The Wikipedia Militia/Talk

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Note: Is this about the publicity, the fame, and the recognition? I thought this was a work of passion and love! Also, you can't pick and choose who you have visiting and editing the site. If you are automatically going to look down upon newbies, or give them a negative connotation right away, then you might as well leave the site now, because that is just pathetic.


Leave the site I started? Why would I want to do that? :-) Anyway, you make an excellent point. I should never have used that nasty word, "newbie," and I should have added the paragraph that I did add just now, to the effect that we love and need new contributors, and that none of this should be construed as in any way criticizing someone just because he or she is new to the project. If we criticize anyone, it should be because they're writing bad articles, acting trollishly, or otherwise acting in a decidedly noncontributory fashion. --Larry Sanger


Larry, shouldn't this be on meta? I agree that it's important, but does it belong on the main wikipedia site? --Robert Merkel

Well, it's organizational material, not discussion material. --LMS


This belongs on meta. Entries which are about Wikipedia belong on meta.


The latter is actually false. The purpose of Meta-Wikipedia was never anything more than discussion about Wikipedia, undecided Wikipedia policy, etc. There are many pages about Wikipedia that belong on the main site; we need to be able to access them directly, because they help to explain the process and policy to new people.

In the future, the Wikipedia PHP script will permit a "Wikipedia:" namespace as well as a "Discussion:" namespace. The Wikipedia Militia will definitely belong in the former; the contents of the Meta-Wikipedia will definitely belong in the latter. --LMS


Do I qualify? JHK

Of course. sjc


"We want to assimilate them"
sounds like borg-terminology --Mathijs


Oh for chrissakes - will you guys stop screaming Naziism every time something outside of your narrow perspective of "how things should be" occurs? It seems at times as if anything you suggest is "free and open debate" and anything LMS suggests is domination and reckless use of authority. OK - you've caught LMS out, he has actually set this Militia page up to conscript people as part of his plan to take over the world, and the rest of us are far to ignorant to notice his evil plans, Thank you for saving us, my glorious hero. - MMGB (*end-of-rant*)

Hey, wow! Nice rave! But, err, who are you raving at?
In case it's me: wikipedia is "free and open debate", I have the highest regards for Larry's role as censor - that I don't like his style is of no importance at all
-- Mathijs


At the risk of, well, wasting our time and dragging this out, I'm going to reply to The Cunctator. I apologize in advance to those of you who think this is a bad move. :-) --LMS

Manning, calm down.

Don't tell people to call down. It is a way of saying, "I'm calm and reasonable, and you're not," when in fact you almost certainly aren't either, he probably is.


Interesting. Manning writes "Oh for chrissakes", and marks his commentary as a rant, and you accuse me of not being calm and reasonable. He deliberately used an not calm tone; I was only responding to that.

The only thing people are responding to is inconsistency of statement and action. Under any reasonable interpretation of the original professed justifications of the creation of meta.wikipedia.com, this entry belongs there. LMS is simply rewriting the rules to match what he feels are appropriate actions. It's a pity he's not willing to admit that, but it's a pretty consistent pattern of behavior.

No, indeed, under any reasonable interpretation of the original professed description of what meta-wikipedia would contain, it sure as heck doesn't include descriptions of the community and community policy. You can consider this a Wikipedia community page, or even a sort of Wikipedia utility.

Let me offer an alternate interpretation: the actions of LMS are the rules, and the professed justifications/rules should be interpreted as approximations to those actions. By that I mean that whereas constitutional society uses the principle of judging actions (and laws, etc.) on explicit principles, Wikipedia uses the converse.

Is the suggestion that I am acting as an autocrat in creating The Wikipedia Militia page, or in insisting that it belongs here on the main wiki? Look, anybody could have created this page. (I would have joined happily.) And I would have strongly insisted that it stay here, because it's a great page that organizes the community. The suggestion that my actions and rules are the rules is absolutely ridiculous.

