Friday, March 09, 2007

 

Age and Wikipedia

An issue that Wikipedia needs to address: the enthusiastic, intelligent young person who is eager to prove how smart he or she is. I notice this type of person because they are the ones who do things such as promote an extremely rigorous reading of the policies and guidelines. To them, if you have a verifiable source of the population of a locale, then divide it by the area (for which you also have a verifiable source) of that local, unless you can provide a source for the density, they consider original research -- something that we do not want in Wikipedia for a variety of reasons.

Usually, a few gentle words is all that it takes to reassure them that it sort of thing is permitted -- or should be permitted. But the anxiety of youth (where one has to deal with the problem of being taken seriously by out-of-touch adults) combined with a good deal of energy (one of the things I miss about growing older) makes for a delicate problem: they question everything, look for every opportunity to show they know something, yet lack the patience to accept that sometimes improving Wikipedia requires a lot of tedium.

Note: I am not criticizing any of these young people in this post. I simply wish I knew how I could channel all of this eagerness into areas where they could benefit Wikipedia, which would give them the recognition they are looking for. Cultivating them means that I help grow Wikipedia's community. Despite the experience I have, and they don't, sometimes I don't realize what the motivations in an exchange on Wikipedia are -- until it is too late.

And then, it would also require them to trust that I am doing the best thing -- which is not always the case.

Geoff

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Comments:
Just to be perverse, are you quite sure that population density is in every case the simple ratio of people to area?
 
Intreasting. One thing I have noticed is that a significant portion of wikinews admins are what you'd consider youth, and are our best contributors

--bawolff
 
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