Talk:Archive:The Big Write

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Can author's make requests?

Just that question. Stephen Ewen 19:19, 23 February 2007 (CST)

Make them and see what happens :) Robert Tito | Talk 19:40, 23 February 2007 (CST)
It might be a good idea to have a section in the Big Write page where authors can make 1 to 3 requests. While I would not wish to push for anything and thus color an editor's independent judgment in selecting their 3 to 5 articles, it could be helpful for editors in making their selections to see which articles present author's are willing to make credible starts on. This could be motivating for authors. ;-) I will put in for Globalization. I have another I could do but I know there is no editor yet present who could authenticate it. Stephen Ewen 19:42, 23 February 2007 (CST)

I guess it's a request for a review, in that case. Sure, I don't see why's just that, then, we need to tell editors that we want them to look over the requested articles to see if there are any they want to review, and we need to make rules for this sort of game. They won't be complicated, but then, the rules for the Big Write aren't complicated. Anyway, this could be a Big Review--which might end up being more successful than the Big Write. --Larry Sanger 21:27, 23 February 2007 (CST)

My issue is to try to coordinate any articles authors write as those where editors exist who can review and perhaps approve them, as well as the other way around. In that way, when done from both directions, the end result will hopefully be a larger number of total articles from this initiative. :-) Stephen Ewen 21:29, 23 February 2007 (CST)
Well, if you can add another section that says "Article suggestions from authors" or some such thing, and a brief explanation in both instruction sections, that fits in with the rest of the instructions...please do. --Larry Sanger 23:36, 23 February 2007 (CST)
Alright, I did so. I also copyedited the whole thing. Just revert if you do not like it, no hard feelings. Stephen Ewen 05:02, 24 February 2007 (CST)

Stephen, thanks for the additions. Just a few notes on my changes. Bullet points do not make text more readable. Usually, particularly as used in corporate documents and Wikipedia, they make it less readable. "Blessed" may not be a perfect description for what we want editors to do, but it is definitely better than "Validated," because the latter carries with it implications of fact-checking and approval that "Blessed" does not. When writing instructions, less is more. Frequently, it is more confusing to tell people what will be obvious to them, partly because they won't be attracted to read the flabby verbiage, partly because they think you might be saying something subtle when you're not. Finally, when writing both instructions and articles, try to remain a human being, with a soul and interesting, idiosyncratic ways of saying things. It makes the results much more interesting. I commend Nancy Sculerati's work to you as an example. --Larry Sanger 08:54, 24 February 2007 (CST)

Your points on avoiding stating the obvious or easily inferred are clearly very well-taken and I will definitely keep them in mind in the future. Wow, I am immensely thankful for Nancy's "nack" at incorporating a personable tone in encyclopedia articles - what a breath of fresh air! I am very glad to see that "tone" becoming part of the culture here. It, too, is an adjustment I am learning. :-) I hope we "softly" codify such a tone in CZ's "manual of style". The tone is quite a significant change for Wikipedians coming over to the CZ project. At WP, it is shunned as "editorializing". But the tone is part of the reason why I have prior proposed that articles go through an official "style" authentication phase by copyeditors before being approved. Such a tone, particularly if uniform, will be a significant but perhaps underestimated part of what makes us "unique". Stephen Ewen 02:25, 25 February 2007 (CST)

why not in stead of validate use "okayed", more obvious it is more friendly used and less fact-checked-based. Robert Tito | Talk 09:15, 24 February 2007 (CST)

Good idea, Rob. I'll make the change, and then announce the availability of author suggestions. --Larry Sanger 09:20, 24 February 2007 (CST)

"Is obligated" connotes a moral duty and sounds needlessly too strong and thus potentially off-putting to me. I prefer "committed". Stephen Ewen 02:04, 25 February 2007 (CST)

These comments about 'tone' and 'nack' are marvellous. Ok'd is brilliant. Setting the CZ 'tone' should be an aspiration in all our articles and guidelines. The debate about 'Constable' is part of it. The Boy from Oz David Tribe 07:27, 25 February 2007 (CST)


Shouldn't CZ local categories be distinguished from 'external' categories by prepending with 'CZ'? Thus Category:Big Write becomes Category:CZ Big Write. Neville English | Talk 07:09, 25 February 2007 (CST)

One would well think so, but probably not, because there will probably be no "internal" categories. "CZ Live", "CZ Authors", etc., are (as it turns out) redundant. --Larry Sanger 11:03, 26 February 2007 (CST)

Well, this isn't working so well!

