Defended Criticism

People with some experience developing or using Web technologies are sometimes quick to write off wiki. "Oh, yes, it's a great idea, but it could never work, because…" This page describes some common ways that people describe the impossibility of wiki, and the ways that wiki continues to thrive despite those impossibilities.

If anyone can edit, then incompetent or uninformed people will put up incorrect or unreadable information. (Stupidity)
Anyone can, in fact, put bad information into a wiki. But because anyone else can review and correct that information, PeerReview tends to raise the level of quality of any page. Through IterativeDevelopment, each page tends to go from incorrect and unreadable to correct (for some agreed-upon idea of "correct") and readable.
If anyone can edit, vandals, advertisers, spammers, trolls, and other hostile parties will ruin pages. (Malice)
It turns out that a community of contributors can reduce unwanted edits to near zero through a process called SoftSecurity. Through PeerReview, other readers can correct, edit, or delete unwanted edits – just as easily as bad people can add them. If the community is strong enough, attacks can be resisted quite easily.
No one will ever contribute to a Web site if they don't get credit for and control over their work.
It turns out that this isn't the case. Very many contributors are willing to trade off absolute control over their text for the benefits of collaboration. In addition, on many wikis there are mechanisms in place (such making note of "Contributors" to a page) to give credit where credit is due.

Thus, SoftSecurity to the rescue. See also: WhyWikiDoesntFailShortVersion, WhyWikiWorks, SoftSecurity, CommunitySolution, CommunityExpectation, WikisVsModerationSystems, WikiSecurityFeatures, AuthorshipCredit.

The real reason a wiki does not work is when SoftSecurity fails: When there is no community doing the PeerReview. It is a question of energy and persistence, motivation and attrition: If PeerReview is boring and repetitive, it won't be done.

Unresolved Criticism

WikiSource should be as PlainText as possible.

CategoryWhyWiki CategoryIntroductionToWiki


I moved the info on this page from WhyWikiWorks, since I didn't think SoftSecurity was the be-all and end-all of why wiki works. Wiki has a lot of positive qualities besides its resistance to attack. I figured that it was better to answer the dismissal, "Well, that will never work!" here than there.

Good idea.

I moved the older content to a page WhyWikiDoesntFailShortVersion; I think it's good to maintain a really short version of introductory pages, because many people (myself included) just won't take much time to read about why something new isn't infeasible.


EditNearLinks: PeerReview CommunityExpectation CommunitySolution IterativeDevelopment AuthorshipCredit