Sunday, December 04, 2005

Wikipediaaah! (Part 2)

Rememeber this post from two days ago? It has made it to New York Times! Katharine Seelye, the reporter, goes a little bit deeper into the vandalism issue, and has taken the views of Jimmy Wales, the creator of wikipedia. After citing some impressive figures, she gets to the crux of the problem.

It has, by most measures, been a spectacular success. Wikipedia is now the biggest encyclopedia in the history of the world. As of Friday, it was receiving 2.5 billion page views a month, and offering at least 1,000 articles in 82 languages. The number of articles, already close to two million, is growing by 7 percent a month. And Mr. Wales said that traffic doubles every four months.

Still, the question of Wikipedia, as of so much of what you find online, is: Can you trust it?

And beyond reliability, there is the question of accountability. [...]

Wales has promised some new initiatives that will address these concerns. One of them is to have a reviewing and rating mechanism, and another is to disallow unregistered users to create new pages.

I also want to correct the impression that I may have given unintentionally here. Wikipedia works, and works very well most of the time. Its entries on many topics are superbly written (so superb, in fact, it is difficult to imagine that it is all *only* a volunteer activity), and it is a vital resource for all of us. It is important to keep in mind that these issues of reliability and accountability are newsworthy only because they are so rare. Aren't you glad to know that vandals are so rare? Or perhaps, there are many more vandals, but most of them are writing virus programs for M$ Windows. ;-)