Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I - More Wikipedia Wonderings

Is Wikipedia a Victim of Its Own Success?

I notice right away that the dateline on this article is September 28th, a day which is still 5 days in my future. Odd, but not particularly significant.

I admit that I love Wikipedia. I read every article that I see that mentions it and have been known to spend hours just clicking from article to article as my attention wanders. Of course I used to take the encyclopedia off the shelf as I was growing up and just read an entire volume cover to cover, so this isn't really new behavior, but it is a lot easier to do on Wikipedia. Most of the article (which you probably need to read before my comments make sense) is pretty obvious to me. When a community gets big it needs more structure to make it work. No surprise then that Wikipedia keeps adding layers. Likewise, as the cost of failure rises the investment in preventing failure will rise as well. In the wiki-world cost of failure is the loss of trust in the information you are presenting. When Wikipedia became the most frequently referenced site for finding information they stopped being the Wild-Wiki-West and had to become Boston downtown. Stuff has to be right when millions of people are looking at it.

The thing that did catch my attention was the last couple of paragraphs where the entire future of Wikipedia was being called into question. Quite simply, I can't see Wikipedia going away. There is too much there. Someone will make the effort to keep it alive one way or another, maybe not in quite the same environment, but it will be there and will still be accepting information because too many people around the world are hooked on quick access to reasonably accurate data about virtually everything. I'm hooked to the point that I'd even pay for access if that is what it took to keep it there (and especially to keep it growing and accurate). The web is full of information, Wikipedia currently provides the best way to actually distill facts from the cloud. Unless someone finds a revolutionary new way to do that I see Wikipedia continuing as long as the web exists.

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