No Fancy Name
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
on wikipedia
There's been a big ol' kerfuffle recently about the "validity" of wikipedia. Let it be known that I love wikipedia. I use it all the time, and there's a link to it over yonder in the sidebar. Never has it even crossed my mind, that wikipedia was unreliable or in any way an invalid source of information.

But the other day, in the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, appeared an article by one Al Fasoldt: "Librarian: Don't use Wikipedia as source. Read it for yourself, if you're interested, but the main idea is that "Wikipedia is a do-it-yourself encyclopedia, without any credentials" and therefore, it goes on, it's A Bad Thing. A good summary is found at BoingBoing.

As you can imagine, there's been much discussion—all of which I find terribly fascinating. One of the naysayers' issues is an inability to understand how "a site written entirely by its readers—and where every page can be edited by anyone—could meet any kind of 'standards' of accuracy and reliablity." [Dan Gillmor] Because, you know, journalists are so very standards-driven, accurate and reliable...and today my little spaceship touched down from my trip back home to Mars. Also from Dan's site is a link to a deconstruction of the debate by Ross Mayfield. Other links of interest are a Slashdot Q&A with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and an experiment by Alex Halavais to see just how well the whole editing process works.

This all goes back to Why Wiki Works: "Everybody feels that they have a sense of responsibility because anybody can contribute." It's such a simple concept, responsibility. Seems to me that when people question the validity of something that essentially runs on personal ethics, they may be a little lacking in that category themselves. Can't understand what you don't have, right?


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