I'm not trying to say that LMS doesn't have principles; it's just that his principles aren't exactly those which are currently written up on the Wikipedia site.

You've entirely failed to demonstrate that.

(e.g.: "Wikipedia lacks an editor-in-chief or a central, top-down mechanism whereby progress on the encyclopedia is monitored and approved." and "Wikipedia policy has been formulated for the most part by habit and consensus, particularly over the initial months of Wikipedia's existence. (To get a feel for the original attitudes toward policy development, see PolicyPolicy.) Hence, the statements on this page and pages adjoining it are intended for the most part to be descriptive of existing community norms that have developed over time. Issues are still formulated and debated particularly on the rules to consider page and via the Wikipedia commentary page, as well as the pages of individual Wikipedians.")

I don't think LMS's actions here are a reckless use of authority (his delete-attack was, however). I just think they could be an unnecessary use of authority if he understood how to better harness the power of collaboration and consensus for control issues such as these.

Oy vey! It's not a use of authority at all!!! In what way is it? You haven't explained one whit. You insist, it seems, that by my insisting that it belongs here, I am overstepping my declared modicum of authority. It's only you who thinks so! I frankly just thought the militia was a pretty neat idea.

In fact, it's a pretty standard exercise of central authority, and certainly, for example, a lot less pernicious than how DMoz is run. Unfortunately, it's very much like how DMoz started down the path that got it to where it is now; you start deputizing groups of people to do necessary and difficult tasks, fast-forward two/three years, and you have pernicious cabals. At the moment there are two brakes on this trend: the code and the license. The code is changing, and loosens some brakes but tightens some others, but a basic lesson is that given enough time (and it doesn't take much) the code will change to perfectly match intent. It'll be interesting to see what happens. The license is a bit harder to get around, but inasmuch as Wikipedia isn't actually compliant with it (and I'm still being optimistic to say "yet"), I'm not holding my breath. --TheCunctator

Cunctator, you could save yourself and us a lot of grief if you would just stop trying to act as a check on my rampant authority. --LMS
Ooo! Ooo! I wanna be in the Pernicious Cabal! Pick me, pick me!!!

Yeah - sorry Mathijs if all that seemed to come down on you. I'm just annoyed because some people are determined to portray this initiative as a "Big Brother", top-down imposition of authority scenario, and it is simply fallacious. There is most definitely an authority structure here at Wikipedia. But this authority structure is organic - if you want "editorial authority", then you take it. No-one will stop you, in fact most people will encourage you.

If this really were 'Big Brother' I would be reconditioned months ago

Larry is not able to exercise supreme authority here, even in the unlikely event that he wanted to. The "real" wikipedia authorities are the contributors, as a collective. The term "assimilation" is perfectly appropriate - the less casuals and the more die-hards we have in this core collective the better. If Larry/Jimbo declares something we all dislike immensely, and refuses to hear our complaints then we'll all leave... no more project. Everyone knows this, and it works pretty well. If we all didn't like the idea of the Militia, then we'd all say so and Larry would give it up. However, a good number of us are happy with the concept, so it lives on. I created "pages titles to be deleted" - it lives on as a popular resource. I also created "Article of the week" which died a rapid and horrible death.

SJK, Epopt, Vicki, LDC, Astronomer, TBC, Byran Derksen, Dreamy (and all the others I left out, with no offence intended) are all the "authority figures" here, solely because they decided to be. There IS an central authority structure here, the "core" ("corps"?) contributors copyedit, weed and examine constantly. But membership is voluntary and open to all, so it is hardly an exclusive society. That is the actual meaning of the statement on the policy page regardinmg "lack of a top-down authority structure". There is an authority structure, but it is completely organic, and not directed from the top. Nor could it ever be, frankly.

