NearlyStaticPage

A Nearly Static Page is one that changes rarely and via a predictable process - often part of a very reliable link schema like OpenCyc, WordNet. Some of the more closely watched and concrete Wikipedia articles might qualify, for instance the biographies of long-dead persons about whom there is little historical record or active scholarship.

Even technically static pages are modifiable in theory - by asking the domain name registrant to change them, if nothing else. This could be done for instance by filing a DMCA complaint or a defamation complaint to require something be removed or modified.

Wikis provide a relatively standard automated way of accessing the pages, often guarded community of people with some common discipline or criteria. Some wikis - let’s call them an “instrumented” wiki - could require blind credential or a certain karma score to edit (see also WikiFeatures:TemperedPages (see WikiFeatures:IdeasToPlace #118.)

Pages presented as static HTML should include links to freely editable versions of pages, likely in a ScratchWiki mirror, or in a CommunalWiki. It should be easy to copy any nearly static page page to another wiki, or download it to your hard drive, so you can modify it yourself and possibly appeal or challenge the existing version with the best one you can create. (One way to do this is to install the Halo extensions of Semantic Mediawiki with a single installer, and run a local wiki with excellent features and performance. Many of these could then cooperate, people sharing with many others on a bilateral basis and determining which of many versions was authoritative by algorithm. If this changed very rarely, a new nearly static page could replace the one from which the community of scholars derived their own versions.)

(See also ManagedWiki and PublicRefineryProcess and TrustedLinkLanguage for context.)

The general problem is well known, I think. In academia, you refer to other published sources and your readers can pick those up and read the exact material you are referring to. But when your reference is “personal communication with the author” or a website “last visited” some time ago, your credibility suffers.

Wikipedia defends against this problem by claiming that it is an encyclopedia and doesn’t contain original material, and that therefore people should not refer to it but to the cited material instead.

Clearly, that’s not how a lot of people are using it these days. They want Wikipedia to consist of “nearly static pages”.

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