My last post produced a real onslaught of mail. It turns out that when it comes to community solutions in general and to wikipedia in paticular, people have no shortage of opinions. Curiously enough, it is the people who identified themselves as wikipedia contributors who were most likely to contend that the overall quality of information is subpar.
That's why I found CarlosT's comment interesting:
I've made some contributions to wikipedia on topics I really care about, and the motive has always been to improve the quality of those entries. I care about those topics enough that I want to make sure that the best, most accurate information is available. It's not so much for the joy in sharing information, but more that if a source of information is available, then I want the things that I care about to be represented and represented correctly.
I suspect that the motivations are similar for other contributors.
Maybe it's the people who are most likely to scrutinize who are also the most likely to make contributions. Or the other way: the people who make contributions are the ones watching, waiting to see if their contributions stick.
So bringing it back to something relevant to our projects, then. If there's one area where we know people have a hard time reaching consensus, it's around language use and the standards that govern it. Forget sort of nuanced stuff like pronunciation or vocabulary choice. We don't even have to dig that deep to find disagreements, disagreements that have ramifications all across the software space and beyond. There are regions of the world where there's regular flip-flop around such basic standards of language use as which writing system is used to record the language. Latin? Cyrillic? Arabic? In some areas of Central Asia it's all three.
I'm wondering how our customers will choose to manifest these variables in the solutions that they use our tools to create, and what we'll be able to learn from those solutions that in turn are actually used once they've been created. And I can't wait to see how the community editorial process is likely to work as those communities iterate on the solutions that they choose to adopt.