Reading through the Wikipedia discussion and remembering some remarks by regular contributors that the volume of edits has declined I plowed through some log files and came up with the following state of affairs:
So it looks like SL is losing mind share. SL is still one of the most visited English Go resources on the net. But apparently, we are not attracting new contributions as we did in the past.
There are several explanations:
So what do we need to do in order to improve the number of contributions?
I think SL is one of the primary Go resources today - I hardly ever meet an English speaking Go player who has not heard of and visited SL. Let's ensure it stays that way.
I'd like to hear your ideas and opinions.
I think all three explanations. As people come, stay on for some time, and then move on, the look and feel means that it is difficult to attract new editors. Then in the past decade or so we have witnessed an explosion of me-too websites (how many social networking websites are there out there?), which of course includes Go websites, fragmenting the community. My feeling is that being a Wiki, SL does not seem to really encourage discussion, so godiscussions.com fulfilled this need and sucked away the major part of action away and gaining mass, while SL is losing mind share. And of course, godiscussions.com looks somewhat better than SL. And finally, almost all major aspects on Go has already been written on. I myself have already ran out of new things to say on SL since a couple of years ago. And I have a feeling that people like to write brand new things rather than just making incremental improvements over a long period of time. Maintenance work is tedious but often the satisfaction level does not seem consumerate for the amount of effort put in.
Sorry, I don't have anything constructive. I am basically one of those grumpy old and tired editors.
I agree with Unkx80 that all three are part of the answer. Godiscussions (GD) has certainly taken away some discussion, because it is better suited for that purpose. And Goproblems (GP) is similarly better suited for its purpose. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing, because random discussions don't improve the quality of SL (and sometimes if something interesting shows up on GD, it will be posted here as well). And GP similarly removes edits to the /attempts subpages that are nice to have, but that do not add real quality content to SL.
As for style, I like the current clean style, but I think some small improvements are possible and have posted some requests to the Bug Reports page on what I think would be improvements.
I like SL. I started to contribute like two years ago - sth. like 6-7kyu that time, now I'm around 2-3kyu and still ask myself how I can provide something useful here. Maybe I should stop for a while until I'm on of those "weak 5 dans" as JF may put it. But I fear I would be away for too long a time to comeback again later.
Therefore I was always very careful in adding new content. (In the single attempt 44PointLowApproachCap I tried to refer to authorities.) But even simple player articles are trouble, if you don't know Chinese, Korean and Japanese. I've made endless mistakes in name transliterations and I'll instantly move a page if someone competent gives a hint. (But I had the feeling we urgently need a page on e.g. Han Sanghoon if we want to be taken seriously in future.) I tried WME though, but found the lack of feedback frustrating, e.g. here. I've edited the thread/discussion mode away, but had some difficulties in judging who is right.
But here is the point. Some years ago Charles Matthews was frustrated about this discussion mode, Bob still claims it is a major obstacle to attract contributions. But I don't really see it anymore in practice (except rule discussions). There are page forums + footnotes now, and both are used and we have more WME now than really new Go content pages. We may add somewhere a line, that questions are added as footnote, not in the middle of a paragraph, when they are on a WME or otherwise polished mainpage. I even volunteer moving them to footnotes, if this really is a problem. There is a lot of old stuff, though.
Regarding Willemiens post: We can and do delete pages here. I certainly do, it is necessary and all that. But deleting isn't the most attractive thing on earth. I may even dislike those very people who become attracted by purging campaigns on SL (this started as WP comparison, on german WP at least those guys are a nuisance). So, I don't think it will be a big contribution to SL attractiveness.
I like the idea of hypertagging. A lot.
I think that SL may indeed be a jungle, but that it is a jungle that is quite full of beautiful flora and fauna. Now if only someone put sown some more paths, and erected some pointers to the best parts... :-)
Willemien Just some quick remarks (mostly unrelated brainstorming)
I don't think a blanket change like KGS -> KGS for all occurences in all articles is a good idea, because if you do that with enough terms, every second word will be a link and it'll look really messy. Perhaps some sort of "link the first non-linked occurrence of this term" tool would be nice though.