Hey! I'm an authority figure! [said in the same tone of voice that Action, in West Side Story, uses to say "Hey! I got a social disease!"] --that's Epopt, Sir, to you

I "like to think" I have some respect around here, mainly because of my regularity, my volume of contribution, and my (possibly self-appraised) high standard of work. If I started to write crap, or vandalise articles, that respect would plummet faster than you can blink. I hope I have membership in this "so-called elite", but that membership is 100% conditional on my regular maintenance of it. And also, getting into this so-called elite is dead-easy: write 2-3 good articles and you're in! (Possibly only one good article and you're in) We all notice.

Now as to the specific topic of contention, I actually sort-of agree that this page belongs on the metapedia, but I can see it both ways. As this is purely a voluntary association of 'pedians, then it is comparable to pages like Wikipedians/Australia which remains here. But it also seems related to a new form of policy, so maybe it belongs over there. The real fear is that there will be an aspect of "exclusitivity" within the 'pedia. However I think that will never happen - anyone who genuinely wants to contribute is welcomed with open arms, we'll never be exclusive in that sense. And we are already exclusive of miscreants and trolls, so no changes there.

As far as Larry being inconsistent in this case, maybe he is, maybe he's not. But oh well, whatever, I've got articles to write. - MMGB


Manning, how do you define "miscreant" and "troll"? To any who wish to respond: am I incorrect in understanding the Wikipedia Militia as a central, top-down mechanism whereby progress on the encyclopedia is monitored and approved? (I'm not saying that's a bad thing, especially if membership is open; but it is a central, top-down mechanism, since Larry gives out the call, right?)

I don't think there is any need to define "miscreant" and "troll" - surely they are fairly well defined. I completely dispute that this is "top down". Suppose I got word that there was to be a big write up in the Sydney Morning Herald (one of the biggest Oz newspapers). I would go to Wikipedia-L and tell everyone "hey - big write up in the Herald, could be a wave of people, put the Militia on alert". Do you think people would ignore it solely because I'm not Larry? Or would they simply go "OK, possible wave of newbies - time to get my weeding gear on". I suspect the latter. Likewise for anyone else reporting a major news coverage. If it was going to be TIME magazine, the US 60 Minutes or some other really mass media, I suspect we'd hear about it from Larry or Jimbo, simply because they would hear the news before anyone else did, being central to Bomis. And I'd be in my Defcon 4 MOPP gear as a result. - MMGB

"Miscreant" and "troll" are certainly not fairly well defined; and even if they are, the definitions are difficult to apply to specific actions. They're of the class of words like "vandalism", "obscenity", "hacker", "art", "beauty" that are general and subjective.

You think that you could mobilize the Militia, but as it stands, that's not what the page says. If any member of the Militia could mobilize the Militia, then I would agree that it's not as top-down (though it still is certainly centralized to some degree by its very nature). --TheCunctator

I don't think you should take things so literally. It's worded that way because Larry would probably be the one to catch the invasion, since he acts as our press contact. It's silly to think that Larry is saying the only he can call out the "militia", and not Jimmy, or me, or any other "old hand" if they happen to notice the influx of traffic first. Now, I don't know if calling this whole thing a "militia" was a wise move, but it's not a big point in my mind. I think C., though your motives are good, you have a tendency to create big problems where none exist. --STG

The use of the "militia" metaphor is in very poor taste, and this entry does nor belong on Wikipedia, but rather on the "Meta-Wikipedia" http://meta.wikipedia.com/ . Bad move, Larry.

