AlwaysLeaveSomethingUndoneDebate

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One of the Rules to consider is Always leave something undone. Whenever you write a page, never finish it. Always leave something obvious to do: an uncompleted sentence, a question in the text (with a not-too-obscure answer someone can supply), wikied links that are of interest, requests for help from specific other Wikipedians, the beginning of a provokative argument that someone simply must fill in, etc. The purpose of this rule is to encourage others to keep working on the wiki.

Note that in some sense this is an absurd rule, since no Wikipedia article exists in a final form. This phrasing of the concept is based on the incorrect paradigm of hard-copy data. A better phrasing of this rule is Leave something obvious to do. However, Always leave something undone is more interestingly combative, because it implicitly activates our outdated model of information as unchanging property.

Supporters include: Larry Sanger, TimShell, Invictus, LinusTolke, Pinkunicorn,sjc, Janet Davis, mike dill, GWO

Opponents include: tbc (I could support this if it was titled, "Try to leave something undone." But, then, I dream of the day when Wikipedia 1.0 is released on DVD. It will never be finished, but we should aim for milestones, IMHO.) -- clasqm


ManningBartlett I oppose this rule because is does not incite me to do the best I can. I will write the best article I can manage and cover every subject I think is relevant. However, the beauty of Wikipedia is that someone is absolutely guaranteed to think of something I didn't. So hence the stated goal "leave something undone" is absurd as I will anyway, without even trying. I'd rather write the absolute best thing I can manage.

Eean I agree with the above. But if you know that you have left something out (and can't fill it in yourself due to ignorance or time), I think it should be pointed out.


AxelBoldt: I oppose the rule. A casual visitor to Wikipedia will get the impression that this is an incomplete amateur project in flux. While this impression is correct, we should try to avoid it. Always write as professional and comprehensive as possible, aiming for the best coverage of the concept at hand available on the internet. That will bring outside links and with that Google visitors. Those visitors who can still add something to the supposedly comprehensive article are the gems we are looking for.


This is best if it is done in a manner that does not totally destroy the entry or article itself. I prefer not to leave uncompleted sentences but instead leave things hanging like, what happens then. LinusTolke


I like James Joyce too.


I think the intention is good, but the approach is not. I propose that the wikipedia should be in a form that can be published (snapshot) anytime if needed. "Leave something undone" is good only during the early stage of each article. But after someone copyedited and cleaned up the article, it should stay in a publishable form. Adding a subpage such as /Additional topics is sufficient to invite further writings.


This is kinda silly, IMHO. Wikipedia will always have things that aren't finished. But that will primarily be subjects that aren't covered yet, or incompletely. If it's possible to finish an article, then finish it! If I disagree with what's said in an article, or if I think it's incomplete, then I'll edit it. It doesn't matter if it looks 'finished' or not. -- the_ansible


This rule was really great in the early days of Wikipedia. I'm sure it got a lot of newcomers into the spirit of things, leaving stuff that they knew they could fix. Today, i think the rule is unnecessary. The newcomers are creating stuff so fast, some of it good, some dubious, that there is a huge amount of stuff that needs fixing. No need to deliberately create more. Of course, if you only know part of what an article needs, write that part, and leave the rest for someone else. That's still ok. But no need to try hard to make it happen. I guess i sit on the fence on this, but i lean towards "oppose". --Geronimo Jones.


I oppose this rule for the same reason we aren't supposed to have discussions on the pages themselves. There will always be more to add to Wikipedia, but if it is ever to be useful to people beyond satisfying the pontificating urges of its contributors, extant articles should be in a reasonably complete state at all times. --Belltower


I am a serious supporter of the rule for the following reason: all knowledge is necessarily incomplete. There is no such thing as a complete article. This rule implicitly recognises the inherent incompleteness of knowledge and acts as an active spur to others to improve on work already done. Take History of England for example. There is a big hole in Anglo-Saxon history. This is principally because it is a grey area for me, and also it is soliciting anyone who comes along to have a go at it, and almost certainly do better than I have done (I have absolutely no interest in the Anglo-Saxons, Jutes, et al, who were to make such a mess of the countryside east of the River Tamar). I have a strong feeling that someone will come along. If they don't I will have to do some reading. But in approaching this area, hopefully they will also make a better fist of some of the other stuff I have done on the page. This rule is good and it should stand: it also discourages that smug feeling of ownership in what is, after all, an open content project.sjc


I agree with the proposition that for finite beings like us all knowledge is necessarily incomplete, but I've changed my mind on this rule. We want quality, which means doing the best you can to finish things. If there are holes -- and there will always be holes -- that's fine, but we should not be in the business of intentionally going around making holes where the need not be!

The rule as it stands is different from pointing out holes were they are, which I support. If the rule was, "Point out where the article could be expanded," I'd certainly support that. MRC


By nature, human knowledge is always finite, and therefore always undone. This rule seems like it would be more useful as a description of the way things are than as a rule to be followed. -- RjLesch

This rule explicitly wants to leave hints of imcompleteness, such as a unanswered question, in the article. That is the part most opponents to this rule don't like. Each article should always be in publishable state at all time.

From the comments above, it seems that there could be some support for the following replacement rule:

Make omissions explicit. When writing an article, always aim for completeness. If, for some reason, you can't cover a point that should be covered, make that omission explicit. This has two purposes: others who know about the point will be motivated to fill it in, and non-experts will realize that the article they're reading doesn't yet give the full story.

--AxelBoldt

I agree! This is a much better rule, but we should at least mention that we want to encourage people to get involved, and giving them something to do is a step in that direction. --Mark Christensen

My work is always undone ! (lmao =) ~BF