In all honesty, we must recognize that few people are signing up to write as part of this initiative, and even fewer are actually getting to work. So the Big Write isn't working nearly as well as The Big Speedydelete, and I think there are two reasons it isn't. The first is that the incentive of editor review is simply not a huge inducement for most people. Who knows? It might even be a disincentive. With the Big Speedydelete, by golly, you got credit for deleting bunches of cruft. That's fun--a substantial motivation. The second is that to work really well, the sort of successful mass initiative that the Big Speedydelete represented had to be clearly open to one and all--whereas, by having editors nominate topics, we restricted participation to only those who could and were willing to write well on just a few topics. The Big Speedydelete, by contrast, was open to anyone regardless of their proclivities; they just had to like deleting cruft.

So, unlike the Big Speedydelete, this game just ain't that fun. That's all right, we can't get it right every time.

Anyway, I think we could create a lot more excitement--and productivity--by trying a new approach. So I suggest we declare the first approach a failure, archive the page, thank and apologize to the editors and authors who gave it the old college try, and try a new approach (also called "The Big Write").

So here's the new approach I suggest. Our collective goal in the new game is to develop as many top priority articles as possible. So what we do is this: we list our names under different "levels" based on how many top priority articles we have started (and for which we are responsible for 750 or more words). A listing might look like this:

Contributors (three or more top priority articles)

Our individual goals are to go up through "levels." But the only articles that are eligible would be those that are listed as "high priority" articles on the various Workgroup Home pages, linked from CZ:Discipline Workgroups--for example, CZ:Philosophy Workgroup. Of course, we will make every effort to keep each other honest, making sure that the "top priority" list of articles remains uninfluenced by the idiosyncratic interests of contributors.

The idea then is that people can move up through levels of honor for the number of high priority articles they have gotten started. One such article would earn someone an "Initiate" level, three would be "Contributor," five would be "Writer," ten would be "Big Writer," twenty would be...who knows. Anyway, you get the idea.

Also, for extra added fun, articles already written would be eligible for listing! I think this would be a nice way to honor the work of people who have been getting things done (more or less) quietly.

I just would want to make it clear that I wouldn't want such a list to create an aristocracy of merit; amount of work done does not correspond to political influence. We are developing a republic (as with our Editorial Council which will be starting up soon), not an aristocracy or oligarchy, or Wikipedia-style rule of the "in crowd." The tendency of some people to abuse their "status" on the re-envisioned "Big Write" page might be an argument against it worth considering.

Well, what do you think?

--Larry Sanger 11:45, 26 February 2007 (CST)

One of the problems with this Project was the "Top Priority Article" approach. If you check the Workgroup Home Pages, you will notice that many (probably most) have not produced a seriously well developed listing of such high priority articles. Where there is some listing, it is far sparser in quantity than I think appropriate. I have developed a listing for Astonomy of around 130 articles (to be expanded by a few dozen) and, in conjunction with a Law editor, a list of about 50 high priority Law articles. Also Sports with about 50. Most workgroups should have a listing of between 100 and 200 high priority artilces, properly sub-classified.
I think a good project would be to get those listings developed. I thought that was the idea when the original list was brought over from Wikipedia - that is, to further develop the listings. After that is done, then, maybe something further could be done. James F. Perry 15:24, 26 February 2007 (CST)


For all I saw the big write wasn't a success because immediately it was supposed to be a start of everything at the same time. For that you need a crowd of participants. Why not once and for all kill -9 the word TOP and replace it with priority. Why not give the workgroup-communities a chance to work together and come up with one or more articles (having their place within their tree of hierarchic articles) and everybody is free to contribute - no matter what, just as with any article. The artificial separation between big write articles and ordinary articles just doesn't or didn't feel right. People that wanted to contribute didn't see anything they would favor. Why not then let the groups discuss it first then come out with a proposed number of priorities - summarized in articles either under development - but being sped up - or new to create. It will be an incentive for each workgroup - sometimes a wake up call, sometimes a slow down call (as too many stub like articles are generated without any coherence in the overall structure). The major thing the big write lacked was coherence, editors could burp anything they wanted or liked without back talk to their respective communities. Robert Tito | Talk 12:32, 26 February 2007 (CST)