Hey, can we bring in the medics to get this guy and Cunc a badly-needed sense-of-humor transplant? --LDC

I'm in, but I'm mainly uninterested in discussion about Wikipedia. And LORD knows I don't care about the programming behind it. I'm the kind of person who thinks of my computer like I think of my car - I want it to run when I turn it on and do things I need, and I don't care how it happens. Thus, I have Macintoshes. I am very grateful that people like Magnus, et al., enjoy what they do and make it easy for me to enjoy what I do, but I don't find it necessary to watch him work. I was on Wikipedia-L and all it is yet another list serve (I'm on 3 or 4 medieval and late antiquity ones) to look at every morning. --MichaelTinkler

What Michael said -- I can write decent HTML from scratch, but don't really care about programming stuff. If I did, I wouldn't be an historian. I get the list, but just skim through to see if there's anything content-oriented. I'm glad that Larry put the info here, because it makes militia membership less exclusive from the outset. It's not that I don't respect what all the people dealing with meta wiki stuff are doing; in fact, I think it's necessary to the project. But why would you limit the militia membership -- which as I understand it, should include people who understand what makes good content-- to some "we care more because we're interested in the technology" group? If you want to foster the belief that there is a cadre running things behind the scenes, that will sure as hell help your cause. JHK

A few relevant points in reply:

  • I have started all sorts of Wikipedia noncontent pages, including most of the Wikipedia policy pages, singlehandedly. It's always been part of my job. Some of the pages have caught on (as with Manning's experience) and some of them haven't. Nobody's forcing anybody to join, besides--this is a volunteer-only force!
  • To those of you insisting that this belongs on Meta-Wikipedia, you seem unaccountably to be stubbornly ignoring what I have said above about this point. Only a few people have ever suggested that pages that assist in the organization of Wikipedia personnel, or in articulating what has come to be more or less consensus policy, be moved to MW. I have considered the possibility early on of moving all non-article pages there, but for reasons I won't rehearse (have a look at the original proposal), that was always pretty much a nonstarter, as far as I was concerned.
  • The very notion of a militia is mostly humorous, or it's supposed to be. It doesn't represent any sort of change in policy. Many of you know that I've done essentially what The Wikipedia Militia describes whenever there's been a large influx of new contributors: I've asked "old hands" to come to the website and make sure vandalism, and other bad things don't gain a foothold. All that this is supposed to do is make this official, in a humorous sort of way.
  • I suppose the metaphor might be offensive to those who don't like the general populace of the place being given the right to voluntarily join together in their own defense. You can't please everyone. Maybe I should have called it "Larry's Army."
    • I have a better idea: "The Wikipedia Guard." Everybody (in the U.S.) loves the National Guard, and most people outside the U.S. probably don't know what it means, except that it's a defense force. So...
  • I really don't care who calls out the militia. (I'll change this.)

--Larry Sanger


I suppose we could be the "irregulars"... ;-) JHK


No, we'd like you on the front lines. ;-) --LMS


This controversy over everything LMS does, is tedious and ultimately boring. You see it as an attempt to become a dictator; I see it as an attempt to show leadership. See Conspiracy theory.

A) If you're bored by it, don't read it.
B)I don't know Larry. I (presumably) have nothing against Larry personally. I do have objections to what I think are dumb proposals or policies, and I don't see why I shouldn't voice my opinions.
C)Larry is effectively dictator (See "Is Wikipedia an experiment in anarchy?" now on the MetaWikipedia at http://meta.wikipedia.com/wiki.phtml?title=Is+Wikipedia+an+experiment+in+anarchy ). I'm not really crazy about this, but I like the straightforward acknowledgement of it a lot better than I liked the former ambiguity.


Okay, these two minutes were wasted. Back to proofreading. --Dmerrill

How about Corps, Cannon Fodder, Volunteer Expeditionary Force, Old Guard, New Guard, Guerrillas, Maurauders, Rat Patrol, A-Team, Broncos...Reserves? or, we could just bow to the conspiracy theorists and call ourselves Larry's Stormtrooper Minions... JHK, tongue firmly in cheek, because she just doesn't get why this is a big deal.
Janissaries, mangudai, posse ... Larry, "militia" is a perfectly apt term. We should use it and to Hell with those who get upset.
yay, Epopt! How about Larry's Homies?
Wow, you don't hesitate to say "To Hell with those who disagree", do you? (How about "Larry's Bastards"? That has the appropriate "to Hell with 'em" panache, doesn't it?). Have a really nice day.

