I believe that Dave Winer would give me a low one based on his reaction to my incorrect attribution of coining the term ‘unconference’ to him rather than Lenn Pryor in the unconference entry I started. Sorry about that Lenn!
John Robb points out that Dave could have easily made the edit in addition to just complaining about it. A few folks have jumped in to clean up the entry some more since Dave’s post.
I think the point here is not that I didn’t approach writing a wikipedia article like writing a research paper. The point is that I got the ball rolling in about 5 minutes for a topic that really deserved an entry. 20 other people can each spend five minutes improving it and eventually you’ll have a nice solid piece. Is this a bad thing?
Update: Dave responds in the comments to John’s post discussing his concerns with Wikipedia.
I think the point is that if someone went to that entry before those mythical 20 people improved it to become perfection, then all they can see is a flawed entry. And who can tell when an article is a “nice solid piece”?
No. It is a good thing.
I think people who criticize Wikipedia’s accuracy are extremely short-sighted. All history is a shared hallucination. The past is no longer here, so what we have exists only in our collective conciousness. Factual errors get printed in books, and these errors morph into facts in the minds of those who read them. History is written by the winners.
Politics is the process whereby you get people to believe things that you believe (or things that you want people to believe). It’s a dirty game. Perhaps the best way to win is not to play, but then you shouldn’t be upset when others do.
I already commented over on John Robb’s post, but to answer Paul’s question above, the tools are there that could make it very easy for a FireFox plug-in or other server-side tool layered on top of wikipedia to go look at the history and follow references to who’s editing what and how much work has been done to edit/refine and entry and the relevance/reputation of the editors and rated rankings by other users / inbound web links/citations and could provide a quick read/score on the niceness/solidity of any given piece. Perhaps this is a job for
Interesting that this debate is taking place on blogs and not on the article’s talk page, which is blank — isn’t the point of the talk page to showcase this back-and-forth that eventually leads to (usually, despite its detractors) rather accurate entries in Wikipedia? I don’t think it should be viewed as “authoritative” but Dave has a point that it usually is. (However, I agree that he should have fixed the error, or at least registered his concerns on the talk page. He could have still blogged about it, but it would have been more useful to make the entry on the article in itself.)
Ways to fix the system to make it more credible, if not accurate:
1) Have a required log-in system that at least requires email addresses and names (not the most secure registration process in the world but better than what they’ve had).
2) Have the system require an entry on an article’s talk page when making a change in order for the change to be accepted, no matter how small.
3) When an article has only had one writer/editor, the system should say that on its page, so that people immediately understand that only one “viewpoint” is being represented.
4) Make the comments/talk page more prominent so that people immediately understand that they can view/add comments to an entry.
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how about Wikipedia having a TrackBack tab and auto-flagging on a main page that an entry is being actively discussed on the blogosphere? That would provide another way to link this debate to the article.
Sounds like a great idea, in a spam-free world….
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