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Democracy and VotesEdit
Wikibooks is most certainly not a democracy, and attempts at votes in the past have been met with poor success rates. I'm not talking about success in terms of the affirmative side carrying the day, but instead in terms of a reasonable decision being reached. Some pages do very well with a voting system, or at least a pseudo-voting system. Pages such as WB:FB and WB:VFD do well with a binary SUPPORT / OBJECT system, because people feel more compelled to provide their rationale on these pages. Even a neutral vote that is very poignant can be very compelling for or against a particular course of action. Featured books and votes for deletion are relatively low impact, and people don't mind participating in these with gusto because the outcomes really don't matter in the big sense.
Situations where there is a nomination and then a vote, such as FB, VFD, or RFA, there is already a nomination on the table that supporters may agree with without having to reiterate all their opinions on the matter. Saying simply "support" is analogous to saying "I agree with the nomination, and have nothing further to add". The burden falls on the opposition to not only say "i do not agree", but also to explain why.
User:Xixtas introduced a great idea when talking about the new What is Wikijunior policy: Instead of a binary vote, he created a series of templates that displayed a continuum of opinions. In this way people with only a vague objection could register that without having to be either "for" or "against". Likewise, people with only a vague sense of support could register that appropriately.
Where there are discreet options, however, there will always be a tendency to tabulate those opinions mathematically. Also, when you give people a set of available options, people may tend to incorrectly estimate their level of approval. For instance, a person's comments may signal a stronger and more well-thought-out objection then their vote would have indicated.
Problems: Finding SolutionsEdit
When presented with a problem, it is natural and common for people to present solutions. The community will mull the options, and then select one or none from among them. At least this is the ideal way of doing things, but in a consensus-driven community this is not usually the way it works out.
Given a proposed solution to a problem, some people will invariably say "no", and several people may follow that up with "here is my rational for my objection". However, if all solutions have been objected to in this way, then the community is stuck with both the problem and a complete inability to fix it. In essence, we are in a situation where the community has deemed all possible solutions to be worse then the problem, and instead of acting to fix it, the community has resigned itself to simply live with it. This despite the availablity of potential solutions, all of which are in a qualitative sense likely to be far better then the problem.
Objecting to a problem's solution, without supplying a different solution is akin to saying "You shouldn't fix the problem, and I am not going to help with it either". This is, perhaps, the single worst viewpoint, and one which should not only be ignored but likely also scorned. In wiki, all people are allowed to have an equal say, but there is also the equal power for all people to help make improvements. You cannot both say "We need something better" and "I am not willing to create/suggest/employ something better". While a particular solution may not be ideal, any solution is preferable to a grave enough problem.
The process of finding concensus and discussing an issue among the community is only good so far as it produces results. If it does not work, then we should throw it out period. Sometimes we need to be bold and just do things ourselves. The key is improvement and progress, and knowing what process to use to reach those goals is the most important lesson that we can learn.
The Enemy of my EnemyEdit
I care about this project, and want this project to succeed. Some people disagree with things that I want to do. Therefore, those people don't want the project to succeed, and are enemies of Wikibooks.
If you find yourself thinking like this, log off from your account and walk away from the computer. This attitude is never productive, never helpful, and is always absolutely wrong.