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Journal StreetStealth's Journal: Wikipedia's flawed contribution model and how to fix it

Every time the question of Wikipedia deletionism comes up at Slashdot, I find myself expecting someone to say this, yet no one ever quite hits it on the head.

To be sure, the two camps always have at it in the comments, making a case for either a wide-ranging Wikipedia that covers the culinary preferences of every last character in every last webcomic everywhere, or a stringent Wikipedia whose content is restricted to only matters covered by decades of rigorous scholarship by A-list personalities who make international headlines twice a week (some people even advocate a moderate position!).

I'm not writing to participate in that argument just now. I'm here to point out a fatal flaw in the Wikipedia system of contribution, that if fixed, could greatly decrease the ill will many former contributors feel toward the site.

Put in any other context, WP's contribution system is absurd. Imagine a city in which the building code has no permit process: You are free to design and erect a building as you wish, the only caveat being that once it's complete, the city inspectors will pay a visit and determine whether or not your new building should be demolished.

Obviously this is an extreme example. But despite the difference in scale, the model holds: If Wikipedia wishes to retain its stringent notability requirements for articles while not alienating the overlap between its hardcore and read-only userbases, it must cease inviting casual users to write articles. There should be an approval process, perhaps consisting of gathering some references and then submitting them to a wikicrat to greenlight an article.

This way, instead of the alienating process of inviting work only to destroy it, new contributors are given only the minor rebuff of having an idea turned down.

Wikipedians may balk at this, saying it would require too much effort to manage the constant influx of approval requests. But how is this any different from the constant influx of articles destined for AFD?
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Wikipedia's flawed contribution model and how to fix it

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