Perhaps it is best to put ideas like that into a new thread though, something like "tools wishlist", because I don't think it'll get much attention in this thread. :-)
John F. I don't think any of the explanations proffered by Arno apply to a significant degree. Certainly the amount of go knowledge here is still miniscule.
I suggest two other factors. One is the general stagnation in the western go community.
The other is the lack of quality of contributions, which has several facets. Firat is the trust factor. Anonymous contributions are hard to trust. The lack of sources is also a serious impediment to trust. Then mistakes have a domino effect. There are too many obvious mistakes and these engender distrust not just in those pages but also in innocuous pages. The wiki habit of posting something unchecked in the vain hope that someone else will edit it is especially insidious and perfidious. Even the habit of posting stubs gets irritating to users who click to open the parcel and find an empty box.
I'm not sure if it's workable, but I suspect far more contributions need to be worked out first off-line by an ad hoc committee. To take a very common example, many pages are posted here on terminology. A high proportion start off wrong, or biased to one language. A public discussion ensues, which may include useful corrections or extensions but also, inevitably, creates a feeling of sloppiness about the whole enterprise. It would be better if a person started such a page by calling for contributions from other people, in particular for facts and not opinions (e.g. lots of examples of the term in books). The "chairman" of the committee can then make a composite entry, still off-line, which can be discussed in committee by e-mail before posting to the general public. It sounds, and may be, administratively awkward, but there are people who get satisfaction from teamwork, and also from a better end-product. The end-user of course then gets satisfaction from a meaty, fact-based and sourced article.
As to sources, I'd be strongly inclined to say no page should be allowed unless it contains the source. Virtually every page here must have had a source of some sort - unless they are mistakesm people don't make facts up. I also think quoting other web pages should be strongly discouraged. Books can also be unreliable but if someone has paid an author, an editor, proof readers, advertisers, and maybe even legal advisors we can be almost sure they have at least tried to be accurate. Quoting a website put up by an unpaid me-too amateur is a sure way to undermine respect for an assertion.
If the rigorous insistence on quality led to fewer pages, that would be more than compensated for by the increased reliability.
I'm feeling very ambivalent towards this post.
On the one hand, I agree with John that some of the current article on SL may put readers off because they are too short, or wrong. On the other hand, I doubt that an offline team of editors is the answer. Such a team could be great for writing a long, detailed text about something, but when it comes to short articles, it'll just be tedious.
And I think that such a team effort can in fact be done online. There are article that are created that way. For example, the Grappling Hook Tesuji page went from a short stub to an expansive article in a week, with contributions from Unkx80, Bill, TDerz, Kirby, JohnF and myself.
If you go offline with a team of regulars, you may be discouraging new editors from participating. Either because they think the wiki is dead (nothing happening) or because they feel left out (if they know there is an offline team).
And all in all, I think the wiki format of allowing anyone to edit has had an amazing impact. Just look at the succes of wikipedia. And yes, I am aware of the shortcomings of wikipedia, but it is also undeniably an amazing piece of work. If you had told me ten years ago that "an encyclopedia that anyone can edit" would become one of the top 10 sites on the internet, I wouldn't have believed it. In the same way that I would have had a hard time believing that Monte Carlo, with it's random playouts, would ever amount to anything as a go playing program. And there are more examples. An open source operating system with programmers all over the world? It'll never work! News sites where you have to post and rate the news yourself? No way!
And people have tried to take wikipedia and excert editorial control, to "improve" it because they were annoyed by all the mistakes, and the fluff, and the endless discussions. And they built things like veropedia ( http://www.veropedia.org/), taking the best articles of wikipedia and limiting access to their own editors. And it didn't work (though they're trying again).
But the wiki format seems to work. Somehow, allowing the internet to do its thing works. Not for everything, but for more things than you'd think. So I still think the wiki format is the way to go for Sensei's Library.
You overrated my contribution on that page. It is just a one-liner, and is nothing about the grappling hook tesuji at all. =)
I just looked at the edit history and saw your name a few times, didn't look at what the contributions were (and I see you've just edited it again) ;-)
John F similarly only made a small contribution, on the naming, but that did lead to finding a better name.
