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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wikipedia's policies

I've long thought that Wikipedia's policies and guidelines should reflect the consensus of the people who are creating the content. But the reality is that most of the vast array of wikilaw (around 42 different policies) is an attempt to force top-down changes onto the community, even though I doubt that even a tiny portion of contributors have ever read any of them. Personally I never did - I just looked at how existing articles were written, and copied that style.

On Wikinews we have a far smaller set of rules. It could be argued that that's because we're a far smaller community but I don't think that's the case. We simply decided - all of us - that to produce accurate, timely articles everything has to be sourced in a uniform style, no exceptions. Combine that with the universal Wikimedia Neutral Point of View (i.e. all sides presented fairly) and we didn't really need anything more.

That's the joy of Wikinews - the site is still all about the content, unlike Wikipedia which has kind of split into two - everyone who writes and edits articles, and then a subset of editors who write and edit wikilaw (and then wikilawyer over it). I note that there's often little cross-over between the two camps - contributors either work with the articles or the wikilaw.

Which is the most useful group? Well as I said very little of the wikilaw is ever looked at or used, i.e. it doesn't contribute to building an encyclopedia. There's your answer.

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