Taking the Wiki Out of Wikipedia

Prediction: By this time next year, Wikipedia won’t be Wikipedia anymore. 

In the past week or so, a couple of instances of editorial creativity have come to light. First, there was the issue involving Adam Curry who was caught rewriting the history of podcasting, and now we have evidence of libel within a biographical article on John Seigenthaler Sr., the former administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy.

Now these are just a couple of controversies that have come to light. There could be (and likely are) more ‘problematic’ articles interwoven through Wikipedia. Yet, I’m sure that little blemish hasn’t tarnished the sparkle seen by many tech savy individuals and investment firms as they dream about the financial prospects of this community encyclopedia. So, the only way to transform Wikipedia into a vehicle that can realize its true destiny (i.e. ‘money making machine’), is to change its overall business model.

And when this changes, Wikipedia will not be Wikipedia anymore. 

Oh, it will still look like Wikipedia, and the functionality will remain the same. It just won’t be a community encyclopedia that can be edited and changed instantly by anyone anymore. Wikipedia will take submissions for new articles and screen current article changes before they hit the web. Sounds like a regular everyday encyclopedia doesn’t it? That’s because it is, and it’s what Wikipedia will become.

And the same things that plague other online and offline encyclopedias will ultimately plague Wikipedia. The ‘publishing’ cycle will slow way down as users inundate the site with new offerings and requests for content accuracy changes. Faced with the overwhelming task of working through the mountains of data, the editors oversight committee will cut and chop Wikipedia and in the process take on a subtle bias peppered with a dash of political correctness. The breadth of material will narrow, since some topics will be just a little too ‘hot’, a little too intellectual and not sensational enough to keep an audience that makes money for the big pocketed corporate owners Google by clicking on Google Adwords sidebar ads related to the articles they’re reading.

And don’t forget about the pressure Wikipedia will receive from higher education as it realizes that students throughout the globe regularly cite the online encyclopedia in their dissertations which find their way into STM (Science, Technical and Medical) journals and other online databases.

And then of course, the Government will have an interest in the ‘community’ encyclopedia as lawyers begin to include citations of law precedent in court documentation which they researched on GoogleWikipedia.

Alarmist? Chicken Little-ism?

I predict. We’ll see.

UPDATE: Good dialog on this subject happening at Dean’s World. Check the comments.

Others: Growing Pains for Wikipedia | Wikipedia and the Nature of Truth | How wikis are changing our view of the world | Wikipedia slander? | What Wikipedia doesn’t want you to know | Is Wikipedia a threat or a menace? | Wikipedia: A Techno-Cult of Ignorance | Wikipedia is the next Google |


  1. Daily Pundit says:

    The Comic Book of “Encyclopedias”

    Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar – New York TimesACCORDING to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, John Seigenthaler Sr….

  2. VodkaPundit says:

    A Pre-Post Mortem

    Wikipedia – it was nice knowing you….

  3. Watch Your Wiki

    Wikipedia, which on the surface is a great idea, has begun to cause some real issues for Internet research. Looks like something may have to change. So, watch your Wiki – know what I’m sayin’?

  4. I’ve often wondered about the accuracy of Wikepedia. I put up a piece on my small, Mississippi hometown and was surprised at how easy it was.

    And I have to admit thinking, for only a moment, how easy it would be to make some creative posts about certain people I don’t care for. But my conscious got in the way.

    I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t have that problem.

  5. The Moderate Voice says:

    Around The ‘Sphere

    Our occasional linkfest of posts representing DIVERSE viewpoints. Opinions expressed to not necessarily represent the opinion of TMV.

  6. Wiki, We Hardly Knew Ye

    PunditGuy predicts that “By this time next year, Wikipedia won’t be Wikipedia anymore”. Which makes sense: it’s just far, far too easy to cook the books, as former RFK staffer John Seigenthaler, Sr. recently discovered to his horror. And remember…

  7. I never use Wikipedia. I could care less about Wikipedia. When searching for information, I intentionally stay away from the user-written constantly-updated and potentially always slightly-incorrect and biased information available at Wikipedia.

    So, who cares if it dies?

  8. Wikipedia is abysmal. I once tried to contribute for a while, but the amount of misinformation and plain old wrong information was staggering, from relatively unknown things, such as the history of the novel- where poems and autobiographies were listed, to things I learned by 2nd grade- such as the origins of the planets’ names to even the order of the 9 major planets (the 10th has yet to be named). Yes, literally, one of the planets was listed in its wrong position, and had been so for months w/o correction, and not the Neptune-Pluto thing because they temporarily switch places.
    Aside from that, there are the edit fights. PC is rampant, and there are constant edits of others material that they do not like for claims of copyright infringement, even as cabals of editors with an agenda will literally upload trademarked things like CD covers w/o permission.
    Wikipedia is the Lowest Common Denominator run rampant. Other problems include the inability to write grammatically correct sentences, and an alarming set of biases on articles written for mere hero worship, including the insertion of plain old gossip about the famous, things that would never make any real encyclopedia.
    Anyone who cites Wikipedia alone, or as a major source, runs the risk of looking like a fool. My advice- DON’T DO IT! You would not allow a meat cutter from your butcher shop to do open heart surgery on you, so don’t let amateurs with grudges and axes tell you that the planet Mercury was named after thermometers because it is hot!

  9. Truth is, even before we locked down new pages from the grasps of anoymous editors, most revisions were pretty quickly dealt with. If you’d added material from the one IP address, then someone would most likely have noticed the vandalism, then tracked your edit history. You proabably would have got a warning on your talk page. If you had persisted, we would have blocked you.


  10. “…PC is Rampant…”

    From the right as well.

    As an example, at one point I edited an existing article on the Republican Study Committee to flesh out who the founders were, with a line about their history in relationship to the congressional leadership, and added a link to a WaPo artivcle that described the RSC’s founding, as well as the role of the RSC in the current intitive to cut $50B from the budget.

    Now the new text has been elided, and the only off-site news cite is to NewsMax.

    I guess some ffolks didn’t really want the article stuib fleshed out…

  11. Most people who hate Wikipedia do so because of the political articles. A far larger reason to cringe is its plain old lack of factuality. When you try to change something, even citing sources, the Mob Rules. And TBSDY’s arrogance is part of the problem. I’ve known several folks who all reported the same thing- they were labeled vandals or some other odious term, then harassed via email, or had their edits redacted by having fraudulent edits made in their name so that they would be banned for the ‘crime’ of disagreeing, or even trying to correct errors.
    The problem is that Wiki is one of the easiest codes to tamper with, far more easy than HTML or XML or the like. So, get an even beginner level Microsoft engineer geek who puts you on his shit list, and he can set you up for banning w/o breaking a sweat. And then they’ll brag about it.
    As a writer, though, what annoys me is not the political wars that blogs engage in, but the really bad writing- often at a sub-5th grade level. I’ve done side by sides of similar topics from Wikipedia, Encarta, Britannica, and others, and while Wiki may have more info, it’s usually of a spurious nature, poorly formatted, and filled with info that any professional editor would trim.
    I would not use any info off of Wikipedia without a 2nd or 3rd source to confirm it.

  12. John Gabriel says:

    Wikipedia is the world according to the editors and administrators of Wikipedia. Much technical information is biased in favor of the Wiki overseers or is just plain wrong.

    Anyone who disagrees or questions content is overruled or banned under the disguise of vandalism or trolling. The discussion pages are a joke and a mere smokescreen for what Wiki likes to call a Peoples’ Encyclopedia.

    No one takes responsibility for incorrect information, so Wikipedia can do whatever it thinks is right.

    Anyone who quotes Wikipedia is a fool.

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