Sustained Interest is the Key to Success for Wikipedia Equality
Let me concede one thing. I don’t believe we will achieve all our goals about Wikipedia Equality in 2017. The notability policy almost certainly won’t be gone in the next twelve months. In fact, I cannot guarantee that we will have substantial progress in this period at all, although I do hope we get somewhere at least.
Every worthwhile victory in history was hard fought. And part of this is having to fight the long fight, play the long game. If you have studied enough history, you would have noticed that, in the history of humanity, no substantial movement has managed to march to victory within one year or less. On the other hand, movements that hang around for long enough succeed more often than not, despite early difficulties. Hence, movements to change the world are like games of attrition. If the protagonists give up too soon, they forfeit the success they would otherwise have had. But what makes the difference between movements that carry on, and movements that fizzle out?
Besides studying history, I have also observed several movements up close. The marriage equality movement is perhaps the one I am most familiar with. As of this writing, marriage equality has been achieved in the US (where the movement started), the UK, and some other Western nations. Meanwhile, according to a brief look at Twitter and Google News results, the movement is quite active in Australia and Northern Ireland at the moment. In fact, similar research at different times in the previous decade would tell you that marriage equality has always been quite active in the news, at least in some countries. News and discussion on marriage equality continued to be very heated in the US right up until 2015, and in Australia marriage equality has been a top news topic every year for the past eight years. In other words, the marriage equality movement grew and thrived because it was able to generate sustained attention. This has been especially important in countries where the fight for marriage equality has been protracted, like the US and Australia.
So what lessons does marriage equality hold for Wikipedia equality? The answer is obvious. There needs to be sustained interest and discussion. We need to spread the awareness and start the discussion in the wider community, and then keep the conversation going so that the movement can continue to grow. As I previously said, there has been quite some interest in reforming the Notability policy in the past decade, but all of it came in bursts of discussion and then abandonment. This has meant that nobody has been able to get the ball rolling at all. The change that needs to happen is that people who believe in Wikipedia equality need to keep the conversation going, like the marriage equality activists have.