Monday, May 28, 2007

 

An essay about Wikipedia worth reading

Dan Tobias' "Why BADSITES is bad policy". While I agree with his point -- that there are too many websites one cannot link to from within Wikipedia, I don't know if I agree entirely with this essay. I just found it, and I need to think about what he wrote and read his words again.

On the other hand, I am troubled by volunteers to this project who in certain areas argue that Wikipedia is not censored, yet in other areas passionately argue for the removal or suppression of information. (Maybe I'm one of these inconsistent people; that's one reason I need to think some more about his essay.) For example, one cannot create an external link to Encyclopedia Dramatica from Wikipedia due to its track record of making hurtful comments on various prominent Wikipedians -- although I know of at least one well-respected Wikipedian who has an account there.

If Wikipedia is to truthfully reflect the interests of its users, then its criteria for inclusion -- those things that should be considered notable -- will constantly be changing, in directions that neither Jimbo Wales nor I can forsee. Consider which topics the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica felt were important enough to need inclusion -- and those that were unimportant enough to ignore -- and compare them to a list of which topics any educated person today might compile; if we can look back at this serious reference work and consider it prejudiced and incomplete, would the people even ten years from now think the current version of Wikipedia imperfect for similar reasons? I often think about that question, and find myself wondering if I am helping to keep it free of those flaws.

Geoff

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Comments:
You ought to check out my blog post on Wiki's....they are so last year!

http://jeffthegreat.blogspot.com/2007/04/jeff-great-predicts-death-of-wiki.html
 
The link to the essay is not working
 
I fixed the link. My mistake: I shouldn't edit after another long day doing yardwork -- but at least the yard looks good.

Geoff
 
The trouble with BADSITES, under whatever name or none, is that its advocates do things like removing all links from within the article space even when they're entirely apposite to the article (e.g. the recent removal of all links to nielsenhayden.com because of something buried in the comments to an article - it made it an "attack site" in the eyes of one advocate of BADSITES).

I'm also tremendously displeased that the BADSITES fans tried to push their failed policy initiative through on an RFA, and managed to nobble it utterly. Thus opening the door to similar exploits of RFA. I'm sure the next admin chosen to make an example of will really enjoy it.
 
You have an amazing topic within your site. thank you for letting us know.

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