Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pownce and Wikipedia

Anybody who follows Web 2.0 buzz has head of Pownce. Personally, I don't see it as all that useful, but I'm not quite the internet whore that some people are and don't feel the need to immediately share every neato little thing I find with all of my friends, and the ones I do feel like sharing I can share using IM, IRC, or del.icio.us. But, hey, everyone has their own thing, and I certainly know people who would gain value from something like Pownce. In any case, Pownce is "hot" at the moment. The fact that it comes from digg.com's Kevin Rose adds to that. And even BusinessWeek thinks this is worth writing about.

But not Wikipedia. Wikipedia has, in fact, declared Pownce permanently nonnotable, unworthy of encyclopedic mention. Now, I could certainly accept a "wait and see" attitude regarding the article, or perhaps a very short stub, but Wikipedians have become so paranoid about Wikipedia being used as "advertisement" for other websites that they very aggressively purge anything about another web property if there's even the suggestion that the site might gain traffic from being mentioned on Wikipedia. Basically, any web property less prominent than Wikipedia itself may not have an article on Wikipedia under the current mindset.

Now, I know that Wikipedia does this because they don't think Wikipedia should be used to generate buzz. And in a lot of cases, that's exactly what's happening. But Pownce doesn't need Wikipedia to generate buzz. Pownce has a ton of buzz already going for it. The problem, as I see it, is the same siege mentality that led to the "lava lamp incident": the need to resolve all issues immediately using hard and fast rules, instead of taking a moment to think about the particulars of each situation and make a reasoned, nuanced decision that takes into account all the factors at hand. One size rules do not fit all, but of late it seems like too many decisions on Wikipedia are being made that way.


  1. What did Jimmy Wales say? Something about the free flow of information. So if Pownce does not have an article on Wikipedia (WP), what happens? People go around Wikipedia and get their information elsewhere, leaving WP off in some corner, in this specific case. OK. That's what we want, right? We want to give up some of WP's search results dominance in exchange for maybe maintaining credibility? It would be nice if people valued WP highly. Maybe the answer is somewhere between the pure free flow of information and WP's credibility. I think Pownce should have an article on WP, with some sort of qualification. Perhaps with a type of infobox warning users that it is new website, hoping for traffic, or that the article is on notable probation, and may be deleted in the near future.

  2. "People go around Wikipedia and get their information elsewhere, leaving WP off in some corner, in this specific case. OK. That's what we want, right?"

    Which is what I'm already doing, in fact. Even if there's an article on Wikipedia on a topic and it's the top search engine result, I ignore it and look at the results below it. But I digress.