WikiPoweredArgument (ThoughtStorms)

Last week BillSeitz and I started a political argument which saw him chucking references to pages on his wiki onto this one.

Several things about this struck me.

If Bill was a less honourable character, he could, of course, try to vandalise my wiki. He could cut off supply-lines, diving into the text and wiping out connections or redirecting them. (Not totally simple on wiki because NamesOfPagesAreConcrete but nevertheless, major disruption is possible.)

What he might do, and what might also be within the rules of good-sportsmanship in Wiki-war, is to booby-trap pages. To go to the heart of my argument. To pages which seem secure. And which I automatically refer other readers to. And plant links to incriminating, compelling counter-evidence there. For example, when I started the page PovertyIsIncreasing, he subverted it with a link to BillSeitz:NormanBorlaug.

But at the same time, every link and argument he drops into my wiki enriches it, and makes it a better map of the territory. After the skirmish, when I regroup, I now have those resources. Unable to reciprocate, I haven't enriched his text, except where he has to manually pillage or scavange my pages for links to add to his.


How did you let yourself (or why better did you make yourself) go into the ArgumentIsWar metaphor? In a wiki that seems like a happy way to lose, since you can never really "win" an argument, only cease updating pages for the moment. --EdwardVielmetti

Good question. (Welcome by the way, Edward. Want to fill in a page about yourself? :-) I don't think of argument as war, or primarily about winning (See also ValueOfArgument, ArgueAgainstMe). But I guess I do see it as using conflict. And I suppose theory of war is a body of theory about conflict. If you like, think of this page as just one which explores the metaphor to see if we get anything interesting out of it.

-- PhilJones


See also :