There is no deadline so every second is one: on anxiety, perfectionism, and Wikimedia projects

It is a beautiful Winter Sunday morning in the French countryside. I’m surrounded by amazing people, and we are working on Wikimedia France’s core values. For me, it’s excellency. Being part of a chapter is about pushing forward Wikimedia projects, seeing what is missing and fighting for it. I stare in confusion when the result comes out : pleasure.

It’s one of these lazy morning. I drink my coffee while reading to the latest discussion in the village pump of the French Wikipedia. An argument of quality vs quantity, about « finishing » existing articles before starting new ones. I roll my eyes while taking another sip: no article is « finish ». All our articles are imperfect work-in-progress. Some are just « good enough » while others are bad.

I found some pictures on Flickr, they are educational, and under a free licence. I put them on Commons, and some on Wikipedia, but without asking myself, my Twitter followers, and part of the Wikimedia community, lot of questions about evaluation and neutral point of view.

Plenty of artworks are on Commons and not on Wikidata. We have lot of information about them, sometimes in {{Artwork}} templates, more often only in categories. Translation of categories into Wikidata statements are tricky. It’s a balance of automation and by-hand work. Like, you can expect everything under [[Category:Paintings by Rembrandt]] to be paintings, created by Rembrandt, and it is mainly true, except for the times it is not, like when it is stamps or sculptures based on his paintings. I often spend hours wondering if my choices on what is by-hand and what is automatic are the right ones, if I work at the right scale.

Danaides_by_John_William_Waterhouse,_1903
John William Waterhouse The Danaides

There is no deadline on Wikimedia projects, and we have so, so much to do. Maybe I should grab my camera, go outside, and take decent pictures of my city. Or I should work with my local LGBT community and do an edit-a-thon. Or work at a national level, contact centers and convince them to share some of their archives. Or I should work on my tools backlog. Gosh, I haven’t seen the admin discussions on French Wikipedia for months, I should give a helpful hand. And I have so many books, I just should take some time and write articles. Or I should look at the latest mass-upload on Commons and put pictures on Wikipedia. Or I should enrich the French Wiktionnary about Gaumais, the language of my ancestors, to my knowledge I am the only one on Wikimedia projects who knows about Gaumais.  What is the most important ? Where do I have the most value ? Oh, I guess I should work on that friendly space policy at Wikimedia France, I have lot of experience on what works and what doesn’t on other spaces, I would be so useful there.

A small voice in my head tells me to do whatever I like. That whatever I do is useful and appreciated. That I don’t have to be useful, and especially The Most Useful Possible, at every possible second. Perfection does not exist as a destination. Why should I worry so much about meeting it as a journey ? Just do a step, or bake some cookies. Wikimedia projects don’t need you, everything you do is a precious gift, so don’t worry about not giving enough. Because you are. Enough. So, what sounds the most fun thing to do ?

I stare at my internal voice, with (a little) less confusion.

Painting : James Sant Courage, Anxiety and Despair: Watching the Battle

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