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Submissions/Chiara Ohoven and the strange tale of German Leistungsethik

From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

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Chiara Ohoven and the strange tale of German Work Ethic

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Author of the submission

Dirk Franke

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Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

Chiara Ohoven is a German C-List-personality. Generally known to most Germans, but mainly for her botched attempt of an DIY-beauty operation. In the German wikipedia she is mainly known for an epic battle on the deletion discussion, lasting altogether for 16 months, and including nine requests for deletion or deletion reviews. A battle that finally led to the deletion of Chiara Ohoven amidst the notion, that she has done nothing valuable.

New Editors across project, the German Wikipedia showed a decline in 2004/2005 and could never recover

The German wikipedia is still the second largest language edition in the Wikipedia universe. According to Jimbo Wales, the German Wikipedia is the best Wikipedia, and for several other commentators, of the larger ones, it is the most scientific and ecpetic project and the least playful project. The German Wikipedia is the Wikipedia with the strongest notability guidelines, the Wikipedia project, that does not like Stubs and has a hands-free-shoot-first policy towards possible trolls and vandals. The German Wikipedia was the first to introduce stable article versions. But at the same time, some results of the Editor Trends Study were especially dismal for the Germans. and at least for the net-activist-part of the German population it has a reputation as being stubborn, intolerant, ignorant and especially unfriendly towards Newbies.

My thesis is, that this is caused by deeper-lying mentalities of the German Wikipedia community. The German wikipedia displays attitudes that can be found in all Wikipedia-communities, but are especially prevalent in the German project: a strong bias towards higher culture and the scientific point of view and a bias towards the Work Ethic. Work Ethic meaning that work and success is a moral value in itself. These can be seen at the discussions on Chiara Ohoven (and other society-people, mainly women) that don't do work in a traditional sense. So discussions about notability are always negotiations about moral values, about how much "somebody has done." In these value-scale scientific achievements score as high as achievements in sports, much higher than achievements in fields not dominated by male-centered-work ethic.

This preference for some kinds of achievement about others, displays itself in internal community discussions as well. Discussions about vandalism, sysop-status and similar are always also negotiations about moral values. The deciding values establishing the worthiness of an edit or an editor is in the German Wikipedia neither interest nor competence, but work and an adherence to Work Ethic.

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)

People and Community

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