Dmerrill: I don't see it as an attempt to become a dictator. I too see it as an attempt to show leadership. Maybe you were directing your commentary to someone else.

LMS: I'm not trying to act as a check on your rampant authority.

Like hell you aren't. It's your purpose in life on Wikipedia. It's what you live for. --LMS

And everyone doesn't like the National Guard. A lot of people don't like the existence of a standing federal army...they actually usually prefer militias. And people didn't much like the National Guard when they killed college students in the '60s.

Manning: I tried to exercise "editorial authority" by starting pages, intended as neutral, community-determined entries, on page deletion policy, what Wikipedia considers vandalism, and how Wikipedia uses the GFDL. LMS deleted or discouraged all of those entries. It is simply false that "no one will stop you".

That is not only false (I didn't delete or discourage all of the entries!), as you well know, it is a complete distortion of the situation.

LDC: Actually, I just had a transplant. I wanted to replace my Farrelly Brothers sense of humor with an dry Black Adder sense of humor--I read Maxim and they said that's what people were doing these days. I had to make a special trip to Sweden to do this; I got to meet the donor, who didn't seem very funny, just odd. (He said things like "I wish I could afford to wear your clothes," but I was just wearing my acid-washed, elastic-waist-band jeans and "98 Degrees World Tour" t-shirt--it's not like they were expensive! Weird.) The doctors said the transplant was a success, even though once I got back home people have accused me of not having a sense of humor. I'm starting to suspect they bilked me. This is the last time I trust Swedes.

STG--That's a fair interpretation of the situation.. Feel free to disagree.

I'm going to go through this with a fine-toothed comb, Cunctator, to let you understand exactly how I react to your screeds.

I just think this is a mediocre idea,

Why think so? It's a great idea!

poorly presented,

I see nothing wrong with the presentation, and you've given no reason to think that there's anything wrong with it.

which will encourage the type of communal behavior which usually leads to the stanching of creativity and communication.

Talk about fear-mongering! Jaysus, what possible grounds do you have, in your experience with Wikipedia, to think this? And on the other hand, isn't Wikipedia all about communal behavior and collaboration?
Part of the joke that you didn't get is that we're pretending we're being "invaded" and as if that were a bad thing. If we really did think that, then of course we'd be stanching creativity and communication. But since we (except you, it seems) don't, we're not.

The characterization of high traffic as an "invasion", a "major disaster", "war", etc. that "old hands" have to combat is detrimental.

Detrimental to what?

Wikipedia shouldn't need a "defense force". It doesn't need to be "defended".

Why don't you think so? I think it does, and carefully explained why in The Wikipedia Guard. You ignored that explanation, as if I had not written it. In doing so, you insult me, and I indeed feel insulted.
Are you starting to understand why your screeds are so frustrating to read and respond to now, Cunctator?

Wikipedia, by its very nature, I believe, is robust and indestructible.

It is robust, anyway, precisely because there are a lot of people who care a lot about it and who are willing to come help make sure the new people are gently brought into the fold--the same people who have joined the Guard.
If you think it's unnecessary, why did you join?

When Wikipedia started, people wouldn't assert, as Manning has now done, that there's a "central authority structure".

Er, and Manning is right about that? No; if anything, in fact, I have lost the amount of authority I have here. This is in part because I can't be everywhere at once, and in part because there are many more voices (including many more educated and reasonable voices) in addition to mine.

I think that's too bad--since I believe that there are alternate organizational/societal models which would be successful and be more distributed--but I'm not losing sleep over it.

I think you aren't thinking particularly clearly about any of this. What, exactly, is centralized about Wikipedia? Go ahead, explain it, carefully, without your usual innuendo and rhetoric.

