Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems | The Register

Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems | The Register:

"Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems
Yes it's garbage, but it's delivered so much faster!
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco


Encouraging signs from the Wikipedia project, where co-founder and Uberpedian 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.)
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Meanwhile, criticism from outside the Wikipedia camp has been rebuffed with a ferocious blend of irrationality and vigor that's almost unprecedented in our experience: if you thought Apple, Amiga, Mozilla or OS/2 fans were er, ... passionate, you haven't met a wiki-fiddler. For them, it's a religious crusade.

In the inkies, Wikipedia has enjoyed a charmed life, with many of the feature articles about the five-year old project resembling advertisements. Emphasis is placed on the knowledgeable articles (by any yardstick, it's excellent for Klingon, BSD Unix, and Ayn Rand), the breadth of its entries (Klingon again), and process issues such as speed.

'We don't ever talk about absolute quality,' boasted one of the project's prominent supporters, Clay Shirky, a faculty tutor at NYU. But it's increasingly difficult to avoid the issue any longer.

Especially since Wikipedia's material is replicated endlessly on the web: it's the first port of call for 'sploggers' who create phoney sites, spam blogs, which created to promote their clients in Google.

Wales was responding to author Nicholas Carr, who in a dazzling post on the transcendent New Age 'hive-mind' rhetoric that envelops the 'Web 2.0' bubble, took time out to examine the quality of two entries picked at random: Bill Gates and Jane Fonda.

He wasn't impressed by what he saw.

'This is garbage, an incoherent hodge-podge of dubious factoids that adds up to something far less than the sum of its parts,' he wrote."

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