Since you mentioned that article, I remembered what I edited that article for: to cross-reference that shape to some other idea or concept. I think SL is sorely lacking in cross-references, not just Go terms, but especially with respect to ideas and concepts. I believe it will greatly benefit the reader if an article can help him draw analogies while being self-contained.
I also recall that recently somebody, probably anonymous, commented that SL contained many gems of wisdom, but these gems are scattered in various obscure places and are hard to find. Therefore I advocate creating linkages between the articles, concepts and ideas. This is also a reason why I asked for taxonomies. But a lack of standard terminology for some concepts makes this task difficult.
I see the point of your argument, but it is also acknowledged that the number of reliable sources is fairly limited. Also, while having sources to back up the page contents, requiring that everything be backed up sources may eradicate half or more of the content on SL, simply there is a lot of original contributions on SL. This rules out CGT articles by Bill and others, problem compositions, humour articles (whether these are useful are debatable), the 17-point nakade by Robert Pauli which is cited by URL by others, and other numerous original ideas.
Therefore, unlike Wikipedia, things seem a little more chaotic over at SL. I think a major difference between Wikipedia and SL is that Wikipedia accepts anything under the sun, while SL targets only the Go community. Wikipedia can have tons of useful and well-written articles while insisting everything must be backed up by sources, but if this is enforced uniformly across the whole of SL there is much to lose.
In any case, I am not too sure how this addresses the lack of new editors on SL.
A pretty much top of the head response:
First, I am not sure that a drop in contributions is such a bad thing. The overall quality of contributions is as high as ever, I think. :)
I do think that SL has reached a certain level of maturity, where a more significant effort can, and should, be devoted to overall organization of existing material than to adding content: cross-referencing, making new paths, index pages and other reference pages, etc. The search facility is good, but overall navigation is not so easy.
Yes, GoDiscussions has drawn traffic away, but SL started when rec.games.go was going strong, and despite unpleasantness, still had a fair amount of good discussion. It is said that Wiki discourages discussion. You could not tell that during the first couple of years of SL. There was always vibrant discussion. Later came a change in attitudes that discouraged discussion here.
JF calls for offline collaboration. Online collaboration works well. In the early years WMEs were group efforts, and worked well. Nowadays they are mostly individual efforts, and sometimes suffer from the lack of diverse perspectives, IMO. Yes, as Herman points out, we still have good collaboration, at least for relatively new material. :) And I think that getting people to work together online is no harder than getting them to work together offline (without the rewards of face to face contact, however).
JF also calls for better scholarship. I agree. We should encourage giving references, but I think that online references are OK. Caveat lector. I agree that unsigned contributions do not promote confidence. That may be the practice in modern encyclopedias, but one of the most highly regarded editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1910 or 1911, IIRC) had signed articles. I do not agree that Western go is stagnating. Au contraire. But I do think that it has relatively few go scholars, in part because there are relatively few go players, in part because the go literature in Western languages is still in its infancy. While we should encourage better scholarship, I do not think we should discourage contributors who are not scholars, either.
I have a few other thoughts, but have to go. I do think that the thoughts of Willemien and other new contributors are very important in regard to encouraging new blood. They know what drew them here and what would make SL more attractive to other new people. :)
Bob McGuigan: I think I've noticed a decline in some respects. Too often the flow of a page is interrupted by a question or (excuse me in advance) ignorant remark posted right where the poster got the idea while reading rather than using the forum for the page, or Quick Questions or BigQuestionMark pages. The result is a gradual decline in quality of pages. It really isn't possible for a few knowledgeable editors to keep up with this so it is important that people put their questions in the right places. There are very good pages on how to use a wiki, etc., but my cursory look didn't show anything obvious about where to put questions or advice about not spoiling relatively polished articles. Would it be possible somehow to make new readers be more aware of the proper places to post questions? Some of the most annoying disruptive posts occur on pages that apparently have been WME'd. Would there be any way to block editing of !WME'd pages, say forcing additions or comments onto a sub page? When enough have built up to require a revision of the page it could be done as another !WME. One reason these disruptive questions or comments occur might be that it is difficult to find already existing relevant pages. Possibly improving accessibility of information would reduce the disruptive edits. Ideally it should be possible to start at any page related to a topic and get to any other related page by following links. In other words we could improve things by additional wikifying. I've mentioned this before but I still think the site could be improved a lot by having a diagram/position search function similar to that on GoBase.
