Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wikipedia Data and Anecdotes

I like both data (that is generalized data from lots of people) and anecdotes (specific data from a few). Her's a bit of both about a topic that I follow with interest-Wikipedia. Why the interest? Well, for one thing, I find it a personally useful resource. For another, I consider it a bit of a bellwether of interactive collaboration.

Here's the home page for the stats. Diving down a bit, it looks like there might be at least some suggestion that the rate of new articles generation is slowing (at least in English) although I'd hesitate to draw any real conclusions before seeing more months of data.

On the anecdotal side, Tim Bray points some of the usual problems:
Dave Winer's right, the Wikipedia's article on RSS is a crock. Dave's gripe is that it's "highly political", mine is that it's just wrong: for example, the introductory bit suggests that full-content feeds are impossible. Also, it's badly-organized. Dave's problem is going to be harder to address because RSS itself is highly political; but at least the political narrative should be coherent. Anyhow, it would be nice if someone level-headed were to take responsibility for it. I currently ride herd on two or three other articles and that's all my Wikipedia cycles. It's not as hard as you might think, and here's why: the kinds of people who want to put stupid, irrelevant, badly-written junk in the Wikipedia in my experience are easily discouraged. Just hang in, keep on fixing things they break and explaining why in a calm tone of voice on the Discussion page, and pretty soon they go away.

I'm not sure I fully share Tim's "it will work out" faith. That said, I think it reinforces the view of Wikipedia as a valuable resource-but not a totally dependable one.

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