Marshall Kirkpatrick has a blog post entitled Citizendium: a more civilized Wikipedia? where he writes

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger has announced that his new knowledge sharing wiki project called Citizendium will launch at the end of this month or earlier. The defining characteristic of the site is that topic experts will have final, enforceable authority to “resolve” controversy and kick out trolls. Citizendium will be a progressive fork of Wikipedia, allowing its own community to change Wikipedia articles but also offering Wikipedia’s version of those that haven’t been edited in Citizendium. Sanger says the topic experts will function like village elders or college professors - they’ll simply make the wiki a civilized place.

There are definitely problems with Wikipedia, however I don't see how coming up with a defined set of 'experts' will solve some of these problems. My main problem with Wikipedia is that it is quite common for the experts on a particular subject to be dismissed until some verifiable source can be used as a reference, of course the definition of verifiable source is usually mainstream media.  Here are a couple of examples

  1. In a blog post entitled on being notable in Wikipedia Danah Boyd writes

    As the conversation progressed, people started editing my profile. While the earlier profile felt weird, the current profile is downright problematic. There are little mistakes (examples: my name is capitalized; there is an extra 'l' in my middle name; i was born in 1977; my blog is called Apophenia). There are other mistakes because mainstream media wrote something inaccurate and Wikipedia is unable to correct it (examples: i was on Epix not Compuserv and my mother didn't have an account; i was not associated with the people at Friendster; i didn't take the name Boyd immediately after Mattas and it didn't happen right after my mother's divorce; i didn't transfer to MIT - i went to grad school at the MIT Media Lab; i'm not a cultural anthropologist). Then there are also disconcerting framing issues - apparently my notability rests on my presence in mainstream media and i'm a cultural anthropologist because it said so on TV. Good grief.

    Why does mainstream media play such a significant role in the Wikipedia validation process? We know damn well that mainstream media is often wrong. In the midst of this, the reference to my fuzzy hat had to be removed because it couldn't be substantiated by the press and because i didn't wear it on O'Reilly. Of course i didn't wear it on Fox - i was trying to get across to parents, not be myself. As much as i don't think of the hat as core to my identity, i'm very well aware that others do. Hell, just last week, John Seely Brown decided to start his keynote wearing my hat, talking about how the hat is the source of all of my brilliance while i turned beet red and scrunched down in my seat. As embarrassing as that was, it's more embarrassing that Wikipedia is relying on Fox over JSB for authority.

  2. In a blog post entitled Does Wikipedia need to be fixed? Mike Arrington writes

    And I’ve also seen people be attacked for making changes that appear to be factual and correct. The TechCrunch listing on wikipedia has a number of errors. But there is no way in hell I’d ever think about fixing those errors. The wikipedia community has completely intimidated me to the point where making a change to that site is unthinkable.
  3. And finally, from the discussion page for the entry on "Dare Obasanjo"

    Well, Someone may doubt Dare Obasanjo's claim that he is the son of Olusegun Obasanjo. It may seem unduly self-serving and self-aggrandizing to make such a claim. That there is no verification from a reliable independent third party is bothersome. His own blog cannot be considered a reliable source in this case.

The third item above is the one that is amazing to me on a number of levels. I'm impressed by the fact that someone dug up an old blog entry where I talked about my dad running in elections. I'm more impressed that according to Wikipedia, my own blog cannot be considered an authority on who my own father is. Perhaps I should take a picture with him when I see him later this week or will someone claim Photoshop is the culprit and we'll have to wait until he mentions me on CNN or Fox News? 

Wikipedia is going to become more and more of a problem especially now that it seems that search engines such as consider it more authoritative than people's blogs or official websites. Try searching for Tim Bray, Sam Ruby or Dave Winer on Windows Live or MSN and see whether their blogs show up before their Wikipedia entries do. 



Monday, September 18, 2006 10:34:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
That's absolutely hilarious that your blog can't be considered a reliable source about who your father is. That's pretty much equivalent to saying "I think Dare's a liar about himself".
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