Dialog:What is within the project scope of Mises Wiki?

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Every open wiki must eventually confront the issue of what is within project scope. Especially in the early stages of wikis, often the tendency is to allow more leeway for established, respected editors to add content of questionable relevance to the project mission than for newcomers or unpopular editors. RationalWiki is rather notorious for this; they have all sorts of articles on obscure topics, but if you are not well-liked there, and post an article, there's a good possibility it'll be deleted as being off-mission.

Part of the problem is that whenever any sort of rule is created, people have a tendency to stretch the rule beyond what it was intended to cover, hence the many abuses of Criteria for Speedy Deletion. Sometimes the rule will state very clearly what is not allowed to be deleted, and people will use that rule as a justification for deleting that content anyway. For example, if a rule says not to delete transcluded templates, someone will cite that rule as authority for deleting a transcluded template. Thus, one can't depend on rules for protection, unless there is actually someone at the top with an interest in making sure those rules are properly followed.

In 2003, Jimbo Wales wrote:

Put another way: if someone wants to write an article about their high school, we should relax and accomodate them, even if we wish they wouldn't do it. And that's true *even if* we should react differently if someone comes in and starts mass-adding articles on every high school in the world.

Let me make this more concrete. Let's say I start writing an article about my high school, Randolph School, of Huntsville, Alabama. I could write a decent 2 page article about it, citing information that can easily be verified by anyone who visits their website.

Then I think people should relax and accomodate me. It isn't hurting anything. It'd be a good article, I'm a good contributor, and so cutting me some slack is a very reasonable thing to do.

That's true *even if* we'd react differently to a ton of one-liners mass-imported saying nothing more than "Randolph School is a private school in Huntsville, Alabama, US" and "Indian Springs is a private school in Birmingham, Alabama, US" and on and on and on, ad nauseum.

This approach obviously didn't survive as a Wikipedia norm in the long run; Wikipedia became more of an impersonal bureaucracy. At any rate, the topic of what is within project scope also arose at Libertapedia, with Freedom Fighter voicing his hope that the site would have as broad a scope as Wikipedia. My own view was that this would never work, because the wikisphere is averse to duplication of effort. People prefer to concentrate their efforts on one big wiki, when it comes to those articles that that wiki can handle pretty well.

It is only when that wiki fails that they go to other wikis. It would not be necessary to write, for example, a lengthy suicide article at this wiki if Wikipedia has already allowed a lengthy article, libertarian perspectives on suicide, that represents the Austrian school point of view pretty well. It would be just as well to collaborate on that Wikipedia article.

Aside from those considerations, it's hard to say what is outside the scope of a wiki whose subject matter is the study of human action. Human action is a pretty broad field, and accordingly Mises touched on a lot of different sciences in his books. But the same could be said for almost any wiki. Every topic is related, by a certain number of degrees of separation, to every other topic. Politics and economics have implications for all other fields of endeavor.

There is also the culture of the movement. For example, the bow tie is not part of economics per se, but it's part of the Austrian school culture. Neither is it necessarily all that relevant who in the Austrian school was a Christian, but the personal history and characteristics of our movement's members are intertwined with the history of the movement itself. People find biographical information interesting; they like to know about the human beings behind great ideas and movements. Nathan Larson (talk) 01:49, 23 October 2012 (MSD)

You have a point there, Nathan - some of the recent and not so recent articles are of a bit questionable relevance to the project itself. And you are very right, for many topics is Wikipedia the better place to be. What remains, however, and where the wiki can shine, are the many topics the libertarian tradition stands out, especially in economics, politics and history - these would be the closest to the project scope as well. Topics like suicide seem to me of lower priority, but it seems to be of interest, so why not.
Personally, I'd aim for quality over quantity, that is to create large articles of high quality for important topics, with a slew of smaller supporting articles (and then whatever else becomes interesting). The other focus can be short articles that link to valuable resources, the more the merrier. Pestergaines (talk) 13:08, 31 October 2012 (MSK)
Longer articles tend to be harder to write, unless one happens to already be a subject matter expert on the topic. Pretty much anyone who's taken a few economics classes or read a few articles on a given subject can create a slew of short articles summarizing various subjects. It's more challenging to, say, write a featured article on comparative advantage, although someone should.
Of course, if there is enough material to write a lengthy article about, it probably already met Wikipedia's notability threshold. And anyone who could write a featured article here could probably write a featured article on Wikipedia, and reach more eyeballs by its being featured on the Wikipedia main page, not to mention appearing more prominently in google searches and such. Plus there is the advantage of working on it with a larger community.
Yeah, most of the wikisphere is greatly affected by operating in Wikipedia's shadow. Sometimes there's only a little bit more that needs to be said about a topic to give the Austrian point of view; the rest overlaps with the information Wikipedia provides. It is good to have some place that collects all the Austrian school wisdom on various topics, though. My theory about short articles is that they serve as invitations for other people to add a little here and there until it grows until a more mature article. On the other hand, some of the best long articles are written mostly by one person who had a vision for the article and saw it through to completion. Nathan Larson (talk) 14:22, 31 October 2012 (MSK)
I agree with pretty much everything you've said! The Mises Wiki can be also used to prepare WP articles in a friendly environment, but you are right. And then there are articles, that straddle the line - see e.g. Malinvestment here and on Wikipedia, for example.
But there is one other use for short articles that WP doesn't cover - they can provide links to other resources on a given topic, focused on libertarian resources. That can be very useful for research and self-study. Pestergaines (talk) 14:42, 31 October 2012 (MSK)