Similarities between Wikimedian projects and military structure

This is not a set of jokes, unfortunately.

1) We have recruits. The vast majority of them don’t know our rules. The vast majority came from aggressive social background (virtual or real). And it is much easier to learn them formal rules then to learn them good will.

2) We have experienced soldiers. All of them learned the rules, but they didn’t learn good will. And they are using their skills to fight each other because we don’t have enemies. Hmm… Maybe we should make some enemy to make community more constructive?

3) Low ranked officers are mostly recruited from experienced soldiers. They have some institutional power and there are a couple of their types:

  • The majority of them are fighting to become high ranked officers. This means that they will do anything which is necessary to become desirable to higher ranked officers. Those officers don’t like to promote experienced soldiers to low ranked officers because they see them as a concurrency.
  • Significant minority of them are fine with the position and like very much their place in the hierarchy. They are using their powers to fight soldiers. But, note that those officers love their soldiers. Of course, they like to be fought by higher ranked officers. Those low ranked officers have ambivalent relation to the promotion of experienced soldiers to low ranked officers: They are happy when they see that some good soldier became an officer. However, they think that a lot of promoted experienced soldiers don’t deserve promotion.
  • Insignificant minority, which may be treated as an exception, is trying to do their job: to make the project better, to teach newcomers both — the rules and good will. And, of course, those officers don’t have institutional support. Those officers don’t have any chance to be promoted to higher rank. Very small number of soldiers like them, the first group of low ranked officers don’t like them because they are treat to their promotion (as officers from this group may show that officers from the first group don’t do anything useful) and the second group don’t like them because they are “too modern”. High ranked officers don’t like them because they are messing social equilibrium of the military. Political elite likes them, but it is more in epical, poetical, philosophical sense.

3) High ranked officers are veterans of all fights. Behind them is a huge field of dead bodies and destroyed arms. Of course, all past battles were against inner enemies. Almost 100% of them are recruited from the first group of low ranked officers. They are not young officers anymore and they are thinking about some other things now. They want to keep military as they know it. Yes, they know that they were making mistakes in the past. Because of that they are trying to educate younger officers how to keep mass quiet and they are promoting to higher ranks only those who are willing to learn. They dream to become a part of political elite. However, they know that it is almost impossible and they are mostly happy with their position. At least, they are at the top of military structure.

4) Political elite is at the top. Political elite is not, of course, recruited from officers. It is recruited from friends and relatives of political elite members. And they have completely other rules. Members of political elite are nice, with a lot of understanding for all problems. They enjoy in reading literature and looking their monumental creation — their military.

5) And, of course, there are traitors and a lot of our military efforts are going toward finding, marking and eliminating them. I think that it is not necessary to say that the concept of Wikimedian projects doesn’t know for the phenomenon “traitor”. But, it is useful to have the term for marking and eliminating people.

Feel free to connect described military ranks with roles inside of Wikimedian community.

Update: See Geoffrey Burling’s post “As the message mutates” and our talk at the comments field.


~ by millosh on October 17, 2007.

3 Responses to “Similarities between Wikimedian projects and military structure”

  1. I’m inclined to see the similarities between wikipedia and the military as features that crop up in most forms of human organization. Wikipedia is a fantastic case study of this type of thing because it’s an utterly new form of social organization springing from the void in just a couple years.

  2. Yes, features are common in the most forms of human organization, but it is something which is very specific to military. (I am not so sure for the term in English, so I am translating from Serbian…) It is a “principle of negative selection” and it is known in social psychology.

    This principle is more or less present in all forms of more or less strictly hierarchical social organizations. The point here is that the military organization is one of the strictest social systems and that our community is looking more and more like military. This is scary…

    (Also, I assume that you read my comments at llywrch’s blog.)

    Yes, Wikimedian society is extremely interesting, but there are two things to think about them:

    1) Society, community and all similar forms of human organizations — are not some fictional forms. In this case we are making that community and we are able to change negative tendencies. And our duty is to do that.

    2) I wouldn’t like to see some future research which would begin with words “Wiki(p|m)edia was…”. And without thinking about problems, without working to solve them, I may predict that some encyclopedia from 2020 will start article about Wikipedia with such sentence.

  3. […] I got from female Wikimedians. This one is very opposite to the first interview (with Delphine). I know why because I was in the both (quasi-)hierarchical positions and I am personally frustrated by this […]

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