The Sims Wiki


Process versus anarchy on TSW

As some of you may know, I often find myself looking through the intricate web of policies, essays, guidelines and concepts that govern the operations of Wikipedia. As some may know, Wikipedia governance has had an impact on the governance of The Sims Wiki, so it seems only rational to look towards Wikipedia when determining a proper course for operating the wiki, resolving issues, or otherwise applying our guiding principles to the effective improvement of the wiki.

To that end, we have multiple Guidelines in force on the wiki - things like 5 pillars or Assume Good Faith - that are more-or-less borrowed directly from Wikipedia's own governance. For every issue, it seems, there is a Wikipedia principle ready to solve it. It's very tempting to therefore adopt the view that The Sims Wiki should operate like Wikipedia in most respects.

To be sure, Wikipedia and TSW both discuss major changes at length, both try to reach consensus when making decisions, and both have formal processes for electing new administrators and bureaucrats (among other similarities). First and foremost, be both hold to the principles of volunteer contributions, of the equality of all editors and of the pursuit of useful information in all its forms. But The Sims Wiki is a very different place from Wikipedia. Our network of policies and guidelines is not nearly as elaborate as theirs, and we have many fewer users here to debate the nuances of each sentence, of each word of the rules. Our rules are much less formal, less formulaic, more "off-the-cuff", more founded in practice than in principle.

For many of the things that happen on the wiki, we simply have no written rules to outline a process, or even any real guidelines to address it. Generally speaking, polices which are adopted are meant to conform to already-accepted principles. Where no clear principle exists, a consensus in forming the policy helps to create one.

However, just as Wikipedia has many rules, it also has a major concept which runs contrary to rules - Ignore all rules. This embodies the idea that a complex web of policies and procedures detracts from the ability to make a good encyclopedia, and that sometimes the best way to improve the wiki is to break the very rules that ensure its orderly operation. From this idea, you get the concept of "be bold," since boldness often flies in the face of previously accepted ideas or a status quo.

The Sims Wiki (or any wiki) cannot operate without some rules, some basic framework that governs interactions. But it is not meant to be a rigid bureaucracy, a system where the exact rules and procedures are followed to the letter. When a rule is followed for the sake of following rules and nothing else, it ceases to be useful and becomes redundant.

And so, the administrators are tasked with walking this tightrope between enforcing necessary policy and combating unnecessary bureaucracy. That's why sometimes we can disagree over whether a discussion should be closed after three days or a few weeks, whether an idea should be put up to a vote or simply enacted despite a lack of unanimous support.

Personally, I tend to follow the mantra of 'ignore all rules', except insomuch as they are useful for establishing fair practices and order. So, if you have a discussion, I will enforce the guideline that a discussion be held for a significant portion of time, because to cut it short prematurely is unfair to those who cannot participate yet. I enforce the guideline that a request for administrator that has no support should be ended early, because at that point doing so is simply exercising procedure for procedure's sake.

We all walk the tightrope.

Note: this is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily endorsed by other administrators, or "official" opinions of The Sims Wiki.

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