One of the most popular topics in the mainstream press the few days has been the Wikipedia. What it is, how it works, etc. You can read where this most recent round of conversation began in Danny’s post from the earlier this month. While other “controversies” have taken place in the past, this is the first one to get wide mainstream press coverage. As Danny points out I also have plans to chat with Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, soon. In the mean time, Wales has been all over the press with interviews. Today on National Public Radio he was interviewed on Talk of the Nation where among other things, he says Wikipedia’s will now have to register to work in the system.
+ You can listen to Jimmy Wales and John Seigenthaler discuss the Wikipedia here.
Allow me to reiterate a point or two I made a few week’s ago:
One of the positive things (in most cases) about the Wikipedia is how quickly pages can be updated with new updated/facts and changes can be made.
The issue in many cases is that anyone can download Wikipedia data on a specific day and are not required to update it.
In fact, I noticed last night that some sites don’t even credit WikiP for the content. How does the inexperienced searcher or teacher know what he or she is looking at? Is the Wikipedia going to become a place for spammers, sploggers, marketers, and others to find free content to place ads on?
Also what about the long tail? I’m fortunate as it goes to have a Wikipedia entry. During the summer I added some data to it to see how long it would take to be removed from the main site since I’m fairly sure the entry for Gary Price is not one of the more popular ones. It took MANY weeks for the material to be edited out. However, a site (and a responsible one at that I like a lot (as noted in an another post) STILL has the incorrect data listed. No, I was not a roadie for AC/DC and Warrant and no I don’t work as a stuntman in my spare time.
So, the issue in my mind is as the Wikipedia grows larger how can a user realize less popular entries that still have reference value to someone know they are as correct as possible both on the actual Wikipedia site and on its many mirrors? Should those who license Wikipedia data be required to upate on a regular basis or constantly crawl the main database?
Actually, the best advice I heard during today’s interview came from Jimmy Wales himself. He said that Wikipedia and most other data on the web needs to be, “taken with a grain of salt.” He’s right. Are critical info skills being properly taught in K-12 education? The question is does the typical student who needs “something” understand this and furthermore do they know that other resources exist?
See Also: How much do you trust Wikipedia?
A webliography. Readers weigh in on reports that Wikipedia entries are too easily tampered with to be reliable.