Meta-Wiki

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Meta-Wikipedia (".org") is a service devoted to discussing, debating, regulating and governing the Wikipedia. It has an ambiguous role relative to the wikipedia mailing list since this also is supposedly for governing the project.

One way to understand the relationship is that the meta seems to support multiple point of view debate that does not easily fit in the neutral point of view straitjacket of Wikipedia itself, but which challenges the current prevailing power structure of the Wikipedia sysop community. This relatively small group makes editorial decisions, most notably, which users shall suffer IP bans, and which IP numbers and identities are claimed to represent which users. At times this can be as complex as a judicial process.

But many decisions are simply too small in scale for any great discussion, and a responsible committees of a few people tend to work those out openly within the wiki process itself. This discussion in the meta may act as a kind of bureaucracy for the Wikipedia, making many routine decisions, proposing means of responsible governance, etc., freeing the mailing list to act as a kind of ruling party, handling exceptions and making "political" appointments.

The Main Page style of the meta seems usually to reflect this current power relationship. Point of view of the Main Page tends to emphasize educating new users more when the 'bureaucrats' are in ascendance, and to recruiting for coding or proselytizing efforts more when the 'party' is in ascendance. These reach a sort of consensus and the Main Page remains stable for fairly long periods, then a new battle seems to break out and it gets substantially changed.

One way to reduce the disinformation potential of this political process would be to have many alternate Main Pages each of which fully expressed one of many points of view, and no one of which would have to be deemed "correct" relative to the others. This would make it quite hard to hide critiques of editorial policy or exposure of bias by either the 'bureaucrats' or the 'ruling party' or indeed any faction.

However, it remains to be seen whether the reflexive use of a meta using the same technology as the main discourse can displace mailing lists or personal email correspondence and cliques as a governance tool. MeatballWiki attempts this transparency and reflexivity, using only an editor communicating via the wiki process itself, but it often simply devolves to a form of pro-technology propaganda or little tin god sysop game. If someone could make the wiki process govern the wiki process itself better, this would have implications for other wiki software users:

While these meta services might appear to be unimportant relative to more "real world" means of altering perception of governance matters, it may be of more than obvious importance if the wiki process catches on more generally. The Disinfopedia and Consumerium projects suggest that it may do so - other groups such as Greenpeace and Global Greens are considering the usefulness of such meta mechanisms for their global Open Campaigning.

Accordingly, the various ways in which such mechanisms can be made more open and neutral may need to be monitored to help these projects evade disinformation campaigns by their many opponents in the military-industrial complex, waste economy, corporate globalization advocacy, and other "camps".