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Friday, June 24, 2005

Comings and goings

So NGerda has left. He joins the likes of Alan Franklin and David Vasquez.

Such exits aren't uncommon - to be expected, in fact. Dramatic, public exits are a fact of life on wikis - witness Wikipedia, from where RickK left in just the last week or two. He's not the first and certainly won't be the last.

What people may overlook is that people come and go all the time. On Wikipedia, only a few hundred editors are active at any one time, but many more have contributed over the years. People come, edit for a while, then quietly leave. Take a random page, check a random username from deep in the History, and then check their user contributions - chances are, the user has long left. People's circumstances change, or they just get bored, and no longer contribute.

(You'll also see a handful of users who are still present, and seem to have been there forever (on Wikipedia, the mediation and arbitration committees are populated by such people). So it is on Wikinews.)

The people who come and then make melodramatic, public exits tend to be those who are somewhat obsessive about the site concerned, but who in many ways just can't fit in. They might disagree with policies that have been carefully evolved by the larger community over time, or lack simple wikiquette. Perhaps they think they are in some way special, and/or think that the rules don't apply to them. They get fustrated - angry - when the rest of the community doesn't want to go in the direction they are pushing. So they feel the need to leave - and quite often, stamp their feet on the way out.

The site is larger than any one editor though - as I said, people come and go all the time, and the site carries on.

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I chose to remain anonymous, so I don't make a fuss if somebody involved reads this.

I absolutely agree with you, though I would make a difference between different types of users leaving.

I've seen a lot of people leave Wikipedia - some of them dissapointed with vandals, POV pushers, etc. And I really felt it was a loss for all of us, that flaws of the 'system' dissapointed some valuable editors.

But if an editor decides to leave the project because the rest of us have an opinion and don't agree with him/her, than I don't give a you-know-what.

When he left, I did know we lost some valuable stories, but I also knew we gained some good editors because Wikinews became a nicer place. Just imagine trying to dramatically change contents of his articles!

Not to much of my surprise, he came back the following day. The best I can do is show that he often does not really know what he is doing, and I am sure the rest of the community sees it as well.

It's not just NGerda, it's all editors like that.
Yeah, my analysis of why people leave wasn't very complete (or even very good!) - hence all the maybes and perhapses. Thank you for filling in some of the blanks :-).

I have just noticed that NGerda has returned myself - and I could not agree with your analysis of him more.
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