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Wikipedia as inspiration for enterprises

It has always been useful inside organisations to refer to Wikipedia as a successful example of a self-policed open community with an ex-post moderation policy. The proposed change to the Wikipedia moderation model is akin to allowing 'trusted' editors to continue with the ex-post moderation model while imposing stricter control for people who are not signed in or just created their account. (How, and if, Wikipedia may implement flagged revisions is still being discussed.)

In an organisation employees are, by default, trusted. They have been approved as part of their recruitment, they are given access to buildings and logins to systems, they are trusted to do work and make decisions, handle confidential information etc. Many are trusted to advise the clients of the organisation. In light of this, the proposed changes for the Wikipedia moderation policy have no impact on the parallels we like to draw.

Another angle that may enter the discussion when debating the openness of social tools inside organisations and the trustworthiness of information is that of transparency. If a false statement is made in an email, the process of correcting the error is more convoluted than in the wiki world where the "many eyes" effect is put to work. (The controversy resulting in the review of Wikipedia's moderation policy is about a false statement that was corrected a few minutes later.)

The current discussion does not detract from the usefulness of using wikis for process support or project collaboration inside organisations. But perhaps a bit of the magic surrounding Wikipedia as the flagship example will have worn off.

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Comments

Cathy Ma

The problem with factual accuracy of email is more than the lack of many-to-many scrutiny - the whole experience is linear (you scroll an email from beginning to end), lack of narrative, plus the problem of people having strong emotional reactions towards contents coming into their inbox as opposed to be in the public domain, which all made the email experience more personal, less collaborative. Interesting that you brought up the comparison between the Wikipedia and emails though!

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