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Here Comes Wikipedia for Everybody

June 29, 2008

Wikipedia is the promise for a fast, easily acessible and free encyclopedia for everybody. This is a quick definition of it, were we to ask Clay Shirky. In his book “Here Comes Everybody” he reveals for us the holy trinity of an open-source project: “Promise. Tool. Bagain.” With his opening StolenSidekick story in the book Shirky illustrates how social media can change leverage opportunities and the way people get together and cooperate, regargless of the particular cause or purpose.

After delving into Wikpedia and its rules I came to the conclusion that we should trust it more than an expert-led encyclodedia. For one thing is it updated faster and represents considerable collective knowledge that is always richer than that of individual experts. The 5 percent false information in Wikipedia reminds me of the one spoonful of tar that can ruin a whole keg of honey. It is tricky, if we can never tell which piece of information in Wikipedia is the spoonful of tar, but I would disagree that in this case it may ruin it all.

I do not believe that the untrue information is dispersed evenly throughout Wkipedia. The existence of discussions about pages, rules and warning notes when an entry is incomplete or lacks citations is already a strong watchdog mechanism to guarantee the truthfulness (not truthiness) of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia’s honesty is present in the fact that it contains unsensored controvesial information about itself…  Here is an extract from the Wikipedia entry titled “Criticism of Wikipedia“:

Wikipedia, a free content encyclopedia project written by volunteers, has attracted criticism along with its size and popularity. Notable criticisms include that its open nature makes it unauthoritative and unreliable (see Reliability of Wikipedia), that it exhibits systemic bias, and that its group dynamics hinder its goals.”

Let’s pause for a moment and consider how many companies or organizations we can think of that have done that – on their own websites! Most of them would never (by corporate comunication rules) even iterate the name of their competitors in public, so as not to give them media exposure.

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