A few years ago I made a proposal for WMEs that would, first, vet them either by collaboration or by community review/revision, and second, make WME'd pages more difficult to edit than other pages. Not that they are perfect, but presumably a WME is better than a random edit. :)
BTW, I am not all that happy with forums, mainly because of the limitations on editing them. Often you want an ephemeral discussion, not one that will stay around forever. Also, proposals for page changes and ensuing discussions become stale, misleading, or confusing once changes have been made. That is why I usually put such questions and discussions on the main page. As for questions by new readers, they are often helpful by pointing up where the text is unclear or mistaken, or more content needs to be added. I think that we should encourage them. Perhaps a normal feature of a WME'd page should be a Questions subpage or section (in the TOC or with a link) which could be for such questions. Other discussion could be directed to the forum.
BTW, Bob, speaking of quality contributions, you were talking about writing something for the SLJournal? :)
Thanks for the push re SLJournal. I still intend to do something. '08 was a crazily busy year ...
I appreciate your point regarding forums. In many ways the old discussion pages were better for the reasons you have given.
I also agree that sometimes random questions are a pointer to improvements but often they are not, they are just newcomer-type questions that are even sometimes irrelevant to the pages they are on. Simply deleting them is one answer but I think the people who posted them (sometimes not a registered user) might come back to see an answer. Posting an answer right there further interrupts the flow of the page but removing the question to a forum or another page might make it inaccessible to the original poster. I guess this goes with the wiki territory.
It is encouraging to see that a lot of questions posted on GoDiscussions are answered by a link to an SL page, though.
I'm one of those guilty of putting questions in the middle of neatly WME'd pages. It most often happens when I'm looking at joseki pages. I might find something that seems incomplete or dubious, but I'm not confident enough to post an authoritative correction/addition. So I put a question right there in the page at the relevant point.
It's partly for my benefit (I hope someone will answer!) but also partly for the benefit of people who read the page in the future. If my questions were on subpages or in forums instead, it would be easy to look at the main page and think "this is neat and tidy, it's all been WMEd, it must be correct."
(I have also noticed the occasional "inappropriate" question from complete beginners, but I don't think it happens often enough to be really annoying.)
I think we always need to be conscious that SL will perpetually be work-in-progress. Some parts of the site will inevitably look less tidy than others. We don't want to let the chaos take over completely; but we also don't want to spoil the character of the site for the sake of superficial tidiness. A good balance is needed.
See SL is not wikipedia.
I agree totally with the need for a good pattern search. Find Position Page was a nice start, but doesn't yet go far enough to be useful.
Pattern search is currently very high on my todo list. I have some good ideas for navigation and searching based on it, once the basic framework is in place. It may take me some time. Stay tuned.
Zook: Although I an find a signed question, right after and in the middle of a WME, irritating, it must be asked and whether it belongs on the talk page or the parent page, it should never be discouraged. I remember one single time in SL's history where a newcomer spoiled many many well crafted pages with rather ignorant remarks all over them. Well, it took some work and we lost a potential contributor.
If we all agree that (part of the) pages have a default status without signatures, so that appearance of signatures make them to be master edited, we're fine. But we don't all agree on that, I'm afraid.
John F.: This page illustrates one of the strengths of SL. It is possible to have a civlisied and deep discussion that stays firmly on topic.
If I may, I'd like to come back to sources, Several people interpret that word as a call for being "scholarly". I don't quite see it like that. To me, the key is to show you can be trusted, not to show how many books you can cite. If you make an entry or edit here, I like to know if you can be trusted. First off, it helps if I know who you are. The use of anonymous handles is anathema to me, and is a big flaw in GoDiscussions. It can be a flaw in SL, but at least the more frequent contributors tend to have a "home" page here. If I know a bit extra about you, it helps a lot. That bit extra may come from your reputation elsewhere, of course. That's usually enough for me.
