Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wikipedia quality: Wiki

The first real article on the list of frequently viewed articles is "Wiki". It's likely that this is actually not read as often as it is viewed; rather, its first place ranking is more likely to be an artifact of how people use the Internet. Specifically, I suspect that most people merely land here because they searched for "wiki" to find Wikipedia, and have no actual interest in reading about wikis generally. About 10% of the traffic to my blog comes from searches on "nonbovine", "nonbovine ruminations", or "kelly martin blog"; it's obvious that many people use search engines instead of bookmarks or remembered URLs to find things on the internet. It would be very interesting to see where people go from this article. I bet quite a few go straight-away to search, watchlist, or the main page. Unfortunately, that information isn't tracked by the Foundation as far as I know.

The access pattern is typical weekday, and closely tracks the overall traffic levels. (We'll see other patterns as we look at future articles.) The page has been semiprotected continuously since February of 2007, wth full protection for moves since October 2007.

That most of the viewers of this article are probably not interested in reading it is just as well, as the article is mediocre at best. Poorly organized and lacking any coherent structure, the article is mainly a pastiche of randomly assorted facts about wikis. A significant portion of the article is given over to talking about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Another significant portion goes to advising the reader on how to choose a wiki engine (while at the same time failing to mention Microsoft Sharepoint Services, which has provided a wiki engine for quite some time now). Almost nothing is said about the social or broader cultural impact of wikis on Web 2.0, public discourse generally, or the broadening role of wikis in closed communities. It is difficult to tell from the article why this subject is of sufficient cultural interest to merit an encyclopedia article. The authorship evinces clear inclusionary biases toward free software and Wikimedia-related projects. Finally, the writing is unengaging, choppy, and disconnected.

On the plus side, there doesn't appear to be any grossly incorrect information, although I suspect much of the discussion of non-Wikimedia projects is out of date. The article being semiprotected makes it harder for casual editors to update the article, which does tend to lead to information drift; this article gets an unusual drift pattern because the information about Wikimedia projects is more likely to be updated reliably than that about non-Wikimedia projects. As a result, semiprotection probably contributes to the bias toward Wikimedia projects.

This is a pretty typical Wikipedia article, to be honest. I'm torn between giving it a D+ and a C-, but I will be charitable and give it the higher score.

Grade: C-
Viewed: 134 times per minute