Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Is Wikipedia failing?
Worldtraveller's essay raises three points -- which is not to say that he necessarily agrees with the following:
- The number of Featured articles & Good articles is embarassingly small;
- Does the FA/GA process successfully identify, evaluate and maintain articles of high quality -- or is the process disfunctional and Wikipedia has high quality
articles despite these processes?
- Given the number of devoted, literate & informed people, why isn't Wikipedia creating more quality content?
The third point, I think, is the one that bothers many people: after six years of mostly selfless work by a lot of smart people, I think it is reasonable to wonder why Wikipedia isn't better than it is. Not to say that it is a unmitigated disaster:
Worldtraveller himself is quite clear he doesn't share this opinion. Further, after a little more than two years, Nupedia produced only a handful of articles of all grades of quality. Despite these caveats, I think it is fair to say that with a few exceptions, Wikipedians aren't satisfied with what they have created, and are looking for answers.
So far, I've extracted only a few of the many opinions on this article from the Talk page (which already has 2 archives):
- FA currently embraces an adversarial system, when it should embrace a collaborative one.
- Most of the B-status articles would have once been considered FA quality; this is due to rising standards. (With the corollary that "Wikipedia is improving in quality.)
- Some articles are suffering from pathological problems: edit wars between tendentious editors keep them from improving.
- A lot of folks offering panaceas: for example, ban anonymous edits. Personally, I consider blocking anonymous editors a case of a solution looking for a problem; some people just can't wrap their head around the fact that anonymous editors can be as responsible as those with accounts. And I believe the other panaceas are even less effective at helping Wikipedia.
- This is a volunteer job: people are going to work on the articles that they are interested in.
This time, my excuse for not offering a solution is even simpler: I can take time to read what people write about this topic, or I can take time to create a solution. I'd rather take that time and work on articles; I regret that these meta-debates are so addicting.
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