Proposal for a new kind of WME
Bill: The current discussion about SL has raised the following questions for me. How to reduce disruptive edits and foster constructive edits, in particular, WMEs? How to do this in a way that is not only fair and impartial, but is perceived as such? Can the process encourage community involvement and support?
One problem, OC, is telling which edits are disruptive and which are constructive. Vandalism aside, people who have made edits that others have perceived as disruptive have believed that they were making valuable contributions to SL. For a recent case of disagreement, see knight's position of two colors. Also, edits which start out as constructive can end up as part of clutter, in need of a WME.
Doing a WME is not easy, I think. First, it takes effort. Second, usually material in need of a WME contains differing opinions, perhaps even a heated discussion. How to do justice to these differences in a fair, balanced, and impartial way? Third, there is the intellectual challenge of doing a good job. (I have seen many inadvertent errors creep into WMEs.)
Also, given the current ease of editing, one can spend a great deal of time and effort doing a WME and then see the results of that labor disappear in an instant, usually by someone who thinks they are doing us a favor. By the time a page has gotten a WME it is the result of a good deal of collaborative effort. Several people have made contributions to the original material over time and then the WME has drawn everything together into a good presentation. The result of such collaboration by the SL community should be stable, not easily altered. OC, it may need improvement, and should not be set in stone.
How, then, to edit such material, if need be? My suggestion: only by a WME. This means making a WME a special kind of edit, one which is more restricted than a regular edit. Also, since (normally) the material getting a WME is the result of community effort, the WME should involve the SL community. In addition, because the material getting a WME may include conflicting, strongly held opinions, the WME process should be impartial, and seen to be such.
Here is my suggestion for a WME process that meets these needs.
Certain pages, for instance, those that have already received a WME, can only be edited via a WME. These have a WME button instead of the regular edit button. (For doing a WME on other pages, perhaps the regular edit page can provide that option.)
Initiating a WME of a page with the title, <Title>, creates a new page, <Title WME>, which is otherwise a copy of <Title>. Perhaps it also creates a <Title WME Discussion> page, on which the editor can say what improvements they want to make, and on which further discussion of the WME can take place. The WME may create new pages, which also have the WME label. It may also change the title on <Title WME>. During the WME process, all edits occur on WME pages, not on the original. Also, the original page is closed to other edits.
A WME may be the work of only one person, but is open to participation and review by the SL community. The creation of a WME is signaled on Recent Changes, and maybe the intermediate edits and discussions. During the WME, the WME pages are open to regular edits by anyone, but the original page remains the same. Finally, the new page, without the WME label, replaces the original, and any newly created pages are published without their WME labels. All of these pages can only be edited in the future by a WME.
To allow for further review, perhaps by people who do not visit SL all that frequently, some period of time should elapse between the last WME edit and the replacement of the original. Maybe one week would be good.
Since the WME process is open, and the original material is not altered without review, the process is impartial and may be seen as such. Any person who believes that the WME misrepresents or distorts the original material can edit the WME material before the original is replaced. The resulting WME should be as fair and balanced as circumstances permit. Any editing wars occur on copies or on pages not yet published. (True, interminable editing wars are possible, but that is the case now.)
The proposed WME process provides stability for certain pages by protecting them from perhaps well intentioned but willy-nilly editing. It also provides for fair and considered edits open to participation and review by the SL community. Such a collaborative WME process will, I hope and believe, result in SL pages of sustainable high quality.
Bob McGuigan: I like Bill's approach. As I understand it a WME would take place on a separate, temporary page, which would be flagged as a WME workpage, and the original would be frozen until the WME was over. Since we do have the ability to revert to earlier versions, I'm not sure the freezing of the original page is really necessary, but it does make the process easier. For me one of the biggest advantages of Bill's approach is the flagging of pages undergoing WME. Since WME's can be very labor and time consuming having a place where the editing can take place over a period of time without destroying the original is a good idea. It might encourage more people to participate.
Bill: Hmmm. I think that, during a WME, the only edit button on the original is the WME button, which takes you to the WME page.
