[MG] Is Main Page unapproachable?

Ed Pastore epastore at metagovernment.org
Sun Jun 13 17:04:05 EDT 2010

On Jun 13, 2010, at 4:14 PM, Mark Janssen wrote:

>> Mark Janssen wrote:
>>> Dude, I told you about this problem (_and_ gave you a solution)  
>>> months
>>> ago.  See the discussion tab off the main page in my dialog to
>>> targetrace.
>> Here's that discussion between Mark and Targetrace, and the edit they
>> were disputing:
>> http://metagovernment.org/wiki/ 
>> Talk:Main_Page 
>> #Objection_to_revert 
>> :_Revision_as_of_16:33.2C_3_November_2009_by_User:Targetrace
>> http://metagovernment.org/w/index.php5?title=Main_Page&diff=1833&oldid=1799
>> (I think this kind of collision is the fault of the tools, not the
>> users.)
> It's unfortunate that the wiki software does not make it easy to
> follow the logic of the thread.

That's one of the reasons we tend to hold conversations on the list  
instead of the wiki.

> [[Ed wrote:]]
>> I see the dispute, but I don't see what you're proposing as the  
>> answer, Mark. Is it the addition of that
>> link<http://metagovernment.org/wiki/Why_this_project_is_needed>? I  
>> see your point, but I don't think
>> that link (nor the tone of the linked page), is the way of  
>> achieving it. I also don't necessarily agree with
>> the value judgement of saying this project is "needed" as much as  
>> it is hoped to be beneficial.
> Dude, I KNOW you don't see it (!) -- that is the *point* of
> collaborative governance and the *genius* of the wiki philosophy.
> Need I say more?  But, you do however raise a deficiency within the
> mediawiki software as it currently stands (and one which I have
> mentioned on my Userpage).  If you put it up to the wiki model as it
> stands, you would just revert it to your liking and there would be an
> edit "war" (or a compromise)--hardly sufficient (as can be seen right
> here).  I've proposed the wiki software be modified to be more
> probabilistic with a simple (reddit-like) voting mechanism for
> weighting different versions of a page and displaying those revisions
> in a probabilistic matter.

I believe what you are describing is what Candiwi does. I have  
proposed that we migrate the project's wiki to Candiwi, but the  
developers of Candiwi do not appear to be active at the moment.

> And as to the point that you "hope it to be beneficial" -- I already
> addressed this too and this very same point was raised by targetrace.
> *I NEED IT*  Is that sufficient?  I don't think I'm alone, otherwise
> (like the page [[Why this project is needed]] points out) there
> wouldn't be dozens of similar sites reaching for the solution to this
> problem.

You are demonstrating my point, which is that the claim of a need is a  
value judgement. It is your value, not mine. The point of this project  
is to be as value-neutral as possible except for the basic principles.  
In creating and promoting governance software, we have to be open to  
the values of anyone who might be governed; in other words, everyone.  
Otherwise, we are excluding them from the very mechanism of governance.

I very much want to see governance be opened. I detest the fact that  
many of the vital decisions in my life are controlled by politicians  
who have absolutely no interest in my well being or my ideas, and that  
I am fundamentally disenfranchised from changing that situation. But  
that is simply what I desire; it is not a need.

However, overall the debate over the word "need" is fundamentally  
semantic. My real problem is with the language of the article. I just  
don't understand it. Mind you I was a philosophy major. Big words and  
complex thoughts are not foreign to me. But I can't figure out what  
the article is saying or where it is going. I would very much like to  
hear others' thoughts on it to know if it is just me who is confused  
by it. I do not see how it is adding value to the site. Rather I see  
it as detracting value, as it is confusing and makes me want to move  
on to a different site.

> My page points to "my" audience.  My audience isn't going to spend the
> time arguing with you because it takes an enormous amount of patience
> and energy to construct a legible reply.  Either it finds a welcoming
> environment or it simply leaves and goes elsewhere.  Your pages are
> like textbooks -- reasonable, but that is all.  IOW, they hook onto
> reason.  My pages hook on to emotion.  Consider it a sort of
> alchemical catalyst whose presence, like in chemistry, can't really be
> accounted for, but nonetheless, provides a unique and valuable service
> to a process that would ordinarily take 100x as long.  (Do you want to
> wait until 10 million people "get it"?)  The page doesn't serve you
> because you are already among their numbers and can be dispatched, or
> "take leave".

Again, I don't get what you are saying. Who is your audience that is  
different from mine? And what are "my" pages? Most of the pages on the  
wiki are collaborative, with the notable exception of the ones you  
have created.

This isn't an attempt to be offensive; I guess I just don't think the  
way you do. I'm not sure who does, since I am not used to reading  
pages like the ones you have written. I'm open to the idea of  
understanding who it is you are trying to reach. At the moment, I'm  
just not getting it.

> And, btw, "my users" depend on *trust*--and it is exactly why the Free
> software environment/community came into being (*and* why it places
> **itself** outside the conventional world).   I find it discouraging
> that you have removed some of the references to it. Is it personal?

No, its not personal at all. I simply try to make pages simple and  
concise, and, in my opinion, your page on Trust is difficult to read  
and steals focus from the object of the site.

And separately, I personally do not think that governance software  
should rely on trust. Governance, politics, and such are about  
conflict, distrust, and competing interests. If we simply hope  
everyone will get along, then why do we need governance at all? The  
point is to make a system that can work despite the fact that some  
people hate/distrust/dislike/misunderstand/etc. other people. That's  
the plain fact of every system of governance.

A free software project or a wiki can work on trust because everyone  
there is committed to the same end. In Wikipedia, conflict is a subset  
of the meta-goal of dispassionate description. So even if there is  
intense disagreement over something, it can be subsumed with a  
statement that describes that conflict and dispassionately states both  
sides of it. But in governance, there is no unified objective. At  
least not until an issue has reached synthesis. To rely on trust in  
governance is to be prey to the least ethical participants.

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