Centralized structures scale with difficulty; the only way we humans have found to do that is to increase the amount of regulation in the system, by making new rules and conventions and more strictly enforcing such rules. We've also found that such centralized systems can remain flexible, adaptive, and competitive if accountability/content neutrality is enforced at all levels; for example, the United States has the First Amendment, the Freedom of Information Act, separation of powers in the federal government, and dual sovereignty (federal and state), etc.; corporations have SEC filings, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, etc. Neither system is perfect, but the flaws usually come from failing to ensure accountability/competition/content neutrality, e.g. keeping secrets, introducing policies of bias, and punishing dissent.

Thus, in short, I have two motivations: 1) promote a distributed trust/responsibility model (which scales well) as opposed to a centralized authority model (which doesn't)

Well, I agree with that goal 100%. You think that you have been accomplishing this by constantly trying to undermine what little legitimate authority I claim to myself. Well, that's just ridiculous. That's not how to do it. You're preaching to the choir!

and 2) promote accountability mechanisms. I think that LMS would best show leadership by doing these things too; he's choosing a different model.

As if the wiki system weren't already the most efficient accountability mechanism possible! I'm not "choosing a different model." I don't know what you're talking about. I am constantly being called into question. So please stop this totally ridiculous insinuation that I am not fully accountable. If there were widespread objections to The Wikipedia Guard, then I would can it. But it seems to have gotten quite a bit of popular support--which is totally unsurprising to me, because I know the Wikipedia community!

I don't think he's trying to be a dictator or an autocrat.

Oh, come on! You're constantly harping on as if I were trying to be a dictator or an autocrat. You're constantly bringing it up.

That LMS did it, is in my mind, only an ancillary issue.

Oh, give me a break. That is ridiculous. Of course it's the fact that I started the Guard that got your goat. After all, you have just been talking as if I've been abusing my power! If the fact that I did it were only an ancillary issue, then why bring all that up and dwell on it so much?!

If someone else had presented the idea, I would have thought the same thing. The only difference is that his ideas are official policy once they're written, whereas other's ideas (e.g. mine; say "Project Sourceberg") aren't. And that's fine.

Sometimes, when someone else says something, it is instant policy, because it's obviously a good idea and people instantly get behind it. Sometimes, not. When in doubt, use Meta-Wikipedia. If you're bold enough to think something you've written should be instant policy, try it out. But if you make a habit of constantly insulting people, and engaging in innuendo, as you have been, Cunctator, then don't expect me or others to look kindly upon your attempts to define what the community is about. You seem to be hell bent on alienating yourself from nearly everyone. If you don't play nice, other people aren't going to want to play with you.
In the case of "Project Sourceberg," it was a not-particularly-popular idea that had more or less already been started, by Bryce (another person who is not me), on Wikibiblion.
The Wikipedia Community, on the other hand, was a great idea (I think).

But it does mean that his actions, with respect to the future and nature of Wikipedia, are of an entirely different nature from everyone else's.

Yes, and no. Yes, because I am a paid project organizer. I think it's my job to formulate Wikipedia policy, finding consensus when I can, and presenting things fairly.

If it were anyone else, I would have just edited the entry mercilessly, instead of commenting on it. Please understand this. --TheCunctator

No, I think that you would have edited the entry mercilessly if I had not signed it. And, I signed this page in particular because I found myself referring to myself, and felt too lazy to change it entirely to the third person. So, why don't I do that, and then you can feel free to edit it. Of course, remember that, if you say something that I think is wrong, then I'll explain my reasoning and change it back (probably to something that acknowledges your attitude). You might notice that I have already done this three or four times--changing the text to accommodate comments by various people.
I am not going to keep up this replying to you; I'm going to go back to ignoring you, Cunctator, unless you start treating me and others with respect. You probably think that you have been, but you haven't. I don't think you're capable of that, actually, because I think you don't yet, in your evident youth, know what respect means. It doesn't mean agreeing. You can respectfully disagree; polite people do that all the time. I hope that the above reply will have helped you to understand just how and why this sort of things that you write is completely outrageous. --Larry Sanger

