Community development and POV stages (1)

I will try here to present some of my experiences related to dealing with POV on the projects in various stages.

English Wikipedia and Meta as a starting point

If you want to see how one Wikipedia is dealing with POV on its own project, you may see a very good approximation at English Wikipedia: how particular community is dealing with issues related to its own culture. Also, you may see some general developments inside of a community by looking at Meta-related issues.

English Wikipedia is showing how particular community is dealing with issues related to their culture. Generally, you may see community’s behavior toward ethnic, national, religious and political issues. But, of course, you wouldn’t be able to see everything. For example, LGBT issues on English Wikipedia are rarely edited by people out of cultures which primary language is English. However, articles related to religious issues are edited by local communities, even a particular religion is international. Also, you may clearly see pro- and anti-US/Russia biases written by local communities.

Behavior on Meta (and wikipedia-l and foundation-l mailing lists) is much more interesting for looking into a well developed communities. Even it is not so often, it is possible to see a general local sentiment toward some global tendencies inside of the Wikimedian community. From time to time, it is also possible to see some problems inside of particular communities.



Wikipedia was founded on one idea (a business idea) and initially supported by another group of people (people from free software community). The later made heavy influence and even today Wikimedian community is much closer to free software community then to any other, even closer by type: while there are a lot of experts on Wikimedian projects, community is not so close to the academic community.

However, particular projects have their own lives and their own founders. More developed language areas were founded in a similar way to English Wikipedia. And, while such projects are not global because English language is the contemporary lingua franca, their initial behavior is very similar to the initial behavior of English Wikipedia.

But, when we come to the projects which languages don’t have more then 50 millions of speakers and which language areas don’t have well developed Internet infrastructure — initial development of project becomes more depend on a founder’s (or founders’) affiliations.

According to my experience, I recognize a couple of types of existing and possible founders. However, types are not so clear and it is possible to see founder with various degrees of mixed characteristics:

  • Two most common types are:
    • Geek founder(s): This means that particular community will try to follow English Wikipedia.
    • National founder(s): In this case, community will have strong POV problems at the beginning, as well as its policies may differ a lot from policies on English Wikipedia.
  • Rare or hypotetical types are:
    • Free knowledge founder(s): Similar behavior to geek founder(s) may be expected, but with more radical approach. I know for a couple of such persons.
    • Business founder(s): I know only one founder and it is Jimmy, but he is a meta-founder, not a founder of a particular community. However, I may suppose that it is possible to see this kind of founders.
    • Free culture founder(s): While I don’t know for any, Wikimedia community is going slowly from being a part of free software community to being a part of free culture community, which makes possible to see some new founders (indlucing new founders of the existing projects without a lot of activities) from this type.

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(For the list of all articles from this series, see page Community development and POV stages.)


~ by millosh on January 30, 2008.

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