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To debate by edit is a wiki best practice and part of the political methodology of wiki. Debate by edit means that you do not allow any kind of external (to the wiki) revision and decision process overrule what is actually in the wiki. For any document or collaborative effort which uses a wiki, it is akin to "eating ones own dogfood".

All interested persons are expected pay attention (using page watch or recent changes) and either abide by the change or change it back/more.

Why use "debate by edit"?
It is the most effective form of feedback. - rather than spending time discussing back and forth what someone might change, just let them change it.

  • It is the fastest way to reach consensus, it doesn't even require a meeting.
  • It encourages evolution. Good ideas survive, bad ones do not.
  • As long as one follows the guidelines almost anything can be debated by edit. Note: All guidelines are formed by this method.


Assume Consent: Operationally, debate by edit facilitates faster turnaround on decision and governance process because you don't necessarily have to wait for approval to impliment changes. An edit to a wiki page is both an advisory of intent and request for feedback. If no feedback is received, consent may be assumed. This protocol of course does not prevent foolhardy or stupid changes, but it does put the onus on the inactive to become active if they wish to have influence.

"Fair Warning" vs. "Gridlock" Depending on nature the edit, editors may want to issue a supplemental "heads up" by email or other means. The amount of warning that is fair is directly proportional to the significance of the changes. Um, like, use common sense dude. If you feel that the warning given is fair or don't have a clue how to warn, then proceed boldy, because it is a wiki (all changes can be reverted).

Human nature is such that if even you give fair warning and declare your intentions before you go ahead, you are still going to catch heck from people who were too distracted or lazy to give timely feedback when it was asked for. Smart organizations put strict limits on this kind of pushback, because unless you give the authority for doers to do by default, the organization will succumb to gridlock.


Page last modified on Monday 04 May, 2009 20:17:38 GMT-0000

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