Wikipedia chapter outline

I’ve been having trouble figuring out how to place content on Wikipedia at the head of the book, but I think I’ve got an idea that will work.  Instead of saying “Here are Surowiecki’s 4 conditions (which will take a second for you to get your heads around) and I think Wikipedia is the best way to embody those,” maybe I could to frame it as “Look, here’s Wikipedia and it works.  Perhaps the best reason why Wikipedia works is because it satisfies the 4 conditions.”

What it will allow me to do (I think) is give myself a bit of distance from some of Wikipedia’s particulars. For instance, I don’t have to deal with Jimbo’s objectivism, per se, but I can remain in a place where I mainly deal with him as the Benevolent Dictator for the community.  Then I can ask questions about BDs without getting caught up in Jimbo being the prototypical BD while still using him as an example.

So, with that, here’s a stab at an outline.

Other than general thoughts (always welcome!), specific feedback I’m looking for:

  1. Is something missing that you expected to see or that you think is vital?
  2. Does the order flow well? Do the points hang together in a logical fashion (based on what I’ve given you in the outline)?
  3. Is there a consistency to the different parts?  I want to make sure that items addressed in the top part are accounted for in the bottom part.
  4. Does it make sense?

UPDATE(4/13/10): I removed the some material at the head of the outline and have moved it to another chapter that will most likely be before this one.

How important is Wikipedia?

As I’m trying to shuffle my outline around, I’m asking myself “How important is Wikipedia?”

Wikipedia serves as one of the two dominant schemas in the book (the other being Surowiecki’s four conditions in The Wisdoms of Crowds), but given that this is a practical theology book, I don’t want to spend any more time on Wikipedia than is needed.  It’s the classic writers conundrum: How much is enough, and how much is too much?

Here’s what I know:

  • Talking about the role of “Users,” “Administrators,” and Jimmy Wales as “The Benevolent Dictator” are must haves.  The book is about open source leadership – I can’t get away with not addressing Wikipedia’s leadership structure.
  • It seems that the “Expert vs. Amateur” issue has to be taken on, including its peripheral aspects: user-generated content (UCG) and consensus reality (CR). My question, however, is how deep to go with the peripherals?  UGC seem quite germane to the project (content that is not sourced from an expert) but is CR needed?  One reason people bad-mouth Wikipedia is due to what they perceive as its questionable relationship to “truth.”  This is certainly related to the leadership question, but is it related enough for a project about church leadership?
  • The reason Wikipedia functions as well as it does is because it’s clear what it is and what it isn’t.  The Five Pillars have to be included and likened to a congregation’s normative practices/understandings.

Where I’m stuck (I think) is how important the history and development of Wikipedia is.  Given what you know of Wikipedia, what would you say?