Wikipedia has problems



October 19th, 2005

So finally Wikipedia admits to quality problems.  And serious quality problems at that.

About time.  While I admire the concept behind Wikipedia I can’t help but feel that the project went seriously astray years ago and attained cult status (maybe even the status of a religion) far too soon. 

Partly, Wikipedia is driven by ego and Kilroyism (that desire to leave a “I was here” mark on the world) and it is no doubt a good example of what Nicholas Carr calls “cult of the amateur”, making it without a doubt a Web 2.0 project now.

But that’s not why I don’t like [tag]Wikipedia[/tag] and Wiki’s in general.  I don’t like them because they bring together the worse aspects of blogs and forums and then magnify them.  Ego, Kilroyism, behind the scenes wrangling, vandalism, opinion and falsehoods masquerading as facts, and overall poor project leadership and editing.  I have no doubt that there are people involved that have the best of intentions but it has to be said that the web is highly influenced by people who have bad intentions (spam, viruses, hacking … nuff said).

If I have to pick the one thing that bothers me the most it’s the impression of being authoritative without the backing.  As a rule, mistakes happen, and as a rule we all know that we are prone to mistakes, but the problem of projects like Wikipedia is that no one is responsible for the mistake.  There’s no name, no author.  Peer review and technical editing is also absent.  The only way for anyone to be sure that a fact is true is to research it separately – so while Wikipedia might be good to get the gist of a subject, all the facts would need checking separately, which kinda defeats the object of it anyway.  The packaging of opinion and the “collective intelligence” in a box marked fact is the one thing that bothers me the most about Web 2.0.

PC Doctor cartoons - Web 2.0

I’m going to close by quoting Homer (Simpson):

"See Lisa, instead of one big shot controlling all of the media, now there are a thousand freaks Xeroxing their worthless opinions."

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2005 at 11:00 and is filed under PC Doctor's Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Wikipedia has problems”

  1. Der Haken Says:

    Geek Reading: Web 2.0

    [...] In the eyes of the RoughType, Web 2.0 stands for participation, collectivism, virtual communities, amateurism. This is basically what I think Web 2.0 represents. His article is very long as well, but gives you a whole lot of insight as well as ...

  2. Constant Random Musings Says:

    The trade-off on Mediocrity

    What you can do in order to save projects like the wikipedia from turning into moronic proclamations? One option, as Carr suggested, is to impose some form of centralized control.