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Wikipedia user: Erik Möller. Editor of infoAnarchy (http://www.infoanarchy.org). Webmaster of The Origins of Peace and Violence (http://www.violence.de) and Der Humanist (http://www.humanist.de) (German). Freelance writer, coder, analyst, researcher. Personal Homepage (http://www.humanist.de/erik/) (German). I am a sysop with developer permissions on the English Wikipedia (which means you can drop me a message in cases of serious vandalism). I am fairly active on the mailing lists and try to take a look at most current policy issues.

Useful stuff: /Boilerplate texts - Boilerplate request for permission - Public domain resources - LOC portrait photo collection (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/vvhtml/vvhome)

Some articles to which I have contributed to different extents and may contribute more in the future (mostly for my own reference, minor edits excluded):

In the Wikipedia namespace:

Planning to write about:

I have contributed to the Wikipedia code. My main contributions so far:

  • double-click editing
  • redesign of the navigation bar
    • article navigation in edit mode
  • "Watch this article" checkbox and "Watch new and modified articles" user preference
  • "Mark all edits minor by default" user preference
  • Go button next to Search button (recently improved)
    • should redirect to article URL to avoid caching, copy&paste and anchor problems
  • Talk pages for anonymous users; more visible Talk page change notification
  • Namespace-specific subpage support
  • Wikipedia:Book sources
  • Improvements to deletion
    • bug: improvements don't work in non-article namespaces
  • "Ancient pages"
  • automatic table of contents generation (in CVS)
  • section anchors allow linking to individual sections (in CVS)
  • ability to edit individual sections (in CVS)

Stuff that should be coded (in some cases pending policy discussions):

  • voting
  • (team) certification
  • wiki table syntax
  • disambiguation needs to be somehow supported in code (#REDIRECT?)
  • improved redirect syntax
  • better interlanguage link system (Magnus hack status?)
  • external editor support
  • template system
  • watch new and/or modified instead of just "watch new and modified", possibly improved auto-watchlist for discussions, improved watchlist (show revisions prior to last edit/last view)
  • improved banning:
    • IP blocks need to expire after m days n hours
    • users should be able to block signed in users and view their IP address on signup if the account has made no contributions older than n weeks.
  • Recent changes really needs a redesign. It works if you know how to use it, but if you don't, it's a usability nightmare, esp. the enhanced version. See also m:Recent Changes redesign
  • Diff links for the contribution list
  • History search for keywords that shows the first diff where this keyword was added to (removed from?) the article

If you want me to contribute more to Wikipedia than I do in my limited spare time, you can pay me to do so: paypal me some money to moeller at scireview dot de.

Some notes on consensus as a decision making process:

  • Tyranny of the cranks - highly motivated individuals can delay decisions forever or sometimes succeed in annoying people into agreeing with them (or at least they believe they can, and therefore never stop arguing, making other, more important discussions impossible). The only way to prevent this is to apply force, which can probably not happen under consensus because the cranks will likely have a small group of followers.
  • Often there is no middle ground that can be taken. There may be decisions of different scope (such as "ban user X forever" vs. "ban user X just for 7 days"), but these are still yes/no decisions (ban vs. don't ban).
  • Even when there is a middle ground, people are often unwilling to make compromises. If a compromise is then made, it is often against the expressed will of the participating individuals -- again, consensus is replaced by ad hoc decisions by those who can make them (empowered users like coders or admins on Wikipedia), but it is suggested that the decisions where arrived by through consensus finding. A real vote would show that this is not the case.
  • The "consensus = mostly unanimous" is very similar to voting with high thresholds, but less formalized and structured, less quantifiable and less reliable. Thresholds can be set high in voting systems, particularly for far reaching decisions, to find a good balance between the process of decision evaluation and the actual decision making.
  • Most important point (needs to be hammered in): Because consensus so obviously and miserably fails whenever it is tried, decisions are then usually made in a centralized, "benevolent dictator" model, or by those who are empowered to make them.
  • The "consensus is not unanimous" argument is a strawman (built to repel the most obvious attacks against the consensus process), because it isn't defined when exactly the consensus is reached. Is a 70% vote a "mostly unanimous" decision? 80%? 60%? Without quantification this statement is useless to compare voting vs. consensus.

Cases where consensus was substituted with decisions by the benevolent dictator, Jimbo:

  • the banning of Helga, Lir and 24
  • the protection of Lir's user page

Cases where consensus was substituted with decisions by admins as soon as the discussion ended:

  • the "Pi to X digits" pages and several other pages on the "Votes for deletion" page

Arguments against voting:

  • "Tyranny of the majority": This makes a certain assumption, namely that people will stop caring about the opinions of others as soon as they are given the option of doing so. This is in philosophical contrast to the belief that most people generally have good intentions. In a voting process where discussions are integrated (such as by requiring a discussion phase before voting, as suggested in the proposal), the discussion phase can be used by all parties to make their case and to listen to each other's arguments. Votes should be changeable even after the fact when dealing with reversible decisions. This assures the potential for continuing debate, which is, however, separated and structured. If people are indeed unwilling to listen to others, they will not become more willing in a consensus process -- instead, that would mean that decisions could not be made at all in consensus.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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