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Here is a very nice but longish explanation of Why Wiki Works: [1]

There's another sort of explanation on the Wikipedia page: [2]

And here's an older discussion of the same topic in relation to anonymous BBS pages: [3] to paraphrase: The drama and hatred you see on semi-anonymous forums is as bad as it gets; with total anonymity, you'll probably be better off. If you can't force people to use their real names, you should opt for a totally anonymous forum.

Wiki works under the assumption that when someone does careful, well-written work, most people are reluctant to mess it up.

pic And before someone writes, "Well what about vandals" -- yes, a very few people in our society do vantalize creative work. The above paragraph has the word "most" in it. You may want to see the DefinitionOfMost.

Also see TipsForContributors