Dieter: The above doesn't deal with what to me has been the core of our disagreement on the WME of contact play. On Meta discussion I have categorized pages as (1) Facts & figures (terms, players) (2) Playing advice (3) Discussion. The problematic part is (2) because it generates discussion. There is no consensus for (2) on several aspects: a) can it be WME'd? b) if yes, can it become unsigned advice? c) if it cannot be WME'd, should it actually be on a discussion page?
My opinion is that (2) can be WME'd and should become unsigned after WME. When someone has a question after WME, he asks it preferably on the discussion page. When someone seriously challenges the idea, he can put his stuff on the parent page.
Bill: Dieter, I think these issues deserve their own discussion. Historically, we asked too much of main pages. Slowly we are correcting that. Perhaps we are asking too much of discussion pages.
(Later): I have created To Sign or Not to Sign for discussion of the signing question.
The option of having a separate technical procedure for WME (buttons and bells) is not very elegant to me. It would be more natural if (1) (2) and (3) would have their own subpage flavour, but we may solve that with keywords instead of subpages.
Bob Myers: As I understand it, historically the purpose of WME has been to clean up/integrate/summarize/remove discussion on the front page. Since then, discussions have moved (to a large extent) to discussion pages. Under the proposed SL2 architecture, they will move once again to threaded discussion forums. That would seem to change what it means to talk about WME. In my mind, WME is not a special process that affects all pages and needs a protocol as you've proposed, but rather any editing of particular kinds of pages, namely those of the SLpedia nature. I also think that by its nature WME'ing is not a group endeavor, although of course people can and will comment on the results.
Bill: I did not have in mind WMEs for all pages. In fact, probably most pages do not have any need for one. But there are pages that need more stability than provided by free editing. The SLII proposal mentions several types that would have restricted editing. For such pages I think this process is appropriate as a way of providing stability. As for being a group endeavor, I think that the editing process that you, John Fairbairn and I went through for the Hamete page is a good example of collaborative editing. (We didn't sign the result, either, BTW.)
Considering attribution, on the one hand one hardly wants to see lots of names cluttering up an SLpedia-like page, certainly not within the text but not at the bottom either, but people's desire for recognition is also legitimate. How about an automated SL2 feature for an "attribution box", the display of which could possibly to turned on or off in preferences, and which would display contributors in order of their degree of contribution, based on some formula involving how recent and how major their work was? Another way to reward people would be to have a button on their home page which automatically generated a list of the edits they have done (this would also be a great way to motivate people to put in the "short summary of change").
xela: Sometimes a WME involves replacing/removing a large amount of discussion, some of which may be interesting. The options are to simply delete it, or to move it to a /discussion subpage, or to move it to a forum. Personally I'm in favour of moving things to subpages, because (a) I don't perceive subpages as "clutter", and (b) if they're moved to a forum, then it becomes impossible for the original contributors to edit their comments in the future. I'm interested in whether other people have arguments in favour of copying old discussion into a forum instead of a subpage.
Bill: I agree about the problem of not being able to edit your stuff if it is moved to a forum. Forums are good, in that they help keep main pages from becoming cluttered. However, with restricted editing, many forum pages become obsolete when the main page changes, and end up being clutter themselves.
from the main page - SLII has never come into place
Morten I am not quite sure whether, under the 'new and improved' SLII, WME will still be as relevant - some of the 'domains' should, in theory, always be in a state of WME, whereas for others, the need to WME will be smaller...?
I will ponder a bit and add thoughts to the relevant 'domainrules'
Bill: Part of my thinking in my proposal in Wiki Master Edit /Discussion was providing for restricted editing (as suggested for some domains) without the need for administration, providing an impartial procedure "untouched by human hands." No need for more equal pigs.
Morten sure, agree, but the concept of WME would sort of disappear for those domains, would it not? I think that we can use some of the concepts you suggest directly on the ''rules' for the different domains, without necessarily calling it WME-ing, they will be part of 'normal' editing.
(Going off-topic: if you read Sci-Fi, Alastar Reynolds has also created a universe with 'super-pigs' which are 'more equal' than others by what is probably a pure coincidence....)