Too Good For Feedback

This was prompted by the (excellent I thought) ClassicalMusicMyths.

It's already been touched on in DeathOfThePage and ArgumentFromSilence but one of the really big differences between writing a page on Wiki and writing a piece of software using XP/ED is that sometimes, if you do a really good job, you get the same feedback as if you did a really lousy job - complete silence. With physical HumanBeings as end users to deliver to you might get a hug, a good meal or at the other extreme a boot out of the door.

The lack of positive feedback is I guess partly because a twee "Thank you, that was so good! -- WayneCool" tends not only to look very uncool but ruin the very quality of whatever it is you're appreciating. But perhaps the really perverse consequence is that people don't know if silence is saying "excellent" or "shut up" and a lot of Wiki discussion tends to migrate towards mediocre or low quality pages - like many WikiOnWiki pages perhaps?

Should we use other people's home pages more to show appreciation and advertise or recommend what we think are their greatest contributions to Wiki? -- RichardDrake

That is a good idea. Write a paragraph about what you like about the person or think are his or her significant contributions, and refer to pages you like.

Show honest, sincere appreciation. --DaleCarnegie

Thanks for the positive comments. It must by own token have been a pretty mediocre suggestion! The Dale Carnegie quote also reminds me of George Burns' quip: "Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you've got it made."

I've been thinking more about this strange WikiFeedbackProblem? overnight. The key thing with EvolutionaryDelivery of software is that what's good gets used the most and thus you get the most feedback about it - about all the things wrong with it in fact, or perhaps more politely the extensions and improvements that are now seen as vital because people are using it. Mediocre stuff isn't used for long and isn't even criticized for long (unless it's really MissionCriticalMediocreStuff? of course. But I digress.)

What's key about the WikiFeedbackProblem? then is not merely the lack of personal encouragement when that's due (although I think that's an important aspect) but the fact that good subjects for discussion are killed off by a higher than average start and mediocre discussion of mediocre source material starts to predominate. There isn't an effective "survival of the fittest" operating in the same way as software ED. And I don't think this problem is simply down to RecentChanges or ThreadMode (those traditional whipping boys for WikiFailures of all kinds).

Any higher quality ideas than mine on all this? -- RichardDrake

As always, I think we need better technology than Ward's Wiki provides. Something alone the lines of SlashDot's moderation would be a start - when your comment gets moderated up or down, you get an idea what people think even if there are no comments. (This is what I am currently looking at in my own wiki-like system.) -- DaveHarris

Seems to me that this is a human problem, not a technical one. It seems likely that the moderator needs to be a human - and who wants the input of a computer anyway? If someone is willing to comment/moderate on every conversation on wiki, they'd be doing it. As, in this case, I am here. --RonJeffries

Why aren't you willing to comment/moderate more often? Because it is too much work, and often just adds noise. Can we reduce the work and noise? These are technology questions. -- DaveHarris

Could have a "click if you like this page" button. Combine with a % tally of people who clicked Like It / total people who opened the page.

Better yet, keep a list of favorite pages on your homepage. Then the number of back references gives the "popularity", and it also increases the chance that someone browsing will come across this page you like."Click if you like this page" seems to be a good idea. Justin Philips

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