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Work Group One -- WGOne

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Work Group One -- WGOne

This is the place for posts/comments by people who have self-identified into the group mainly concerned with growing the sustainability of PlanetMath.org itself.
-- Carl


> I still think that such activities are a good idea for PM in
> the long term; the trick as always is not demotivating and
> upsetting people who are already contributing "for free."
> I'm not entirely sure how to go about this, but we know that
> major nonprofits already manage to get along with a mix of
> paid and volunteer staff. Perhaps insights lie there.
>

One way to proceed is pretty clear to me; as the quantity and
quality of dialogue increases, people will be able to sort out
their differrences in a constructive fashion rather than getting
upset with each other and stepping over each others toes. Monday's
discussion was definitely a big step in that direction --- too bad
you weren't able to make it Aaron, because we would have appreciated
your (and others') thoughts on the matters we disussed but,
hopefully, you will be able to make it next Monday. As I see it,
while there may always be disagreement on such matters --- the
balance between paid and volunteer work is the sort of think that
would presumably be under constant review and be adjusted
continually as the organization grows and needs change --- the
important thing is that we have good communications channels and
basic understandings which will allow us to decide such questions
in a constructive manner as they arise. Along these lines, Carl's
and Marnita's technique of pairing people with conflicting visions
seems like a useful technique.

"One way to proceed is pretty clear to me; as the quantity and
quality of dialogue increases, people will be able to sort out
their differrences in a constructive fashion rather than getting
upset with each other and stepping over each others toes".

Perhaps the quantity and quality of dialogue would increase more rapidly if that dialogue migrated from the wiki to the forums. The wiki has overwhelmingly rejected as a venue of communication by all but a negligible portion of the PM community:

"So, out of the 20 "most influential" people, only 7 contribute to the wiki (to different degrees), and 2 of those have expressed mixed feelings about it. I will not attempt to say who of the above is actually involved or not in PlanetMath organization, because that is hard to say. Also, I do not know the reasons of the above to not contribute in the wiki. However, I still believe that the number of users who do contribute to the Wiki is rather low, even alarming, which is why I brought up the issue of the wiki in the first place. So we should investigate why people are not participating there and I invite everyone again to express their opinion of the wiki, so we can improve the community.--alozano"

Of the 16715 PM users, more than 350 of whom have a score of at least one hundred, only 7 use the wiki regularly. Consider, on the other hand, the response to the forum message http://planetmath.org/?op=getmsg&id=13954. As I see it, the primary purpose of the wiki is to stifle community input and limit discussion.

"As I see it, the primary purpose of the wiki is to stifle
community input and limit discussion."

That certainly isn't the intended purpose! Personally, I
think the forums are a pretty lousy medium for any kind of
conversation or collaborative writing process that is supposed
to last. The fact that a large fraction of people are not
interested in what is going on at the wiki may actually have
much more to do with the relationship between the people and
the content of the discussions than the particular features
of that medium. Wiki is a decent medium for producing
written artifacts that can both endure and continue to
change over time.

On a slightly more personal note: I check the recent changes
page on the wiki pretty much every day, so writing there is
probably a pretty good way to engage me in discussion or
debate, if you're ever interested in doing that.

The most ideal situation would probably be a new discussion
medium -- at least, that's my view, and I've been working on
producing one...

"The fact that a large fraction of people are not
interested in what is going on at the wiki may actually have
much more to do with the relationship between the people and
the content of the discussions than the particular features
of that medium".

Given the underwhelming response to my diatribe, I am compelled to agree.

Part of "sustainability" would be understanding what PlanetMath
is about -- not just now, but with some reasonable guesses about
the future.

I just wrote a wiki post about this topic, currently at the end of
the page here:

http://planetx.cc.vt.edu/AsteroidMeta/A_note_from_some_members_of_Planet...

I am still very interested in increasing the breadth, depth, and impact of the "math" activities on PM.

Recently we had a debate on here regarding supporting a small amount of paid work to add some entries on topics that weren't covered well in the current collection, or at least to survey the collection and identify these "weak" areas.

I still think that such activities are a good idea for PM in the long term; the trick as always is not demotivating and upsetting people who are already contributing "for free." I'm not entirely sure how to go about this, but we know that major nonprofits already manage to get along with a mix of paid and volunteer staff. Perhaps insights lie there.

I also think projects such as a concerted effort to adapt Wikipedia entries (or portions of them) is a valid project in the purview of the PM organization.

The core efforts will and should always be volunteer-based; the question is how to best leverage them into something that increases PM's impact (possibly dramatically).

apk

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