Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wikipedia mea culpa

I've picked at Wikipedia quality issues a few times of late, such as in this post. Andrew Orlowski has a nice piece in The Register on Wikipedia quality in which he notes
Encouraging signs from the Wikipedia project, where co-founder and überpedian Jimmy Wales has acknowledged there are real quality problems with the online work.

Criticism of the project from within the inner sanctum has been very rare so far, although fellow co-founder Larry Sanger, who is no longer associated with the project, pleaded with the management to improve its content by befriending, and not alienating, established sources of expertise. (i.e., people who know what they're talking about.)

Meanwhile, over at Smalltalk Tidbits, Industry Rants, James Robertson argues that it's really hard to identify true expertise, especially where topics are controversial. For example, historians still argue about the origins of World War I much less recent U.S. presidential elections.

I can't argue with that. Nonetheless, many of Wikipedia's flaws that I've seen aren't about divining hard-to-understand causes and effects but about pretty basic matters of fact--and a lot of really bad writing.
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