The lesser known benefits of IP editing

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Jake Is A Sellout
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The lesser known benefits of IP editing

Post by Jake Is A Sellout » Tue Sep 14, 2021 4:08 pm

Accident or not, I think everyone now realises that if Wikipedia has been registration only from the outset, it would have flopped. And from there comes the more well known advantages of IP editing - chiefly, its gets people hooked. It converts casual editors into moderately useful ones, and from there quickly into full blown addiction.

With Wikipedia now well past its growth phase (which is odd, because by one estimate, even at 6m+ articles they are a looooong way from having all the articles they should have), the established Wikipedia editors can often be seen speculating that the disadvantages of IP editing (vandalism) now outweigh the advantages. That it's somehow high time they did what they perceive as the mature thing, and became a registration only website.

I wonder if they have though this through though. I recently came across a Meta research page that brought new light even to my massive brain, jam packed as it is with a wealth of Wikipedia related knowledge, illuminating some unexpected benefits of IP editing that may surprise the established editors who are dead set agaisnt it.

1. With mandatory registration, the average quality of the first edits of a brand new registered account, drops to that of the first edits of an IP user.

This stands to reason. It is a natural side effect of the very obvious thing that every Wikipedia editor just seems to knows but always seems to forget - most of them start out as IPs. So by the time of their first edit as a registered user, it's often a pretty decent edit. Perhaps only a small vandalism revert or typo fix, but every little helps.

This one simple fact likely means that most of the perceived benefits of going full registration, would actually be mythical. They would still have a lot of crap edits to fix and a lot of stupid n00bs to babysit (or in Drmies' case, insult and block), they would just be registered users.

So unless the people who want to ban IP editing are also pushing for mandatory training courses, or some other kind of Wizard or system that on boards new registrants before letting them loose on the pedia, they might have to rethink their assumptions.

2. IP editing actually keeps Wikipedia editors engaged.

This is a little harder to grasp, but again, it's a surprise that it doesn't occur to the very people who probably know it the most. Established editors all have a watchlist. And therefore, with IP editing allowed, there's a daily supply of new changes to their watched articles, that they're either having to revert, or massage into shape.

If you ban IP editing, while a lot of those new people do register an account, some don't. So there is a drop in the daily workload of a Wikipedia editor. In the conventional wisdom, that's a good thing. Less time nursing their watchlist means more time bringing an article to Featured quality.

Stop laughing! I know you and I both know that the percentage of Featured quality content has been stubbornly stuck at ~0.1% for years and is actually now dropping, but we must let them have their fantasies. They do genuinely all believe they're working to create an encyclopedia, the just all assume its the other person who is taking the Start class copy paste shite or a Jess Wade crap stub and turning it into beautifully written well sourced impeccably balanced prose.

In reality, that conventional wisdom is apparently bunk. A big part of what makes Wikipedia tick, is that need for engagement from the established user base. So the less reason there is for an experienced editor to, y'know, edit, for any reason, the less likely it is they will be making useful edits.

That will be true across the board. The 10 hour a day addict will probably see sunlight for one extra hour a day (so put your cream on, you pasty fuck). And the weekend only addict maybe starts to drop one weekend in three, to go do something more useful with his life, like wander off into the woods to stick corks up his butt and masturbate in front of the wildlife. Because you just know there's a dark as fuck reason why Beeblebrox seems to really hate Fae, right?

3. Without IP edits, Wikipedia's already glacial path into something resembling an encyclopedia might actually slow down even further, if not go into reverse.

A simple corollary to 2., the less engaged the established Wikipedia editors are, the less likely it is that Wikipedia will reach its goal of being an encyclopedia. I am not sure if that goal is actually to have 100% of their articles at Featured quality, such as if allowing for the fact it will always have new articles being started to reflect its role as the breathless documenter of popular culture, but I am quite sure 0.09% falls short of whatever their target percentage actually is.

This is true on multiple levels, whether you're talking about an established editor being a self starter and just coming up with an idea for an article to write or improve all by themselves, or, and this is the kicker, being stimulated to do so by a moderately good IP edit, which happens a lot. Or even, and this was a surprise, the proven effect of an established editor seeing an absolutely dire edit, and even using that as an impetus to not just fix it, but to go on to more generally improve the affected article. Banning IP edits doesn't mean those trigger edits disappear. There's just less of them. And less reason for the self starters to be staring at their screen to begin with.


So the you have it. A few perhaps little known but rather obvious in hindsight observations from the men in white coats.

Never usually affects the decision making of the Wikipedia community, but it's fun to know they knew it and still ignored it.

Just one of many ways they have more in common with fascists and lunatic charlatans than they would ever care to admit.


I deliberately haven't linked to the research, just for fun, and because it's not stuff that will help the casual reader. Just to make the wikishits and their Wikipediocracy therapists hope that I've just made all this up, crazy as I am, while of course secretly knowing that's not what I do. Why would I? The truth always hurts Wikipedia more than any lie, and there's NEVER a shortage of hurtful truths to be found.


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