It is better to ask forgiveness than to beg permission

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It is better to ask forgiveness than to beg permission

It is better to ask forgiveness than to beg permission.

—Grace Hopper

be bold / Wikinomics ( Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

Being bold is necessary advice in wikis: most people aren't accustomed to editing each other's sentences. In a wiki participants must be bold because it is only by many iterative edits that mass intelligence can occur and wisdom can triumph over verbosity. If we are bold, the content will evolve. [...] Editors should:

  • add things they know to be true
  • remove or change things they know to be false
  • improve bad writing
  • refactor content that is in the wrong place
Being bold allows challenges to social norms or commonly accepted ideas and facilitates the pursuit of truth. Each editor contributes "truth as I know it" and after a decent sample of people have done so, the surviving content approximates the truth proper. In society, politeness, fear, institutions and hierarchies often prevent us from speaking the truth and correcting things we know to be wrong. Wiki creates a cultural venue where it is possible to act otherwise.

Being bold vs. being rude

The difference between being bold and being rude is relative to the community participating. Being bold increases the likelihood of innovation, but also increases the risks to group cohesion. If editor 2 substantially or completely rejects an editor 1 contribution (known as a revert) the editor 1 may be offended. In an ideal situation editor 2 and editor 1 will happily and ruthlessly edit each others work until a clear consensus or dissensus emerges. If either party becomes insulted, or decides it is a waste of time, collaboration stops, and the mutual benefit will be lost. Thus each community will draw the line between bold and rude differently. In a workplace environment the existing off-line social cues will help establish and reinforce this demarcation. In an on-line community the difference depends on values expressed by the community. If the community values diversity of individual opinions any edit perceived to be interfering with someone's "voice" may be problematic. If the community values brevity then a more ruthless editing style will be appreciated.

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