Thursday, December 11, 2008
After much time
Reading this essay, I wondered if it applied to me; after all, a few months back I grew angry over how I was being treated, threw a fit & went on a Wikibreak. However considering my experience carefully, I saw that it actually didn't. First, anyone who has contributed to Wikipedia for more than a few months will agree that there are some unpleasant people here that make the experience unpleasant: cranks & ruleswankers, for example. Then there is the matter that the most active Wikipedian remains a stranger to the vast majority of other active contributors: we have little or no ability to build up an informal reputation here, even as far as to alert our peers that one is not just another newbie. As a result, as much as any of us -- okay, as much as I would like to receive lots of praise & validation that I'm an important member of Wikipedia, most of the time I'm by far happier if the rest of you just leave me alone to work on my own little corner. I don't want any praise, just a reasonable amount of civility & the assumptoin that I usually know what I'm doing.
Next, my motivations didn't quite match those described in this essay. I had decided to leave for a while first -- yes, in part to see if anyone noticed, but also because I was growing angry with certain users & knew that if I did take a break I might do something I would later regret. But no one noticed; we all think we're more important than we really are & it sucks when we learn the truth. I was about to accept this humbling discovery & move on with my life when, glancing thru the usual places in an admittedly self-centered quest for validation, I found Yet Another thread about a certain borderline contributor. Now that ticked me off & I threw a tantrum, which got me attention, sadly. And I still wonder why the only way I could get any attention was by being unreasonable.
Lastly, I have been troubled by a phenomenon of Wikipedia which has continued for a long time, several years in fact: the steady loss of experienced members. Almost all of the people who made Wikipedia work when I started here back in late 2002 have gone, & I wonder why that is. These people are our institutional history, the ones with experience in the ways of Wikipedia who can prevent us from repeating mistakes. Most of them have gone & the few who haven't operate under the radar, more interested in being left alone to edit articles than to share their experience with newer Wikipedians. It's as if being a Wikipedian means you contribute until you eventually burn out, then either blow up like a supernova or simply fade away like a dimming white dwarf. Neither is a worthy ending for so many altruistic contributions to an important project.
Technocrati tags: online information, wikipedia