This is my absolute last contribution on this topic, because it is a complete storm in a teacup. A centralised authority structure that consists of "people trying to create a great encyclopedia" operates at the 'pedia. Articles are going to be impacted by the style, opinions and consensus of these people because they are here the most, and do the most work. Less central are those people who "drop in occasionally" and on the outer edges are the miscreants, which do exist and whose efforts are deliberately counter-acted by the core group. Anyone who wants to move into and join this centralised structure does so automatically, there is no "approval mechanism" other than doing quality work and turning up regularly. If you prefer the term "distributed authority" then fine, use distributed. Whatever.

Your assertion that "Larry's ideas are official policy" is fallacious. If all of us rejected Larry's idea, we would say so and Larry's idea would die. Larry is smart enough to know that he (or anyone else) cannot institute policies that no-one else likes. The Militia (or Guard) will survive because a consensus of the core group like the idea. I certainly suppport the "guard" idea, as do many others, and I would have supported it regardless of who proposed it.

Maybe I am wrong, but I detect an insinuation that you feel many of us are meekly following whatever "Larry tells us to do", which (if true) is an insult to the high intelligence of the 'pedia core community. The fact that you seem to be alone to an extent in your rallying cry against injustice is possibly because no-one else sees a threat where you do.

Please, please consider devoting all of your considerable talents and intellectual power to an article on something for the 'pedia, rather than this debate. Over and out - MMGB


but vandalism seems to be increasing generally (or more are being put on Recent changes), not because of any single traffic increase. This has to be dealt with - the militia seems to be a response to this.


A militia is a group of common people -- citizens -- farmers, townspeople, banding together for common defense. A guard is a group of elite troops defending the crown, generally defending the crown from the people. Wikipedia militia -- and this is really all meant to be humorous, right? -- is the people! Wikipedia doesn't _have_ an army (of writers and editors), wikipedia _is_ an army (of writers and editors).

Amen. Can I still be a general though? Or are we *all* generals? - MMGB

Either that, or we're all privates... :-) --LMS


I'm not asking to change the name again, but maybe both militia and guard evoke militaristic and maybe centralized organs that might be offensive to some people. I would call it Wikipedia Repair Crew, or something very unbombastic as that. Because that is what we do, specially with vandalism; see it, go there silently, and revert it back, or correct it and point out what the problem is. Repair Crew, however, its too real, so it doesn't have the humor of a wikipediholic enlisting in The Wikipedia Militia, or the Wikipedia Guard. In any case, seeing this as an attempt of Larry to get more power, or centralized control, it's simply ridiculous. It is just a way of aknowlegde something that already kind of existed. AN

Thank you. Personally, I will not sign up for the Repair Crew (under whatever name it may exist). However, I will continue to effect what repairs I can, as I've been doing.

Actually, "militia" in its original meaning was something distinctly not centralized. (That's why Jimbo insisted on switching it back. It's probably also why it was the first word that sprung to my mind in the first place.) Point taken, though! Some people just don't like the military, and we should be able to respect that--we should say something about that in the article, at least, if we don't already. --LMS


One of the objections somebody made was that it was Larry who would call the militia, somebody else accurately answered that most of the press relations are through Larry, so he would be better informed on when to expect a larger that average influx of visitors. But maybe he is not prepared to the answer to reprints or references to the original articles, and knows it only when the effects of the influx are being felt. Now, excuse my ignorance of web server matters, but isn't there a constant monitoring on the amount of activity by the server? Could there be some automatic process that triggers an alert when some threshold of activity is reached? If this is something that could be done easily (I really have no idea), we could have some system of states of alert for the militia, automatically trigged. For example, usual (editing) traffic +- say, 30%, green state. 130-170% yellow, 170%+ red alert (i'm making this numbers up, but you get the idea). And that state should be read somewhere in the RecentChanges, and also there could be a mailing list exclusively for the the red (or yellow) alerts. Why a mailing list if there is already wikipedia-l? I personally don't subscribe to the list, I really don't want to have a discussions mail everyday, but I would be interested in knowing when help is needed, and by some reason (get some work done, for example) i have refrained from monitoring the RecentChanges. I don't know if any of this makes much sense, but it's an idea (well, two really, the automatic alerts, and the alert exclusive mailing list). Any comments, and specialy, factibility analysis? --AN