To give a couple of specific examples of how trust falls down, I'll mention the honte page because I just happen to have visited recently. There is an entry there that says the Korean is bon-su. I don't believe that. I think it's jeong-su, but I may be wrong. But since I don't know who posted it or whether the person who posted it really knows Korea, I am left in limbo.
On the same page someone has added a reference to honte as a term allegedly used of a go player's attitude. It looks "scholarly" because there is a citation, But there is also an assertion there that it is a go usage, which does not sit well with me. I suspect Takemiya may have used the term in a non-go sense (e.g. as an equivalent for oku no te), but I may be wrong and I have no quick way of deciding that I can trust the author of that entry. After all, many SL entries are made from elsewhere by people who are acting like a magpie picking up glittering objects without understanding what it's picking up. I don't trust magpies.
I think these two examples contain good lessons for the editing process. One main lesson is that if more care is taken in providing a "certificate of trustworthiness" much editing (which all seem to agree is tedious) can be dispensed with for the right reason.
Of course, I may be expecting too much of SL, but my experience is that if you expect little, that's what yout get.
I don't know about the other librarians, but I personally would request that frequent editors login before editing. You mention trust of editors - but I needed to cross-check who 18.104.22.168 is, which is another layer of work before I can really assign trust.
This is just a quick post, I'm going off now.
A reasonable point, but I'm set up to have no cookies and want to remain that way.
"The use of anonymous handles is anathema to me" really? but you're posting with an anonymous handle here.
For improved understanding of the conversation, I have edited your earlier message (titled "Specific Examples") to prefix it with "John F.:", hope you don't mind.
* i) either sites like GoDiscussions and GoProblems have attracted discussions that previously were held on SL, or * ii) the bulk of Go knowledge has been written about, the land rush is over and SL is now mostly in "maintenance mode," or * iii) SL is lacking all the fancy bells and whistles of new style web sites and looks a little bit frumpy for todays web population.
tderz: I am posting fewer because I am building a house, which absorbs money, time and (mental) energy. Generally, in my view the 3 reasons above are listed in order of relevance.
I.e. I do not need (iii) fancy changes just for the sake of it (I wondered once over the possibility of an SGF replayer and wished there was an easier option to edit diagrams etc)
(ii) could be true for some fundamentals (thus only a part), and
(i) GoDiscussion certainly has taken some of my time for discussing away from Senseis.
However, when it comes to discussing problems, Senseis has this feature that the diagrams stay visible and give (me) a good overview. On GoProblems I do not have this option (also at present I cannot edit there at all (with firefox)) and on GoDiscussions it is nice to have the discussions (e.g. over a problem resp. position), but afterwards the knowledge distilled from it is buried and lost among all other threads.
On Senseis however, the problem has its own page title and tags, thus is not lost.
Having read Herman's contribution about Wikipedia's policy and then JohnF's suggestion about giving sources, I conclude for myself that i) a complementary policy to WP is needed and ii) that - of course - sources should be given when known and available to the poster (this is politeness), yet a lack of a source should not hamper s.o. to post s.th.
For unproven statements (i.e. no reliable source) about facts (thus not being opinions) we can use the /discussion pages and refer to them by footnotes/reference marks. I admit, that at this moment I cannot imagine much subject-matter which should be banned for the single reason of not having a source.
Zook: I'll take an hour off my sabbatical for this one.
First, I'd like to have a more detailed statistic. It makes a difference if the BQM went into decline or the updated results of KGS War Room Huppeldepup. Also, did we see less edits per editor, or a decline in editors? ...
My impression over the last year was that SL had become a more or less exclusive playground for the librarians and a few ardent newcomers. Although the librarian function was necessary and could not be distributed to anyone, I felt that the community had not yet reached the critical mass to afford degrees. Maybe even more important, the Bills and unkx80's just know this site better. A newcomer would post something and then get the (righteous and necessary) comment "we already have such a page, you know, let's mere it" or "would yyy not be a more convenient naming?" or "please add keywords" ... It can be very discouraging I guess to have us watchguards on your editor's back.
