Wikocracy

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About

The Wikocracy (wikocracy.com) web site was an experiment to see if government could be successfully redefined using only collaborative editing on a wiki. The domain was initially registered on 2006-02-25. Spam became rampant during July-September, and any attempt to keep up with it or make valid posts was apparently abandoned sometime during September. The wiki appears to have been taken down on 2007-10-27 although the domain is still registered through 2010 2012.

Spam edits were appearing at a rate of several per hour during the last few days before it was taken down; the last apparently-legitimate edit was on October 25, a single line in Spanish (the site was entirely English otherwise).

Analysis

There seem to have been two main reasons why it failed. The most deadly was the lack of an adequate spam filter. This allowed spam edits to overwhelm legitimate edits, which had already been trickling off, and discouraged further attempts to use the site.

A secondary but more fundamental problem (which nonetheless might have been solved over time) was the lack of any real structure for decision-making. Consider the following points:

  • The wiki started, more or less, with a body of existing law for participants to revise. This meant that rather than starting from first principles and arriving at a sound body of law derived from those principles, participants had to hack through an existing work produced via traditional means (i.e. legislative "sausage") and attempt to "patch" it piecemeal. Any principles justifying those revisions had to be worked out in situ, whilst dealing with the fact that they might be inconsistent with other areas of existing law not yet examined.
  • Very little attention was paid to basic principles upon which laws are ideally based; when disputes over legal language arose, then, there was no agreement on what principles that language was trying to enforce or encourage.
  • There does not appear to have been any formal structure for resolving disputes or arriving at consensus in the face of disagreement; the Help pages seem to address this issue solely by advising the use of MediaWiki's "talk" pages for discussing disagreements.