Esperanza, a Wikipedia community organization formed in August 2005, was declared 'inactive' this week, after a deletion discussion on the organization. The discussion, which followed a prior discussion in November, attracted 600 edits and over 200 users.
In the nomination, made on Thursday, Dev920 noted that despite reform proposals introduced after the first discussion, "as I had predicted, the momentum of change died and many of the overhaul discussions have been effectively abandoned without ever reaching a consensus. Little reform of the kind promised at the MfD has happened, and now seems unlikely to, with many members of Esperanza now having left." She further noted the bureaucracy of the organization:
Discussion has since now intensively focused on the creation of the new charter. This brings up another impetus for my nomination for deletion: Esperanza is thoroughly unwikipedian in its desire for endless bureaucracy. At the time of the MfD, Esperanza has a seven member council who held closed meetings on IRC that made binding decisions about Esperanza. Any contentious decision was to be passed up to them. There was no consensus building, no discussion, nothing. This has been a problem from Esperanza’s founding, and it seems to be a intrinsic part of Esperanza that cannot be removed. When these points were raised in the overhaul, it was repeated over and over again by virtually every Esperanzan that they needed the leadership, that bureaucracy was needed and that Esperanza would collapse into a mess without it. ... One person even said "I just believe that we cannot all decide policies, we need leadership."
Dev920 also attempted to rebut the common objection from the first MfD discussion, that Esperanza's programs made it worthy of inclusion:
Several users have pointed out that Esperanza has useful programs, like Collaboration of the Month. To quote Quadell, "The Esperanza CotM is a marginally good thing, I suppose, but it's the only collaboration type that is defined by who edits the article, not by what article is about, and I don't see that as a good precedent." The same goes for the Esperanza barnstar, only awarded to good Esperanzans. This simply sets the Esperanzan community further apart from the rest of us, for no reason. It works by who people are, not what they do, which goes utterly against Wikipedia’s principles. The Tutorial drive is creating and keeping helpful information that would be easier to find if it were placed in the Help articles for the rest of us. This highlights a perennial and worrying problem about Esperanza: that they constantly set themselves apart. They say they give Wikipedians hope – but who has any interaction with Esperanza who isn’t Esperanzan? ... Esperanzans, at least the active ones, see themselves as Esperanzans first and foremost. We have to delete Esperanza for their own good, to show them what Wikipedia is like outside the wall of their sub-culture.
The discussion attracted a flurry of editors, and generated 313 kilobytes of discussion on the MFD and its talk page. Among those who believed the organization should be kept were Ikiroid:
I agree with the central reason of this MFD, which condemns the cabalistic attitude of having a members-only club on Wikipedia. It is frusterating to see so many beliefs that this program is out to perfect or destroy wikipedia. There is nothing in Esperanza which could possibly destroy wikipedia. Some people in it have particularly aggressive attitudes toward it, but Esperanza is not built on anything malicious. ... I want to say that I really like what Esperanza has done, and I still like the idea, despite the thoughts put out here. There have been a lot of good ideas, like coaching, support, and recognition programs which reinforce the community. In my mind, the only reason these programs were really that lacking was because we didn't expand them beyond the members. If anything, us members should be the ones managing these programs, and we should reach out and help those who deserve it but haven't specifically asked it. It will be quite a loss when esperanza disappears because it has done a lot of good for people.
Esperanza is a collaboration to help and motivate users. Their goal, to make Wikipedia a friendly and helpful place, is not impossible, simply hard to reach and forever growing. While it will never be gained, their one small effort works wonders for our encyclopedia, which is essentially community-based. Without wishing to discount the nominator(s) for their reasons for requesting deletion, I do think Wikipedia seriously needs a group of editors whose goal is to promote harmonious editing and community. In an ideal world, both Wiki and real, if everyone was warm and helpful to other users, there would be no use for Esperanza.
The debate weighed overwhelmingly toward closing the organization, with many current and former members and leaders endorsing its end; however, much of the debate was about how the closure should take place. While some favored outright deletion of all Esperanza pages, others felt that simply marking the organization as inactive was enough. A compromise that gained steam was the "Messedrocker solution" (named after its creator, Messedrocker), to redirect the subpages to the main page, but keep the pages for their edit history. The discussion was closed on Monday, January 1, by Mailer diablo. The decision was made to close the organization, and replace the organization's main page with an explanation of the organization's history and demise, while retaining most of its pages per the Messedrocker solution. In his closure, Mailer Diablo wrote:
The result of the debate was to decentralize Esperanza. I see this as the only viable way to minimize the pain between all parties involved, and understanding that this MfD will have wider, serious implications for other similiar organisations in future. What do I mean by decentralization? The one main concern brought up in this MfD is the membership, the structure of this organisation. Its programs are good-intentioned, and they are supposed to be avaliable to any editor on Wikipedia. This is also the cause of the perceived "better than thou" and "cabalism" claimed by members, and the lack of consensus building. This means as from now, the membership, council and associated pages are to immediately go. They will be salted. This is a warning to all editors that existing projects must be open and transparent to all editors at all times, not to be overly hierarchical lest they are to meet a similiar fate as Esperanza.
All programs will be migrated to its associated projects and shall be open to every editor on Wikipedia. The existing program pages should be redirected to its new project page rather than Esperanza itself. ... They are allowed to survive in their new forms and may be MfD-ed seperately if nessecary. Messedrocker Solution will be applied to the rest of the pages; deletion not required. Esperanza is too big to be deleted without leaving many red-links and making newcomers wonder. A new essay page describing its history, philosophy and its fate is to replace the existing main Esperanza page. Its talkpage and archives should be clearly marked that its subsequent discussion is only about the essay only. I do not expect the organisation to revive, but hopefully this result will be something that is progressive and less controversial.
The organization was founded in August 2005 by JCarriker, who has since expressed his opinion that Esperanza had 'failed', due to incivility within its membership as well as within Wikipedia as a whole. He noted that "Wikipedia can easily survive without Esperanza, but it cannot survive without civility and the sense of community cooperation that the building of this encyclopedia is founded on." This lack of civility was part of the reason behind the organization's creation. (see archived story). Even early in Esperanza's history, there were worries about the organization's bureaucracy. Gadfium noted, "I think this is a bad idea. Wikipedia does not need a cabal." In response, a message was posted on the Esperanza page: "One of the most brought up reasons for not joining Esperanza is that there's too much bureaucracy. Please note that most of the government things are for fun- it's not really a true authority." After internal struggles, and continued questions over the group's intended goals, it was nominated for deletion in November 2006; while the discussion was closed by Kim Bruning as "no consensus", members of Esperanza began examining the group's projects. Some, including the coffee lounge, and the user page award, were deleted during this time in other deletion discussions. After the reforms planned for the organization were not implemented, the second MfD was instituted last week.
Esperanza did have some positive contributions; pages split from Esperanza to their own project pages included administrator coaching, stress alerts, and reach out. The calendar of birthdays and other events was merged to the Birthday Committee, and the Esperanza Collaboration of the Week was simply superseded by the existing Article Creation and Improvement Drive. All other programs have been disbanded, along with the organization itself.