My brief and positive review of Joseph Reagle’s Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia has just been published on Jotwell. Here are some excerpts:
Why is Wikipedia’s culture so important? Nazis. …
Reagle convincingly argues that there is a crucial link between Wikipedia’s core substantive commitment (“NPOV,” short for “Neutral Point of View”) and its core procedural commitment (“Assume Good Faith”). NPOV refuses to privilege any one version of “the truth” and thus requires articles to fairly present all sides. Assume Good Faith and its related norms of patience, civility, and humor, refuse to privilege any person. Everyone — even neo-Nazis — is welcome to edit. Open-mindedness, about arguments and about people, is thus central to Wikipedia’s culture.
The picture of Wikipedia that emerges is messy, contentious, and productive. Conflict is routine; NPOV and Assume Good Faith are sometimes honored only in the breach. Arguments over small matters like naming conventions may seem like a tremendous waste of energy. But this endless series of discursive crises, small and large, in fact keeps Wikipedians engaged in articulating — in producing — the spirit of collaboration.