'Move Along Now, Nothing to See Here': the Private Discussion Spheres of Wikipedia
The enforcement mechanisms on Wikipedia enact an internal conflict between Wikipedia’s open, inclusive ethos and its organizational reliance on power, hierarchy and punishment. Wikipedia resolves the conflict by burying the punitive practices behind a series of mechanisms that make them less visible to newer users. The characteristics of the MediaWiki software and different use patterns of different Wikipedia contributors join to form the mechanisms that mediate the conflict between the aspirational and organizational goals. The split between main pages and talk pages, the fragmentation of a single discussion to multiple pages, and the use of notice boards, create private spaces for administrators and advanced users to act away from the eyes of new users. While these elitist consequences obviously go against the open ethos of Wikipedia, they give valuable tools in the hands of administrators keeping Wikipedia interruption-free. Therefore, these mechanisms present an important challenge to the community - one that requires it to rethink both Wikipedia’s technical infrastructure and its normative vision.