Had I been a newbie visiting this page, its military, "us old boys vs. them newbies" connotations (even if tempered by parenthetical, cautious qualifications) would have turned me off big time. I'm not so sure I would have dared contribute; I'm not even sure I would have hung around the site. So I'm not putting my name there, and suggest that this page be rephrased using another metaphor or put on metawikipedia. Also, I'm having trouble differentiating between "undecided Wikipedia policy" and "decided Wikipedia policy". Given a particular policy page, how exactly do we know whether it is of the undecided or decided variety? If I happen to put one up here on the Wikipedia proper, is it going to be decided?

One last point, I think the "Wikipedia culture" to which new users must be "assimilated" definitely needs to be made explicit, in a _concise_, clear, easy to understand way. The Wikipedia Community was a first step in that direction. It's a tough exercise, but will surely pay off in the end. In particular because it's not a given that all our norms are the best possible ones for the success of the project; externalizing them allows us to justify them, question them and change them more easily when a need is perceived. Of course, IMHO all of this messy-but-so-important stuff should occur on Meta. --Seb


I am a newbie (I joined only a few days ago.) And I found the article semi-humorous and totally agreed with the idea. I do not protest at all to the use of the word "militia." I know that my views are not representative of all newbies (and I use that term with a positive meaning) but I thought you might like some real newbie input. --KamikazeArchon


I've been thinking it over, and I'm not comfortable with this page. Keep in mind that I know the intentions behind it are good, and the military terminology is meant to be humourous. Still, I believe that many newcommers will be turned off by this concept, and they will feel unwelcome. Of course, there will be exceptions like KamikazeArchon, but I suspect a good deal more won't find it funny. Secondly, I don't think this page serves any real purpose. If we are flooded with new traffic, all we need is a notice on Recent Changes and Wikipedia-L. We don't need a "militia" to do that. So, that's why I don't support this page, and why I've removed my name. Rest assured, however, that I'll be in the thick of things if a tide of newcommers sweeps over us, helping to keep everything running smoothly and welcoming newbies. --STG

I agree with the above. --AxelBoldt
LMS, like George Washington, "could be bold when success seemed possible. He learned to use the short-term militia skillfully and to combine green troops with veterans to produce an efficient fighting force." BF

It's not like you are the first wiki to be Slashdotted. MeatBall:SlashDotted tells some small tales. In the case of ZWiki, I just placed a notice on the top of MeatBall:RecentChanges to ask people to help Simon over at http://zwiki.org. That was enough. It's important to note that SeattleWireless gets Slashdotted frequently and manages to survive without anything as pretentious as a "militia." WikiWiki continually survives in the face of persistent attackers without even a leader to direct her. The community will do the right thing. -- SunirShah

Sunir, just 'cause other wikis have done it one way doesn't mean we gotta do it that way too! The militia isn't pretentious, honestly. Also, see below. --LMS

What do you all think of "The Wikipedia Welcoming Committee"? I think that is much better all around. --LMS


Committees are even worse. At least militias get bayonets. The only thing good about committees is if there's a free buffet, and even then usually the cheese danishes are stale. How about "The Wikipedia Welcome"?


I like the Welcoming Committee. --AxelBoldt


It's much better than Militia, IMO. --STG


I'd bake a pie and bring it over. <g> --KQ


I would join but I'm already a member of the Wikipedia Gardening Club and my time's fully taken up with planting, weeding, pruning, repotting, etc. -- Derek Ross


I've got it! "The Wikipedia Big Hug"! -- Seb