Al Fasoldt, staff writer at The Post-Standard in Syracuse, writes about how untrustworthy Wikipedia is based on an oh-so-trustworthy email from a librarian. Mr. Fasoldt asserts that Wikipedia is not a verifiable authority and that it is it is not trustworthy. Mike from Techdirt tries to explain Wikipedia to Mr. Fasoldt and receives insults in return. For those of you who haven't yet taken a good look at Wikipedia, you should. It is a community built encyclopedia where anyone can edit any of the 300,000+ articles in it. The fact that anyone can edit the pages appears to be why people like Mr. Fasoldt question its authority, but that is that exact reason that it has authority. Any comments that are extreme or not true just do not survive on Wikipedia. In fact, on very heated topics, you can see the back and forth negotiation of wordings by people with different views on a topic until, in many cases, a neutral and mutually agreeable wording is put in place and all parties are satisfied. Tradition authority is gained through a combination of talent, hard work and politics. Wikipedia and many open source projects gain their authority through the collective scrutiny of thousands of people. Although it depends a bit on the field, the question is whether something is more likely to be true coming from a source whose resume sounds authoritative or a source that has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people (with the ability to comment) and has survived.
I believe that Wikipedia is helping to revive the encyclopedia as a form and it hurts me to hear such ignorant criticisms. Having said that, Kara Swisher of the Wall Street Journal, Dan Gillmor of the Mercury News and many others have already written tons about Wikipedia so maybe I'm overreacting to an isolated case of ignorance and insulting the knowledge of my readers in the process...
Anyway, I was on the jury which gave Wikipedia the Golden Nica this year, the highest prize in the Digital Communities category for Prix Ars Electronica. I will be going to Linz, Austria next week to attend the festival and will be meeting the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. More on Wikipedia then.
via Boing Boing