Can Wikipedia Teach Us All How To Just Get Along?
Ponca City writes “Alexis Madrigal writes in the Atlantic that for all its warts, Wikipedia has been able to retain a generally productive and civil culture. According to Joseph Reagle, who wrote his PhD dissertation on the history and culture of Wikipedia, members of Wikipedia actively work to maintain neutrality, even if that’s sometimes nearly impossible. The community has a specific approach to people designed to promote basic civility and consensus decision-making. The number one rule is ‘assume good faith,’ and the rest of the site’s rules are largely extensions of kindergarten etiquette. The idea is that to find consensus, you must see your opponents as people like yourself. Keeping an open perspective on both knowledge claims and other contributors creates an extraordinary collaborative potential, Reagle says. The features of the software help, too. It’s easier to be relaxed about newcomers’ editing or changes being made when you can hit the revert button and restore what came before. ‘Like Wikipedia itself, which seems to tap our natural urge to correct things that we think are wrong, maybe our politics will self-correct,’ writes Madrigal. ‘Maybe this period of extra nasty divisiveness in politics will push us out of the USENET phase and into a productive period of Wikipedian civility.’”