My view of general WP editing difficulties:
WP articles do have a lead paragraph, and sensible guidelines for what to put there. WP also has a structure for the use of main articles leading to more specialized articles. This is not new--the need for it has been known for several centuries. What is lacking is the skill in applying it.
Writing an abstract or other summary is different from writing the article. WP "editors" tend not only to put too much in the summary, but to put in whatever special point is close to their heart. Using the paragraphs of the main article as starting points for the subsidiary ones is not foolproof. One can't just do it automatically --they will generally need adjustment to context; but if not automatic they inevitably get out of phase. Further, people work on a subsidiary article (or the main article) as if they were independent, and is very hard to keep track of them all to make the necessary corrections. Some groups of editors are working on specific large sections, but the accumulated mess will take such effort to sort out, that it might be better to begin anew.
For example, there has never been agreement on whether there are 3 or 4 or 5 basic "kingdoms" of life; this is handled by letting the people working on each article do it differently. This is in effect a fork, but not explicitly stated as such--what you will think of the subject will depend on where you start. An explicit fork would be both clearer and more neutral. Neutral doesn't mean neutered, but neither does it mean chaos. (Sept 27, 2006)
Ownership of fields
In some areas, there are such teams--the one I know best is the one in Chemistry. They are not elected, they are self appointed. In this subject, it seems to work very well--possibly because it is impossible to contribute to chemistry articles, whether constructively or destructively, without actually knowing some chemistry. Most WPedians, like non-WPedian, are unreasonably afraid of the subject, and refuse to learn the language. For any who do, the expertise there is quite sufficient, and well enough organized to keep vandals at bay. I do know the language, and when I came here, I thought I'd help, but I found that other areas needed the help much more.
- There are other areas where there are similar expert teams, but they do not work very well, in either of two directions: In some areas, those who think they are experts, but with peculiar ideas, try to use WP to propagate their ideas, and can paralyze the work. But in others, the conventional experts organize to keep out those who have slightly different but valid views. I'm more afraid of the second situation--poor edits and biased edits can be fixed, but the absence of edits cannot. It is almost impossible to break such a clique.
- Citizendium has some similar problems. In at least one area I am familiar with, the quality of the articles is less than it could be, because the most influential editors may be good scientists, but do not know how to write articles that will also be interesting. I fear it will end up accurate enough, but very dull.