Another approack might be one where each workgroup identifies a number (different for each workgroup) of Category:ToApprove articles, preferably from the main page out through all of their sub-topics and is goind to get those articles approved, in stead of diversifying attention to again new articles. If there are enough participant authors and editors per workgroup - that wouldn't be any problem, we are just starting - so man-power is a problem. Robert Tito | Talk 16:18, 26 February 2007 (CST)

Question for everyone

If we were to start a new Big Write under this new plan, would you participate? I.e., would you list your name on the list after you had written at least one top priority article? For the record, I certainly would participate. :-) --Larry Sanger 18:56, 26 February 2007 (CST)

Why again omit the workgroups and ask persons individually? I wouldn't mind writing but I can't speak for others that might feel overwhelmed/overasked. And this site is supposed to be about collaboration. Robert Tito | Talk 19:47, 26 February 2007 (CST)

I would probably add my name to the list if the list were already there but I doubt I would be any more motivated by the prospect of being a "Big Writer."
Is the point to get a lot of new articles started? That would be good, but I don't see the point in creating a 750 word article that qualifies as "a good start" if noone ever comes back to see the article's development all the way through. I think the Big Write is a good way to get people more active but I have held off so far on starting any of those articles because I'm not convinced that there will be enough other people there with me to see the article through to approval (They'll probably be off somewhere else writing 750 words :). Joe Quick | Talk 20:41, 26 February 2007 (CST)
Just to answer the question, the point isn't just to get lots of new articles started, but to get lots of high priority articles of our own started. --Larry Sanger 20:44, 26 February 2007 (CST)

Then Larry, change focus. Not BIG WRITE but NEW WRITE. Add new articles within the family of workgroups. It is not quantity but quality! Better one good article in your hand than smelling the air of rotting articles laying in closets. Robert Tito | Talk

I am motivated either way, Larry.
Joe, I think part of the point to credible starts is that, after public launch, more folks will indeed be around! You ready to put your name on anthropology? I will if you will. :-) Stephen Ewen 20:51, 26 February 2007 (CST)
Thanks, Stephen. See my note on your talk page.
Just for the record, I'm motivated either way too. But I'm inclined to agree with Robert's last post. Quality is much more important. Maybe some sort of race to a set number of approved articles is in order - turn out good articles fast (as long as we make sure they're good). --Joe Quick | Talk
I would add my name to the list, but I have some questions. Above, LS talked about the "high priority articles they have gotten started". Would this also include articles imported from WP which have undergone substantial re-write? For example, the Joan of Arc article has been re-written to the extent of about 90% (and I will soon dump the remaining WP content so that it will be a 100% original creation). That would concern articles already here. I again presume that new articles would not include imports? Also, would it include articles to which the writer makes a substantial (750 word) contribution even if the author did not start it? This would mean that more than one author could list the same article. And one more question. What about an article, written on WP by the author, and imported here? The kilt article is an example, though it is kind of debatable whether or not that would qualify as high priority, and in what Workgroup. Just trying to focus a little on the details. :-) James F. Perry 06:59, 27 February 2007 (CST)
When I initially read the idea of the Big Write, I was keen. However, the incentive to write articles from the lists is low. I think the key reason lies in what is a high priority article. What we are asking is to make starts on the 'Big' subjects. These subjects tend to be broad based and often have loosely defined borders. This makes them difficult to plan and write. In contrast, articles that are seemingly less important, but more focused on a closely defined and specialist topic is easier to write.
Let me illustrate what I mean: I could probably write a start on say for example 'Newton's laws of motion.' because it's a topic I understand and can easily research and produce comprehensive start on the topic. However, if I tried to do 'Engineering.' then there is no chance at all that I can be fully comprehensive. Even though I understand and have studied Engineering, I have not covered all aspects of the subject in my studies and I would doubt that many other people would consider themselves to have a comprehensive understanding of that broad a subject. By focusing on the big Subjects, we may be slowing the creation of new content. Derek Harkness 04:13, 28 February 2007 (CST)
A considerable number of hard working, knowledgeable, and independent editors having been assembled. there is no need for centralized guidance about what they should do. Those working groups who want to organize this systematically will do so. A good way of getting articles written is to have people make use of their particular interests. -- DavidGoodman