This has a lot to do with the lack of transparency of SL. We desperately need the pattern search function. We also need something - but I don't know what - to fundamentally improve organisation of material. Right now, all the tools to organise are there: keywords, index pages, wiki itself, ... I took on the job of doing some library work. Man, it's so much work. It got the better of me and my objectives in life, so I had to call it a sabbatical. But that's an incidental, personal story. Also, the librarians disagree on the style SL should have. Bill and I permanently frustrate each other by adding and removing signatures. Again, incidental.
I'm curious about the case of Floris Barthel. He was an enthusiast, became a high dan instantly and then suddenly wanted to have his name removed from SL. Why? It would explain why so few strong players come here in the first place.
Much has been said above. I strongly disagree with the offline committees. It's so not web 2.0 that it might be 3.0. I strongly advise technical and social collaboration with GoDiscussions, GoProblems and GoBase. It might take professional consultancy to accomplish that.
Locally, aside from Pattern Search, it may be interesting to have an intelligent warning system at saving a post
Of course, that will rather discourage editing than encouraging it. I'll end here.
Oh, and a page rating system! That would be a plus. People would be able to check the index of best rated pages, and add rating to their search.
Yes i agree with zook Library work is just very tedious. and I think it could be automatisised a lot.
Okay needs some tweaking(that only the first reference to a page is changed to a link) but you get the idea.
I think we need to make some guidelines for What goes where, (see my discussion on where to put problems Where did that page Go? (I just cannot find it anymore)
Also many pages need editing.layouting But I guess it starts with one page at a time. At the moment I mostly start with overview pages making internal links to other pages. (sometimes happy amused that the page i want to refer to already exsist...)
On Floris Barthel
Maybe someone from NL may just ask him. Reading 1, 2 and combine this with 3, I conclude he was interested in SL and studying SL as a way to improvement. As anyone here knows, writing SL (or writing on Godiscussions for that matter) isn't in itself a way to improvement. As Floris seems to have his own time consuming, intensive studying methods, learning by SL doesn't seem appropriate/possible to him anymore. And the way settled editors share their knowledge without ambition to improve by sharing it, may be attractive again to Floris in 10 years but evidently not yet. (The more I cheer for Herman, who is ambitious and one of the most active contributors here!)
F.B. "i just mentioned that maybe a strong dan player should start since he/she is much more experienced with joseki than i am. As I said I am more than willing to work on this."
Thanks for the cheers, tapir! ;-)
I know Floris personally, and I think Floris' initial activity was part of his initial enthusiasm for go, which is common to many players who have just discovered the game (especially if they did through Hikaru no Go, it seems). My feeling is that his initial enthusiasm wore of a bit, and at the same time started his new study (medicine, I think), so had less time. And furthermore, since he is now 4 dan, the usefulness of the joseki pages here has become more limited for him. I've never heard him talk of hard feelings toward SL or anything like that.
Wow Zook, you really hit it in a lot of aspects, especially when you mention the Bills and the unkx80s. Personally I don't really care about all those KGS stuff, but I do not want to impose on users on what can be posted on SL and what cannot be.
All of these have a common goal: to organize the site better. Unfortunately such work is very tedious and repetitive. I guess over time, such tasks get very tiring and shows up in the tone of some of my responses, which can be short and perhaps rather unfriendly. Perhaps the same can be said for some of the other editors.
I personally think that a key problem in organization is that a lot of linkages are not easily explained by words, rather they are abstract concepts which favour visual thinking. For example, there are a number of common themes when it comes to making eyes and destroying eyes, but how do you put them in words when there isn't much standardized terminology on these? Some of these themes repeated show up in different problems scattered all over SL's problem collections, but how is a user supposed to find them? Keyword searches, either through SL's internal search function or through Google, often do not turn up the required results. If anyone can solve this problem, then SL will be a much better place, and library work can be significantly reduced.
For quite some time, I have a feeling that the way I managed things on SL has an effect of discouraging newcomers from staying. If this is the case, then it is probably best that I totally leave the scene, at least for a while.
unkx80, I thought from my previous sabbatical you would remember who is Zook. I was of course self critiquing more than anything. The jobs we have been doing were necessary, but as you say, there is an unwanted discouraging side effect.
