Sunday, November 05, 2006

Long-term Wikipedia vandalism exposed

Long-term Wikipedia vandalism exposed: "No, I think the fault here lies ultimately with the structure of Wikipedia itself. The website's openness both allows an enormous amount of vandalism to filter through every day, not all of which can be removed within minutes, and relies on ordinary people to catch hoaxes like this and remove them."

Indeed, that is one of Wikipedia's largest faults. Open editing got Wikipedia to where it is today, but left unchecked it will take Wikipedia to where it is going tomorrow: the occasional jewel of a good article, surrounded by a mix of mediocre topsoil and outright stinky crap, like the nonsense in the article referenced in the article above.

Open editing may be a good way to start an encyclopedia, but I am starting to think that it is not a good way to finish one.


  1. Aaahh, the age old question; improving the quality of edits with various restrictions, which at the same time might kill the goose that laid the golden egg (wide open editing).

    I think the best thing to do in the short term is an evolution of culture, where quality editing is rewarded and top contributers recruited and promoted in various ways.

    There was a time when featured articles (brilliant prose articles) didn't ned footnotes/references. Now it's unthinkable.

    9 out of 10 people capable of serious editing won't currently do it because it's a wasted effort. Eventually wikipedia will need to have some type of release mechanism, whereby quality work won't be destroyed by nincompoops. When this happens (2 years?, 10 years?) we'll see a flood of good editors join.

  2. I'd like to see Citizendium come into this somewhere, to ease the problem. Since both projects are licensed under the GFDL, it's certainly possible that content will flow between them, benefiting from both of their unique approaches to content management.

    I think it'll be very interesting to see.

  3. I don't have a lot of faith in Citizendium, simply because I don't think Larry Sanger has what it takes to make it happen.

    Not enough openness and you can't get critical mass and you stagnate. Too much and your critical mass overwhelms you. The question is, is there a middle ground? And if so, can Wikipedia occupy it?

  4. Yeh, you might be right Kelly.

    Sanger seems to be the kind of guy who'll never let the puppies off the leash so they can run around, smell things and pee everywhere. Which is exactly what's needed for healthy communities to learn and grow.

    I can see the project working if it forms a meritocracy, but still, a leader can't overly control a community if he wants it to thrive.

  5. This post was just brought to my attention. Funny, how I hadn't seen it when I authored in mid-2008 during my ill-fated run for the WMF Board:

    "I have said that too many Wikimedians have lost sight of something. The wiki software was intended as a (brilliant) way to generate initial content for an encyclopedia. It's not a brilliant way to maintain, protect, and serve excellent content for an encyclopedia. It would be like waking up in the morning and saying, 'Driving an automobile is an excellent way for me to get to work; therefore, it must be an awesome way to actually do my job, so when I pull up at the office this morning, I'm going to crash my car through the lobby, drive through the hallway, and ram my car into my office, and I'll work on my computer through my open driver's-side window, and answer my phone through the passenger-side window!' Has anyone else noticed all of the cars parked inside the Wikimedia Foundation office?"

    Kelly, you were way ahead of your time.

  6. Open editing is best for Wikipedia IMO, when I look at my watchlist there are usually around 20 good faith edits by ips, and I only get vandalism about once a week