January 09, 2007

Wikipedia and Search Experts "Notability" Kerfuffle

In the last few days, there's been a little bit of flaming over one Wikipedia editor calling into question the "notability" of some very prominent search experts. The editor was eventually convinced of the mistake in his position. But I'm going to rescue a comment from the above SearchEngineLand.com thread, by Danny Sullivan, since it encapsulates several aspects of Wikipedia which intrigue me:

I did see [the editors] comment that he was disappointed I didn't just add the material myself. Why would I do that? I'm not going to waste my time adding to a page that someone else might decide the next day to rip apart according to rules and a culture that frankly is anything but transparent.

I mean, it's difficult to know how the article was "nominated" in the first place. Then who exactly inspired the debate to kill it. And now that the vote has gone as it should, who made that vote? I mean, we were told it's not a voting thing but that there's a discussion, then I gather editors all make it happen. Where?

Wikipedia makes a lot about how open it is, but as an outsider, all I can say is that it feels very closed and difficult to know. It's riddled with acronyms and insider talk. I actually felt the comment about the ODP was pretty close to the mark.

I really do like Wikipedia as a resource. I use it all the time and find it remarkable at how helpful it is. But as I said, then you get something like this, and you just lose faith in it.

Let's count off the themes:

1) The fascinating way Wikipedia puts critics on the defensive - you should fix their errors, and WHY DIDN'T YOU DO THAT?

2) For a hive-mind, it sure has byzantine politics.

3) It's amazing how it has a popular image of an innovative anarchy, while in fact being simply a poorly-run bureaucracy where there's not a lot of accountability (these are not equivalent).

4) It's a lot less dazzling when you see the sausage being made.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on January 09, 2007 01:25 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

Subscribe with Bloglines      Subscribe in NewsGator Online  Google Reader or Homepage


Termites are not deliberately inscrutable - they simply have no idea as to who the architects of their mounds are.

Pluck a single termite from the mound and it's a vicious, self-centred little blighter with utter contempt for those who created the raw materials upon which it builds its demesne.

Seth, there is no 'architect'.

They only created an 'architect' in the Matrix movies because the audience would otherwise have created one.

Byzantine politics are inferred only because the hive is too terrible a prospect to countenance as an explanation.

There is no god.

Posted by: Crosbie Fitch at January 10, 2007 06:27 PM

>you should fix their errors, and WHY DIDN'T YOU DO THAT?
Maybe because they keep getting reverted?

Posted by: Robert Claypool at January 21, 2007 12:22 PM

Why, just last night on a business conference call, I said I regretted having used Wikipedia as a source for some data, now that I'd had a good look inside the sausage factory. Ohmygooodness. Certainly takes away one's appetite for that kind of resource, doesn't it?

Posted by: Kathryn Cramer at January 30, 2007 03:13 PM