For quite some time, I have a feeling that the way I managed things on SL has an effect of discouraging newcomers from staying. If this is the case, then it is probably best that I totally leave the scene, at least for a while.
I don't think this is the case at all, personally. I am not one of those newcomers, of course, but in my experience, there are plenty of people out there that will express their opinion quite readily, and would've expressed their disappointment, discouragement or anger. The fact that, to my knowledge, nobody has ever done so speaks volumes. You should see the kinds of attacks you can get on Wikipedia talk pages from anonymous editors over minor editing conflicts.
I think there is enough existing material on Senseis Library to disuade new input. Most beginners using the resource will find the explanations present adequate. Those which are not adequate usually involve complicated errors which they cannot themselves edit. Similiary, such areas are obviously unnatractive to edit for the existing editors - too hard. In my opinion, Senseis Library has probably entered a maintenance mode. Perhaps you should switch to identifying areas of work people should embark upon, or complete, and try to shepherd them towards this.
I would like to present my ideas on the present state of SL from the viewpoint of a new editor. (I would like to think that i can see SL from this viewpoint even though I no longer am a new contributor, however my experience is far below that of most contributors to this disscussion).
First of all, I feel that the level of contributions is still very good. I don not think that the number of contributions is an important figure of merit for the existential right of SL. The objective of SL (imo) is to provide a base of knowledge for existing and new go players. Therefore the existential right of SL relates to the extend in which SL can provide this base of knowlegde. Three factors relating to the knowledge transfer are important in my opinion:
Let's not be pessimistic, SL has strong qualities in all three aspects, however there is room for improvement. At this point (i am a 1d EGF) i feel that SL has no new information to offer me. It is not that there is no new information on SL that would be helpful for me, but I cannot access it, "there is no search unknown information button"(joking). In other words, the way SL is organized makes it difficult for me to find interesting pages. At present I just look through the recent changes and hope an interesting page turns up there.
Quality and reliability are also an important issue to me and at present I derive these quantities almost exclusively from the author and especially his or her grade. Also well cited pages I will find more reliable.
Since not all pages can be written by high dan grade players and not all pages can be well cited I have a suggestion. SL could have a rating/voting system. The system could be setup up in such a way that visitors/contributors of SL that visit a page can give an opinion about that page, either bad, ok, or good. Even though a system like this can be subject to vandalisme, there are several benefits. Firstly, the overall quality of SL can be improved, because a visitor can use the page rating as a figure of merit for reliability. Secondly, the contributor or creator of a (potentially) good SL item can be rewarded by getting good votes, while at the same time his item can be corrected and adjusted to SL etiquette and style (which might normally invoke reactions that could be interpretted negatively).
Another suggestion that could help the accesibility of SL is based on the "Getting Things Done" clouds by David Allen. It would be very nice to have for each page a cloud of links that represent "neural" links to other pages. The links that are stronger (intuitively) connected to the page would be bigger in this cloud. Such clouds could be formed by allowing people to add suggestions, letting people choose from (not so) randomly chose pages and from words on the page that correspond to concepts discussed in other pages. The strength of the connections can be maintained mainly by the amount of clicks that the link gets. Although this idea may sound vague to some of you and the implementation is quite difficult, the clouds do have strong advantages. Firstly, the cloud will contain links that are not so much logical, but more intuitive. In other words, the cloud will contain links to pages that remind SL contributors and visitors of other pages, even though no strict logical connection can be found. For example, an answer to a BQM question could involve a tesuji that strongly resembles a tesuji that occurs in a joseki, but is not the same. Liberties could be different or even the follow up could be different, but to the human intuition these situations are related. This could not really be put in a normal link, because the connection would be too vague, however for the interested reader it could be very interesting to compare both situations. Secondly, SL visitors are offered a completely new way to navigate through SL. Lastly, it wil give SL a cool web2.0 look while not it can still be very tidy. The cloud doesnt take up more space than any other box.
To conclude I would say that yes SL can be improved, but in my opinion SL at present is a nice piece of work, which we should cherish.