Yesterday, Wikipedia pushed out a new typography look-and-feel—and in the process, managed to irritate a few people. I was a bit surprised, though, at who weighed in on this one. First, a confession:
I’m not sure that I would have noticed, if I’d just stumbled across the site as a casual reader.
That may be because of my computer/os/browser setup, or maybe I’m just blind to this stuff?—?but there it is. I’m a luddite who might not have noticed.
So who were the complainers? “Certainly”, sez you (the informed, intelligent reader), “it’s the Wikimedia community. They’re notoriously hard to work with, and they’re whiny and obnoxious, right?”
Well, okay, partially right. Some of them are whiny and obnoxious, and hard to work with. But we’re dealing with a couple of hundred thousand people here, remember, so some of them are pretty likely to fit that description, statistically speaking.
But the surprise for me? The surprise was the people who said that we should have pushed harder, and gone farther. They say that we let our community push us around.
But see, here’s the thing: most of the time, that’s the way it’s supposed to work! They’re the community of authors, uploaders, creators, archivists, and curators who built the thing. They have enormous pride of ownership. They have skin in the game.
So should we listen to what they say, and let them be the final word, and make all decisions? Obviously not. Wikipedia’s editor stats are just beginning to recover from a partially technology-driven user dive. We were stagnant, and needed new tech. We’ve just started to reverse the editor decline. We now have world class designers and typographers on staff. We should listen to them. But we shouldn’t discount the will of the editing community in this either.
They built the damn thing, remember?