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Tuesday, November 16, 2004


A former editor of Encyclopedia Britannica did an article on wikipedia (Slashdot Article). The problem is, he missed the *point* of wikipedia entirely.

His argument is that Wikipedia cannot be good enough, namely because both people who are not knowledgeable and those who are can edit the entries. The result, as exemplified by the entry for Alexander Hamilton, was that the entry had gone from reasonably good to reasonably mediocre.

That's fine. But the more eyes you have checking latest edits and paying attention to changes, the more likely those articles will be fixed. What he seems to have done is an excellent example of completely worthless criticism. Sure, he used Hamilton as an example to make his point, but while he was at it, he could have fixed the entry. That's what makes Wikipedia great, that capability of fixing an entry that is wrong. And he would have improved it.

Naturally, his argument is more overarching than that particular entry, but precisely by not updating that entry, he proved why it is possible for mediocre writing and fact-gathering to get through - because people who could fix an entry, don't.

Moral of the story: If you find something you can fix to be better on wikipedia, fix it, don't just complain...


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