Wednesday, May 09, 2007

 

Rant

Larry Sanger has often criticized Wikipedia's article for gradually falling in quality. I had dismissed this as the disgruntlement of a person who does not get the respect he feels his certification entitles him to. Until tonight.

Many moons ago, I wrote the beginnings of an article for each one of the Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. I'll admit that they weren't great articles; I threw most of them together in hope that someone who actually knew something about the subject would improve on them. Because I knew I did not own them. So I sent them on their way in the world, and never looked back.

So tonight, surprised that two of them were on my watch list, I had a look. And now I knew how Sanger felt: both had degraded visibly in quality. I don't mean that some odd opinions or interpretations were inserted, but that they had become almost unreadable. I cleaned them up, left unavoidably critical remarks in the comment fields -- then stopped because I was about to start flaming the previous editor, who, I had to admit, was doing the best that she/he could do.

Worse was, the previous editor was improving on what she/he had found.

Knowing that I have to watch even more articles to keep them minimally useful does not encourage me to write any more. And I can think of several hundred articles, all of which are notable or worth an entry, Wikipedia needs.

Geoff

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Comments:
you know what, you can't let a few bad apples ruin the tree. all Sanger has to do to be 'right' is show a few bad apples - 'look, everything is rotten'! there is going to be good and there is going to be bad; lets not feed the FUD machine and only pay attention to the bad, eh?
 
The new "stable versions" system should take care of this, I think. [[WP:STABLE]]
 
Wow, that is disturbing, seeing your work become fermented. Sometimes, Wikipedia is like a zen exercise in patience.

The good news is, sometimes the opposite is true. A few stubs blossom into great articles.
 
Yeah, I was going to say the same thing about stable versions. Factually, wikipedia is pretty damn good, but on non-heavily-trafficked articles, trying to hoist the writing style beyond a certain quality level is a sometimes like trying to get your footprints to stay permanently in the sand.
 
Let me apologize for this post, even though I warned everyone that this was a rant. I have to confess that I was probably making much ado over nothing in this entry. But when I wrote it I was tired, frustrated -- and decided it was much better to vent on my blog than pour bile and flame upon another Wikipedian who, I'll admit again, was just trying to improve things.

Although I have to agree with Ben: it's hard not to think that there are wide stretches of Wikipedia that do not get the attention some parts do, and seem to resist efforts to improve them.

Geoff
 
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