Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The three week rule

When several different people make queries and the same advice needs to be given, it's probably better (or at least less work) to blog the darn thing. So here's one of my little methods for defusing content disputes. Call it the three week rule.

This is one of the reasons why the cases I take to formal dispute resolution almost never relate to my own content disputes.

First, a little harmonious spirit.

Now here's the trick: if you've tried the bold/revert/discuss model and it isn't going anywhere useful, then consider this: walk away for a while. Give it about three weeks. Hang out somewhere else. Chill. Wikipedia has millions of other articles.

Sometimes the person you were locking horns with ain't so bad. In three weeks, if that person has a broader set of references and perspectives to bring to the page then that's plenty of time for them to shine. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Second option: your hunch is correct and that dude's a POV pusher. Let them own the article for three weeks. If that's what they really are then they'll slant the article even further so it's obvious to everyone. Once things reach that stage the problem is easier to correct.

Third option: the individual is a troll (or at least feeds off conflict). So stop acting like an immovable object, and watch the irresistible force wander elsewhere. There's a beauty to the Zen approach.

So give it three weeks. Let the article be wrong. When you return, post politely to the talk page. If nobody objects then go ahead and edit. If somebody does object then don't quarrel; open a content request for comment promptly. If you're really right then uninvolved editors will step forward and agree.

It's surprising how often this turns out well.



Ian said...

The real problem with this idea is that after three weeks, I don't care any more. And that means that someone has gotten away with being wrong on the internet. And, you know, we can't let that happen!

Xavexgoem said...

Ian has pointed out the real dilemma :-p

It becomes Schrodinger's article. That kind of works with the wiki-philosophy, though: simultaneously NPOV and entirely POV.

Lise Broer said...

The longer I edit, the more I believe in eventualism. Eventualism doesn't mean giving up; it means taking the long view.

Okay, I'll say it...

Patience, Grasshopper.

Piotr Konieczny said...

Well, the problem is that too many admins are acting like immature teenagers. Hence people are trying to ensure that teens will not be admins.

To a certain degree I can sympathize with this - unfortunately, this doesn't solve a problem of what to do with adult admins who are acting like teens :D

llywrch said...

This is something I've advocated & tried to practice for as long as I've been on Wikipedia. But I know you didn't take this idea from me because my rule is to wait three months. (By that point the other person has reconsidered their position, forgotten all about this issue, or has been banned indefinitely.)

Another one I've finally learned & am trying to implement is "talk to the person you are in conflict with." (For some reason I'm constantly amazed at the fact that the person who seems to be so unreasonable about reverting my material actually is very reasonable once I stop & listen to her/him.)

A last one that I think is right -- but haven't figured out how to use just yet -- is to insert some humor into every stressful situation. Doing this correctly turns a situation where both sides believe they must prevail at all costs to one where everyone is willing to listen & cooperate once again.

And no, I don't know how to fix Wikipedia. Sometimes I wonder if we all agree on just how it is broken.