[ Please excuse me if the subject has already been beaten to
  death here; I am not a regular visitor to this mailing list
  I tried to search for this stuff here & on strategywiki, but
  feel free to point me to the archives! ]


I researched recently some material related to a recent catastrophic
event in Polish railway history[1] and I found out that volunteers
who traditionally dealt with railway matters on Polish Wikipedia
have virtually disappeared.

I remember that community being strong few years ago, and now we
found out that even some basic information about infrastructure is
left unchanged.

Few people who still maintain that stuff on the Polish Wikipedia 
showed me that at least two other MediaWiki-based projects have been
started to fill the gap: [2][3] The latter greets you even with a very
nice shot of *the* railway junction that was instrumental in a recent
railway crash.

One of the projects got started by experienced Wikipedia
editors. They still copy some of their content to the Polish
Wikipedia, but only after it matures; I asked them about the
reasons to go outside of the Wikipedia and they said:

* They have to do lots of original research; it is impossible
  to follow development of the railway infrastructure and 
  operations using only high quality published sources;

* They got bitten a bit by the "notability" discussions in their
  field; they want to document every track, every junction
  and every locomotive and they are tired of discussing
  how "notable" a particular piece of railway equipment
  really is.

I would have said it's just a single case, but I've seen
some successful web portals being launched by people interested
in history; what is different from many history research and
fan pages is that I've also seen some active members of Wikipedia
community becoming more and more active on those independent sites.

It might be that (unproven theory) really valuable authors
are living on a verge of original research; at some point
they might prefer to turn over to indepedent sites.
There may be other factors too: smaller, friendlier community;
possibility to start anew and so on. 

As few of those sites are using MediaWiki software I started
to call them "pre-wikis". Some of them might become a sort of
a "waiting rooms" for the content to be published
on "mature" Wikipedia. To me, analogy to the Wikipedia-Nupedia
story is striking. 

What's interesting is that people are not afraid to use
MediaWiki *again* (with all its well-known deficiencies).


In general, I think this is nothing new. There are thousands
of fan wikis on places like Wikia, where certainly some
contributors copy over some mature content to Wikipedia,
should licensing allow that.

But maybe there is some trend that could probably be
better researched, and here are my questions to you:

(1) Do you see similar trend in your respective communities
  (preferably not only English-speaking ones)?

(2) Is there a legitimate need for multi-tiered
  development of the knowledge-related content (test
  wikis, "pre-wikis", sighted revisions) or shall we pursue
 "flat development space" ideal?

(3) Assuming we find the abovemetioned trend to be
  generally a good thing, shouldn't we try to research
  some methodologies to find out whether there is sizeable
  effort supporting our goals outside of the core Wikimedia
  movement? 

(4) Assuming we don't like what's going on, shouldn't
  we revisit some of Wikipedia core values (like "no
  original research", but not only) and try to address
  the issue there?

(5) Has Wikipedia as a "product" achieved some
  maturity in a way that the real growth and innovation needs
  to go somewhere else, as no product/project lasts forever?

Maybe it's something around the question that Kim Bruning
asked on strategywiki [4] and also [5]:

   "we need to find some way to infuse new life
   into wikis that are coming to the end of the
   WikiLifeCycle. Wiki-communities can, do and will
   blow up, and we need to learn how to prevent it,
   or have plans on what to do and how to pick up the
   pieces."

//Marcin CieĊ›lak

User:Saper from plwiki

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Szczekociny_rail_crash
[2] http://enkol.pl/
[3] http://semaforek.pl/wiki/index.php/Strona_g%C5%82%C3%B3wna
[4] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?diff=942&oldid=931
[5] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?diff=prev&oldid=1075


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