believes protects the system.

For the record, I'm not really connected with Wikipedia anymore; I used to edit a fair bit and did a short project management contract for them, but now I have no time.

I appreciate the effort you put in (and encourage you to do it with existing articles you think need improving), but no, I don't think you were there to engage seriously. I think you came in with a personal motivation (help a pal), a conclusion (her page should be there), and an attitude (you people are crazy and do shoddy work) and worked backward from there. You acted thoroughly entitled and created a lot of drama, showing little understanding and no respect. Which is, sadly, the typical MO of somebody who doesn't know much about Wikipedia but is sure, sure, sure that article X obviously belongs there.

I agree with you that Wikipedia should find a better way to work with subject matter experts, and am on record as having pitched a couple of them over the years. But I don't think deletion review is high on the priority list. For basically the same reason than an appellate court doesn't need a drive-up window for filings from random passers-by.

Also, messaging users and discussing pages should work more like messaging or discussion sites, and not exactly like a content page.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact